Why Do People Cheat? 9 Reasons For Infidelity That Have Nothing To Do With Sex

This can be helpful for the partner, to see a mirad of reasons that their partner strayed.

Rory


Source: Why Do People Cheat? 9 Reasons For Infidelity That Have Nothing To Do With Sex

When you think about the reasons why people cheat, what immediately springs to mind? For me, it’s sex. If a person is going to go behind their partner’s back and hook up with someone else, it stands to reason that there’s some form of physical attraction, or thrill of doing the deed with somebody new.

But experts say that’s not really why people have affairs. In fact, according to Dr. Joshua Klapow, PhD, a clinical psychologist, cheating is almost always more about emotions than sex. “What drives the person to engage in the betrayal is the real reason for cheating,” he tells Bustle.

For example, someone might have an affair if they aren’t feeling connected to, or getting validation from their partner. Should a friend or coworker come along who is willing to listen, it makes sense why that extra attention would seem appealing — and why the attraction could quickly escalate into an affair.

While that isn’t necessarily a comfort for folks who have been cheated on, it is important to look at situations like these from all angles, in order to create a stronger relationship. Here, women share why they cheated, and what the experience taught them — and experts delve into the multiple reasons why people cheat.

1
They’re Avoiding Conflict

Sometimes, when a relationship is riddled with conflict — or even when things aren’t 100% easy for a short period of time — it can cause a person to panic and run into the arms of another.

The affair isn’t so much about sex at that point, as much as it is a way of avoiding problems. “Cheating allows them to escape,” Klapow says. “They can be with a person where problems and conflicts don’t exist, where they get respite, support, and validation.”

This was the case for Deonne, 40, who saw red flags in her relationship, but wasn’t ready to face them. She says it felt like the best and easiest option, and that being with someone else “filled a void.”

2
They Have Weak Boundaries

As Raffi Bilek, LCSW-C, a marriage counselor and director of the Baltimore Therapy Center, tells Bustle, if someone has “weak boundaries,” the chances of cheating go way up. He gives the example of a person getting too close to coworker, and how an affair could quickly unfold from there.

“It is natural for us to want to connect with those around us, and it’s natural to want to take that to the next level — a romantic one — when emotional intimacy is growing,” Bilek says. And yet, while friendships are obviously always OK, people with weak boundaries can’t help but go overboard.

It’s why it’s so important for couples to discuss the “rules” of their relationship, including what is and isn’t OK, as well as what counts as cheating. “Keeping firm boundaries at work and in social situations is critical for maintaining fidelity in a relationship,” he says.

3
They Want To Save The Relationship

While it sounds weird, some people use cheating as “a cry for help to save the relationship before they give up on it entirely,” Bethany Ricciardi, a sex and relationship expertf tells Bustle.

Yes, the cheater may go out and have sex. But that wasn’t technically their main goal or interest, she says. Instead, the affair may be the cheating partner’s (unhealthy) way of telling their significant other that they’ve been unhappy, and want to get a conversation started.

Again, this isn’t the best way to approach a partner about where a relationship is headed, or what it needs to succeed. And yet it often works: Some couples do find that they’re stronger after cheating, because the betrayal inspired them to communicate more, and work out their issues.

4
They Want To End The Relationship

On the flip side, some folks turn to cheating as a way of breaking up with their partner. “Rather than come out and say that they want to end the relationship, the person cheats hoping that their partner will find out and break up with them,” Emily Mendez, MS, EdS, a mental health expert, tells Bustle.

They may secretly hope their partner sees illicit texts popping up on their phone, or starts to wonder why they’re staying out so late at night and eventually asks what’s up. It’s obviously so much healthier (and kinder) to end things outright. But for those who struggle with direct communication, they might find themselves taking the cheating route, instead.

5
They Had An Abusive Past

Raina, 44, says the reason she cheated stemmed from an abusive childhood, which landed her in an abusive first marriage, and then in an unloving second marriage. Both times she cheated on her husband, first as a way of getting out of a toxic situation, and second as a way to continue on a path of self improvement.

“I had spent two years in therapy trying to get over past abuse,” she tells Bustle. But her second husband wasn’t listening to her needs, or helping her along the way. In fact, he was even encouraging her to stop taking helpful medication.

Frustrated, when another man came along, she couldn’t help but start an affair with him. “He gave me space, but also support,” she says, which helped her feel confident enough to continue working through what she’d been through in her past, and to seek out what she wanted for her future.

“Today, I am independent and strong. I don’t feel the need to depend on a man. While I do regret hurting people, I can’t regret either of my affairs. One gave me my children and the other gave me myself.”

6
They Want To Boost Their Self-Esteem

Not everyone who lacks confidence will have an affair in order to feel better. But experts say this is yet another reason why someone might sneak around behind their partner’s back.

“When someone is feeling down about [themselves] the thrill of sex with a new/forbidden person provides a temporary feeling of self-worth,” Tracy K. Ross, LCSW, a couples therapist, tells Bustle. “For example if things aren’t going well at work and [they] feel uncertain about [their] value, an outside lover can temporarily address that feeling.”

Nothing’s better than positive attention, flirty texts, and the excitement of being wanted. So when someone is feeling bad about themselves, cheating becomes all the more tempting.

7
They’re Lonely

“The majority of people who cheat are not fulfilled emotionally,” Ellen Bolin, a certified professional relationship coach, tells Bustle, which explains why so many people turn to emotional affairs — which often lead to physical affairs — as a way of curing a sense of loneliness within a relationship.

This is, of course, not the best way to solve the issue. Painful affairs can be avoided if couples speak up and let one another know when/if they’ve feeling neglected, unheard, or lonely.

8
They’re Bored

If someone is bored with their relationship, it makes sense why they might turn to cheating as a way of spicing things up for themselves. But experts say, more often than not, cheating is a choice made by those who are bored with their own life in general, and that has little to do with their partner.

“It’s a way to feel alive, special, seen by someone else,” Ross says. “[And] the sneaking around is often more exciting than the sex itself.” In other words, having something to hide, and something that adds a bit of danger to their life, can give them the exciting story they’re looking for.

These reasons all make sense. But, as Deonne says, it’s important to remember that “cheating is a temporary fix to a deeper issue.”

9
They’re Seeking Revenge

Cheating may also be an act of revenge, which can stem from anger — for any number of reasons. “The person may be frustrated in their relationship, or feel like their partner doesn’t care, doesn’t listen, doesn’t support them,” Klapow says. “In an act of defiance — but also avoidance of the problem at hand — the person cheats. So instead of directly confronting the problem, they avoid it and act out by cheating.” And that’s not cool.

Knowing an affair isn’t always all about sex won’t make it any less painful for the person being cheated on, but it may help both members of a relationship understand why it happened in the first place. By talking about problems before they get out of hand — and making sure you’re both fulfilled — an affair doesn’t have to happen.

Experts:

Dr. Joshua Klapow, PhD, clinical psychologist

Raffi Bilek, LCSW-C, marriage counselor

Bethany Ricciardi, sex and relationship expert

Emily Mendez, MS, EdS, mental health expert

Tracy K. Ross, LCSW, couples therapist

Ellen Bolin, certified professional relationship coach

“No, This Isn’t Okay Anymore:” How I Finally Set Boundaries With My Abusive Dad

“No, This Isn’t Okay Anymore:” How I Finally Set Boundaries With My Abusive Dad

The last time my father hit me was seven years ago. I was in my late twenties, living in Vancouver and visiting my family in Alberta. My dad was drinking a little bit, and my sister and I got into a pretty big fight about our extended family. I was upstairs and I could hear my dad telling my mom that he was annoyed with me. My sister ran out of the house after our fight—and then, I heard my dad coming upstairs so I hid in a closet. Eventually, he found me. When my dad was mad at me, he’d often tell me to go kill myself. That day, he told me that when I got back to Vancouver I should jump off a bridge because I’m someone who just causes problems. After repeating that for a good 15 minutes, he took a knife and put it in my hands.

That was it. I started screaming at the top of my lungs because I just couldn’t handle repeatedly being told to kill myself. When I start yelling, he hit me because he thought I was going to get him in trouble with his neighbours. After he punched me in the face three times, I stopped screaming. Then he sat next to me on the bed, petting my head. It was fucking uncomfortable. I wanted to get away from him but after he hit me, I wasn’t about to move. My mom was there too, sitting on the other side of me. She had tried to intervene, tried to pull him off of me when he was hitting me, but it didn’t make a difference.

Growing up, my dad was the person I was closest to in my family

After that episode, my dad didn’t talk to me for three months. I think it’s because he felt shame and guilt. I don’t think my dad’s a bad person. He just hasn’t been taught how to handle his anger.

My dad came from India to Canada when he was in his 20s, and then re-educated himself in computer science. Growing up, he was the person that I was closest to in my family. When I was a kid, he would drive me to school every day, listening to my opinions on what I was being taught or what was happening in the news. When I was older, I didn’t hide much from him. He’d be the one to pick me up at 1 a.m. from a party so I would have a safe ride home.

He didn’t abuse my mom or my younger sister physically (or emotionally, that I’m aware of). It was just me. My sister wasn’t any more obedient than me—she was just a better liar. She would tell my parents she was studying at school for hours instead of saying she was out with friends. She never understood why I told them the truth, especially since that’s what often landed me in trouble.

My parents were pretty liberal compared to my extended family and some of the larger Punjabi community in my hometown. But I still struggled to conform to their expectations of being Indian—being accomplished at school, things like that. And when I didn’t conform, it caused problems.

When I was in grade five, I showed up crying at school one day and said, “I got in trouble with my dad.” My teacher brought me to the school counselor and I really underplayed what had happened. I don’t even remember what the root of the conflict was on that particular day, it was just that the kinds of questions my teacher was asking me made it seem like my dad was bad. I didn’t think my dad was bad. In fact, I thought I was the bad one and blamed myself for the abuse.

I’m just not a good kid. I’m the one that challenged him. I knew that would make him mad. I would never think, He was wrong.

The abuse would happen when I questioned him, asking things like “Why can’t I take band?” or, “Why can’t I go hang out with my friends at the mall?” I was never a rebellious kid by Western standards—I didn’t drink, smoke or do drugs. I just wasn’t willing to listen to someone telling me what to do. I wanted to know why I couldn’t do that thing, because if there was no reasonable explanation, well, then I was going to do what I wanted to do. But questions like these sent my dad into a rage—his violence was an immediate reaction to them.

I only started thinking he was the one who was wrong as a teenager, but I still didn’t seek help, until that very last time he beat me up. I’ve gone to counsellors over the years, but I felt like I was just being talked to as a diagnosis, not a person. Then I tried a life coach and her approach was very different. She helped me discover answers on my own and make me reflect on my life and circumstances in a way that felt transformative. I work with one now who specializes in childhood trauma.

I’ve always kept in touch with my dad no matter what

I’ve been living away from home for ten years, but I’ve always kept in touch with my dad no matter what was going on in our relationship. I could cut myself off from him, but that would also mean cutting myself off from the rest of my family, my mom and my sister, because they are all so close. My mother has never really acknowledged the abuse, other than advising me that I have just move on and let it go. She never let me process it. It’s impacted our relationship—there’s no depth to it. And I never even thought about talking to my sister about what was going on. She’s four and half years younger, and growing up she just seemed like a baby to me. But two years ago, when she was pregnant with her first child, she told me she talked to my dad about it. She told him that if he had ever done what he did to me, they wouldn’t have a relationship. I was shocked. That night, I cried in bed because it was the first time someone in my family had even acknowledged what I had been through.

Even though my parents have hurt me, I don’t feel like their intention is to hurt me. I have a deep respect for them regardless of the shit that I’ve been through. It’s my responsibility to work on my shit, not for me to change them. And while the physical abuse has stopped, the emotional abuse hasn’t.

But my perspective has shifted. My work with my life coach has helped me realize I was living for my dad’s approval all the time. Now, if I don’t get it, I realize it doesn’t mean anything about me. I do my best and if I don’t receive his approval or acceptance, I can’t do anything about that. This has helped set a boundary with my father for the first time in my life.

I finally realized, No, this isn’t okay anymore

A few months ago, my dad and I were talking on the phone, and he was demeaning me about where my life is at—that I wasn’t far enough professionally, that I’m well into my thirties and not married. My initial reaction to that was to apologize, to say, “Yes, you’re right.” When we talked later that week, he blew up again. He said the problem with me is that I’m not the type of person who lets things go. Something clicked in me that day. Something that was just like, No, this is not okay. So I got off the phone, and I didn’t call him back right away to smooth things over as I would usually do.

Exactly a month later, he called me. After we talked for a while, I asked, “Hey, Dad. Did you want to talk about why I haven’t talked to you in a month?” He apprehensively agreed. Then I said, “I appreciate your concern for me, but maybe you could consider a different approach.” He told me to shut up and that he’ll never be sorry for being a concerned parent, but that he is sorry I’m unsuccessful in life, and then he hung up on me.

We didn’t speak for nearly four months—the longest I’ve gone not talking to my father. I didn’t really have the desire to call him. Before this, I would have just picked up the phone. This was the first time I ever called him out on his behaviour, and I was willing and open to talk about it. But he wasn’t. There wasn’t much else for me to do. Something changed in me during that conversation. Finally setting a boundary with my dad meant not actually standing up to him as much as it was standing up for myself. The decision to do this was a culmination of everything else that was going on in my life—my work stress was reaching a breaking point and I took a sick leave shortly after, and I was also having trouble with some key friendships. It was me finally realizing, No, this isn’t okay anymore. A parent can be worried about you, but they don’t have the right to verbally abuse you.

When he finally called me months later, he apologized. He acknowledged his behaviour, but still hasn’t acknowledged the physical abuse. He said, “I’m getting older and what will I do if I don’t have a relationship with my family?” I responded that that can’t be the only reason we have a relationship. We had a good conversation, but this time away has helped me reset how I interact with him. I’m being more cautious now—I don’t think someone changes after one conversation. I talked to him significantly less that I used to. Before this fight, I would call him out of habit. Now, I call him once every two or three weeks.

Looking back, my relationship with my dad has always been about trying to prove to him that I was valuable, that the warmth I bring to the world is meaningful even if I’m not achieving all the milestones he wants for me. I’ve done a lot of work on myself to know my worth—and now I know it doesn’t come from his approval.

Call 911 if you’re in immediate danger from abuse. If you’re in a abusive relationship—or want to help a friend who is—call the Assaulted Women’s Helpline at 1-866-863-0511 for support; crisis counselling is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. For additional, cross-Canada resources, check out this directory from the Ending Violence Association of Canada.

What Is Toxic Shame?

https://psychcentral.com/lib/what-is-toxic-shame

What is Toxic Shame?When shame becomes toxic, it can ruin our lives. Everyone experiences shame at one time another. It’s an emotion with physical symptoms like any other that come and go, but when it’s severe, it can be extremely painful.

Strong feelings of shame stimulate the sympathetic nervous system, causing a fight/flight/freeze reaction. We feel exposed and want to hide or react with rage, while feeling profoundly alienated from others and good parts of ourselves. We may not be able to think or talk clearly and be consumed with self-loathing, which is made worse because we’re unable to be rid of ourselves.

We all have our own specific triggers or tender points that produce feelings of shame. The intensity of our experience varies, too, depending upon our prior life experiences, cultural beliefs, personality, and the activating event.

Unlike ordinary shame, “internalized shame” hangs around and alters our self-image. It’s shame that has become “toxic,” a term first coined by Sylvan Tomkins in the early 1960s in his scholarly examination of human affect. For some people, toxic shame can monopolize their personality, while for others, it lies beneath their conscious awareness, but can easily be triggered.

Characteristics of Toxic Shame

Toxic shame differs from ordinary shame, which passes in a day or a few hours, in the following respects:

  • It can hide in our unconscious, so that we’re unaware that we have shame.
  • When we experience shame, it lasts much longer.
  • The feelings and pain associated with shame are of greater intensity.
  • An external event isn’t required to trigger it. Our own thoughts can bring on feelings of shame.
  • It leads to shame spirals that cause depression and feelings of hopelessness and despair.
  • It causes chronic “shame anxiety” — the fear of experiencing shame.
  • It’s accompanied by voices, images, or beliefs originating in childhood and is associated with a negative “shame story” about ourselves.
  • We needn’t recall the original source of the immediate shame, which usually originated in childhood or a prior trauma.
  • It creates deep feelings of inadequacy.

Shame-Based Beliefs

The fundamental belief underlying shame is that “I’m unlovable — not worthy of connection.” Usually, internalized shame manifests as one of the following beliefs or a variation thereof:

  • I’m stupid.
  • I’m unattractive (especially to a romantic partner).
  • I’m a failure.
  • I’m a bad person.
  • I’m a fraud or a phony.
  • I’m selfish.
  • I’m not enough (this belief can be applied to numerous areas).
  • I hate myself.
  • I don’t matter.
  • I’m defective or inadequate.
  • I shouldn’t have been born.
  • I’m unlovable.

The Cause of Toxic Shame

In most cases, shame becomes internalized or toxic from chronic or intense experiences of shame in childhood. Parents can unintentionally transfer their shame to their children through verbal messages or nonverbal behavior. For an example, a child might feel unloved in reaction to a parent’s depression, indifference, absence, or irritability or feel inadequate due to a parent’s competitiveness or over-correcting behavior. Children need to feel uniquely loved by both parents. When that connection is breached, such as when a child is scolded harshly, children feel alone and ashamed, unless the parent-child bond of love is soon repaired. However, even if shame has been internalized, it can be surmounted by later positive experiences.

If not healed, toxic shame can lead to aggression, depression, eating disorders, PTSD, and addiction. It generates low self-esteem, anxiety, irrational guilt, perfectionism, and codependency, and it limits our ability to enjoy satisfying relationships and professional success.

We can heal from toxic shame and build our self-esteem. To learn more about how to do so and the eight steps to heal, read Conquering Shame and Codependency: 8 Steps to Freeing the True You.

©Darlene Lancer 2015

Darlene Lancer, JD, MFT

Darlene Lancer is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and expert on relationships and codependency. She’s the author of Conquering Shame and Codependency: 8 Steps to Freeing the True You and Codependency for Dummies and six ebooks, including: 10 Steps to Self-Esteem, How To Speak Your Mind – Become Assertive and Set Limits, Dealing with a Narcissist: 8 Steps to Raise Self-Esteem and Set Boundaries with Difficult People, and Freedom from Guilt and Blame – Finding Self-Forgiveness, available on her website and Amazon. Ms. Lancer has counseled individuals and couples for 28 years and coaches internationally. She’s a sought-after speaker in media and at professional conferences. Her articles appear in professional journals and Internet mental health websites, including on her own, where you can get a free copy of “14 Tips for Letting Go.” Find her on Youtube.com, Soundcloud, Twitter @darlenelancer, and at www.Facebook.com/codependencyrecovery.

The Triangle of Victim, Rescuer, Persecutor – What It Is and How to Get Out.

Stephen Karpman, M.D., developed his “drama triangle” – victim, rescuer, persecutor – almost 40 years ago, and I find it’s just as relevant – and just as new to many people – as it was 40 years ago.

Even if you don’t spend much time yourself playing any of these three roles – you probably deal on a daily basis with people who do.

Knowing how to put our “big girl” or “big boy” pants on and get out of the triangle is essential when dealing with people who want to pull us in. Using our own wise mind to recognize when we’ve regressed into one of these roles ourselves (usually because of the usual culprit, needing to play those roles early in our family of origin conditioning) is also essential to make wise conscious choices in our intimate and social interactions with others.

May the reflections and exercises offered below save you much grief and help you enjoy healthy, game-free relationships.

REFLECTIONS

The drama triangle is a dynamic model of social interaction and conflict developed by Dr. Karpman when he was a student of Eric Berne, M.D. father of transactional analysis.

[Karpman and other clinicians point out that “victim, rescuer, and persecutor” refer to roles people unconsciously play, or try to manipulate other people to play, not the actual circumstances in someone’s life. There can be real victims of crime or racism or abuse, etc.]The three roles of the drama triangle are archetypal and easily recognizable in their extreme versions.

Victims

The stance of the victim is “poor me!” Victims see themselves as victimized, oppressed, powerless, helpless, hopeless, dejected, and ashamed, and come across as “super-sensitive,” wanting kid glove treatment from others. They can deny any responsibility for their negative circumstances and deny possession of the power to change those circumstances.

A person in the victim role will look for a rescuer, a savior, to save them (and if someone refuses or fails to do that, can quickly perceive them now as a persecutor.)

In terms of derailing resilience, victims have real difficulties making decisions, solving problems, finding much pleasure in life, or understanding their self-perpetuating behaviors.

Rescuers

The stance of the rescuer is “Let me help you!” Rescuers work hard to help and caretake other people, and even need to help other people to feel good about themselves, while neglecting their own needs or not taking responsibility for meeting their own needs.

Rescuers are classically co-dependent and enablers. They need victims to help and often can’t allow the victim to succeed or get better. They can use guilt o keep their victims dependent and feel guilty themselves if they are not rescuing somebody.

In terms of derailing resilience, rescuers are frequently harried, overworked, tired, caught in a martyr style while resentment festers underneath.

Persecutors

The stance of the persecutor is “It’s all your fault!” Persecutors criticize and blame the victim, set strict limits, can be controlling, rigid, authoritative, angry and unpleasant. They keep the victim feeling oppressed through threats and bullying.

In terms of resilience, persecutors can’t bend, can’t be flexible, can’t be vulnerable, can’t be human; they fear the risk of being a victim themselves. Persecutors yell and criticize but they don’t actually solve any problems or help anyone else solve the problem.

These are the most extreme versions of these three roles, but we can encounter people playing milder versions of these roles on a pretty regular basis.

Because Dr. Karpman was a student of transactional analysis at the time he identified these three roles on the drama triangle, there is a resemblance to the critical parent (persecutor) marshmallow parent (rescuers) and the wounded inner child (victim) Eric Berne described in Games People Play.

What gives the drama triangle much of its power and significance is the recognition that people will switch roles and cycle through all three roles without ever getting out of the triangle. Victims depend on a savior; rescuers yearn for a basket case; persecutors need a scapegoat.

The trap is, people are acting out these roles to meet personal (often unconscious) needs rather than being able to see the picture as a whole and take responsibility for their part in keeping the triangle going.

An example from “The Three Faces of Victim – An Overview of the Drama Triangle” by Lynne Forrest:

Dad comes home from work to find Mom and Junior engaged in a battle. “Clean up your room or else,” (persecutor) Mom threatens. Dad immediately comes to Junior’s rescue. “Mom,” he might say, “give the boy a break. He’s been at school all day.”

Any one of several possibilities might follow. Perhaps (persecutor) Mom, feeling victimized by Dad, will turn her wrath on him. In that case, she moves Dad from rescuer to victim. They then might do a few quick trips around the triangle with Junior on the sidelines.

Or maybe Junior joins Dad in a persecutory “Let’s gang up on Mom” approach, or then again, maybe Junior will turn on Dad, rescuing Mom with “Mind your own business, Dad. I don’t need your help!” So it goes, with endless variations, but nonetheless, pinging from corner to corner on the triangle. For many families, it’s the only way they know to interact.

(See Stories to Learn From below for more examples]

What’s needed is for anyone on the triangle to “wake up” to the roles they are playing repeatedly. One person shifting out of role can catalyze the others to shift out of roles and behaviors. What’s especially helpful is for the victim to begin to “grow up” and take responsibility for their own empowerment and resourcing themselves to meet their own needs.

[See Exercises to Practice below]Each role on the drama triangle has its own payoffs. Victims get to be take care of. Rescuers get to feel good by caretaking. Persecutors get to remain feeling superior to both victim and rescuer.

But the cost is to perpetuate a dysfunctional social dynamic and to miss out on the possibilities (and responsibilities) of healthy, resonant, resilient relationships.

POETRY AND QUOTES TO INSPIRE

It’s only when we become convinced that we can’t take care of ourselves that we move into victim. Believing that we are frail, powerless or defective keeps us needing rescue. Anxiety forces us to be always on the lookout for someone stronger or more capable to take care of us. This relegates us to a lifetime of crippling dependency on our primary relationships.

Victims deny both their problems solving abilities and their potential for self-generated power. This doesn’t prevent them from feeling highly resentful towards those on whom they depend. As much as they insist on being taken care of by their primary rescuers, they nonetheless do not appreciate being reminded of their inadequacy.
– Lynne Forrest

* * * * *

The rescuer is the classic co-dependent, enabling, overly protective – the one who wants to “fix it.” Taking care of others may be the rescuer’s best game plan for getting to feel worthwhile. There’s no better way to feel important than to be a savior!

Rescuers often gain satisfaction by identifying with their care-taking role. They are generally proud of what “helpers” and “fixers” they are. Often they are socially acclaimed, even rewarded, for what can be seen as “selfless acts” of caring. They believe in their goodness as chief caretakers and see themselves as heroes.

Behind it all is a magical belief, “If I take care of them long enough, then, sooner or later, they will take care of me, too.” Common phrases for the martyred rescuer are, “After all I’ve done for you, this is the thanks I get?” or “No matter how much I do, it’s never enough;” or “If you loved me, you wouldn’t treat me like this!”

A rescuer’s greatest fear is that they will end up alone. They believe that their total value comes from how much they do for others. It’s difficult for them to see their worth beyond what they have to offer in the way of “stuff” or “service.” They believe, “If you need me, you won’t leave me.” They scramble to make themselves indispensable in order to avoid abandonment.
– Lynne Forrest

* * * * *

The persecutor is actually shame based. This role is most often taken on by someone who received overt mental and/or physical abuse during their childhood. As a result, they are often secretly seething inside form a shame-based wrath that ends up running their lives.

They may choose to emulate their primary childhood abuser(s), preferring to identify with those they see as having power and strength – rather than become the “picked on loser” at the bottom of life’s pile. Persecutors tend to adopt an attitude that says, “The world is hard and mean; only the ruthless survive. I’ll be one of those.”

The persecutor overcomes feelings of helplessness and shame by over-powering others. Domination becomes their most prevalent style of interaction. This means they must always be right! Their methods include bullying, preaching, threatening, blaming, lecturing, interrogating, and outright attack.

The persecutor needs someone to blame. They deny their vulnerability in the same way rescuers deny their needs. Their greatest fear is powerlessness. Because they judge and deny their own inadequacy, fear and vulnerability, they will need some place else to project these disowned feelings. In other words, they need a victim.

It is most difficult for someone in the persecutor role to take responsibility for the way they hurt others. In their mind, others deserve what they get. These warring individuals tent to see themselves as having to constantly fight for survival. Theirs is a constant struggle to protect themselves in what they perceive as a hostile world.
– Lynne Forrest

* * * * *

[Out of the triangle….]The only way to “escape” the drama triangle is to function as an “adult” and not participate in the game.
– John Goulet, MFT, Breaking the Drama Triangle

* * * * *

Those in victim roles must learn to assume responsibility for themselves and initiate self-care, rather than look outside themselves for a savior. They must challenge the ingrained belief that they can’t take care of themselves if they are to escape the triangle. Instead of seeing themselves as powerless, they must acknowledge their problem solving as well as their leadership capabilities. There is no escape except to take total responsibility for their own feelings, thoughts, and reactions.

It is certainly possible to be helpful and supportive without being a rescuer. There is a distinct difference between being truly helpful and rescuing. Authentic helpers act without expectations for reciprocation. They empower rather than disable those they serve. What they do will be done to encourage self-responsibility rather than promote dependency. True supporters believe that the other can handle their own business. They believe that everyone has the right to make mistakes and learn through sometimes hard consequences. They trust the other has what it takes to see themselves through times of difficulty without rescuers needing to “save” them.

Self-accountability is the only way off the grid for the persecutor. There has to be some kind of breakthrough to them to own their part. Unfortunately, because of their great reluctance to do so, it may have to come in the form of crisis.
– Lynne Forrest

STORIES TO LEARN FROM

During the time my daughter and I were staying with my girlfriend and her daughter, I was missing a very expensive pair of earrings – over $200 worth, and announced to everyone what they looked like and asked had they seen them. Nope, no one had seen them.

Finally, one day, suspicious of my girlfriend’s daughter, I went into her room and looked into her jewelry box and there we my earrings! I snatched them back. When everyone was home later that night, I told everyone where I had found my earrings.

I was clearly the victim, right? The persecutor was clearly my girlfriends’ daughter and either my girlfriend or my daughter, who was very young, could have been the rescuer.

Well…My girlfriend could not come out of denial that her daughter had taken the earrings, and her daughter denied taking them, stating she had no idea how they wound up in her jewelry box, so my girlfriend began to feel angry at me for blaming her daughter, persecuting me but making me the persecutor and her daughter the victim and my girlfriend the rescuer of her daughter.

My girlfriend and her daughter not taking responsibility keeps us all in the triangle.
– Patty Fleener, MSW

* * * * *

A good example of the game could be this fictitious argument between John and Mary, a married couple. V = victim, R = rescuer, P = persecutor

John: I can’t believe you burnt dinner! That’s the third time this month! (P)
Mary: Well, little Johnny fell and skinned his knee. Dinner burned while I was busy getting him a bandage. (R)
John: You baby that boy too much! (P)
Mary: You wouldn’t want him to get an infection, would you? I’d end up having to take care of him while he was sick. (V)
John: He’s big enough to get his own bandage. (R)
Mary: I just didn’t want him bleeding all over the carpet. (R)
John: You know, that’s the problem with these kids? They expect you to do everything (R)
Mary: That’s only natural honey, they are just young. (R)
John: I work like a dog all day at a job I hate…(V)
Mary: Yes, you do work very hard, dear. (R)
John: And I can’t even sit down to a good dinner! (V)
Mary: I can cook something else, it won’t take too long. (R)
John: A waste of an expensive steak! (P)
Mary: Well maybe if you could have hauled your ass out of your chair for a minute while I was busy, it wouldn’t have gotten burned! (P)
John: You didn’t say anything! How was I supposed to know? (P)
Mary: As if you couldn’t hear Johnny crying? You always ignore the kids! (P)
John: I do not. I just need time to sit and relax and unwind after working all day! You don’t know what it’s like…(V)
Mary: Sure, as if taking care of the house and kids isn’t work! (P)

This argument could continue indefinitely. What is of interest is how one can remove oneself from the triangle. The simplest method is the non-defensive response. This works at any point no matter what the role the other person is taking as it doesn’t give a cue as to the next response.

For instance:

Mary: Well maybe if you could have hauled your ass out of your chair for a minute while I was busy, it wouldn’t have gotten burned! (P
John: Yes, that’s true.

Although Mary may attempt to restart the cycle by continuing to scolded, if John continues in the same vein, Mary will eventually run out of things to say. John’s calm response invites discussion rather than continued wrangling. Mary might realize that she didn’t ask him for help, and they might well be a le to resolve the situation by planning on a course of action should something similar arise in the future.

It works just as well for the victim role:

John I do not. I just need time to sit and relax and unwind after working all day! You don’t know what it’s like…(V)
Mary: I’m sorry you’re feeling so tired.

This acknowledges any real problem the other person might have without continuing the dance. Again, the other person may attempt to restart the cycle by continuing to complain, but again, with continued non-defensive response, the other person will run out of things to say.

Even the rescuer role can be treated in the same manner.

Mary: That’s only natural honey, they are just young. (R)
John: Yes, they are young.

Other excellent non-defensive response:

“Oh.”
“I see.”
“You may be right.”
– John Goulet, MFT, Breaking the Drama Triangle

EXERCISES TO PRACTICE

Because we all have unconscious core beliefs about ourselves and how to interact with other acquired in the relational dynamics of our families of origin, getting out of the drama triangle requires conscious awareness of any roles, victim, rescuer, persecutor or any others that we identify with and might be playing out currently, the capacity to discern healthier non-defensive, non-shaming-blaming responses when we sense we’re getting sucked into the roles of the triangle, and a willingness to take responsibility for our perceptions, reactions and behaviors when we wake up and know we are in the triangle.

This is basic wiser self application of our mindfulness practice to notice, acknowledge patterns, stepping back to reflect on them and the consequences of the, then dis-identify with them, not perpetuating the cycle, choosing wiser responses or behaviors.

Not to duck out of offering relevant exercises here, but the exercises in Chapter 16: Using Reflection to Identify Options in my book Bouncing Back: Rewiring Your Brain for Maximum Resilience and Well-Being are exactly the kinds of applications of your mindfulness practice that will help you get out of the triangle, or deal directly with anyone who is trying to pull you in.

RESOURCES

Karpman Drama Triangle the official website of Dr. Stephen Karpman’s Drama Triangle

A Game Free Life: the Drama Triangle and Compassion Triangle by Stephan Karpman, M.D. 2014.

Karpman Drama Triangle – Wikipedia

“The Three Faces of Victim – An Overview of the Drama Triangle” by Lynne Forrest.

Breaking the Drama Triangle by John Goulet, MFT

 

The End of Sex

https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/blog/darwins-subterranean-world/201910/the-end-sex

Verified by Psychology Today

When evolution, human sexuality, and the Western world collide.

Posted Oct 06, 2019

Note: This guest post is co-authored by Marianne Brandon and James Simon, with an epilogue by Glenn Geher.

His wife had gone to bed early, so he locked the basement door to ensure privacy. He had planned this moment all day. Unlike his wife, who seemingly had lost interest in sex years ago, his lover was waiting downstairs, eager to please. Never critical or demanding, with such soft eyes and skin, sex had become such a pleasure. He had even come to love the way his lover pronounced his name. In spite of being a robot, she somehow managed to say it with such tenderness. . .

Panajiotis Pixabay
Source: Panajiotis Pixabay

We have become a massive, unintended sexual experiment. Our understanding of sex and gender is evolving at astonishing rates. Paradoxically, as powerful, exhilarating, and necessary as this process is for our collective future, we are simultaneously at a perilous moment for the future of intimacy and intimate relationships.

Forcing sex into a politically correct paradigm annihilates it. 

Sexual frequency today is less than all prior decades studied—at least, people are having less sex with their partners. Rates of sexual dissatisfaction and sexual dysfunction are astoundingly high. This is due to a variety of factors that are merging to create a perfect storm—technological advances, mobile lifestyles, increasing daily tasks, rising expectations for long-term relationships, and information overload.

Yet there is something even more fundamentally awry. The very empowering of women and the culturally valued softening of men has suddenly created a new way of engaging in the bedroom as much as in the boardroom, and our evolutionary psychology has not caught up. This is a serious social problem because intimacy is not an expendable aspect of humanity.

Our insistence that men and women are more alike than different is true in almost all aspects of living, except for sex. Human sexuality—the sexuality of all mammals in general and primates in particular—has primal, biological roots. And when people work with, rather than against, these instincts, their sex gets better. Gender equality does not imply gender equivalence—at least, not in the bedroom.

The extraordinary gains provided by the feminist movement have been a thrilling first in modern history. Women’s expectations about sex have appropriately changed: They demand more pleasure from sex and an equal romantic partnership; women are more comfortable engaging in sexually open behaviors, including hook-ups and sexual experimentation.

It is not just women who have benefited. In contrast to old-fashioned, male sexual stereotypes, many mature men today enjoy sexually assertive women. They appreciate a social climate that supports releasing restrictive pressures always to be ready and interested in sex: always having to be the sexual initiator, and being responsible for their partners’ sexual pleasure. These shifts are reflected in many men gravitating to sexual relationships with older women, their interest in being the primary caretaker of their children, and a decreased concern with being the primary breadwinner of a household.

Many men are pleased to have escaped the pressure of old-fashioned stereotypes of masculinity—being eternally dominant, carrying the financial burden of the household, having a reduced role in parenting, and avoiding emotional expression. And those who identify with a non-binary sexual identity may now live authentically, with freedom of self-expression.

In spite of these many hard-fought liberties for all genders, in some surprising and very significant ways, sex has become more complicated. In the privacy of our respective psychological medical practices, we regularly hear women say, “In the bedroom, he is passive. Almost meek. It’s hard to respect him, let alone have sex with him!” Or, “He’s so cautious and hesitant in the bedroom! It’s such a turnoff.”

Outside of sexual role play in certain fetishistic circles, for most women, there is no pleasure in sexually dominating a weaker partner. For women in long-term, committed relationships, the exquisite feeling of sexual surrender may paradoxically be more likely to unfold with men who express their sensuality in a more bold, self-assured style—literally, when she’s not the strongest force in the bedroom.

The truth is that modern women enjoy the more lusty, primal aspects of love-making. Polite sex holds little interest for them—they’d rather do the dishes. And what about men? Despite the valuable outing of abhorrent men via #MeToo, our culture is filled with men who respect women, and who long to share fulfilling sexual relationships with the women they love.

These men have learned that to show respect to their female partners, they should obtain verbal permission for sex, and to avoid at all costs any behavior in the bedroom that may be regarded as aggressive or dominant. This sounds right in theory. Yet behind the closed doors of our offices, wives and girlfriends experience these men as passive and uninteresting in the bedroom. And before long, sex ceases.

What we are failing to recognize is that exciting, primal sex in a trusting, respectful relationship requires the same elements we vilify in men today. We teach men to contain their sexual interest, resist assertive overtures, and hide their sexual longing. How confusing it must be for a man to develop a sensitive, responsive, polite sexual style, only to be ultimately told by the woman he marries that he is a boring and uninteresting lover. How depressing for a woman who is confident and secure in her sexuality to feel sexually unmet by the man who is to be her sexual playmate for a lifetime.

Experiencing her partner’s sexual confidence and longing is a fundamental aspect of good sex for a majority of women. Stripping men of their sexual assertiveness diffuses women’s sexual pleasure. Women are not experiencing this shift in their relationship and sexual dynamics as empowering. They are grief-stricken over what their lives are missing.

In our noble efforts to make sex politically correct, we are ignoring a fundamental aspect of sexuality. Exciting sex—primal sex—emanates from the more ancient biology we share with other mammals. Our biological nature has instilled in all male and female mammals some basic, unique instincts that make them want sex. Human bodies continue to respond to sexual triggers as our ancestors did, thousands of years ago.

Our combination of an evolved cerebral cortex coupled with our primitive sexual biology presents interesting and often challenging scenarios for us all. While our minds have matured and evolved to think in very different ways than our primate ancestors, our bodies continue to receive sexual marching orders from our more primitive brain regions. Herein lies the potential for infinite difficulty. Without comfort with our most basic sexual instincts as male or female, it is challenging to build a creative sexual repertoire with a beloved long-term partner.

Without sex, couples describe themselves as best friends. Proud as such couples may be of feeling close and connected, they lack the desire to make love. What’s at stake here is something very basic to our humanity—our deepest connection to our chosen other, and to our own sexual selves.

We are heading down a dangerous path, yet we also have before us an extraordinary opportunity. For the first time in history, because of the equality and respect prompted by the feminist movement, we have the capacity to manifest extraordinary sex in long-term, committed relationships. Triumphantly, a woman can now choose to feel vulnerable during sex, because it feels good—not because she is forced into that role.

Exploring sex and relationships from an evolutionary perspective does not imply that men and women are destined to return to fixed sexual roles. An immutable sexual style would be unappealing for most modern couples. But comfort in our most basic instincts enables couples to manifest potent sexual reflexes that have more recently been denied.

Our next undertaking as feminists, male and female, is to return to our core and collect what is precious that we have lost in these last decades of battle. Our efforts to make sex less about the primal brain and, instead, more politically correct, are forcing exciting sex onto a darker playground. Increasingly, men and women are seeking outlets for their primal sexual energy that can be damaging to their intimate relationships, such as overuse of porn and extramarital affairs.

Sex robots will soon offer non-critical, always-available alternatives for those who find sexual relationships uncomfortably complex, anxiety-provoking, or just too much hassle. Technology can accomplish what sex used to—procreation and sexual satisfaction.

This future is not simply a sci-fi story. It is the next logical step from where we are. However, we can choose a different path. Passionate love-making and intimacy do not have to be a casualty of our social growth. Harnessing sexual instincts within a trusting, mutually respectful, intimate relationship can offer the glue that keeps intimacy strong and desirable. It feeds more than our sexual needs; it feeds the soul of our humanity.

Epilogue, by Glenn Geher

Understanding our sexuality is foundational to understanding the human experience. The nature of human sexuality evolved over millennia. Reproduction is as basic as any process when it comes to the living world.

Cultural evolution, which is ultimately a product of our biological evolution, progresses at a rapid pace compared with the pace of organic evolution. Cultural evolution is exciting and profound. As Drs. Brandon and Simon have articulated so clearly here, norms surrounding relationships and sexuality, resulting from cultural evolution, have been advancing at breakneck speed over the past several decades, leading to all kinds of novel attitudes, beliefs, and technologies.

While our brave new world has lots of amazing new opportunities and affordances for all of us, we need to always keep in mind that the modern world is deeply mismatched from ancestral human conditions in many important ways. (For more, see, Positive Evolutionary Psychology, by Geher & Wedberg.) And evolutionary mismatch often leads to problems.

When modern technology and human mating meet head-on, as is the case with sex robots and pornography, we need to look before we leap. Our evolved relationship psychology is the result of thousands of generations of organic evolution. As Drs. Brandon and Simon warn, we ignore our evolved sexual psychology to our own peril.

Marianne Brandon is a clinical psychologist and Diplomat in sex therapy. She is the author of Monogamy: The Untold Story, co-author of Reclaiming Desire: 4 Keys to Finding Your Lost Libido, and author of the ebook Unlocking the Sexy In Surrender: Using the Neuroscience of Power to Recharge Your Sex Life, as well as professional articles exploring evolutionary theory and sexuality, the challenges of monogamy, gender differences in sexual expression, and aging and sex.

James Simon is a clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the George Washington University School of Medicine, and he is the current President of the International Society for Study of Women’s Sexual Health. Simon served as principal investigator on more than 300 clinical trials, research grants, and scholarships in the area of women’s health. He has consistently been ranked as a top doctor nationally and internationally.

Facebook image: silverkblackstock/Shutterstock

Why Isn’t Psychotherapy Covered By Health Care? | Chris Curry

In terms of health care, we have it pretty good. If you are unfortunately diagnosed with cancer, most, if not all of your treatment will be paid for. If you break your leg, you can go to the ER and get a cast and leave without a bill. If you require surgery, the government will pay for that too. But what if your issue isn’t physical? What if what’s holding you back in life is a mental concern? Well, then you’re kind of out of luck.

Source: Why Isn’t Psychotherapy Covered By Health Care? | Chris Curry

 

There are indeed mental health services that are covered by provincial programs such as OHIP here in Ontario. We are all allowed free access to psychiatrists, which sounds great on the surface. But the real story is that most psychiatrists are incredibly overworked and many have waiting lists over a year long. For anyone who has ever experienced a mental health crisis, you know that waiting a year just isn’t an option.

And if you are mentally well enough to wait for that year (or more) there is only so much a psychiatrist can do for you with their limited time and vast client lists. Sure, they can prescribe and monitor your medication. But they typically don’t have time to sit down with you week after week and get to the real reasons why you are facing either depression, anxiety, addiction or any other mental health issue.

Psychotherapists specialize in that kind of ‘getting to the root of the problem’ type of therapy. And each year, countless lives are changed by the hundreds of excellent psychotherapists we have in this country. But for every life that is changed by psychotherapy, their lives are also changed by way of having to spend their hard-earned money and by prioritizing their mental health, sometimes at the expense of other important bills.

Whenever I am discussing treatment with a new client, their first question is inevitably ‘is this covered by the government?’

My answer has to unfortunately be ‘no, it’s not. But someday, I sure hope it will be.’

There are of course some private benefit packages that do cover psychotherapy but most of us are not lucky enough to have such in depth personal coverage from our employers. And that leaves many paying out of pocket for what can be a fairly costly expenditure.

If therapy was free for everyone in Canada, we would see an incredible reduction in the amount of sick days due to depression and anxiety. Productivity would go through the roof and our emergency rooms would be able to focus more of physical injuries instead of having to attend to mental health crises as well.

We are a progressive country and we lead in many areas. Unfortunately we are falling flat when it comes to mental health treatment. We’ve decided that only the rich and prosperous can have access to therapy.

And that just doesn’t sound very progressive to me.

Parents’ Toolkit | TVO Parents

Parents’ Toolkit | TVO Parents.


    • Homework Zone – Parents’ ultimate homework coach

    • Milestones: Is Your Child Developing Normally?

    • Instructional Videos for Newcomer Parents

    • Is Your Child Reading at the Right Level?

    • How Do Teachers Grade Your Children’s Writing?

    • Gisele’s Get Ready to Learn Activity Book

    • TVOParents Bookclub – Great reads for kids

    • Are You an Overprotective Parent? Take our quiz. And read our tips.

  • The Ontario Curriculum – what your kids are learning

  • Newcomers’ Guide to Elementary School

  • The Storytime Checklist – Reading with Your Preschooler

  • The EQAO Toolkit for Parents – What You Need to Know

  • What You Need to Know About Your Child’s Hearing and Vision

  • Everything You Need to Know About Bullying

  • Homework Help for the Whole Family

What is Attachment and Why is it Important? | TVO Parents

What is Attachment and Why is it Important? | TVO Parents.

Young children need to have a secure relationship with at least one parent or caregiver in order to develop socially, emotionally, and cognitively. In a nutshell, that is the premise of attachment theory.

This should not be confused with attachment parenting. Attachment parenting is a philosophy born out of attachment theory but it is a parenting style, involving baby wearing and co-sleeping.

Instead, attachment theory focuses on child development and how good early experiences with caregivers help children learn, meet developmental milestones, and become secure, independent people. All parents need to do is give love, attention, and protection.

“We know from the newest science that in fact the early experiences that babies have and the quality of those experiences actually has the potential to change the architecture of the brain,” says Chaya Kulkarni, the director of Infant Mental Health Promotion at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto. “This is groundbreaking for this field because it really means that those first two years in a child’s life can influence and impact their long-term development. It literally does influence who they become as an adult.”

What does a secure attachment relationship give to a child?

  • The ability to regulate their emotions, behaviour, and attention
  • A sense of self
  • Curiosity and exploration
  • Cognitive development and language development
  • Social skills
  • The ability to parent in the future

So what does a secure attachment relationship look like? According to child psychologist and attachment expert Sonya Vellett, from the Calgary Urban Project Society, a healthy attachment relationship involves:

  • The parent understanding and accurately interpreting what the child is trying to communicate through cues like crying, babbling, gesturing, or behaviour.
  • The parent providing what the child needs, whether that be safety, security, or supporting the child’s exploration.
  • The parent watching over the child, helping when necessary, and providing comfort and empathy when the child is upset.
  • The caregiver taking over when needed and setting appropriate limits.
  • The caregiver coming back later and fixing “ruptures” in the relationship. For instance, if you were rushed making dinner and didn’t allow your child to help, you should go back later on and acknowledge that maybe you didn’t handle the situation well and you will let them help next time.

A lot of what is listed above sounds pretty intuitive and many parents just do those things naturally. But sometimes it doesn’t come easily for parents. Some babies don’t give clear cues so parents don’t know what they want or misinterpret what they want.

“Temperament can play a role in this as well,” says Kulkarni. “If a parent and a child have different temperaments and can’t find a common or comfortable meeting place, that can play a role. And so in those situations, intuition doesn’t always work because you’re doing what you think is intuitively right and that baby is still crying.”

Things like mental illness, postpartum depression, and addiction can also interfere with the establishment of a good attachment relationship. For an example of how important the parent-baby bond is, and what happens when that connection is broken, watch the Still Face Experiment. This experiment, conducted by Dr. Edward Tronic ofHarvard University, is a dramatic example of how things like parental depression can impact a child’s well-being.

“[The purpose] of the Still Face Experiment is to give us information about what happens to children when they have a caregiver who is suffering from significant depression and is unavailable and unresponsive,” says Vellett. “And to see how quickly that is upsetting for the child, often to the point where the child starts to lose postural control and lose the ability to regulate their internal state. Kids will start hiccupping; spitting up… the impact on them is dramatic.”

Postpartum depression affects up to 20 percent of new moms, and severe depression can cause a rupture in the attachment relationship. But, a father or grandparent can fill in and have a nurturing and responsive relationship with the child.

And if a bond isn’t established at the beginning, it isn’t too late. “I know some parents worry if I don’t get it right in the first year or the first three years, it’s all over,” says Nancy Cohen, Director of Research at the Hincks-Dellcrest Centre in Toronto. “In fact, that’s not the case. Children can benefit from their later experiences. But optimally it’s best for a child to have a good secure attachment relationship from the get-go.”

The following videos will give you more about attachment relationships and tips on bonding with baby

Read all of the tips from our partnership with Infant Mental Health Promotion at SickKids to educate parents about the importance of healthy brain development in the early years of a child’s life.

Boyhood Is Not a Mental Illness: The American Spectator :

The American Spectator : Boyhood Is Not a Mental Illness.

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THE MALE SPECTATOR

Boyhood Is Not a Mental Illness

Suspended for chewing a Pop-Tart into a gun?

All the employees of school districts on a witch hunt to expel and otherwise permanently punish young boys for shooting toy guns or forming their fists into the shape of a gun need to read Back to Normal.

The purpose of psychologist Enrico Gnaulati’s 2013 book is to argue how ordinary childhood behavior is often misdiagnosed as ADD, ADHD, depression and autism — frequently with life-long, disturbing consequences. But along the way he raises the taboo question of whether we “label boys as mentally unstable, behaviorally unmanageable, academically underachieving, in need of special-education services, or displaying behavior warranting school suspension just because their behavior deviates noticeably from that of the average girl?”

He adds, “In a sense, girl behavior has become the standard by which we judge all kids.”

He cites numerous studies showing that typical boy behavior – wrestling, rough games of tag, good guy/bad guy imaginative play that involves “shooting” — are condemned by preschool and elementary school teachers, the vast majority of whom are women,  without the behavior being redirected appropriately to release boys’ “natural aggression.” Boys who play in the way noted above are not on a path to mass murder, contrary to what zero tolerance school policies suggest. For the vast majority of them, they are simply on the path to manhood. I wonder how many of us who recognize that truth still stifle our boys’ rough play or cowboy shoot outs out of fear of the new rules – reinforcing the capriciousness of regulations in young minds who will one day asked to make them.

Without changes to rigid policies and attitudes about what constitutes good behavior, we will be on a path as a society to generating mass confusion and depression in boys whose natural tendencies are being relabeled as criminal traits or medical problems that need to be treated.

This is not just an existential threat. As unorthodox feminist Camille Paglia said recently in remarks at American University:

Extravaganzas of gender experimentation sometimes precede cultural collapse, as they certainly did in Weimar Germany.  Like late Rome, America too is an empire distracted by games and leisure pursuits.  Now as then, there are forces aligning outside the borders, scattered fanatical hordes where the cult of heroic masculinity still has tremendous force.  I close with this question:  is a nation whose elite education is increasingly predicated on the neutralization of gender prepared to defend itself against that growing challenge?

If that sounds crazy, is it wrong to worry how the massive increase in the number of children taking anti-depressants and other drugs as a result of skyrocketing diagnoses of ADHD, bipolar disorder and autism spectrum disorder will impact their lives?

Many drugs used to treat the above disorders cause serious problems, including mood swings, sleeplessness, weight gain, weight loss and slower growth. And then there is the long-term impact of a mental health diagnosis, which can create a sense that the child is not in control of his actions because it is purely a chemical imbalance in the brain.

As Gnaulati writes, however, in many cases it’s “causes — plural, not singular — that explain why a child behaves the way he or she does.”

“On any number of occasions in my practice over the years,” he writes, “I have seen how a mildly depressed or ADHD-like kid can be transformed by a change of teacher, a change of school, signing up for a sport, a reduced homework load, a summer abroad, a front-of-the-class seating arrangement, a month living away from home with an even-tempered aunt, or any of a host of other everyday steps.”

Many forces conspire to push a mental health diagnosis, from rules on health insurance to schools achieving certain goals under federal No Child Left Behind law. Gnaulati’s book should give parents struggling with a difficult child hope that their child may not be permanently mentally ill, but going through a difficult stage that can be treated without medication. And it should give school administrators perspective on how best to handle unruly boys and channel their energy without condemning their nature. At the very least, we don’t need any more boys suspended for chewing a Pop-Tart into a gun.

Returning to work after mental health issues – Mental health – Live Well

Returning to work after mental health issues – Mental health – Live Well.

 

Returning to work after mental health issues

If you’ve had time away from work, or have been long term unemployed due to mental or emotional health problems, you’re not alone. Almost 50% of long-term absences from work are due to mental health issues, including depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder.

People who have had a mental health problem and been out of work often worry about going back. Common concerns include facing discrimination or bullying, and going back too soon and feeling unwell again.

According to a recent report by the Royal College of Psychiatrists on mental health and work, “…many people with mental health problems fear that, no matter how good a recovery they have made, their symptoms will be made worse by going back to work.”

However, although work can cause stress to some people in some situations, recent research shows that for most people:

  • Work is beneficial to health and wellbeing.
  • Not being in work is detrimental to health and wellbeing.
  • Re-employment after a period of being out of work leads to an improvement in health and wellbeing.

The benefits of being in work can include:

  • a greater sense of identity and purpose
  • an opportunity to build new friendships
  • an improved financial situation and security
  • a feeling that you’re playing an active part in society

Going back to work after a period of ill health is usually a positive experience. This applies to people who have had severe mental health problems, such as bipolar disorder, as well as people coping with more common issues such as anxiety.

Returning to your job after taking sick leave

You don’t have to be 100% better or well to do your job, or at least some of it, and the benefits of returning to work generally outweigh the downsides.

If you already have a job that is still open for you, talk to your GP about going back to work. They can give you advice as part of your fit note. The fit note includes space for your GP to give you general advice about the impact of your illness, and to suggest ways in which your employer could support your return to work.

You may then like to arrange a meeting with your employer and/or your occupational health advisor. You can discuss anything that concerns you about returning to work, including your GP’s recommendations, and ask for some adjustments to make the transition back into work easier. Under the Disability Discrimination Act (1995) and the Equality Act (2010), your employer has a legal duty to make “reasonable adjustments” to your work. Depending on your particular circumstances, you might like to ask about:

  • Flexible hours, for instance you might like to return part-time, or start later in the day if you’re sleepy from medication in the mornings.
  • Support from a colleague, in the short or long term.
  • A place you can go to for a break when needed.

Access to Work

The Government provides support to help people with mental health problems continue to work, or find a new job.

You can find out more about the Access to Work scheme on the GOV.UK website. An Access to Work grant helps pay for practical support so that you can continue to do your job.

Looking for a new job

If you’re unemployed and want to get back into work, staff at your local Job Centre, your GP or your mental health worker can all give you advice about getting back into work.

If you have ongoing mental health issues, you can speak to the Disability Employment Advisor at your local Job Centre. They can tell you about the opportunities that are available to help people with mental health problems get back to work.

There are a number of different issues to consider and research when you’re thinking about getting back to work, including:

  • where you would like to work
  • what kind of work you’d like to do
  • what type of support you may need
  • your current financial situation, including any benefits you’re receiving related to your health

Full-time paid employment is not the only option available to you. There are a number of possibilities that may suit you, such as part-time work, or volunteering.

Volunteering

Volunteering is a popular way of getting back into working life. Helping other people in need is great for your self-esteem and can help take your mind off your own concerns. Plus, volunteer work can improve your chances of getting a paid job when you’re ready, and until then you can continue to claim your benefits. Find out more about how to volunteer.

Your rights and the law

Some people worry that when they apply for a job, they’ll be discriminated against if they admit that they have, or have had, mental or emotional health problems.

However, new provisions in the Equality Act 2010 make it illegal for employers to ask health or health-related questions before making a conditional offer of employment. Furthermore, it is illegal under the Equalities Act to discriminate against any kind of disability, including mental health issues.

Further information

You can also find information on GOV.UK about:

The Official Positive Discipline Website – Positive Solutions for Parents and Teachers

The Official Positive Discipline Website by Founder Dr. Jane Nelsen – Positive Solutions for Parents and Teachers.

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Teen MotivationWhen parents ask, “How do I motivate my teen?” they usually mean, “How do I get my teen to do what I want? How do I get her to have some balance in her life? How do I get him off the computer, get outside, or do just about anything except sitting around doing nothing?” Read More

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House Rules and Boundaries for Older Children Still Living at Home

House Rules and Boundaries for Older Children and Teens Still Living at Home.

Rules, Boundaries and Older Children

by James Lehman, MSW

Do you have a child between the ages of 17 and 23 living with you? If you’re in constant conflict with an older child over everything from curfews (should they have one or shouldn’t they?) to getting a job to alcohol use, James Lehman offers advice on how to set reasonable limits, and how to coach your child to responsibility and independence.(Part 1 of a 3 part series.)

“I want you to think of your adult children as guests. Not as children. How would you let a guest act? When would you draw the line with a guest?”

Parents feel they have to take care of their kids, whether they are 9 or 19 years old. But as kids get older, they engage in more risky behavior, and “taking care of them” becomes more challenging.  When they’re five, they’re climbing the monkey bars and you’re worried they’re going to break their arm.  At eleven they’re starting to play football or baseball and you’re afraid they might get hurt with a piece of equipment.  At 16, they’re starting to drive, they’re often getting money on their own, and they’re around people with drugs.  On the surface, they may seem much more independent, but actually they are simply much more able to put their parents off and hide what’s really going on with them.

Related: Fighting with your adult child?

Kids between the ages of 17 and 23 have a lot of thinking errors.  Just like you can have a spelling error, and misspell a word, you can have a thinking error in which you misread life’s problems and come out with the wrong solutions.  When kids start hitting their late teens, you’ll hear them saying things that indicate they see themselves as victims.  “It’s not my fault.” “I couldn’t help it.” “I only stayed out an hour late and you want to punish me?” They become much more adept at manipulating their parents by blaming them for being too rigid and strict. You’ll hear kids say, “I’m getting older now. You should trust me more.”  But the fact is, they’re not getting that much older.  Teenage mentality lasts from early adolescence until 22 or 23 years of age.  Most of the research shows kids are still using the same parts of their brain at 22 that they were using at 15.  Their brain is still developing in their early 20’s.  So they are not that much more prepared for adult situations.  But parents can get sucked into the thinking error that “You owe me. You owe me a place to live. You shouldn’t be too rigid.”  When parents hear this enough, they start to feel guilty for the rules by which they have chosen to live.  They begin to think they’re too strict just for trying to implement the rules they’ve always had since their kids were young.

How to Enforce the Rules of the House with Older Kids

I think parents should have two levels of rules with their older children who are still living at home. The first are the rules of your household that reflect your values, structure and moral authority.  For example: People don’t abuse people around here.  That doesn’t change at 18 or 19. That rule never changes.  No drugs and alcohol, especially if you’re under age.  That doesn’t change at 18 or 19.  That’s the rule.  No stealing. No lying.  I would keep those rules very clear, because you don’t want to start having double standards with older kids, especially if you have other younger kids in the home.

The second level of rules is the one that enables parents to live with young adults.  Certainly, young adults should get more responsibility and independence, but they have to earn it.  If you’ve got a job, you get more independence.  Should kids be able to stay out all night because they’re over 18?  Absolutely not.  If they’re living in your house, they have to let you know that they’re okay.  That may mean calling in if they decide to sleep over at someone’s house.  You have a right as a parent to expect this.

Related: Learn how to restore peace in your home today

The most important part of having rules with older children is the discussion that establishes those rules. When a child is about to turn 18,  parents need to have a serious discussion about what the rules are going to be in order for everyone to live together. It should be a sit down, and you should write everything down that you agree to so that everything is clear. What can you do?  What can’t you do?  How will we support you in what you can do?  What’s going to happen if you do what you’re not supposed to do?  What is forbidden?  These things should be clearly spelled out.

There’s a thin line between carrying your kids and being supportive of them.  I think when someone is 18, if they finish high school, they should be supporting themselves financially.  There should be no job too menial that they can’t take it until they find something better.  Many kids don’t give a darn in high school, aren’t ready for a better job, and they resent the fact that they have to work at McDonald’s, 7-11 or some other starting out position. So they avoid doing it and  think they’re better than that. This is a thinking error—a complete cognitive distortion that you shouldn’t accept as a parent. Parents need to say to older kids, “You made your choices in high school, and now if you want to better yourself, you’re going to have to go to school at night.  If you want to better yourself, you’re going to have to start out in a junior college. If we can’t pay for  college full time, you’re going to have to work and go to school part time.”

Everyone in the home should know what the rules are, and it’s important to lay it all out before the child turns 18.  For example, the rule on drinking: “If you come home drunk, you will not be allowed to live in our house.”  It can be you’re out of the house for a few days, a few weeks or forever.  Just establish the rule, write it down and explain to the child that he is over 18, and this is how we have to live with this issue. If kids get belligerent and violent after 18 (or at any time, in my opinion) the police should be called. 

Think of Your Adult Children as a Guests—Not as Children

If you feel compromised and taken advantage of by an older child, you need to realize this: the child is an adult now.  He may not act it, but he is an adult. He’s living under your roof.  He has to follow your laws.  I want you to think of your adult children as guests.  Not as children.  That’s the most important thing to do.  They’re done with high school; they are now guests in your home.  How would you let a guest act?  When would you draw the line with a guest?  When would you feel you have to call the police with a guest?

When my son went to college, one of the biggest shocks he had was when we started to refer to his room as the guest room. I remember him saying, “But that’s my room.” We said, “No, that’s the guest room. You can stay there anytime you want, for as long as you want, as long as you live our way.” We said it with love and kindness, but we wanted him to see his role in a different way—as an adult.

Related: Having trouble getting through to your child?

For parents who are very anxious and have a lot of fears about their kids, this sounds like a difficult thing to say. I know that. But it’s really the best thing to say because you need to let these kids know that they have to start to make it on your own.   In effect, you are saying, “You’ve had 18 years to learn how to make it on your own. Now’s the time to put it into practice. Whatever you’ve chosen not to learn or chosen not to do over those 18 years, you’re going to have to pay a price for that now.”

The bottom line is, sometimes kids have to start out small. There’s no shame in that, and you have to make that very clear.  Even if it doesn’t match up with what you had hoped for your child. Many young adult children often have a false sense of entitlement.  I met many kids in my practice who refused to go to school, and could only read and write at a seventh or eighth grade level at best.  They told me they were going to be video game programmers, basketball players or rap singers.  That’s how they were putting off their anxiety.  If you’re talking to a kid who says, “I’m not making it in school, but I’m gonna be a rap singer. I wrote a few songs tonight,” that’s the way that that kid is postponing his anxiety.  What he’s really saying is, “I’m so scared about the future, I have to make up this fantasy, and then I’m gonna cling to it.”  Then, if you challenge that fantasy and say, “Wait a minute. There’s 20 million kids out there. What makes you think you can do it?”  the kid says, “You don’t believe in me. You don’t have any faith in me.” He turns it right around on you until you’re the problem.  His not studying is not the problem.  You’re not believing in his fantasy becomes the problem.

When you have these different currents coming together in a home where parents are living with an older child, it can get very uncomfortable for everyone, if not hostile.  The way to keep that hostility at bay is to have clarity beforehand.   Get the expectations and the consequences down on paper–literally.  Write them down and expect the child to live by them.

I have known many parents who couldn’t get their adult children out of bed. They think that they’re helping their adult children by giving them a roof over their head and not making them be responsible because they’re afraid for their kids.  But what they’re afraid of can only be cured by that kid getting out of bed and doing something for himself.  The parent is afraid the child is not going to amount to anything, that he’s not going to find a good job, that he’s not going to make it in school, that he’s going to get into trouble socially.  But the thing that addresses those fears is to get him up at eight o’clock in the morning and get him out there looking for a job.  Tell him to leave with his lunch, a cell phone and the internet want ads and don’t come back.

This may sound harsh.  You’re pushing someone out into a world that they have to deal with.  But you’re not pushing them out of a plane without a parachute.  You’re pushing them out into the street without any money.  The solution to that problem is getting a job.  Many times parents use their own fears, anxieties and sense of guilt and remorse to justify not doing what they would do to a guest.  Out of fear, they choose not to expect out of their child what they expect out of themselves and each other every day. (Part 1 of a 3 part series. Please also see “In Response to Parents of Older Children” and “Rules, Boundaries and Older Children: Is it Ever too Late to set up a Living Agreement?” .

There has been overwhelming response and interest in last month’s article on adult children. It was viewed over 10,000 times, was our second most emailed article ever, and has received the most reader comments of any article we’ve ever published. I must say I’m not surprised about this, since in my private practice I dealt with many parents who had terrible problems with children who were over 18 and still living at home. I believe this phenomenon has become a national problem. As the cost of living goes up, adult children who are not really prepared for the workforce have to make some sacrifices. Unfortunately today, kids don’t like making sacrifices and parents don’t want to enforce sacrifices.

“Be specific. ‘I want you to put in three applications a day. I want you making three follow up phone calls a day. And if you verbally abuse me, you’re out of the house for 24 hours.’ Remember: Nothing changes if nothing changes.”

A few notes before we begin. In this forum, I will not address individual cases or parents. The reason is that this forum is not counseling or therapy and should never be misconstrued as such. Rather, this is a place where I can offer you my personal opinion from 30 years of professional experience. What I will do here (and what I believe will be helpful for the most readers) is respond to the important themes that recurred within many of your responses. This will be a long article, because I see so many issues that call for discussion. If you posted a question after Part One of “Rules, Boundaries and Older Children” last month, or if you are struggling with an adult child, I hope you’ll take the time to read my response to readers here, and that it will help you and your family.

For Readers Whose Adult Children are Verbally Abusing them and Destroying Property
The theme that stood out most is the tremendous amount of verbal abuse that adult children are laying on their parents. Along with verbal abuse and cursing, I saw many of you writing about destruction of property and your adult child’s refusal to communicate and respond. This may sound harsh, but I think it’s amazing how people will make excuses for that type of behavior. It’s understandable that parents make excuses for younger kids who are abusive, hoping they’ll grow out of it. But I think once these kids are adolescents and adults, their behavior patterns are very set, and you need to know that adult children won’t take the time and trouble to learn new behavior patterns unless they’re forced to.

Adult children who use verbal abuse, aggression and destruction of property to deal with their parents are still using intimidation and force to solve complex problems. When you’re 18, 19, or 20 and all the things your parents told you are coming true—that you’re not prepared for the work force, that you should have studied harder, that you need to push yourself—it is easy to get resentful and blame and intimidate your parents. Because that’s easier than getting a job and working your way up. That’s easier than learning how to live with a roommate because you can’t afford your own apartment and a car at the same time. One thing we know about human beings is that they will, by their nature, take the easy way out. In this case, the easy way out is being oppressive to your parents so that you don’t feel any stress.

Related: Fighting with your adult child?

I think that parents also have to take some of the responsibility for this behavior. In the last twenty years, so many parents did everything they could to ensure that their kids didn’t feel discomfort because letting your kids feel discomfort was considered a bad thing. I know because I’ve dealt with so many of these parents. They fought with the schools. They protected their kids from consequences. In many cases they let things slide that they knew were wrong. They made excuses for the kids. And what they ended up with is a kid who is not prepared to deal with the injustice, stress and discomfort of life. Making a transition from adolescence to adulthood is very stressful, uncomfortable and difficult. It involves solving some very complex problems about how you’re going to live, where you’re going to live, who you’re going to live with, and what you’re going to do with your life. Although many kids solve those problems in a non-destructive way, there is a sub-group of kids who still make it their parent’s problem and society’s problem and everybody else’s problem. If you’re dealing with one of these adult children, it will take all the strength and commitment you can muster to force this child to become independent.

I noticed in one of the responses that the parents thought I was telling them to throw their kids out. I am not saying that at all. But I am saying that your kids won’t change until you do something drastic. Making them leave the home is one of those things that may have to be done.

As a parent, I understand the difficulty, fear and anxiety of sending your child out into the world. But also as a parent, I know that the best personality characteristic that you can give a child is independence. The best knowledge you can give them is how to solve life’s problems. If they’re still at home cursing at you, abusing you, not getting a job, sleeping until noon and playing video games all day, they are not independent and they are not solving life’s problems. There’s no gray area there. Parents have to be very strong in demanding that their kids start to face their situation in life before it gets worse.

Let’s be clear: from an adult child’s point of view, this is a great life. Somebody’s paying the rent, there’s food in the refrigerator, they get to party with their friends, they don’t have to be anywhere at any time. They get to avoid all stress, and if their parents give them a hard time, they bully them. Nice life. If parents are willing to live that way, you don’t have to read any more of my articles. You’ve found the solution that works for you. But if you’re determined not to live that way, I’m here to tell you that you don’t have a lot of choices. You need to make a drastic change.

Here is my recommendation on what that drastic change looks like. Number one, you set some simple structure and some rules for your child. Rules like: You need to get up at a certain time. You need to go out and look for jobs. You can’t sit around and play video games all day. Be specific. “I want you to put in three applications a day. I want you making three follow-up phone calls a day. And if you verbally abuse me, you’re out of the house for 24 hours.” You don’t care where they go. Let them go to their aunt’s house or their friend’s house. Let them figure out where they’ll stay. They’re out of the house for 24 hours.

I want to make a distinction here. What I just suggested is a consequence. It’s not preparation for life. If they’re verbally abusive a second time or destroy property, they’re out of the house for three days or a week. You don’t care where they go. They’ll tell you they’re partying at their friend’s house. Let them party. All you know is that they can’t stay in your house. This is a consequence for disrespecting your home and your values. This is not a preparation for independence. (See the discussion below and in part two of my article on “Rules, Boundaries and Older Children”, which will be featured in Empowering Parents in a few weeks, for suggestions on how to prepare kids for independence.) This is used strictly to get some control in your house. If you have adult children who are verbally abusing you and breaking things, your house is out of control. I don’t know how you can live there.

Use the police. Put his bags out on the sidewalk, call the cops and say, “He doesn’t live here anymore.” Don’t play games or you’re not going to own your own home.

I’ve worked with plenty of parents who had to do this. They were all afraid to do it. I understood that. They got into their situation because they were mortally afraid their kid would face discomfort. But when all other efforts failed, they had to call the cops to get the kid to change.

Let me be straight with you and offer you some empowerment. You’ve raised this kid. You’ve invested everything in him and now you have to tiptoe around the house? That is unacceptable. To the parents who are willing to live this way, I tip my hat to you. But I personally could not live with that, and I’m not willing to.

Kids learn best when parents use parenting roles such as teaching, problem-solving, limit setting. On the other hand, parents who are martyrs and excuse-makers wind up with children who won’t and don’t know how to respond to the demands of young adult life. And nothing changes if nothing changes. For your sake and the sake of your child, demand change now.

For Readers who are Struggling with Getting their Adult Child to be Independent and Move Out
Once you’ve established that they can’t abuse and intimidate you and train you to give into them, then you have to help them prepare themselves for adulthood, even though they’re young adults. First, you have to force them to find work, no matter how menial they think that work is. The way that you force them to do that is you establish a time when they get up in the morning. Then they read the want ads, they go out, they put in job applications. On weeknights, they can’t stay out past a certain time. They have to live as if they have a job. If they’re not willing to do that, you fall back on the consequence structure that I outlined for you earlier. Number two, once they get that job, they have to pay room and board—not to add to the money of the household, but so you can put it away and have enough money for them to talk about moving out. They have to sit down once they have a job and work with you on doing a budget. The kid should have so much money for recreation, so much money for room and board, so much money for his savings, even if it’s only ten dollars a week. If he can’t open up a savings account yet, he gives the money to the parents to hold. He doesn’t put it in his drawer. And he has to live on that budget. You should not rescue him. You’re already providing a safe place to live. These mundane, basic skills make the difference between the kids who learn how to survive out there and the kids who can’t seem to make it.

Related: Having trouble getting through to your child?

Again, if this seems harsh to you, think about it this way. If this kid gets a job and spends all his money and can live at home, why would he ever move out? If you have a job at $12 an hour and you’re living at home for free, that’s like having a job for $25 an hour. Kids are going to want to live that way if you don’t make them uncomfortable. If you don’t demand change.

I want parents to think of the future. Not what are you doing for your child today. But what are you doing for your child tomorrow? If you’re supporting him today and making excuses for him today and buying his excuses, what you’re doing to your child of tomorrow is continuing his crippled attitude toward life. I can’t do it because…then fill in the blank. Because they don’t pay enough. Because they don’t like me. Because I don’t like doing that kind of work. Because I won’t work in fast food. Just fill in the blank. By not demanding change, what you’re doing to your child of tomorrow is not forcing him to prepare to learn how to live independently. He has to solve the problem of learning how to support himself. Make no mistake about it: If you tell a kid he has to work and he doesn’t, and you tolerate that and just continue to fight about it, you’re saying to him, in a non- verbal way, that he’s a cripple and you know it. You’re saying to him he’s not as good as the other kids, and you know it. You’re saying you’re willing to put up with this because you know that there’s something wrong with him. That’s the message he’s getting. So, he thinks there’s something wrong with him because he doesn’t know how to deal with discomfort and stress.

So, to push him, make demands of him, hold him accountable and give him consequences, are all really ways of saying, “You can do it and I expect you to. In fact, I demand you to.” It’s never too late to deal with children in a teaching, limit-setting and coaching way. If you don’t know how to do that specifically, we offer a program that can help you here on the Empowering Parents web site. Parents can start anytime, as long as they’re willing to deal with the discomfort of demanding that their kids change and holding them responsible. It may feel like the hardest thing you’ll ever have to do. But it could save your kid’s life.

As a parent, I’ve had my ups and downs with my son. He’s self-supporting now, but that situation has been on and off for many years. He’s 31 years old, and he’s a real nice guy. I love him. But if he lost his job and he moved back home, he’d have to pay rent, come up with a budget and get a job. And I’d help him in any way I could. But if he verbally abused me or his mother, he’d have to go. It’s just that simple. I’ve worked all my life. I’m not going to take abuse now. So when I urge you to push your kid, understand that it’s exactly the way I pushed mine. If you don’t want to do it, that’s your choice. But, once I offer you a solution, if you come back and say you can’t do it, I don’t have another solution. Forget all the razzle-dazzle and the hype talk of the 80’s and 90’s. If you don’t work hard, you fall behind. If you don’t learn how to solve problems, you get stuck. If you don’t know how to deal with discomfort and stress, you’re going to have a hard time making it until you learn how to deal with these things. That’s the reality for adult children.

What to Do If Your Adult Child Is Stealing from You
Many parents wrote in and told of their struggles with an adult child who steals from them, be it credit card theft, stealing money from the house or forging checks. Stealing is absolutely intolerable. Whether it’s stealing from parents or siblings, it’s a crime. Know this: the laws don’t change inside the walls of your house. If I steal $20 from you on the street, that’s stealing. And if somebody steals $20 from you in your home, that’s stealing. And if it’s an adult, it’s a crime. It’s called larceny.

If your adult child steals from you, first of all, you should tell him, “Go upstairs, pack a bag and come back downstairs in five minutes.” When he comes back downstairs with a bag, say, “Here are your choices. You’re out of here for a week, and if you don’t stop stealing, you’re not coming back.” And I would call the police. I would pack a bag, put it on the curb, call the police and say, “He doesn’t live here anymore. He stole from us.” I’ve worked with many parents whose kids broke back into the house and they pressed charges for burglary. You have to be really clear with the police and tell them that he doesn’t live there anymore and you have to put his stuff out on the sidewalk. It’s going to cause a scene. You’re going to be embarrassed. But you can live in a little prison where you’re being abused and where there’s a predator stealing from you, or you can break out of that prison. It will take some noise, but you can break out of that and not be a victim.

Parents need support and help, and I understand what they’re going through because I came from this kind of family and I’ve worked with these families for three decades. But you also need to understand, you didn’t work like a dog all your life just to be in prison now. Ask yourself: is this what we worked for all our lives? We dealt with discomfort. We dealt with stress. We dealt with unhappiness. We had to come up with humility. Is this what we worked for now? That our adult son is going to live with us, steal from us, abuse us and make our lives miserable? If the answer is yes, I say go to it. I’m not here to contradict that. But if your answer is no, then you need to make some changes, and you need to make them now. It begins with getting him out of bed tomorrow morning and calling in the authorities if he gets abusive.

Parents are supposed to have a certain amount of power in our society just by virtue of being a parent. Sadly, in many cases, that is not the story. If you’re living with an abusive adult child who is committing crimes against you and your home, he obviously does not respect your power as a parent. So, you need civil power. You need the civil authorities. Don’t hesitate to use them. Everybody else is going to use them. Why shouldn’t you? Let me tell you one more thing that’s going to sound cold. If your kid does ten days in jail, good. Because he’s not going to curse at people and intimidate them in there. If success is having a job and being productive, then failure is sitting in a county jail. Ten days in jail can teach your child that it’s time for him to reach for something in between.

Let him share some of your pain and discomfort and see how he likes it. Because this is important: if you’re willing to do something about it, he will become willing to do something about it. He will not become willing to do something about it as long as you remain unwilling.

Fear of Responsibility: Adult Children Who Hide out Playing Video Games and Sleeping
In adolescence, kids want to be independent and free. They can’t wait to get out of their parent’s house and tell them what a pain in the neck they are. But the fact is that many kids, before they graduate from high school, do some acting out and show some anxiety or depression because they’re terrified of what’s on the other side of that. They’ve been safe in grade school, middle school, high school and in their families all their lives. Many kids are able to deal with these problems and they prepare to grow into the next stage of life. But there are those kids who, for whatever reason, are not prepared to grow into the next stage, and it shows in their behavior. The kids who are not prepared to take responsibility in their lives become angry, resentful and do irresponsible things. They’re terrified of change, and they’ll do anything to avoid it, including partying all night, sleeping until 2 pm and doing nothing but playing video games when they are awake. But these are the kids who have to be pushed the most.

I’ve dealt with many adult children in my office who had this fear, and I empathize with them. I do tell them that it’s a part of the process and that they have to face it. How do you face a fear of making it in the adult world? You get a job. And you do that job. You take a job for three months and you say, “I won’t quit. I’ll deal with all the craziness and I won’t quit. And at the end of three months, I’ll have some experience and then I’ll decide what I want to do next. And what I want to do next may be stay at McDonald’s or go someplace else. I won’t leave my job until I have a new one.” Eight months out of high school that kid is going to have some skills, experience and independence. He’s at work dealing with adult stress and mommy’s not holding his hand. That will prepare him for the next stage of growth. Maybe a more responsible job or going back to school. A lot of the work that I did in my office was coaching and teaching these kids on what they had to do. I literally had kids fill out three job applications a day then call me in my office to say that they had done it. And they would, because I gave them the clear message that accountability matters. While I empathized with them, I didn’t accept their excuses as to “why” they were stuck in life. Because “why” didn’t matter. Everyone has to be independent, no matter how afraid they are and what challenges they have in their lives.

I worked with mildly mentally retarded adults in my practice who lived in group homes with staff. They had to learn how to have a job if they wanted money because the state paid for their group home but did not give them any spending money. They had to learn how to have a supervised job if they wanted money. They had to learn how to talk nicely to people if they wanted to go out and do things and have privileges. They had to clean their rooms and make their beds every single day. They took turns cooking at night with staff support. They did these things because they had to acquire independence. So don’t tell me kids can’t do it. Not only can a kid do it, he has to do it.

Yes, these kids are afraid. They have a false sense of entitlement that they should have all of life’s niceties without having to work for them. They don’t know how to be independent. They haven’t learned how to solve social problems. But if they don’t start learning to solve them today, it’s not going to happen. So parents have to draw the line because the adult child will not draw the line. They’re having too much fun and they’re too afraid. If the parents can’t draw the line and the kid pushes it, then the police have to draw the line. It’s that simple.

Adult Children with Children: When You Have to Parent Both
I’ve worked with quite a few families who were living with 17, 18, 19 and 20 year olds who had their own children. The adult child can’t make it or the marriage falls apart and they move back in with their parents. This is a really tough situation, and I don’t want to minimize the emotional pressure everyone is under. These are innocent grandchildren. The role of parents and grandparents is very different. A parent sets limits, goals, and gets the kid to meet objectives and be productive. A grandparent is benign and indulging. They also set limits, but not in a full-time, around-the-clock manner. It’s a very difficult situation and I just want to make some observations that may be helpful.

Grandparents should do what they can to help out with child care. But only with the goal that the adult child pays room and board and that the money is put away until the adult child can move out. The adult child has to have a job and needs to look into daycare or public daycare. Parents everywhere go back to work when their kids are six months old. So you have to demand that your adult child do something to dig themselves out of the hole they’re in, and not just jump into the hole with them. Too many grandparents jump into the hole that their adult child has dug and stay there. And that doesn’t make any sense. You have to help or get out of the hole. The first way to get out of the hole is to stop digging.

Related: Having trouble getting on the same page with your spouse?

So, your adult daughter who has a toddler can’t run around all night. She has to live a work schedule. If she wants to go out at night, she has to get her own babysitter. Grandparents should not be babysitters for adult children living in their home. Let them pay for that. Have them live on a budget and let them pay for that. The adult child is not going to like that, but that’s where you draw the line. We’re not here to parent. We’ll help out while you work if we can. But you’re going to have to pay for that. If the adult child becomes explosive, call the police.

And there’s one more very hard thing that grandparents have to do. If the adult child is not taking responsibility for their own child and putting that child at risk, you have to call the state. Call the Department of Children and Family Services or whatever it’s called in your state. If the state comes in and does an investigation and finds the mother is not fit, they’ll first turn to the grandparents to see if they’ll take custody, or a family member. They will offer the mother supportive training and help. They don’t remove kids that easily. They don’t want your adult child’s child. Grandparents are terrified that the state will take their grandchildren. They don’t want your grandchild unless the mother’s strung out on drugs or committing crimes. They want the child with the mother. Because that’s where the child should be by nature and that’s the least expensive way to deal with the situation. The state does not want to take on the cost of raising your child’s child. Don’t fear that.

I’ve worked in states where state agencies have taken kids and they’ve needed to take those kids because they were in danger. But as soon as they take the child, they come up with a plan on how the parent can get the child back, whether it’s substance abuse treatment, career counseling or parent training. Just as you need to turn to a greater authority if your adult child is abusing you, you need to turn to a greater authority if your adult child is not caring for his or her own child. Understand this: you’re doing it for the welfare of your grandchild.

You may read my suggestions here and call it “tough love.” But that’s not what this is. There’s nothing tough about love. This is responsible love. It’s saying to your adult child, “I love you, and I’m going to be responsible. You can love me, but you have to be responsible.” Responsible love means demanding that your adult child learn how to solve his problems. Responsible love means demanding change. Now.

This is the third and final installment in a three part series of articles by James Lehman, MSW.

For those parents who haven’t set up a structured agreement when their child turns 18, it’s never too late to set one up. Even if your child is 23, living under your roof and staying out until the wee hours, it’s never too late to sit down with that kid and say, “We’re going to have to have a talk about our rules here and what parts fit you and what parts don’t fit you.” If a kid is 23 years old and he’s not working, he can’t be up until two o’clock in the morning with friends in the house, keeping other people awake. You may feel obligated to provide that child with a roof over his head. But you have the right to let him know that “This is not your home for that anymore. We’re going to bed, we’re tired, we worked all day. If you’re going to live here, you have to live within our rules.” If he tries to put you down for it, you need to put your foot down. If that means taking the car keys, then that’s what it means.

“Young adult children who don’t feel competent will resist taking responsibility for anything, and they’ll keep doing it as long as you let them.”

When parents lay out these rules with kids after the age of 18, they should expect the kid to be resentful, resistant and to blame them. The older child will try to make them feel like the parents are jerks because he still has a lot of thinking errors, is hiding from responsibility and postponing the anxiety of accepting it. Parents should simply disregard the child’s thinking errors, and not give in and tell the child that everything is okay.

Likewise, parents shouldn’t get into making a lot of excuses for themselves. They should say, “This is our expectation. We’re sorry we didn’t do it before now, but we’re here today and this is what we’re going to have to do. And we can’t go any further until this agreement gets made.” The expectations should include what time the kid gets up in the morning if he’s not working. Older kids who are avoiding responsibility will stay up all night and sleep until noon. When you ask them why they sleep until noon, they’ll say, “Well, I’m not working.” As the parent, you have to make it clear: “That’s why you’re not working. Because you sleep until noon. Get up at seven o’clock like everybody else and find a job.” It’s never too late to be this direct with your child.

Related: Having trouble getting through to your child?

Remember: do not take the kid’s accusations and blaming as fact. Expect to hear plenty of accusations and excuses. You’re going to be compared to his friend’s parents. You’re going to be told you’re hateful and uncaring. But don’t forget, this kid is fighting taking responsibility, and he will fight it fiercely. Young adult children who don’t feel competent will resist taking responsibility for anything, and they’ll keep doing it as long as you let them. Parents should be prepared to deal with this, not through yelling and screaming. Not through making excuses for themselves. Just by calmly saying, “This is the time we’re meeting. We need to talk.” If you have to, take the kid’s car keys until he is ready to talk.

The agreement you develop with the child should allow for adult privileges. Specifically, if the kid is working and being responsible, then your agreement with him should be very flexible. On his day off, he can sleep all day for all you care. But he can’t stay out all night without calling you because you’re going to worry, and it’s his responsibility to let you know he’s safe. If he doesn’t want to do that, then he should move into a more independent living situation. You don’t get complete freedom and the support of living at home at the same time.

How to Handle Rent, Household Chores and Rules about Alcohol

Paying rent is a very good habit for an older child to get into. I think there are two ways to look at the issue of when and if your child should pay rent in order to continue living at home. If the family needs the money and the kid is working, he needs to contribute. It’s just that simple.

If you don’t need the money, charge him room-and-board anyway, and then put the money aside and save it up until you’ve saved enough for a security deposit on an apartment and the first month’s rent. Then when he’s ready to move out, you’ve already got his money. Hold onto that money. That way, he pays for himself, and he gets into the habit of paying rent and being responsible while money is being accumulated, so that both he and the family are prepared for his next step.

When you come up with the agreement on living arrangements, I think it has to be really clear that the child is here to contribute, not just take. So, parents need to be clear about specific chores the older child will be responsible for. Parents can offer their ideas, and the young adult child can come up with his own ideas. Maybe he offers to take the younger kids to school in the morning, and you ask him to be responsible for bringing in wood and taking out the trash and recyclables each week. Write it down and be clear about consequences if he doesn’t follow through, because everyone who lives in the house has to help out.

Related: Learn how to restore peace in your home today.

The understanding should be very clear about alcohol and drugs, and it’s simple because the law makes it simple. In most states, it’s illegal to drink under the age of 21. You don’t have to say, “I know it’s illegal, but…” and wink your eye. The best thing that you can do for your young adult child is follow the letter of the law and say “No drinking under 21. If we catch you drinking and driving, we’re taking the car keys. If you fight us, we’re calling the cops.” He’s going to say you’re rigid and unreasonable. But it’s better that your kid lose his license for 90 days than die or kill somebody else.

When Is It Time to Ask Your Child to Leave Home?

The decision on when to ask an older child to leave the home has more to do with a family’s morals and values. First of all, if he violates a cardinal rule, he should leave. If he’s insulting you, abusive with a family member or breaking things, he should leave. He should go stay with a friend. The kids who are going to be most likely to be asked to leave are the kids who are going to tell you they have nowhere to go. Because the abusive behavior won’t be an unexpected anomaly in their life. It’s not like their whole life is great, but they hit their brother. The abusive older child will most likely show a pattern of this behavior and demonstrate a host of thinking errors. So when you ask him to leave, he won’t know where he can go, because he is unable to solve that problem.

Secondly, if things are going well with the living arrangement, the child should be told to think about leaving once he has the means. Once the first and last month’s rent and a deposit are set aside and he has a car and he’s driving, he should be told to start looking for a place with a roommate. I’ve worked with many college graduates at agencies who were not able to own a car or have their own apartment at the same time. They had to make a choice because they didn’t make that much money. They had to accept either having their own car and living with a roommate and learning how to live with other people, or not having a car and living close to their job and just having their own apartment. But they can’t have it both ways, and parents should not take responsibility for that.

Independence is a decision you can make as a family. If a young adult child is doing well, living at home and meeting the family’s expectations, then there’s no problem. But someday he will want to be independent. The way you get there is to sit down and have the child set some goals. Where do you plan to live? When do you plan to move out? How much does the child need to pay for rent or room and board while living at home? Measure progress toward the goal by the objectives. If the child has a goal to move out and he’s not meeting any of the objectives, it’s a joke.The greatest gift you can give your child is knowing how to be independent and take responsibility. If a child fears independence and responsibility, you can solve that problem by having a written agreement that shows the child how to live by your rules, and have ongoing discussions about the goal of independence and how to meet it.

Read more: http://www.empoweringparents.com/Rules-Boundaries-and-Older-Children-Late-To-Set-Up-Living-Agreement.php#ixzz2ZMNfIfzJ

Read more: http://www.empoweringparents.com/In-Response-to-Questions-about-Older-Children-Living-at-Home-by-James-Lehman.php#ixzz2ZMNGp7ak

Read more: http://www.empoweringparents.com/Rules-Boundaries-and-Older-Children.php#ixzz2ZMMkhZx1

PTSD: Moral Injury and War

What’s Really Happened to America’s Soldiers? » CounterPunch: Tells the Facts, Names the Names.

Moral Injury and American War

What’s Really Happened to America’s Soldiers?

by NAN LEVINSON

“PTSD is going to color everything you write,” came the warning from a stepmother of a Marine, a woman who keeps track of such things.  That was in 2005, when post-traumatic stress disorder, a.k.a. PTSD, wasn’t getting much attention, but soon it was pretty much all anyone wrote about.  Story upon story about the damage done to our guys in uniform — drinking, divorce, depression, destitution — a laundry list of miseries and victimhood.  When it comes to veterans, it seems like the only response we can imagine is to feel sorry for them.

Victim is one of the two roles we allow our soldiers and veterans (the other is, of course, hero), but most don’t have PTSD, and this isn’t one of those stories.

Civilian to the core, I’ve escaped any firsthand experience of war, but I’ve spent the past seven years talking with current GIs and recent veterans, and among the many things they’ve taught me is that nobody gets out of war unmarked.  That’s especially true when your war turns out to be a shadowy, relentless occupation of a distant land, which requires you to do things that you regret and that continue to haunt you.

Theoretically, whole countries go to war, not just their soldiers, but not this time.  Civilian sympathy for “the troops” may be just one more way for us to avoid a real reckoning with our last decade-plus of war, when the hostilities in Iraq and Afghanistan have shown up on the average American’s radar only if somebody screws up or noticeable numbers of Americans get killed.  The veterans at the heart of this story — victims, heroes, it doesn’t matter — struggle to reconcile what they did in those countries with the “service” we keep thanking them for.  We can see them as sick, with all the stigma, neediness, and expense that entails, or we can recognize them as human beings, confronting the morality of what they’ve done in our name and what they’ve seen and come to know — even as they try to move on.

Sacred Wounds, Moral Injuries

Former Army staff sergeant Andy Sapp spent a year at Forward Operating Base Speicher near Tikrit, Iraq, and has lived for the past six years with PTSD.  Seven if you count the year he refused to admit that he had it because he never left the base or fired his weapon, and who was he to suffer when others had it so much worse?  Nearly 50 when he deployed, he was much older than most of his National Guard unit.  He had put in 17 years in various branches of the military, had a stable family, strong religious ties, a good education, and a satisfying career as a high-school English teacher.  He expected all that to insulate him, so it took a while to realize that the whole time he was in Iraq, he was numb.  In the end, he would be diagnosed with PTSD and given an 80% disability rating, which, among other benefits, entitles him to sessions with a Veterans Administration psychologist, whom he credits with saving his life.

Andy recalls a 1985 BBC series called “Soldiers” in which a Marine commander says, “It’s not that we can’t take a man who’s 45 years old and turn him into a good soldier. It’s that we can’t make him love it.”  Like many soldiers, Andy had assumed that his role would be to protect his country when it was threatened. Instead, he now considers himself part of “something evil.” So at a point when his therapy stalled and his therapist suggested that his spiritual pain was exacerbating his psychological pain, it suddenly clicked. The spiritual part he now calls his sacred wound. Others call it “moral injury.”

It’s a concept in progress, defined as the result of taking part in or witnessing something of consequence that you find wrong, something which violates your deeply held beliefs about yourself and your role in the world. For a moment, at least, you become what you never wanted to be. While the symptoms and causes may overlap with PTSD, moral injury arises from what you did or failed to do, rather than from what was done to you.  It’s a sickness of the heart more than the head. Or, possibly, moral injury is what comes first and, if left unattended, can congeal into PTSD.

What we now call PTSD goes way back.  In Odysseus in America, psychiatrist (and MacArthur “genius” grantee) Jonathan Shay has traced similar symptoms to Homer’s account of Odysseus’s homecoming from the Trojan War.  The idea that a soldier may continue to be haunted by his wartime life has had a name since at least the Civil War.  It was called “soldier’s heart” then, a lovely name for a terrible affliction.

In World War I, it went by the names “shell shock” and “war neurosis” and was so widespread that Britain devoted 19 hospitals solely to treating soldiers who suffered from it.  During WWII, it was called “battle fatigue,” “combat neurosis,” or “gross stress reaction,” and the problem was severe enough in the U.S. Army that, at one point, psychiatric discharges outpaced new recruits. The Vietnam War gave us the term “post-Vietnam syndrome,” which in time evolved into PTSD, and eventually the insight that, whatever its name, it is probably neurologically based.

PTSD’s status as an anxiety disorder — and as the only mental health condition officially defined as caused by a single, external event — was established in 1980, when it was enshrined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), the bible of psychiatry. The diagnostic criteria have expanded since then and will probably be altered again in next year’s version of the DSM.  That troubles many therapists treating the ailment; some don’t think PTSD is a disease, others argue that the symptoms are just a natural response to being at war or that, in labeling it a disorder, political and cultural norms are being invoked to reinforce what is considered orderly.  As Katherine Boone, writing in the Wilson Quarterly, put it, “If you react normally to trauma, you have a disorder; if you act abnormally, you don’t.”

Most PTSD is short term, but perhaps one-third of cases become chronic, and those are the ones we keep hearing about, in part because it costs a lot to treat them.  For a variety of reasons, no one seems to have an exact number of recent combat veterans with PTSD.  The Veterans Administration estimates that between 11% and 20% of the 2.3 million troops who have cycled through Iraq and Afghanistan suffer from it, and the Congressional Budget Office calculates a cost of $8,300 per patient for the first year of treatment.  Do the math, and you could be talking about as much as $3.8 billion a year.  (What we’re not talking about nearly enough is the best way to prevent PTSD and other war-caused psychic distress, which is not to put soldiers in such untenable situations in the first place.)

Since the early days of diagnosis — when you were either sick with PTSD or you were fine — the medical response to it has gained in nuance and depth, which has brought beneficial funding for research and treatment.  In the public mind, though, PTSD still scoops up everything from risky behavior and aggression to substance abuse and suicide — kind of the way “Alzheimer’s” as a catch-all label stands in for forgetfulness over 50 — and that does a disservice to veterans who aren’t sick, but aren’t fine either.

“What you come into the war with will dictate how you come out of war,” Joshua Casteel testified about a soldier’s conscience at the Truth Commission on Conscience and War, which convened in New York in March 2010.  He had spent five months as an interrogator at Abu Ghraib shortly after the prisoner abuse scandal broke there.  He later left the Army as a conscientious objector after an impassioned conversation about faith and duty with a young Saudi jihadist, whom he was supposed to be questioning, led him to conclude that he could no longer do his job. Casting a soldier’s experience as unfathomable to anyone else was not only inaccurate, but also damaging, he said; he had never felt lonelier than when people were afraid to ask about his life during the war.

Our warriors today are all volunteers who signed up and are apparently supposed to put up with whatever comes their way.  As professionals, they’re supposed to be ready to fight, but as counterinsurgents they’re supposed to be tender-hearted and understanding — at least to kids, those village elders they’re fated to drink endless cross-cultural cups of tea with, and their buddies.  (Every veteran has a kid story, and mourning lost friends with tattoos, rituals, and drunken sorrow are among the few ways they’re allowed to grieve publicly.) They’re supposed to be anguished when they hear about the “bad apples” whogang-raped, then murdered and set fire to a 15-year-old girl near Mahmoudiya, Iraq, or the “kill team” that hunted Afghan civilians “for sport.”

Maybe it’s the confusion of these mixed signals that makes us treat our soldiers as if they’re tainted by some special, unwanted knowledge, something that should drive them over the edge with grief and guilt and remorse.  Maybe we think our soldiers are supposed to suffer.

The Right to Miss

A couple of decades ago, David Grossman, a professor of psychology and former Army Ranger, wrote an eye-opening, bone-chilling book called On Killing.  It begins with the premise that people have an inherent resistance to killing other people and goes on to examine how the military overcomes that inhibition.

On Killing examines the concerted effort of the military to increase firing rates among frontline riflemen.  Reportedly only about 15%-20% of them pulled the trigger during World War II.  Grossman suggests that many who did fire “exercised the soldier’s right to miss.”  Displeased, the U.S. Army set out to redesign its combat training to make firing your weapon a more reflexive action. The military (and most police forces) switched to realistic, human-shaped silhouettes, which pop up and fall down when hit, and later added video simulators for the most recent generation of soldiers raised on virtual reality.

This kind of Skinnerian conditioning — Grossman calls it “modern battleproofing” — upped the firing rate steadily to 55% in Korea, 90% in Vietnam, and somewhere near 100% in Iraq.  Soldiers are trained to shoot first and evaluate later, but as Grossman observes, “Killing comes with a price, and societies must learn that their soldiers will have to spend the rest of their lives living with what they have done.”

That price could be called moral injury.

The term may have come from Jonathan Shay, though he demurs.  Whatever its origin, it wasn’t until the end of 2009 that it began to resonate in therapeutic communities. That was when Brett Litz, the Associate Director of the National Center for PTSD in Boston, and several colleagues involved in a pilot study for the Marines published “Moral injury and moral repair in war veterans,” a paper aimed at other clinicians.  Their stated aim was not to create a new diagnostic category, nor to pathologize moral discomfort, but to encourage discussion and research into the lingering effects on soldiers of their moral transgressions in war.

The authors found that emotional distress was caused less by fear of personal harm than by the dissonance between what soldiers had done or seen and what they had previously held to be right.  This echoes Grossman, who concludes that the greatest cause of psychological injury to soldiers is the realization that there are people out there who really want to hurt you.

Moral injury seems to be widespread, but the concept is something of an orphan.  If it’s an injury, then it needs treatment, which puts it in the realm of medicine, but its overtones of sin and redemption also place it in the realm of the spiritual and so, religion.  Chaplains, however, are no better trained to deal with it than clinicians, since their essential job is to patch up soldiers, albeit spiritually, to fight another day.

Yet the idea that many soldiers suffer from a kind of heartsickness is gaining traction.  The military began to consider moral injury as a war wound and possible forerunner of PTSD when Litz presented his research at the Navy’s Combat Operational Stress Control conference in 2010.  The American Psychiatric Association is also thinking about adding guilt and shame to its diagnostic criteria for PTSD.  A small preliminary survey of chaplains, mental health clinicians, and researchers found unanimous support for including some version of moral injury in the description of the consequences of war, though they weren’t all enamored of the term.  As if to mark the start of a new era in considering the true costs of war, a new institution, the Soul Repair Center has just been launched at Brite Divinity School in Fort Worth, Texas, with a $650,000 grant from the Lilly Foundation to conduct research and education about moral injury in combat veterans.

Of course, to have a moral injury, you have to have a moral code, and to have a moral code, you have to believe, on some level, that the world is a place where justice will ultimately prevail.  Faith in a rightly ordered world must be hard for anyone who has been through war; it’s particularly elusive for soldiers mired in a war that makes little sense to them, one they’ve come, actively or passively, to resent and oppose.

When your job requires you to pull sleeping families from their beds at midnight thousands of miles from your home, or to shoot at oncoming cars without knowing who’s driving them, or to refuse medical care to decrepit old men, you begin to question what doing your job means.  When the reasons keep shifting for what you’re supposed to be doing in a country where most of the population wants you to go home even more than you want to, it’s hard to maintain any sense of innocence.  When someone going about his daily life is regularly mistaken for someone who means to kill you — as has repetitively been the case in our occupations of both Iraq and Afghanistan — everyone becomes the enemy.  And when you try — and fail — to do the right thing in a chaotic and threatening situation, which nothing could have trained you for, the enemy can move inside you and stay there for a very long time.

In trying to heal from a moral injury, people struggle to restore a sense of themselves as decent human beings, but the stumbling block for many veterans of recent U.S. wars is that their judgment about the immorality of their actions may well be correct.  Obviously, suffering which can be avoided should be, but it’s not clear what’s gained by robbing soldiers of a moral compass, save a salve to civilian conscience.  And despite all the gauzy glory we swath soldiers in when we wave them off to battle, nations need their veterans to remember how horrible war is, if only to remind us not to launch them as heedlessly as the U.S. has done over these last years.

When you’ve done irreparable harm, feeling bad about your acts — haunted, sorrowful, distraught, diminished, unhinged by them — is human.  Taking responsibility for them, however, is a step toward maturity.  Maybe that’s the way the Army makes a man of you, after all.

Two final observations from veterans who went to war, then committed themselves to waging peace, apparently a much harder task: Dave Cline began his lifetime of antiwar work as a G.I. in the Vietnam War.  A few years into the Iraq War, when he was president of Veterans For Peace, he told me, “Returning soldiers always try to make it not a waste.”  The second observation comes from Drew Cameron in a preface to a book of poems by a fellow veteran, published by hisCombat Paper Press: “To know war, to understand conflict, to respond to it is not an individual act, nor one of courage.  It is rather a very fair and necessary thing.”

Recognizing moral injury isn’t a panacea, but it opens up multiple possibilities.  It offers veterans a way to understand themselves, not as mad or bad, but as justifiably sad, and it allows the rest of us a way to avoid reducing their wartime experiences to a sickness or a smiley face.  Most important, moral repair is linked to moral restitution.  In an effort to waste neither their past nor their future, many veterans work to help heal their fellow veterans or the civilians in the countries they once occupied.  Others work for peace so the next generations of soldiers won’t have to know the heartache of moral injury.

Nan Levinson, a Boston-based journalist, reports on civil liberties, politics, and culture. Her next book, War Is Not a Game, is about the recent G.I. antiwar movement.  She is the author of Outspoken: Free Speech Stories, was the U.S. correspondent for Index on Censorship, and teaches journalism and fiction writing at Tufts University.

This article was originally published by TomDispatch.

The secret to desire in a long-term relationship | Video on TED.com

Writer of the book, Mating in Captivity.
Very good talk,
 
    Rory
    *****

Esther Perel: The secret to desire in a long-term relationship | Video on TED.com

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Speakers Esther Perel: Sex therapist

Esther Perel

In her practice and writing, Esther Perel helps loving couples navigate between the comfort of happy relationships and the thrilling uncertainty of sexual attraction.

Why you should listen to her:

Psychotherapist Esther Perel is changing the conversation on what it means to be in loveand have a fulfilling sex life. For the first time in human history, couples aren’t having sex just to have kids; there’s room for sustained desire, for couples to cultivate long-term sexual relationships. But how? Perel, a licensed marriage and family therapist, travels the world to help people answer this question.

For her research Perel works across cultures and is herself fluent in nine languages. She coaches and consults organizations and families, holds a private psychotherapy practice in New York, and speaks regularly on erotic intelligence, trauma, conflict resolution and infidelity. She is the author of Mating in Captivity: Reconciling the Erotic and the Domestic.

“Perel’s ideas are … instantly familiar because they resonate deeply. It’s all rather terrifying in its intuitiveness and its pure rightness.”

The Observer (UK)

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Quotes by Esther Perel

  • “The very ingredients that nurture love — mutuality, reciprocity, protection, worry, responsibility for the other — are sometimes the very ingredients that stifle desire.”

    Watch this talk »

  • “What is the relationship between love and desire? How do they relate, and how do they conflict? … Therein lies the mystery of eroticism.”

    Watch this talk »

  • “‘When I look at my partner radiant and confident,’ — [that’s] probably the biggest turn-on across the board.”

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How to Divorce and Not Wreck the Kids – Doc Zone

how to divorce and not wreck the kidsCelia. Photo credit: Roland Rickus

HOW TO DIVORCE & NOT WRECK THE KIDS

Watch the full episode online.

43:47 minutes 

 

How to Divorce & Not Wreck the Kids takes viewers inside one of life’s most devastating transitions as three Canadian couples, determined to keep the needs of their children first, work through their separations on camera.

The “divorce from hell” stories grab headlines: couples who spend hundreds of thousands of dollars destroying each other and, incidentally, their children. But in this country, there is another reality. Grassroots Canadians are at the heart of a quiet revolution – couples working on “good” divorces, which acknowledge that the end of a marriage isn’t the end of a family. Because research says: separating parents who co-operate can raise children who are as emotionally healthy as kids from intact families.

familyLionel and Sally with children Rhys and and Gareth

As filming begins, the split between Sally and Lionel is still fresh and raw. And cooperating will be a challenge for Sally since she didn’t want the marriage to end. Sally and Lionel were married for 17 years and are parents to three boys, from 11 to 4 years old. They agree to a new and controversial process called Collaborative Divorce, because they believe it will help them focus on what’s best for their children. If only anger and bitterness don’t derail the process.

Roland and Carolye were married for 13 years and have two kids. They transitioned out of their marriage into something of a friendship — but that friendship will be tested as Roland seeks 50-50 custody of their children. Carolye and Roland will try to hammer out an agreement without professional help, using a do-it-yourself divorce kit.

mike and melissaMike and Melissa with their twins.

After five years of marriage and three-year-old twins, Mike and Melissa split shortly after Christmas, the busiest time in the divorce world. They’re each passionate about being there for all the important moments in the children’s lives, even though it’s uncomfortable being in the same room together. When they reach an impasse in their separation negotiations, Mike and Melissa turn to a mediator to break the deadlock.

Three courageous Canadian couples invite you to witness the end of their marriages…as they struggle to overcome their anger and fear and stay focused on How to Divorce & Not Wreck the Kids.

How to Divorce & Not Wreck the Kids is produced by Bountiful Films Inc. in association with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

Doc Zone

Take a journey every Thursday night as DOC ZONE explores the major stories of our time. Around the corner, around the world, our cameras bring viewers a sweeping panoramic view of what matters most to Canadians.

Episode Features

NEW: Information for Kids

Want to help your child understand what’s happening as you separate or divorce? 

Take them on a tour of “Changeville,” a pioneering on-line resource for children 6 to 11 – whose families are breaking up. 
It’s fun and it’s FREE. 
Enter here.

Discussion

Talk about this film online with other viewers. Visit our discussion board.

Listen Online

The Current interview a couple trying colloborative divorce and the director of How To Divorce and Not Wreck The Kids. Listen to the interview online.

Facts about Divorce in Canada

  • According to lawyers in Canada and the U.S., January is the busiest month in the divorce business. And in Britain, January 8th is actually called “D Day” because that’s the day when most divorces are initiated.
  • In Canada, one in two unions fails, most before the 14-year mark.
  • Only 5 percent of couples actually sit down and tell their children they are separating, and what it will mean to them.
  • Women initiate approximately two-thirds of separations and divorces.
  • Joint Custody, when there are two loving and interested parents, works best for children.

Problems Divorced Kids Face

  • More problems with authority figures, their peers and their parents.
  • Two times more likely to develop psychological problems like anxiety, depression and self-esteem issues.
  • More marijuana and alcohol use, compared to married family children.
  • Lack of parental monitoring.
  • Divorced kids drop out of school two to three times the rate of married family children.

For suggestions in avoiding these problems read: Dr. Joan Kelly’s Top Ten Ways To Protect Your Kid’s from the Fallout of a High Conflict Break-up

Divorce Toolkit

Find out what a collaborative divorce participation agreement looks like. This is the document couples and their lawyers sign which sets the tone for collaborating, not litigating.

On the night that Sally and Lionel decided they were going to separate, they sat down together and drafted this statement, which became their guide for their own behavior as they worked through their separation. It’s a very good example for other parents.

Download a copy of Dr. Joan Kelly’s Tipsheet and hersuggestions for talking to kids about divorce.

Shared Parenting Calendar Software

Visit our resource section for more links.

About the Producers

 

HOW TO DIVORCE & NOT WRECK THE KIDS

Watch the full episode online.

43:47 minutes 

 

Maureen Palmer and Helen SlingerProducers, Maureen Palmer and Helen Slinger

Writer/Director/Producer:Maureen Palmer has spent the last eight years in the world of independent documentaries and factual entertainment, after two decades in news and current affairs at CBC Radio and Television. As an independent filmmaker she has produced several documentaries alongside How to Divorce & Not Wreck the Kids producer Helen Slinger for their Vancouver-based company,Bountiful Films including – Leaving BountifulPolygamy’s Lost Boys and the Bully’s Mark. Maureen has worked as a story editor, story producer, and series producer for a wide variety of North American broadcasters, including — Making It Big for the Life Network, Glutton For Punishment for the Food Network and The Week the Women Went for CBC. Her work has won several awards, from Bronze and Silver at the New York Festivals, a Jack Webster Award, the B’nai B’rith League of Human Rights Award for Best Documentary, and the Canadian Association of Journalists Award for Best Documentary.

Maureen Palmer & Divorce: Raised in Sudbury, Maureen has lived in Toronto, Edmonton and now Vancouver. She has been divorced for more than a decade. For most of that decade, Maureen flew every 2nd week or so from Vancouver to Edmonton to spend a long weekend in the basement of her old matrimonial home, where she could do the “mom” thing for her two daughters. Ex-husband, journalist Graham Thomson, made many jokes about having the “ex-wife in the basement,” but the reality was: this unorthodox relationship allowed their children to grow up with both parents in their lives as much as possible. Maureen admits to stumbling, making mistakes and acting like an adolescent at times, but her daughters Erin, 27, and Heather, 22, think mistakes were few and far between. They actually suggested this documentary, when they thanked her and their father for allowing them to grow up in a home free of conflict.

Read an interview with Maureen Palmer.

Writer/Producer: Helen Slinger is a master storyteller whose work spans three decades. Recent documentary writer/director credits include the Bully’s MarkEmbracing Bob’s Killer, and Leaving Bountiful. Helen’s written a legion of documentaries for other directors, and is a highly-respected story editor and script doctor. Various projects have won Gemini nominations, Finalist New York festivals, Platinum Award Worldfest Houston, Jury Award Yorkton Short Film & Video Festival, selection Montreal World Film Festival, selection Vancouver International Film Festival, selection Girlfest Hawaii, a Gracie Allen (Foundation of American Women In Radio & TV), RTNDA (Radio & Television News Directors) awards, and several Columbus International Film & Television Awards including the Edgar Dale Award for excellence in non-fiction screenwriting .

Helen Slinger & Divorce: Raised in Saskatoon, Helen Slinger has lived in Toronto, Victoria BC and now North Vancouver. She’s been happily divorced for more than 20 years and is the mother of one bio-daughter from that marriage. Since the divorce, Helen and her daughter’s dad have celebrated together every Christmas, Thanksgiving, birthday (hers, his, their daughter’s and his son’s from an earlier marriage). Knowing her not to be a saint, Helen’s friends initially thought she was nuts. At the time, this was not a fashionable way to divorce … and, to be clear, the divorce was not all lovey-dovey amicable. So this small c collaborative divorce was an active choice to go against the tide. Today Helen’s daughter and step-son express gratitude for the family that remained after the marriage ended and Helen feels very proud of herself and of her daughter’s dad. Tucked in with the old greetings cards around the house is a Mother’s Day card from her then 14-year-old daughter in which she lists the things she appreciates about Mom. High up on the list: “the way you get along with my dad”.

Producer: Sue Ridout chose the life of an independent producer after twenty award-winning years in network news and current affairs at both CTV and CBC Television. During her tenure as the Executive Producer of News & Current Affairs for CBC Television in Vancouver, her team won more than 100 awards. Now Sue produces and directs documentaries for broadcasters including CBC, CTV, History Channel and Knowledge Network. She has produced two other documentaries for CBC’s Doc Zone series: Embracing Bob’s Killer, about a woman who forgives the man who killed her husband; and Desperately Seeking Doctors, about the lack of family physicians in Canada. Sue uses her considerable management skills to coordinate business affairs on documentaries for other companies, like Bountiful Films.

The 3 Steps for a Successful ADHD Marriage

The 3 Steps for a Successful ADHD Marriage.

Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) can present many challenges for parents. Raising children with ADHD can be both exhilarating and exhausting. But when an ADHD child grows up and enters a relationship with another person, it can be even more taxing. Adult ADHD can be a mystery to those with ADHD and those who love them. Sometimes adults are unaware that they have ADHD and only realize after months or years of difficult and unexplained tensions in a marriage or committed relationship. Regardless of whether or not the ADHD was diagnosed in childhood or adulthood, there is hope for marriages partners dealing with it.

In a recent article, Stephanie Sarkis, Ph.D., an author and psychotherapist, says that sharing responsibilities such as finances, chores, and parenting can bring ADHD symptoms to the forefront of the relationship. How couples address the symptoms and work through the tasks has a significant impact on the severity of the ADHD and the emotional status of each partner and the relationship as a whole. The first step is to get an accurate diagnosis. Once this has happened, couples can work together to manage the symptoms, the treatment, and their shared household responsibilities.

Gina Pera, an author and expert on adult ADHD, says that having structure and simplicity is essential in an ADHD relationship. When one spouse understands the limitations of the other, they can pick and choose the chores that are best suited to each person’s capabilities. This is true in every relationship, whether there is an underlying psychological condition or not. The most important things to remember when living in an ADHD marriage are these three elements: education, action, and empathy. Pera says that couples should learn about ADHD and copy strategies other successful couples use in their marriages. Take action to overcome the hurdles and work through the problems respectfully and as a team. And finally, be understanding of each other. Pera adds, “Having empathy and compassion for each other is vitally important in these relationships.”

Source:
Sarkis, S. (2012, July 9). ADHD and marriage: An interview with Gina Pera. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/stephanie-sarkis-phd/adhd-relationships_b_1659300.html

Types of Childhood Abuse

Reposted from the blog of Darlene Barriere.

http://www.child-abuse-effects.com/types-of-emotional-abuse.html

There are six types of emotional abuse:

    »  rejecting
    »  isolating
    »  ignoring
    »  corrupting
    »  exploiting
    »  terrorizing

One type of emotional abuse that warrants a section of its own is witnessing family violence. Due to the ever-increasing statistics of family violence, I’ve treated this topic separately. You’ll find it below underterrorizing.

  Types of emotional abuse #1: Rejecting

Putting down a child or youth’s worth or putting down their needs.

    »  constant criticism
    »  name-calling
    »  telling child he/she is ugly
    »  yelling or swearing at the child
    »  frequent belittling-use of labels such as “stupid”, “idiot”
    »  constant demeaning jokes
    »  verbal humiliation
    »  constant teasing about child’s body type and/or weight
    »  expressing regret the child wasn’t born the opposite sex
    »  refusing hugs and loving gestures
    »  physical abandonment
    »  excluding child from family activities
    »  treating an adolescent like she/he is a child
    »  expelling child from family
    »  not allowing youth to make own reasonable choices

  Types of emotional abuse #2: Isolating

Keeping a child away from family and friends.

    »  leaving child in room unattended for long periods
    »  keeping child away from family
    »  not allowing child to have friends
    »  not permitting child interaction with other children
    »  keeping child away from other caregiver if separated
    »  rewarding child for withdrawing from social contact
    »  ensuring child looks and acts differently than peers
    »  isolating child in closet
    »  insisting on excessive studying and/or chores
    »  preventing youth participating in activities outside the home
    »  punishing youth for engaging in normal social experiences

FACT:  Isolated emotional child abuse has had the lowest rate of substantiation of any of the types of emotional abuse (Kairys, 20022).

  Types of emotional abuse #3: Ignoring

Failing to give any response to or interact with a child or youth at all.

    »  no response to infant’s spontaneous social behaviours
    »  not accepting the child as an offspring
    »  denying required health care
    »  denying required dental care
    »  failure to engage child in day to day activities
    »  failure to protect child
    »  not paying attention to significant events in child’s life
    »  lack of attention to schooling, etc.
    »  refusing to discuss youth’s activities and interests
    »  planning activities/vacations without adolescent

  Types of emotional abuse #4: Corrupting

Encouraging a child or youth to do things that are illegal or harmful to themselves.

    »  rewarding child for bullying and harassing behaviour
    »  teaching racism and ethnic biases
    »  encouraging violence in sporting activities
    »  inappropriate reinforcement of sexual activity
    »  rewarding child for lying and stealing
    »  rewarding child for substance abuse and sexual activity
    »  supplying child with drugs, alcohol and other illegal substances
    »  promoting illegal activities such as selling drugs
    »  teaching and promoting prostitution

  Types of emotional abuse #5: Exploiting

Giving a child or youth responsibilities that are far greater than a child/youth that age can handle. It is also using a child for profit.

    »  infants expected not to cry
    »  anger when infant fails to meet a developmental stage
    »  child expected to be ‘caregiver’ to the parent
    »  young child expected to take care of younger siblings
    »  blaming child or youth for misbehaviour of siblings
    »  unreasonable responsibilities for jobs around the house
    »  expecting youth to support family financially
    »  encouraging participation in pornography
    »  sexually abusing child or youth
    »  requiring child or youth to participate in sexual exploitation

  Types of emotional abuse #6: Terrorizing

Causing a child or youth to be terrified by the constant use of threats and/or intimidating behaviour. This includes witnessing, which is when a child or youth observes violence, hears violence, or knows that violence is taking place in the home.

    »  with infants and children, excessive teasing
    »  yelling and scaring
    »  unpredictable and extreme responses to child’s behaviour
    »  extreme verbal threats
    »  raging, alternating with periods of artificial warmth
    »  threatening abandonment
    »  beating family members in front of or in ear range of child
    »  threatening to destroy a favourite object
    »  threatening to harm a beloved pet
    »  forcing child to watch inhumane acts against animals
    »  inconsistent demands on the child
    »  displaying inconsistent emotions
    »  changing the ‘rules of the game’
    »  threatening that the child is adopted and doesn’t belong
    »  ridiculing youth in public
    »  threats to reveal intensely embarrassing traits to peers
    »  threatening to kick adolescent out of the house

FACT:  Children and youth who witness family violence experience all sixtypes of emotional abuse.

FACT:  A 1995 telephone survey identifying types of emotional abuse suggested that by the time a child was 2 years old, 90% of families had used one or more forms of psychological aggression in the previous 12 months (Straus, 20003).

Many people including parents, members of the law enforcement community and journalists, think that infants and young children who witness violence are too young to know what happened. They don’t take it in. “They won’t remember.” In fact, infants and young children can be overwhelmed by their exposure to violence, especially–as it is likely to be the case with very young children–when both victims and perpetrators are well known and emotionally important to the child and the violence occurs in or near the child’s own home.

Osofsky, 1996

Emotional Abuse – YouTube

Emotional Abuse – YouTube.

 

www.abusoemocional.com

Stop Emotional Abuse, You Deserve Better.

We all know about Sexual Abuse. We all know about Physical Abuse. But, we know very little about Emotional Abuse.

Emotional Abuse occurs when one person emotionally and psychologically abuses another person who is in need of sincere affection. This kind of abuse takes many forms…

Your partner Undermines your self-esteem. He/she delivers mixed messages: “I love you” (I hate you.)

It’s like pushing you through a cliff and running down to catch you.

Your partner can tell you the sweetest things and the most hurtful ones at the same time.

Your partner can also humilliate you by ignoring you.

He/she might contact you only when they are bored or have some spare time, or need something specific from you.

Your partner tells you that he “loves” you, or you are special, but he/she needs an open relationship.

Your partner bluffs making you believe he intends to spend time with you, even makes plans that will never happen.

Your partner tells you beautiful things he does not really mean at all, and will compensate your tolerance with small tender gifts.

Emotional abuse also occurs through financial dependency. One partner does not let the other be financially independent.

Or through intellectual and manipulative mind games. Abusers tend to play the victim or they take offense quickly.

They invariably put the blame on others, or on the world, or on their luck, or situation.

They acuse their partners of not understanding them, or not understanding their needs, creating a sense of lack of sensitivity on your part.

Abusers are extremely possessive and jealous. They need to control other people’s lives but will never show it.

They will pretend what you do with your life is non of their business.

Abusers often have several superficial relationships with other people. They escape reality and tend to live in fantasyland.

Abusers may be described as having a dual personality: they can be either charming or exceptionally cruel.

A major characteristic of abusers is their capacity to deceive others. They can be cool, calm, charming and convincing: a true con person.

Most of the time, they also deceive themselves. They are unable or choose not to see reality as is it.

Emotional Abusers do not acknowledge the harm they cause.

Some people abuse others emotionally because that’s what they learned.
They were victims of emotional abuse and neglect themselves.

These abusers can grow out of their abusive pattern and explore healthier ways to relate to others.

Some are aware of what they do and do not intend to change.

But the worse problem about emotional abuse is the fact that many people let others abuse them.

Stop.

Think.

Are you not worth of a healthy relationship?
Are you not worth of sincere love and affection?
Are you not worth of an honest partner?

Don’t let others abuse you.
Turn your back on abuse.
Walk away from abusers.

If you are a victim of emotional abuse, seek help.

You cannot change an abuser, but maybe a professional therapist can.

Quit the game.

Don’t let an emotional abuser put you down.

Some have a hurtful way to create emotional codependency just by telling you exactly the sweet words you need to hear.

Don’t believe their words. Believe their concrete actions.

Does your partner’s words and promises match his/her actions?
Does your partner tell you he/she loves you and you are special but goes on with his life, ignoring you and ignoring your feelings?

You don’t need an abuser in your life.

You deserve someone who will love you and respect you for who you are, not for what they can get from you.

Even if it’s just attention.

Don’t fall for empty promises.
Abusers commit abuse because they know you will always give them another chance.
Don’t do it.

Choose to Love Yourself First.

The Powerful Influence of Parents

by Jerry Lopper, Personal Growth Coach  on June 13, 2011 »

Image By Colin Brough

The influence of our parents is on my mind right now. Even as we become fully functioning adults and parents ourselves, it’s intriguing to consider how much of who we are is directly attributable to beliefs and experiences we encountered as children of our parents.

I’m reminded of this in reading Into My Father’s Wake, by journalist and author Eric Best. Best leaves his job, buys a sailboat, and sails solo from San Francisco to Hawaii and return in an attempt to resolve his relationship with his parents, especially his father.

A respected journalist, Best’s marriage is failing, he feels dead-ended in his job, and he struggles with alcohol and anger. The 50 day, 5,000 mile solo journey is his attempt to find himself and correct the path of his life.

Adult Children of Abusive Parents

Interspersed with fascinating descriptions of his sailing adventures, Best shares pleasant childhood memories of long sailing voyages with his father and disturbing memories of brutal beatings with a rubber hose at his father’s hands. He recalls his mother’s silent support of her husbands discipline, and struggles to come to terms with both parents’ treatments.

Most children are raised without the abusive behaviors demonstrated in Best’s book, yet don’t we all grow up carrying mixed images of our parents’ behaviors?

Psychologists offer an explanation that makes sense. Carl Pickhardt Ph.D. is a psychologist in private counseling practice who has authored several parenting books exploring the various phases of parent/child relationships as a child moves from childhood to adolescence to adulthood.

Pickhardt explains that the child idolizes and worships her parents, the adolescent criticizes and blames her parents as she begins the process of independence, and the adult rationalizes parental behaviors as she begins to understand the complexities of parental behavior.

Parental Behaviors

The children of abusive parents experience conflicting and inconsistent adult behavior, at times nurturing and caring, at other times abusive and hurtful. Given the child’s total dependence and natural tendency to look up to her parents, the abused child is confused, ceases to trust, and may even assume she’s part of the problem. Best demonstrates how these conflicts carry into adulthood.

Children of non-abusive parents also experience conflicts. We see behaviors that are loving and caring as well as darker behaviors such as anger. We see our parents’ faults, tend to focus on those in adolescence, and may even carry their faults into adulthood as the reasons for our own failures.

Life Purpose and Our Parents

Looking at more pThe Celestine Prophecyositive aspects of parental influence, in The Celestine Prophecy, author James Redfield suggests that each person’s life purpose evolves from and extends the life purpose of their parents. Intrigued by this, I followed the suggested process of examining what each of my parents stood for (their strong beliefs and values) and where they fell short (weaknesses and limitations).

Sure enough, I could clearly see how my own life extended what each of my parent’s stood for and how I’ve developed interests and strengths which they lacked.

Since this analysis was valuable and informational to me, I added the process to my Purpose in Life Workshop content, expecting that others would also find valuable insights.

I was surprised by the responses of workshop participants. Though some found the process positive and helpful, a majority reacted strongly against the hypothesis, even resisting my encouragement to keep an open mind and explore the possibilities. It seemed a large number of people attribute their life’s problems directly to their parents.

Coming to Terms with Parents

What does this all mean? To me it simply means that parents are human beings, with the full range of human strengths and weaknesses. Parenting is tough work. Our parents made some mistakes along the way, as we have in our parenting roles.

On the road to adulthood, we’re exposed to many examples of behaviors, including the very influential examples of our parents. Whether they were outstanding parents or lacking in many ways, as adults our behaviors are ours alone. We can chose whether to copy behaviors of our parents or discard them. We can chose whether to cherish their parental talents or denounce them.

Personal growth involves insightful—sometimes painful—self-reflection. Personal growthInto My Father's Wake also involves accepting the accountability and responsibility of personal choice for our behaviors.

Eric Best reaches this conclusion near the end of his solitary 50 day voyage, deciding to cherish the love and care his father displayed in teaching him to sail, while forgiving his brutal discipline as a terrible weakness of his father’s own personal struggles.

Into My Father’s Wake is a good story of a man’s journey of self-discovery. Those without sailing knowledge may struggle a bit with the sailor’s terminology, but all will appreciate the vivid imagery Best conveys as he describes the beauty and danger of solo-oceanic travel. I found that sharing Best’s struggles with the human frailties of his parents stimulated useful self-reflection on the influence of my own parents on my adult life.

My sister’s ticked that I’m not happy about her pregnancy

My sister’s ticked that I’m not happy about her pregnancy – The Globe and Mail.

David Eddie: Damage Control

The question

My sister is pregnant. Again. She just bought a home (in the burbs), but is deep in debt. The house needs all kinds of renovations, and both she and her husband work two jobs. My nephew, who is 1.5 years old, is woefully underdeveloped. He hates to leave his mother’s arms, so doesn’t walk very well and is a bit underweight. And he doesn’t say a peep.

More related to this story

I could not be more different from my sis. I live downtown with my boyfriend and we’re saving marriage for after we’ve travelled and are debt-free. I can’t imagine responsibly having a child until I’m more stable, say in my mid- to late 30s. So when my sister told me the news, I asked questions like, ‘Are you sure this is the right time?’ ‘What about the health risks?’ (She has high blood pressure.) She hung up on me. I don’t think she’s looking at the reality of the situation, but I feel terrible about not being more supportive. What should I do?

The answer

Uh, how about … be more supportive?

Now, before I continue, I want to say that I work hard to make Damage Control a judgment-free zone. When someone does me the honour of writing in and saying, “Dear Dave, I made a mistake,” I try to be like: “We all do, it’s confusing down here.” And only then: “Here’s what I think you should do.”

But I do make an exception when someone doesn’t really seem to understand how or where they’re screwing up, or that they’re even screwing up in the first place – which certainly seems to be the case here.

So here we go: First of all, we parents don’t say a toddler is “1.5 years old.” We say “18 months.” And for an 18-month-old to be quiet, a little unsteady on his pins and attached to his mother sounds pretty normal to me – even rather ideal.

You say he’s “a little underweight.” And obviously that would be a cause for concern. But why do I get the feeling if he gained a few pounds, you’d start saying he’s “tragically obese”?

In any case, “woefully underdeveloped” sounds like pure histrionics and way out of line. Everyone loves to fill the air with opinions about parenting – until they have kids themselves. That tends to shuts them up.

But it’s not just your sister’s parenting you appear to pooh-pooh. It’s everything: the fact that she lives in the suburbs, the way she and her husband manage their finances, the state of their home, the state of her health, even how hard they work.

If they had a dog, you’d probably say they don’t wash it often enough.

Need I add that when someone announces they’re pregnant it’s a little late to be urging planned parenthood and birth control – the exact wrong time, in fact.

I’m not surprised she hung up on you.

Sister, at the very minimum, you need to step back, let your sister live her life and worry more about your own.

I’m happy for you that you and your downtown boyfriend plan to travel the world, emerging just in time for him to fertilize your perfectly ripened ovaries in an atmosphere of maturity, good parenting, low blood pressure and debt-free fiscal responsibility. (“Debt-free.” Sigh: Wouldn’t that be nice? I’ve heard of people who are debt-free, but never met one personally. I’m beginning to suspect they’re a myth, like the Yeti or Ogopogo.)

But have you ever heard the old Yiddish saying: “Man plans, God laughs”? What if one or both of you lose your jobs? What if, after all of your globetrotting, you find you can no longer afford your downtown rent and lifestyle?

What if, during your travels, your boyfriend falls for a topless Penelope Cruz look-alike on a beach in Ibiza, and *poof* disappears? And you decide to cope with your loss by drinking excessively and noshing on family-sized bags of high-sodium chips?

You may find yourself 38, single, broke, in debt, your biological clock ticking madly as you e-date one doofus after another – and with blood pressure through the roof.

And you know what you’ll need then? A supportive family. Particularly a sister who will listen to your woes, set you up with a decent dude, maybe slip you a little cheddar.

And that’s what your sister needs now. A little support to get her through what is obviously a slightly rocky time in her life. And you’re not giving it to her.

So stop criticizing, eschew the pooh-poohing and pitch in. Offer to babysit, bring over a frozen lasagna, roll up your sleeves and help fix up the place.

Whatever it takes. You have, I can tell, plenty of time and unused energy on your hands. Put it to good use!

David Eddie is the author of Chump Change, Housebroken: Confessions of a Stay-at-Home Dad and Damage Control, the book.

I’ve made a huge mistake

Have you created any damage that needs controlling? Send your dilemmas to damage@globeandmail.com, and include your hometown and a daytime contact number so we can follow up with any queries.