Aug 15 / Simcha

Living with Teens 101

The more respected your teens feel, the more open they will be with you. The more power you share with them (without abdicating your role as a parent), the more trusted they will feel and in time, the more cooperative.

Parental coercion invites resistance. Rigid parental rules invite the breaking of those rules. How then, ask parents so often, do we get our teens “to behave”?

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Aug 14 / Simcha

Effective Parenting in a Nutshell

One of our most fundamental needs as human beings is to feel we belong. A child’s misbehavior is driven, not by a desire to displease the parent (whose loving acceptance s/he craves more than anything in the world), but by an unconscious need for attention and belonging (even if that is to be achieved in negative ways).

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Aug 12 / Simcha

How Do I Know Mine is a Healthy Relationship?

Montreal psychotherapist Rhonda Rabow discusses what is reasonable to expect from a healthy relationship and what is asking too much.  What behaviors, she asks, are red lights to be paid attention to before a long-term commitment is made, and what behaviors are part of the workings of real relationships and can be forgiven?

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Aug 11 / Simcha

The Pause that Refreshes

Many of us, possibly most of us, find it challenging not to react immediately to various triggers without anger, irritation, or defensiveness. Rather than take the time to contemplate and reflect, we react much like Pavlov’s conditioned dogs.  And thus we go through life, repeating the same script over and over, with little awareness that we have the choice to respond differently.

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Aug 11 / Simcha

Falling Toward the Center of Your Longing

A poem that has always touched me, and to which I return often, is David Whyte‘s Self-Portrait.  To me it speaks of the longing to live  life courageously and passionately, and in a meaningful and connected way.  I was not surprised (but I was pleased!) when I learned he had read this poem to a crowd of 3000 therapists at a recent Psychotherapy Networker conference (2010).

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Aug 11 / Simcha

Learning from the N. Ireland Peace Negotiator

Harri Holkeri, a former Finnish prime minister (1937-2011) who helped shepherd talks that led to the historic 1998 peace agreement in Northern Ireland, died this week in Helsinki.  In a speech in 2008, Mr. Holkeri cited several reasons he and his colleagues were able to guide the long-divided parties to a deal. I wondered, as I read the NYTimes obituary, whether these might be helpful in navigating our own everyday disagreements and conflicts.

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Aug 10 / Simcha

Handling Tough Conversations

One of my favorite books on the subject of handling tough conversations and situations is Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most (Stone, Patton, Heen & Fisher, 2010). Based on 15 years of work at the Harvard Negotiation Project and consultations with thousands of people struggling to communicate effectively in tough situations, the authors answer the question: When people confront the conversations they dread the most, what works?

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Aug 10 / Simcha

Are You There for Me?

Securely attached partners are better able to navigate the trials and tribulations that life has a habit of bringing our way.  Knowing we have a safe and secure base from which we can draw sustenance and strength, and to which we can always return, allows us to go confidently out into the world.

This sort of secure attachment, teaches Susan Johnson (Emotional Focused Therapy), is shaped by mutual emotional accessibility and responsiveness.  What may appear on the surface as fights about kids, money or sex, is really a fundamental challenge to whether the partner is emotional accessible and responsive.  The underlying questions being asked in most such arguments are:  Are you really there for me?  Do I matter to you? Will you turn towards me and respond to me? How important am I to you?

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