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Power Struggles Between Parents and Children

All parents from time to time find themselves locked into an ongoing power struggle with a child. The parent’s natural instinct response to a child’s misbehavior is met with more and more of that behavior. My suggestions here will require parents to go against their instincts. Many of the ideas below can be found in two excellent programs for parents. One is Systematic Training for Effective Parenting (STEP), at www.lifematters.com. …Read More

How and Why to Spoil (or Not Spoil) Your Kids or What Spoiled Kids Need

If you’ve ever wondered why so many people spoil their children, it’s simple. They get two big pay-offs. First, the obvious: it’s easier just to get through the moment by indulging children’s demands, rather than stopping to teach them a lesson. And the more subtle reason is that by living for and through the child, they can avoid all their own feelings, issues and responsibilities. It’s like a drug—a pain-killing …Read More

Codependent Enabling: Stages of Decline

People trying to save or help their addicted loved ones are in a similar position to a pastor trying to save his congregation from sin. They often use similar tactics. After a time of this helping, the addict comes to resent the reforming efforts of the loved one, who is after all supposed to be his parent or spouse, not his counselor, sponsor, or pastor. The helping loved one begins …Read More

Work, Rest, and Play: Balance and Transitions

Work, rest and play all affect each other. They are a spiraling interdependent cycle: doing well at one makes it easier to do the others, and doing poorly at any of them makes the others go harder. (Diet, exercise, sex and sleeping work the same way, as do praying, forgiving, and acts of kindness.) Work includes the job you do for a living, but also child care, helping friends and family, …Read More

Overcoming Anxiety and Worry (Part 2)

The key to managing worry and fear is learning how to change the channels in your mind. We learned last time how to switch awareness from the involuntary nervous system that takes feelings TO the brain, and give it to the voluntary nerves taking messages FROM the brain out to the muscles. We also learned how to go into the right brain that imagines scenes, and change the channels there. …Read More

Overcoming Anxiety and Worry

Recently the Virginia Tech massacre once again filled our news and talk shows with one of their favorite enemies of the people, terror. We all need to know how to cope with fear, so I’ll give you here my favorite enemies of fear. Those who study and rehearse these can keep them handy as an emergency tool kit for terror. Fear-fighting techniques for the body and mind are taught in the award-winning …Read More

Forgive? Why? Who? What? When? and really, How?

Perhaps the number one killer of mental and relational health is the refusal to go through the learning experience of emotional pain.  But I believe our next biggest mental health buzz kill is our refusal to forgive others and ourselves. I just have to take a stab here at trying to reduce just a little bit this colossal waste of serenity. Forgiveness is a private act.  It is first of …Read More

The Lost Art of the Effective Apology

THE LOST ART OF THE EFFECTIVE APOLOGY Imagine that you have messed up big time—physically abused your child, cheated on your wife, stole money at work, or lied to your husband about where you were.  And let’s say you really want to make sure that both you and the people you’ve hurt can trust that you have learned your lessons of how and why not to do that again.  How …Read More