Today is quiet. The southern Rockies that I see out my windows are dusted with snow and the sun peeks in and out between broken clouds. The wind is picking up and the temperature is below 50—it’s a pretty typical winter day. Later as it cools, I think I’ll make a fire.
My goals for today are modest, sort through the recycles, do a few loads of laundry, and write a blog. I’m trying not to get a cold so I’m drinking lots of juice and I am spending most of the afternoon reading, one dog sleeping below me and the other curled up on the couch. It’s a bit chilly so I cover myself with an afghan that my mother knitted years ago. Pretty cozy.
Now is the time that most people start thinking about what resolutions they want to make for the New Year. But before you undertake that task, you’d be well advised to reflect back on this past year first. You can start by looking at last year’s list of resolutions and reflecting on how things went. Even if you don’t have such a list, you can still ask yourself some questions such as:
When we write books we review hundreds of research studies—combing the literature for evidence based treatments as well as interesting new possibilities. We spent many months preparing and writing our last book on child psychology and development. We took a huge amount of material and clinical experience and organized what we (and many reviewers) believe is an original way to conceptualize childhood and child psychopathology.
So, one afternoon, after a grueling day of working at home sitting in front of the computer screen, we decided that we needed a change of position (and our tired eyes, aching backs, and sore behinds agreed). We were spending way too much of our recent life writing about people and their problems. Although we do get many emails from people who read our books and benefit from them, it’s not the same as having someone in person in your office who gets better, and feels better. So, in a moment of pure madness, we decided to go back into a limited psychology practice. We want to work with kids and their families and put to use some of the techniques we’ve been writing about.
We just returned from a much enjoyed vacation to the British Isles. When I can remember, I like to write down ideas for blogs or other projects and carry them around. Many times I forget to use them or look them over later and can’t figure out why the particular phrase sounded so interesting. Well, we were taking a tour of some prehistoric ruins and for some reason the tour guide (I forget why) said that something was “as useless as a chocolate tea pot.”
That description seemed to me so utterly British and I immediately imagined a picture of chocolate melting from hot water. I couldn’t resist getting out a scrap of paper to write it down but had no idea how to use the words.
Usually, I like to write about issues that are well grounded in data and evidence. That’s not the case with today’s blog. Maybe someone has data that contradicts what I plan to write, but I’m not so sure. I do know that a clever social psychologist could readily conduct research on this topic. So what am I talking about?
Listening. It seems to me that people hardly listen to each other anymore. More frighteningly, maybe they never have and I’m just becoming more aware of it. Do you agree or see it differently? Before you form a firm opinion, consider observing a while.
Well, we’ve continued with our Senior Tennis experiment in spite of our various anxieties alluded to in a recent blog. However, we can gladly report to you that some of these anxieties have gone down.
For example, we were initially quite concerned that playing tennis would lead to a case of the widely known tennis elbow. However, after a few weeks, we realized that no sign of tennis elbow has appeared in either of us. And it’s unlikely that it will. That’s because it requires one to actually make contact between the tennis ball and the racket in order to acquire a case of tennis elbow. No problem; that doesn’t seem to happen much.
As psychologists, we’re both also strongly inclined to avoid hurting, humiliating, or shaming other people. Once again, this issue has proven to be no problem. There isn’t a person on the planet who would feel intimated or humiliated by playing against us in tennis.
I remember back in the late 60’s during my first psychology class the professor discussing whether children’s development was dictated by the way they were born (genetics, nature) or what their parents did with them at home especially during childhood (nurture). Back then, the view swung toward nurture. It was a hopeful message.
Good parenting could overcome lots of obstacles. It was the idea that children were quite malleable and that with the right experiences, they could be taught to be builders, doctors, lawyers, teachers, or even presidents (who’d ever want to do that to their child??!). Parents were considered pretty much responsible for teaching their kids morality, self-control, friendliness, social manners, and just about everything else. It was at once a highly optimistic outlook, but at the same time put lots of pressures on parents—especially when a kid didn’t turn out as hoped for.
Well, we finished our next book: Child Psychology and Development for Dummies. It’s not out yet, but you can order it online. We’re really proud of the book and hope our readers will find it interesting, fun, utilitarian, and educational.
Perhaps some of you have been reading about the developing competition between hard or soft cover books and e-books. Amazon recently relayed that their market share for e-books has exceeded their market share for traditional books. Between the long, lingering recession (which sends many folks to the libraries or postpones their book purchases), and the somewhat pitiful e-book royalty rates, frankly, the writing business just isn’t what it used to be.
I’ve been thinking lately about what it was like giving birth. My first labor (with twins) was many years ago. I know it lasted 36 hours and that I was conscious for most of the time. I vividly remember the bed, the room, and the sound of an IV dripping and the sad faces of those who visited knowing that the twins were coming too early.
The second time, about 6 years later, the labor was shorter—just about 8 hours I think. I know it was pretty frightening. I remember the worried look of the doctor and the run down the hall for an emergency c section. I remember shaking in the recovery room. I remember looking at the amazing babies with tiny fingers and toes and laughing and crying. But, I can’t remember the feeling of the pain.
Some of our regular readers might know that we took about 6 weeks off blogging. We were overwhelmed by giving birth to a book. During the labor we struggled to complete this huge project. At any one time during the day one of us would say things like, “This is horrible,” or “I can’t stand the pain,” or “Never again,” or “Why did we ever agree to do this project?”
We were both the kind of students who showed up early to class, got all of our homework done on time, and worked hard to get good grades. Both of us can still recall the times we didn’t quite meet our own very tough expectations.
Through the years, we’ve attempted to listen to our own advice and do our best—but also know that we can’t do everything all of the time. And so, when our fun biweekly blog turned weekly, well that worked for a while. But lately blogging became the oh my gosh we’ve got to write a blog today as well as write the next chapter and read those papers and supervise this student and we don’t have time to watch the grandkids or take the dogs running or go to the grocery store.