Archives for Communication
Rosh Hashanah is the Jewish New Year, and this week I had the pleasure of attending Rosh Hashanah services and hearing a sermon on the value of listening. As a therapist, I listen for a living. But in my personal life, sometimes I can be a little lax. I imagine that's true for all of us: We can get used to thinking we know how our partners feel, and we don't actually check it out. Here's why that's a mistake, and how to correct it.
When your child is having trouble, it might make you feel like you need to just sit back and let the experts take over. You need to listen to everything they tell you at the school, and take all the advice from therapists. Maybe you feel like your child's issues are somehow your fault, and that you just have to turn over your power to other people. Remember, your child needs you now more than ever. So it's important to empower yourself. You are your child's best observer and greatest advocate.
I just read the fantastic book "Girls & Sex" by Peggy Orenstein. What I love is that while it paints a somewhat dire picture of the landscape for teen (and even pre-teen girls), not to mention young adults, it's not just about diagnosing the problem; there's a prescription. You can help your daughters navigate that landscape, but it involves talking to them differently than you might have considered before. It means that instead of just talking about the risks of sex, we have to talk honestly about rewards, which is probably far more uncomfortable but incredibly valuable. So here are some ideas for how to have those talks. And remember, even if you've been approaching it differently, it's never too late to try something new.
You might feel like you're tried everything to reach your teen. Or maybe you've gotten so frustrated you've given up, figured you'd wait until the hormones settle. These are key years, and you want to do what you can to influence their course. I say "influence" because the truth is, you can't control. But you can help. Here are some ideas of where to start.
The steps are easy; it's the repetition that matters. Make these habits and your relationship will be better for it.
There's been a rash of celebrity divorce in the last couple of weeks (Gwen Stefani and Reba McIntyre announced yesterday, and Will Smith is denying divorce rumors at the moment but then, so did Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner.) It got me thinking. While pain is inevitable at the dissolution of a relationship you once cherished, there are definitely better and worse ways to divorce. So here are some thoughts on how to make your divorce as healthy as possible, if you find yourself at this difficult crossroads.
Couples often come in and say, "We need help with our communication," and the presumption is that they need to become better communicators--by which they mean better talkers. But the best thing you can do for your relationship is become a better listener. Here are some tips for improving your listening with everyone in your life--your partner, friends, colleagues, kids. They'll all benefit, and so will you.
The fact that you're reading this blog means your relationship is not all you want it to be. But how do you distinguish between a period of disconnection or even increased fight (which can be normal and perhaps stress-induced) and a relationship that is truly in trouble? Here are three key signs that it's time to seek some help.
And it's not bad for dads to read this, either! But Moms, I'm going to be talking to you specifically. The reason is: In most cases, body shame begins at home. While our culture undoubtedly plays a role in how our children see themselves and their bodies, the first culture any of us experience is our family's. And when I talk to teen girls in my therapy office who have body, eating, and/or self-esteem issues, what I often hear is that the first role model they ever had--their moms--had some of those issues themselves (though those mothers often believe they've kept them hidden, they tend to eke out in small ways that I'll describe below.) Or those mothers weren't aware of the way judgmental comments they make about others impact their own children. (Interestingly, I've actually never heard this from a young girl: "My father was always saying he was too fat." There's something cultural in that as well. But that's for another blog.) Here are some thoughts on how you can make your family culture a healthy one. It's never too early (or too late) to start.