New Year’s Resolutions: Why Are They So Hard to Keep?

As if the pressures of the holidays aren’t enough, many of us top off the season with even more pressure – New Year’s resolutions.

Dale Berry of Self Help Magazine states that fewer than 30% of New Years resolutions ever achieve success.

Logic tells us if we engage in behavior that results in negative consequences, we should just stop doing it, right?  So why is it often easier said than done?

Much of behavior is driven by unconscious motivation.  Change is scary and we use defense mechanisms like denial, minimization, or projection to help us avoid what we fear.

Denial is an unconscious way for a person to protect him or herself from information that is too painful to face.  Minimization is a little different in that the person acknowledges there’s a problem; they just minimize the severity or the consequences of the problem.  If we aren’t aware of how severe the problem is, then we don’t have to do anything about it. Read More…

Preventing The Back to School Blues

Those lazy days of summer are over.

In my nearly 22 years of working with families, I repeatedly hear parents complain, “My child won’t do his or her homework.  The scene at home starts when a parent asks a simple question, “Have you done your homework yet?”

Responses vary; some kids ignore the question, others lie and say yes, still others slam doors and cry.  This year can be different!  Here are some suggestions to improve your child’s school year:

Avoid Battles About Homework

Fighting about homework leads to rebellion.  That often leads to more avoidance.   The anger wears away trust between you and your child.

Set Consequences

Ask your child, “What should happen if your homework isn’t done or turned in?  What should happen if your grades slip?”

Listen to their suggestions.  Or, you can suggest the following logical consequences:

  • If your homework isn’t done, you can’t go out and play
  • If your homework isn’t done, there will be additional quiet/
    homework time the next day
  • If your homework isn’t done, write a note to your teacher
    explaining why it’s not done

Consequences for Teens:

  • If your homework isn’t done, you may not use the car
  • If your homework isn’t done, you may not go to work
  • If your homework isn’t done, you may not participate
    in an athletic/school event

It’s important to implement consequences without anger.   Read More…

Putting the Fun Back in Family Vacations

Have some of your family vacations been reminiscent of a Chevy Chase movie, but not so funny?

Are you dreading your upcoming vacation but hoping this time will be better?

The key to a successful vacation is in the planning and the approach that you take with your kids in the planning process.   Here are some suggestions to prevent summer vacation disaster:

  • Give your children 2-3 choices of where to vacation.  All the choices should be acceptable to you as the parent, i.e. acceptable cost and a destination you desire
  • Give the kids 2-3 choices for daily activity
  • Plan one activity that each family member chooses
  • Plan at least one activity alone for parents (arrange for a babysitter or a supervised activity for your children)

The best way to plan a vacation is with a family meeting.

Plan on 1 hour for the meeting; post an agenda on your refrigerator for everyone to see and invite their additional agenda items.   Read More…

Survival Strategies for Living with An Alcoholic

Millions of people suffer every day as a result of a family member who is an alcoholic.

In the year 2000, the American Journal of Public Health reported approximately one in four children under the age of 18 is exposed to family alcoholism, addiction, or alcohol abuse.

How many families live on your block?  Now estimate one in four of those families; it’s safe to assume some of these children and families are living down your street.  Or maybe, it’s your own family dealing with this problem.

Alcoholics and the people closest to them are in denial.  Denial is your mind’s natural way of shutting off a reality that is too painful to face.  Denial helps them face another day.

Eventually, the havoc and emotional pain of living and loving an alcoholic becomes so strong that denial no longer works.  Reality hits hard and they must face the problem.

Is it possible to live with and love an alcoholic?   Read More…

Relationship Abuse: What Is It?

Does your partner do any of the following: hurt or injure you, emotionally, physically or spiritually, force sexual activity on you, use hurtful or insulting language, or repeatedly tries to make you mistrust what you know to be reality?

If the answer to any of these is yes, then you may be in an abusive relationship.  Here are some specific signs that you are being abused:

  • Your partner blames you for his/her problems
  • Your partner tries to control your behavior
  • Your partner criticizes or humiliates you frequently
  • Your partner feels he/she owns you and has certain rights over you
  • Is extremely jealous, even of friends & family
  • Isolates you; needs to know where you are at all times
  • Angers easily
  • Believes in traditional strong male/female roles-men should be in control,
    women should be quiet & passive
  • Makes you afraid of what he/she will do if you end the relationship
  • Threatens & intimidates you
  • Limits your access to money
  • Has a history of violence
  • Your relationship swings back & forth between a lot of emotional distance
    and being very close
  • You stay in the relationship because of fear

Recovery from any type of relationship abuse takes time.   Read More…