Coronavirus vs. Tried and True Hygiene

There seems to be an issue I have noticed with families these days; they seem to think that children learn by osmosis, at worst, or by lecturing, at best. I wrote an article about this a while back (that I am still shopping around!), but had not thought of handwashing back then. At that time, I had not felt that this is an issue that I believe stems from those of us in the boomer generation.

There is a lot that I do not like about my parent’s and grandparents’ parenting, nor would I condone now. But while they taught us through intimidation, fear, and corporal punishment, by God, they did teach us! I remember in both junior high and high school, getting swats for any infractions, mainly by vice-principals and coaches. While I was not happy, I was glad they punished me in school and did not call home, that would have been ten times worse!

I find myself now in the middle of the continuum for this punishment. Unlike most in the developmental field, I do not think paddling should be totally discontinued, but only used as a last resort and never with anger. Unfortunately, we boomers then took parenting to the other extreme, and the next two generations are now clueless.

Two things are missing from most parents these days, teaching and knowing their role. I see most parents these days just lecturing their children rather than teaching them; think back when you were a child, did you like being lectured? And as a teen, you actively tuned out your parents, so why do they think the next generation will like being told what to do? Next, too many parents want to be their children’s friend and not their parent. Teach and then consequence when children choose to ignore you!

In my article, I said, “Like most mammals, humans learn through example. It always amazes me that we would never think of teaching a toddler how to dress with a lecture; we merely show young children how to dress over many months. The same is true of tying shoes, learning to speak, and, while learning to bake a cake might not take months, nevertheless, we demonstrate each step. And yet, after a certain age, we tend to shift from showing by example to telling how to do something with, at most, a onetime, halfhearted demonstration. While we might walk in with our children to supervise them brushing their teeth, do we not tend to tell just them how to brush their teeth? And then after a few months, we only tell them to brush while glued to the television (or worse, our phones) and then express shock and dismay when we catch them lying about actually brushing.”

And now, I just realized, we do the same with handwashing! Just like brushing teeth, get your hands under the water with them to show them how to wash effectively with soap. Worse, while most parents lecture, they do not take the time to lecture “why!” Why do we brush our teeth, and why do we wash our hands after working outside, going to the bathroom, or before we cook if it has been a few hours since our last handwashing?

Along with not knowing how to parent, the younger generations hygienically challenged. A study in Great Britain showed that “Although 95 percent of people said they washed their hands with soap where possible, 92 percent of phones and 82 percent of hands had bacteria on them.” Worse, 1 in 5 phones had E. Coli (from fecal matter) on them! Forget the coronavirus; I might not ever shake hands with anyone ever again!

Parents in the fifties and sixties might have been over the top with punishment, but they parented less severely than the generations before them. And we did learn basic societal rules, both cultural, “please and thank you” and other societal norms, and basic hygene, how and when to wash out hands. I saw a funny meme on Facebook this week that said, “Now that we have the correct way to handwash down, next week, we will tackle using our turn signals!” I do hope that, even after this virus is history, we will continue to wash our hands correctly!

Continue Reading

No-No Words!

No matter which side of the political isle you fall under regarding the current news story about transgendered people using the restroom of their choice, I am more interested in the fact that adult professional newscasters cannot bring themselves to use anatomically correct terms for male genitalia. I am not sure where this comes from, but I have a couple of ideas.

What I am talking about is the use of terms such as, “male parts,” “male equipment,” and even, “male junk!” What is the big deal about saying the word “penis?” In describing almost any other part of the male body, newscasters and the general public use anatomically correct term; we say arms, legs, ears, and usually even buttocks. But when it comes to genitalia and their functions, everybody seems to hedge, whether talking about a male or female body!

One reason is probably due to how we talk about our bodies to our children, especially very young children. We used euphemisms for many things, potty for bathrooms, beddy-bye for sleep, and, of course, peepee for urinating. Also prevalent are fingies, tootsie, footsies, etc. when talking with pre-verbal and very young children, but all the euphemisms gradually fall way after children turn five or six. So why do these culturally inoffensive words that deal with our genital also not fall by the wayside?

Another reason probably is the puritanical history of our country, with strict codes of ethics and morality until the 1960s. I remember as a teenager growing up in the south, my father telling me to turn on the water in the sink when urinating to mask the sound coming from the toilet! Like, what else would I be doing in the bathroom for about two minutes! Like women did not need to urinate themselves and would be so scandalized to hear a male urinating; of course, he did not use urinating, he said “passing water!” And this is so ingrained in us, that even I forget at times and use words like potty and poop.

So many taboos fell away in the 60s and 70s with regards to ethics and morality, especially sex, but here it is half a century later and a newscaster cannot say penis! Even more astounding, not only are we still using terms such as pee, poop, and little girl’s/boy’s room as adults, but we’ve made up new euphemisms that we would yell at our children for using!

Boobs, tits, knockers, schlong, one-eyed wonder, Johnson are just a few. Doing a quick search, I found over 200 synonyms for breast and 2000 for penis! While this discrepancy can be partly explained by needing different words due to the physical condition of the penis, whether it is flaccid or erect, I would bet that the majority of all these euphemisms come from men and their insecurities surrounding anything to do with genitalia and sex!

And what is it with the movies? Vulvas have been shown in films since Last Tango in Paris came out in the early 1970s, but very few penises ever make it to the big screen. If they do, it better be quick and flaccid, otherwise the movie will garner an X rating. Sure, you might say, the vulva is usually hidden by pubic hair whereas a penis could be seen through the pubic hair, but I would bet this phenomenon is either misogynistic, male insecurities around their genitalia, or both!

I am absolutely amazed at the dearth of knowledge or, worse, the misinformation people have about sex in general and their bodies in the, so called, information age. Working with children, teens, young adults, and even those in their 50s, it is truly sad to witness the embarrassment shown if, due to some information they have imparted, the subject of bladder and bowel movements have to be addressed in a session. Forget having an honest discussion about their sexual lives until about the third or fourth time it is brought up! One way to start combating this just to use correct terminology with children, no matter the body part or function. But first, adults will have to get over their fear of using the no-no words!

Continue Reading

It is not okay!

The other day I was talking with my daughter on the phone when my granddaughter began to cry. I heard my daughter say, “It’s okay JoJo, it’s okay.” To which I gently replied, “No, it is not okay.” I must be experiencing what recovering smokers or alcoholics experience when confronted with their old habits. I recognized this as something I used to say to Susannah when she was crying and, now that I am aware of this statement, I am hearing this phrase all the time from parents to their children.

Unfortunately, if we examine what is being said, that statement is placating at best and dismissive of what the infant is expressing, at worst. When this happened, JoAnna was four months old, how else is she or any infant to communicate her dislikes? Four months is about the time that I have found that parents begin to discern the differences in a baby’s cries, recognizing the tone, volume, and intensity. However, even the tiniest of cries is a communication, whether we are smart enough to decipher them.

I have not done any research on this, but I would imagine that at this point in their life, there is no way to know if the infant’s preferred way of relating to the world will be auditory, visual, or kinesthetic/somatic (touch and/or feeling). I do know that infants utilize all three at different stages of their development, both trying to explore their new world and in communicating. Even if they are maybe crying to let us know something is simply displeasing them, take a look at how their whole body is involved! Later on, hand gestures will augment and clarify their cries.

One way in which I like to drive home a point is to either use an analogy or to state the point in the extreme. Imagining an infant could talk and was saying “I need your attention because I am feeling abandoned,” would we reply, “It’s okay?” Even if this request is totally selfish on the infant’s part, say you have just turned away for a moment, and they are demanding 100% of your time, would we answer, “It’s okay” after this statement?

Words have meaning. Although a preverbal child may not know what is being said, there is an energy behind the words that conveys a meta-message, the message below the message. What message is being conveyed by, “It’s okay?” Using the example above, is the message, “It is okay that you feel abandoned,” “It is okay that you feel ignored,” “It is okay that you feel dismissed?” I know that is not what the parent is really trying to say. Still using “It’s okay,” is not what I would call a complete communication.

After being hammered when using “it” in my dissertation, I now know that this is a meaningless word. We humans have a hard enough time truly communicating our thoughts and feelings to another without using easily misunderstood words and “it” is one of the worst. Just exactly does “It” refer to?” Is that word referring to the crying, the situation, the baby’s feeling, or something else? At least take the time and make the effort to define “it!”

Assuming that the “It” in the phrase “It’s okay” in the above example is really trying to communicate, “I hear your crying,” the absurdity of this statement then becomes truly apparent. “Your crying is okay.” Gee, thanks mom that I have your blessing to communicate to you in the only way I know how. How about, “Your feeling of abandonment is okay.” Really?!? If the child just fell and feels even minor pain, are we saying, “Your pain is okay!”

We need to remember are talking to an infant that has almost no reference in the world, no situational memory to draw upon, and no way to conceptualize what an action truly means. For many months, a baby does not even know where the pain she is feeling came from, she just know that she hurts. Since the communication is a cry, how much better to acknowledge the cry has been heard, conceptualize what we think in happening, fully giving our attention to the child?

Again, they may not understand, but they will feel the message. My daughter may have said, “I hear you are displeased and it might be because I am talking to Poppy and not paying attention to you. I love you and I am going to fully pay attention to you when I hang up in a few minutes and then we will play again. If you need me to hold you while I am talking, just let me know.” First, this in of itself is giving attention to the baby and in an authentic way, acknowledging that they are trying to communicate a thought and/or and emotion. Then, we are framing a time period and offering a return to what the baby considers normal, her mother’s attention. A further benefit is allowing the child to feel disappointment and then learn that feeling does not last forever, preparing them for when disappointment again enters into their life adventure.

Convoluted, you say! I would offer that this complete communication only feels strange because we simply do not practicing this form of speech. Instead of passing on incomplete communication techniques, how much better to begin to authentically communicate with an infant, and then carrying that communication forward as she grows, coaching them how to talk. A colleague of mine practiced this communication with her daughters and then witnessed one of them communicating with her dolls in exactly the same manner!

My daughter has become so adept at this style of communication, she even taught me! A couple of months later we were driving to Denver to see my dad and Susannah brought up an issue with her in-laws that is causing the family some concern. After a few minutes, JoAnna began to cry and Suz immediately acknowledged that JoJo might be concerned that something bad might happen to her paternal grandparents, apologized for having an adult conversation with me that we didn’t realize would be upsetting to her, and let JoJo know there was nothing for her to worry about. Did JoAnna understand the words, of course not, but she did understand the energy of our conversation. After being acknowledged, JoAnna responded with a smile and no longer cried!

Also, do not expect this to come naturally, that same weekend I watched JoJo one afternoon when Suz and Charlie had errands to run. JoAnna was a bit cranky due to not wanting to take a nap and although I didn’t say “It’s okay” much, I still caught myself saying that phrase! As is the case with all parenting/grandparenting, getting it right the first time is not necessary, but that we then initiate a repair when we recognize we have not parented optimally. I had several opportunities to repair that afternoon!

Continue Reading

Adolescent Sex

A couple of days ago I was having an in-depth conversation with a Relational Somatic Psychology colleague of mine about developmental issues in adolescents, including puberty and sexual issues, and she recounted something that had happened earlier this year with her son, a sophomore in high school. He was going away with a group of young men for a week to a function where there would be an equal number of young women. After shopping for the needed clothes, she asked her son if there was anything else he might need and, after receiving a “no,” then asked if he needed her to buy condoms.

My friend said her son broke out in a big grin and asked if she would really do that for him? What a beautiful “teaching moment” a semi-mentor, Barney Glaser PhD, would say and, to which I would add, what a beautiful “parenting moment!”

So first, this question is acknowledging the reality of the situation. Here is a young man, a few years past puberty, who also is good looking, active in sports and regularly works out, going off for a week. While chaperoned, there will be plenty of opportunities to get away for some private time. Given the group and the environment, there is sure to be plenty of discussion of, let us diplomatically say, the appreciation of the female form. With all this, there is every possibility of him having a sexual encounter, if he hasn’t already experimented, especially with her son having an attractive “Adonis” physique.

One of the arguments I have heard against having an in-depth sexual conversation, and sex education in general, is that it “encourages” sexual experimentation; experimentation is probably going to happen anyway. However, present day dynamics must be recognized. No one is sure why, but adolescence has increased from about two years to almost 15! A hundred years ago, adolescence began just before puberty, usually about the fourteenth year, and then courting and marriage followed a few years latter. Now adolescence is recognized to be from about nine to 24 years old.

Adding to that equation, years ago most adolescents were highly supervised and social taboos on sex and unmarried pregnancy were huge. This meant sexual experimentation was held to a minimum, and yet we all know it still happened; now days, there is virtually no chance that adolescents will not experiment to some degree. So while sex education would have been helpful 100 years ago to enhance the experience of a couple’s expressing their love, I feel it is absolutely imperative these days. Sex education, condoms, and birth control are not a license to experiment, they are insurance against poor decision making in the “heat” of the moment when even the strongest of intentions and/or belief system may falter.

My friend also took the time during this conversation to reinforce the sacredness of sex, reminding her son how males and females react differently to stimuli (both physically and mentally), and that the time before and then after sex is just as important as the time spent having sexual intercourse. The most interesting point, which harkens back to what I feel is the lame arguments agains sex education, is that my friend would not be particularly happy that her son become sexually active, but she didn’t let that sentiment create a “head in the sand” mentality.

Better yet, while she stepped up as a mom, coached (not lectured) her son, and then supported him, she also discussed that she may have a different opinion about sex than he does. Letting her son know her reasons why he should not become sexually active, doing so in an knowledge based manner verses emotionally, and yet still “having his back,” not only pierces that relational void created by teenage individuation, it also reinforces to the adolescent that they are both loved and respected. Well played!

Continue Reading


I’m not sure why, but I have always liked this word! It originally meant giving a human form to something inanimate, such as showing a cloud shaped as a human face blowing wind from its mouth or giving a deity like Zeus a human body. When I first heard it, anthropomorphism pertained more to giving human traits and/or characteristics to animals. This could either be literal, such as Mickey Mouse and other cartoon animals acting as humans or regarding something a pet does as being “just like a human.”

I am in my early sixties, so I grew up on Saturday morning cartoon (imagine having just two station until ABC and PBS came on and, as far as I was concerned as a child, PBS didn’t count as Sesame Street was a couple of decades away), ahh, Wiley Coyote, Bugs, and all the Warner Brothers’ characters. I confess I am also somewhat a snob and think they and their contemporaries as being much superior artistically and having much greater personalities than most cartoons that followed until the first Pixar movie!

Notwithstanding my nostalgia for Disney and Warner Bros., I’m not really a fan of talking animal cartoons any longer. I can appreciate the quality and the story of newer animated films like Ice Age and Rio, however they grate mainly because they present animals not being true to their nature. I recently read about a fellow that was just livid at the portrayal of the geese in Charlotte’s Web, stating that real geese are not sociable and, he maintains, they would never have befriend Wilber; I didn’t quite understand his focus on the geese and never mentioned a talking spider, pig, etc.! I do not think I am that anal, but I have moved away from pigeonholing animals into anthropomorphic roles. That said, I loved all the Toy Story and Monster’s Inc. films, but I digress.

Before continuing, let me also mention that while I like animals and pets, I just do not want to be their primary care giver; unlike some girls and ladies I know, the two best days of my horse ownership were the day I purchased Winrock and the day I sold him! I thoroughly enjoyed my ex’s and daughter’s cats and now have two wonderful male Labradoodles courtesy of my wife’s love of dogs, but if I were on my own, I would not have a pet.

This brings me to the crux of this blog, the interesting juxtaposition of anthropomorphic verses real emotions in animals. Watching our two dogs, half brothers, mature through my somatic psychology “eyes,” I have seen first hand many traits that are supposedly only human while, at the same time, absolutely keeping in mind their canine traits and behaviors to maintain order.

I have seen attachment mannerisms in both, outright scheming and trickery, and emotions from jealousy to love, however one defines that term. I have watched the older dog, jealous of the bone the other has, deliberately jump up and run barking to the door. Naturally, the other jumps up and heads to the door, only to have the older dog circle back and grab the bone! One of the first self-help books I read was The Road Less Traveled by M. Scott Peck and I remember he did not think animals could love; observing our two dogs, I can categorically state that is not true. My wife and I do not treat them as our “fur children,” they are our animal companions. Because they are not human, whatever they and we experience as love between us is different from human love, but I would argue it is still love.

On the other hand, our dogs are trained and well behaved not only to insure they do not mug guests (they are 90 pounds each!), but also because if we do not lead, one of them will try to become the alpha in the house. This is simply in a dog’s nature. A psychologist once told me when my daughter was growing up that smart children will constantly test their parents and, being intelligent , our dogs are like human children and test us in their dog ways. We have forgotten to mimic an alpha dog every now and then, like clockwork, the youngest will begin to get aggressive to both us and to the other dog in order to fill the perceived vacuum. While acting consistently within their dog nature, they test our resolve like human children might and, again like children, our dogs are definitely less stressed when they have clear, consistent rules to follow.

Even though we have to respect their animal nature, that does not mean animals cannot feel the same emotions we humans do, after all, they are mammals and we share the same mammalian brain as they do. While their brains are enhanced in some areas, such as processing smells, and less in others, like their prefrontal cortical functioning, we still share many traits. There is a neuroscientist, Jaak Panksepp, who is also a psychologist, a psychobiologist, and an animal behaviorist that has done many studies on evolutionary emotions and has a wonderful documentary, Why Dogs Smile and Chimpanzees Cry. His studies, much to the chagrin of his fellow psychologists, show that all mammals share the same feelings.

There is a wonderful YouTube video (Which guilty dog did this mess?) showing three small dogs at the top of the stairs when their owner finds a mess and calls out loudly “Which one of you did this mess?” Two of the dogs simultaneously turn to look at the third! Then, as the owner calls out their names, the guilty dog begins to back away to hide! Guilt, shame, remorse, or fear of getting in trouble, like their love, might not be exactly as humans experience those emotions, but the third dog definitely had them.

Not too many years ago, the brain was considered to be fully formed and inflexible when we entered adulthood. Now we know that the opposite is true; the brain is very plastic and continues to learn and change until we die. Similarly, what used to be considered anthropomorphism, might simply have been our observing emotions we didn’t think existed in animals!

Continue Reading

A Most Wonderful Accident!

I had a very interesting Saturday this past weekend. There is another instructor at one of the studios where I sub that I had briefly “met” once before, although her reputation as a wonderful teacher was well known to me. I put quotes around the word met, as we were not actually introduced (a subject of an upcoming blog!), she spoke to our yoga teacher training group last month and we heard each other’s name there. Yep, even though I’ve taught yoga for years, I confess I was a renegade teacher and only just now got my teaching certificate! But I digress.

After not really interacting with this teacher previously, I ran into her twice this past Saturday, we talked for several minutes each time, and then I e-mailed her at the end of the day. We spoke once in the morning at a yoga studio and then again at a grand opening celebration of another yoga studio later in the day. Both times were pleasant, mainly a light banter about yoga and the studios in which we found ourselves. However, later in the day something happened that I found to be very impactful for me in several ways!

Shortly after we spoke in the afternoon, I was eating and enjoying an Indian mantra band when she and her daughter walked by to join in listening to the band. One would think that as a child psychotherapist I would be better suited to gauging ages, but figure her daughter was about five or six and she was dancing to the music, lost in her revelry as they passed. Just as they began to stop, the daughter, in her exuberance, hit the paper plate of food her mom had and it fell to the floor, landing upright, but still spilling some of the food.

Ah, one of those moments when time seems to stand still. Her mom was facing away from me, so I could not see her expressions as she bent to begin picking up the small mess, but her daughter was in full view and, as children are wont to do, a wonderful mosaic of open emotions. I saw surprise, concern, contritement, embarrassment (as she quickly glanced my way), and confusion. All this as her body went ridged not knowing what to do next.

So how was this wonderful? I didn’t see fear. I cannot tell you how many times I do see this emotion when observing children that have an accident and find it so sad. How do I know there wasn’t fear there? How do I know her daughter was concerned, not scared? I can wholeheartedly empathize with that moment in two ways. First, I remember too well feeling terror when I had an accident.

As I hinted in another blog, my mother has only two main settings, as easy going as a narcissistic, full blooded German Scorpio can be and an atomic bomb. I remember not caring anything about even a serious injury I sustained in high school, but what was going to happen when she found out; was she going to nurture or punish? Second, in that stillness before we begin to act in response to what has just happened, I remember unloading on my daughter several times when she innocently had an accident, repeating the sins of my mother; it brings tears to my eyes even now.

Although they express themselves somewhat similarly, I could tell the daughter was concerned and not afraid because her body was slightly leaning into her mom, not pulling away. Even if she was too young to know what to say or how to react to the accident, hence the rigidity of body caught up in indecision, her limbic system was not in the freeze mode of flight, fight, freeze, or feign death that fear automatically exerts on a body.

Wow, I was impressed at this woman’s relationship skills that in a moment that would expose any parenting flaws, she, in a seemingly calm fashion, cleaned up and her daughter was not fearful. Several things happened following this incident, the first being I offered my napkin and then went to get more and a spare plate to allow her to clean up the spill. I then thought on my training and how effortlessly the analysis of the situation and recognition of all its facets revealed itself to me! And then, I was confronted with something I have been working on, stepping into the limelight.

For a variety of developmental reasons, I do not really reveal me to others easily and I sure do not step up and inject myself into a stressful personal situation! Luckily, as an excellent psychotherapist I know from Taos always said, “recognition is the key” and I recognized my reluctance to praise this woman for her skills. There was enough happening, what with the band playing and her talking with others (how convenient for me to indulge in my reluctance!), that I did not overcome my hesitance to talk to her at the party and then needed to leave. However, once home, I stepped up by e-mailing her, albeit in a much less personal and somewhat less comprehensive manner, letting her know my thoughts and feeling on what happened and was rewarded with a kind reply.

Had this woman brought this incident into a psychotherapy session, there was, as another semi-mentor of mine would say, a “teaching moment.” Especially with children this young, but at any age even through adulthood, remember to always start off by telling them you love them and that you know it was an accident. Tell them you love them even when it is not an accident and consequences will need to be assessed! She could have also begun to teach and/or foster empathy and responsibility in her daughter by adding that although it was an accident, she needed help cleaning up the mess, asking her daughter to fetch napkins and then having her throw away the trash. These are little things that pay big dividends in the future.

While these would have been added bonuses, the mom had already hit a home run with doing no harm, both previously and in that instant. In many ways, that Saturday was magical from the moment I woke up until I went to bed. I am so very grateful to be sixty, still learning, still growing, and every day embodying ever more my authentic self!

Continue Reading


I was relaxing the other morning, following a string of websites that sprang one from another, when I ended up on a site that offered parenting advice. Further, it had a section for parents and parents to be to ask questions to see how other parents had handled a problem or face a certain situation. Two stood out, one, a dad, asking how to raise a 10 year old “girl child?”. First, what is a “girl child?” I thought they are daughters. Second, I am reminded of a time when I went deep-sea fishing in my twenties and caught a small shark. I only kept it because an acquaintance on the boat said they were good eating. Back at the dock, I asked the old gentleman cleaning my catch how one cooks shark. The fellow looked me in the eyes and said “Likes you do all fish, you fry ’em!” That answer was very humorous, but the one I would give the 10 year old’s dad is more serious, while just as generic for all children, “You love ‘em… deeply, unconditionally, and often!” One of my favorite child therapists, Virginia Satir, has a wonderful quote that I practice daily, and not just with children. “We need 4 hugs a day for survival. We need 8 hugs a day for maintenance. We need 12 hugs a day for growth.” Being the father of an only child daughter, I wish I had known this as she was growing up, however I can make up for lost time now.

The other letter was from a woman asking how to address a child that bullies her parents. Unfortunately, I find this all the time and, the root cause seems to be so prevalent in this day and age. Looking back when I was growing up, there might have been severe self-esteem problems in adults, but I never saw it. Every adult, no matter how misguided I later found them to be, presented themselves as an authority on whatever matter was being discussed. Now, I am certainly not advocating to go back to the all or nothing days of the “greatest generation,” but a happy medium between their approach and what I see today would really help parents. Nowadays, parents seem to want to be their children’s best friends…. you are not, at least not how it seems to be playing out. You are there to love and teach, in that order. If you are truly your child’s best friend, you will be the mentor they need to thrive, both as a child and then later in life. This involves a delicate balancing act throughout the child’s development, not just when they are very young, and that balancing act is constantly changing. All children, as they learn to differentiate from their parents say hurtful things. In the terrible twos, it is pretty much limited to “I hate you!” since their cognition is so limited and, until 7 to 10, they think only in black and white terms. The next and longer period of differentiation is the teen years when they can now think and really gore you where it hurts. I always remind parents that children are simply little humans. As adults, we do not like doing something we do not want to do and neither do they. While they usually end up obeying, as another psychologist friend of mine likes to say, the least they can do before obeying is to piss you off! Your job is to recognize this, not get pissed off, stay in the loving, and be firm. This is how you truly are their best friend, not being popular with them, but being a wonderful guide. This not only prepares them for life after they leave the nest, but also teaches them how to raise your grandchildren.

There are several effective parenting styles that have been codified into programs, the one I am most familiar with and teach is “Parenting with Love and Logic,” but they all stress love, consistency, and firmness. Righting several years of allowing poor behavior by anyone, including a child, is not easily done, but eminently possible. We are the adults and we need to act like adults, not to go down to a child’s level and be popular or fight with them. As is the case so often, a little hard work initially makes for smooth sailing later. My same psychologist friend likes to say about relationships of all kinds, “Don’t think that you can grow into a better human being and your family and friends will take it laying down!”

Continue Reading