Parenting books that help you find your way when the going gets tough

parenting-booksWhen our kids were little, I read a million parenting books. I knew that I didn’t want to raise our kids like I was raised (“Children should be seen, but not heard”). I knew what I didn’t want to do, but I wasn’t sure what to do.

Our generation depends on books, web sites, and You-tube to guide us through the dark night of uncertainty. Dr. Spock told me what to do if one my daughters had a cold and couldn’t breathe very well at night. But what was I to do when 7 year old Naomi came into my room crying hysterically that everyone hated her and she had no friends! I wanted to comfort her, reassure her that she was loved, and tell her that all would work out. Read more »

Internet Pornography: The new addiction?

porn-addictionIncreasingly, we are seeing adults (and teens) who are spending vast amounts of time and money looking at pornography on the Internet. Whatever your views may be on the morality of this behavior, these individuals can’t turn off their computers. Is this an addiction? A compulsion? Or what?

The statistics are staggering. Every second, $3000 is spent on Internet pornography. Every second, there are 28,250 Internet users viewing porn. The revenues for the pornography industry are larger than Microsoft, Google, Amazon, EBay, Yahoo, Apple, and Netflix combined!

Those opposed to pornography believe that it can ruin marriages, destroy good relationships, lead to sexual addiction and sexual aggression. Proponents believe that erotica can improve sexual relationships and can be a harmless recreational outlet for adults. Whatever you believe, the pornographic industry is alive and well because vast numbers of adults are logging on. Read more »

Blended Families – Is it really like Brady Bunch?

parenting-successMeet the Smiths, a typical American family. Just married, John and Mary have four children. Sally 14, Joe, 12, are John’s. David, 10, and Bill, 4, are Mary’s.

Sound ordinary?

This new American family is a blend of mine, yours, and ours—brought to you by a significant divorce rate and a high remarriage rate. This hybrid is competing with the conventional “Ozzie and Harriet” family of yesteryear.

The natural life history of divorce and remarriage brings about new facts of family life. From the rubble of marital dissolution rises the single-parent family, often headed by Mom. Dad has the kids every other weekend and sees them on certain weekday nights. Read more »

Is there a reason for everything?

reason-for-everythingAs a psychologist, hearing about misfortune and tragedy is my daily fare. How do adults understand and make sense out of unexpected loss or life reversals?

An interesting article (“Does Everything Happen for a Reason?” New York Times, October 19,2014, by Konika Banerjee and Paul Bloom) describes a young man who was seriously injured at the Boston Marathon in 2013. After numerous surgeries and months of rehabilitation, he developed a relationship with one of his nurses. Announcing their engagement, he wrote—“I now realize why I was involved in this tragedy. It was to meet the love of my life.” Read more »

The frantic pace of modern life

busy-momI remember these days well.

Monday morning

Paul: Get the kids up. Take Maya to 8:30 a.m. violin lesson. Rush her to school. Run to the office. Work until 8 p.m. Kids dig up lawn to make mud pies. Pay bills.

Diane: Get up early. Jump on Nordic Track exercise machine. Convince plumber that the leak leaks. Walk Naomi to school. Work. Get allergy shot. Back to work. Pick up kids. Snacks. Take Maya to group violin lesson. Naomi to soccer. Make dinner. Read more »

Coping with adversity

coping-with-adversityJack opens up the mail and finds a letter from the IRS. His heart races as he reads that they are planning to do a full audit on his taxes for the last five years! Mary picks up the phone and learns that her Mom just had a heart attack. Sarah has an unexpected bad review from her boss. Phil is playing a great tennis game and breaks his ankle going after a ball.

Spring can turn to winter in a heartbeat.

Adversity, big or small, is a periodic unwelcome visitor to your home. Everything is going smoothly, and then there is a knock on the door, a telephone call, a text, or a certified letter and your peace is gone! It is replaced by dread, fear, and anxiety.

How do you feel when adversity strikes? Read more »


thanksgivingAs I write this, I am listening to the rain on my roof. For us North Westerner’s we are no strangers to water falling from the sky. It’s a familiar and soothing sound.

But today, I can’t help but think about the 45 people living in a homeless encampment a quarter of a mile from my home. Tent City 3 had been unable to find a church that would let them camp and so for the first time since 2000, they set up their tents on a small piece of public land near I-5 in North Seattle. They have moved 70 times in the last 14 years. I am sure that this driving cold rain on an early Sunday morning in November is no comfort for them.
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Advice for married men…

advice-for-married-menI am very fortunate. I have been married for 37 years this December. Wow! That’s a long time. Periodically, someone will want to know the secret of my marital longevity. Couples who have been married for less than a decade wonder how to persist through all of the ups and downs of married life. I must admit I am very fortunate to have married the right person for me. But I have also learned a few things. I thought I would share some of those lessons in my blog. This one is especially for men.

I have to admit— I am a slow learner (I know that my wife will agree with this!). It has taken me a long time to learn these lessons, and even now, I sometimes forget! So be patient. This week, I will share one big lesson I have learned. Read more »

Every day is a new…

a-new-dayMy perfect day is sandwiched between watching the sun rise and the sun set. I am fortunate that I live close to Green Lake. I love to walk around the lake in the early morning and watch the eastern sky glow and finally brighten as the sun rises at 7 a.m. Ducks and geese skim across the calm water. Occasionally, a blue heron, standing on one leg, completely still, waits for breakfast to swim by. It’s been particularly brilliant during these last few clear days. When the sun finally shakes off its nightly slumber and peeks above the horizon, a new day is born.

What will this day bring? What opportunities will I have to be the person that I hope to be today?

If I am truly blessed, I will have the chance to watch the sunset in the western sky out of my office window in the late afternoon too. My office overlooks the Puget Sound and the Olympic mountains. During the autumn and winter, when the sun sets early, on one of those rare blue sky days, I can see the sun drop below the mountains. When I am working with a patient, I often stop the session so we can witness the magic of the setting sun. It is a moment of grace that we share together. Whatever pain and suffering we have, there is the possibility of letting it go as the last rays of light shine across the water. Read more »

Bullying: What can we do?

bullying-what-can-we-doWhen I was 13 years old, walking home from school, two larger boys, with several girls looking on, started pushing me backwards. I didn’t see the low wooden fence behind me. I fell on my rear onto the grass. Everyone laughed at me. Humiliated and furious I ran home.

I plotted revenge, which I hoped to exact over the next few days. Fortunately, I never had the opportunity. That afternoon is etched in my memory, even though it happened over four decades ago!

How many of us have experienced bullying? One recent study found that 23% of boys and 18% of girls have been victims. Often times, out of fear and humiliation, victims don’t report these incidents. In recent years, “cyberbullying” has become a new, cruel way of harassing youngsters using cell phones, social media, and the internet. These humiliations can go “viral” as they are shared with scores of other kids. The bully is physically removed from the consequences of their actions—and they are hard to catch. They can have devastating consequences. Read more »