Parenting with consistency and predictability – Part II

parenting-consistency-predictability-IIJoey, aged 7, pitched a fit at the grocery store when his mom wouldn’t let him have a candy bar. His mom was embarrassed and it seemed like every eye at the store was on her. She relented, and let him have the candy “just this one time”.

Mary, age 15, came home one hour after curfew. Dad was furious and grounded her for two weeks. After two days, she begged and pleaded to be let out of jail. “I promise I will never be late again” she pleaded. Dad felt bad about the severity of his punishment. He relented.

Bill’s bedtime was at 8:30 p.m. All games were to be shut off, teeth brushed, and in bed by 8:45pm. Bill begged and pleaded to finish his video game—“Just one more level! I promise! I’ll turn it off!” Mom relented. Read more »

What does “Mindfulness” mean?

mindfulnessI recently returned from a five-day workshop on “Mindfulness” based Cognitive Therapy for depression. These days we frequently hear about “mindfulness” and it’s application to a variety of conditions and situations. It’s become a popular term.

But what does it mean? When I think of mindfulness, I think of being aware of other people’s feelings or being careful (as in be mindful of where you step). But this type of mindfulness is different. It’s all about being aware of your own experience.

“Mindfulness means being able to bring direct, open-hearted awareness to what you are doing while you are doing it: being able to tune in to what’s going on in your mind and body, and to the outside world, moment by moment (“The Mindful Way Workbook by Teasdale, Williams, and Segal, Guilford Press, 2014).” Read more »

Parenting with consistency and predictability – Part I

parenting-consistency-predictabilityWhy does my child seem so unsettled? She whines and cries when she doesn’t get her way. And sometimes she falls apart for no reason at all. Bedtimes can be a nightmare, and mornings, when I am rushing off to work, she is like molasses. What’s wrong?

Kids can go through periods of instability when they are having difficulty coping with too many transitions, new demands, or frustrations. It may seem like any change in their schedule throws them off kilter. Or, a simple “no” turns him into Genghis Khan! Some of this can be simple growing pains that are developmental (example: three year olds can be bears!) But other times, it may stem from an environment with too little predictability and lack of parental consistency (a topic for an upcoming blog). Read more »

Kindness and appreciation

kindness-and-appreciationSeveral weeks ago I celebrated my friend’s 95th birthday. Three years ago Dixie came to live with her son and daughter in law. At the tender age of 92, she was feeling terribly lonely, could no longer drive, and was having memory problems. “I’m ready to go home to the lord”, this very religious woman would say to her daughter in law over the phone. Her son, Tracy and his wife, Patti sprung into action. Patti flew down to Florida to bring Dixie to their home for a “visit”. Her visit has lasted three years! It takes a small village to support an elder, and I have been part of her village. I have lunch with Dixie and her son every week. Her quality of life is vastly improved. Adoring grandchildren and great grandchildren surrounds her. I know, at times, it’s been a challenge for her son and his wife. But they feel strongly that they are doing the right thing for Dixie. They are the real deal when it comes to family. Read more »

Be the father you want to be

be-the-father-you-want-to-beMy father, like most men of his generation, knew little about being a dad. As a parent in the 1950’s, he came home late on weekdays and on weekends he filled his day with chores. As a young child, when my father was holed up in his study paying bills, I would hide under his desk just be near him, secretly soaking up his company. When we did talk it was about school or activities. We had no language for feelings.

We spent so little time together that those moments, however mundane, were like a drink of water to a parched throat.

Fifty years later, men now have enough leisure time to examine their own fathering and really define the kind of father they want to be. Read more »

A healthy outlook tips scales toward fitness

healthy-lifestyle-scalesAs an adult, I have been mostly overweight. And a quick look around tells me I’m not alone.

But when I watch TV, read magazines, or go to the movies, all I see are slim, tall, muscular men and women. When I go to the beach, I see a parade of bathing beauties. Unfortunately, I can’t march in their procession.

Growing up, everyone in my family struggled to keep their weight down. My childhood saw a cornucopia of the latest, new-fangled, guaranteed-to-make-you-skinny diets. High-protein, low carb, all liquid, low-fat diets lay littered across a vast wasteland of lost and found pounds. Read more »

Sleep revisited: Sedative-hypnotics and older adults

sleep-older-adultsA couple of weeks ago, I met with the “Chief Pharmacist” at The Everett Clinic to discuss his concerns about the use of sedative-hypnotic sleep medications (like Ambien) for older adults. At this meeting, I naively asked him at what “age” does older adulthood begin. I learned, to my surprise, that I am on the doorstep of older adulthood! Admission begins at age 65!

Recent medical reports have called into question the safety of these sleep medications for all adults, but particularly for those of us who are getting older. Older adults, even those of us in our 60’s, are more prone to falling. Going to the bathroom in the middle of the night can be an obstacle course that ends up in the Emergency Room! Indeed, studies show that over 90,000 E.R. visits every year are associated with adverse reactions to Ambien. More than 19% of those visits resulted in hospital admissions. This is serious. Read more »

How to calm back to school jitters

back-to-school-jittersLate summer comes early to the Northwest. Those long, warmer days, lazily spent by the water, or in your yard, will soon be replaced by shorter, cooler days. The slower, more relaxed pace of summer will quicken as September comes into view.

By now, I hear children complain about the boredom of unstructured summer days. I can feel a slow, but steady build-up of energy and excitement as youngsters turn their attention toward the start of school—just a few days or weeks away. Read more »

The hidden pain of depression

hidden-depressionSome years ago, a middle-aged patient of mine, Joe, walked into my office, and pleaded, “Paul, please talk me off the ledge”. He had struggled through a long period of work and relationship disappointments and problems with his youngest daughter. He grew up in a family with domestic violence and verbal abuse. He was at the very lowest I had seen him for a long time. He was experiencing the suffering of clinical depression.

Robin Williams’ recent suicide has brought the spotlight to this painful, but relatively common condition. Dr. Kay Jamison, a well-known psychiatrist, who has struggled with her own depression, contributed an essay titled “To Know Suicide” (New York Times, August 15, 2014). It is well worth a look. Read more »

Robin Williams 1951-2014

Robin_WilliamsMy wife picked up the newspaper yesterday and broke into tears. She saw the sad news that Robin Williams, a beloved comedian, committed suicide.

I felt the same way. I remember Robin Williams in the TV comedy—“Mork and Mindy” which was a zany show about an alien from another planet. Williams was a genius and his career in the movies, television, and stage was launched. He was one of my favorite comedic actors.

Why are we so shocked? For one, it’s hard for us ordinary citizens to imagine that a successful, famous, talented, wealthy screen personality would commit sucide. He appeared to have everything that anyone would want. How often do we wonder—my life would be so much better if I had more money, wouldn’t it be wonderful if I was more successful, or I bet it’s great to be so famous! At the same time, we feel that we know these well-known adults. After all, we have seen and heard them in so many popular movies. How could he have been so desperate to take his own life? He always was so funny. The contrast between his stage personality and his apparent mental anguish makes it even harder to comprehend. Read more »