Aftermath of Sandy

November 27, 2012
posted by Admin

So it was not the results of this past presidential election that connected all of us, but rather the Frankenstorm that took out Halloween on the east coast that drew us together on a most human level. Why is it that we take for granted simple pleasures – like heat, food and hot water? It isn’t until we no longer have these readily available to us that we realize their importance. The same is true for our shared humanity. As we turn on the 4, 5, 6, or 11 o’clock news we stare at the images of neighbors huddled together over a makeshift fire in someone’s driveway trying to stay warm. If we allow ourselves to go there in our minds, we recognize that we could be huddled with them. That we are them! We are the lucky ones! We are the ones that escaped Sandy’s wrath. The wind just didn’t destroy our home in the same way that it destroyed their’s. The water by our home just happened to recede more quickly then those who were flooded out! The occasion of Hurricane Sandy presented us with a level of awareness that is not to be missed – we are all vulnerable and through our vulnerability connected to one another.

The Today Show had a segment on the age old topic of teen drinking. Menlo Park, California parents had a party with their son’s friends’; the local cops came by to follow up on an anonymous tip and of course they found booze. Father was arrested.
Teen drinking has been a serious problem for a very long time and with all of our high tech instruments and knowledge we somehow still are not treating this problem with the seriousness that it deserves. Nothing will change by arresting parents. The truth is that just because kids can talk and manipulate their way to find alcohol doesn’t mean that a teen knows the implications of what they are doing. And when we look at brain development, we now know that teens may very well be biologically incapable of having the proper judgment to make the right decision at the time. Therefore, group pressure wins out, and teens wind up doing things that they may not ordinarily do. In today’s culture, generally speaking, parents are more concerned with being friends with their kids. They give up their authority at a time when their kid needs them to be that authority. The result of this is obvious – No one is minding the store (read no one is taking responsibility.) In the end, teen drinking becomes a blame game and we hold parents responsible.
From where I sit, as a psychotherapist working with teens, I listen to stories of how this one “used a fake ID” or that one “downed 10 shots” of vodka. Parents are often physically in the house. The fact is that teenagers take advantage of exhausted parents (those people who gave them life) who are not communicating effectively with each other and have different parenting standards. If we want to begin to address this problem, we must address it on a local level. Parents need to make the time to attend teen parenting classes and apply what they learn through homework assignments. After applying interventions, these parent participants return to the group to report the results of their experience. A group of parents can offer support and bolster one another more than we realize. Parents also need to understand that the job of parenting requires a parent to be stricter and more on top of their game then they may want to be. There is no place for passive parenting during the teen years. By the way, why are parents leaving the job of parenting to local enforcement agents? If we decide to become parents then we need to see the job through to completion. Last checked, they don’t have what it takes to parent one’s kid.
It is time to tackle the problem of teenage drinking in a smarter, more sophisticated way! Do we dare to risk losing our children?

Consider change as an invitation to freedom

September 21, 2011
posted by Admin

The temperature outside drops! The leaves change their colors! Squirrels hide their nut-food in the soil. Autumn is here! It is the changing of the seasons – the time to look at our own response to change and transitions.
Like nature, life is in a constant state of change! The seasons, the weather, the political environment even our immediate home environment is ripe for continual change. I believe it is our human nature to fight change! We kick and scream, like the kindergartener or First grader who doesn’t want to go to school and leave the safety of home and mom and dad. Or what about the middle aged female that goes and receives Botox injections, because the idea of having and seeing wrinkles on her face upset her. She doesn’t want to realize she is getting older. Or what about the college kid who gets sick right before going off to college. Or the middle-aged male who spends a great deal of money on a hot car or motorcycle and ignores the reality of his own aging reflexes. There is no difference between the kindergartener, the middle-aged female, the college kid or the middle-aged male.
How if we see change as an invitation to grow and learn more about ourselves, our likes and dislikes, our hopes and dreams? How if we see the demand for change as a call to pay attention to something more important than our need in the moment?
Change expands our minds and hearts. It opens us, like the opening of an oyster to reveal the translucent beauty of a pearl. It is the feeling one receives when they are driving to something they want to do and a rainbow unexpectedly appears in the sky. There is the potential for a serendipitous adventure if we open to that moment and not fight what we fear is coming.
So the next time you notice a red, orange or yellow leaf falling from a tree or the sun setting or you notice that your child has grown an inch this summer realize in that special moment that change is in the air and is inviting you to learn about your reaction to it!

In the moment summer

July 13, 2011
posted by Admin

It is mid-July. The summer has flown by along with the spring. Both clouds and rain swept away the Spring flowers. Was I not watching the action? Had I fallen asleep at the wheel of my life during this time? Why was I not enjoying what was right in front of my face when Spring was there in all of its glory. Do I realize that life is in the details of the moment? When I thoughtlessly toss those details away then there really isn’t much else to enjoying life . This is a true lesson on enjoying the detail of the moment in the moment when it occurs. I cannot replace or resurrect the Spring, but I can look for those precious few moments that exist in this an eternal Summer.
So let me share with you a few joys that may inspire you to more deeply enrich the humdrum routine of your summer days.
• A two year old building a sand castle in his sandbox and sticking two twigs in the top of it. He then sang Happy Birthday to his Grandmother who lives far away, but whose birthday he remembered.
• A 11 year old excited about being “ungrounded” after her parents admitted that maybe three months of “grounding” was a little extreme for a child in this age group and that the punishment was too extreme.
• A packed shore-line of beach goers enjoying the beautiful, sunny, luscious summer day with just the right temperature water.

So now, go out and look for and enjoy your own summer moments!

Giving ourselves permission

May 26, 2011
posted by Admin

When we are little guys and gals, we entertain all different kinds of dreams. We picture fun things to do. We idealize certain people and situations. We want to become a ___________ (fill in the blank). As little kids, we want to feel less small and more powerful! We want to explore what it means to become our own version of a Super Hero. However, as we get older, we come up against the obstacles that interfere with what we want to attain in life. The promise of realizing ours dreams are often dashed and before you know it, a sense of disappointment takes over. We feel led down a path of certain failure. All the doors of opportunity and dreams appear closed to us!
As we grow older, we tend to be closed to our dream possibilities. We protect ourselves from the hurt and pain that we felt as a little kid. We fear feeling our original disappointment and we do not want to look back on our original dreams. We are afraid to open ourselves to possibilities and the chance to build something brand new in our life. In our self-conversations, we ask, “Why did I ever think that I could have what I wanted? We deny ourselves what we long for, mostly out of habit and fear. Without our fullest awareness, we bathe in our helpless, powerless feelings. We tell ourselves we cannot have what we want.
But what if we were to revisit the place of our original dreams? What if we took up a hobby or sport that we have a vague memory of enjoying and we felt passionately about it? As adults, why do we so easily toss away stuff that feels like pure play to us?
I grew up with a piano in my home. I always had a desire to play it. But I kept this as a secret. Coming from a large family and understanding the financial strain my parents were under, I never verbalized my desire to play it. I felt like what is the use. I knew that I would be turned down and disappointed if I had asked my parents for lessons. The lonely piano stood un-played against a wall in our dining room for years.
Recently, I’ve re-discovered my original yearning! I realized that it was connected to my love for classical music. So, each day I sit and practice classical pieces that my piano teacher has assigned. I have the experience of magic flowing through my fingertips. Sometimes, when I play, I spontaneously cry. Why? I think it is because I am following through with a yearning to reconnect with a lost, past love. By uncovering that which was buried, I have re-connected to a part of myself that brings me pure joy!

What to do when tragedy strikes?

May 16, 2011
posted by Admin

Every day, in my office I hear words, I listen to phrases and I try to capture a section, a moment, an event of a person’s life. Not in a sensational or dramatic way, but rather in a way where I am able to break down all the various parts of a person’s interaction with a significant other or the critical timing of events in a patient’s daily life. Inevitably, in listening to all of these individual moments in any one meeting, I come up against my own uncomfortable feelings of helping a patient “face” a mini-tragedy (like losing a wallet or ring) or at times, a life-changing tragedy (like death of a family member or loss of a job). Our knees quiver and shake when we come face to face with tragedy. Of course, as the professional, the patient looks to me for answers. But, I plain and simply don’t know what to do. In short, I too feel helpless!
Our world is colored and painted with tragedy. Yet, as we go through our daily lives, we don’t expect tragedy to befall us. We often are surprised when someone is diagnosed with cancer or has a serious car accident. As we vigorously swim our way through the obstacles and problems of life, we will be forced to face tragedy. The reality is this is a natural part of being a human being! So here’s the question that begs asking: What if we were taught to slow down and develop an awareness that tragedy does exist in our world. At any one tragic moment, our bodies move into fight- flight response and our brain gets distracted and our hearts feel helpless. But what if we took that helplessness and followed it all the way out and simply just sat with it? What if we did nothing and simply decide to take a walk, breathe, pray or meditate or self-reflect? What if when tragedy struck we just sighed deeply and often. Or what if we spoke so softly to those we live with or softly and gently to ourselves. My guess is if we did these things we would open ourselves to the possibility of healing.

Short-term Forgiveness Therapy Groups to Start

April 25, 2011
posted by Admin

Jed Rosen, MSW, LCSW, an expert in Forgiveness Work and trained by Fred Luskin, author of Forgive for Good, will be starting short term Forgiveness Therapy Groups. These groups will focus on helping members “let go” of past hurts and grudges that stop them from moving on in their lives.
It is true that suffering is a part of life. When we hold on to our suffering, we emotionally cripple ourselves and impede our personal growth. Forgiveness therapy, as a cognitive behavioral approach, is a way of letting go of suffering that has not been resolved. The group participant will be able to sensitively explore the source of one’s suffering and receive guidance to let go of it.
Jed, a highly skilled and experienced group clinician, has been teaching Forgiveness for the past five years to groups of various sizes. This time around, groups will be short-term (5 weeks) and small to provide for more individualized attention to each member. Through his professional guidance, Jed will facilitate therapeutic connection and support among group members. The goal is to help each member move past the areas of their lives in which they have suffered for too long.
So, if you are “stuck” with a life partner, child, parent, boss or therapist this is the place to come! Come and learn how to let go of the suffering from difficult relationships, losses, mistreatment by others or by life, health problems, and career frustrations.
If you are interested in joining a group or know someone who would benefit from this type of group interaction, please contact Jed Rosen at (201) 825-3672 or email Jed directly at: jed.rosen@verizon.net

Keeping your anxiety manageable

April 25, 2011
posted by Admin

Anxiety is one of those states of mind that can creep up on us in subtle ways. We start off our work week, thinking that we are just going to easily move through it. We often believe and expect everything to be predictable. But then, a phone call upsets you and the one co-worker you get along with tells you that they are leaving and before you know you experience your week as going haywire! Without realizing it, your breath becomes shallow. You chalk it up to too much coffee. Then your spouse calls and tells you that your kid is sick! Ugh! What is an adult to do when overwhelmed by life’s daily occurrences?
The simplest thing to do is breathe slowly and deliberately. Focus on your very next breathe. Whether you are standing in line for lunch or driving somewhere, concentrate on the intake and output of each breath. This small act will slow down your heart rate. You will begin to feel more grounded and feel more in your own skin.
Write down what, which incident is upsetting you the most. Ask yourself, can you do anything about it? Can you send positive thoughts to your kid? Can you plan a time to speak with the colleague outside of work? Can you solve the phone call problem or must you just let go of it this moment and move onto something else that you might be able to successfully tackle?
Realize the items that you can do, something about and the ones that you can do nothing about. Let go of those things you have little or no control over. This is easier said than done! But certainly try to drop out of your mind those things that you cannot effectively tackle right now.
Accept the day for the challenges that has been presented to you. Be grateful that your day is one where you are being challenged to rise to a certain level. These times make us stronger. If all else fails, know that tomorrow is not that far away!

Why teens choose not to speak to their parents?

April 13, 2011
posted by Admin

Or to re-phrase the question why do parents always complain about their kids locking themselves in their bedroom for hours and sometimes days with the intention of avoiding them? The lack of contact between parent and teen seems to “kill” parents and make them feel out of control.
From the parent’s perspective, it seems really strange that one decides to conceive/bear a child and feed and care for that child through infancy, toddler years, and elementary school. Worry about that child every day! What they eat, when they sleep, when they become ill, the child’s proper development and ability to learn or not learn in school. Parents worry when they watch their kid hormonally morph into an adolescent, wondering where their “sweet child – nice kid” disappeared. They cannot believe that their once beloved child is indifferent, distant, alien, cold, abrupt, unanswerable, moody and most times downright rude to them.
From the child’s perspective, kids want to catapult themselves through their teen-age years. I often hear kids say: “I just want to skip high school and move onto college, where there is a lot more freedom.” When kids think or speak like this, they are telling us they want to avoid all of the complexities that adolescence has to offer them. For the teen, it is a tremendous amount of emotional work to “know thyself.” Many teens do not want to do this work. They prefer to hide out from their feelings and the demands of these years.
In addition, I have learned that teens have an Adult Code. This code refers to the way that adults (parents) talk down to them, as if adults have all of the answers. The second section to this code is that adults (parents) do not take seriously what their teen son or daughter has to say. Teens feel that their words have little credibility to adults. So, if you think about it, why should a kid speak up? Why take a chance at certain rejection. In short, kids feel boxed in by their parents.
From someone who has worked with kids and their parents for a long time, here are a few observations.
Parents tend to remain rigid in the way they view their growing, developing child. Kids change all of the time. They change from season to season and month to month and week to week. Parents seem to notice the outside changes more readily than changes on the inside of their child. A kid’s belief system and values are being challenged by society every single day. Parents tend not to see this nor do they see the degree to which this is occurring on a daily basis.
Parents forget what it feels like to be teenager. Teen’s feelings are fairly intense and without empathy a teen doesn’t feel understood. Kids stay in their room because they don’t want to be told what to think and how to feel. They are struggling to find their own voice and they don’t want any “tainting” of that process. Fearful parents “taint” in the form of lecture, correction, punishment and the like. Kids look to avoid this.
It comes down to this. Parents need to slowly release their grasp (begin to let go) on their child-teen. If they are too tightly absorbed in their kid’s world, their child teens will not be able to experience the freedom of making mistakes and hopefully learning from them. Without making mistakes, a teen cannot grow and realize who they are. Parents need to reinforce their values primarily through their behavior, not necessarily their words. Kids remember how a parent handles a certain situation and will tend to copy that in the future.
Parents need to acknowledge their own fear of the world and the expectations they place on their kid. This will only lead to confusion for your teen. Give your kid space to think for him/herself. Respect your teen for their maturing growth and developing their own opinion on topics, even if it is opposite to what you may believe. It doesn’t mean that they will think this way forever. View this as a way of your teen finding his/her own voice.

You do me Proud!

March 5, 2011
posted by Admin

There is something about the splendour of a human birth that brings out the best in all of us. Our witness of this event makes us hopeful and bold! We “ooh” and “ah” at this tiny human specimen, that resembles something of our past, present and future all in a blast of one moment of viewing. Recently, when one of our children gave birth to a “beautiful” 6 pound baby boy, we felt a surge of pride for this little guy, who appears single-handedly to want to take on the world. In all of his innocence and vulnerability, he lifts our spirits and gives us hope!
Think about it for a moment. Logically, there are probably a zillion reasons why a couple should not bring a child into this world. Poverty, pollution, war, famine, domestic violence, amber alerts, declining educational systems, bullying….I will stop here. There are so many negative energies in the universe that push against the wind and the drive/motivation and desire to have a child. Yet when the season is ripe and the desire is strong, couples push to either impregnate, surrogate or adopt! They just do it! Bravely, they block out the stark reality of sleepless nights and months of the physical labor of active parenting and the consistent, bad news of universal events and make this daring decision to bear a child and parent him or her. And they make this decision in the light of not having been fully parented themselves. They push back! They push-on – blazing their own trail, willing to make their own mistakes, not knowing what major or minor obstacles that lie ahead in this daunting task of parenting.
We take this step for granted! We assume that having a child, starting the next generation is a given. We automatically believe that our child should want a child of their own in the way that we wanted them. It very well maybe a mystery or over-riding biological drive or the delicate mixture of both that thrusts two adults to take on this awesome task!
So, the next time a mom, dad, grandparent, nanny with a baby in a stroller, backpack, sling or crib, comes across your path, absorb like a sponge, the wonder and hope of this unique, precious, sleepy or crying treasure! Kudos to brave parents everywhere, who cherish life enough to take this most dangerous, exhausting, exhilarating, and unknown step to raise a child in a world where danger lurks. You give us hope and you do us Proud!