Wake up Parents! Follow-up!

October 15, 2010
posted by Admin

Wake up Parents! Follow-up!
As a follow-up to my last blog entry entitled “Wake up Parents!” I would like to offer a few suggestions on how we adults can support out children in a fairly direct way. All of us are very dependent on electronic communication. I love my cell phone and computer as much as any pre-teen or teenager, however when we use it as a complete substitute for real face-to-face communication we are not flexing the muscles that we need to flex. In addition, many children do not understand the importance of rules and their overall usefulness to society. So here are some suggestions to help your children begin to feel safer.
Have a dinner with candles and soft music. Make sure that everyone has a turn to speak.
Parents: Demonstrate respect for police, teachers and other authority figures. Explain how these individuals are town heroes!
Role-model kindness to your children. Say something kind to your child and ask them to copy you with an act of kindness of their own.
Have everyone in the family put their cell phones in a basket on a tall shelf….not to be touched for 24 hrs. Talk about the results!
Or turn off all computers for one day! Discuss.
Read a family story together that you can finish in three or four nights.
Write the words “I’m sorry” on a post-it, and put it on a family member’s pillow, that you have hurt.
Parents: Spend a full day, listening to your child carefully and not necessarily speaking in response.
WE all feel safer when we slow-down and respect one another.

Jed Rosen speaks about Forgiveness

October 15, 2010
posted by Admin

The Adventures of the Forgiveness Warrior

October 10, 2010
posted by Admin

When I teach forgiveness, participants think that forgiveness means that they must eliminate their anger. They visualize a “forgiving person” as one who is rarely annoyed while maintaining a state of peaceful equipoise. I have a friend, named John who taught me quite the opposite.
My friend, John found out that his father, along with two of his brothers, had made a profitable financial investment. They had not told John about this and in fact kept it secret from him. As a result, John felt betrayed and rejected. He had grown up accustomed to being excluded from family activities. But he never expected to be betrayed in such a blatant manner. The sting that John felt from this information, while not surprising to John, still took up a lot of space in his mind. Needless to say, John was furious.
As time went on, John did not want to remain stuck in this rejecting cycle with his family. This is the way his family has often behaved in the past. He had accepted that! Instead of feeling cheated and angry all the time, John took his anger and channeled it back to his original dreams of being successful in his own business. John let go of the disappointment by aggressively focusing on his own business and the vast potential. He thought about his wife, Ann, and the wonderful life that they had made for themselves, without the help of his parents or siblings. John appreciated and felt grateful for having Ann’s love in his life. John dedicated himself to nurture and protect what he had in his wife and his career. He decided to let go of what he did not have in his parents and siblings.
Certainly, forgiveness brings peace. But, we cannot forgive without sitting with our anger for a time. John felt his anger and let it be. John creatively channeled his anger towards his positive goal of making his business improve. By getting in touch with what he wanted before he was hurt, John used his anger to propel his life in a more meaningful direction. When John set himself back on the road of the life he had already created, he used his anger to re-charge his business. (Note: If your anger keeps you locked in to thinking about the person who hurt you and how hurt you feel, then you are nursing a grudge. You will continue to feel stuck, until you re-direct your anger towards your original dreams.)
John taught me how using my anger and managing it, can help me forgive. My brain enables me to have emotions of all kinds. I know and realize that I am wired to love and to feel angry. I can not eliminate either emotion from my life. What I can do is learn, through forgiveness, to use all of my emotions wisely to achieve peace.

WAKE-UP PARENTS!

October 7, 2010
posted by Admin

I would like to take a moment to talk to parents about what is happening to our children in this media crazy world of ours. Our children are actively being bombarded, psychologists call this over-stimulated with a lot of information that they don’t need to have at their disposal. When you overload a child, you mostly get back anxiety and worrying behavior in a child under the age of 13 and confusion and depression in a child over the age of thirteen. The most recent event of the suicide death of Tyler Clementi should be a wake- up call to all parents of any age kid.
Today’s kids are vulnerable in a unique way. They are growing up in families that do not communicate strong authority, leadership and values. Many teenagers today lack respect for authority and of course, this starts in the home. Without respect for authority, a kid will not feel safe in this world we live in. Authority and Wisdom speaks to the unconscious mind of a child. When a parent dispenses proper authority, he /she symbolically communicates to the child a sense of safety. Rules make children feel safe! This is why we have rules in schools and communities. The lack of strong rules at home makes a child feel unsafe! If there is little authority at home, the child will not feel safe. If a home is overly busy or chaotic, the child will also not feel safe.
Meanwhile, the way in which our children presently socialize has been radically altered! They text, chat, email, send pixs, download, upload, skype and a variety of other constantly changing communications that do not involve face-to-face contact. Children are not necessarily clear about who their friends are. Yet, once, they believe that they are in with a group of friends, their lives can be instantly changed for the worse, by some anonymous bully using a cell phone or computer.
If children of any age do not feel safe going to their peer group and do not feel safe contacting their parents, where will they turn? The tragedy of the death of Tyler Clementi is this: That Tyler had no one to trust and talk to in his time of deepest need. His death is a warning to all parents to wake up and pay attention to what is happening in your home.
~ Dr. Pat Saul, MSW, PH.D.

Bob Newhart and Psychotherapy

October 5, 2010
posted by Admin

Why do people laugh at the legitimate work of psychotherapy? What is so ridiculously funny about our profession? Recently, I was watching a video of Bob Newhart on Youtube. Please see: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BYLMTvxOaeE or go to www.youtube.com. And enter “Bob Newhart Stop it.”
Most of us can agree that Bob Newhart is a timeless comedian. Yet, in viewing this video, I can’t help but ask myself why the treatment of this patient on this video is so funny? After mentally wrestling for awhile, this is what I came up with.
There are a few suppositions to this video clip. Contrary to popular belief, most reputable psychotherapists that I know can not read a person’s mind nor can they see the essence of an individual’s vulnerability, pain and deficiency. As a reputable shrink, all I can do is empathically listen and pay close attention to the details of one’s life.
A second supposition is that all of life’s deepest questions can be answered in a simplistic, rational way. In the pretend world, no body does this better than Bob Newhart. The truth is that every individual is multi-layered and complex! We all have our share of personal obstacles, character conflicts and failed relationships. I doubt that we can tackle any of these in such a simplistic manner.
Behind all humor is a certain amount of aggression! Here, we see that Bob N. makes fun of the human condition. But let’s face it; if you tell a true “claustrophobic” to “Stop it!” you are actually blaming them for their behavior! Yikes! Comedians denigrate the human condition for us to be able to laugh at someone! That someone is us!

Take note of the Goodness in your friends!

October 4, 2010
posted by Admin

Drinking my coffee this morning and a good friend, Lou Baretti emailed me this story… I loved it so much I wanted to share it with you! Enjoy and have a great week! Jed

STONE
TWO FRIENDS WERE WALKING
THROUGH THE DESERT.
DURING SOME POINT OF THE
JOURNEY, THEY HAD AN
ARGUMENT; AND ONE FRIEND
SLAPPED THE OTHER ONE
IN THE FACE
THE ONE WHO GOT SLAPPED
WAS HURT, BUT WITHOUT
SAYING ANYTHING,
WROTE IN THE SAND,
TODAY MY BEST FRIEND
SLAPPED ME IN THE FACE.
THEY KEPT ON WALKING,
UNTIL THEY FOUND AN OASIS,
WHERE THEY DECIDED
TO TAKE A BATH
THE ONE WHO HAD BEEN
SLAPPED GOT STUCK IN THE
MIRE AND STARTED DROWNING,
BUT THE FRIEND SAVED HIM.

AFTER HE RECOVERED FROM
THE NEAR DROWNING,
HE WROTE ON A STONE:
‘TODAY MY BEST FRIEND
SAVED MY LIFE’
THE FRIEND WHO HAD SLAPPED
AND SAVED HIS BEST FRIEND
ASKED HIM, ‘AFTER I HURT YOU,
YOU WROTE IN THE SAND AND NOW,
YOU WRITE ON A STONE, WHY?’
THE FRIEND REPLIED
‘WHEN SOMEONE HURTS US
WE SHOULD WRITE IT DOWN
IN SAND, WHERE WINDS OF
FORGIVENESS CAN ERASE IT AWAY.

BUT, WHEN SOMEONE DOES SOMETHING GOOD FOR US,
WE MUST ENGRAVE IT IN STONE
WHERE NO WIND
CAN EVER ERASE IT’
LEARN TO WRITE
YOUR HURTS IN
THE SAND AND TO
CARVE YOUR
BENEFITS IN STONE.
THEY SAY IT TAKES A
MINUTE TO FIND A SPECIAL
PERSON,
AN HOUR TO
APPRECIATE THEM,
A DAY
TO LOVE THEM,
BUT THEN,
AN ENTIRE LIFE
TO FORGET THEM.
SEND THIS TO
THE PEOPLE YOU’LL NEVER
FORGET.
I JUST DID…
IF YOU DON’T
SEND IT TO ANYONE;
IT MEANS YOU’RE IN A
HURRY AND THAT YOU’VE
FORGOTTEN YOUR FRIENDS.
TAKE THE TIME TO LIVE!
DO NOT VALUE THE THINGS
YOU HAVE IN YOUR LIFE, BUT VALUE
WHO YOU HAVE KNOWN IN YOUR LIFE!
AND IF I HAPPEN TO GET IT BACK,
THEN I KNOW MY PLACE IN YOUR LIFE
Be kinder than necessary, for everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle.

Anonymous

We tend to discount so many of our daily interactions as if they do not matter to anyone. We also take for granted that the small acts of kindness we see and do are not that important and that no one really sees them. Most of our lives are made up of small acts. Will these small acts have a “domino effect” or will these cumulative acts change me and those close to me in some subtle way? We don’t really know the answers to these questions. Whether our acts matter or don’t is not important in the long haul of life. Yet, we are called to do them anyway….because in the end we believe that they will have meaning!
If you don’t believe me, then just watch the recently acclaimed movie: “Remember Me.”

On Becoming a Man

September 22, 2010
posted by Admin

        How do I know when I can finally call myself a man?  Is it when I have reached maturity in my physical development?  Is it when I have completed my education or can earn my own living?  Does driving an expensive car or having a big house make me a man?  Or perhaps becoming a man has to do with getting married or having my own children.

        Signs of manhood can be confusing.  Are these symbols of power simply a kind of “reality test” that I have made it in this world as a fully-mature adult male?  It is true that these signs of growth mean something, but maybe they don’t mean what I think I want them to mean.  Exactly, what does it mean to “become a man?”  I believe I would like a definition that psychologically and spiritually satisfies me – a definition that explains my desire to grapple with the meaning of this difficult question.

          In my search for the meaning to becoming a man, I studied my relationship with my father.  One day I realized that my father didn’t have all the answers!  He wasn’t smarter, kinder or more skilled than me.  I had put him on a pedestal and thought he could do no wrong!  But, one day, I looked at him and spotted jealousy towards me.  My father wasn’t the man that I thought he was!  I believed that he would always be there to support me.

         I stole this disappointment and used it to take a hard look at myself.   If my father would not take care of me, I would be alone.  I also realized that I didn’t want to feel my deep sadness and loneliness in standing on my own.  In standing alone, I was able to make a commitment to myself and stand in my own integrity.   In letting go of my false hopes for love and protection from my father, I became my own man and defined “manhood”, for myself…my own creed so to speak.  So I offer to you, my understanding of what it means to become a man.

 If I feel that I have to solicit the approval of someone else in order to feel safe and loved, then I will not feel like a man.

If I have to work hard to acquire material goods or a higher position in my company, then I will not feel like a man.

If I live with ongoing self doubt when I make decisions or waffle before I commit to a course of action then I will not feel like a man.

If I betray my own deepest wishes in order to please someone that I look up to, than I will not feel like a man.

If I lie because it is easier than telling the truth, than I will not experience myself as a man.

If I live by my fears, rather than by my passion, than I will feel like a trembling boy, which is hardly a man.

If I avoid my own pain by running away from myself, than I will not see myself as a man, but rather as a frightened child.

If I avoid loving with all my heart and giving everything I have to be happy, than I will not see myself as a man, but rather feel like a disappointed adolescent.

If I show timidity when I should be sticking up for myself than I will feel like a coward, which is clearly not manly.

 Becoming a man is a decision to live a life of integrity in everything I do.

 Jed R.

Surviving the College Application Process

September 16, 2010
posted by Admin

So, you have made it to the start of your kid’s senior year!  Kudos to you and your family!  Think of it!  You made it past the separation worries of Kindergarten,  past the cyber-bullying years of middle school, past private parties and driving permits and licenses (maybe…. hopefully) and you have dealt with your guilt or denial around putting a young driver on our commonly shared crazy roadways.  Just as you are about to pat yourself on the back and fully take in your success in this parenting adventure, you realize that you have to get on your kid’s back and have him/her fill out the application to the “safety school” of his/her choice.  Or do you?  The truth is that if you graduated from college, this happened 20 – 25 -30 years ago!  College admissions offices consider that time period to be the “dark ages.”  So, How am I supposed to help my kid?  Let’s discuss options from the parent’s point of view!

First option:  I could do nothing!  Don’t get involved!  Look, my kid goes to a very good school, some guidance couselor should be able to help him or her.    Don’t  they write their essays in their English classes anyway?  Once, his friends start bragging about their name colleges that they are going to then, my son/daughter will get his/her bum in gear!  Besides, let his mother, grandparent, coach get on his/her back….i just want to be the nice father, mother that my kid seeks out!

Second Option:  Let’s see, starting October 1, I have 76 days to pick schools, complete all the apps, schlepp to two or three schools for a quick visit, (mostly to let others know, that I know my stuff), and get a couple of essays started!  I am certain that Jan and Greg will let me start this for them.  Meanwhile, this leaves them free to still volunteer at the shelter, stay on the debate and track team, and get the grades they need to get (not to mention study for SAT’s and those crazy advanced college placement tests.)  Senior year is really what colleges look at, anyway.  It reveals the most recent objective test of their readiness to take on college courses.

Third Option:  How about we scrap both of these positions.  Let’s ask the question how can I support my kid through this grueling, yet highly productive year! 

  • Encourage your child!  Let him/her know that you believe in /his/her ability!
  • Acknowledge when he/she does something right!  Don’t wait until the entire app is completed.  Praise them along the way in the little steps!
  • If they ask for help, then help them where they think they need help.  Not where you think they need help.
  • Get them with a college  specialist who will help them to sit down and develop a timetable to complete the necessary paperwork.
  • College application time for your Senior kid is a process.  This is a year when a kid matures a great deal.  I have found when one works in cooperation with this maturation process, everyone benefits.  And you might still have a relationship with your kid by them time he/she goes to college.
  • Consider that your child needs an extra year to work or go to a special school to mature.  This may take a great deal of pressure off of him/her, you and your entire family.   
  • Last but definitely not least,  send your kid to me or someone like me who will get him to look at the mistakes he/she is making by delaying or skipping the process. 
  • Parent’s:  Good Luck and by the way, letting go of your kid when you send him off to college isn’t easy either!   Best of Luck, Dr.Pat            

Investing in the Long-term for your child!

September 10, 2010
posted by Admin

One of my least favorite jobs as a therapist is making decisions that are forced upon me to make.   So this type of conversation almost always happens over the phone and it goes something like this…

“Hello, Dr. Pat, my kid, Peter Pan or Wendy has an opportunity to see a ball game or concert and it conflicts with school, dentist appointment, or even your appointment.  What should I do?  I know that he/she is too young, the evening too late, the event too mature for my kid….but I just can’t deprive them of this opportunity.”

Okay, what would you say to this parent?  So would you focus on the event, would you focus on the child’s needs or would you focus on the parent’s need?  I cannot tell you how many times, I have been tempted to tell the parent to just give me the tickets, reschedule the kid’s appointment and go have a good time at the too late, too mature event!  (Only kidding!) So if you are following this closely and have courage, the obvious answer is always NO!

 “NO!  Wendy or Peter Pan, you cannot go to the concert, ball game, simply because I am the parent and I said so!” 

The word “NO!” is not a word that any of us want to hear.  “NO!” means that there must be a delay of gratification, which means we must wait for the re-occurrence of the next great non-conflictual event.  We do not want to wait!  We want it now and in addition, we want perfect gratification!

I fully realize that this is not a satisfactory answer to a parent who is hoping that he/she will not have to disappoint their child. 

The truth is:   “Mom, Dad you are not your child.  YOU had your fun as a child, now it is your child’s turn.  Go have your own fun!”

The second truth is:  Most children, and your child is not the exception, most children need to be told “No!” so that they can remain on their normal, predictable schedule that allows them predictable times to eat and sleep!  Without a schedule a child is LOST!  If you do NOT want your child to be LOST!  or cranky from exhaustion, or thrown off their schedule for days on end, good for you, you value long term character traits over short term pleasures that come and go with the change of weather.  You will be an excellent parent because you are more concerned about your child 15-20 years from now and not their impending possible temper tantrum now!