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January 2012
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March 2012

10 entries from February 2012

Free to you. Two free tickets to my next Hopes and Dreams conference

Today is my anniversary! I am pretty excited about it so I want to give something away. I'm looking forward to giving all sorts of good things away over the upcoming days. We're going to be giving away a book by a local author, gift certificates and all sorts of cool gifts.

Today, I am going to give away free tickets to my upcoming marriage conference at Impact Church in Lowell. This is a 2.0 conference, which means that even if you have been to last year's conference we are going to have some amazing new material for you to digest. At this conference, you will learn how to dissect past stress moments (some might call these fights) and learn what led to the fight so that you can make positive changes for the future.

You will learn to build upon a common language. You will learn to examine your interactional relationship style and how that is impacting your relationships. You will learn about your attachment style and how that is impacting your relationship with your spouse.

This conference is a fun and interactive weekend.

It is March 9th and 10th. Exact times can be found by contacting the church.

Here's how you can win free tickets:

  1. Like my professional Facebook page. You can find it here. (If you've already liked it, you're good to go)
  2. Tweet this post on your twitter account. Add @joemartino to the tweet so I know.
  3. If you don't have twitter, you can simply share the link to this post on your Facebook wall (you can use the like button at the bottom of this post). Be sure to tag me in the post so I know
  4. Subscribe to my blog's feed by putting your email address in the subscribe box next to my picture. Be sure to confirm the email address.

I will randomly pick a winner for two free tickets at my sole discretion this Friday.

9 year old dies: the result of stupid parenting techniques gaining traction

People wonder why I am so adamant about not indulging in these types parenting techniques. My post on the gentleman that shot his daughters computer generated a lot of discussion on here and on my personal Facebook page.

This little girl died and my fear is that if she had not died, then people would assume that this type of parenting is acceptable. I can hear the pragmatic arguments about how at least they were trying something. It wasn't traditional but it got through to her.







Because she ate some candy bars. SHE ATE SOME CANDY BARS. Take a moment and allow that thought to digest. She lied to grandma about eating candy bars. This type of parenting is born out of the idea that violence is somehow redemptive when it comes to children. It stems from a belief that bullying is OK if you are the parent. It comes from an angry place inside of the person administering it, not a place of love.

Violence is not OK, even if you are the parent. This type of parenting is wrong even if she had lived.

Parenting should be about shaping future adults. It should not be about our own pride or desire. Let me say this, as long as we tolerate this type of parenting more tragic results are going to come from these stupid and dangerous acts.

Not all of the victims will die. Some will just grow up with great psychological trauma. Some will have huge attachment issues. Some will abuse their kids. I sometimes wonder what in the world people thought parenting was going to be like. What did they think it would mean to be a parent? I'm done writing for today. Today, I am mourning a little girl's death. I am mourning a society that has lost its way when it comes to how we raise our children.

9 Parenting tips from a great book that's not about parenting

I recently just finished reading Succeeding when you're supposed to fail by Rom Brafman. I would highly reccomend it to anyone.

"Succeeding When You're Supposed to Fail: The 6 Enduring Principles of High Achievement" (Rom Brafman)

I thoroughly enjoyed it and hope to do a thorough review for it as soon as possible. The book is based on the idea that people can overcome almost anything and we can teach ourselves how to do it. At the end of the book he offers nine parenting tips that I thought I would share with you. What are your thoughts about them?

They are:

  1. Give your children choices. He argues that choices help our children understand their own power of control for their own life as adults.
  2. Follow the meaning. He suggests that we should find what is meaningful to our children and engage them on that level
  3. Know when to quit and when to persevere. He posits that quitting isn't always bad and that persevering can be one of the most rewarding exercises for our children and us.
  4. Model an easy going temperament. He doesn't quite explain how to do this if you don't have one but he does share the importance of getting one throughout the book
  5. Laugh about things. He suggests that laughter truly may be the best medicine.
  6. Communicate love and respect. He suggests here that shooting your daughter's laptop and putting it online may not be the most respectful thing you could do. OK, I made that part up.
  7. Encourage them to take on challenges and stretch themselves.
  8. Let them know you're always there for them.
  9. Let them know you're part of a team
  10. Treat them as you would your best friend.

What do you think of his list. He calls them "researched back suggestions" (p.170 ebook).

Shoot a computer, shame your daughter and drag kids around so they can really learn: or other ways to stupidly parent

There is a man named David Hughes who has shared a picture on Facebook that has gone viral. Judging by the comments, it is only going to gain in popularity. I am sure that Mr. Hughes is a nice man, with strong values and this post isn't about him. I simply wanted to give him credit.

Recently there was another viral video that went around facebook. You can watch it at the end of this post. Warning: NSFW language.drugkids.jpg

I hate these types of things. I understand them, but I hate them.

I detest the picture (seen above) because it perpetuates the myth that violence is the only way we can shape our children. This is wrong. It also perpetuates the lie that 20 years ago, or 30 or 40 or however many ago, you were "drug" around there wasn't a drug problem. Kids were all well behaved. They certainly were not like kids today! Champaign fell from the heavens, stars burst into firework displays, flowers burst forth from the ground as everyone walked to church and wholesomeness. The reason for this social Utopia? Well, because we could beat our kids if we needed to do so, of course!

Can I use a good country term for a minute? Hogwash!

We have enough violence for children today. Here are some sobering statistics:


  • A report of child abuse is made every ten seconds
  • More than five children die every day as a result of child abuse.
  • Approximately 80% of children that die from abuse are under the age of 4.
  • It is estimated that between 50-60% of child fatalities due to maltreatment are not recorded as such on death certificates.More than 90% of juvenile sexual abuse victims know their perpetrator in some way.
  • Child abuse occurs at every socioeconomic level, across ethnic and cultural lines, within all religions and at all levels of education.
  • About 30% of abused and neglected children will later abuse their own children, continuing the horrible cycle of abuse.
  • About 80% of 21 year olds that were abused as children met criteria for at least one psychological disorder.

All of these numbers are taken from the web-page,   


  • Five children die everyday in America from abuse
  • Abused children are 25% more likely to experience teen pregnancy

We have enough violence. We don't need more. We don't need to drag anyone. Does anyone remember the seventies and eighties? We had drug problems then too. We had kids out of control then too. Mostly because society didn't want to do the hard work of actually parenting. Do we need to discipline our kids? Of course. I'm not advocating for some type of free for all, do what you want world.

But, I am advocating I am begging for people to stop glorifying violence and shame as a necessary means of discipline. That's my problem with the video below. He's trying to shame his child into a better way of living. He's throwing a temper tantrum. He's saying, "You hurt me, you shamed me so I'm going to repay your evil with evil of my own and it's OK because I'm the Dad." That's wrong.

Let me be clear, I am not against him shooting up the computer. He's an adult (despite his infant like temper tantrum) and he seems to be more than capable with the gun. I have no problem with that. He owns the computer (I assume) and he can do with it as he sees fit. He can take it from her and set if on fire for all that I care. But, and this is important, he crossed a simple line when he made it into a video so he could shame her. His actions demonstrate that he is more interested in humiliating her than he is in actually teaching her.

Let me also say that I don't know this family but I wonder where he thinks she got her values (remember our children learn the values we live, not the ones we speak). I wonder why he thinks he can't get up and get his own coffee or clean up the mud that he drags into the house. He laments her cursing as he curses throughout the entire post.

What really bugs me about this post is that my friends who claim to be followers of Christ think this is a good idea. They hold this video up as some sort of parenting virtue. When God wrote don't repay evil with evil, He either meant it or he didn't.

Was this girl wrong? Yes. Was he wrong too? Yes. There must be a better way to raise children. He's teaching that it's OK to be disrespectful if you are the one in authority. It's OK to be a jerk if have the power. This is wrong. It goes against the way of Jesus and it goes against effective parenting. Her wrong doesn't make his wrong right.



Whitney Houston and our own Narrative thinking

Unless, you've been secluded from society this weekend, you learned that Whitney Houston died this weekend. I don't know why and to be honest, I'm ok not knowing. This post really isn't about Whitney.

Have you ever had someone force a plot on you that you didn't feel was fair? They assigned motives to your actions that weren't what was really going through your brain?

Have you ever done that to someone else? We use Narrative thinking to make sense of the world around us. This is necessary and good but sometimes we apply narratives to others that aren't actual, even if they work. This stems from the complexity that is the human experience. People are complicated.

On top of that we tend to apply a narrative to life that doesn't really work. We think that happiness is "out there." Wherever out there is at, we believe if we get there we'll find happiness. So when someone who made it to the "out there" in our mind we can't believe that they would waste it with drugs, and alcohol. We can't believe that they wouldn't be happy when they have what we are convinced would make us happy.

If we were rich and famous and had thousands of fans, we'd be happy. If we were an athlete, or a music star we'd be happy. The reason we're not happy is because we're stuck in a bad job or bad marriage, or we're not rich enough. If we just had what they had.

Never mind the fact that we have example after example that tells us this narrative is incorrect. Never mind that almost all of the stories (narratives) that we can see tell us the exact opposite. We need to make peace with the fact that by and large we choose our own happiness. We often cannot choose our circumstances but we can and must choose our reactions.

I don't know what inner demons Ms Houston fought. I am sorry for her family, and loved ones who lost someone too soon.

I hope that everyone who ponders her life and death will consider what they believe about their own narrative. I hope that we will all realize that we choose how we react in every situation and that we can choose happiness. We can make peace with our past and our present.

Parenting isn't about parents

Being a counselor gives me a lot of opportunities to have discussions about parenting. Before I was a counselor, I assumed that people made decisions based on what was best for their children when it came to parenting. Even if I thought they were wrong, believed they were operating out of the paradigm of what what was best for the child.

I am starting to believe that assumption is no longer valid. Put simply, I too often hear verbiage that causes me to believe I was wrong. I consistently hear things like, "Well, each parent has to figure out what works for them" or "You have to do what is best for you."

Here's the thing: Parenting isn't about the parents. I know this post is going to get me in trouble. I know it's going to have people angry with me at this point, let alone after they read what's coming. I know people are going to de-friend me and gnash their teeth at me. I even know that some people are going to decide to not come see me as a counselor, which will cost me money.

I do not care. This is too important.

Parenting is about the kids. It is about what is best for the kids. It's not about the parents happiness. It's not about the parents social life, or how fulfilled they feel. It doesn't matter that most of our life someone has lied to us and told us a lie that we can do whatever we want and that having a kid greatly limits that.

Now hear me out, please. It is important that parents take care of themselves. It is important that parents be well developed and emotionally mature people. So that they can model that for their children.

Children don't ask to be born. It is something that we do. We bring them into our lives. We bring them into this world and we need to consider the fact that everything we do affects them. Everything we do impacts their life.

Should our fulfillment factor into our decisions? Of course. Should our decision be influenced by what works for us? No doubt. But I don't think those things should be the top priority. When the decision involves our family, the first question should be, "How does this affect them?" What's the right thing to do in this situation...for the family? Does this help me mold my children into healthy and productive adults or does it detract from their maturity?

This doesn't mean that they should get all of the control. It doesn't mean that they will always get what they want, in fact they will often not get what they want if we follow this protocol. Too often, I am afraid we ask our children to sacrifice more for the family than we would ever actually consider doing ourselves.

I know, I know. Being a parent is hard. I know, it's rough getting pooped on and puked on and losing sleep. Try growing up with a patently selfish parent. Try growing up with a parent that tells you generosity is important and then spends most of their time filtering decisions that affect you through the window of how if affects them. Kids can be hard. They can disobey. They can push back for no reason. They can be a lot like their parents.

But I'm here to say, most of the things we do that cause us to move our kids to the back burner simply do not matter. No one says they wished they had spent more time at work instead of with their family when they are about to die.

No one.

Nobody says they wish they had spent less time with their family. Eighteen years. That's it. That's all you get by and large.

However old your child is, take that number and subtract from eighteen. That's all you got left to influence them. Sure, you're influence will continue throughout their life.

But it won't be the same, and if we're honest we know it.

I first started thinking about this when I had a conversation with youth workers a little while ago. She told me that kids were complaining far and wide that their parents won't let them go to a friends house but then when the teen stays home the parents ignore the kids and do their own thing.

That is patently ridiculous.

I began to ask a few parents about it. They agreed that it happens. The response I got on why it happened was, "Well, I need my time." There has to be a better way. And there is.

We teach values by what we do far more than by what we say.

When tragedy enters the plot

I almost called this post, When the plot is a tragedy but I think that would miss the point of what I'm going after. I'm reading an extremely interesting book about the effects of divorce on children throughout their life. The book is the result of a qualitative study about divorce.

It’s amazing to hear the narrative. This post isn’t about the book though. It is about the idea of tragedy entering into our narrative. What happens when that happens?

Have you ever met someone who desperately wanted to be in a relationship but are constantly sabataging the relationships that they are in? Have you ever met someone who seems to constantly date the same person.

Often when we encounter tragedy we can become stronger. Of course, we can also develop dysfunctions that serve a function in the face of our tragedy.

Think about a person who went through an issue of security as a child. Often as an adult they will be afraid of intimacy. Sometimes, when we experience severe pain, we will make a promise to ourselves.

I'll never be that vulnerable again!

The problem with that is that in order to get what they really want in a relationship, they will have to be that vulnerable again. So, they pursue a relationship and when it starts to get to intimate (beyond their safe point where they are almost where they promised they'd never go) they sabotage and the whole thing blows up.

I have friends who do this. What's interesting is the plot rarely changes. The names change, but the details of the story are almost the same. So what do we do when tragedy enters our story. The answer is probably multi-layered.

  1. We admit it. I am afraid that we are trying to legislate grief out of our story. I sat with a person of color yesterday why someone else told a racist story. That's a tragedy. It hurts. It is wrong. It affects the people who heard it. When someone you trusted betrays you, it hurts. Denying it is a recipe for disaster. It is almost guaranteeing yourself that you will not see the effects because you are denying the cause.
  2. We admit it is affecting us. This flows directly from admitting that it happened. We do not come to this place in a vacuum. We come here with millions of billions of thumbprints on us from our past experiences. They all affect us.
  3. We seek advice on how it might be affecting us. Listen to your friends. Seek professional help. Sometimes, we become so close to something that we cannot see how it is affecting us.
  4. We examine the story of our life and look for themes and patterns that we don't like. This comes from #3. Seeing the patterns and themes of our life allows to decide if we want those themes and patterns. We can decide what type of story we want to tell. We can change the plot. It takes courage and perseverance.
  5. We make a plan for change.

We don't have to live a tragedy. We can live an adventure that had tragedy as part of the plot.