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8 entries from May 2012

Connecting the dots for our children

One of things that parents complain to me about is that their kids don’t seem to understand _______________. 

Once, I get past the frustration level, what I usually find is that parents are bothered by the facts that their kids don’t think like little adults. They are frustrated because their kids don’t seem to have the ability to think through the possible consequences of their actions. Their children struggle to connect the dots between actions and consequences. Their kids fail to see the value in a hard work ethic.

Often, it seems that the parents assume their kids should see the world they way they do.

But is this realistic? Do you (or they) view the world the same way you did five years ago? How about 2 years ago?

My fundamental assumption about parenting is that a parents number one responsibility is to teach.

Teaching is about helping our kids learn to connect the dots from actions to consequences. Most of the time, they don’t do that naturally. Sadly, most of the time, discipline is about punishment and not teaching.

It may be because of our get everything done now society but too often we fail to teach our children to consider the consequences of their actions and ask themselves if they want those consequences

We assume that they’ve already done this. Then we become frustrated. Maybe we should expect kids to be kids and plan accordingly. In other words, teach them about consequences without getting frustrated.  What does this look like in real life?

Well, here’s a few steps to do this right now with your children.

  1. Have very clear expectations. If they have chores. Have a due date time on them. If they make the deadline, do they get a reward? What about if they make the deadline for a defined amount of time?
  2. Have very clear consequences. If they fail to make the deadline, what happens. Have this clearly stated ahead of time. If they fail to turn in all of their homework this quarter and the teacher reports it to you, what is consequence?
  3. Empower your children to choose. Expect them to be kids. IT is unreasonable to expect a 10 year old to act like a 15 year old. That doesn’t mean you have to accept poor behavior, it does mean you need be able to know the difference between the two.
  4. Teach your child to negotiate. This is a skill that will be important in their life as an adult. It will help them to feel heard by you. Teach them the right way to negotiate with you regarding responsibilities.
  5. As much as possible, explain to your child the benefits of what your wanting them to do? Why is it important? What are you trying to teach them?
  6. Check your own emotions. Are you frustrated with your child, or with your boss and your child’s getting the brunt of it? Does your child remind you of something in you that you don’t like and you’re reacting to that

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What does it meant to be heard? One of life's core questions

What does it meant to be heard?

I believe that one of life’s core questions is “Am I being heard?” The obvious question is what does that mean? Here is a short post from my book that I’m working on seeking to begin to answer this question.

We all seek to be heard beyond simply the words that we are speaking. We want to know that the other person is hearing our heart. We want to feel that there is someone who is so interested in us that they want to know the thoughts, feelings and emotions that are behind the words we are speaking. We want to know that we are loved so much that someone wants to understand what we are trying to say not simply what is coming out.

Sometimes there are no words. This is a simple truth that happens all the time. The human psyche is complex. Our emotions can override our ability to actually say the words we want to be saying. We don’t know how to comunicate all the time and we all want to know that there is someone who knows us so well that they will be able to put words to our feelings when we cannot.

We don’t need them to fix us. We often don’t even need them to fix problem. We just absolutely need to know that they hear us. We need to be secure in the fact that there is at least one person who can know us so well that they can hear the lyrics of our soul. Think about couples that are intuitive to each other. They can finish each other’s sentences. A simple nod can communicate volumes from one to the other. A stolen glance. These non verbal communication begin with verbal communications. They begin with spending copious amounts of time together listening to each other.

When people tell me that they have “fallen out of love” with their spouse and “fallen in love” with their new whoever, I always ask which person is getting more of their time. Invariably, I hear that the person they have fallen in love with is getting the lion’s share of the time. Hearing a person tells them that they are important (which answers the valued question as well). More importantly, it tells them that we are seeking to understand them.

How many times in your life have you felt misunderstood or just not understood?

Have you ever met someone who not only listened to you but really tried to understand you? How did you feel about the person? Have you ever met someone who could have cared less about understanding you? How did you feel about that person?

Book Review: Legacy by Grant Stoye

Friday Book review: Legacy by Grant Stoye


This book was written by a friend's husband so of course, when it came out, I picked it up. Available in e-format, Legacy  is a great read! If you like family friendly fiction, this is the book for you.

It won't change your life. You won't have to debate politics or theology when you're done but you will have some good old fashioned fun watching a superhero struggle with what it means to do the right thing and be a teenager. How do you balance having a girlfriend and saving the world?

How can you know what to do when the world around is being blown up by bad guys but not know what to say when your girlfriend needs you to say the right thing?

These are issues that the main character, Jim, confronts. Legacy has a little bit of romance, a little bit of baseball and a lot of action. It has mystery and suspense. At the end of the book, you'll be waiting for the next one. I know I am. Incidently, Grant is one of the authors, I will be interviewing for my summer authors series.

You can buy his book by clicking on the picture above or by clicking on any of the links.


A letter from a client

This letter was sent to me today. Enjoy.

I remember the first day I called Creative Solutions Counseling, I was down and out. My fiancee at the time and I have been running our relationship into the ground and although we said we loved each other, we surly wouldn't of stayed married at the rate we were going.  We called each other every name in the book and our arguments just kept going in circles. There was no solution to must of our disagreements just one of us would say the worse thing possible until the other gave up. Which usually ended up meaning that we spent the next several days not speaking to one another. We began counseling as a couple and through further meetings realized that it just wasn't getting through to us as we did it together. That's when we separated and did individual counseling.

        That's when I met Joe Martino, I was scared and with the wedding already behind us, I knew there was no other man I wanted to be with but knew that some where along the way we had developed very unhealthy habits. Joe taught me to love myself again, he taught me that it was ok to be who I am, he taught me that I can't make everything perfect but I can perfect the art of rolling with it. Joe made me realize that with good comes bad and I get to choose how I respond to it.

        The thing that Joe said to me that has stuck with me is that only I can allow someone to effect me a negative way and that I am the only one that can control myself worth. He helped me understand the issues that I have carried with me for so long. Weren't really issues that I had of myself but I was allowing society/my parents/husband/friends opinions influence who I thought I HAD to be not who I was or wanted to become.  Joe has a way of making me understand my feeeling/emotions. As I write this letter today, I simply can't find the words to say Thank you enough. Thank you for listening to me, thank you for helping me through the struggles I have carried with me for as long as I can remember. Most of all, Thank you for saving my Marriage, my friendship, my love and my commitment to my vow for my husband.  I am turning 26 and for the first time in my life, I can say that I am happy! Sure, there are things that I could always want to be better but with time comes change. My husband and I for the first time are communicating not just our words, our body language, our emotions and even more then communicating, we are hearing each other for the first time load and clear.  Creative Solutions Counseling has helped us become proud of ourselves, which has made us happier in our relationship. They've taught us how to bat for the same team and that some times we will strike out but to get back up again and not quit our team. Our marriage is worth it, I am worth it, and he is worth it.

 I would absolutely recommend and urge everyone to go to counseling, we spend so much time learning things about our world that it's just doesn't make since not to know about yourself and learn what really makes you happy! There is not a doubt in my mind that my relationship will have more struggles as we get older but with the foundation that we have built I know that we can stand the test of times and if we can't figure it out by ourselves with have Creative Solutions to be there to help!

Thank you so much for all that you've done for me and will continue to do for others!

Signs you might be dating an abuser.

I am a father. I have daughters. I am also a counselor. I see abusive relationships nearly every day in my business. A number of years ago a professor of mine gave me a list that he had compiled of red flag characteristics of abusers. Most of the time, it is the “he” that is doing the abusing. I’ve seen a couple of cases where it is the “she.” Either way, here is his list. If you recognize these signs in someone you’re dating, run away.



List of Red Flag characteristics of Abusive Men

Research by F. Scott Reyburn PhD

When a woman’s assailant is an intimate partner or ex-partner, the injury rate is about 52%, when it is a stranger, only 20%. More women are murdered by one of these men than any other type.

Guys don’t come with warning labels, but they do come with behavioral preferences that signal the potential for and probability of abuse.

  1. 1.Dating situation: he pushes too far, too fast, planning your future together shortly after you have had a few dates. Before you catch on to his real intent for you. This takes the initial form of showering you with attention, which is initially flattering, but is merely a method of setting the hook.
  2. 2.He wants: your undivided attention
  3. 3.He needs: to always be in charge
  4. 4.He always: has to win, even when he says he does not.
  5. 5.He breaks: promises most of the time
  6. 6.He can’t: take criticism and always justifies his actions (often with lies)
  7. 7.He blames: someone else anytime something goes wrong
  8. 8.He is jealous: of your close friends, family members, and all other men
  9. 9.He demands to know: where you went and whom you saw
  10. 10.Demonstrates: mood changes that are unpredictable, often between extreme highs and low lows – often to intimidate and keep you off balance emotionally.
  11. 11.His temper: is mean, often of a conscious-free, righteous indignation type
  12. 12.He often: says you don’t know what you are talking about.
  13. 13.He belittles: your ideas, makes you feel you are not good enough
  14. 14.He withdraws approval or love: as punishment
  15. 15.He pushes you: to do things that make you feel uneasy, like taking a day off of work or even breaking the law
  16. 16.He hates his mother, is nasty to her and has a history of contempt for her and brings that attitude towards women into the relationship.

The main overall goal of these people is to isolate you from your support group as quickly as possible, take gradual control of your life, and eventually totally own you. It parallels many characteristic of the Borderline personality disorder: his fear of abandonment, devaluation of partner, identity disturbance, impulsivity, latent suicidal ideation. ( the murder-suicide extreme version).

Women are wiser today and, if they have a strong identity and clear sense of their “mate-value” (how they deserve to be treated – respectfully and honorably), they tend to abandon these relationships. Those who remain in them take on a vacant, hollow, numb, abused look and eventually, many slowly lose their minds.

Lady Gaga standing up for Marriage

What do you think of when you hear the words Lady Gaga?

I’m betting that you don’t think of someone who defends the need to commit to marriage. Yet, the other day I’m driving into work and I hear about an interview where LG did just that. She had the temerity to say that divorce won’t be option for her. She wants to find a man that thinks like her and will commit to working through the difficult times.

Here’s a link to an article about the interview.

What was interesting to me was the conversation by the radio hosts regarding LG’s position.The hosts essentially said that her position was hopeless.

Essentially, no one will stay married. Eventually everyone will get screwed by their spouse and marriage as we know it will end. OK, it wasn’t quite that much, but it was close.

One host said, “Well, you have to go into believing that, but she’s probably not that serious.” Another host confidently proclaimed that she was just naive.

Why do you think we’ve become so disenfranchised with marriage as a society? Why do we seem to assume that most people will get divorced and nothing can be done to stop it?

Why I liked the Hunger Games Triology

This post is the first in a randomly posted series of “Friday Book Reviews.” If you have a book that you would like me to review, let me know and maybe I’ll add it to my list.

The Hunger Games has caused quite a stir in my little corner of the world. I saw comment threads running into the hundreds debating the merits of the books/movie. What is interesting to me is the cry of those against the books/movie. Some (such as my wife) do not wish to see the movie because the violence of children killing children. I get that. But the one’s who have no real idea about the plot or the themes that are in the book. One man actually thought the book was suggesting the violence was positive.

I actually laughed when he suggested it, but I couldn’t get him to believe me. I read the first book because it was really cheap on Amazon. I wasn’t going to read the last two because I had heard bad reviews. Then someone encouraged me to finish them anyhow. I read the last two books in a week. Skipped a paper to do it and was relieved when a client cancelled so I could read a few more pages.

So I thought I might do a book review and explain why I liked the trilogy very much.

What I liked about the books

In my opinion, there was a lot to like about the books. The plot was absolutely fantastic. She does an excellent job of building the plot and creating something the reader can believe in. Her characterization of the world we are challenged with is palpable. There are real issues to confront. There are people who are liked and those who are hated. Most importantly, her characters are complicated and complex. There are good things that seemingly bad people do and bad things that seemingly good people do.

The first book has some grammatical train wrecks and some very awkward sentence structures but those are cleaned up nicely in the second and third book.

I like that she pushes through chaotic scenes with chaotic writing. I know that there are some people who dislike this, but I believe that it is an under utilized literary tool. Her cadence and sentences get choppy and speed up in battle scenes. The chaos of battle almost comes off the page to the reader.

Let’s be honest, this is a book with a female hero that is about more than getting her boyfriend to like her forever or she’ll go into a deep depression. That alone should be worth something. She fights the seeming cultural push to create female characters that are only obsessed with finding love. As a father of three girls, I appreciate that.


I think this is the most controversial part of the book. I have heard that the book promotes socialism. I have heard the book promotes capitalism. I have heard the books promote Totalitarianism. All three ideas are in the book. What I like about the book is that the author interacts with these ideas. She engages them. She has a Capitol that provides for their citizens on the backs of their outcasts. She has a district that is run completely socialistic. She has a rebellion that has the stated purpose of starting a Republic.

More importantly to me the author engages questions of morality. We so desperately want a clean world. We want a world where all of our assumptions and desires actually happen. But that world doesn’t exist yet. The society in this book shows the reader the tragedy of stopping to look at our fellow humans as human. When is it OK to defy the government? That question is at the forefront of this book. What about our societies obsession with reality TV?

What about our obsession with youth sports? How many kids are taught all sorts of bad morals so they can play on a sports team? How many parents model behavior on the sidelines that would get them thrown out of any other venue?

To how many people are kids nothing more than a commodity? Even to their parents who are pushing for their child to be a superstar for their own benefit?

Add to the commodity factor the realization that life doesn’t simply end up the way we always want it to end. People we love die. People we love have emotional and mental break downs. People we love don’t love us. Parents say hurtful things. Loves end.

Pain, sorrow and numbness enter the plot.

These books do an excellent job of creating realistic characters that wrestle with that reality. While their wrestling may not lead to all of the conclusions that I liked, it was real and honest wrestling. These books could stay with you for a while as you enter into the world created for you and it enters into you.

Points to Ponder (100 words or less)

Our tragedy today is a general and universal physical fear so long sustained by now that we can even bear it. There are no longer problems of the spirit. There is only the question: When will I be blown up? Because of this, the young man or woman writing today has forgotten the problems of the human heart in conflict with itself which alone can make good writing because only that is worth writing about, worth the agony and the sweat. (81)

~William Faulkner