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11 entries from August 2013

Why are we mad at Miley?

I didn’t watch the VMA’s. In fact, I didn’t know what they were when my Facebook feed started blowing up with what was going on in them. Screen Shot 2013-08-27 at 10.03.46 AM

I went back to my life and read a book.
The next day, the world blew up and most of it was hating on Miley Cyrus.

I have one question.

Why are we mad at her?

Don’t misunderstand me, I think what she did was totally inappropriate. I only had to see a few pictures to form that opinion. I’m sure what she did was shocking. I saw Will Smith’s face.

But why are we mad at her?

Didn’t we, as a society do this?

I mean, how long have we been telling kids that there are little to no boundaries when it comes to how we feel?

How long have we been telling people that when it comes to sex, the only boundary is what we feel?

We sold out to worshipping people for being famous a long time ago.

We sold out to picking our heroes based on what they can do on a screen or on a field.

In a world that says there are no rules, we sure do get angry when someone breaks our unwritten ones.

In a world that is driven by selfishness, we surely seem to be angry about someone being…wait for it…selfish.

I keep hearing and reading people ask, “What’s wrong her?”

I want to ask, “What’s wrong with us?”

How have we come to the place where we have created an environment where an otherwise mentally capable young adult would think that doing those things would be good.
We can blame her parents…
We can blame her fame…
We can blame MTV…

but ultimately…

We had better blame ourselves.

We did this and…
only we can fix it.

We need to accept responsibility that we have worshipped at the alter of riches. We have reveled in our “poverty” falsely believing that if we had that money, we’d do this or that with it.

We need to stop letting the TV raise our kids.

We need to engage our culture honestly and maybe even stop buying what MTV is selling us.

We simply cannot have it both ways. Either there are consequences to our choices and those choices must be based off of something more than how we feel or what Ms. Cyrus did was perfectly fine as long as she was fine with it.

We don’t get to judge her and ignore our own propensity for it.

Life doesn’t work that way.

We can blame Miley and the culture she grew up in, but ultimately we need to look at the culture we’ve created.

We need to change ourselves.


"The need has never been more pressing..."

At our office we talk a lot about emotional intelligence in children and adults. We talk a lot about the increased rate of children needing help to regulate their emotions. Recently, I read a book by John Gottman, and Daniel Goleman, which had this very disturbing quote in the beginning of the book.  They offer this paragraph to explain the need for their book.

The need may never have been more pressing. Consider the statistics. Over the last few decades the number of homicides among teenagers has quadrupled, the number of suicides has tripled, forcible rapes doubled. Beneath headline-grabbing statistics like these lies a more general emotional malaise. A nationwide random sample of more than two thousand American children, rated by their parents and teachers— first in the mid-1970s and then in the late 1980s— found a long-term trend for children, on average, to be dropping in basic emotional and social skills. On average, they become more nervous and irritable, more sulky and moody, more depressed and lonely, more impulsive and disobedient— they have gone down on more than forty indicators. Behind this deterioration lie larger forces.
Gottman, John; Goleman, Daniel (2011-09-20). Raising An Emotionally Intelligent Child . Simon & Schuster, Inc.. Kindle Edition.

I think the reasons for this are probably rather big and far reaching, but the statistics are cited in the book and ring true based on our experience in our office. What do you think? What are the "larger forces" they write about? 


Six things that give families identity and strength

School is right around the corner. At our CSC page, I wrote about how I am not excited about my girls going back for the year. Yes, I know it’s part of growing up, I get it. I know it’s part of the process, I just don’t like it.

As a therapist, I often find that transitional times can prove to be a time of disruption for the family as they try to build emotional security for the whole family.

Recently a colleague shared these six things that give families strength and identity.

  1. Parental and family time
    • Making sure that there is appropriate time for the family to bond is so important. This can be through chores, spiritual endeavors, entertainment, etc.
  2. Family Celebrations
    • Celebrations give us reference points for memories.
  3. Connecting Rituals
    • These give us reminders that we are not alone. They allow us to have an anchor when the dark nights of the soul come, which they do for all of us.
  4. Familiar and sacred places
    • These give our memories something solid to represent them.
  5. Shared common interests
    • This one seems to be most self-explanatory to me.
  6. Family stories and symbols
    • Every family has it’s own stories and symbols that have meaning to them.

I think focusing on these six areas can help families continue to connect and build meaning in their culture. How do you find yourself doing in these six areas?


Joe Knows #3,

This week Maggie writes,
“Dear Joe,
I am a 27yo female who just started dating a 35yo. We’ve known each other for the three weeks. He has said that he knew I was the one from the very first moment. I really like him too and think that I could love him. He sometimes blows up my phone and is a little too clingy and yet at other times, he can be really standoffish but I figure this is because he’s been single for a really long time. My friends are all freaking out and seem to think that I’m moving ‘way too fast.’ I don’t know, I think we’re just moving along and we might love each other for ever. My family loves him. His family loves me. I think when you know, you know and then you can’t move too fast. What do you think? “
~Maggie in Michigan
What would you tell her? You can answer here in the comments or you can join the conversation on my Facebook page here.

Joe Knows #2: Teen in the home edition

Here's the second installment answer for Joe Knows. The original post can be found here. Joe Knows is your chance to ask a therapist any question you want to ask but don't want to pay to find the answer.

Here’s how it works:

  1. People submit a question.
  2. A question is chosen at random by someone associated with me (or me) solely at our discretion.
  3. The question is posted and you our readers are given a week to answer and offer advice.
  4. One week after the original posting, I will post an answer either via video or written blog post.

Here’s last week’s question:

Hi Joe,

My wife and I have four children. Our oldest is 19. She won't do anything around the house. She has a job that she's kept for three months now, which is the longest she's ever had a job. She sleeps until noon most days and won't keep our rules regarding curfew. I'm tired of beating my head against the wall. I threaten her and end up taking almost everything away. Nothing  has worked. Her mother, who is my wife, wants to put her on medication but I don't think that's necessary. What do you think? Help.


Tired Father

My Answer:

Hi Tired Father,

It sounds like you're having a hard time adjusting to an older adult. I'm sure that's frustrating. It sounds to me as though you and your daughter are struggling with an issue of unclear and therefore un-agreed upon expectations. Unfortunately, I don't know enough of your situation to really address your child's work ethic or history. It sounds like you might have some concerns about that. Three months is a good amount of time to have kept a job. I would be curious as to how many jobs she's had. Why is this a concern for you.

As for the medication. I am uncertain why they would be necessary based on what you told me about the situation. Does your wife believe that your daughter sleeps in because she is depressed? She might just be sleeping because of the schedule she is keeping? At the end of reading your submission, I realized I simply don't have enough information to be helpful beyond the truth that I think you, your wife, and your daughter need to sit down and have a conversation a what the expectations are for her living in the house. You all need to come to an agreement about those expectations. You also need to come an expectation about what happens when those expectations are not met. These should involve what is expected of you and your wife as well as your daughter.

I wish you the best as you have this conversation and hope that it alleviates some of the current stress.

If you'd like to submit a question to Joe Knows, please do so on my Facebook page, www.facebook.com/joemartinocounseling 

You can also find the next question on that page tonight at 8:37pm EST.


Joe Knows. The Vacation Question

Here's our first answer for Joe Knows. The original post can be found here. Joe Knows is your chance to ask a therpist any question you want to ask but don't want to pay to find the answer.

Here’s how it works:

  1. People submit a question.
  2. A question is chosen at random by someone associated with me (or me) solely at our discretion.
  3. The question is posted and you our readers are given a week to answer and offer advice.
  4. One week after the original posting, I will post an answer either via video or written blog post.

Here’s last week’s question:

My husband and I disagree on the importance of vacations. He doesn’t think they are necessary and I do. Before we had kids, it wasn’t as big of a deal because I could just take a few days away for myself. But now that we have kids, I really want us to do these as a family because I want my kids to have those memories. My husband says that I am being silly and that we can make perfectly fine memories without leaving our house. It’s not that we can’t afford a vacation. We can, my husband just doesn’t want to spend money that he could be using to pay off debt for vacations. I think we need some balance. Help!

~Frustrated in Michigan

My response:

Hi Frustrated,

I can see how this would be a frustrating situation. Vacations can be an important way to create sacred spaces and connecting rituals for families. These have been identified as two necessary ingredients to help a family. I think you both have to consider a few things.

  1. First of all, I think all couples should consider how they can compromise in a situation of conflict. What is your husband’s real issue with vacation? How does he recharge? What does he do for down time? Can he articulate what you want out of vacations and why you think they are important? Does he agree or disagree with you regarding those thoughts. Once you have all of these answers, can the two of you find a way for mutual agreement? Rather than seeing the situation as an “either/or” can you view it as a “both/and”? In other words, can you handle his stressors and accomplish your goals at the same time? For instance, if his concerns are money related and you agree with him that money is tight in regards to this, how can you budget for future vacations while agreeing to do local things in your area for one or two days? One of our commenters posted a link to a nice and affordably priced campsite.
  2. How does he want to connect with your children? Can you incorporate those desires into your vacation plans?
  3. Lastly, Can you come to some sort of time compromise? Would it be possible for you to strike an if/then agreement? If you agree to do it the way he would like this year, would he be willing to do it the way you would like next year? If you can put together a vacation on his budget, then would he be willing to go?

Of course, I am biased toward the idea of having a non-biased third party enter into the conversation in order to help you delve a little deeper into what might be really going on in your relationship. You might want to find a counselor in your area and spend a few sessions with them discussing these things.

Good luck and thanks for writing in.

If you have a question that you’d like to submit to Joe Knows, send me a message on my Facebook page.

 


Hi, I'm an Introvert

So I often have a fun conversation. It goes like this:

Me: Well, I'm an introvert

Them: No, you're not. That's impossible. You speak in front of people and you don't mind talking to groups.

Me: That's because I'm not shy. But I get my energy from being alone or with a very small group of people. I don't get it from large groups or being out at all.

Them: Well, I don't know....

It almost always cracks me up. I get it. They have these preconceived idea of what an introvert is and I don't fit that preconcieved idea. But it's because they have introvert and shy confused.

Last week my family and I went to Chicago. My daughter won an essay contest and the trip there was free (ish). So we packed everyone up and trekked off to the big city.

It was cool. I was so excited to spend time with my family. I was extrememly proud of my daughter.

And yet, I don't know that I'll be in a hurry to go back.

A few weeks ago, I had an opportunity to go on a camping trip with a bunch of guys. Parts of it sounded really cool.

Sitting around a fire. Reading. Time for reflection. Doing "guy" things, whatever they are.

But I didn't go. Why?

Well, I was driving down this one road on my way home one night from work (I do a lot of driving) and I realized that the idea of being on a camping trip with that many guys sounded awful. Why?

Because I'm an introvert.

My wife and I attend a faith community in our town that we really enjoy. The fabric of our community is woven into and through the fabric of our family. But we do this one thing that drives me crazy. I mean bonkers crazy. I have to be creative in how I get around it.

We do this thing called forced community. We take a few moments from singing and they want you to hug or high five or shake someone's hand.

I don't like touching people. I don't like people touching me. Unless, I know them pretty well. Why?

Because I'm an intovert.

You want me to talk to strangers? No problem. You want me to teach to a large group of people? No problem. You want me to build relationships with strangers. No problem. Almost every third place that I end up in, I end being known by name and knowing many people name. (By the way, third place is just my attempt at being cool by calling a coffee shop a different name in modern parlance).

Now, I get it, there are a lot of people that would really love the big city (even introverts).

There are a lot of people who dig "forced community" and would love going camp with a ton of other guys. There are people who would get all sorts of energy out of standing in front of people and that doesn't make them worse or better than me.

It just makes us different.

I know it's kind of considered "cool" to be an introvert right now and I'm not trying to wade into that mess.

What I am trying to do is clear up a few ideas.

First of all, not every introvert or extrovert is exactly alike. Even in these subsets of society, there are subsets. It's just how it works out.

As people, we want things to be easy and simple. Clear. We spend most of our energy fitting people into labels and boxes. I'm not against labels, my wife has too containers that look exactly alike; one is used to clean your oven, the other is used to keep food from burning in a pan. Mix those labels up and people will die. That's bad.

Here's a really simple test for you. What energizes you? The answer to that will help you understand whether you are an introvert or an extrovert.

Secondly, we need to stop confusing shy with being an introvert. Yes, some shy people are introverts, but so are some extroverts. Whichever "vert" you are, it isn't a disease and it really shouldn't be all that limiting. I am afraid that too often we are more concerned about labeling ourselves so that we can figure out what we can't do as opposed to better understanding what we can do.

Some people are never going to like going to some big events (the idea of concerts just grosses me out) and that's OK. Some people will always love them. Fantastic. Good for them. I'll look for them on the TV from the relative quiet of my living room.

What about you? What "vert" are you?

 


Joe Knows: Question #2

I will be posting my answer to last week's Joe Knows question on Wednesday. You can find last week's question here. We've had some great answers given to last week's question regarding family vacations.

Here's this week's question:

Hi Joe,

My wife and I have four children. Our oldest is 19. She won't do anything around the house. She has a job that she's kept for three months now, which is the longest she's ever had a job. She sleeps untill noon most days and won't keep our rules regarding curfew. I'm tired of beating my head against the wall. I threaten her and end up taking almost everything away. Nothing's worked. Her mother, who is my wife, wants to put her on medication but I don't think that's necessary. What do you think? Help.

~Tired Father

What do you think my friends? What advice would you offer this tired father? Be sure to check back on Wednesday for my answer to last week's question.