Therapy That Works...

Are Some Dolls Too Sexy? - By Chris Gearing

Friday, March 18, 2011

Watch Dr. Sylvia discuss whether some children's dolls are too sexy.

Click here.

How To Keep Your Marriage From Becoming Predictable - By Chris Gearing

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Watch Dr. Sylvia Gearing on CBS 11 discussing how to keep your marriage from becoming predictable.

Click here.

Why People Lose Interest After Getting Married - By Chris Gearing

Monday, March 14, 2011

Marriage is a union most of us enter into with the best of intentions. But despite our best efforts, many of us lose interest in our spouse and the marriage can become boring and predictable.

So, why do so many marital partners lose interest in their spouses?

The Cuddle Chemical: You may have a chemical problem since we know that spouses who have been together for some time decrease their production of those hormones that stir passion and desire. Instead, your brain begins to produce more oxytocin, which is called the companionable, or cuddle chemical.

Separate Worlds: Many of us live in separate worlds that rarely intersect. We begin to redefine how we think of our partner—she becomes someone you pay bills with, mow the lawn with and the person you execute all the other mundane tasks of life with. You no longer think of your spouse as the one person who “gets you. ”

Arguments that Go Nowhere: The lack of conflict resolution drives many people away from the marriage into disinterest and disconnection. If you can’t repair arguments and you can’t build consensus, you’re left with one thing—isolation. Negativity tends to envelope the marriage. Chronic helplessness begins to define how you think about the relationship and you become indifferent and even bored with your partner.

A Lack of Emotional Skills: A lot of people lack fundamental skills in handling emotions—they don’t recognize feelings in themselves or their spouse, they don’t know how to reach out to their partner or even how to calm down when they’re angry or disappointed. As a result, their spouse feels lonely, frustrated and misunderstood.

Does physical intimacy have anything to do with partners becoming dissatisfied in the marriage?

We know that while sex is important to a marriage, it is not nearly as important as many people think. The real issue is how each partner thinks about the physical intimacy-- whether they are feeling rejected or desired and whether they feel that their partner understands their needs and is willing to compromise. Happy couples create an intimacy life that works for each person—in terms of intensity, style and frequency.

We've all heard of it -- but is there really a seven-year itch?

There absolutely is a seven-year itch but it is more likely to begin in the fifth year of marriage. By then, the couple should have figured out how to be married--how to handle money, in-laws, sex etc. If you haven’t figured things out, you’re much more likely to be fighting about it at the five year mark and then divorcing at the seven year mark. Remember that after the birth of the first baby, marital satisfaction drops significantly for 2/3 of the couples. If you never resolve those problems and remain married, after twenty years your marriage will most likely be characterized by a chronic lack of intimacy and closeness that causes the marriage to erode and then end suddenly.

If you're worried, here are some suggestions to help you recover that lovin' feeling

See Your Friends: One of the best tips I can give couples is to spend a lot of time with some really good friends. A recent study shows that dating couples who hang out with great couple friends who are happily married wind up feeling closer to each other.

Use What Worked Before: Review what activities brought you together in the first place and recreate them. Return to the music, the movies and even the food that you enjoyed as you courted each other.

Seek Adventures Together: Shake things up by exploring the world together, learning new skills and traveling. The endorphins your brain creates when you’re having fun enhances attraction.

Watch Your Tone: How you say something matters as much as what you say. Watch your tone and always try to “volley” back when he tries to engage you. An enthusiastic, warm reply is so much better than a clipped, matter of fact "hi" or “you again!”

Touch Often and Well: Touch has been called the mother of the senses. Reigniting passion relies heavily on touch. Human skin is incredibly sensitive so even the slightest grazing of the skin has a seductive effect.

Avoid Negativity: Time together is sacred so avoid dwelling on angry thoughts, past arguments or excessive worrying when you’re together. Nothing is worse than being with someone who is complaining or obsessing.

The Bullying Phenomenon - By Chris Gearing

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Battle Hymn of the Western Mother - By Chris Gearing

Thursday, March 10, 2011

A recent best selling book, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, illustrates how fundamental parenting strategies can be so violently misunderstood. Written by an Asian American Yale Law School professor, Amy Chua, the book argues that western mothers are undisciplined, over gratifying and only care about their children’s individuality. She predicts that most western children never reach their potential and live a directionless life of non-achievement.

Nothing could be farther from the truth.

Here are the myths perpetuated by the author followed by reality:

Myth: Parental Authority is Supreme

The premise is that children require micromanaging and constant direction that includes fear based parenting. Chua argues that kids are unable to grow without being controlled. The mother must be in the middle of their lives and has the final word, always.

Reality:

When kids are over-controlled by a parent, they learn to deny their own wisdom and intuition. Often, they become great achievers but are stunted emotionally. To survive a controlling parent, you learn to focus on the parent’s perceptions of you instead of your own thoughts. You miss the vital lessons of taking calculated risks in relationships, achievement etc. and then recalibrating your behavior based on what happiness.

Myth: All That Matters is Compliance

The child is an extension of the mother and must be commandeered into compliance. Nothing matters but the outcome and the child must blame only himself if the goal is not achieved.

Reality:

When you are over controlled, you over-emphasize how you are perceived by others. You pursue activities that will result in high achievement, praise and applause from others. However, you pay an enormous price for this. You don’t learn the basic tenants of emotional intelligence that can only be mastered by years of having a separate experience from your mother where you figure things out for yourself.

Myth: Nothing Matters More to Child’s Future than Achievement

Chua conjectures that all that matters in the world is achievement that in turn, honors the sacrifice of the parents. The parent’s duty is to financially facilitate opportunities that they choose for the child.

Reality:

Achievement creates self-esteem, but there are many valuable ways to define what achievement is. Emotional stability based on a well-developed and accurate view of yourself is invaluable in the world. Navigating the world without emotional stability is like sailing on a ship without a rudder and a compass--you could end up shipwrecked before you know it. Childhood should equip children with the following capabilities:

Failure: The ability to fail and bounce back from a setback

Self-management: A willingness to disappoint authority figures if you disagree with them

Decisiveness: Making the best call with the information you have even if you discover later you were incorrect

Understanding of Others: Emotional perceptiveness of others based on your own keen understanding of yourself

Self-confidence: Kids build an inner strength from thousands of experiences in which they made a decision on their own, self corrected and did better the next time.

Self-effectiveness: This is an essential part of managing in the world since it’s hard to assert yourself if you see yourself as ineffective and helpless.

Myth: Verbally Berating A Child Is Helpful

Chua argues that kids must be threatened to perform, which is the top goal in her parenting model. Calling a child, “lazy, cowardly, self indulgent and pathetic” somehow is motivating according to the author. She justifies her strategy by the achievements of her kids—if she hadn’t verbally assaulted them, she predicts they wouldn’t have achieved.

Reality:

There is no psychological research in the world that supports verbal humiliation, name-calling and threats as a viable parenting technique. The constant contempt of a parent out of control is damaging. The younger the child, the greater the emotional damage.

Myth: Parents Should Micromanage their Children’s Emotions

In Chua’s paradigm, there is minimal instruction in handling the inner dialogue in our heads that all children have. That inner dialogue doesn’t matter since it’s not something Chua is thinking.

Reality:

Longitudinal research shows that emotionally dismissed kids grow into adults who cannot articulate what they feel or how to manage it. They are often exquisitely sensitive to others, since they had to be that strong to survive in childhood. They tuck their feelings away and they dismiss their normal reactions. She insists that the child should meet the parents’ demands since they know better. Focusing on the parent handicaps the child’s need to measure his own reactions, learn to manage his own behavior and monitor his reactions.

Myth: No External Activities

This model of parenting rejects the usual features of Western childhood—weekend sleepovers, play dates, TV, video game, choosing their own extracurricular activities, and any grade less than an A. The child must conform, at all times, to the desires of the parent.

Reality:

Childhood is an extended practice arena for adulthood during which the child learns how to effectively communicate, to navigate conflict and to fail and bounce back. Parents need to provide the optimum environment for these skills by helping the child learn about himself and his own interest.

Myth: Western Mothers Are Slackers And Over-Indulge Their Children To Meet Their Own Needs.

Western mothers are relentlessly devoted to their children and buffer them against all forms of stress, adversity and failure.

Reality:

America has been the strongest country in the world for generations due, in part, to the work ethic and fortitude of American mothers.

We have taught our children how to fight against their fears, how to join with others against tyranny and how to accord all Americans the same civil liberties and rights. Such virtues require enormous courage and strength which are found in a people reared to define themselves as individuals, not as extensions of others. Obedience to authority at all costs, which Ms. Chua celebrates, can only get you so far. Our dedication to individuality, independence and creative thinking built this country and will continue to shape the world.

Battle Hymn of the Western Mother - Eastern vs Western Mothers - By Chris Gearing

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Battle Hymn of the Western Mother - No External Activities - By Chris Gearing

Monday, March 07, 2011

Battle Hymn of the Western Mother - Emotional Micromanagement - By Chris Gearing

Friday, March 04, 2011

A Father's Influence Can Prevent Bullying - By Chris Gearing

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Do your children think you work too much and don't spend enough time with them? New research from Vanderbilt University says that every minute that fathers spend with their children may actually be lowering their chances of becoming bullies.

How do you explain that the father’s time has more influence on bullying in kids?

This study has been a big surprise since most of us tend to think that the mother’s time with the kids would have the greatest effect. Not so, says this new study since the father is the key player here. But the crux of the matter is the child’s perception of the father’s interest and investment. If a neglected child feels valued and loved, they are much less likely to exhibit bullying behaviors. But if he felt neglected and marginalized by a busy dad, whether he was in fact really ignored or not, can determine whether he will show the following behaviors:

  • Cruelty to others at school
  • Disobedience at school
  • Hanging out with the wrong crowd
  • Having a bad temper
  • A lack of remorse for his misbehavior

Why would the mother’s schedule not have more of an impact?

While mothers are still centrally important to the child, they are often involved in the day-to-day maintenance of the child and his needs. Women still perform at least double the amount of childcare that men do although that number has dropped with the new economy that has centrally impacted men. But her tasks are often rote and non-inclusive—laundry, cooking, cleaning—that don’t include the child in dialogue or play. That’s where fathers come in.

Why are dads so important in preventing bullying?

Popular Through Humor: Often the father is the chief role model in resolving conflict without violence and in achieving social status without aggression. Bullying is essentially a strategy to gain social status through intimidation. We no longer think of the bully as the loner who lashes out. In fact, studies have found most bullies are among the most popular and socially connected children at school and torture others to raise their profile. Dads go a long way in helping kids socialize successfully through humor, repartee, and good-natured kidding with others.

Dads Teach Problem Solving: An attentive, competent father helps the child to reign in his aggression toward others and to play well with others by sharing, creating opportunities for group “wins”, etc. Dads can coach kids to solve problems, not create them.

Children Will Confide Through Activities: Dads are vital in just showing up and being present in their kid’s life. There is absolutely no substitute for putting in the face time with a young boy or girl. Dads are great at getting kids to talk through activities—throwing a ball around, building model cars or ships, and just hanging out watching the game.

Here are some specific suggestions for fathers who are worried about their kids:

If you plan to spend more time, make the interaction count. I always advise fathers to include planned, special activities with their son or daughter such as pancakes on Saturday morning or time at the gym together. Literally plan a “date” with your child.

It is also important that these interactions are one-on-one and you don’t try to cover all your bases by having one interaction with all of your children at once. Your absolute, undiluted attention on one child is an incredible influence and can really make the difference in their lives.

Charlie Sheen and Addiction - By Chris Gearing

Friday, February 25, 2011

With Charlie Sheen’s latest public tantrum denouncing the writer and creator of his top rated show, Two and a Half Men, CBS has canceled the show for the rest of the season. With a long-standing history of addiction and failed rehabilitation, Sheen seems to be in serious trouble.

So how do you know that someone is at rock bottom?

Sudden Regressions: Chronically addicted people tend to regress suddenly and severely with no warning. Once the addiction switch is flipped, it is incredibly difficult to reverse his emotions and behavior. He has no insight and no judgment. He begins to destroy every area of his life—his job, her relationships and even his health. Addiction hijacks the mind and better judgment.

Addiction Takes Over: Self-destructive behavior is the inevitable and predictable end point of a long and down ward spiral. The addict’s emotional outbursts indicate that his addicted brain has taken over fully since there is no demonstrated ability to censor his words or his behavior. His recklessness and self-destructiveness may well continue.

Psychologists often diagnose two other serious problems that contribute to the addiction illness:

Bipolar Disorder: The leading contender is bipolar illness, which is a type of depression in which the mood becomes elated and then depressed. People can cycle in and out of explosive, grandiose manic episodes and then be flat on their backs with a debilitating depression in the same hour.

Narcissistic Personality Disorder: This disorder is often present in the addicted person and remains undiagnosed due to the overwhelming addiction. The individual is arrogant, grandiose, entitled, shameless, vengeful and highly impulsive. Striking out at others even if it results in unfortunate consequences is common when the person becomes enraged or frustrated.

Remember that other unaddressed psychiatric disorders that accompany addictions often sabotage treatment in the end.

Celebrities who are under pressure to perform are especially vulnerable to addictions. Unfortunately, money often insulates people from the accountability that is necessary to overcome a serious addiction. They become more and more entrenched in the addiction because their power allows them to control the treatment. We are seeing this in the tragic examples of Lindsay Lohan and the late Michael Jackson.

We do know that male addicts can function in the workplace for decades without detection. The alcohol or drug problems are concealed carefully. However, when their performance at work is affected, they have crossed a line and surrendered to the addiction.

Separation stresses such as a marital dissolution can impact a fragile personality intensely causing regression and a return to the addiction. Addictions make people very self-centered and they have minimal accountability so the marriage ending feels like an injury or wound they find intolerable. Engaging in the addiction becomes a way to sooth their embarrassment and to escape the pain and agitation.

Remember that the drugs and alcohol have hijacked the mind of the addict and they have minimal abilities to rescue themselves.

Intervene, stay firm, set your boundaries firmly and refuse to participate in the addictive behavior. While it is the hardest thing you will ever do, you have to refuse to accept the addiction as inevitable and unchangeable. Believe in recovery, believe in their ability to fight against this illness and light the way back to health for the addict who is truly lost.


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