ON BEING A DAD

Created for the XLIX Super Bowl, Toyota has tapped the touchy-feely market by pairing pro football players with their children in a series of commercials about being a father.

There’s no question that how a child is parented makes an enormous difference in how a child develops.

Numerous studies have shown the relationship between early childhood trauma, abuse, and in utero treatment of the unborn fetus and the mental and physical health of adults.

Debated still are the effects of divorce on children or being raised by a single parent.  In my view, the emotional health of the parent(s) casts more influence on the growing child than the constitution of the family.

Without doubt, the wider community and culture — religion, education, support network, social environment, access to goods and services, the techno environment, and the omnipresence of media — along with the hard wiring each child brings to life and how the developing fetus is treated in utero are all crucial.  No argument is being made that all children can turn out wonderfully; there is too little control over the multitude and combination of factors that incite dysfunction.

But more children can turn out well-adjusted and happy when dads (and moms) provide positive parenting.

It’s not foregone that those of us who experienced a less-than-healthy family environment will be less-than-healthy ourselves; look at the truth to the saying, “I am like this because my parents stayed together, so you just never know.” Worrisome, though, is the unawareness or reluctance many people bring to recognizing and creating a family environment they themselves didn’t have. Parents don’t have to be robotic models of their own parents, though too many are.  And there’s no proof that socioeconomic status predicts a positive parenting or family outcome.  Nasty custody battles seem to follow the money.

Summarized by a client who honestly and angrily believed that marriage meant there weren’t supposed to be any problems, parenting is much the same.  Love does mean having to say you’ve sorry; a recognition you’ve erred,  determination to do better, and changed behavior equivalent to proving “sorry”.

Despite all the self-help books, hugs, and positive modeling, parenting will never be a walk in the park.  But hugs, encouragement, and consistent positive attention can ensure that moms and dads don’t have to walk in the dark.

Kathe Skinner is a Marriage & Family Therapist in private practice where she specializes in couples work, especially with relationships affected by disability.  She and husband David attempt to parent their two children, hooligan kitties Petey and Lucy.  Kathe and David present Couples Communication Workshops in Colorado Springs.  Read about it and register at www.BeingHeardNow.com.  

copyright, 2015 Being Heard, LLC

ON BEING A DAD

Created for the XLIX Super Bowl, Toyota has tapped the touchy-feely market by pairing pro football players with their children in a series of commercials about being a father.

There’s no question that how a child is parented makes an enormous difference in how a child develops.

Numerous studies have shown the relationship between early childhood trauma, abuse, and in utero treatment of the unborn fetus and the mental and physical health of adults.

Debated still are the effects of divorce on children or being raised by a single parent.  In my view, the emotional health of the parent(s) casts more influence on the growing child than the constitution of the family.

Without doubt, the wider community and culture — religion, education, support network, social environment, access to goods and services, the techno environment, and the omnipresence of media — along with the hard wiring each child brings to life and how the developing fetus is treated in utero are all crucial.  No argument is being made that all children can turn out wonderfully; there is too little control over the multitude and combination of factors that incite dysfunction.

But more children can turn out well-adjusted and happy when dads (and moms) provide positive parenting.

It’s not foregone that those of us who experienced a less-than-healthy family environment will be less-than-healthy ourselves; look at the truth to the saying, “I am like this because my parents stayed together, so you just never know.” Worrisome, though, is the unawareness or reluctance many people bring to recognizing and creating a family environment they themselves didn’t have. Parents don’t have to be robotic models of their own parents, though too many are.  And there’s no proof that socioeconomic status predicts a positive parenting or family outcome.  Nasty custody battles seem to follow the money.

Summarized by a client who honestly and angrily believed that marriage meant there weren’t supposed to be any problems, parenting is much the same.  Love does mean having to say you’ve sorry; a recognition you’ve erred,  determination to do better, and changed behavior equivalent to proving “sorry”.

Despite all the self-help books, hugs, and positive modeling, parenting will never be a walk in the park.  But hugs, encouragement, and consistent positive attention can ensure that moms and dads don’t have to walk in the dark.

Kathe Skinner is a Marriage & Family Therapist in private practice where she specializes in couples work, especially with relationships affected by disability.  She and husband David attempt to parent their two children, hooligan kitties Petey and Lucy.  Kathe and David present Couples Communication Workshops in Colorado Springs.  Read about it and register at www.BeingHeardNow.com.  

copyright, 2015 Being Heard, LLC

IT BEGINS AGAIN. HOLIDAY SHOPPING GUIDE FOR 2014

stressed man giftsI love presents; who doesn’t?  Wrapped or unwrapped, gifts can be delightful.  And while this holiday giving season is over, shopping for next year’s holiday has already begun.

My gift to you is a gift-giving guide of sorts.   Garnered from over a quarter-century of giving presents great and small here are some pointers:

  1. Buy now based on later. That little boy will be a year older by time the next holiday rolls around and what’s on-target now will be babyish.  Fads, sizes, skill levels, and interests often change over time, especially with the under-20 crowd.   For some things and some people, wait to buy.
  2. Revisit the closet.  Set aside space in a closet for cadeaux that never made it to the wrapping stage.  I’ve found that what I was going to present to a friend’s son back then is perfect for someone else’s boy now.  We often forget what’s in our stash; those great buys-that-are-too-good-pass-up.  I once covered my whole list with what I already had.
  3. Shop local.  Bypass the mall to find unique and interesting goodies you may not have to spend big to give.  Buying local supports regional artisans and makes your gift more meaningful.  Be sure to avoid those times of year, like tourist season, when prices are marked up.
  4. Keep track of who got and gave what:  Some things are perpetually on the gifting-circuit and great care must be taken to avoid re-gifting to the gifter.  I once gave a book to a special friend because the title described her so well; turns out she had given the book to me in the first place.
  5. Avoid giving just to give.  Stores are full of meaningless things we give to each other because we have to, are expected to, or are directed to.  When we resent having to give, the gift itself reflects our feelings, like the pack of bobby pins I got in a $10 gift exchange.  Give a gift card for gasoline or food, something everyone can use.
  6. Match your gift to the recipient.  You might not be jazzed about a 4-pack of the latest nail lacquers but a girly-girl might.  And just because you’d want a set of graduated drill bits someone else (probably) won’t.  Who do you have in mind when you give?  Are you giving a gift you want the other person to want, or a gift they truly want?  Do you even know?
  7. Go in together.  At times, a big gift that’s too pricey for just you to give would be perfect.  When groups like families, colleagues or friends honor very special occasions together, the result can be impactful.   Linking pocketbooks enables more choices and lets us give what we want to rather than what we can afford.
  8. Give exponentially.  Most of us, especially children, already have too much. stuff.  Parents, who limit the number of kids’ gifts, are raising children who aren’t overindulged or numbed with plentitude.  Giving to toy or clothing drives gets the overstock to children in need; when children themselves are involved in the giving, the original gift is given many times over.  Likewise, a gift given to a helping organization in someone’s name is thoughtful and caring.  Think of how many people such a donation can touch!
  9. Pass it on or throw it out.  Like other fun lovers, I’ve been known to have an out-of-season holiday party as a way of getting rid of the what was I thinking? stuff.   A battery-operated spatula or cartoon character that grows grass out of its nose is too goofy to keep to yourself.  Take a tip from professional organizers:  give it away or throw it out, but get it off your hands.

For several years, kitties Petey and Lucy have taken the place of store-bought presents under Kathe and David’s Christmas tree.  The absence of ribbon and wrap has given them both a clearer view of gifts, both given and received.  Kathe Skinner is a Marriage & Family Therapist and Relationship Coach with a private practice in Colorado Springs where she specializes in couples work.  Find out more about Kathe at http://www.BeingHeardNow.com.