Apr 022014

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be the child of a therapist? My parents were wonderful but the lessons they imparted regarding interpersonal relationships was lacking…what’s the word…healthy communication, love and compassion. I decided when my daughter was little that I would not pass those sick nuggets along to my kids and would practice what I preach. My kids do not get a sugar coated cliché riddled sermon. They get the facts. They get the ‘whys’ followed by the ‘why nots’. A good example was to explain the most important rule of interpersonal relationships:

no harm 300x200 The Relationship Without Harm

Do no harm

Children use friendship like a weapon- ‘You aren’t my friend anymore’.

Children say mean things without understanding the repercussions.

Our response to these childish behaviors? We usually do not explain how these things hurt others. We usually say things like, ‘don’t say things like that’ but fail to explain that their words hurt people. These hurts stay with us for a very long time.

My kids have learned that their words can hurt. My kids have learned that when they say certain things, those words can deeply wound other people. My kids learn that the consequence to hurting a person is that you can scar them. Teaching a child karma is not exactly easy because their understanding of time is limited. As they get older, they understand the concepts of a long time. Regardless, this lesson will serve them well in the future.

In interpersonal relationships we have this idea that if we are experiencing an emotion that this gives us license to say whatever we want to say. A simple, ‘I’m sorry I was angry’ is the equivalent of ‘erase, erase’. But it isn’t, is it? We all have been the target of venting and it is painful. We know that the words are exacerbated by unhinged emotions but they still hurt and no simple apology would wipe away that pain.

Our words can hurt. Our words can heal. We teach our children to use their words to heal and never hurt. This does not mean that they keep their feelings inside; they simply do not use their words to hurt people just because they are hurting. It isn’t nice.

Interpersonal relationships of any kind can be a wonderful source of support in someone’s life or the root of all their problems. By teaching our kids to create healthy relationships we are ensuring that they will be loved and supported in all their endeavors when we aren’t around. I think that is worth the effort, don’t you?

Apr 012014

Interpersonal Relationships are not taught in school. Schools are usually a petri dish of dysfunction and, as the adults, we feel like this is a rite of passage. When our kids experience rejection and the backlash of pettiness with a smothering of cruelty, we remind them that this is a temporary situation and everyone will grow out of it. What we don’t realize is that these formative years are also teaching our kids how to behave in relationships. So what should we be teaching them?

be honest 300x200 A Honest Relationship

Honest communication

In high school we are bombarded with messages and ways of being that make us successful in that arena. The meta-message to all this interpersonal education is that honest communication does not work. Being coy or elusive is a better strategy than being honest. A façade will garner more attention while those who are true to themselves are seen as odd. We learn things like mind-reading is a form of love. We learn that being vulnerable is a sign of weakness. We learn that bravado is rewarded and emotions are mocked.

As parents, it is our solemn duty to teach our kids the strategies that will work for them and, more importantly, the ways of being that will keep them mentally healthy. Honest communication is the foundation of a relationship. Building a relationship on lies or mystery is the same as building a home on quick sand. One morning you will wake up and he will see that you are not always a super model or you will find that he has emotions and isn’t made of stone. One day you will not be so put-together and they will realize you are not perfect. One day you will take down your guard and reveal the real you but they will not appreciate the deceit up until that point.

Living honestly requires no need to recall what has been said in the past. You are not tethered to lies. When you teach your child honest communication, you have also taught them that they ask for what they want. You have taught them that mind-reading is a cute trick for a lounge act but has no place in a healthy relationship. You have also taught them what they do not want from a partner. This is more than a way of being but also what you expect from people in your life. That’s right! Now your kid will expect everyone to be honest and those who are dishonest do not get to be in their life. Yes, this also means you better practice what you preach.

Jul 262013

We have two boys. Lee handled our daughter when she was younger and told her all about the facts of life and the birds and the bees. I did not envy her. I could not imagine having to explain hygiene and periods and shaving your legs mostly because I never went through that. Now, I have two boys and it has been made abundantly clear that I am to deal with these talks with our young guys as they move into becoming young men. Even though I went through it, I have no idea what to say! Luckily, Terri Shearer Trenchard wrote a book called “Bork Reveals The Real Deal about the Facts of Life” and she answers any and every question they may have and many of the topics that I would have probably forgotten.Bork cover 203x300 Bork Reveals The Real Deal   A Review

She covers the biological changes they will go through including hormones. She talks about sex in a very understandable and thorough manner. But my favorite part is when she goes into detail about deodorant and being clean. Her Real Deal Action Challenges get boys to take on some of the responsibility for becoming educated about their own bodies and the process of puberty. She talks about how to shave (correctly), sniffing clothes and even Pier Pressure (she asks the question- If someone told you to jump off a pier…). That last one speaks to the general stupid nature of boys during that age and with the advent of video and Jackass movies, she is right on target.

book tour banner.3 300x206 Bork Reveals The Real Deal   A Review

As a guy, I can tell you that I received absolutely no instructions on puberty. No one took the time to explain that I was changing and thanks to some schoolyard education, I only knew about sex in the crudest manner until I was older. My boys will not go through that. I will explain to them that this is a natural process of maturity and puberty is a confusing but exciting time. Thanks to “Bork Reveals The Real Deal about the Facts of Life”, boys finally have a book to rely on during this time that will give them the facts without making them feel like a freak.

We were given a book to review and no other compensation. All opinions (and experiences) are our own.

Jun 142013

It is reader question week on CoupleDumb. We are answering everything from why is the sky blue and why do birds suddenly appear?

Today’s question is

How much influence should your children have on your relationship?  signed Harried Parent

triangulation Children and Relationships

Dear Harried Parent,

The question itself seems to answer itself. A child should have no influence on your relationship. What is more troubling is that you are asking the question at all. Your job as a parent is to care for your child and be the adult. A relationship is the job of the adults not the kids. Sure, some kids get the idea that they know what is best and sometimes they are very wise, however, a child only feels entitled to step in to make decisions in an adult relationship when there is a vacuum of power. In other words, someone is not doing their job so the kid steps in.

This is seen in cases where the parents are behaving immaturely and triangulating the kids.

Triangulation is when a couple is having difficulty communicating and begins to include others into the conversation to relieve the tension they have with each other. An example is when Mom and Dad are arguing and after a brutal exchange, one of them turns to the child and says, ‘do you see how he/she talks to me?’

We are sure you have witnessed that exchange in some form or another. It is done frequently and sometimes it could just be as easy as your child seeing you cry. They are saddened and motivated to rescue their poor Mom or Dad.

So, no, kids have no business in a relationship.

Apr 012013

Real Relationship Advice

sex ed 300x300 Masturbation

          We teach kids how to walk. We teach them how to talk. We teach them how to drive a car, boil an egg and even how to tie their shoes. If we are feeling omnipresent, we teach our kids about love, loss and how not to wear conflicting patterns and colors. With all this education, we completely ignore that our children are growing up and becoming sexual beings. The latest research shows that parents are giving the sex talk after the fact. That’s right, our kids are having sex before we explain who, what, why and how to stay safe. We teach them everything but expect our children to figure out one of the most important things about humanity on their own because we feel uncomfortable.

The most basic of topics is masturbation. It may be one of the most embarrassing topics in the field of sexuality. Sixty years ago, Kinsey showed us that 92% of men and 62% of women reported that they had masturbated at some point in their life. These numbers have held up over the years with a slight rise in females reporting that they had masturbated. As parents, we have seen our babies find their sexual organs and blush at the idea that they may be masturbating.  The conclusions we draw due to our own limited understand of sexuality and puritanical up-bringing is that it is perverse and should not be discussed. The reality is that our sexual organs have been created for pleasure and masturbation plays a large role in our ultimate understanding of how we respond sexually. To condemn masturbation is not only detrimental to a child’s future sexual satisfaction but may also affect their relationships.

Masturbation, the solo act of touching our sexual organs for the purpose of pleasure and orgasm, is beneficial for many reasons the least are:

1. Teaches us our sexual response.

2. Releases endorphins which make us happier.

3. Builds our confidence.

4. Reduces depression.

5. Provides us a template of where and how we like to be touched with which we can teach our sexual partners.

6. Is a safest of sex practices

With the negative stigmas attached to masturbation, not to mention the religious opposition to the act, it is not surprising that people feel such incredible shame concerning solo sex that it is preferable never to mention it. Even today, after supposed sexual revolutions, we find ourselves arguing over the value and necessity of masturbation.

In Biblical terms, masturbation is seen as a betrayal; a sign of physical weakness to the temptation of evil. All sexuality is seen as a means of procreation thus the expenditure of seed and strength is wicked. The term Onanism is used to describe the sin of masturbation, or self-abuse/self pollution. Onan, in the Bible, is the son of Judah who preferred to spill his seed on the ground rather than impregnate his brother’s widow. The act of impregnating the widow was considered a means of continuing the blood line but Onan, on several occasions, refused to ejaculate into his sister-in-law because the progeny of that union would not be considered his heir. This was the ultimate act of selfishness. Thus, the wickedness of masturbation is the same thing. We are wicked if we experience pleasure without the possibility of making a baby.

Today, even the Church understands that there is another purpose to having sex. They created the ever-so-effective Rhythm Method so that a married couple can enjoy themselves without the need to make babies. However, this is where the understanding of sexuality ends. The need for masturbation goes beyond just a simple sexual release. Understanding and controlling one’s orgasm is part of the foundation to maturity that we just don’t talk about. It is the basis of knowing oneself not just as a personality but as a sexual being.

Is masturbation a sin?

How often is too often?

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