August 11, 2015
“My son (15) alternates in living between his father and me for a week at a time. His dad and I don’t get along we are very cooperative as parents. Our son is an alcoholic and finds it even if it is hidden. I have cleansed my home completely of every drop but my ex won’t do the same. He hides it. He’s not much of a drinker but I think he should get of it. Our son goes to AA and sometimes he’s fine then he slips. He (our son) also uses porn and smokes weed. What must I do?”
Your son does not drink because there is alcohol available at his dad’s house. He drinks because he has a disease. While your urge to get your ex-husband to emulate you is understandable I am going to suggest that you leave the management of your son to his father when they are together.
Control what you can control. Exercise authority over what pertains directly to you.
Your son’s multiple challenges are ultimately your son’s issues.
I have the hunch that this is something your ex-husband is holding out to underscore.
While I have compassion for your son – he lives in a world that will not hide its many temptations from him.
July 19, 2015
“My husband and I married young (19, 22) – exactly the age our parents married. They have been happy for many years. We’ve been married for just over a year and things are stressing us in ways we did not expect. He constantly talks about money and work when he was very carefree while we were dating. I constantly worry about security and safety and I can never relax. We used to do everything together and now it feels like he is longing a little for his single. Now we have to focus on having fun now. This worries me. No one warned us before we married about this and I am at a very low point right now.” (Edited)
Stay at it. Your evolution as a couple sounds very normal, even beautiful. Request that you and your husband have several meaningful and vulnerable conversations with your parents. You might find they endured similar struggles and addressing them cemented and undergirded their marriage for years they have enjoyed. No one warned you! Engaged couples seem quite unable to hear much of what they don’t want hear. Perhaps someone tried. Your marriage has terrific promise – work on your maturity, not on the marriage, and definitely not on him.
July 13, 2015
My urge for autonomy is screaming at me – it’s bouncing off the walls of my neo-cortex.
This time I am going to succumb.
Before I get hit the details let’s be sure that this is not a new thing nor is it peculiar to me. You probably have it too.
When my sons were much younger I’d take a shower to be alone. Or, I’d close myself in downstairs if the boys were napping upstairs and pretend I was in the house alone. This did it – it met my needs for autonomy. They settled down, at least until morning.
When I could legally leave my sons at home alone I’d go to a local coffee shop with a Time magazine and pretend I was on vacation, or, I’d go to Fresh Market and meander through the tropical fruit stands and pretend I was living back in Kona.
Once I was so desperate to think an uninterrupted thought I took the boys to church then lurked (unseen) through the building to the parking lot and headed for an early lunch at PF Changs where I pretended I was in Hong Kong.
I picked up the boys an hour or so later and felt like I’d had a sabbatical.
Anything, yes; anything – I’d do about anything to satisfy my strong urge for autonomy.
Next week is going to be an unusual week.
Nate is going to “The Great Escape” in Wisconsin. Thulani is going on a mission trip to New Orleans.
I am going to take the VW Beetle and drive to my brother California – and, wait for it, I bought myself a floppy hat so I can do it with an open sun roof!
June 7, 2012
Anxiety is the killer. It is probably not your children’s school, violence or sex on TV, or the Internet that will potentially derail your children from potential greatness. It’s family anxiety. Often chronic, often hidden or disguised, it is that cumulative cloud of reactions to unresolved conflicts, the worry upon worry, the anger toward unmet dreams and expectations, and the bank of resentment gathered from multiple life disappointments.
Yes. You can send your children to the “right” schools, monitor their organic diets, safe-guard their television intake, pre-read their literature, create intricate computer firewalls, secure coaching and extra-lessons from the finest humans available, and then nullify all your determined efforts simply because your source of “care” and concern is soaked in anxiety and propelled and driven by it.
Family Anxiety is managed, reduced, redirected, when individual family members recognize it and address it individually. It is reduced through meaningful, appropriate connection and reconnection with blood and legal relatives where possible. It is reduced through determined “differentiation of self” (increased intimacy and increased autonomy) on the part of all members of the family (although even the efforts of one will have its rewards). It is reduced when individuals “see” that love and worry are not the same thing.
February 16, 2010
Toxic levels will strangle you....
Relax, take a deep breath, try to assess whether your anxiety levels are “normal” (there’s a natural anxiety that comes with day-to-day living) or unhelpful (debilitating, crippling).
Toxic anxiety will make you partially deaf to what others are saying and you will only hear what you want to hear. It will make you partially blind to what is going on around you and will see what you want to see. It will make you hyper-sensitive to the actions of others and less aware of your own behavior.
Your anxiety levels will reduce if you….
1. “De-triangle” yourself by getting out of the middle of relationships that do not directly involve you.
2. Re-connect (appropriately) with people to whom you are related – especially when it is by “blood” (it is virtually impossible to be enduringly emotionally well if you have cut off “blood” relationships).
3. Step out of the role of being a peacekeeper (one who avoids and helps others avoid necessary and helpful conflict) and step into the role of being a peacemaker (one who welcomes and facilitating necessary and helpful conflict).
April 7, 2008
1. Are clear and “up front” as possible about your expectations when facing new or changing circumstances.
2. Rehearse difficult conversations with a trusted friend before you have to engage in them.
3. Engage at deeper and more meaningful levels of conversation with people in your immediate family.
4. Work hard at ridding your self of debt.
5. Meet regularly with a small group of men and women who share your interests, your passions, and your burdens.
6. Forgive others for real or imagined grievances against you.
7. Creatively imagine ways to enhance and empower those whom you think may not have your best interests at heart.
8. Give handsomely to your house of faith, your former school, and to a charity you respect.
9. Write a brief history of your life, going into detail even over the most difficult issues you have ever faced.
10. Simplify your life by ridding yourself of unnecessary possessions.
11. Resist doing things for people they are fully capable of doing for themselves.
12. Resist expecting others to do for you the things you are fully capable of doing for yourself.
February 6, 2008
1. Blind you from the real issues you and your family are facing.
2. Distort your thinking either by amplifying or by minimizing the real issues.
3. Make you inordinately suspicious of others and so you create “necessary” enemies.
4. Make you inordinately trusting of a few in whom you place all your trust.
5. Suck all the energy out of you so you can hardly function, or,
6. Shift you into a high gear of over-functioning (doing for sake of doing) until you all but collapse in exhaustion.
7. Make you overly nice (superficially pleasant, kind, or generous) in order to keep people from wondering what is really going on with you.
8. Isolate you from the people who love you so that you are “outside” of the walls of your own helpful, loving community.
9. Keep you up at night so you are rendered too tired to function well during the day.
10. Drive you to temporary relief found in substances, alcohol or unhelpful sexual or damaging religious activity.