Archive for February, 2017

How Close Are You To Your Adult KIds? And Vice Versa?

Friday, February 24th, 2017

John J. Stathas, Ph.D., LMFT

Recently Sherry and I had a wonderful weekend with both of our kids, and their kids, visiting us at our home here at the Lake. I relished the mutual sharing, nurturing, and fun that the weekend encompassed. When they left to go to their respective homes I was reflecting on the experience and how wonderful it was. We are a close loving family! So fortunate.

My relished reflection led to this thought, do most adults in their more senior years have a good relationship with their adult kids? And, how do the adult kids feel about their parents? Too often in my practice I am working with the two generations to heal emotional distance that has occurred over time or by a recent unfortunate situation or event.

This emotional distance can come from either generational side. The adult parents may initiate this wall or the adult children may feel the need to establish a rigid boundary. The reasons often are complex. I would like to list a few of the reasons that I hear in my practice.

  1. Divorce
  2. Money issues
  3. Inappropriate behavior, past or present
  4. Advice giving, not requested
  5. Inability to nurture or connect emotionally
  6. Criticism
  7. Alcohol or drug issues
  8. Inability to forgive and move on

Certainly there are other idiosyncratic reasons for generational emotional distance. This list could provoke some thinking of why such distance exists. Identifying the issues is the first step in moving toward reconciliation, once the awareness that such emotional distance exists. Often an experienced Family Therapist is needed to mend the rift that exists. A lot of frustration, anger, and hurt are usually present – and defenses are high. However, the positive outcome of such efforts is well worth it – especially as Father Time moves on.

For those of you who are as fortunate as Sherry and myself regarding such love and closeness – cherish it and continue to build on it. Each generation can benefit from such a close connection.

“The unexamined life is not worth living”   Socrates

Do NOT Share Your Romantic Partner’s Failings With Others!

Wednesday, February 15th, 2017

A portion of my practice involves counseling romantic relationships. Some counseling sessions focus on the front end as couples come to me to see if they are a good fit for a lifetime of marital bliss. Others come toward the back end, sometimes too late, to discuss what is going wrong in their relationship. Oftentimes, one of the spouses, usually the male, will complain that his wife/girlfriend is talking about him and his perceived failings, with other people. He does not like this biased perception of his failings to be discussed with others. Less often it is the male partner that is the blabber mouth. In most all cases this is not a good idea.

Isabelle Bank had a short article in Psychology Today entitled “Love and tell”. In it she listed the most commonly shared topics by percentage. They are: growing apart (67.5%), not being able to talk together (66.3%), not getting enough attention (63%), a partner’s personal habits (58.8%), possibility of divorce (57.9%), infidelity (50.8%), in-law or relative problems (46.6%), household responsibilities (41.1%), sexual problems (37.7%), emotional abuse (31.5%), physical violence (27%).

Based on her survey Ms. Bank said that these confidantes were primarily friends, followed by siblings, coworkers, and other family members in that order. In my clinical opinion none of these should be called upon to hear the one-sided presentation of relationship woes. Perhaps there is room for one exception in some cases. That person is the heralded “BFF” – best friend forever. In most cases the BFF is the confidante of another female. She may have earned that designation based on being loyal, trustworthy, a good listener,  objective and non judgmental. Rare, but occasional.

Usually confidantes offer too much advice, usually poor, turn it around and focus on themselves, or speak too critically about the partner being discussed. Plus, once this confidante gets the “dirt” on the offender, she will look at him in a different light – and sometimes the damage is irreparable for future connection. Another factor of too open sharing is the resulting gossip. Relationship problems are some of the juiciest fodder for gossip.

Respected Reader, should you be in this situation where your relationship is not doing well and you want to share it with someone – someone who can make a difference – visit with a seasoned Marriage and Family Therapist one time. At such a session you can vent with vengeance, or hurt, and gain some insight as to a possible game plan to remedy the dysfunction present. Professional empathy, analysis, and advice going forward can be a rewarding outcome from a single session. It is a better choice that prattling with a girlfriend, or a buddy!

“The unexamined life is not worth living”  Socrates

Do You “Qualify” To Participate In Valentine’s Day This Year?

Friday, February 10th, 2017


Valentine’s Day is upon us. Valentine’s Day is celebrated as the day of romantic love in our calendar year.  Sublime feelings and high expectations mark this day.  Diverse media and commercialization remind us to give our love partner romantic cards, flowers, candy, jewelry, and romantic dinners for two.

Will you be “participating” in Valentine’s Day this year?  Are you “qualified”? To find out, ask yourself the following questions with a YES or NO.

  1. I have someone in my life that I care about very much. YES        NO
  2. We regularly share the “L-word” with each other. YES        NO
  3. We are in a committed relationship. YES        NO
  4. Our love-making is special and consistent. YES        NO
  5. I will come up with a thoughtful romantic way to surprise my Special Person with expressed feelings of love.                        YES        NO
  1. We will celebrate Valentine’s Day with physical, emotional, and spiritual closeness.                                                                                 YES        NO
  1. One month later our relationship will faithfully endure with mutual feelings of trust and respect.                                                          YES        NO


Well, how did you do?  If you have no yesses, call Dr. Laura or me immediately!


If you have only one yes, make sure you read this column regularly to learn how to invigorate a relationship.  Try hard to be real, authentic, a “what you see is what you get” type of person.  This would be a good start in developing openness.


If you have two to four yesses, then the task is one of moving beyond maintenance to enrich and deepen your relationship.  Start with sharing your thoughts and feelings with your Special Person.  This will help develop trust in the communication process.


If you have five to six yesses, be grateful and continue nurturing each other.  Explore further intimacy and vulnerability.  Are you holding much back?


If you have seven yesses, you join the elite minority and are an inspiration to all around you.  Congratulations!


If this is a year without that Special Person, let your heart reach out lovingly and gratefully to a family member or friend.  You are not alone.  You may have some personal growing to do in order to get yourself in a position to be a romantic partner with someone.


If you “qualify”, Happy Valentine’s Day”!  If you don’t, please “qualify” next year. It is s better way to live!


“The unexamined life is not worth living”   Socrates