Hate Hate

If you love your family and your friends and those who agree with you but hate one, two, or ten people who disagree with you, you are, by definition, still a hater. All your love for the others who are like you doesn’t stop you from being a hater. Even if you hate someone because they hate others, you are still a hater. You are joining in their cause. Satan doesn’t really care why you hate. He just wants you to hate. Whether your hatred is based on personal grievance, prejudice, political persuasion, or anything else, you are still, by definition, a person of hate even if you hate just one person.  And that makes you part of the problem, not part of the solution.

If you only hate Republicans or only hate Democrats, you are still a hater. If you only hate whites, or blacks, or men, or women, you still are a hater. No hatred is purer than any other hatred. Arguing that your hatred is justified for any reason is like members of the Ku Klux Klan arguing over who amongst them is most like Christ when their very membership, the cause that joins them, denies and mocks Christ our Creator. None of them are like Christ. There is no holy KKK alliance. And there is no holy hater.

When it comes to people, the only thing we should hate is hate. God wants everyone to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth (1 Tim. 2:4). For me to curse anyone, or wish ill on anyone, is for me to curse God’s plans, desires, and heart for that person. When hate enters my heart, I begin working against God’s will. I am no longer a God follower. I am, by definition, a God resister. Another word for this is antichrist.


Kathleen Notes: God tells us to love instead of hate. Why? Because He knows how destructive it is to us mentally, emotionally, physically and especially spiritually. Here`s the best part...He enables us to do it with His strength!

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Back to School: Healthy Habits for Children
The kids have their backpacks; check. Pencils, crayons, calculator, notepads, and paper; check, check. Whether this is their first day of kindergarten or their senior year of high school it never gets any easier. Preparing kids for school can be a daunting task, but now that they are back in the classroom, keeping a structured routine and forming healthy habits is just as challenging. However, maintaining a healthy routine can help kids learn better, behave better in class, and build better relationships with you and their classmates.
Helping children develop healthy habits before the school year begins is very important for the learning process. It not only improves brain development, it also helps children follow directions, listen to the teacher, take exams and reach their potential. Here are just a few back to school essentials and ways to improve the learning process for students while creating a better back-to-school experience for parents.

Kathleen Notes: Studies have shown that the habits listed in this article are much more effective than regular homework assignments. Take a look to see what you might add this school year.

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If you love your kids, let them learn to live without you
Whatever confidence I have today began with my parents allowing me to take risks, do things on my own, and learn from my successes and from my failures.

Unfortunately, helicopter parenting has become the new normal and the way today’s parents seem to be showing their love, but it has dire consequences for college-aged kids.
When I went to university at the age of nineteen I dealt with the ups and downs of being away from home for the first time without having to lean on my parents. It would never have occurred to me to involve them in my academic or social life.

Kathleen Notes: Self-efficacy is the foundation of good self esteem. There are no short cuts to developing it, but parents can help. How? By teaching and then getting out of the way. That tells your kids that you think they can handle it, giving them encouragement to hang in there and figure things out.

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When Children Lose Control

Gone are the days of children being “seen and not heard.” Today’s parents know that it’s healthy for a child to express a broad range of emotions. But parents sometimes struggle with how to help their child rein in the big feelings. Knowing how to regulate emotions means more than just avoiding outbursts in the candy aisle. It’s about learning how to cope with disappointment, handle frustration, self-soothe in times of stress and seek support from family or friends when needed.

Even well-meaning parents can inadvertently get in the way of a child learning these skills. When a parent avoids situations that are emotionally challenging, routinely gives in to tantrums or rushes in to fix things, the child loses the opportunity to practice and bolster their own coping abilities. “Kids need scaffolding and a support system in their parents, but they also need opportunities to learn how to tolerate and manage discomfort, which will help them in the long run,” said Susan Calkins, a professor of human development and family studies at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, who has been studying emotional regulation in children for nearly 30 years.


Kathleen Notes: Childhood is when emotional regulations skills are learned and refined, usually by the child`s parents. If it doesn`t happen then it can still be learned, but usually only after a great deal of problems and pain bring its` lack to the surface. Parents: you can`t teach what you don`t have. Seek out resources like a counselor, parenting coach or books on emotions. Send me an email if you`d like suggestions, I`d be happy to help.

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Get Real with Everything: A Savoring Practice

The word “savoring” crops up a lot in instructions for mindful eating, but why stop there? Inspired by that notion, I recently decided to challenge myself to a week of savoring things. As I started out, I began to see that I was automatically leaving lots of things out—things that were, well, unsavory—so the challenge had to undergo some immediate reengineering. It would have to become about savoring everything. Yikes.

That immediately led me to the understanding that if I was going to savor the unsavory I would have to be thankful somehow for whatever came my way. I would have to embrace the artificially sweetened (but still valuable) “attitude of gratitude.” It was a bit of a revelation. What I was prepared for was taking time to really enjoy things, in the present moment. What I wasn’t prepared for was how much it would challenge underlying attitudes and assumptions. When the week was over, I came to some conclusions about how savoring can reach into every area of life. Here’s a little of what I learned about savory thankfulness (some of which may just spill over into life during weeks when I’m not explicitly challenging myself).


Kathleen Notes: Savoring...some might say that is staying In The Moment (shameless plug, I admit). What would change about YOU if you became more aware of everything in your life, both the positive and the challenging?

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Want a Better Relationship? Shift Your Thinking

When you approach someone who is important to you from an “I want to get along with you” perspective, rather than an “I should get along with you” or “I need to get along with you” perspective, you have a better chance of a positive outcome.

 Think about it: “I want to get along with you” means it’s an option for me, not a requirement. I am making a choice to have a better relationship with you, the other person, simply because I want to. My energy toward you is therefore more relaxed and less pressured.


Kathleen Notes: Having an "I want to" perspective on your relationships restores a sense of your own ability to affect a change i.e. a sense of control.

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Choosing to Love: Radical Acceptance

We must choose to love our spouses just the way they are for our marriages to stay healthy. We must choose to love our spouses with radical acceptance.

What is Radical Acceptance?

Radical acceptance is:

  • Recognizing reality, good and bad
  • Not attempting to control,
  • Not attempting to protest, and
  • Just resting.

Spouses do things we perceive as foolish, mistaken, or absolutely wrong. They might even become, or are becoming, people we don’t like very much. We practice radical acceptance when we don’t try to change, control, or manipulate them to get our own way. We once loved our spouses just the way they were. Now we can accept them just the way they are.


Kathleen Notes: This is true in marriage and in life. What you can`t change (i.e. not in your control) often causes stress and upset. When you accept, you turn the person, situation, etc. over to God, the One who changes everything.

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Keep Calm and Remember God`s Character

Notice that the bulk of David`s prayer doesn`t mention his enemies. When I`m afraid, I have a tendency to obsess over what threatens me. But what does David do? Instead of worrying about his enemies` evil intentions, David focuses on God`s just and righteous character. David prays, "For you are not a God who delights in wickedness; evil may not dwell with you" (Psalm 5:4). Since David knew God`s nature was to protect those who fear Him and to punish evildoers, he didn`t panic in the face of his enemies` threats. (Psalm 5:12; 97:10) He kept calm and remembered God`s character.

Like David, when trouble strikes we must comfort ourselves with truths about who God is, rather than obsess over the threats and insults of our enemies. Placing our confidence in God`s just character helps us maintain our composure even when evil appears to have the advantage.


Kathleen Notes: There`s only one place to learn God`s character and that`s in His Word. Knowing that God has your back and will make "all things work together for the good of those who love Him" (Roman 8 vs 8)can make all the difference.

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The invisible work of a stay at home mom

The problem with stay-at-home mothers is that they are often graded on the same scale as those that work outside the home.

There are tangible results of the work I do. I can produce a spreadsheet, a check stub, a report, recount my meetings, and do it all with pride. I can say “this is what I did today.” Mothers who are working in the home are often graded on the same scale, yet their work isn’t always tangible. There are no spreadsheets, no reports written, and often, the results are counter-intuitive to what one would think a successful day looks like....

....We often mistake money, entrepreneurship, and status as the baseline for productivity. It’s time we stop grading mothers on the cleanliness of their home and start valuing them for their selfless investment in others.


Kathleen Notes: Whether you are a "working mom" (what a joke...ALL moms are working moms) or a "stay at home mom", what you do everyday is invaluable, even if it often feels thankless. The hand that rocks the cradle, rocks the world.

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Bullying: A Christian Perspective and Response
A Christian perspective and response to bullying attitudes and behaviors can bring healing to hurting relationships. The Christian shouldn’t be shocked that their son or daughter might be guilty of the problem because they know that fallen man is by nature a sinner. We are all prone to commit injustices and omit mercy in both individual and relational contexts. People are capable of mistreating other people implicitly and explicitly at many different levels because we’re all sinners prone to self-centeredness, abusiveness, and distortion of proper social behavior. It’s important that we recognize these assumptions so we can more honestly identify bully tendencies and behavior in ourselves and others. As we look at our various roles relative to the problem of bullying, we need to realize and accept the magnitude of responsibility that we all have to prevent, remediate, and repair the damage that comes from bullying. Parents, siblings, extended family, teachers, classmates, friends, and colleagues are a few of the relational groups that have both a role and responsibility that can be part of the problem however must be part of the solution.   ...more

Kathleen Notes: A well written article and one that looks at the whole problem. It`s not enough to protect and heal the victims, but also to call the person who is "the bully" to repentance. This is sin and must be taken seriously.

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The therapy behind play therapy
“Play therapy is real therapy,” says Wroton, a registered play therapist who works with clients ages 3-12 at a group outpatient practice in Hampton, Virginia. “Play is the medium through which the therapy occurs. … The play helps them open up to make better connections.”...
.....A quote from play therapy researcher and author Garry Landreth is often used to explain the method’s effectiveness: “In the play therapy experience, toys are like the child’s words, and play is the child’s language.”

Kathleen Notes: Play therapy for kids AND adults is available at In The Moment Child and Family Therapy. Come check out our play therapy room(s) at both Verona and Monroe locations!

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Living Life on Autopilot? 3 Steps to Find Your Vitality

Do you feel bored in your life? 

Do you enjoy happy occasions less than you should? 

Do you sometimes feel emotionally numb? 

Do other people seem to experience more intense joy, love or closeness than you do? 

Do you sometimes question the purpose and value of your life? 

Do you put others’ needs before your own? 

If you answered “yes” to two or more of the questions above, it may be a sign that you’re on autopilot. What does this mean? It means that you do not have enough access to your true emotions.


Kathleen Notes: An important topic but I have to admit that I also chose this article because I really liked the picture.

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People Like You More Than You Think, Study Finds
There’s nothing worse than meeting a new person and having the distinct feeling that you’re messing up—and that the other person is thinking poorly of you as a result. But a new study in the journal Psychological Science offers good reason to let yourself off the hook. Researchers from Cornell, Yale, Harvard, and the University of Essex find that people almost always think their conversation mate’s opinion of them is lower than it actually is. This “liking gap,” as the authors say, occurs across ages and can take months to disappear. Luckily, most of it is in our heads....
.....The authors suggest a few psychological explanations for the liking gap phenomenon. One is that people are often their own worst critics: we often spend time recalling what we did “wrong” so we can improve for the next time. So a person may go over what he or she perceives as foibles, although the conversation mate generally has no clue that there were foibles at all.

Kathleen Notes: I`m reminded of the "Barry Manilow T-shirt" experiment from back in the 90`s to test the "Spotlight Effect." The result? Very few people noticed and even less cared because they were more focused on how they appeared.

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What if all I want is a ‘mediocre’ life?

What if I all I want is a small, slow, simple life? What if I am most happy in the space of in between? Where calm lives. What if I am mediocre and choose to be at peace with that?

The world is such a noisy place. Loud, haranguing voices lecturing me to hustle, to improve, build, strive, yearn, acquire, compete and grasp for more. For bigger and better. Sacrifice sleep for productivity. Strive for excellence. Go big or go home. Have a huge impact in the world. Make your life count.

But what if I just don’t have it in me?

What if all the striving for excellence leaves me sad, worn out, depleted? Drained of joy. Am I simply not enough?


Kathleen Notes: Great article and very thought provoking. Reminds me of this verse of Scripture: "But godliness with contentment is great gain." 1 Timothy 6:6

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9 Key Benefits We Experience When Our Nervous System Is Regulated
“We know a lot about what happens to a human system when it is sick and unwell. What we know less of, is what happens in a system that is healthy!”
Total brain stop on that one. And she is right. We are so good at pathologizing and looking at what is wrong. Maybe instead we could look at what we want to move towards and then ask the question: what must happen to get there?
So with those words of experience from a women 30+ years into her craft said — here’s a list of what we, as nervous system specialists, know a healthy human system is like when it’s fairly free from anxiety and way more calm.....
.....If you find the bulk of these benefits are not happening for you then there is a good chance your nervous system is living in what we call survival stress chemistry (think: that fight/flight response pumping out adrenaline and cortisol all day long, or, the freeze response being so hardwired that to feel nothing is the norm).

Kathleen Notes: Most people don`t think in terms of their emotional state being "regulated" or "unregulated." Perhaps if we take the root word "regular" to mean as it should be.....

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Sappy, Sloppy Emotions: What’s the Point?
For every emotion, there is a purpose. Emotions are incredibly useful tools to help us adapt, survive and thrive. People who were emotionally neglected were trained to try to erase, deny, push underground, and in some cases, be ashamed of, this invaluable built-in feedback system. Because they are not listening to their emotions, they are operating at a disadvantage from the rest of us. Pushing away this vital source of information makes you vulnerable and potentially less productive. It also makes it harder to experience life to its fullest.

Emotions do more, though, than drive us to do things. They also feed the human connections that give life the depth and richness that make it worthwhile. It is this depth and richness which I believe provides the best answer to the question, “What is the meaning of life?” Emotional connections to others help us stave off feelings of emptiness as well as existential angst.


Kathleen Notes: “Although many of us may think of ourselves as thinking creatures that feel, biologically we are feeling creatures that think.”-Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor, Neuroscientist and author of My Stroke of Insight

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Do You Have Emotional Integrity?

Here is the Merriam-Webster Dictionary’s definition of Integrity: The quality of being honest and fair; the state of being complete or whole; incorruptibility; soundness.

What, then, is Emotional Integrity? It’s knowing what you feel and why, and being able and willing to share it with others, even when it’s painful for you.

So general integrity involves being honest with others. Emotional Integrity involves being honest with yourself: facing uncomfortable or painful truths inside yourself so that they don’t harm the people you love. It’s more about your internal choices than your external ones. It’s the opposite of what we think of as denial. It’s the opposite of avoidance.


Kathleen Notes: I think that often the hardest person to face is yourself...

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Communication Basics

Healthy communication consists of talking and listening. We have to speak clearly and also listen well. Both roles of talking and listening need to be done well for communication to be effective.

This requires the need to fill two distinct roles:

  • The Speaker – What do we want the other person to hear and know?
  • The Listener – What is it the other is trying to share about their experience? 

When working to communicate well, it is best to pick one role and stick to it for time. It can help to separate these roles so that we are not formulating a response when we need to be hearing what is being said. You cannot speak and listen at the same time.


Kathleen Notes: “If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame” (Proverbs 18:13)

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Verona Area Kids Expo

Verona Area Kids Expo

Saturday, November 3rd 
Verona Area High School


Kathleen Notes: Stop by and say hi! In The Moment Child & Family Therapy, LLC will be there with Resurrection Lutheran Church. We`d love to see you!!

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Verona holds third Kids Expo

The Verona Area School District’s third annual Kids Expo presented resources and kid-friendly activities for parents and their pre-kindergarten children Saturday, Nov. 4.

VASD elementary schools, Verona Pre-K and area daycare centers and fitness and enrichment programs set up booths in the Verona Area High School gym with interactive activities for kids and information for parents.


Kathleen Notes: It was a fun event and a great chance to meet some of the kids and families in the Verona community!

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To Thine Own Self Be Kind: 8 Random Acts of Self-Kindness
Silencing the critical voices within can be a challenge, but it’s one worth taking on—and small acts of kindness toward ourselves can be incredibly transformative. “Self-kindness helps stop the constant flow of negative self-talk, criticism, judgment, and relentless pursuit of perfection that most of us have come to see as normal.

When we treat ourselves with kindness, compassion, and understanding, we feel worthy, nurtured, and secure.  When we provide ourselves with an unconditional environment of safety and security, we free ourselves up to take more risks in service of our potential.”

Simply put, the more gentle and forgiving we are with ourselves, the more likely it is that these positive vibrations will overflow into our interactions with those around us. “When we accept our own imperfections and limitations, we are much more able to have empathy for others’ shortcomings.  This helps us be more accepting and loving in all of our relationships,” says Cohen.


Kathleen Notes: No one can pour from an empty cup. When you nurture yourself adequately (self-care) you have so much more to give others. Jesus knew when it was tie to pull back and spend time in solitude and prayer.

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7 Habits That May Actually Change the Brain, According to Science
The brain is by far our most precious organ–others are good, too, but they all pale in comparison to the mighty brain. Because the brain works so hard around the clock (even while we’re sleeping), it uses an extraordinary amount of energy, and requires a certain amount of nutritional support to keep it going. It’s high-maintenance, in other words. But there may be misconceptions about what keeps a brain healthy–for instance, there’s little evidence that omega-3 supplements or green smoothies would do anything above and beyond generally good nutrition. So what does science actually tell us can help our brains? Here’s what we know as of now.   ...more

Kathleen Notes: If you knew what to do to give your brain an assist, you`d do it, right? Of course you would!

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Why Hiding Who We Are Hurts Us

The false self develops as an adaptation that protects the individual and makes it possible for the “true self” to go into hiding. Often, the development of the false self is unconscious, and the individual may not be aware that this defense is protecting him (or her) from intolerable feelings. Over time, awareness may develop that the “me” who is acting in the world is “not me.” As these “not me” feelings get stronger, the feelings of being loved, being successful, deserving of recognition, etc., cannot be felt as me, or as the “true self.” It is, after all, “not me” who is loved, admired, or successful. This leaves no room for good self-feelings and frequently results in increased hiding to diminish the risks of being seen and known.

As the individual becomes increasingly aware of the false self adaptation, he (or she) is also aware that he (or she) may not know what will appear when the “true self” begins to emerge. It feels risky to be vulnerable and speak one’s feelings. How the person will be responded to is an unknown. The false self emerged early in development and was successful in protecting the person from intolerable feelings. Now that the false self no longer protects so well, it takes courage to begin to allow the true self to emerge. There are no assurances that the old shaming ways that required the adaptation to a false self won’t be repeated. Jeff’s relating of his early experiences with his parents, his shame, and his negative self-feelings were a brave expression of his “true self.”


Kathleen Notes: Being your "true" or authentic self is risky, especially if your sense of self is based on the opinions of others. You can`t truly be known (or understood) unless you take that risk.

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Love Love

A person who loves love doesn’t have to worry about being “caught” or overheard. When you act out of love, there’s tremendous peace. If you are “caught” speaking of someone else, it will only bring you closer to the one you are speaking about because you speak only encouragement and blessing.

A person who loves love has tremendous hope. Because you want the best for someone, and because you believe in God, there is never a moment when you “give up” on someone because you would never give up on God. If you want the worst for someone, you are betting against God, hoping that he fails to woo them, win them, and transform them. Pity the person who depends on God failing for them to be satisfied....

.....A person who loves love feels unusually close to God. “God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them” (1 John 4:16). You feel the favor of God, the fellowship of God, and the joy of God in seeing something good happen to and within someone. You align yourself with God and his aims and all the presence of heaven rejoices with you, increasing your own joy and happiness.

Indeed, one of the very best things about being a Christian is being freed from hate by living a life of love: “Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us.” (Eph. 5:1-2)


Kathleen Notes: The follow up to last week`s lead article. I love a happy ending...

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Joy to the World

“But the angel said to them, ‘Don’t be afraid, for look, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people…’” Luke 2:10

Want to know the absolutely best present you could give your spouse or family for Christmas this year?

You won’t find it on the ubiquitous “12 Best Christmas Gifts for Wives” or “Ten Gifts Your Husband Will Really Love” Internet lists that circulate this time of year.

The best gift you can give to each other and your children is a heart filled with Christ-inspired joy.

In a Christmas Day sermon, Martin Luther proclaimed, “Whoever preaches [Christ] rightly, preaches the Gospel of pure joy.”


Kathleen Notes: My wish for you this year, that the love and joy of Christ would be yours through faith. A Blessed Christmas to you and your loved ones!

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How Radical Acceptance Can Help You This Holiday Season—and Beyond

Radical acceptance is a concept used in dialectical behavior therapy (Linehan, 1993). It involves learning to accept reality as it is in the present moment. This does not mean we agree with or are happy about what is happening, but through acceptance, we avoid the suffering we would otherwise be subjected to.

A major part of our suffering is due to the negative thoughts we have about ourselves, as well as the situations we encounter in our lives. We may beat ourselves up for behaving in a particular way or believe we should not have to put up with frustrating events. We want to feel that we are able to influence what happens in our lives and we get upset when things don’t go our way or are out of our control. We become angry at the unfairness of the cards that life has dealt us, rather than accepting the reality of what is.

A few examples of situations that might trigger suffering or frustration include:

  • Getting stuck in a traffic jam.
  • Having to wait in a long line at the grocery or department store.
  • A flight being delayed or canceled.
  • Finding out your partner had an affair.
  • Being passed up for a promotion you worked hard for.
  • The death of a loved one.

Kathleen Notes: What is in your control? What is outside of your control? Difficulties are a part of everyone`s life. Change what you can, accept what you must.

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Great Expectations
It’s too bad we’re so good at holding others to higher standards than our own. We expect better behavior from spouses, children, siblings, coworkers, friends, and pastors than we expect of ourselves. When they don’t live up to our expectations, we sometimes even call them out.   ...more

Kathleen Notes: The only expectation we need to (try) to live up to is God`s. With His help we can do really good stuff...

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10 Ways to Help Your Kids Honor Their Dad

Write a few words in a card … check.

Eat meals together … check.

Buy him a new shirt … check.

Do your kids run a similar checklist through their heads each time Father’s Day circles round? How about giving them some creative ideas for how they can honor their father?

As far as influencing children about their father, mothers hold an unequaled voice. Proverbs 1:8 says, “Hear, my son, your father’s instruction, and forsake not your mother’s teaching,” affirming the influential role mothers possess. And Paul tells us in Ephesians 6:2 that we should teach children to “‘Honor your father and mother.’” With Father’s Day coming up, consider suggesting to your kids a few practical ways to display honor to their father.


Kathleen Notes: Helping your kids to connect with their father pays off for everyone. Fathers play such an important role, just like moms. Guess that`s why God gives us both!

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‘Don’t Think of Pink Elephants!’ – The Secret to Replacing Negative Thinking With Brave Thinking
If only negative thoughts could find their way out as easily as they find their way in, but negative thoughts don’t tend to work that way. In fact, the more we try to push them out, the more they’ll push back. When we slam the door, they’ll hustle through the window. When we run, they’ll chase......
......Here’s how it works. It’s precious real estate up there in the your head, and there’s only so much thinking space our thoughts can occupy. That space can be taken up with negative thoughts or positive thoughts or both. The more negative thoughts there are, the less positive ones there will be. You’ve probably seen way too much evidence of this. The great news is that it also works the other way – the more positive thoughts there are, the less space there is for negative ones to set up camp. This isn’t a passive process though. Our children need to understand that they have a lot of power in controlling which thoughts take up their ‘thinking space’. If they think more positive, strong, brave thoughts, eventually negative thoughts be squeezed out of business. Of course they’ll still have anxious thoughts sometimes, but with more strong, brave thoughts on board, it will be less likely that those anxious thoughts will dig in have more influence over feelings and behaviour than they deserve.

Kathleen Notes: The more you try not to think about something, the more they invade. The trick is to replace them with not just positive but powerful thoughts. "Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things" Philippians 4:8

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Write Bad Songs
There was a reason I was a “struggling” songwriter in Nashville.

Writer’s block (and all procrastination) ultimately comes down to one word: FEAR… usually of failure, success, or rejection.

I developed a solution and even if you’re not a writer apply this metaphorically to whatever you are avoiding:

Write Bad Songs.

Weird, yes, but I decided to write bad songs.

I figured there must be a bunch of bad songs in me and I needed to just get them written and out so I could get to the good songs.

Potentially silly logic, but it worked!

I just wrote and didn’t care whether they were good or not.

Guess what?

They weren’t as bad as I thought.   ...more

Kathleen Notes:"Bad songs" are nothing to be afraid of. Often it`s a part of a bigger process of learning and personal growth. Go out and write some!

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How Emotionally Intelligent People Use Negative Emotions to Their Advantage
Emotion theorists believe emotions such as fear, sadness, or frustration serve a functional purpose: they convey certain needs that stimulate corrective action. While some may try to ignore these so-called “negative emotions,” people with high emotional intelligence know all emotions contain important data—and they use that information to their advantage.
Emotional intelligence refers to a person’s ability to identify, understand, and manage emotions. People with high emotional intelligence can effectively integrate their emotions with their thinking to produce desired outcomes. In fact, research has consistently found positive associations between emotional intelligence and workplace performance, making it a highly sought-after competency in corporate America.
Emotionally intelligent people quickly learn to identify negative emotions and use them in adaptive ways to achieve greater success. The following are six noted benefits associated with negative emotions:

Kathleen Notes: “A relentless focus on positive emotions fails to recognize the fact all emotions can be smart, adaptive, and helpful. As we put on a happy face and ask people ‘how are you?’ in a high-energy pleasant manner, we do not invite honest and open dialogue. We set up a demand that the person we ask the question of provides vapid answers such as ‘great,’ ‘fine,’ or ‘awesome.’ ” Dr. David Caruso of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence

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Our Children’s Busyness Is Not A Badge of Honour (And Why We Need To Change It)

In trading away our young children’s down time we’re also seeing significantly lower levels of creativity in young adults. It’s not the organized activities themselves that destroy creativity but the lack of down time. Even two hours per week of unstructured play can boost children’s creativity to above-average levels.

With kids being carted from one activity to the next, the days of kids being kids and playing all day long has been erased from our society’s collective memory. We’ve devalued what children need most and replaced it with excessive adult control.

Jean Twenge, a psychology professor at San Diego State University, evaluated results from a questionnaire called the Children’s Nowicki-Stricklund Internal-External Control Scale from the 1960’s through to 2002. She discovered an alarming move away from an internal towards an external locus of control in children of all ages with the trend being even more pronounced in younger children.

Why is this a concern? Because children with a bias towards externality are more likely to focus on goals such as materialism and status, rather than pursuing intrinsic aims which bring true and lasting happiness. They experience a sense of helplessness, decreased self-control, and a predisposition to narcissism, anxiety and depression.


Kathleen Notes: I`ve seen this trend as a parent, grandparent and counselor. Free play time IS a child`s best work! Let them have some space and time and kids will make up games, create new things and gain introspection. No adult led activity can do that...ever.

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3 New Psychology Research Findings You Should Know About

Lets face it. For us human beings, often the most difficult struggles in our lives come from inside of us.

We are all essentially walking, talking bundles of emotions and issues. We can’t sleep, we’re in conflict, we get obsessed or we suffer from anxiety. We’re angry, sad or grief-stricken. We are in pain.

Fortunately, science comes to the rescue. Psychologists, psychiatrists and neurologists are busy giving us answers. What makes us happy? What coping techniques work best? How do our emotions work, and what do we do with them?

Here are three new studies that offer important and helpful information about how we can all live our lives happier and healthier.


Kathleen Notes: The psychology geek inside of me loves this stuff! For the "non-geeks" out there, this article gives short, concise summary (read 1 paragraph) of 3 studies that point to the importance of emotional awareness and regulation.

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Effective Child Discipline

First, it`s important to understand how your parenting approach may be contributing to the problem, especially in a culture that has made discipline a dirty word. To speak of a parent disciplining a child today evokes images of unreasonable anger and brutal beat­ings. That`s not biblical discipline. Two case studies — one sociolog­ical and the other biblical — show us what appropriate, godly discipline is all about.

Sociologist Reuben Hill conducted a study of thousands of teens and parents in Minnesota. Hill put all of his research on a grid with an x-axis, a y-axis, and four quadrants. The horizontal axis measured how much discipline or control parents exercised in their relationship with their child. The vertical axis measured love. Hill found that different parenting styles produced differ­ent responses among children.   ...more

Kathleen Notes: Discipline means to teach, not beat. It`s not about rigid rules but coming alongside the child to guide and direct.....and listen.

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The Importance of a Breakdown

“A breakdown is not merely a random piece of madness or malfunction, it is a very real, albeit very inarticulate, bid for health,” de Botton says. “It is an attempt by one part of our minds to force the other into a process of growth, self-understanding, and self-development, which it has hitherto refused to undertake.”

While medication is sometimes necessary to overcome mental health concerns that arise from a breakdown, such as anxiety and depression, it is also important for you to take a moment to reflect on what your body and mind are trying to say.

“What the breakdown is telling us, above everything else, is that it must no longer be business as usual; that things have to change,” de Botton explains.


Kathleen Notes: The breakdown (however you define it) is a symptom that tells you to pay attention. In session, I often use the analogy of a broken leg: there`s pain, swelling, dis-colorization, etc. that tells you to take care of it. Mental/emotional problems are the same. God gave us these symptoms to help us know when to get help.

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Why Social Media is Not Smart for Middle School Kids

Then it happens: Maybe because we are exhausted from their constant begging for a phone, or because we think that all their friends have one, or because we want to upgrade ours to the latest model…we cave. We act on impulse. Our brain seems to regress like theirs, and we give them our old smartphone.

And with that one little decision comes the world of social media access—something we haven’t thought about and something none of us is prepared for. Because the midbrain is reorganizing itself and risk-taking is high and impulse control is low, I can’t imagine a worse time in a child’s life to have access to social media than middle school. Here are just a few reasons why:


Kathleen Notes: Kids this age have other developmental tasks that should be on the front burner. They aren`t ready for this yet.

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Get those kids outside and let them play, occupational therapist urges
It`s often hard to get them outside and to resist warning them against dangers or to stay clean. But Angela Hanscom said that left with the time and the freedom, kids will naturally engage in the kind of activities their bodies need, whether that`s jumping or digging or spinning or hanging upside down on the monkey bars.....

......Outdoor play, she urged, is essential to developing strength, an understanding of reflexes, concentration and good balance.

Over her years working with children, she said she`s seen a dramatic shift in children`s behaviour, which she attributes to a change in their play.

In her practice, kids in general are much weaker than they used to be and have poorer balance. Some kids are being treated clinically for not being able to stay upright in their seats and being clumsy.


Kathleen Notes: It`s a kid`s job to get dirty...and experiment...and even fail sometimes. It`s a parent`s job to facilitate that.

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The hurting counselor
...Denis’ A. Thomas and Melanie H. Morris (2017) wrote, “Although most counselors have knowledge about self-care and convey the importance to others, the same knowledge may not translate into self-care action — often when it is needed most.” Apparently, as a group, we practitioners haven’t learned much about the application of self-care in our own lives over the past few decades.

This is such a bizarre paradox. Counselors, of all people, should know better. We are trained to take care of ourselves, and we emphasize the importance of self-care to our clients. Yet my self-confidence in those days caused me to naively believe that crisis wouldn’t knock on my door. I think in some ways, when counselors talk about self-care, it is more of an academic conversation than a real one. It may be something like the fact that we all know we are going to die someday, but it isn’t real to us until we stare it square in the face.

Divorce, death of a loved one, loss of a job and chronic mental health issues strike counselors’ homes and lives just as they do the rest of the population, and these issues are potentially just as damaging to us as they are to those who are not in the field of mental health.


Kathleen Notes: This is a shout out to my colleagues who read this newsletter. I would also add anyone who is in a "helping" profession: pastors, teachers, healthcare professionals, emergency responders, etc. You have a need (and I would argue an ethical responsibility) to see to your own self care. Without it, you are impaired.

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You Never Marry the Right Person

The Bible explains why the quest for compatibility seems to be so impossible. As a pastor I have spoken to thousands of couples, some working on marriage-seeking, some working on marriage-sustaining and some working on marriage-saving. I’ve heard them say over and over, “Love shouldn’t be this hard, it should come naturally.”

In response I always say something like: “Why believe that? Would someone who wants to play professional baseball say, ‘It shouldn’t be so hard to hit a fastball’? Would someone who wants to write the greatest American novel of her generation say, ‘It shouldn’t be hard to create believable characters and compelling narrative’?”


Kathleen Notes: All of us, me...you....them....are sinners. We are by nature selfish and self-absorbed. We want things to be easy, but a good marriage takes effort and selflessness. If you need a template, look to Jesus for your example.

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Bipolar & Self-Compassion: Learning How to ‘Put On Your Own Mask First’

Flight attendants always tell us when demonstrating how to put on oxygen masks, “Put on your own mask first, before assisting others.” When managing mental illness, and learning how to recover, we go through many phases and trying different coping skills. Being compassionate is a beneficial trait. I’ve learned the greatest, if not most difficult, kindness is to oneself. That means doing the mask thing.

So, no pet sitting for me. It’s the kind thing to do.


Kathleen Notes: Whether or not you struggle with bipolar disorder, it`s always important to "put your own mask on first." You cannot give to others what you don`t have.

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Why Nonjudgment is Part of Mindfulness Practice

But does nonjudgment mean that we never decide that something is wise or unwise, right or wrong, advisable or inadvisable? Of course not. How could we live without ever making decisions? What the instruction in mindfulness practice is asking us to do is the following: During our practice session, when we encounter thoughts, emotions, and sensations arising, notice them without judging them as good or bad or otherwise. Just try to see them as they are. It’s about a pause, a space, a gap, where judgment is suspended.

That pause is key to mindfulness practice. It suggests to us that we can be a witness to what’s going on in our body and mind, without immediately trying to decide whether we like it or not and what we’re going to do about it. And in that pause, we have the opportunity to recognize—and perhaps even begin to embrace the fact—that we don’t know for sure.


Kathleen Notes: Yes! The wonderful part of mindfulness for me (and I try to share with my clients) is that I don`t have to know for sure, because Jesus does! I don`t have to judge either, because I`ve been forgiven.

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Six Reasons Why Wedding Rings Matter More than You Think
My grandmother has been a widow for decades, but early in her marriage, my grandfather cheated on her by having multiple affairs. She’s never fully healed from those wounds. To this day, when she is talking about a man whether he’s a person she knows or a celebrity in the public eye (even pastors), one of her first observations is always either “He’s always wearing his wedding ring.” Or “He doesn’t wear a wedding ring.” She makes assumptions about the man’s integrity and commitment to his wife based on the ring’s presence or absence. While she might be an extreme example, many people will make similar assumptions. We should live to cater to other people’s assumptions, but if the simple act of wearing a ring could prevent misconceptions, then why wouldn’t you wear it?   ...more

Kathleen Notes: Some people just aren`t into jewelry (my husband for one) yet wedding rings demonstrate how important your spouse is(he wears it anyway).

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Move for Your Mood: The Power of Exercise to Help Lift Depression
About 25% of adults in the United States will meet the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) criteria for at least one clinically depressive episode in their lives. That means it’s almost certain someone you know has or will be affected by depression.

There is no doubt pharmaceuticals can, in many cases, be a valuable tool for treating mental health issues. But not only can medication be expensive, it doesn’t always work for everyone, and it may come with unwanted side effects. Ideally, treatment for mild to moderate depression involves stepping up to that level of care only after trying less invasive alternatives.

One thoroughly researched and potentially successful alternative or complement to traditional treatment of depression is exercise. Adding a regular exercise routine has been shown to potentially decrease a person’s depressive symptoms significantly. Even moderate levels of exercise, like brisk walking for 30 minutes, can improve mood. Conversely, a sedentary lifestyle is a risk factor for depression.


Kathleen Notes: The catch is that depression makes moving and exercise very difficult to power through. Yet if that person can power through getting started, the benefits are clear.

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Love and Wealth are Not Enough

What’s the most important ingredient for a happy life?

Philosophers, clergy, psychologists and researchers of all kinds have offered opinions on this question over the last five decades. Some say wealth, some say religion. Still others say family is the most important thing.

But one factor emerges over and over in study after study as a primary ingredient which must be present in childhood to produce a happy, healthy and well-adjusted adult. That factor is emotional attachment, warmth and care. In a word, love.

This factor was recently studied very specifically by Harvard researchers (Vaillant, 2012) who wanted to compare the effects of childhood financial wealth with childhood warmth. By following over 200 men (yes, only men) over an extended period of 70+ years, they were able to identify clear patterns. They saw that childhood financial wealth has little to do with adult success, satisfaction and adjustment. And that parental warmth and care throughout childhood is a much more powerful contributor.


Kathleen Notes: The power of attachment. Childhood never really goes away, we carry it with us our entire lives.

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Sticking It to Stigma!

The archaic definition of the word stigma is “a scar left by a hot iron” (Merriam-Webster). It was meant to be a mark of shame or discredit. The modern definition of the word stigma means: “a set of negative and often unfair beliefs that a society or group of people have about something.” (Merriam-Webster).

While both definitions do define the word stigma, I believe that more times than not the first definition is a by far a better definition of what most of us have felt too often regarding the stigma surrounding mental illness.


Kathleen Notes:Next week, October 7-13 is Mental Health Awareness Week. A good time to "Cure Stigma!"

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Stop Taking Away Recess
Your American elementary school kid probably gets about 25 minutes of recess per day. Half of that recess time is structured, meaning the activities are planned by an adult. 97% of teachers say recess improves student performance and was especially important for kids who “tended to behave badly.”
Yet 86% admitted to taking away recess as a consequence for that same behavior. And 7% of schools had no recess at all. This all according to a study by the International Play Equipment Manufacturer’s Association and its Voice of Play initiative, which surveyed 500 randomly selected US teachers....
.....Recess isn’t just a lot of running around and yelling, like it might look to outsiders. There is, instead, a lot of complex play and negotiation going on. Recess is where kids practice social skills and role-play with peers after a day spent being told “no talking,” and “sit still,” and “eye forward, please,” according to Peaceful Playgrounds.

Kathleen Notes: Play is a child`s work in so many ways that we can`t easily see or measure until it disappears. Are we ready to start teaching kids the way they need to learn yet!? Children don`t go to school so that teachers and staff can have jobs, it`s the other way around.

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Mindful Parenting for ADHD

ADHD is far more than a disorder of attention. It influences social skills, communication, morning routines, bedtime, technology use, eating habits, homework, and anything requiring coordination, planning, or foresight. In addition, your child’s ADHD affects others around him, especially family members.

In fact, ADHD often creates unproductive patterns in parents’ lives. When parents become overly stressed or overwhelmed, that affects their children. None of us are at our best when tapped out. And because ADHD itself increases family stress, it makes it harder for you to manage your child’s ADHD, which then amplifies stress further. Incorporating mindfulness into your life can break this draining cycle.


Kathleen Notes: Dr. Hollowell (expert in ADHD for kids and adults) calls this the "crazy cycle". Mindfullness keeps us "in the moment". This helps decreases stress and increases the ability to cope for parents and kiddos. Why? It stops/slows down the "crazy cycle."

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Attachment as Defense: How Trauma Shapes the Self
The experience of trauma often shapes our beliefs of self, other, and world. In turn, those beliefs shape our relationships, pervade our families, spread to our communities, and stretch across societies. Our attachment styles and strategies, which can be categorized by individual beliefs about dependency and support in the wake of interpersonal trauma, often correspond to early relational traumas....

They may further impact a wide range of interactions between self and other:

  • The ways we approach mindfulness
  • How we react to stress
  • The manner in which we identify and pursue our goals
  • How we tend to our own basic needs
  • The way we create or withdraw from conflict in any given setting.

Kathleen Notes: Secure, avoidant and anxious attachments each have unique responses when trauma is experienced and within relationships. Take a look and see if anything seems familiar.

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Self-Discipline Season has Begun

Almost everyone struggles with some aspect of self-discipline, but never more than during the holidays. After all, from Thanksgiving to mid-January, we see-saw back and forth between over-indulging in treats, and making resolutions to exercise in the New Year.

Then, when we fail to carry it all out as pledged, we kick ourselves when we’re down.

I think that most people see self-discipline as far more complicated than it actually is. When you boil it down, self-discipline is actually composed of only two ingredients:

  1. Stopping ourselves from doing things we want to do, but shouldn’t.
  2. Making ourselves do things we don’t want to do, but should.
Notice anything about those two ingredients? That’s right. They’re skills. Skills, and nothing more.   ...more

Kathleen Notes: Since self-discipline is a skill, it can be learned. It also gets easier with practice.

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Reverse Golden Rule: Treat Yourself as You Would Treat Others
“What the heck is wrong with you?
“You are an idiot.”
“How could you make such a stupid mistake?”

 These may sound like nasty, abusive comments that someone might say to his spouse during a major fight.

Actually, they are typical, everyday comments that many people say to themselves on a regular basis. Many of these people would NEVER say anything that hurtful to their spouse or anyone else.  These are thoughtful, caring people who would not want to hurt another person that way, because they feel compassion for others. The problem is that they do not have that same amount of compassion for themselves.


Kathleen Notes: Self talk is very important to a person`s sense of self. Can you speak to yourself the way you would to a friend, with understanding and compassion?

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Relationships 7 Small But Significant Habits That Can Improve Your Relationship

Elaborate romantic gestures and effusive Instagram posts aren’t necessary ingredients for a strong, happy relationship.

Rather, it’s the small, simple habits ? like getting enough sleep and kissing hello and goodbye, for example ? that have a major, positive effect over time.

Below, marriage therapists reveal what you can do to make a big difference in your relationship.


Kathleen Notes: Life is made up of many little things....

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Why Partnership is the Key to a Healthy Marriage (and what to do if you don’t have one!)

You see, I was steeped in the view (thank you, Bill Gothard) that husbands are to reign as demi-gods in their homes while their wives exist to cater to their every desire. I remember thinking these two people were rather liberal. Maybe they didn’t know how marriage was supposed to be done according to the Bible? Their partnership seemed to work for them, and I was only a kid with limited life experience, so I shrugged it off as an anomaly.

Several decades later, I understand why partnership was the key to their healthy marriage relationship. Partnership brings three important things to the table in a relationship.


Kathleen Notes: God gave each spouse their role as equals...not better or worse, just different.

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Boundaries, Routines and Early Bedtimes: 13 Habits That Raise Well-Adjusted Kids
I keep seeing posts about “entitled kids” making the rounds lately. In fact, you don’t have to look hard before you see things written about how “lazy” and “narcissistic” and “downright terrible” kids are these days.

As a parent of younger kids, you read these articles and feel paralyzed by overwhelm and fear and mixed messages. What exactly is the right thing to do? Where am I going wrong? Should I give up and start a savings account for my kids’ future therapy sessions?....

......Change starts with one parent and one child at a time. You have a beautiful window of opportunity to build the foundation that your child desperately needs but also craves.

The foundation for things like generosity, responsibility, appreciation, warmth, kindness, helpfulness and hard-work ethic all starts during the early years.

Here’s the hard part.

It starts with us — the parents. Kids cannot even think at the maturity level needed to break a behavior cycle, let alone do anything about it. So, as the parents, it has to start with us. The foundation for well-adjusted kids always starts with us.


Kathleen Notes: Parents: you have tremendous power to help your kiddos to become happy, healthy adults. Don`t be afraid to take charge!

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Explore Anxiety with Mindfulness
Anxiety can range from mild to overwhelming. It can be brought on sporadically by various work or relationship issues or other life experiences. Or it may be a chronic state. You may already have sought assistance from a physician, psychiatrist, or other mental health professional, and you may be taking medications to help manage symptoms. You may have been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, such as generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) or social anxiety disorder (SAD). In general, these diagnoses are made when symptoms become excessive, when anxiety arises with little or no provocation, or when anxiety reactions seem exaggerated in relation to the situations that bring them on.
Anyone who struggles with anxiety can reap benefits from mindfulness and the practices offered here, regardless of diagnosis. If you struggle with anxious thoughts, worry, fearful anticipation of the future, or a sense of dread, mindfulness will be useful for you.

Kathleen Notes: Mindfulness helps us to stay in the present moment. This in turn enables us to deal only with whatever emotions/events are happening at that time.

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Distress Tolerance and DBT: When You Reach Your Tipping Point, Try TIP

It is my job to push you through your comfort zones so you can grow and transform your life. Sometimes that means asking you to sit with painful emotions, thoughts, and experiences. It is also my job to help you develop the tools to be functional in between sessions. After all, there are many more hours spent outside the therapy room than in it.

It can feel a whole lot easier to sit with pain when there is a trained mental health professional around to help contain the overwhelm, someone to help you practice healthy coping skills so you can regroup and ground yourself. However, your brain keeps working and processing after you leave the therapy room, which means it is likely you will experience reminders, or actual discomfort, in between sessions.

This is one of the reasons I focus on coping skills when I start working with people. I need to know you know what to do during and in between sessions when things start getting uncomfortable.


Kathleen Notes: TIP is an acronym for a set of distress tolerance skills that anyone can use. Read on to learn more...

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Holiday Parties and Kids: Balancing Needs at Christmas Time
The holidays can be a wonderful time of celebration and fun. But for children, our schedules and parties can quickly become times of over-stimulation and exhaustion. Maybe they are overwhelmed. Maybe they go into overdrive. Maybe the Sweets and Treats catch their stomachs off-guard. How can we help them through family gatherings, making the most of the season for ourselves and for them?...
.....God came to earth to claim us as his children. He has heard our needs and drawn us close. I want to teach my children that the parties are fun, but that hope is found in the reason our families gather together. It is hope that I cling to and hope they will need as they learn. May our holiday parties guide our children to know that are loved and seen and comforted in the midst of a raucous world.

Kathleen Notes: Let the "gauntlet of fun" begin!! Feel free to back away from all of the busyness...you and your kids will benefit.

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Are you just "soldiering" on... doing what needs to be done?

We have all been there. What you’re currently going through is a phase I call soldiering.

Before I dive into this, I want you to know that soldiering is not something negative.  

There’s strength in keeping that steady momentum in order to get necessary things accomplished and/or help others around you. This oftentimes means sacrificing some of the things you want to be doing or putting yourself second for a period of time.

And that’s okay.

It’s okay because as you’re soldiering on, going with the ebb and flow of life, you know that this stage will not last forever. You know that your strength, your perseverance is what will carry you and others around you to a new chapter. You know that there will be a period of time when all of this will be over.

As you’re soldiering, as hard as this may be at times, I want you to keep these 3 thoughts in your back pocket:


Kathleen Notes: All people have times in their lives when they are just hanging in there and doing what needs to be done, even if it`s hard. Like all seasons, this too shall pass....

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The Difference of 17 Seconds – a quick way to reduce anxiety
I really didn’t want to admit I was an interrupter. Then I read in The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts the that the average person doesn’t go more than seventeen seconds before interrupting the person talking.

Seventeen measly seconds? Really? I certainly wasn’t that bad. . . .

I decided to find out. I started by trying out waiting seventeen seconds during conversations with my husband and my kids, counting silently to seventeen before speaking my thoughts . . . and oh dear. I was shocked at how often I was ready to interrupt during that first seven seconds, let alone seventeen seconds. I discovered that frequently when I think one of my family members is done talking, he or she is actually just taking a breath or needing time to think before answering.

Encouraged by how powerful this pause was in conversations, I began to use seventeen seconds as a waiting time when I saw one of my kids struggle. Resisting the urge to jump in to fix something or give a suggestion, I waited. How could it be that in only seventeen seconds so much could happen?


Kathleen Notes: Wow...who`d have guessed? I`m going to pay more attention to my own interrupting for sure!!

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Making Love Last: The Importance of Emotional Intelligence

It is generally the case that couples with thriving, strong relationships have well-developed emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence describes a person’s ability to be aware of, control, and express emotions in a healthy manner. In other words, it is the capacity to handle relationships appropriately and empathetically. In a partnership, emotional intelligence translates into the ability to be in touch with your own emotions as well as those of your partner.

A person’s capacity for empathy and ability to talk about emotions in a healthy and loving way are both components of emotional intelligence. In a partnership or marriage, emotional intelligence may be seen in many areas. It is sustained over the course of a lifetime and is vital for making love last.


Kathleen Notes: It begins by being curious, gaining insight on yourself and others and then being able to talk about hard things....

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10 Prayers to Pray Over Your Husband

Do you spend time each day praying for your husband? Determining what prayers to pray over your husband can be an eye-opening experience. Years ago, I decided to consistently pray for my husband. While that sounds really mature and wonderful, the choice was a selfish endeavor, though I thought I was being helpful. In my immaturity, I wanted a few things to change in my marriage and so I called on the Lord to change them. Funny how I discovered the one who needed to change was ME! Ever been there?

Through God’s work in my heart, I discovered the importance of praying for my husband and the power of praying for him. Over the years, God has shown me his work in my marriage through prayer time and time again. Prayer is a life-changing, uninterrupted connection to our heavenly Father and oh how he loves to hear his children pray! Check out these 10 prayers to pray over your husband using God’s Word.


Kathleen Notes: How might daily prayers better connect you with your spouse? What if you prayed together daily?

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The Seven False Beliefs About Relationships
When you grow up receiving consistent direct or indirect messages, no matter how subtle, that you should keep your feelings to yourself (Childhood Emotional Neglect), it is natural to assume that your feelings are burdensome and undesirable to others. But the reality is that feelings and emotions are the glue that binds people together. Sharing feelings or troubles with a friend draws them closer and makes you seem stronger.  Fighting out a conflict with someone you care about, when done right, is the best way to get through to the other side of that conflict. And talking about a problem has been proven to help people feel better.   ...more

Kathleen Notes: This pertains to ALL relationships, not just romantic ones. These beliefs come from and help maintain childhood emotional neglect. The solution is in understanding that God gave you ALL of your emotions and for your good!

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The 10 Rules Emotions Follow That Everyone Should Know

Do you sometimes feel mystified by your own feelings? Of course, you do!

Believe me when I say that everybody does.

It’s not always obvious why you’ve felt sad all day, for example. In fact, you may go through an entire day feeling sad without even realizing it until the evening. Then once you recognize how you’ve been feeling, you may still be confused about the reasons.

An experience like this is not at all unusual. You would be hard-pressed to find a single human being who hasn’t been there. And if you find someone who says he has never had that experience, it’s probably because he is not sufficiently aware of his feelings to realize that he is having them.

It is true that feelings are unbelievably complicated. Yet they are an integral part of our everyday lives. In fact, it’s truly incredible how much we are actually influenced by what we feel, whether we realize it or not. Our feelings drive our decisions and our actions. They cause us to get into conflicts and to work out problems. They help us choose our mates, our careers, and everything else in our lives.

So think of your emotions as a strong current that carries you through your life. The better you understand that current and work with it, the better you can harness its energy and use it, and the easier your life will be.

Although emotions are complex, they do follow certain rules. Once you know the rules you have a huge leg up on managing and using your feelings in a healthy way.


Kathleen Notes: ...that look when I ask a client if they can "sit" with a particular emotion...."are you kidding?! That`s what I`m here to get rid of." Only when we acknowledge and embrace ALL of our emotions can we make friends with them...

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The Worth of a Woman

Just as tellingly, the admonition to shape this world and even to rule over this world is given to women just as much as it is to men: “God blessed them [the man and the woman] and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth and subdue it. Rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, and every creature that crawls on the earth’” (Genesis 1:28, emphasis added).

Women are not told to sit passively on the sidelines and cheer for their husbands as the men run the show. On the contrary, from the very beginning, women share God’s command for humans to rule, subdue, and manage this earth. They are co-regents.....

.......We don’t have to tear down the Bible or men to lift up women; the story of God’s redemption took millennia to unfold and is even yet unfolding. What matters most is that women understand who they are in Christ, and that their husbands and fathers and sons also let their thinking be shaped by Scripture’s arc.

As much as the above Scriptures challenge me however, I still have to confess that few things have motivated me as a man more than having God reiterate to me that Lisa is his daughter and I’m to treat her accordingly. As a father with three children, including two women, this image shapes, corrects, inspires and challenges my every interaction and thought in marriage. The more I respect my wife in particular, the more I respect other women in general.


Kathleen Notes: A well written article that brings up something I`ve been noticing more than I would like to lately. For some people there is an attitude that christian women need to endure verbal, emotional and even physical/sexual abuse within their marriages to be "good christian wives." Abuse is sin, period.

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How to Bring Everyday Romance into Your Relationship

When we think of romance, we often think of flowers, expensive dates, fancy restaurants, or weekend getaways. We envision candle-lit dinners setting the mood for an evening away from the busyness of everyday life. These things are lovely, but not always practical or accessible. If romance is limited to these things, we miss significant opportunities to enjoy everyday romance in our relationships.

Romance speaks many languages of love. For instance, my husband looks so sexy when he is helping me with a project. Folding laundry or running the vacuum are romantic gestures that say, “I want to demonstrate how much you matter to me.” I love it when my husband comes home from work and after giving me a kiss and asks, “How can I help?” Sometimes my greatest need was soothing a toddler, or running to the store for the dinner’s missing item, or just listening to my bad day. None of these things may sound romantic, but these gestures of caring fuel the good feelings that we have for our spouse.


Kathleen Notes: Want some hints? Here`s a few: Become a student of your spouse. Investment in demonstrating love. Share your feelings to build emotional intimacy. Grow your faith together to develop spiritual intimacy.

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Device Addiction Is Killing Face Time

For starters, we must set boundaries. We must protect the face time that we have with the people around us. For example, I knew a man who, anytime he`d witness someone at the dinner table sneak a peek at their phone, would say — to much eye rolling — "the most important people in the whole world to you right now are at this table, please put that phone away." It seems elementary that a phrase like that would even have to be uttered, but these are the times we are in. I love seeing that man`s children — those same eye rollers — now using that phrase themselves to protect family time at their own dinner tables.

Setting boundaries includes intentionally turning off and putting down the phone, tablet, computer, remote and gaming device. Contrary to how we may feel, life will not pass us by if we aren`t able to check Facebook every 20 minutes. For some, deleting social media apps may be helpful. If going cold-turkey for a bit is too harsh, set time limits on your use of these devices and set goals to increase how long you can last without using them.


Kathleen Notes:

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Being Present with Our Kids

It is a reminder to me of what is actually needed. We often hear from the world around us that we must provide for our children big, BIG things. We feel expected to offer expensive vacations and floods of material goods. We hear from others that we must know the right words, share meaningful wisdom, and know, at all times, what we should be doing. While we all wish to give good gifts, the most important gift for us to offer is our presence. 

Meet the need

Our kids need us, not our stuff. They need us present with them. They need us to notice them, and touch them, and hold them, and hear them. They need us to know about their adventures and about their dreams. They need us to wiggle their loose teeth and to laugh at the dog. They need us to revel in their very being just because they are here. We help our children to see God and that does not happen from a distance.


Kathleen Notes: Here`s a short list of what our children actually need: clothing, food, shelter and to be seen and heard by someone who loves them and invests in them. That`s the recipe....

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You’re Never Going to Be “Caught Up” at Work. Stop Feeling Guilty About It.

The fundamental question is whether these feelings are a good thing. To answer that, it’s worth quoting the movie Bridge of Spies. Mark Rylance plays the spy Rudolf Abel. He’s asked at one point whether he is worried, and he responds, “Would it help?”

In this case, the answer is, “It depends.”

Guilt can sometimes be motivating. For example, feelings of guilt can increase people’s propensity to cooperate. And, in some cases, guilt can also motivate people to make progress on projects that have stalled. At a minimum, guilt does not seem to make people worse at completing tasks. However, feeling guilty when you’re away from work, when you aren’t in a position to do anything about it, is not helpful, and can be painful. It will make you feel worse about your job in general and spoil time that you could be spending with friends, family, or engaging in an enjoyable activity.


Kathleen Notes: Guilt can have a motivating effect, but often we choose to let it paralyze us. Remember that your job isn`t your life, it`s what makes your life possible.

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Necessary Conversations: The Church, Suicide, and Mental Health

According to these studies, 76% of churchgoers agree that suicide is a problem that needs to be proactively addressed in their local communities and 84% agree churches have a responsibility to provide resources and support to individuals with mental illness and their families. Overwhelmingly, churchgoers agree that suicide and mental health need to be addressed and that the church has a responsibility to be a leading voice in the conversation.

Among Protestant churchgoers who have had a family member or close acquaintance die by suicide, only 4% said that church leaders were aware of the person’s struggles or risk of suicide in the months prior to death; and another 4% said that church members were aware.

This is antithetical to how the church should function relationally—our churches should always be places of safety and community for those wrestling with any issue, especially those involving mental health.


Kathleen Notes: I am blessed to be a part of Resurrection Lutheran`s counseling ministry where the church is seen as a place where hurting people can be embraced and helped. "The church is for the broken. A church without the broken is a broken church." Ed Stetzer

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Ketogenic Diets for Psychiatric Disorders

Ketogenic diets have been around for about 100 years, and have proved to be invaluable tools in the treatment of stubborn neurological conditions, most notably epilepsy. They have also shown promise in the management of other brain-based disorders such as Parkinson’s Disease, ALS, Traumatic Brain Injury, Multiple Sclerosis, and chronic headaches, as well as in metabolic disorders like obesity, cancer, and type 2 diabetes.

But where does the science currently stand on the ketogenic diet and psychiatric disorders like bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and Alzheimer’s Disease? How many human studies do we have, and what do they tell us? If you are struggling with mood, attention, or memory problems, should you try a ketogenic diet? If you are a clinician, should you recommend a ketogenic diet to your patients?


Kathleen Notes: Not a recommendation by any means, but fascinating research for geeks like me. Just another reference to the brain/body connection and how we nourish ourselves could possibly make a difference.

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What’s all this talk about kindness?

Kindness builds trust. It creates a safety net for relationships.

Behaving kindly describes who we must be in our relationships. It includes:

     - how we treat each other

     - how we speak to each other

     - how we talk about the other person to others

     - how the other person feels in our relationship

When you are consistently kind and considerate, in time, the other person gains a sense of safety in the relationship.


Kathleen Notes: This is true in ALL relationships, not just intimate ones. Think about your spouse, children, siblings, co-workers, etc. Give it a try, what do you have to lose?

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10 Days of Eating Fat, for My Mental Health
Keto may be getting attention as a weight-loss tool now, but it’s been a huge deal in the medical field for years. Doctors have prescribed the ketogenic diet for epileptic patients since the 1920s, and numerous studies demonstrate it can dramatically reduce seizure activity. And now, a growing body of research suggests the ketogenic diet has potential to treat a wide range of mental-health concerns....
.....Campos notes that aside from epilepsy, more evidentiary support is needed before doctors start prescribing ketogenic diets as psychiatric medicine. Yet while few large-scale studies have been conducted, initial research looks promising. At the beginning of last year, Dr. Chris Palmer, a researcher at Harvard Medical School, published a paper on the topic using two of his schizoaffective patients as case studies. These patients, he wrote, initially went “keto” for weight loss. But both noticed dramatic improvements in their psychological symptoms as well; their symptoms measurably diminished as their respective qualities of life went up (and they lost weight while they were at it).

Kathleen Notes: Still more research needed before we can know if the keto diet might help with mental health concerns. Thanks to my daughter Alisha, who started the keto diet a 2 weeks ago for treatment of epilepsy. I`ll keep you posted how it goes.

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Overcommitment and Lack of Priorities Are Killing Your Marriage
Let me illustrate that need to keep the various components of our lives in perspective. I read an article in the Los Angeles Times about a man named J. R. Buffington. His goal in life was to produce lemons of record-breaking size from the tree in his backyard. He came up with a formula to do just that. He fertilized the tree with ashes from the fireplace, some rabbit-goat manure, a few rusty nails, and plenty of water. That spring, the scrawny little tree produced two gigantic lemons, one weighing over five pounds. But every other lemon on the tree was shriveled and misshapen. Mr. Buffington is still working on his formula.

Isn`t that the way it is in life? Great investments in a particular endeavor tend to rob others of their potential. I`d rather have a tree covered with juicy lemons than a record-breaking but freakish crop, wouldn`t you? Balance is the word. It is the key to successful living and parenting.

Kathleen Notes: It`s important to intentionally consider what your most important priorities are. Without deliberate thought, it`s easy to lose your way.

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It’s Time To Quit The Abusive Practice Of Mocking Children’s Emotions

Being a parent is hard work. It is hard to keep several small humans safe and growing, emotionally and physically, while also caring for yourself and an entire household. But you know what else is really freaking hard? Being a child.

Feeling a storm of emotions swirl in your little brain, out of control, and not yet having the ability to manage them.

As adults, it is our job to teach our children these skills. As adults, it is our responsibility to be calm when that storm rolls in, and patiently guide those little souls out of the choppy waters.

Nobody else will raise our children to be emotionally stable, self-secure adults. That falls on us. Nobody else is going to teach our children to navigate those tidal waves of big feelings. That also falls on us.


Kathleen Notes: Children depend on the adults in their lives to teach them how to manage their emotions. People aren`t born with that knowledge and humiliation doesn`t teach it. Attunement does.

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3 Boundaries You Absolutely Need In Your Marriage
A marriage without healthy boundaries is destined for ruin.

Boundaries are important for two reasons.

  1. They keep bad things out
  2. They keep good things in

When you stood (or will stand, if you’re not yet married) at the altar on your wedding day, you made a covenant that drew a boundary around the two of you. A wall was built that is meant to protect you from attack, and allow you to flourish within. You agreed that some things would be exclusively within your boundaries (exclusivity and privacy of sex, as one example). You also agreed that some things would be exclusively outside of your boundaries (divorce, for one).


Kathleen Notes: " A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls." Proverbs 25:28

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Secret financial escape plan for domestic violence victims

If you`re a domestic violence victim, you may still be living with your abuser for a simple reason: money.

It`s common for abusers to keep victims in the dark about household finances and to limit access to bank accounts, victims` advocates say. Your abuser may force you to stay on a strict budget and account for every penny you spend. If you work, the abuser may make you turn over your paycheck immediately.

"Abusers use finances as way to gain and maintain power and control over their partner," says Amanda Stylianou, associate vice president of quality and program development at Safe Horizon, a domestic violence victims` advocacy agency. "We even see situations where the abuser may be doing things to purposely hurt the victim`s credit, like opening credit cards in her name and running them up."

If you can become more financially independent and establish a credit history while you`re still living with your abuser, that can help give you the confidence and security you need to escape, Stylianou says. But it`s important to do it carefully, without raising flags for your abuser or putting your safety at risk.  


Kathleen Notes: Domestic violence is all about power and control: physical, psychological, emotional and often, financial.

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`Everyone brings their own baggage`: Couples counseling more effective if done in early signs of trouble

Most often, couples go to therapy two to five years after the start of negative feelings, such as increased conflict, lack of communication or intimacy, and discontentment in the relationship, said Amy Padron, a marriage and family therapist with the Glenview Counseling Group in Illinois. And according to relationship and marriage expert John Gottman, couples wait an average of six unhappy years before hitting the counseling couch. That’s a long time to suffer through discontentment, Padron said.

“This unresolved conflict continues to damage the relationship further,” Padron said. “I encourage couples to seek therapy sooner rather than later, as the relational work in therapy for them is so much easier when there are not years of unresolved hurts and resentments.”


Kathleen Notes: So many times couples wait until counseling is their last option. Going sooner isn`t as much a sign of trouble as one of health.

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Weathering the Storms of Life as A Couple
Some time back, I watched my daughter play soccer. At one point, two players got so caught up in their individual efforts to dribble the ball that they failed to see that they were teammates! Immediately, a chorus of parents piped up: “YOU’RE ON THE SAME TEAM!” Unfortunately, married couples can make the same error. When stress mounts, and patience drains, we tend to lash out at those closest to us-- which can mean aiming our frustration square at our spouse. But you’re on the same team! Picking fights, lashing out, or taking your pain out on your spouse is like sawing off the tree branch that you’re both sitting on. Remind each other that you are partners, not adversaries. Show extra grace with your spouse, overlooking minor annoyances, and be patient when your husband or wife isn’t at their best. Keep in mind that your spouse isn’t the problem–-it’s that storm blowing around you that is causing you grief.   ...more

Kathleen Notes: If one spouse has a problem, the other one does too. Combine your strengths and check your ego at the door....

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What Happens When a Highly Sensitive Person Grows Up with Emotional Neglect?

If you’re highly sensitive, there’s a good chance that you experience emotions in a very strong way — so much so that your emotions can flood you. That’s because highly sensitive people (HSPs) are born with a nervous system that processes and “feels” things much more deeply than the average person. Most HSPs are aware of their own feelings and the feelings of others, which can be a powerful gift.

But what happens when you grow up in a family that doesn’t value this trait at all?

That could mean:

  • Parents who said you were “overreacting” for having feelings
  • Your parents never expressed their own emotions, and were uncomfortable when you did so
  • Being labeled as different (a “dreamer,” a “crybaby”) because you are sensitive

Sadly, this isn’t uncommon. In fact, a growing body of research suggests that many otherwise healthy families raise their children with emotional neglect — a failure to value or respond to emotions.


Kathleen Notes: An excellent article to help explain highly sensitive people, childhood emotional neglect and what happens when both are present as we grow up. The good news is that you can recover, often with the help of a trained professional counselor.

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Raising children near their grandparents has scientific benefits (besides the free babysitting!)

There is something incredibly special about the bond between grandparents and grandchildren, and it`s so much deeper than fresh cookies and free babysitting.

It`s not always easy, and it can sometimes make for long road trips, but when we foster a positive relationship with their grandparents, our kids benefit. It`s often said that grandparents are prone to babying the next generation, but all that extra love doesn`t make them soft—it makes them strong.

Here are five reasons why a close bond with one`s grandparents is an amazing gift:


Kathleen Notes: Grandchildren are truly a blessing and it would appear that being an involved grandparent is too! When a close and loving relationship is formed, everyone benefits.

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The Insidious Connection Between Electronics Use and Childhood Emotional Neglect

Let’s face it, the internet is a marvelous thing. If you aren’t old enough to remember what it was like before we had it, I’m sure you are nevertheless aware of the great advantages the internet has brought to the world.

But, as we all know, the internet has a dark side. In fact, it can become a burden for many families in some very important ways.

Most parents are aware of the risks of child predators and the problems caused by reduced physical activity in children that the internet can cause. But there is one major danger that few parents consider.

The internet is a significant contributor to Childhood Emotional Neglect or CEN.

If left unchecked, the internet can come between you and your children and cause significant problems that the children will take forward into their adult lives.


Kathleen Notes: Technology can often get in the way of communication and connection between people. For a child that can mean a loss of social and emotional development that will impact them in all aspects of their lives.

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It’s Easier to Raise Entitled Kids—But We All End Up Paying For It

As I buckled that tiny toddler into her carseat, I went on a mom-tirade that would put Tami Taylor to shame. I preached about “saying thank you for one instead of throwing a fit for two” and “do you think that makes me want to do nice things for you” and “I’m still waiting to hear a thank you.” Ask me how well that went.

That freshly-turned-two-year-old cried until we got home. Eventually, she said thank you, but I’m pretty sure she didn’t know what she was saying thank you for.

It was not one of my best parenting moments to date. But I was so hell-bent on not raising an ungrateful child that I saw a “teachable moment” and got a little too enthusiastic.

As a former teacher, I had just seen too much. I was still recovering from the ingratitude and entitlement I had seen in the kids I’d taught and had thus sworn that One day, when I have kids . . .

Then I had kids. Now I see how easy it is to just let entitlement happen. It’s what comes naturally – both to us and to them. Fighting against it is gritty work, while letting it go requires a lot less effort. So we do. We let it go. And we accidentally raise brats.

So here are five ways you might (unwittingly) be raising entitled kids:


Kathleen Notes: As important as awareness is to solving this problem, it`s not enough. To help kids to handle those big emotions (and they are just as big as ours, make no mistake!) we have to learn how to attune to the feelings. Only then can we help them to learn how to handle their emotions in healthy ways.

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12 Secrets to Teaching Your Child How to Manage Their Emotions
Giving children coping skills for their emotions is one of the most important tasks of parenting. Children lacking these tools may blame others for how they feel or demonstrate how they’re feeling in inappropriate ways. If a child has no words to verbalize their intense emotions, they’re at risk for being emotionally stunted for the rest of their lives. Emotionally arrested adults lack the ability to self-soothe when they’re upset, or to delay lashing out on an impulse.....
.....Be kind to yourself if you don’t make the most of every opportunity to teach your child about emotions. You will have many chances before they grow up and leave the home. If you handled a situation poorly, apologize and then model forgiving yourself. How you handle your emotions will be your child’s most influential guide.

Kathleen Notes: Parents do the best they can with the tools they have. Learning to attune and validate your own emotions helps you to attune to others (children, spouse, etc.). Children count on their parents to teach them this skill.

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The Enemy of Your Marriage

Take a moment to read it again—as if for the first time, as if newly in love, with wonderment.

Then the LORD God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” . . .

So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man.

Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.”

Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed. (Genesis 2:18–25)...

.....It is all stunningly good, beautiful, pure, and right. And they all lived happily ever after. The End.

Oh, that it were so.

Next verse: Now the serpent … (Genesis 3:1).

That phrase jolted me in my reading. So abrupt. So disruptive, falling as it does in the midst of such ecstasy. I ended up parked in this passage for the next several hours, meditating on the progression, contemplating its implications for my own life and marriage.


Kathleen Notes: Fortunately for us, the Enemy is no match for our God....

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Attention Deficit Disorders Could Stem from Impaired Brain Coordination

Researchers from Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and colleagues have discovered how two brain regions work together to maintain attention, and how discordance between the regions could lead to attention deficit disorders, including schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and major depression.

People with attention deficits have difficulty focusing and often display compulsive behavior. The new study suggests these symptoms could be due to dysfunction in a gene—ErbB4—that helps different brain regions communicate. The gene is a known risk factor for psychiatric disorders, and is required to maintain healthy neurotransmitter levels in the brain.


Kathleen Notes: ADHD effects both children and adults. This article details some new research to help explain some of what goes on in the ADHD brain.

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We`re Forgetting About Our Boys & That’s Not Okay
Article after article is about our daughters and how dire it is for us to raise them to be strong, self-sufficient, and capable.
How crucial it is that they are encouraged to use their voice, own and tell their story, and never cower in the face of a man -- one or many....

And when I do come across an essay on raising sons, it’s about how and why we need to raise our boys with particular values for the sake of the females and daughters of the world.

This is something I’m not entirely on board with.

Yes, I’m a happy passenger on the train that drives our children to the destination off being “good” human beings, but I don’t agree with the idea that we should be raising our boys (because in a collective sense, children of the world belong to all of us) a certain way for the benefit of the females of the world.

Kathleen Notes: As the mother of 3 daughters, a step daughter and daughter-in-law, plus 2 granddaughters I am very invested in their being able to realize their full potentials in life. But...we don`t elevate women by ignoring or debasing men....said the woman with a step-son, 3 sons-in-law and 4 grandsons.

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9 Ways Childhood Emotional Neglect Makes Your Holidays More Difficult

First of all, I apologize for the picture you see above. Why? Because it is emblematic of the pressure society puts on everyone throughout the holiday season. Commercials, ads, and depictions abound which show warm, happy families or beautiful people smiling with gifts.

Be joyous!

Be merry!

We’re a loving, close family!

The pictures call out to us day after day.

As a specialist in Childhood Emotional Neglect (CEN), I see how this affects many people. There is no time of year when folks are under this much pressure to feel.


Kathleen Notes: I think this is often difficult even if CEN isn`t a big player for you. For people with CEN, the difficulty is often knowing what the feeling is and is that feeling OK? Hint...whatever you feel is always OK, in fact it`s God`s way of helping you to navigate life.

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When Childhood Emotional Neglect is Combined With Abuse: 3 Effects on Your Adult Life

In the 1980s, the true impact of abuse on children was finally recognized and defined. And since that time, the progress in understanding child abuse has been both significant and rapid.

But still, until recently, childhood emotional abuse and emotional neglect were combined in the minds of laypeople and mental health professionals alike. In fact, it was almost a catchphrase in research articles, books and professional writings, “Emotional abuse and neglect.”

Finally, since the publication of the first book that described the unique effects of pure Childhood Emotional Neglect (Running On Empty, in 2012), Emotional Neglect is, at last, being seen and defined separately from abuse.

I have spent the last 6 years working to help people understand the differences between neglect and abuse, and to see neglect as a unique entity that can happen on its own, and has separate effects from abuse. But in this article, I am going to take a step in the other direction, so that we can address another very important question.

Emotional abuse and Emotional Neglect have separate effects on the child throughout his or her adult life. So what are the effects on you if you grow up in a household where both emotional abuse and emotional neglect are happening?


Kathleen Notes: Both abuse and neglect are forms of trauma, combined they are a more complex form of trauma. As a profession, counselors are beginning to finally understand and address this. More education is needed by everyone in all stations of life if we are to be effective.

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Own the Inner Child: Breaking Free of Anxious Attachment

There’s some part in all of us that yearns to belong. This is our safety, our security. It means we can relax, that others are there to hold us, cherish us, praise us, and keep guard when we cannot. It means we matter.

When we’ve experienced a single relational disconnection, we generally recover. When it becomes a pattern—when someone who is “supposed to be there” for us finds ways to disengage or disappear on a daily basis—recovery feels intangible and unattainable. We make decisions about the self, saying, “I’m not wanted. I must be flawed.”


Kathleen Notes: This is foundational to Childhood Emotional Neglect (CEN). Fortunately, our Heavenly Father is always there for us.

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I Didn’t Sign Up For This

Sharp`s book is chock-full of practical advice, but I want to share the ‘guidepost’ in chapter 1, “Detours and Unmet Expectations,” as particularly helpful. Sharp identifies three problems with our formation of our expectations during a ‘detour’:

  1. Our expectations are uninformed because they involve the future.
  2. Our expectations are inherently selfish or egocentric in hoped-for outcomes.
  3. Our expectations remain unmet because we have a false perception of who God truly is. Sharp continues on this point with some popular false views of God in relation to meeting our needs:
  • God is a slot machine who gives me what I ask for.
  • God is (only) love, so he should allow only "loving" things to occur.
  • God wants me to be happy.
  • God will not give me more than I can bear (alone).
  • God wants Christians to be happy and joyful (always).

Kathleen Notes: When you understand that only God knows and controls the future, you can stay in the present moment much easier.

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The Sneaky Way Negative Self-Talk Can Feel Productive

Self-criticism has a sneaky superpower: It can often disguise itself as self-reflection.

When we come up short on something—say, that presentation at work, that friend we keep ghosting, or that promise we didn’t come through on—we can easily start blaming ourselves, replaying our mistake and upping our anxiety with each revisit. The worst part: We often feel like it’s a productive way to learn from the experience. In reality, though, we’re just tangoing with negative self-talk.

So, how do we truly have a moment of self-awareness? We cut the blame. At it’s best, self-awareness is a judgment-free zone. It comes from a place of curiosity, not shame. And it’s a pretty important skill to master if we want to live a fulfilling life.


Kathleen Notes: Negative self-talk has a purpose...but often not a productive one. Check out this article to gain some insight about this....

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How Your Phone Is Changing Your Brain

Just as a person can become addicted to sugar, alcohol, drugs, or numerous other substances or behaviors, people can easily become addicted to technology.

The Reward Feedback Loop

Dopamine motivates us to seek out new information and pleasurable experiences. In nature this is an important function. Seeking food, water, shelter, companionship, and other necessities of life keeps us alive.

In fact, the anticipation of a reward is more motivating than the reward itself. A study found that destroying the dopamine in rats’ brains (the part that motivated them to seek) caused the rats to starve to death within inches of food....

......Unlike with food though, there is no physical feeling of being “full” from technology. If we’re full from a meal, we aren’t as motivated to seek food (though we will when we feel hungry again). With technology the satisfaction is less satisfying and the desire to seek becomes stronger.


Kathleen Notes: Technology is a tool...it`s good to have one, not good when it has you....

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When Our Kids Get it Wrong – Why Criticism Won’t Work, And What to Do Instead
One of the things that makes parenting so tough is that we don’t always see the effects of what we do straight away. Sometimes, getting it right can look the same as getting it wrong, and other times they can masquerade as each other. Are our boundaries too loose? Too tight? Do our words nurture their growth? Make them question their worth? Is this a time for consequences? Connection? How do I have both? ......
.......Our words are powerful. They can light our children up from the inside out or they can land on their shoulders like little spears. When criticism happens too often, those little spears will find their way deep into the core of them. They’ll do damage and they’ll leave scars. This is regardless of how that criticism is wrapped up – whether as discipline, frustration, teaching a lesson, or otherwise. New research explains why.

Kathleen Notes: With every interaction parents are either drawing their children closer or pushing them away....no one is ever motivated by criticism.

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The Value of Hope—and Hopelessness

Many people experience a sense of hopelessness at times. While it is important to seek professional help if stuck in hopelessness for too long, not all aspects of hopelessness are bad. When we sit with hopelessness for a while, we may begin to see new possibilities emerge. The message embedded in hopelessness, in this case, may be to take some time to reflect on one’s life context or situation. Often, this is best done with a trusted therapist.

As a therapist, I have walked with many people from a place of hopelessness to a place of hope. While it is tempting to try to take shortcuts to get out of pain more quickly, this often produces a false and short-lived hope that does not empower change. It can be valuable to take some time to find a sustaining hope. At times, hope begins to emerge through trusting in someone. Having walked with many people through dark times to places of growth, experienced therapists tend to develop a strong faith that therapy can provide healing. This faith in the healing power of therapy can vicariously provide hope for people in therapy until they can find their own hope. This illustrates another reason it is important to find a therapist whom you trust.


Kathleen Notes: As a christian counselor, I have the privilege of pointing out that no situation is beyond God`s ability to repair. " Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26

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A Daily Mindful Walking Practice

Before you begin your meditation, find a quiet space to walk. It could be outdoors, or in a hallway, or even a large room, walking back and forth.

Walking meditation can be a formal practice, like watching the breath. Or it can be informal, bringing awareness to this everyday activity, whenever you need to travel from point A to point B. Walking meditation gives us an opportunity to gather our awareness which so often becomes distracted or even stuck when the mind is left to its own devices. Whether moving between floors of a building, on a city street, or in the woods, it is an opportunity to guide ourselves out of the distracted autopilot we live in throughout so much of our day.

Paying attention in this way, we stay safe by remaining fully aware of whatever is around. On any walk, hike, run, or other physical activity, without effort we may mentally check out—or we can practice awareness instead.


Kathleen Notes: What a great way to practice mindfulness! It fits in nicely with everyday activities, making mindfulness more "user friendly." In addition, check out the 10 minute podcast included in this article.

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Does a Good God Want Me in a Bad Marriage?

A friend of mine finally walked out on her husband. She was tired of his excuses and irresponsibility. She was finished with his criticisms and cutting remarks. In her mind, enough was enough, and it was time to end the marriage.

Yet as she described their relationship, I couldn’t help but think that this marriage didn’t need to end in divorce. There was no unrepentant adultery, abandonment, or repeated physical abuse. They were simply struggling with what most marriages deal with: miscommunication, financial disagreements, selfish attitudes—the things often excused as “irreconcilable differences.”

When I later talked with her, I asked if she knew that God said, “I hate divorce …” (Malachi 2:16). Or that Jesus specifically addressed divorce in Matthew 19:8-9 saying, “I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery.”

My friend said she heard this before and added, “But I cannot believe that a good God wants me to suffer in a bad marriage. He wants me to be happy.”


Kathleen Notes: From the author: "her intent is to address unhappy marriages in which there is no unrepentant adultery, abandonment, or repeated physical abuse......However, if you are married and are suffering from physical abuse, this article is not for you. You need help. "

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Coping as a Single Parent: Four ways God Showed He Would Not Leave

The breakdown of the marriage found me unprepared spiritually, emotionally, and mentally for the sudden rigors of parenting on my own. No one—not relatives, friends, coworkers, my boss—seemed to “get” what I faced. Adding loads of material issues to the isolation--financial problems, car troubles, home repairs, and too much to do in the day-to-day with no time to do it--I felt stone-cold alone.

It was in this crucible that God finally got my attention and showed me the one person to whom I needed to turn: His Son Jesus Christ. Looking back now on that season as a single parent I see four ways God provided for me in my isolation and loneliness:


Kathleen Notes: God often uses the hard things in life to get our attention to the real need.

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Healthier Food, Healthier Mood—Conquering Temptation

Whether you’re dining out, shopping for groceries, or sitting at home on your couch, food temptation is a force to be reckoned with. Images of sweet, decadent desserts, salty snacks and mouth-watering meals are omnipresent in magazines, on TV, and on social media, and quick and easy (but unhealthy) options are available at nearly every store you walk into.

When you’re trying to manage your emotions, it’s easy to turn to food for comfort, but the fix is short-lived and choosing the wrong foods can leas to increased cravings, worsened symptoms, and weight gain.

For 52-year-old Carrie B., of New Haven, Connecticut, who has bipolar II, adding certain anti-inflammatory foods like green leafy vegetables, salmon and nuts to her diet helped her feel satiated and improved her mood. “My brain literally works differently now,” she explains. “I actually do not think and cannot think the same way I used to think.”


Kathleen Notes: It appears that you really ARE what you eat!

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Why this marriage therapist says a `good enough` relationship is one that lasts a lifetime

What couples in a “good enough” relationship do:

  • They don’t settle for less: Couples in a “good enough” relationship settle for nothing less than being treated with honesty, respect, and affection. They also don’t have unrealistic expectations and manage conflict responsibly.
  • They understand that falling in love is only the first phase: The next and most important step is building trust and commitment together.
  • They are friends: With trust and commitment come friendship and intimacy, essentially ingredients for the ‘good enough’ relationship that lasts a lifetime.

Kathleen Notes: Good enough sounds pretty good....

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The secret of keeping our cup full is learning to parent ourselves.
I`m not suggesting that you binge on cookies or go on vacation without your children. Our kids depend on us to help regulate them emotionally, which means that we have an obligation to regulate ourselves emotionally. If a cookie will help you do that, by all means, go ahead. But my hope for you is much more profound. 

My hope is that you`ll find habits that support you in staying more peaceful and centered. If you can use your love for your child as your motivation to do the hard work of learning to regulate your own emotions and moods, you’ll be giving your child a tremendous gift. But the gift to yourself will be even greater, because you’ll end up happier and more emotionally healthy.


Kathleen Notes: As always, emotional (affect) regulation is the ticket to keeping your own cup full. Then you will have enough to share. Check out the next article for more...

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Bickering in the Backseat: How to Cope on the Way to School
It’s finally the first day of school. Your children are so excited, they took forever to fall asleep last night. They struggled this morning over what to wear. They barely picked at that healthy breakfast you got up early to make for them. Their excitement is tinged with nervousness, naturally. And who better to take it out on than their brother or sister, sitting next to them in the back seat?

Mason: “I wonder what Mrs. Jones will be like. Is she strict?”

Savannah: “She’s mean. All the kids say so.”

Mason: “Oh, no! I hope she’ll like me.”

Savannah: “She won’t. Nobody likes you.”.......

............Mason: “You meany!” (Shoves at Savannah)

Savannah: “Mooommmmm! He hit me!”

Mom (Yelling): “Okay, that’s it! No ipad later for either of you. And no more talking! If you can’t say anything nice, then don’t say anything at all!”

Before you know it, you’re yelling. By the time they get out of the car, the kids are sullen. Your plans for a peaceful start to the day just evaporated before your eyes. Backseat bickering can completely ruin your morning. 


Kathleen Notes: Yeah...just about that time, isn`t it? But as the parent, you can change this dynamic...read on.

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5 Steps To Break Down Your Wall

What does Empty feel like? What causes some people to feel it? In last week’s article, Not Sad Not Hurt Not Angry: Empty, we talked about how the Empty feeling is a result of having a wall inside of you which essentially blocks your emotions away.

Having a wall like this is functional in some ways. It can get you through your childhood by allowing you to cope with a family who is emotionally unavailable, ignoring, rejecting, devoid of love, or even abusive. But when you grow up and are living as an adult, you need to have access to your emotions.

When your emotions are walled off, you pay a heavy price.  You pay the price of deep, meaningful, supportive relationships, a feeling of purpose and direction in your life, and a strong sense of self-worth and confidence.


Kathleen Notes: Childhood Emotional Neglect (CEN) is more common than we`d like to know. "The fuel of life is feeling. If we are not filled up in childhood, we must fill ourselves as adults. Otherwise we will find ourselves running on empty." Dr. Jonice Webb

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Why Kids Need Routines

Why do kids need routines?

Because routines give them a sense of security and help them develop self-discipline.

Humans are afraid of many things, but "the unknown" edges out everything except death and public speaking for most people.

Children’s fear of the unknown includes everything from a suspicious new vegetable to a major change in their life. Unfortunately, children are confronted with change daily, which is a growth opportunity, but also stressful.....

.....Kids who come from chaotic homes where belongings aren’t put away never learn that life can run more smoothly if things are organized a little. In homes where there is no set time or space to do homework, kids never learn how to sit themselves down to accomplish an unpleasant task. Kids who don’t develop basic self-care routines, from grooming to food, may find it hard to take care of themselves as young adults. Structure allows us to internalize constructive habits.


Kathleen Notes: I would suggest that parents benefit from routines, too.

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A Calm in the Storm, Part I: Decreasing Emotional Reactivity

It is the union and balance of these two sides—sympathetic and parasympathetic—that brings peace. On our “good” days, there’s a rhythm to this. Breathe in, breathe out. For many, sometimes biologically predisposed and especially in trauma, the rhythm breaks, leaving them with bodily systems more prone to one side or the other: on alert (sympathetic) or frozen (parasympathetic)........

.......Our unbalanced states provide unreliable witness. We cannot trust our own perceptions, intuition, or expectations of self, other, or world. When activated, we revert to internal models, defaults, obsolete (non-present) information. This is the brain: looping, telling stories, repeating old information. Present information comes through our senses, our bodies.

As much as we believe that the brain will save us, in this uncomfortable world, no amount of analysis, planning, or rumination will change our experience of life. We cannot think our way out of this story. The thoughts themselves, more prone to negativity, are working against us.


Kathleen Notes: The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel Van de Kolk is a wonderful reference to learn more. Emotional regulation skills are vital to decreasing the reactivity the author writes about.

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Relinquishing Control of Adult Children
In his book Little Lamb Who Made Thee? A Book About Children and Parents, Walter Wangerin, Jr. points out that believers pray about their children no matter the age of the child, but the nature of such prayers change depending on the child`s stage of life. When children are young, along with praying for our children, we are doing things to protect them, help them, and prepare them for the future. The time comes, though, when we must let go, for continuing to manage their lives will harm them more than it will help them. Our prayer for them, then, becomes a prayer of letting go. Learn, then, to pray the prayer of relinquishment for your adult child.

Kathleen Notes: My mother used to say :"First we teach our children to walk, then we teach them to walk away." The goal is to work yourself out of a job.

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Why Afternoon Naps Are A Sign Of Health, Not Laziness

If you’re like most people, you probably find it harder and harder to get through your days without indulging in a short nap. Perhaps you like to take them in the afternoon, or whenever you find the time in between your busy schedule. No matter when you nap, it probably seems like the naps choose you rather than you choosing them.

You might actually feel guilty for needing so much sleep. You probably even call yourself lazy for taking time to rest throughout the day. Perhaps you’ve thought about exercising or changing your diet to try to improve your activity levels. But the truth is that you shouldn’t feel guilty about these naps at all....

.....If you do research on why naps are so essential to our lives, you’ll find a lot of information. Even The National Sleep Foundation recommends that we take 20 to 30-minute naps during the day in order to improve our alertness and reach our peak performance.


Kathleen Notes: Finally! Validation for one of my favorite indulgences. I`ve always felt like naps were highly civilized...

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Practical solutions for real parenting problems When Your Child Is Hellbent on Misbehaving: Time to Invite a Meltdown?
Sometimes we all just need a good cry. And kids, with their immature frontal cortex, need to cry more often than adults, to heal all those feelings that are making them act out. But that`s only healing if they have a compassionate witness -- the safe haven of a parent. Leaving your child to cry alone just traumatizes her, and gives her the message that she`s all alone with those scary feelings, just when she needs us most.

So when a child is acting out, remember that she`s "acting out" feelings she can`t express verbally.  That`s a signal that she has a full emotional backpack that needs emptying.  She just needs you to connect with her to help her feel safe enough. ...

.....When your child is making you or others miserable, it`s a red flag that he`s miserable inside and needs your help with his big feelings. That`s your cue to step in. He`s signaling that he needs you to hold him emotionally, and maybe literally. And he`ll keep acting out until you help him.


Kathleen Notes: THIS is how to avoid Childhood Emotional Neglect (CEN).

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8 Ways A Child’s Anxiety Shows Up as Something Else
Your child might ask repetitive questions for reassurance and no matter how many times you answer, the question repeats. You might have the perfect child at school that comes home and constantly picks fights with you or siblings. You may have a child that can’t focus, motivate, or even loses sleep at night. Or maybe your child is downright angry. Anxiety, in fact, can manifest in a multitude of forms....
....Anxiety and sleep problems have a chicken and egg connection. Research has shown that anxiety can lead to sleep disorders and chronic sleep disruption can lead to anxiety. In children, having difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep is one of the hallmark characteristics of anxiety....
....Anger and anxiety are also both activated in the threat center of your brain. When the brain perceives a threat, the amygdala (a small, almond-shaped cluster of neurons in the brain) activates the flight-or-fight response which floods your body with hormones to make you stronger and faster. This genetic wisdom protects us from threats and danger. Because anger and anxiety are both activated from the same brain region and have similar physiological patterns (rapid breathing, heart racing, pupils dilating etc.), it’s possible that when your child feels like there is a threat (e.g. going to a party), the fight or anger response is activated as a form of protection. 

Finally, one of the markers of generalized anxiety is “irritability” which is also part of the anger family.


Kathleen Notes: Just a sample of a really informative article...anxiety often looks like something completely different for children...and adults.

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Don’t Be a Peg
This isn’t a gender thing, by any means. Men can also be “Pegs.” We’ll call these men “Regs.” One wife told me that the biggest deterrent from her having enthusiastic sex with her husband was his constant criticism. In her husband’s opinion, she didn’t cook correctly; she didn’t clean correctly; she didn’t drive the right way, raise the kids with enough discernment or even chew her food in the correct manner.....
.......In my book Cherish I stress how it’s never our job to judge our spouse. Our job is to cherish our spouse and to encourage our spouse. Constant disappointment, whether it’s expressed through verbal jabs or a nonverbal rolling of the eyes, or worse, expressed contempt in front of others (“Let me tell you what I have to live with…”), rarely achieves the desired aim. Far more likely than getting people to feel sorry for you, it’s probably going to make them feel sorry for your spouse. It’s a losing strategy, but some spouses keep trying it for years. Everyone knows a spouse’s “job description” is to honor, love, respect and cherish. It’s what we promised to do and what God calls us to do. Even more, our job as Christians is to encourage: “Encourage one another and build each other up” (1 Thessalonians 5:11).

Kathleen Notes: No one is ever motivated by criticism.....

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What Is Your Therapist Listening For?
Advice is cheap.

Advice puts the onus on the listener and not the speaker.

Advice is often a quick fix—a mere Band-Aid on a wound that needs more persistent care.

I can usually detect someone’s frustration when, as their therapist, I pointedly do not offer advice. One of the skills therapists learn early in their training is one of the hardest, for both the therapist and the person in therapy: sitting in silence. But drawing out more information from people is a psychotherapist’s most useful tool. After all, your therapist is a trained listener, not advice-giver.

That does not mean your therapist is merely looking at you and listening while you talk. Any skilled therapist will be listening acutely for specific signals, which they then use to guide the direction of the conversation over time.


Kathleen Notes: In my opinion (backed up by lots of research!) is that the power of therapy lies in the therapeutic relationship. For many people, counseling is one of the few times in their lives when someone has truly listened and accepted them unconditionally.

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Emotional Connection: The Secret to Lasting Love

Many couples come in for counseling because they have become emotionally disconnected. This doesn’t just happen; it’s typically a gradual process. For many couples, it may take years before they recognize that they have become emotionally disconnected.

Many reasons exist for emotional disconnection. Attachment theory sheds light on how some couples may disconnect. It teaches us that our loved one should be a source of comfort, security, and refuge. When our partner becomes emotionally disconnected or unresponsive, we can be left feeling lonely, sad, hurt, and even helpless.

When we feel emotionally disconnected, our sense of security can feel like it is in jeopardy, causing us to feel fearful. The amygdala, the almond-shaped region in our midbrain, acts as a built-in alarm system. It triggers an automatic response when a threat occurs. When we feel disconnected, alone, and afraid, it can feel threatening. The amygdala responds and a sense of panic can set in.


Kathleen Notes: Feelings of being emotionally disconnected is what is underneath many arguments that couples have.

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Scientists Have Mapped Where People Feel Emotions in Their Bodies
Feelings are a funny thing. Love and heartache both happen inside your head, but they`re felt in very different places. On the flipside, excitement and fear are two very different emotions, but they feel nearly identical. To make things even more complicated, feelings are subjective — it`s hard to know if other people feel things the same way you do. That`s why this new study from a team of Finnish researchers is so fascinating: They`ve mapped emotions to where most people feel them in their own bodies. It turns out that most of us feel our emotions in similar places.....
.....Some of the locations were unsurprising: hunger was felt in the stomach, thirst in the throat, reasoning and recollection in the head. But others were more surprising, even if they made sense intuitively. The positive emotions of gratefulness and togetherness and the negative emotions of guilt and despair all looked remarkably similar, with feelings mapped primarily in the heart, followed by the head and stomach. Mania and exhaustion, another two opposing emotions, were both felt all over the body. "Self-regulation," which you might not expect to be associated with a sensation, was felt in the head and hands — perhaps because controlling your impulses often comes down to controlling what your hands do.

Kathleen Notes: Compelling evidence of the mind-body connection and how we experience our emotions in our bodies. Awesome stuff for brain geeks like me....

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Two Lessons on Blame from Brené Brown
Blame releases discomfort and pain: We often try to fault others for our mistakes because it makes us feel like we’re still in control. “I’d rather it be my fault than no one’s fault,” says Brown. But leaning into the discomfort of mistakes is how we can learn from them. “Here’s what we know from the research,” says Brown, “blame is simply the discharging of discomfort and pain. It has an inverse relationship with accountability. Blaming is a way that we discharge anger.”
Blame is faster than accountability: Accountability is a vulnerable process that takes courage and time. “It means me calling you and saying, hey my feelings were really hurt about this, and talking,” says Brown. People who blame a lot seldom have the tenacity and grit needed to hold people accountable. “Blamers spend all of our energy raging for 15 seconds and figuring out whose fault something is,” adds Brown. It’s difficult to maintain relationships when you’re a blamer, because when something goes wrong, we’re too busy making connections as quickly as we can about whose fault it is, instead of slowing down, listening, and leaving enough space for empathy to arise.

Kathleen Notes: My clients know how I like all things Brene Brown. This article comes with a bonus, check it out.

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5 Mindful Tips for Navigating Holiday Stress

It is officially the holiday season! During this time of year there can be so much pressure that unfortunately the joy, magic, and meaning of the season is lost, often replaced by stress. Especially now that Thanksgiving has come and gone, it is hard to ignore the almost instantaneous rush of frenetic energy that ensues as we near the close of the calendar year.

It is more than possible though to not only survive the holiday season, but to even thrive and connect to your particular observance in a deeper and more profound way. Here are some common stressors that pop up this time this year, and mindful antidotes to help you through the discomfort.


Kathleen Notes: Many things can cause stress this time of the year. Check out this article for ideas to better manage it.

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Why Vulnerability is Your Superpower
When in truth, they’re the exact same thing, like caring what everyone thinks and not carrying what anyone thinks are both super problematic. I mean when you care about what everyone thinks, you lose the willingness to be vulnerable and to put yourself out there. When you stop caring about what anyone thinks at all, you lose your capacity for connection because we’re hardwired neurobiologically to care about what people think. Our job becomes to get specific on whose opinions matter and find the people who love you, not despite your vulnerability, not despite your imperfection, but because of it.

Find the people who will say, “You know what, you’re right, the way you showed up and that meeting sucked, it was inappropriate, out of your integrity, you got to clean it up and I’ll be here supporting you while you do that and I’ll be supporting you again when you’re brave again, but right now …” Not yes people, but real people whose opinions of you matter and carry it with you, so when you’re trying to hack into the back end of Amazon to see who left a shitty comment about your book, you think to yourself, “You know what, you’re not on my list, think what you want, I’ve got my list of people whose opinions matter.”

Kathleen Notes: ....love this...

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Most people are bad at arguing. These 2 techniques will make you better.

Anyone who has argued with an opinionated relative or friend about immigration or gun control knows it is often impossible to sway someone with strong views.

That’s in part because our brains work hard to ensure the integrity of our worldview: We seek out information to confirm what we already know, and are dismissive or avoidant of facts that are hostile to our core beliefs.

But it’s not impossible to make your argument stick. And there’s been some good scientific work on this. Here are two strategies that, based on the evidence, seem promising.


Kathleen Notes: Part of being effective in getting your point across is realizing that the other person has an equally valid opinion and showing your respect for them. Only then can you make your facts relevant.

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The First 10 Years: How Two Broken People Kept Their Marriage from Breaking

We honeymooned in Mexico at an all-inclusive resort that some would call a perfect vacation destination. We giggled as the electronically piped-in sounds of “nature” accompanied us along resort trails and decided over a game of 500 Rummy that we’d stick to freshwater lakes and mosquitoes. We returned to the US and settled into our first home in the Northwoods of Michigan.

That winter, we found out who we’d actually married.

I, the neat freak, germ phobic, private, independent woman did not exactly mesh with you, the relaxed, messy, forgetful boy whose mama cooked and laundered and cleaned up after him until the day we married.

Are you going to help me fold these towels?

You had been under the impression that a wife was a maid, and marriage a lifelong sex-fest.

I had been under the impression that a husband was someone who unclogged drains, and marriage meant someone else would help pay the bills for the clothes I wanted to buy and trips I wanted to take.


Kathleen Notes: Great article about expectations in marriage and how to find the realistic ones.

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Establishing Your Family’s Own Christmas Traditions

The thought expressed by the song “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” is as likely to give someone a knot in the stomach as a longing in the heart. The issue of how to handle family expectations for holiday gatherings probably came up early in your marriage, if not before. Where and how you celebrate may cause culture shock.

Barbara and I had to deal with this because both families have wonderful holiday traditions. We adopted a common solution; one year we celebrated Christmas with Barbara’s family, then went later to my folks. Next year, the schedule reversed.

But during my first Christmas visit to Barbara’s family, I was shocked that they did not open presents in the “correct” way! To me, the orthodox approach was for one person at a time to open a gift. Everyone focused on the person receiving the present and smiled when the gift was opened; the recipient dutifully looked surprised and pleased, and then came the next person’s turn. At Barbara’s house, they distributed all the presents, and then chaos erupted. The race was on to see who could open presents first. I thought, This isn’t right!


Kathleen Notes: When you marry, you form a completely new family. While loving and honoring the families that you both came from, it`s time to focus on your own family. The adjustment can be tough at first, but necessary and worth it!

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How Self-Care Can Turn a Good Marriage to a Great One

Jesus, the Good Shepherd, offers an enriching life that He wants you to experience: "I came that they may have life and have it abundantly" (John 10:10, emphasis added). An abundant life isn`t a bonus: It`s an essential part of the Christian life.

If we as Christians are neglecting ourselves, it`s like driving a car but never doing repairs on the vehicle. Cars need regular maintenance. Similarly, God designed people to need care emotionally, physically, mentally and spiritually.

Many of us don`t understand how to care for ourselves. Instead we cling to behaviors and patterns that wear us down.


Kathleen Notes: As always, you cannot give what you don`t have. Self-care is vital in relationships of all kinds.

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15 Common Cognitive Distortions
What’s a cognitive distortion and why do so many people have them? Cognitive distortions are simply ways that our mind convinces us of something that isn’t really true. These inaccurate thoughts are usually used to reinforce negative thinking or emotions — telling ourselves things that sound rational and accurate, but really only serve to keep us feeling bad about ourselves.......
......Cognitive distortions are at the core of what many cognitive-behavioral and other kinds of therapists try and help a person learn to change in psychotherapy. By learning to correctly identify this kind of “stinkin’ thinkin’,” a person can then answer the negative thinking back, and refute it. By refuting the negative thinking over and over again, it will slowly diminish overtime and be automatically replaced by more rational, balanced thinking.

Kathleen Notes: So common that we gave them a name....and....this article only lists the top 15...

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Handling Boredom: Why It`s Good for Your Child

“Mom, Dad....I’m bored.”

Makes you feel put on the spot, right? You might even feel like you`re a bad parent. Most of us pressured to solve this "problem" right away. We usually respond to our kids’ boredom by providing technological entertainment or structured activities. But that`s actually counter-productive. Children need to encounter and engage with the raw stuff that life is made of: unstructured time.

One of our biggest challenges as adults, and even as teenagers, is learning to manage our time well. So it`s essential for children to have the experience of deciding for themselves how to use periods of unstructured time, or they`ll never learn to manage it.

Maybe even more important, unstructured time gives children the opportunity to explore their inner and outer worlds, which is the beginning of creativity. This is how they learn to engage with themselves and the world, to imagine and invent and create.


Kathleen Notes: Yes!!!

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Take a Mindful Moment: 5 Simple Practices for Daily Life

How often have you rushed out the door and into your day without even thinking about how you’d like things to go? Before you know it, something or someone has rubbed you the wrong way, and you’ve reacted automatically with frustration, impatience, or rage—in other words, you’ve found yourself acting in a way you never intended.

You don’t have to be stuck in these patterns. Pausing to practice mindfulness for just a few minutes at different times during you day can help your days be better, more in line with how you’d like them to be.

Explore these five daily practices for bringing more mindfulness into your life:

1) Wake up with awareness
2) Enjoy every mouthful
3)Give your fast brain a break
4) Activate your mind and muscles
5) Drive yourself calm, not crazy


Kathleen Notes: Mindfulness is simply staying in the present moment, intentionally. Too often we try to live in the past (depression) or the future (anxiety). Only God can live in those places.

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13 Signs of High Emotional Intelligence

In 1995, psychologist and science journalist Daniel Goleman published a book introducing most of the world to the nascent concept of emotional intelligence. The idea--that an ability to understand and manage emotions greatly increases our chances of success--quickly took off, and it went on to greatly influence the way people think about emotions and human behavior.

But what does emotional intelligence look like, as manifested in everyday life?


Kathleen Notes: When a person has awareness of both their intellectual and emotional intelligence, the sky is the limit. This is one to read!

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Four Lessons on Burnout from a Combat Pilot

Jannell MacAulay was doing something that her father only dreamed for her when she was a child — working as a military leader and pilot, a job not open to women in the ’80s. In this TEDx Talk, she describes how powerful that experience was — becoming a military leader, commander, academic, and wife — but also how she struggled to stay at the peak of her game while experiencing intense pressure to attain perfection in every role. The drive to succeed and avoid failure at all costs caused her to burn out.

Here are four takeaways from her talk:


Kathleen Notes: Burnout isn`t just for combat pilots, everyone is at risk if you forget good self care!

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8 Things You Can Do When Your Child Is Belligerent
When children are having a hard time, their feelings usually explode at the people with whom they feel safe -- Us! It`s natural for us to get angry, reprimand, tell them to behave, or send them off to calm down. 

But when kids act rude and belligerent, they aren`t trying to give us a hard time.  They`re trying to send us an SOS.

If we respond by yelling, threatening, or sending them away to "calm down," we shut the door they`ve opened, and leave them to struggle on their own. Of course, your child`s belligerence might look more like a mine field than an open door!

Here`s how to find your way through that minefield to connect with your child and stop the drama.


Kathleen Notes: ALL behavior is communication. When we look for what is behind the behavior, we discover how to solve the problem.

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Trying to Parent Your Stepchildren – Is It a Good Idea?

The best parenting advice you can follow regarding how to deal with stepchildren is to communicate with your spouse. How do they want you to move forward as a stepparent? Odds are they will have strong opinions about whether you should be involved with the discipline process.

It’s beneficial to talk about the core issues that you and your spouse agree on and narrow down your differences in how you approach parenting. Doing so will help you further define your role.

In the end, it is up to your spouse to decide what role you will play in their child’s life regarding discipline.


Kathleen Notes: This is a very delicate situation. Before you try to parent, I suggest taking the time to develop a strong relationship, perhaps as more of a mentor than a parent. In the meanwhile, support your spouse in their parenting and vise versa.

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I know it’s important to release and work through these feelings. For years I too banged my head against the wall when it came to reacting to all of the above. But at a certain point, I realized that is exactly what I was doing.

I was banging my head against the wall.

I wasn’t working through these feelings. I was just repeating them, and feeding my anger and frustration. And in so doing, I was giving these non-productive feelings precious time and energy; time and energy that I could have be dedicating to something else. I wasn’t helping myself any, and I more than likely wasn’t encouraging others to try to come around and gain the understanding that I so desired. (I don’t know about you, but I know of very few people who decide to “jump on board” after being berated, whether they were in the right or in the wrong…)


Kathleen Notes: No matter what the "invisible illness"is, physical, mental or emotional, you aren`t obligated to anyone`s response except your own. You have nothing to prove. “People are going to judge you. People are going to give you a hard time,” Smith says. “Educate them as much as you can. But at the end of the day, it’s not your job to prove that you’re sick.” U.S. News and World Report article on Life with “Invisible” Illness

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6 Sad Reasons Why A Family Creates A Black Sheep

It is true that sometimes the black sheep is indeed “odd” by anyone’s standards (sometimes the result of a hidden mental illness). Or she may be a sociopath who violates the family’s boundaries and care, so that the family has to exclude her to rightfully protect themselves.

But surprisingly, very seldom is either of these scenarios actually the case. Many, many black sheep are lovable folks with much to offer their families and the world. In fact, they are often the best and brightest. They may be the most creative of the family, or the one with the most powerful emotions.

In truth, the world is full of black sheep. Think hard. Does your family have one? This question is not as easy to answer as it may seem, for many black sheep are not physically excluded from the family. For most, it’s much more subtle. The exclusion is emotional.


Kathleen Notes:..also known as a scapegoat...often the person in the family who is emotionally strong enough to carry the emotional load for the family.

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Things God Never Said
When I am tempted to put my own perceived happiness above the responsibilities you have placed in my life, please shake me and point me to the truth in your Word. Even "responsibilities" are blessings from your gracious hand that the Devil has painted with the facade of "hard work", "no fun", and "have to do it".......

......God never said, "Be happy, because I the Lord your God am happy."
          He did say, "Be holy, because I the Lord your God am holy."

God never said, "My grace doesn`t cover that sin."
          He did say, "My grace is sufficient for you."

God never said, "People will never change."
          He did say, "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever." 
            and "Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails."

God never said, "Whatever you do, give it a good shot."
          He did say, "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart."   ...more

Kathleen Notes: God also never said:"Go figure it out for yourself"

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The Difference Between an Emotionally Neglectful Parent and an Emotionally Attuned One

This subtle failure to act on the part of their parents had left them struggling in adulthood with something which they could not remember or name. So I began to study how it happens, and how it could lead to these particular problems for my patients. I discovered that children whose feelings are not validated or responded to enough receive an unstated but powerful message from their parents. That message is:

Your feelings don’t matter.

Children who receive this message automatically adapt. They push their own emotions down and away so that they will not trouble their parents, or even themselves.

In this process, they lose access to their own emotions, which are a vital source of connection, guidance, meaning, and joy. Without this resource (their emotions), these children grow into adults who feel rudderless, set apart, disconnected and alone.


Kathleen Notes: Childhood Emotional Neglect (CEN) requires an adult to "re-parent" themselves in order to heal. If you don`t have it, you can`t give it.

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Are You An Externalizer Or An Internalizer? 4 Ways Of Handling Blame

4 Ways Of Handling Blame

  1. Externalizers: These are folks who automatically look for someone or something to blame when things go wrong, and it’s almost never themselves. Externalizers are like Teflon when it comes to blame.
  2. Internalizers: Take too much responsibility for problems when they arise, and turn the blame toward themselves, even when they don’t even remotely deserve it.
  3. Balanced: These people recognize and own their own mistakes, while also taking a realistic and balanced account of the contribution of other people and circumstances.
  4. Inconsistent Internalizers: This involves blaming yourself harshly and often, but also flipping over to the extreme opposite at key times, letting yourself off the hook and failing to hold yourself accountable when you should. There is little in-between these two extremes. This style is common in people who grew up with Emotional Neglect.

The best way to become an Externalizer or an Internalizer or an Inconsistent Internalizer is to grow up in a family that handles blame in an unbalanced way. A family’s unbalanced approach to blame sets its children up to be either overly harsh with themselves or to be Teflon. Or to be Category 4, someone who flips.


Kathleen Notes:This is the Judge, Blame and Punish cycle in action. What`s the cure? Attunement of both your own emotions and others can give the necessary insight needed to become a balanced "blamer."

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Relational Drift
It doesn’t take a Ph.D. to predict this one: extreme pressures at work, serious problems with a child, no sex, and little communication. Of course one partner began to feel as if he were no longer in love. “If you don’t water your plants,” Diana admits in retrospect, “eventually they’re going to die; you have to nourish your relationship.”....
......Our kids have often remarked that Lisa and I don’t seem all that “compatible.” We don’t like the same foods. We have different definitions of “vacation.” But what outweighs these differences by a ton is the fact that we are as committed as a couple can be to seeking first the kingdom of God. We share articles on various issues, pass around books, talk about sermons and podcasts.

Kathleen Notes: If you starve something long enough, it will die. Marriages are like that too.

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What Didn’t Happen

First, I’d like you to think of an event that happened yesterday.  It can be anything, big or small…just something that happened.

Second, I’d like you to think of something that didn’t happen yesterday.

My guess is that the second request was quite a bit more difficult to fulfill than the first.  That’s because our brains record events as memories.  Things that fail to happen go unnoticed, unseen, and unremembered.

Mental health professionals, as well as most of the general public, have long been aware of the fact that what happens to us in childhood has a tremendous effect upon who we become as adults.  I have become aware that the opposite of this is also true; that what doesn’t happen for us in childhood has an equal or greater effect.


Kathleen Notes: This is why Childhood Emotional Neglect (CEN) is so tough to spot.

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6 Mindful Ways to Make Your Snacks More Satisfying
“Many of us just eat because food is there. We see it, and we respond automatically because it looks good,” says Dr. Susan Albers, Psy.D., New York Times bestselling author of Eating Mindfully. That can mean that no matter the portion size of your snack, or how often you eat, you’re not satisfied by it. “You get to the bottom of the bowl and say, ‘I didn’t really enjoy it.’ That’s when you look for more.” (SOURCE: Mondelez video with Dr. Albers from YouTube)

Just by shifting our focus from what we eat to concentrating more on why and how we’re eating, we can get much more satisfaction and enjoyment from our snacks, Albers says—even with a portion that’s better for your health.

“One of the common misconceptions is that if you give yourself permission to eat the foods you love, you think you are going to go overboard,” she says. But if you snack mindfully, that’s not the case. “By practicing mindful snacking you can eat the foods you love, enjoy them more and have more satisfaction. It doesn’t take a lot of effort. It just takes focus. And it’s a tool you can use anywhere.”

Kathleen Notes: Mindfullness can happen anywhere and will enhance the experience of being alive. All you need to do is slow down and pay attention.

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The Bloody Hope for Every Marriage

Some desires in marriage are never going to be fulfilled and need to be “crucified.” In fact, various studies have suggested that more than fifty percent of marital issues will never be resolved. You can fight against this all you want. You can resent it. You can say it’s not fair. But it won’t change what is. If you want your marriage to move forward, you have to live with what is.

Fortunately, life in Jesus provides a brilliant but severe remedy for living with unfulfilled desires and unmet expectations: the cross. We need to constantly remember that our lives shouldn’t be defined first and foremost by our marital happiness, but by seeking first God’s kingdom and righteousness. That pursuit will, in the end, produce happiness, but we have to keep first things first.

So here’s the spiritual trick. Transform the focus of your expectations from what you expect of your spouse to what your God expects of you. We can’t make any one person do what we think they should do (that just leads to futility and frustration), but we can surrender to what God would have us do in light of that (which leads to peace with God and divine affirmation).


Kathleen Notes: No one gets the perfect spouse. If you can adjust your expectations to that reality, you can find happiness and contentment. Note: this does not apply to abusive situations, ever.

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Delaying School May Protect Against Developmental Disorders

I was my son’s age when I started school, which at four and a half years old, made me one of the youngest kids in my class.

Luckily, I was a child of the ‘80’s when kindergarten wasn’t the new first grade and the academic pressures on kids were dwarfed by modern standards.

But, times have changed. We’ve moved on and become more sophisticated. Modern kids, it seems, are more advanced. They can read and write and add and subtract at younger ages than ever before, with one friend telling me recently that second graders are mastering computer coding. Seriously?....

...A 2015 study titled, The Gift of Time? Starting School Age and Mental Health found strong evidence that delaying kindergarten by one year provides mental health benefits to children, allowing them to better self-regulate their attention and hyperactivity levels when they do start school. The effect was long-lasting, virtually eliminating the probability that an average eleven-year-old child would have an ‘abnormal’, or higher-than-normal rating for inattentive-hyperactive behavioral measures.

This is powerful information, yet public education policies in western nations fail to evolve.


Kathleen Notes: Amen! Children need time to develop on their schedule, not according to the schedule of whatever school they might attend.

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Why Relationships Are the Key to Longevity

Plenty of exercise. Healthy food. Positive attitude. Plain old good luck. There’s lots of advice out there about how to keep body and brain in optimal shape as the years roll by.

But Louis Cozolino, professor of psychology at Pepperdine University, is deeply engaged with another idea. In Timeless: Nature’s Formula for Health and Longevity, he emphasizes the positive impact of human relationships.

“Of all the experiences we need to survive and thrive, it is the experience of relating to others that is the most meaningful and important,” he writes.


Kathleen Notes: Both injury and healing take place within relationships. God made us to be relational beings: with Him and with each other. It makes sense that it would play a big role in living a long and happier life. However, that being said...check out the following article...

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God Used a Parakeet to Love Our Daughter

When our daughter Deborah, aka Peanut, was 16, we had one of those father-daughter kitchen conversations. Amid the mealtime mess and clamor came this declaration: “Dad, I want to be able to do what I want to do … with whoever I want to do it with … whenever I want … for as long as I want.”

I wasn’t sure I had heard correctly. “What did you say?”

When she repeated her statement, I smiled and said, “Peanut, what if your parakeet came to you and said, ‘Deborah, I’d like to go do what I want to do, with whoever I want to do it with, whenever I want to do it, for as long as I want to do it. And right now, I’d like to go on the porch and play with the cats!’”

Deborah loved her parakeet, affectionately named Sweet Pea. “Would you let Sweet Pea go play outside, Peanut?”

She quickly dismissed my fatherly attempt to reach her. “That’s a silly illustration, Dad.”

I said, “No, it’s not. There’s a cat on the porch right now. Sweet Pea is in the cage right now. The cage is actually a protection for Sweet Pea, don’t you agree?”

Feeling uncomfortable, Deborah attempted to change the subject … and I let her. I knew she had heard.


Kathleen Notes: Wonderful story and analogy of how/why parents can protect their children until they`re ready to do it for themselves.

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Creating Successful Children By Emphasizing Values
How much should parents focus on achievement? Should we constantly push our children to do their best? Or should we put more effort into helping them become well-rounded individuals who care for the needs of others, even if they might not be quite the students they could have been otherwise? A 2017 study of parents` values suggests that framing our choices this way may create a false dilemma. Children whose parents emphasized values, such as respect and kindness, as much or more than they emphasized achievement were not only better adjusted; they also did better in school.   ...more

Kathleen Notes: If parents can focus on raising "good people` vs high achieving people, it would appear to be a win-win.

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What Everyone Should Know About Emotional Affairs

As a couple’s therapist, I’ve worked with many people whose marriages are threatened by an affair. When it comes to affairs, there are two types: sexual and emotional. In my experience, these two types of affairs are different, and happen in different kinds of relationships.

While sexual affairs are often born of anger, emotional affairs are frequently a result of loneliness.

Before we go on to talk about emotional affairs, one large caveat: none of the reasons I’ll talk about in this article are meant to excuse or justify affairs in any way.

Always, without exception, the healthiest way to deal with marriage problems of any kind is directly with one’s spouse, not going outside the relationship.   ...more

Kathleen Notes: When a marriage struggles, an emotional affair is frighteningly easy to fall into. God created us to be relational. When our most important relationship doesn`t provide the connectiveness we seek it`s a danger to be aware of. Counseling can help a couple to reconnect.

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Challenging the Myths of Talking to Your Kids About Sex

If Christian parents are not talking about God`s design for sex, where will our children learn God`s truth? There are a number of myths or excuses out there that we accept as true that keep parents from talking honestly to their kids about sex.

We don`t talk about sex. 

Our culture talks about sex all the time and just not from a Christian point of view. Traditionally, sex talk has been taboo within our Christian circles. We don`t talk about it much at church or at home. But, if Christians are not talking about sex, we are giving the world the opportunity to fill in the gaps and to educate our children for us. Our schools may offer a onetime lecture, but the majority of the education our children receive should come from their parents. But parents are often shy about discussing sexuality. We may be unsure about how to broach the topic, so we need to see the need and develop some confidence in sharing God`s story about sexuality.


Kathleen Notes: If we don`t teach our children, the world will. I`d rather they learn from someone who loves them and loves the Lord.

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You Can’t Change Others, but You Can Change Your Seat

Many of us have relatives who make us feel really bad, who don’t respect us, who we wouldn’t even talk to if they weren’t our cousins or sisters or whatever. Of course, you’ll meet one another at various family affairs, and you have to be polite, but how do you stand it? An afternoon with some people can make you ready to hide under your bed and never come out, you feel so terrible about yourself.

Notice I said, “You feel so terrible about yourself.” You feel terrible because of the nasty way they have treated you. They, the aggressors, are the ones who should feel terrible. Why take their nastiness inside? It doesn’t belong to you, after all; it belongs to the person giving it to you. Don’t pick it up. Don’t own it.


Kathleen Notes: My clients hear this all of the time..."you can`t change anyone else, just yourself." But....how you respond can certainly influence others and in the meanwhile you are taking care of a very important person...you.

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4 Things You Should Never Ever Do in Marriage

That quote has relevance to marriage as well. In marriage, there will be times when you “step on each other’s toes,” so to speak. But the really hurtful moments happen when you “step on each other’s hearts” and wound your spouse on an emotional level. There are times when one spouse might intentionally try to hurt the other, but I’m convinced that many of the most damaging wounds in marriage are inflicted unintentionally.

I’m convinced that there are times when we step on our spouses’ hearts and hurt their feelings or damage their trust without even realizing that we’re doing it. Most of us have blind spots that lead to unnecessary pain and conflict in the marriage.

If you want to protect your spouse’s heart, prevent unnecessary conflict and keep a solid foundation of trust in your marriage, then please DON’T do the following four things. You’ll unintentionally hurt your spouse every time you…


Kathleen Notes: An eye opening list...I confess that I`m guilty of each of these from time to time......

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One of the Most Important Things Our Teens Need From Us – What, Why, and How to Give it To Them


Kathleen Notes: Love and support coupled with responsibility and the freedom to fail.....a delicate balance but do-able!

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5 Fundamental Relationship Rules From an Expert Marriage Counselor
Don’t judge or criticize your partner. These negative relationship behaviors are some of the most destructive. When you criticize your partner, they feel a sense of disapproval which puts them on the defense. They take in the message, “I’m flawed and need fixing” or “my partner doesn’t accept me.” No spouse wants to feel inadequate or not good enough and constant judgment or criticism portray that. Stay away from blanket statements like “you always” or “you never” or the instinct to scoff at your significant other’s new idea. Instead, state your needs using “I” statements (“I feel like you’ve been neglecting me when you don’t come home as promised”) and show support (“I love that idea! You can do it. I’m behind you.”) We all want to feel like our partner has our back and is on our side....
.....Listen to Understand. We often approach conflict right out of the gate with guns blazing. Unfortunately, this tactic leaves us feeling more at odds and hopeless as ever, especially if our partners fire back. Understanding must precede advice. Seek to listen first with empathy. See where they’re coming from even if you don’t agree. Common ground can’t be obtained without first seeing the situation from your spouse’s perspective. As you listen, refrain from building more ammunition for your difference of opinion. You end up hearing less of what they are feeling and instead, counter attack.

Kathleen Notes:...and many more! Check out the article!

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Dear Dad: “You Need to Love Your Wife as You Want Your Daughter to Be Loved”

Besides the one with our Heavenly Father himself, there’s hardly a relationship that can compare with that of a father and daughter. For so many, the way a father interacts with his daughter is the representation that a young lady holds of her relationship with God for the duration of her life.

Even more important to note, little eyes are always watching and soaking up more than most of us as busy adults can imagine.

She watches the way you hold her mom’s hand, the way you kiss her good night, and the way you speak to her with words of love, respect, and adoration.
Daddies are often protective of who their daughters will date and how they will be treated — but with a world spewing all sorts of distortions of love at them, there’s no way to better represent the way she deserves to be treated than by serving your wife well.

Kathleen Notes: Never say/do anything to your daughter that you wouldn`t like to hear/see her husband do to her someday.

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Uncomfortable Truths About the ADHD Nervous System

Most people with ADHD have always known they are different. They were told by parents, teachers, employers, spouses, and friends that they did not fit the common mold and that they had better shape up in a hurry if they wanted to make something of themselves.

As if they were immigrants, they were told to assimilate into the dominant culture and become like everyone else. Unfortunately, no one told them how to do this. No one revealed the bigger secret: It couldn’t be done, no matter how hard they tried. The only outcome would be failure, made worse by the accusation that they will never succeed because ADHD in adults means they don’t try hard enough or long enough.

It seems odd to call a condition a disorder when the condition comes with so many positive features. People with an ADHD-style nervous system tend to be great problem-solvers. They wade into problems that have stumped everyone else and jump to the answer. They are affable, likable people with a sense of humor. They have what Paul Wender called “relentless determination.” When they get hooked on a challenge, they tackle it with one approach after another until they master the problem — and they may lose interest entirely when it is no longer a challenge.


Kathleen Notes: I don`t see ADHD as a disorder but a different way of thinking and experiencing the world. However, it often runs afoul of how the rest of the world works. Learning more is really helpful in figuring out how to thrive.

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Stress and Emotional Eating: Exploring Our Relationship with Food
For many of us, stress is a fundamental part of life. Perhaps we tend to overextend ourselves with work, social commitments, and our personal lives. Or maybe we never turn off our many devices, which can prevent us from being able to simply relax and enjoy each moment. As a result of this overstimulation, we often end up seeking out ways to self-soothe.

Food can be a source of comfort for many people. And while emotional eating can help us feel good in the moment, it can often have negative effects over time.

How can we know if we have an unhealthy relationship with food? Signs that indicate emotional eating may be having a negative impact can include:


Kathleen Notes: Holidays + stress and busyness = emotional eating.

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The First Step to Getting Out of Survival Mode – I Had to Let Go of the Fantasy

I kept looking for the perfect solution to things like sleep, tantrums, eating . . . Each time I thought I had it figured out though, things would change, my kids would hit a new stage, and I’d be back to searching for another solution.

One day, I realized I was spending most of my time in survival mode, not enjoying the moment, enduring my kids rather than noticing them, and anxious the whole time that I was screwing it all up. I was worried I’d be filled with regret later if I couldn’t stop feeling so frantic and exhausted.

I needed a starting place to change how I was feeling. I didn’t want to spend their entire childhood in survival mode.

I thought about the brightest moments in my own childhood—they were often simple, like my mom teaching me to shuffle cards, or my dad teaching me to whistle with a blade of grass. I thought about the most treasured moments in our family life. Many of them were just as simple, and yet nothing like I thought they would be.


Kathleen Notes: Oh goodness...I think almost all parents start out with a fantasy of who they will be as parents and with "fantasy children." The real ones are so much more interesting!

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Want Your Children to Be Great Adults? Don’t Teach Them Self-Esteem—Teach Them This

Since the 1980s, parents have been told by child psychologists, doctors, and other parenting experts that self-esteem is KEY to raising a successful child. But after about 30 years of everyone thinking they’re the best at everything because mom said so (and because they got a trophy for showing up), professionals are changing their tune. Desperate to raise kids who would become responsible, functional adults, and not liking what she was seeing in her four kids at home, mom Heidi Landes went on a search to find out what she was missing.

“How am I going to get them to college, when I can’t even get them out the door with two shoes on?” she asked herself....

.....So what should our kids be taught instead? Not self-ESTEEM, but self-CONTROL.

Why? Well, because studies have shown that kids who are taught to have self-control will grow up to be adults who are less likely to have drug and alcohol problems, commit a crime, or struggle financially. They go on to become adults who are more likely to be in good health, earn more and save more money, volunteer and give to charity, and be satisfied with their lives.


Kathleen Notes: So happy to share this article, I`ve been "preaching" this point for decades! The foundation of good self-esteem is self-efficacy. Knowing that you have the ability to handle life`s struggles (because you have been able to previously) lends "waypower" to willpower.

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Answering The Question: How Does Emotional Neglect Affect A Child

Childhood Emotional Neglect (CEN) happens when the parent fails to respond enough to the child’s emotional needs.

The truth is that parents fail to notice their children’s emotions in every family in every household in the world every single day. And that is A-Okay. No parent can, or should, be 100% aware of his child’s feelings all the time, and that is not a requirement to be a good parent.

Childhood Emotional Neglect only happens when the parent fails to notice the child’s emotions enough.

Every child is born with a certain threshold of need for emotional connection, validation, and responsiveness from his or her parents. As a child, your parents may meet your needs sometimes, in some ways. But they may fail you in small, everyday ways that add up over time. And this may leave the footprint of Childhood Emotional Neglect upon you.

First, let’s take a painful peek at Emotional Neglect in action, actually happening to a child.


Kathleen Notes: I believe that CEN is an epidemic. Parents do the best they can so it`s not about throwing them under the bus. It`s about understanding how it happens so we can stop it, process it and thrive in spite of it. If you only read one article this week, pick this one.

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Don`t Let Your Spouse Make You Angry

We`ve all said, "You make me so mad!" But when we blame others for the way we feel, we`re giving them the ownership of our emotions. That means they`ll become the landlord of our feelings, and we`ll expect them to fix everything.

Renting a house is easier than owning one. But renters aren`t nearly as committed to maintenance and repair, and they`re restricted on making improvements. When someone owns a home, he or she dreams of the possibilities and makes the changes happen. The sky`s the limit — but owners often have to do the work themselves.

Marriages never thrive when spouses rent the relationship, expecting their husband or wife to be responsible for fixing their feelings. If we become the owners of our emotions, we`re free to be co-owners of the relationship. Together with our spouse, we have the potential to build something great.


Kathleen Notes: If you struggle with uncomfortable emotions, it`s important to first understand yourself and why you feel as you do. Get curious and if you need to, get some help from a counselor.

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Go Outside: Engaging Children in Creation
Driving through the neighborhood, it seems that yards are empty and streets are quiet. As I head out to run errands, I am reminded that children do not play outside as they did years ago. I don`t see kids riding bikes off in a myriad of directions, or wondering at the spray of a water hose, or lying in the grass and finding shapes in the clouds. It seems like children play indoors more than they used to. With screens in their hands, in their rooms, on their desks, throughout their homes, children spend time plugged in and looking down rather than running around. Plus, our schedules have become busier, such that children struggle to find time for unstructured play—to run for the sake of running, to yell and laugh and jump and climb for the sheer joy of the action and not out of a driven purpose. Yes, times have changed. And children are changing too.    ...more

Kathleen Notes:...as important as food, water, clothing and shelter...

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Marriage Conflict: Rules of Engagement

Conflict is Important

Over the years, as couples have shared their stories with me, several have described a pattern of hiding from conflict. Often, this can be traced to negative childhood experiences with conflict: perhaps you witnessed your parents wage World War Three in the kitchen, and you vowed never to repeat that pattern. Or perhaps your fear of disappointing a parent who withheld their approval and affection from you now fills you with anxiety at the thought of anger and rejection with your spouse. Unfortunately, as you ignore conflict, resentment builds. The same disagreements crop with increasing intensity. Eventually, the trust and intimacy in the relationship erodes significantly. 

Handling conflict well begins when we acknowledge that, properly handled, conflict is not only inevitable, but it is an opportunity for deepening intimacy together, each maturing as a person. For that reason, don’t avoid disagreements and don’t gloss over problems. Rather, agree that as a couple you will approach disagreements understanding they are an opportunity to work together and in so doing, to grow closer together as a couple, and to mature as Christians.


Kathleen Notes: Conflict is normal and necessary in human relationships. It`s how we handle it that`s important. Done well both people can learn, resolve the problem and strengthen the relationship.

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Love and Power

Although many people associate power with manipulation and coercion, contemporary psychologists and philosophers have forged a new power paradigm: They view power as the capacity of an individual to influence others’ states, even to advance the goals of others while developing their full self. It doesn’t require observable behavior, let alone force.

If a woman is as influential as her partner is, then a relationship lasts, says John Gottman. But if he’s much more influential than she is, the relationship doesn’t last. For the dean of relationship researchers, an “interlocking influence process” is at the heart of a balance of power. “It’s really about responsiveness to your partner’s emotions. If you have power in a relationship, you have an effect on your partner with your emotions. That’s a good sign for the long-term stability of the relationship and the happiness of the partners. But some people have very high emotional inertia; they weigh a lot emotionally; it’s hard to move them.”

And responsiveness to a partner is what makes a relationship feel fair, says Gottman, professor emeritus in psychology at the University of Washington and head of Seattle’s Relationship Research Institute. Housework and childcare chores don’t even have to be divided 50/50 to establish equality in a relationship. “A relationship has to feel fair. And that requires flexibility and responsiveness to emotions. People try to get their partner’s attention or interest, or open a conversation or share humor or affection. We look at what proportion of the time a partner turns toward such a bid or a need. The turning towards needs to be at a very high level.”


Kathleen Notes: I think this article takes us back to how God sees both men and women. Equal yet different...I like that!

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10 Steps to Setting Healthy Boundaries

Setting boundaries doesn’t come easily or naturally to a lot of people, but  you can learn to set healthy boundaries.  I’m going to share ten tips that I find helpful.

In my last post, What Are Healthy Boundaries and Why Do I Need Them?, I told you about my friend Chris who struggled to set boundaries with his neighbor. Chris’ experience demonstrated that we need boundaries in all of our relationships, and that boundaries establish expectations and communicate how we want to be treated.

Examples of Boundaries:

  • Karla and Mark have two young children. Mark’s parents have a new dog that seems aggressive, and he doesn’t feel comfortable with the dog around his kids. Mark tells his parents that their dog isn’t welcome at his house and he will not bring his kids to their house unless the dog stays in the garage.
  • A roommate agreement (the concept isn’t as ridiculous as it seems on The Big Bang Theory) that identifies expectations about cleaning, food, and noise.
  • Telling your boss that you can’t work late tonight.
  • Having a personal policy of not loaning money to family members.

Kathleen Notes:Boundaries go hand-in-hand with a secure sense of self. Often a person needs to work on that before healthy boundaries become possible.

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The Common Difference between Single Men and Women

During a recent sermon, I got a few laughs of recognition when I described what I see as a huge difference between Christian women and men who are looking to get married. Of course there are many exceptions, but quite often I see this:

A Christian woman is in a serious relationship with a man when she recognizes some warning signs and red flags. Her first instinct isn’t to “run,” it’s “How can I make this relationship work?”

When I talk to Christian guys, however, it’s often comically the reverse. They are dating an attractive, healthy, personable, funny, intelligent, godly and wise woman who earns more money than they do. When I ask when they plan to pop the question, their response is often, “I can see all those qualities, but what if there’s someone even better out there?”


Kathleen Notes: This causes many women to accept the unacceptable with the idea that she can "fix" him. In the other case, if men are looking for "the one" that`s perfect, she doesn`t exist.

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5 Ways To Nurture Yourself while Nurturing Your Child

No matter what our child does, it`s our response that determines the weather in our home. If you`re finding yourself frequently resentful, depleted or exhausted, if your mind chatter often includes negative thoughts about your child, or if you`re yelling at your child on a regular basis, you may be suffering from what I call SAP Disorder -- Sacrificing yourself on the Altar of Parenthood.

That`s when we forget to give ourselves the loving attention we need. It isn`t good for us to feel deprived. It kills our natural joy. And it isn`t good for our kids, who end up with a resentful, negative, impatient parent. (Guess whether that helps them behave better.)...

.....That can seem impossible, when at any given moment there are so many demands on your time. The solution is to tend to ourselves as well as we can each moment of the day, just as we do our child. To honor both our needs and theirs. How?


Kathleen Notes: I really like this article because it helps to answer the seemingly impossible question: how to give your child AND yourself what you need. Remember that you can`t pour from an empty cup.

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Letting Go and Sticking Together

Stuck together

In 2 Samuel 23:10, we’re told that an Israelite soldier holds his sword in the cold for so long that his hand “cleaves” to the metal sword. What stands out here is that this is the same word used in Genesis 2:24 to describe God’s purpose in marriage: “Therefore, a man shall leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife.” God’s design for marriage is that we embark on a lifelong journey of leaving our old loyalties behind and joining ourselves to our spouse such that we are stuck together like a hand to a frozen sword--or a tongue to a metal flagpole! What does that entail?

Reorient the structure

The ancient Israelite culture valued the place of the family. Your parents were to be honored, and respected all life long--and yet, God says that when a couple marries, loyalty to their family of origin takes second place to the newly created family. Marriage requires that our first and highest human loyalty is to our spouse.


Kathleen Notes: Here`s how it works: God first, then your spouse, then everyone else...yes, that includes parents, children, friends, etc.

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8 ways you can master self-care without spending a dime

Self-care is about recharging and reducing stress

"Self-care is a way to recharge our mental and emotional energy," says Dr. Ryan Hooper, a clinical psychologist. "If we don’t do self-care on a regular basis we will eventually feel drained and burned out. Self-care doesn’t have to take a ton of time; in fact, sometimes it’s the quick, simple things that are happening on a regular basis that keep us recharged."

Dr. Farrah Hauke, Psy.D, a licensed psychologist, adds that self-care is "absolutely vital" to emotional well being. "It is incredibly important because it can decrease stress as well as anxiety and depressive symptoms. It also helps us to be more productive and mindful of our needs which helps us to proactively address problems.” She too agrees that self-care “does not have to be time consuming or expensive."


Kathleen Notes:Self care isn`t selfish and ideally is simply integrated into everyday life. Getting enough sleep, good nutrition, exercise and relaxation are good starts.

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Moving the Body to Heal the Mind

For many years prior to working as a counselor, I was a personal trainer and fitness instructor with a fitness ministry focused on body, mind, and spirit. God has created the three to work together as one. The mind is strong, and what we think and tell ourselves motivates us. When engaging in exercise from a healthy perspective, there are no negative effects and the benefits to mind, body, and spirit are many:

  • More energy and stamina
  • More endurance
  • Reduced stress 
  • Enhanced mood
  • Calmer mind
  • Better sleep
  • Higher self esteem
  • Sharpened thoughts and memory
  • Weight control
  • Better heart rate

Kathleen Notes: For more on this topic, I highly recommend the book "Spark" by John Ratey.

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Unrealistic Expectations Almost Destroyed My Marriage

Entering marriage with such high expectations set my husband and me up for ruin. For example, trusting in my husband to be my everything was one of the most detrimental ways I hurt our marriage. I set my husband up for failure when I expected him to fulfill me completely.

When I wanted to feel worthy, I sought my worthiness in my husband. When I wanted to feel loved unconditionally, I sought love from my husband. When I wanted to feel comforted, cherished, validated, or encouraged, I sought those things in my husband and only in my husband. However, because my husband is human and prone to sin, inevitably he let me down and could not fulfill my needs completely. And in those times, I felt unworthy and unloved.

While some expectations are good—for example, I expect my husband to be faithful to me—when they move into unrealistic and unattainable places, they become destructive. My expectations were so lofty they hurt him. Aaron could never be my everything—he was never designed to be! And whenever I tried to make him fit that role, I unintentionally placed him as an idol above God, believing that he had the capacity to do more for me than God Himself.


Kathleen Notes: I think many people enter into a marriage relationship expecting their spouse to "complete" them. A human being can ever do that, but a relationship with Jesus can.

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Big Boys Don’t Cry: The Emotionally Neglected Man
A new study by Spalek et al., 2015 provided new evidence of how men and women process emotion differently. Men’s brains are less reactive to emotion, and men remember emotional images less well than women. This makes emotional responsiveness and validation from parents extra vital for boys. Boys who don’t receive enough grow up to be baffled by all things emotional.

Children are highly adaptive creatures. Boys who grow up this way do what is needed to get along in their family home. They push their own emotions and needs down and away, so that they will not be seen or felt. As men, they live their lives virtually walled off from the most intensely personal, vital part of who they are, their emotions.

If you are a man and you see yourself in these words, or if you are a woman and you see someone you love here, do not despair. There are answers.

Kathleen Notes: I often feel like society isn`t very helpful in the messages that we send to boys and men. Accessing both the "logical" and emotional intelligence helps men to be more responsive to the roles that God has given them.

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Does your own childhood affect your parenting?

But often it`s our thoughts and attitudes, which means the way we`re interpreting the situation. So where one parent might respond to a child`s rudeness with quiet dignity and curiosity about why the child is so upset, another might get triggered, assuming that defiance is dangerous and needs to be quashed.

We don`t even notice such beliefs, which are usually unconscious and were often shaped in early childhood....
....But any time the memory was so upsetting that your brain wasn`t able to process that memory as usual, the memory was stored unprocessed -- with all the emotions you felt at the time. That`s why when you experience something similar to that event -- maybe not in actual content, but in the way it makes you feel -- you are suddenly swamped with body sensations that are an over-reaction. Those feelings aren`t actually from the present experience. They are stored with that earlier unprocessed memory, which is getting triggered by the current experience.

Kathleen Notes: The answer is yes...in fact your childhood affects your entire adult life because it is foundational to who you are.

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Getting Help for Grief, Loss, and Bereavement

Each experience of grief is unique, complex, and personal. Grief may concern the death of a loved one, or it could involve a life change such as divorce or job loss. Your culture, personality, and experience can all affect the grieving process. Therapists will tailor treatment to meet your specific needs. 

For example, therapy may help you maintain healthy connections with your lost loved one. Many people find catharsis while talking about their loved ones. Reflection on positive memories can strengthen your bond with the lost person. As you reaffirm your bond, you may feel less sting from your loss.....

....Children often look to their guardians for how to grieve. If an adult hides their sadness, a child will likely try to do the same. When adults talk about their emotions, children can learn to recognize and accept the feelings in themselves. Adults can teach healthy ways to cope with strong feelings, as opposed to withdrawing or lashing out.


Kathleen Notes: Grief is so unique from person to person, treatment must also be individual to be effective and healing.

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Reframing Your Story

Imagine your life is a book and you are the author.

Certain plot points are predetermined: your bipolar diagnosis, say, or a trauma in your past. But as the narrator of this tale, you get to explain and interpret those events—for better or worse.

If the story now is all about shame, sadness and feeling stuck, you get to create a different, more compelling version where you’re a hero and your future is full of promise.

That’s the idea behind narrative therapy, a collaborative approach to counseling based on the premise that we human beings construct stories about our experiences in order to give our lives meaning—and therefore, that we can deconstruct those stories to change that meaning.


Kathleen Notes: How would you change your story?

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Continuing the Date

I remember fondly the period of dating my wife. I remember going to pick her up and stopping at the store to pick up flowers. I would swing by the coffee shop and buy her a gift card because she loved their drinks. One day she came down with a nasty cold that put a stop to our plans for the day. But it did not stop me from seeing her or spending time with her. I stopped by the store and picked up chicken soup, soda, crackers, and tissue, and I hung out with her at her house. 

It is not unusual to show affection and appreciation towards someone we care about during those dating years of getting to know one another. The relationship is new and interesting and we are eager to spend time and get to know one another. We desire to show the other person that we sincerely care for them. We desire to help when they are in need, show love when we can, and make them feel good throughout it all. So what happens when we get married and the newness of the relationship wears off? Why do some of those loving dating behaviors seem to fall to the wayside?


Kathleen Notes: Date night doesn`t have to be pricey...embrace cheap fun!

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Four Tips for Handling a Difficult Family Member
Few people can hurt us as much as the people closest to us. Usually, that’s family. Most people have at least one family member who is verbally brutal, judgmental or just plain thoughtless.  Unfortunately, when we react to the rude comments these people make, our reaction can easily make us look worse than them.....
...The worst thing you can do is let a critical or verbally brutal person hurt you. If you prepare yourself in advance, stay calm, and say something assertive, you will appear unscathed and will earn the admiration of all those around you. Then, when you go home, think it over and remind yourself that this person is attacking you because of his or her own weakness. Don’t take it in. Be Strong.

Kathleen Notes:...and who doesn`t have at least one difficult person in their family....?

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3 Steps to Healthy Emotional Regulation

It often appears that perceptions of truth define reality in the sense that our learned beliefs about self and others become so ingrained that they often go unchallenged and take on a life of their own. Such may be the case with our emotions—they may be categorized as good or bad, negative or positive. By categorizing emotions in this way, we may consciously or subconsciously attach more value to some emotions while negating, minimizing, or avoiding others.

This selective approach to categorizing emotions has far-reaching effects on how we deal with a wide range of emotional content, including our ability or willingness to accept what feels uncomfortable. By seeking out so-called “good emotions,” we may neglect uncomfortable or painful emotions including worry, fear, frustration, anger, rage, bitterness, resentment, sadness, hopelessness, and helplessness, to name a few.  It can be argued that establishing a dichotomy or differentiation of good vs. bad emotions inhibits emotional and mental health.

Much is known about the deleterious effects of stuffing one’s emotions, and the same can be said about the harmful effects of burying uncomfortable or painful emotions. In order to establish good emotional health, all emotions must be given a voice. Keeping in mind this framework of viewing the entire range of emotions with equal value or validity, we can now explore three steps to emotional regulation.


Kathleen Notes: Good mental health is all about emotional regulation. Emotions are normal, helpful and never, ever right or wrong. They just are. It`s what we think, say and do about those emotions that can be wrong or sinful.

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The Benefits of Being a Patient Person

As virtues go, patience is a quiet one.

It’s often exhibited behind closed doors, not on a public stage: A father telling a third bedtime story to his son, a dancer waiting for her injury to heal. In public, it’s the impatient ones who grab all our attention: drivers honking in traffic, grumbling customers in slow-moving lines. We have epic movies exalting the virtues of courage and compassion, but a movie about patience might be a bit of a snoozer.

Yet patience is essential to daily life—and might be key to a happy one. Having patience means being able to wait calmly in the face of frustration or adversity, so anywhere there is frustration or adversity—i.e., nearly everywhere—we have the opportunity to practice it. At home with our kids, at work with our colleagues, at the grocery store with half our city’s population, patience can make the difference between annoyance and equanimity, between worry and tranquility.


Kathleen Notes: Yup, but what if you`re NOT a patient person? Read on for strategies to help cultivate patience and reap it`s benefits.

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Seven Steps to Speak Your Uncomfortable Truth
From time to time, we all find ourselves in a tough spot. Something looks wrong or feels wrong, and we need to say something difficult. Something painful that may hurt someone we care about, but which nevertheless must be said....

Many people in these situations choose the last option. Sometimes it feels easier and kinder. Unfortunately, that is typically the worst choice. Uncomfortable truths seldom disappear on their own. And they have far more power to hurt when they remain unspoken.

If you grew up in a family that discouraged frank discussion, emotional expression, or honest discourse (this is Childhood Emotional Neglect, or CEN), having a conversation like this may feel simply wrong to you. And even if you do decide to speak your truth, you may not have been able to learn the emotion skills you need to do it right.


Kathleen Notes: Difficult emotions become easier to handle when spoken about. It`s when we wall them off that they get bigger...and uglier.

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Here’s Why ‘Repair Attempts’ Are Even More Powerful Than Saying ‘I’m Sorry’

In romantic relationships, "I`m sorry" is often a dramatic event that takes place at the end of a long and painful journey—after a fight where we can`t take back the hurtful things we said, after weeks or even months of withdrawing from our partner emotionally, or after just one snide comment. But it`s doesn`t have to be that way. This is where "repair attempts" come in. A way to mediate regret and hurt, this might be your best strategy for healthy conflict.

By the time you say ‘I’m sorry,’ the damage is already done.

Happy couples have to say "I`m sorry," and they say it a lot. But instead of saying it after the damage has been done, happy couples say it to prevent the relationship disaster in the first place.


Kathleen Notes: It`s worth the effort to show your spouse that you really mean that apology and are willing to put some effort into making things better.

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Life Skills: Teaching Children Empathy

“Love one another, as I have loved you”

Parents spend much time and energy teaching children social skills for living. We teach them manners, to say “please” and “thank you.” We teach them hygiene, to brush their teeth and wash their hands. We teach them diligence, to do their homework, to do their chores. We teach them skills, to tie their shoes, to drive a car, to dress for a job interview. Throughout their lives, we are modeling and teaching countless techniques as building blocks of life. 

A skill everyone needs

Yet there is one skill that is necessary in every phase and every situation in human life, yet parents often overlook it or are unsure of how to teach it. That skill is EMPATHY, or the ability to perceive, understand, and share the feelings of others. It is simply wondering and caring about another`s experience. As 1 Corinthians 12:26 describes this skill, if one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. Teaching children empathy results in their increased capacity to see the face of Christ in others. Children who cultivate the skill of empathy are more respectful, thoughtful, and kind. Empathetic children are less likely to bully, and less likely to tolerate bullying behavior in others.


Kathleen Notes: Brene Brown says "sympathy is `poor baby` while empathy is `me too`." What a gift to teach to your children!

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Relationships 12 Little Ways You Can Support A Loved One Who Has Anxiety

Anxiety disorders affect an estimated 40 million adults in the U.S. in a given year, making them the most common mental health condition.

If you don’t struggle with anxiety yourself, chances are that someone in your circle, a partner, co-worker, friend or relative does. So how do you support a loved one who may be dealing with this condition?

It can be hard to figure out what’s truly helpful when certain comments ? even well-intentioned ones ? sometimes do more harm than good. That’s why we’ve asked people living with anxiety to share the words, gestures or other forms of support that mean the most to them.


Kathleen Notes: Anxiety is very common. Here`s some ideas to help.

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How To Change Your Child`s Behavior -- Without Punishment

That doesn’t mean we renege on our responsibility to guide our children by setting limits. No running into the street, no hitting the baby, no peeing on the carpet, no picking the neighbor’s tulips, no hurting the dog. But we don`t need to punish to set or hold such limits.

Are you wondering how your child will learn not to do these things next time, if you don’t “discipline” him when he does them? Then you’re assuming that we need to punish children to "teach a lesson."....

.....That`s not really surprising. If your boss criticizes, yells, humiliates, or docks your pay, does that make you want to follow his lead?

Being punished erodes the parent-child relationship so kids don`t want to follow our lead. It makes the child angry and defensive. It floods them with adrenaline and the other fight, flight or freeze hormones, and turns off the reasoning, cooperative parts of the brain. Kids quickly forget the “bad” behavior that led to their being punished; they just go on the defensive. If they learn anything, it’s to lie so they can avoid getting caught. Punishment disconnects us from our kids so we have less influence with them. Quite simply, punishment teaches all the wrong lessons.


Kathleen Notes: Yes!!! There is a HUGE difference between discipline (to teach)and punishment (making people pay for having a problem). No one is EVER motivated to change through criticism and kids are people just like adults.

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How To Prevent Emotional Neglect In Marriage

How do you prevent Emotional Neglect in your marriage? Fortunately, it’s quite easy.

But unfortunately, it’s also easy for Emotional Neglect to take over your marriage, leaving one or both partners feeling empty and alone. All it takes is for one or both of you to grow up with it in your family.

When Emotional Neglect happens in a marriage, it doesn’t look the same as other relationship problems, like conflict or fighting. Instead, it’s more likely to look like nothing.

Failing to notice when your partner is upset.

Failing to ask, “What’s wrong?”

Refusing to answer when your partner asks, “What’s wrong?”

Ignoring the problems between you in hopes they will go away on their own.

Avoiding conflict.

Keeping your festering anger to yourself.

Failing to notice or respond to your partner’s emotional needs.


Kathleen Notes: Often emotional neglect starts with the child in their family of origin. As people, we tend to "do" relationships as we experience and see them in childhood. Later this manifests itself in marriage.

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11 Things That Will Help You Hold Space for Someone
Holding space for someone in emotional pain is a concept many people are not familiar with but have nonetheless felt it, on some level, at some point. Holding space, or creating a container, can be especially helpful when someone is in deep grief, struggling with unresolved trauma, or in the throes of depression. We’ve all had the opportunity to feel the clear and pure attention of unconditional positive regard or the emptiness of its absence in a time of profound need.

So, what does it mean to “hold space” for someone? If needed, how does a person actually do this? The answers to these questions are quite simple in theory but complex in practice.

At one time or another, someone in our lives will need a space held that is loving, nonjudgmental, and empathetic. When that time comes, the relationship you already have will provide a foundation for building this so-called “container” in which you hold space for the other person. If you accept the challenge, your desire to be of service to the other person will be the first building block for holding that sacred space.


Kathleen Notes: Being with someone in their pain while giving unconditional support and regard....

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Recess Is Not A Luxury: Here’s What Happens When Kids Sit Too Long At School
After years of schools reducing recess time and teachers using the threat of taking away recess as a disciplinary tool, experts are tsk-tsking them for doing so – and it’s about time. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention recently issued a comprehensive set of strategies for recess that highlights the benefits of recess and reminds parents and educators that recess shouldn’t be optional, nor should it be taken away as a punishment.
Not only is recess fun, but it serves a critical function in the learning process. Unfortunately, in recent years, many schools have been cutting recess time to keep up with stricter academic demands – with disastrous results. Angela Hanscom, a pediatric occupational therapist who first wrote about the recess deficiency problem in the Washington Post in 2014, warned that when children are constantly in the upright position – as they are these days – they have an underdeveloped vestibular system (which is really just a fancy way of saying “balance”).

Kathleen Notes: Long time readers know that this is a major issue in my opinion. Schools need to function for the benefit of the children, not the other way around. Sitting in a desk for 7 hours a day is unnatural and harmful for the developing mind, body and emotions.

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Fixes For a Foggy Brain

Deb of Canton, South Dakota, has grappled with memory problems for a long time. Names, appointments, even special events like her children’s birthdays—they all drift off to some Never-Never Land.

Of course, plenty of people have trouble finding their keys, keeping ahead of things at work, and remembering to pick up the dry cleaning. Yet researchers now know that glitches in recall, planning, and staying on task can be part and parcel of bipolar disorder. A growing body of evidence identifies what are known as “cognitive deficits” that predate diagnosis and persist through all mood states.

Luckily, there are ways to exploit modern technology and old-fashioned techniques—programming alerts into your smartphone, organizing your work space, choosing a spot to always keep your keys and wallet—to compensate for brain fog. For especially severe symptoms, it may be worth exploring rehabilitative training.

Deb’s mood swings have been well-controlled for the past eight years, but she still relies on workarounds for her forgetfulness and lack of focus.


Kathleen Notes: Some good stuff here...

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Curb Your Yelling with 3 Steps

“You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry.” —Dr. Bruce Banner

Remember the story of The Incredible Hulk? Scientist Bruce Banner accidentally exposes himself to lethal doses of gamma rays, and his DNA is restructured. Afterward, in times of anger or extreme stress, the otherwise mild-mannered doctor morphs into a raging green monster known as The Incredible Hulk.

Dr. Banner desperately tries to control his rage and prevent the transformations so he won’t harm others; unfortunately, he fails. In the 82 episodes of the original television series, Dr. Banner transforms into the Hulk in every single one. As a parent, you may relate to the struggle to contain your anger… I know I have....

.....You may recognize that once the anger seeps in and the yell creeps up to your throat, it’s a battle to keep the scream from exploding out. And after you yell? Of course, you feel awful, maybe even ashamed; you vow it will never happen again; however, somehow, much sooner than anticipated, your inner Hulk rears its ugly head again.


Kathleen Notes: I don`t know who said it first, but I like the expression, "Raise your words, not your voice."

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Phrases That Kill Intimacy

Here’s what I mean…

If you ask someone important to you, “How are you doing today? ”

And they respond, “I’m really feeling stressed. ”

What would you typically say next?

Would you tell them:

You’ll feel better tomorrow.

I was stressed last week, too. Let me tell you what happened…

You’re always stressed!

You may mean well by being reassuring. You may not intend to be dismissive by reminding them how often they complain. When you change the subject toward yourself, maybe you’re just trying to “relate. ”

But when someone tells you how they’re feeling and you either dismiss, minimize or change the subject, what you’re really doing is essentially (although unintentionally) communicating:

I’m not interested in you or how you’re feeling.


Kathleen Notes: Relationships are about connection. Why would you connect with someone who can`t or won`t attune with how you`re feeling? I think people don`t mean to but they run away from strong and uncomfortable emotions. Read on to learn how to overcome the problem.

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The Day I Realized I Was Bullying My Kids

Yelling wasn’t effective teaching.  Yelling didn’t get my point across, nor did it even make me feel better – it made me feel worse.

I had heard my son describe yelling like “being hit”  before.  Here was another analogy for me to reflect on.  My yelling and annoyed/angry voice was a big Put Down on my kids, and like most put downs they came from a place of not feeling great myself. I’d been tired, lonely and a little sad – those were MY emotions, but instead of taking care of myself, I had been taking out my emotions on my kids,  bullying them because I felt bad.

The tough part is that sometimes kids are….well, really annoying. and button pushing. and limit testing.  And sometimes life happens – you don’t get a break, family tragedies unfold, the dryer breaks, the dog pees on the carpet, you lose sleep.  Sometimes you get into a dark parenting rut, and that’s where I was.  I didn’t really even want to connect with my kids.  I just wanted a break, but one wasn’t coming soon and my kids still needed me.

They didn’t need my Put Downs.


Kathleen Notes: This Mom came up with some great ideas to change the way she responded...check it out.

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Real Men Are Warriors Who Protect

One of my favorite quotes, attributed to British politician Edmund Burke, is “All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.” When evil invades a man’s life and marriage, his children’s lives, his work, and his community, the easiest thing for him to do is nothing.

As a husband and father, you are the warrior who has been charged with the duty of pushing back against the evil that seeks to prey on your wife, daughters, and sons. If you don’t step up, who will?

When you think of protecting your family, perhaps the first things that come to mind are keeping your house locked, or holding on to your child’s hand on a crowded sidewalk, or investigating a strange sound downstairs in the middle of the night, or teaching your children about what to do if the house is on fire. But as I’ve looked at my responsibilities as protector at home, I’ve realized that they go further.    ...more

Kathleen Notes: Our society needs more of these warriors, not just to protect but to train the next generation of men to also become warriors!

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Kill The Spider

I define a “spider” as an agreement you’ve made with a lie. A cobweb is a medicator that brings false comfort to a lie.

We all have cobwebs. We all have spiders. But here’s the good news: We have all been filled with the same power that rolled the stone away on the third day. Jesus looked at them intently and said, ‘Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with God everything is possible’” (Matthew 19:26).

You CAN kill the spider.

I share my story to give you hope to face the spiders with the power of the God who makes the earth spin and float. Because with God, everything is possible.


Kathleen Notes: I knew there was a good reason why I`m afraid of spiders...

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‘Helicopter’ Parenting May Harm Kids’ Self-Control
Many parents feel anxious about their kids’ safety and are eager to help their kids succeed. Others feel pressured to conform to cultural norms and track all aspects of their children’s development. A strong connection to parents can help kids feel supported and loved. Yet overprotective “helicopter” parenting may harm kids.....
.......The study’s authors say when parents “protect” children from all hardships, they keep children from learning necessary skills. If parents always stop a child before they make a mistake, a child may not learn how to restrain their own impulses. Children who have all their problems solved for them may not learn how to soothe themselves. These skills (or lack thereof) can have far-reaching effects on child well-being.

Kathleen Notes: Children benefit from something called "scaffolding" : parents help only when needed and just enough so that the child acquires the needed skill. This promotes both the parent-child relationship while building self-efficacy, which is the basis of good self-esteem.

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Becoming a Better Spouse through Union with Christ

God made everything and is everywhere, which includes being with us at all times. Actually, it is even better than that! He promises that when we accept Jesus as Lord and Savior, Jesus actually takes up residence within us. In baptism we die with Christ and are resurrected with Him (Romans 6:4-6). That can only happen if He is one with us, in us. Miracle of miracles! Then we are told that we are seated with Him in heavenly places, which means we are with Him where He is seated at the right hand of the Father (Ephesians 1:19-20, 2:6-7). Scripture teaches God is near, yet some days it doesn`t feel that way. 

Nothing Can Separate Us from Christ

I have known all the scriptures about unity with Christ for a long time, but I recently heard an example that moved the knowledge from my head to my heart and produced a major paradigm shift in me. Suppose you have a glass of water. It is just water. Then suppose you put several tea bags into the water and let it sit for a while. We all know that the water will become saturated, united with the tea, and it would be very difficult to separate the tea from the water.  As well, the tea bags will become saturated with the water. I am no longer water, but Christ-infused tea, so to speak. We would be hard pressed to remove the tea from the water. Romans 8:35-39 tells us that nothing can separate us from God’s love. Further, assuming that the glass is clear and clean, the tea would be quite visible to others. However, if the glass was dirty or cloudy on the outside, the tea would be hidden. I am changed by Christ, and have to let it show.


Kathleen Notes: God made us to be relational beings: in relationship with Him and with others, in particular our spouses.

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3 Ways to Harness Your Brain’s Power & Change Your Life

Between psychology, medical science and neuroscience, we have never known so much about the human mind. Recently I’ve been amazed at the number and quality of studies which are showing us the amount of pure power our brains have; powers that are truly amazing. Powers that change the meaning of the old phrase, “put your mind to it.”

Here are a few of my favorite discoveries of what our brains can do:....

.....As a psychologist whose business is helping people change, I am not surprised by these findings. Every day I see people harness their brain powers to make profound changes in their personalities, their relationships, and their lives.


Kathleen Notes: God gave us amazing brains!!!

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Our Fixer-Upper Marriage
I’ve been obsessively watching HGTV shows like Fixer Upper and Property Brothers lately. I love watching the home transformations. From finding hazardous electrical situations to dire foundation issues, taking on a fixer-upper is not for the faint of heart.....

Marriage is a lot like a fixer-upper.

A big difference is that if I go into marriage with a wish list of items that I want to change about my spouse, I’m setting myself up for disappointment. The only person I can hope to change in my marriage is me. And the only one who can make those changes is the God who invented marriage in the first place.


Kathleen Notes: "God grant me the serenity to accept the people I cannot change; the courage to change the one that I can; and the wisdom to know that it is me......

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You’ll Be Happier If You Let Yourself Feel Bad
It’s not an uncommon desire. In fact, it may be a near-universal one. With varying levels of success, we try to hold on to good emotions and ward off the bad ones — but research suggests that those efforts, at least when it comes to negative feelings, may be misplaced.....
........But studies have shown that the ability to embrace your negative feelings can provide a slew of benefits. Those who accept all their emotions without judgment tend to be less likely to ruminate on negativity, less likely to try to suppress mental experiences (which can backfire by amplifying these experiences), and less likely to experience negative “meta-emotional reactions,” like feeling upset about feeling upset. Or, as the authors of a recent study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology put it: “When people accept (versus judge) their mental experiences, those experiences run their natural — and relatively short-lived — course, rather than being exacerbated.”

Kathleen Notes: You can`t suppress the "bad" emotions without suppressing all of them. God gave you all of these emotions for a reason. He knew you would need them.

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Relaxation Coping Skills - Activities to help kids calm down at home and at school

Coping skills are activities anyone can do to help manage difficult thoughts and feelings or challenging situations. It’s important for everyone to know and use coping skills.  Not all coping skills work in every situation, so it’s good to have a variety to help manage different challenges.  

When I think about coping skills, I tend to divide them into 5 categories  - Relaxation, Movement, Distraction, Processing and Sensory coping skills. In this post, I`m focusing on Relaxation Coping Skills, those skills designed to help your child calm down, settle and chill out.


Kathleen Notes: Self care is for kids, in fact childhood is where we best learn it!

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Where You End and I Begin: An invitation to healthy boundaries

Personal boundaries aren’t easy to establish. There is no litmus test that tells you when or what sort of behavioral limit setting is needed at any given time. There are no concrete measurements that reveal when a personal boundary is too rigid or too loose, or when it needs to be adjusted. Navigating relational boundaries requires that you know yourself, and that is an individual journey. Although challenging, it is worth the effort and can deliver rewards such as intimacy and closeness in relationships. 

Your most fundamental personal boundary is one that defines you, who you are, and what makes you “you.”  Without a boundary, you are defined by others, and there is no “you” for others to be in relationship with--others just see you as an extension of themselves. You need to know where you end and where the other begins in order to relate to another person in a healthy way.  


Kathleen Notes: What`s involved? You have to create your boundaries, no one else can do it for you. That means you get to: Discover yourself, No one can tell you what to Feel/Embrace the Feelings, Take your thoughts captive, Claim responsibility/Reject Responsibility,

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Helping Children Take a Mindful SEAT to Calm Down
It took me years of mindfulness practice to truly understand the promise of present moment and why it is a helpful place to hang out. As an anxious teenager, I can vividly recall how, in the face of a looming exam, my mind would sometimes spiral into self-defeat. A typical thought stream might look something like: “I’m going to fail this test, then fail out of school, never get into college, probably die homeless and alone under a bridge, and no one will come to my funeral…” But when I practiced mindfulness and staying in the moment, I realized that I could still prepare for the future, like just studying for the darn test, without getting caught up in story of how badly it could go. The future is where anxiety usually resides, for both adults and kids. Think about it: Most of the horror stories we tell ourselves are about events that haven’t even — and probably will never — happen! Mark Twain even once said “I’ve experienced many terrible things in my life… only a few of which actually ever happened.”   ...more

Kathleen Notes: S is for Senses and Sensations, E is for Emotions, A is for Actions, T is for Thoughts. By the way, this skill is not just for kids...

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Classroom Sensory Tricks
If you have ever received a note from your child’s teacher or a phone call saying your child seems to be disconnected from the class and isn’t grasping concepts, you may not know exactly what is happening to your child. Why are they acting out? Why are they fidgeting in their seat? Why can’t they focus? Even if your child is pulling good grades, but still has trouble in school, it can be hard to know exactly how to help your child. We all want our children to succeed in school to the best of their ability, but the truth is, not every child learns the same.
There are so many factors that can hinder or advance our child’s learning in the classroom. For some students it is a matter of the sensory input they are receiving while learning.  There are students who receive too much sensory input and need to get that energy out, while there are others who don’t receive enough sensory input.

Kathleen Notes: Classrooms often have a "one size fits all" approach, and it`s easy to understand why. But just a few tweaks can often make the difference academically, emotionally and socially for many children.

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What Do EMDR, Running, and Drumming Have in Common?

How do walking, running, and drumming factor in? Think about it for a moment. When you walk, run, or drum, you are using your body in a rhythmic way, alternating the stimulation or use of your right and left brain throughout the activity. Have you ever gone on a hike or run and felt that you were sorting through your thoughts, developing new insights, or becoming less distressed about something? We know that exercise has many benefits; EMDR highlights for us some of the mental and emotional benefits.

There are a million ways to alternate right- and left-brain activation, including dance, yoga, and some tai chi moves. People have naturally gravitated toward right-left movements in many healing rituals across the world. Think of how many sacred rituals involve drums, movement, or voyages on foot. Understanding brain integration, plasticity, and resilience gives us some insight into why these rituals have been effective and why they continue to be passed down through generations.


Kathleen Notes: Bi-lateral brain stimulation! By the way many activities fit the bill, see if you can find one that you enjoy.

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Caring for Your Introvert

What is introversion? In its modern sense, the concept goes back to the 1920s and the psychologist Carl Jung. Today it is a mainstay of personality tests, including the widely used Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. Introverts are not necessarily shy. Shy people are anxious or frightened or self-excoriating in social settings; introverts generally are not. Introverts are also not misanthropic, though some of us do go along with Sartre as far as to say "Hell is other people at breakfast." Rather, introverts are people who find other people tiring.

Extroverts are energized by people, and wilt or fade when alone. They often seem bored by themselves, in both senses of the expression. Leave an extrovert alone for two minutes and he will reach for his cell phone. In contrast, after an hour or two of being socially "on," we introverts need to turn off and recharge. My own formula is roughly two hours alone for every hour of socializing. This isn`t antisocial. It isn`t a sign of depression. It does not call for medication. For introverts, to be alone with our thoughts is as restorative as sleeping, as nourishing as eating. Our motto: "I`m okay, you`re okay—in small doses."


Kathleen Notes: Ontrovesion is not a dysfunction or something that needs a cure. It`s all about where your energy comes from.

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My Big Flaw: I’m an Impatient Mom

Here we are again, all buckled in and driving down the road. I’m at the wheel. My two girls are behind me strapped in their car seats. The music playing on my Christian radio station is uplifting, but my heart—it’s heavy. I’m weighed down by my own actions, not five minutes before.

Getting ready and out the door is a chore, as any mom of littles will tell you. No matter how much extra time you allot yourself, it’s never enough. It seems those last 10 minutes before leaving are pure and utter chaos.

It never fails. Somebody poops right as I step out the door. Did I get the paci? Oops, I forgot to water the dog.

It’s enough to drive someone mad—at least if that someone is me.


Kathleen Notes: Parents do the best they can...good to know it`s not just me...

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New research helps to instill persistence in children

Encouraging children “to help,” rather than asking them to “be helpers,” can instill persistence as they work to fulfill daily tasks that are difficult to complete, finds a new psychology study.

The research, conducted by a team of New York University scientists, suggests that using verbs to talk about actions with children, such as encouraging them to help, read, and paint, may help lead to more resilience following the setbacks that they inevitably experience rather than using nouns to talk about identities—for example, asking them to be helpers, readers, or artists.

The results run somewhat counter to those of a 2014 study that showed asking children to “be helpers” instead of “to help” subsequently led them to help more.


Kathleen Notes: Makes sense that using verbs in place of nouns would encourage action. I wonder if there is a similar study with adults? Hmmmmm.

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10 Strategies For Coping With Childhood Emotional Neglect

With your emotions walled off, you go through your adolescence and adulthood lacking full access to a potent, vital ingredient from within: your emotions, which should be motivating, directing, connecting, stimulating, and empowering you.

When you are living this way, it’s hard to see the problem, or even that there is a problem. Most children in emotionally neglectful homes have no idea that anyone should be noticing their feelings, validating them, or responding to them. Then, when they grow into adults, they continue to have no idea.

Yet as an adult who grew up with Emotional Neglect, you surely may sense that something is not right with you, but you do not know what it is.

Once you understand that you missed out on a key element of childhood, you are finally freed up to fix the problem. You can give yourself what you never got — emotional attention and validation — and learn how to connect with your feelings and how to use them.

Childhood Emotional Neglect may leave you feeling somewhat empty and disconnected, lost or alone. But good news! There are powerful things you can do to cope.


Kathleen Notes: Recovery from CEN involves attuning to your emotions and needs, helping to finish the parenting you didn`t recieve.

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To Be Happy, Fail and Try Again

Nick Offerman, actor and woodworker, grew up working on his family farm in Illinois. During this time, he learned to enrich his own life through hard work, instead of relying on modern comforts—a philosophy he continues to practice today.

In this video from BigThink, Offerman shares three lessons on happiness that have carried him through life.....

....He paraphrases a speech from author Neil Gaiman, who said: “If you make mistakes, it means you’re out there trying. It means you’re taking a swing at achieving something. And if you’re not making mistakes, it means you’ve given up…”


Kathleen Notes: My clients will tell you that I embrace and encourage making mistakes. Knowing that it`s OK to fail helps people to move towards self-acceptance and a great way to learn things!

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Surviving Arsenic Hour
Every parent knows arsenic hour, when hunger, homework, and exhaustion merge into one big emotional accident waiting to happen. One obvious reason that kids have meltdowns at the end of the day is that they`re hungry and tired, whether they`ve been home with you or out at school. But there`s another reason. After having spent the day apart, your child feels disconnected from you. Until he reconnects, he`ll let you know how alone he feels by acting ornery and uncooperative.
There`s another reason that kids who are at daycare or school all day lose it when they`re reunited with you. It`s hard work for little people to keep it together all day in the face of all those developmental challenges, disappointments and rules. All day, they store up big feelings they can`t process, waiting to be safe with Mom or Dad to let those emotions fly. This is true even if they love daycare or school and beg you to pick them up later. It may be fun, but navigating all those people is still stressful. So the minute they see you, their "executive self" relaxes, and their "baby self" comes out to seek comfort. Be ready to be emotionally present for your kids, focus on connecting with them, and you`ll stave off some meltdowns and set a pleasant tone for the evening. It all starts with you.

Kathleen Notes:"Arsenic Hour"...not just for children anymore. Home is our "soft place to land" and is often where all of the junk of the day also lands.

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When the Narcissist Becomes Dangerous

In many ways, it seems like it would be fun to be narcissistic. Wouldn’t it be great to go through life feeling superior to other people, and with unwavering self-confidence? Yes!

But as we all know, there is a dark side to narcissism. That unwavering self-confidence is as brittle as an eggshell. Narcissists don’t move back and forth on a continuum of self-esteem as the rest of us do. Instead, they run on full-tilt until something taps that protective shell of self-importance hard enough. Then, they fall into a million pieces. Under that fragile, brittle cover lies a hidden pool of insecurity and pain. Deep down, the narcissist’s deepest and most powerful fear is that he is a nothing.

With his brash, self-centered ways, the narcissist can hurt the people around him emotionally, and often. His deepest fear is of being exposed as “a nothing.” So he will protect his own fragile shell above all else, even if it sometimes emotionally harms the people he loves the most.


Kathleen Notes: People with narcissistic tenancies not only lack a strong self of self but also boundaries. It becomes necessary to have strong boundaries in addition to empathy in order to protect yourself and others.

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Be a Strength-Based Parent

Blame it on our brains. Our “negativity bias,” an ancient survival mechanism, hardwires us to spot problems in our environment more quickly than we spot the things that are going well. I call it the Dirty Window Syndrome: A clean window doesn’t attract your attention; you look straight through it. But a dirty window is something you notice. What’s more, your focus on one specific part of the window—the dirt—means you’ll often fail to see that the rest of the window is still clean and showing you a beautiful view.

It’s the same with our kids. When things are going well, we take it for granted; but when things are going badly, that spot of dirt on the window snaps our attention into sharp focus. The dirt, in my case Nick’s gaming, grows from a small spot to a big stain. It gets magnified, overshadowing our kids’ positive qualities, thus creating the perfect storm for conflict and for feeling anxious about their future. A useful evolutionary feature that keeps you and your kids safe from danger can be counterproductive to fostering a positive relationship.

The good news is that by learning how to shift your attention to your child’s strengths (the clean part of the window), you can override the negativity bias, clean the dirt, and prevent the problems from getting blown out of proportion—all while building up resilience and optimism in your children.


Kathleen Notes: No one is ever motivated by criticism to change their behaviors. However, when heartfelt appreciation is applied to positive behaviors, stand back and watch them grow!

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Ten Steps to Learn Self-Discipline

Here’s a brief recap of last week’s article, Self-Discipline Season Has Begun: 

  • Struggling with self-discipline is not a sign of weakness or a character flaw
  • Self-discipline is made up of two parts: making yourself do things you don’t want to do, and stopping yourself from doing things that you want to do.
  • Each of these two parts is a skill, nothing more and nothing less.
  • Since self-discipline is a skill, it can be learned!
  • In the best-case scenario, we learn these skills from our parents, when they discipline us throughout childhood.
  • Many parents, even those with the best intentions, fail to teach their children this skill well enough (an aspect of Childhood Emotional Neglect).
  • If you did not internalize the Two Skills of Self-Discipline in childhood, you can teach them to yourself as an adult.

Kathleen Notes: The follow up article to this week`s first article. Here`s where you can learn how to gain those skills.

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The 3 Most Tragic Childhood Emotional Neglect Symptoms In Adults

Just as the cause of all of these struggles seems simple — your parents didn’t respond enough to your emotions as they raised you — so also seems the solution.

You grew up with your feelings ignored, and now you must do the exact opposite. You can start right away simply paying attention to your feelings.

Take the time to notice when you are feeling something, learn how to name what you are feeling, and begin to learn how to use your feelings to inform, direct, motivate and guide you.

When you do the work, you get to reap the rewards. You will gradually start to know yourself, get what you want, and let your light shine.

And all that’s actually happening is that you are becoming more authentically your true self, and that is everything.


Kathleen Notes: Awareness and attunement to your emotions is the answer. People with CEN are often unaware or avoid their true feelings as something bad or wrong.

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Kids are sleep deprived and it`s affecting their development

Late bedtimes, nighttime awakenings and early wake ups all reduce a child’s chance of getting a full night’s sleep. And while some kids have sleep disorders, like sleep apnea or restless leg syndrome, they’re the minority, says Shelly Weiss, a pediatric neurologist who directs the Sleep/Neurology Clinic at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children. “It’s definitely more related to lifestyle,” she says.

Wendy Hall, a registered nurse and sleep expert at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, says more often than not, something in the kid’s environment or routine is getting in the way of them sleeping enough. “Things like not having regular household routines, not reinforcing bedtimes and screen use—not just in the evening but during the day—all affect sleep,” says Hall.....
What’s more, our busy modern lives aren’t designed with sleep in mind. Parents’ workdays are getting longer, which means dinner is pushed later into the evening, as is bedtime. Homework and activities eat up those precious post-dinner hours. One-year-olds entering daycare are often forced into a one-nap-a-day schedule before they’re ready; in some provinces, three- and four-year-olds are in full-day kindergarten programs when they really still need an afternoon nap. Some kids are up early to catch bus rides to school, and you know the coach who schedules a 7 a.m. hockey practice isn’t thinking about whether your kid is getting their recommend nine to 12 hours of sleep. “As a society, we’ve come to the conclusion that, for some reason, sleep is discretionary,” says Hall.

Kathleen Notes: As a society we`re short on sleep so of course our children are too. Overcoming this problem is worth the effort as it effects a child`s mental, emotional, social, and physical development crucial for a healthy life and adulthood. Let`s take this seriously.

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Stay-At-Home Moms Are Still Equal Partners
My husband would agree that I am every bit an equal contributor to our family. Maybe I don’t offer much in the way of finances, but there is more to running a household than providing money. In fact, the contribution of money is really not the most important thing when you factor in all the other things it takes to raise a family....
.....If we truly want equality, then we need to recognize the value in unpaid work and the important contributions of that unpaid work. I may not get paid to stay home with my kids, but in doing so I have contributed to our family as a whole, and my children will grow up knowing how important it is to look at contributions not in terms of how much money they make from it, but in how much it benefits their family and their community.

Kathleen Notes: Respect...the hand that rocks the cradle rocks the world...

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The Anatomy of an Emotion

Emotions are tricky things. They come in a variety of sharpnesses and intensities, but there are no instructions on what to do with them or how to make sense of them. Emotions such as fear, anger, shame, or guilt can be like un-invited dinner guests that won’t leave even after you started turning out the lights! Emotions such as love, joy, and peace can be like an unexpected bouquet of flowers, showing up on a day when you thought all was lost. 

Emotions are messengers. They have something to say to our body, soul, and spirit about how we`re doing as a person. Before you can really hear the voice of the emotion and discern its message, it helps to understand the origin of the emotion.


Kathleen Notes: I often use the analogy of a broken leg...what do you notice? Pain, swelling, bruising, etc. all tell the person that there is something going on that they should pay attention to. Emotions are like that.

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You Know What Will Ruin My Kids?
Toddlers need order. They crave it.  You might be ruining her brain with this mess.

You should get rid of more toys.

You should be telling her a story.

You should get the boys on a better schedule.

You should have made them clean up before bed.

You should have brushed her teeth, not let her do it on her own.

You should teach them better money sense.

You should make them write thank you notes more quickly.

You should eat dinner at the table every night.

You should.

You should.

You should.


Kathleen Notes: Yeah....don`t be so focused on the "shoulds" that it makes you feel stuck.

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How to Stop Misophonia From Ruining Your Relationship
Misophonia, sometimes called selective sound sensitivity syndrome, is sensitivity to specific sounds. Some common triggers include eating sounds such as chewing, throat sounds, nasal sounds such as a person blowing their nose, and repetitive noises such as tapping or clicking a pen.

While it is a potentially challenging symptom, misophonia is not a mental health diagnosis. A 2015 study of more than 300 people with misophonia found that only 2.2% had a mental health condition.

Misophonia can be extremely distressing both to the person with misophobia and their loved ones. It can cause conflict in relationships and make it difficult for couples to go to certain public places. In addition, sensitivity to the sounds a romantic partner makes may be hurtful and feel overbearing or critical.


Kathleen Notes: Is this you or someone you love?

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The Right Brain Develops First ~ Why Play is the Foundation for Academic Learning

Did you know that the right brain develops first? It does so by the time children are 3-4 years of age. The left brain, on the other hand, doesn’t fully come online until children are approximately seven years old; hence the first seven years being recognized as such a critical period in child development.

“Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.” ~ Albert Einstein

The left brain’s functionality is one of language, numeracy, literacy, analysis and time. It is the logical, calculating, planning, busy-bee part of us that keeps us anchored in the pragmatic world, and in past and future. The right brain, on the other hand, is responsible for empathy, intuition, imagination and creativity. It is where we wonder, dream, connect and come alive. Through the right brain we dwell in the space of no-time, in being absolutely present. While the left brain is more interested in outcomes or product, the right brain cares much more about process—the journey is what matters, not the destination.


Kathleen Notes: Another reason why play therapy is so effective with children. The author make s a great point: "Being is primary; hence the right brain developing first; hence, human being, not human doing."

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Bruce Springsteen opens up about his battles with depression: `I know I am not completely well`
Springsteen also spoke about his late father, Doug Springsteen, who wrestled with his own demons and was diagnosed with schizophrenia later in his life.
"All I do know is as we age, the weight of our unsorted baggage becomes heavier ... much heavier," Springsteen went on to say. "With each passing year, the price of our refusal to do that sorting rises higher and higher. ... Long ago, the defenses I built to withstand the stress of my childhood, to save what I had of myself, outlived their usefulness, and I`ve become an abuser of their once lifesaving powers. I relied on them wrongly to isolate myself, seal my alienation, cut me off from life, control others, and contain my emotions to a damaging degree. Now the bill collector is knocking, and his payment will be in tears."

Kathleen Notes: I applaud the courage it takes to be open about mental health struggles from "the Boss". The above quote is not only powerful, but accurate.

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Get Your Mind and Body Out of Crisis Mode

When we are faced with a stressor, regardless of whether it is positive or negative, it involves a change to which we must adjust: the new baby, job, relationship, death, and sickness, to name a few. Stress itself may not be the issue but rather its chronicity and severity, our relationship to it, as well as what we do when stress shows up. Humans must necessarily adapt psychologically, socially, biologically, and environmentally. And we are nothing if we are not problem solvers. But even too much problem solving can result in burnout.

Symptoms of burnout, according to The Maslach Burnout Inventory Manual, used by researchers as a measure for long-term occupational stress, include:

  • Emotional exhaustion – Emotionally overextended and exhausted by work or life. This is common for people in the helping professions when they reach a point where they feel no longer able to give of themselves.
  • Depersonalization – Negative, cynical attitude, or treating others ?as objects. We can begin to see others as deserving of their problems. This view is particularly tied to emotional exhaustion.
  • Sense of low personal accomplishment – Feelings of incompetence, inefficiency, and inadequacy. People feel unhappy and dissatisfied with themselves and their performance. This can lead to “learned helplessness” and “chronic bitterness.”

Kathleen Notes: Some great information to help you manage your stress!

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How to Be Yourself When You Have Social Anxiety

Contrary to popular belief, writes Hendriksen, what socially anxious people fear most is not judgment by others in and of itself, but that the judgment is right and correctly exposes their hidden flaws or frailties—a process she calls “The Reveal.”

“We think there is something wrong with us, and we avoid in order to conceal it,” she writes. “In our minds, if The Reveal comes to pass, we’ll be rejected, humiliated, or exposed.”

These “Reveals,” she writes, come in four flavors:

  • Worry about the physical symptoms of our anxiety, like sweaty shirts or shaking hands.
  • Worry that we’re unattractive, or that there’s something weird about our bodies or clothes.
  • Worry about our personalities—that we’re not cool, funny, smart, adequate, or competent.
  • Worry that whatever we say to someone will be seen as awkward, boring, or overly emotional; or that we’ll forget mid-sentence what we want to say.

Kathleen Notes: Greater self compassion, some cognitive behavioral therapy to dispute those pesky cognitive distortions and acceptance of your authentic self is the ticket!

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The Secret to My Marriage

There are several ways you can practice grace in your marriage. It’s not complicated, and to be honest, it’s not even a mystery. You simply have to find in your heart the desire for grace in your home. For the believer, the more you work at it, the more natural it becomes.

First, practice forgiveness. It’s true that there are consequences to actions. Sometimes actions are so severe they have to be stopped in order to have a healthy marriage—things like abuse, infidelity, illegal activities. A marriage is not going to be healthy with these kinds of despicable deeds.

Even in these cases, however, forgiveness is possible.  Forgiveness is not blanket permission for a person to treat you any way they want to, but you shouldn’t become embittered. Take action. Stop the problem. But don’t hang on to the desire for revenge. Romans 12:19 says, “Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.’”

In most marriages, however, the major problems are the typical issues of life—miscommunication, differences in financial responsibility, things that are said in the heat of anger or frustration, unintended hurt feelings, or sensitivity in times of stress. This is where forgiveness can make or break a marriage.


Kathleen Notes: Repentance(turning away from the sin), Forgiveness (as God forgives us) and Grace (undeserved kindness) are the ingredients for a GREAT marriage.

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Try these two smart techniques to help you master your emotions

What I’m describing is emotional granularity, the phenomenon that some people construct finer-grained emotional experiences than others do. People who make highly granular experiences are emotion experts: they issue predictions and construct instances of emotion that are finely tailored to fit each specific situation. At the other end of the spectrum are young children who haven’t yet developed adult-like emotion concepts and who use “sad” and “mad” interchangeably. My lab has shown that adults run the whole range from low to high emotional granularity. So, a key to real emotional intelligence is to gain new emotion concepts and hone your existing ones.

Perhaps the easiest way to gain concepts is to learn new words. You’ve probably never thought about learning words as a path to greater emotional health, but it follows directly from the neuroscience of construction. Words seed your concepts, concepts drive your predictions, predictions regulate your body budget (which is how your brain anticipates and fulfills your body’s energy needs), and your body budget determines how you feel. People who exhibit higher emotional granularity go to the doctor less frequently, use medication less frequently, and spend fewer days hospitalized for illness. This is not magic; it’s what happens when you leverage the porous boundary between the social and the physical.


Kathleen Notes: We`re back to gaining awareness of and naming emotions. Really, there`s no substitute for this. You can`t fake this one.

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What is Self-Regulation? Definition, Theory + 95 Skills and Strategies

It can refer to self-control by a wide range of organisms and organizations, but for our purposes, we’ll focus on the psychological concept of self-regulation. As Bell also notes:

“[S]omeone who has good emotional self-regulation has the ability to keep their emotions in check. They can resist impulsive behaviors that might worsen their situation, and they can cheer themselves up when they’re feeling down. They have a flexible range of emotional and behavioral responses that are well matched to the demands of their environment” (2016).....

......If you’re thinking that self-regulation and self-control have an awful lot in common, you’re right! They are similar concepts and deal with some of the same processes; however, they are two distinct constructs.

As psychologist Stuart Shanker (2016) puts it:

“Self-control is about inhibiting strong impulses; self-regulation, reducing the frequency and intensity of strong impulses by managing stress-load and recovery. In fact, self-regulation is what makes self-control possible, or, in many cases, unnecessary.”


Kathleen Notes: Emotions and behaviors are linked. Learn to regulate emotions and regulating behaviors becomes a much easier sell.

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Life Lessons from My Child

The season of parenting finds us in the midst of dirt and chaos, but treasures can be found if only we stop to see them. It is the wonder of this time, this work; but it can be lost in our insistence upon sweeping the remnants of childhood away in exchange for a perfectly tidy life. Except this is not a tidy time.

As my children play outside and explore the world, they are not aware of the dirt or germs or danger or mess because they are fully distracted by the wonder that floats right past. And if we can rub the grown-up out of our eyes, maybe we can see it too. God is in the business of adding beauty to our lives, unexpected and lilting and lovely. 

The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge (Psalm 19:1-2).


Kathleen Notes: We can learn a great deal from our kiddos. "At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” He (Jesus) called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven." Matthew 18 vs 1-3

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The Best Way to Properly Apologize to Your Spouse

For the first half of our marriage, Amy and I had something called the QMR (Quarterly Marriage Realignment). We let things go and didn`t apologize to each other for minor offenses. We swept our offenses under the rug and hoped they would go away. The problem is that they didn`t go away; emotional tension built up. Then, like a volcano, the pressure became too much. Amy and I could go only about three months before eruption.

Every couple is different. Whatever your timeline for marriage realignment — whether it`s a month, quarter or year waiting period — there`s a better, biblical way.

Jesus calls it the SMQ (Settle Matters Quickly). He spoke these words in the Sermon on the Mount when He said, "Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court" (Matthew 5:25, NIV). Don`t let things drag out; deal with them. Amy and I now keep very short accounts in our daily communications. We prioritize 15 to 20 minutes a day to ask about offenses, apologize if necessary and forgive always.


Kathleen Notes: True apologies are HARD. It requires repentance, humility and the ability to admit you hurt someone else. But in marriage they are absolutely necessary. A very good read.

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3 Secrets Dogs Teach Us About What Is Most Important
There is a lot we can learn from our canine companions, including the importance of living in the present.

#1 Truly exist in this moment

These animals don’t ruminate about the past or think about their five-year goal plan. They put their attention to essential things of the moment, like eating, drinking, playing, sleeping and bathroom breaks. For humans this may seem like a boring existence, but try to just hang out with your dog for a full day and do what he does and see if you have any stress.


Kathleen Notes: Dogs have mastered the art of staying in the moment!

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Preparing Your Child for Kindergarten

In fact, the research shows that children in play-based preschools do better both socially and academically, in kindergarten and in the later grades, than kids in preschools that focus on academics. That implies that kids who start kindergarten not knowing any of these things will probably learn them quickly. So the idea of kindergarten-readiness seems to me to be based on some problematic assumptions, at best. To me, kindergarten-readiness means the child is ready to listen to the teacher, and ready to work things out with other children.

But since the US kindergarten curriculum assumes children entering kindergarten will know certain things, many parents get anxious about getting their child kindergarten-ready. Luckily, the things your child is expected to know are all things that he or she can learn easily in the course of daily life, just by your asking questions ("What`s that letter?")


Kathleen Notes: My lament for many years, especially since research shows that children who are pushed academically don`t hold their "edge" for long. Those who are able to develop when and where they need to as an individual do so much better over the long run.

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Build friendship into your marriage
Simon & Garfunkel once famously declared their rejection of love: “Don’t talk of love,” they sang, followed by their well-known refrain: “I am a rock, I am an island.” Having been hurt by love, they resolved never to open themselves to another person again. While their music may have spoken to many a wounded heart, Simon & Garfunkel`s poetic declaration was wishful thinking--no one is, or really wants to be, an island. In fact, when God looked down at a world yet unspoiled by sin, he found the sole person he had made to be incomplete: “And God said, ‘it is not good that Adam should be alone; I will make a helper fit for him.” (Gen. 2:18). Imagine that! Even in a perfect world, God saw something that wasn’t yet good--and by performing the world’s first surgery, God answers Adam’s need in a way that points us to God’s purpose for marriage even today. As we bring our marriages in line with God’s design, we’ll discover the joy God intends for us in marriage.   ...more

Kathleen Notes: Companionship (i.e.friendship) is a vital component of a happy marriage. Would you hang out with someone you don`t like? Of course not. Likewise, it`s important to spend your time,space and life with a good friend!

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A Mindfulness Practice for A Bullied Child

“How do you feel when Theo treats you that way?” I gently asked, leading, a bit self-consciously, with the classic therapist question. Max, eyes downcast, simply shrugged off my question, continuing to look defeated and downright deflated. His mom, who had joined us for the session leaned in. “Max, can you show us what you feel like?” Max sighed, sat up straight, and then crumpled over.

“You look,” his mother suggested, “like a wilted flower.”

With his brain and body flooded with emotion, sadness and shame, logic and language failed, but his body language told the story of the trauma. Often when people of any age struggle to find the words to express how they feel, whether from lack of language or from the crushing shame, it can help to simply make an expressive sound like a sigh or show someone with their body language how they feel.


Kathleen Notes: As the school year begins, those of us with children in our lives (parents, teachers, caregivers,etc.)need to attune to what is going on. Bullying thrives in the shadows and self-blame/shame keeps it there. This article gives kids a wonderful way to cope and thrive.

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Loving the Enemy
It is extremely hard for us to love others when the actions they take are unloving. It is extremely hard for us to love others who seek out harm upon others. And it is extremely hard for us to love anyone who treats us poorly. The challenge from Paul is that regardless of how others treat you our response must be love. ....
.......This love Paul speaks of is hard. We read in another of Paul`s letters (Col 4:14) that we must "put on love" which means we wear it with intention, like putting on a coat. The love we are to live and give takes work. Hard work. But the peace we have is knowing that this is not something that is foreign to us. This "agape" love is one that Christ speaks of and acted out as well. "God demonstrated his own love (agape) for us in this way: while we were still sinners Christ died for us" (Rom 5:8). Christ`s love is unconditional and responsive. Christ`s love is a love that is authentic, true, and not dependent on us deserving love first.

Kathleen Notes: It helps to remember that the only response that you are in control of is your own, no one else`s.

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How to Give Your Full Attention
The key to mindful listening is to simply notice when your mind begins to wander, and then gently bring your focus back to center—in this case, to the speaker. You train yourself to refrain from interrupting, adding your point of view, or sharing similar experiences. These interjections take away from the speaker’s experience by making it about you. Instead of projecting your experience or feelings onto their message, the idea is to listen with the intention only to hear with an open, receptive, nonjudgmental, and compassionate ear. One way to practice this is to repeat back to the speaker what you think you heard him or her say, to see if you fully understand what the person is trying to communicate. You might be surprised by how often your mental and emotional filters lead to misinterpretation, however subtle.   ...more

Kathleen Notes:“To listen is to lean in, softly, with a willingness to be changed by what we hear.” —Mark Nepo, poet, philosopher

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Starved for Time? Here’s a Surprising—and Easy—Solution
This brings me back to my main point: Stillness—or the ability to just sit there and do nothing—is a skill, and as a culture we’re not practicing this skill much these days. When we can’t tolerate stillness, we feel uncomfortable when we have downtime, and so we cancel it out by seeking external stimulation, which is usually readily available in our purse or pocket. Instead of just staring out the window on the bus, for example, we read through our Facebook feed. We check our email waiting in line at the grocery store. Instead of enjoying our dinner, we mindlessly shovel food in our mouths while staring at a screen.
Here’s the core problem with all of this: We human beings need stillness in order to recharge our batteries. The constant stream of external stimulation that we get from our televisions and computers and smart phones, while often gratifying in the moment, ultimately causes what neuroscientists call “cognitive overload.” This state of feeling overwhelmed impairs our ability to think creatively, to plan, organize, innovate, solve problems, make decisions, resist temptations, learn new things easily, speak fluently, remember important social information (like the name of our boss’s daughter, or our daughter’s boss), and control our emotions. In other words, it impairs basically everything we need to do in a given day.(i)   ...more

Kathleen Notes:When was the last time you did NOTHING? Hard to do in todays` media rich world..

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18 Consequences of High-Functioning Anxiety

There is a saying, “People with depression are focused on the past, and people with anxiety are focused on the future.” It may help explain those two conditions in a broad sense, but there is a ton of missing information that fits in between. People experience anxiety on a scale, but it can be terrifying at every dose. People who suffer from anxiety tend to have a bad reputation in society. They are often told to just calm down, to not think too much about it.

For a person with standard brain chemistry, this may work. But, not everyone has standard chemistry in their brains. There are people who can’t control their thoughts and fears. They can’t stop that growing pit in their stomach that threatens to consume them. They will worry, they will stress, and at times these emotions will be debilitating. A high-functioning anxiety sufferer experiences all these symptoms.


Kathleen Notes: So, what if you don`t have "standard brain chemistry?" It means that you will need to learn and develop emotional regulation and coping skills that are unique to you. A counselor can give vital information and support.

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Why should I forgive?
People can be cruel and exasperating. Friends can betray our trust and leave us hurting. We feel justified in being angry. Why should we forgive when that could put us in position of being hurt once again? We can recite the list of the offenses that have been committed against us. It may be true that the behavior that you experienced was out of line. You may be completely justified in your emotions, but living with ongoing bitterness toward someone else will only cause you further distress. Here are some good reasons to forgive:...
....Learning to forgive can be the most healing act that we can ever learn. God will give us the strength to forgive. It will free us to live life without the burden of bitterness and free our bodies and souls to find rest in God. Ephesians 4:31-32 instructs us, “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”

Kathleen Notes: Everyone knows it`s a good idea, but forgiveness can be so difficult. It`s only possible with the help of God.

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Listening To Your Spouse
Communication is more than just speaking and thinking that your message will be heard and understood. Meaningful communication is much more than just a one-way street.  Effective communication requires less talking and more listening, hearing, and responding. It requires being intentional. While communication happens when one person speaks to another, it`s never just a one-directional event. True communication is dialogue where relationship is nurtured. The listener hears and digests the content and reflects information back to the speaker. The listener plays a powerful role in helping the speaker to feel heard. Good communication bridges a gap between people allowing an exchange of words, actions, and emotions. It moves us from isolation to community....
......James 1:19 says that we are to be "quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger." Communication is about listening first, but we cannot listen if we do not engage. Communication has to be about WANTING to hear, WANTING to know, and WANTING to share.

Kathleen Notes: We have a human need to be heard and understood. When both spouses feel that way, the rest is so much easier.

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Focus on Your Husband’s Strengths

Honor is the key to a man’s heart. By requiring wives to serve their husbands, God is giving them the keys to their husband’s hearts.

One important way to honor your husband is by focusing on his strengths and not his faults.

I’ve heard it said before that the devil is the “accuser of the brethren.” There are five ways Satan accuses us. He is always accusing me to God, God to me, me to myself, me to you, and you to me.

Why? Because he hates relationships, and he wants to destroy those five important human relationships.


Kathleen Notes: As Christians we HAVE an enemy...it`s just not your spouse....

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Kids and Chores

When my children were very young, I found myself cleaning up their messes, working hard to keep our home clean and feeling a bit frustrated that so many jobs were left for me. Over time, I began to realize that my frustration was a nudge to look more closely at what was happening in our family. It seemed faster and easier to do things myself, but they also had lessons they needed to learn.

As I thought about my goals for all of my kids, I quickly realized that this approach would not work for us. We want to raise children who take responsibility for their own needs and messes. We want to raise children who understand what it means to work and to do so diligently. We want to raise children who understand that this home that we share is a blessing and it runs most smoothly when we all do our part. Having chores helps us to spread out the work it takes to enjoy the life we love.


Kathleen Notes: Chores help your child grow in responsibility,learn necessary life skills and helps to curb entitlement. 1 Peter 4:10 "As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God`s varied grace."

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How to Tell Emotional Neglect From Emotional Abuse in a Relationship

Let’s face it, relationships are complicated. I wish I had a dollar for every time someone has asked me, “Is this normal?” about their relationship.

One of the most confusing gray areas is the difference between emotional abuse and Emotional Neglect. Since neither is physical, both are difficult to perceive at all. Even more difficult is telling them apart. Even mental health professionals sometimes struggle to define the difference. And sometimes Emotional Neglect can be so severe that it crosses over the line, and becomes abuse.

How good are you at differentiating between them? Read about this interaction between Marcy and Jeremy below. Identify each option as emotional abuse, Emotional Neglect, or neither. Then read on to see if you got them right.


Kathleen Notes: As usual the answer is attunement.

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Build on your strengths: What`s great about your parenting?

"By taking the time to stop and appreciate who you are and what you`ve achieved - and perhaps learned through a few mistakes, stumbles and losses - you actually can enhance everything about you. Self-acknowledgment and appreciation are what give you the insights and awareness to move forward... - Jack Canfield

What are your biggest strengths as a parent? Don’t worry about humility; just be honest. What would an impartial observer admire if she could watch your best moments with your child or children?

Now, let`s build on those strengths.


Kathleen Notes: My mother used to say that it isn`t bragging if it`s true. Give this strengths-based approach a try.

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Love Is Good Therapy: The Gift of Being Loved by Your Therapist

Just as people can be hurt in their relationships, they can also heal in them. Therapy is not just a set of techniques, it is a special type of relationship that is oriented toward helping people to heal from past experiences.

An internalized sense of being loved by one’s therapist can vastly change how a person experiences the world. In addition to symptoms diminishing, other people who once seemed threatening may become sources of connection and the future may seem more hopeful. Generosity and compassion flourish in those who have felt loved, leading them to touch the lives of others. Fittingly, many therapists have been touched by another person’s love in their own therapy and find it to be a deep privilege to be trusted and to pass on the gift.


Kathleen Notes: Counselors and therapists are to avoid personal relationships with their clients in order to protect the client. But the therapeutic relationship is vital to the growth and increased health of the client. For many people, it`s the first time in their lives that someone has simply listened to them and valued them for who their authentic selves. Powerful stuff.

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Emotional Neglect and Emotional Deprivation are Not the Same

Most people, even mental health professionals, do not think about emotional deprivation and emotional neglect as two separate things. And I understand why. In some ways, these two childhood experiences are very much the same. But in some very important ways they are very, very different.

And I’m on a mission to make sure everyone knows just that.

Childhood Emotional Deprivation: Happens when there is an extreme absence of emotional attention and/or response given to an infant or child by her primary caretakers. Has been documented in orphanages, and in families where there are extreme physical absence of caretakers, abuse and trauma.

Childhood Emotional Neglect (CEN): Happens when a child’s primary caretakers (usually his parents) fail to respond enough to the child’s emotional needs. Happens often in normal homes all over the world, even when the parents are physically present, and all the child’s material needs are met.


Kathleen Notes: It`s my hope that as awareness increases about the topic of CEN we can see changes in how we understand and respond in both children and adults.

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Why Some Adopted Kids Reject Mom

When the bond between a child and biological mother is broken, some children try to protect their hearts from further trauma; they resolve to never have another mom. They still need a cook and chauffeur, but fear emotional intimacy. The thought of losing another mother is simply too much to bear. Thus Mom becomes the target of her child`s rejection because she`s the greatest emotional threat.

Countless adoptive parents experience this, yet there is hope!   ...more

Kathleen Notes: A short but encouraging article. Adopted children (as well as those who have been in foster care) have endured many loses: family of origin, sometimes a home, a culture, friends, personal belongings, etc.

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Why Is It So Hard to Be Vulnerable?

We all know the experience of vulnerability, even if we don’t call it by that name. It’s that feeling you get when you’re about to tell someone “I love you,” try out a new skill, or ask for forgiveness. When the risk of getting rejected, laughed at, or criticized is real.

In her research, University of Houston professor and author Brené Brown has explored some of the reasons why we shy away from vulnerability. While we often celebrate it as a strength in other people, she discovered, we tend to see it as a weakness in ourselves.

“We love seeing raw truth and openness in other people, but we are afraid to let them see it in us,” she writes. “Vulnerability is courage in you and inadequacy in me.”


Kathleen Notes: To be vulnerable means being authentic. To be authentic means risking being rejected or criticized for who you really are. It`s also the only way to be fully present with who you are and the rest of your world. Scary stuff but sooo good!

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Why Trust Matters — and How to Build More of It

A measure of the quality of a relationship — between individuals, between groups, and between governments — trust makes life more predictable and working with others easier. “I started to see their conflicts like a fan opening up, and every region of the fan was a different area of trust,” he explains. “Can I trust you to be there and listen to me when I’m upset? Can I trust you to choose me over your mother, over your friends? To not take drugs? Can I trust you to not cheat on me and be sexually faithful? Can I trust you to respect me?” 

Many of these are subtle questions of betrayal, but trust can be eroded by minor acts of betrayal over time. 

“Trust is built in very small mo­ments,” says University of Houston social scientist and best-selling author Brené Brown, PhD, LMSW. Research shows that people trust folks who attend funerals, those who ask for help, and bosses who ask how their employees’ family members are doing.


Kathleen Notes: Trust is built over the little things that we often think don`t matter or are overlooked. Check out the rest of the article to learn more.

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Self-Care Is Not An Indulgence. It`s A Discipline.

Self-care is not an indulgence. Self-care is a discipline. It requires tough-mindedness, a deep and personal understanding of your priorities, and a respect for both yourself and the people you choose to spend your life with.

For example, self care is:

  • Turning off the TV instead of watching another episode of “The Crown” because the alarm is going off at 5am so you can get to the gym.
  • Declining the second drink at the office holiday party. It might even be declining the first drink.
  • Saying “no” to the thing you don’t want to do even if someone is going to be angry at you.
  • Maintaining financial independence.
  • Doing work that matters.
  • Letting other people take care of themselves.

  • If we are being honest, self-care is actually kind of boring. Which is why self-care is a discipline. It takes discipline to do the things that are good for us instead of what feels good in the moment. It’s takes even more discipline to refuse to take responsibility for other people’s emotional well-being. And it takes discipline to take full and complete responsibility for our own well-being.

Kathleen Notes: My clients (past and present) will tell you that I preach good self care as a method of emotional regulation. NOT optional !!

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11 Superpowers of Anxious Children

Let’s not sugarcoat it: Life can be hard for anxious kids. Even simple, everyday tasks can seem big and scary when they come with sweaty palms, a pounding heart, and the feeling that something — anything, maybe even everything — is about to go horribly wrong. Anxious kids may feel like it’s their job to stop a disaster from happening, or even like they’ve done something wrong and need to fix it. That’s a lot to shoulder at any age.

But they’ve done nothing wrong; in fact, those anxious feelings have some hidden advantages. It’s kind of like having a secret superpower. Here are 11 interesting ways that anxiety can actually be a good thing:


Kathleen Notes: Anxiety can come with increased ability for empathy and compassion, plus many others. Read on...

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Boost Happiness in Three Steps
Happiness isn’t about being upbeat all the time. Instead, think of it as a trait—one that helps you to recognize even the tiniest moments of joy, to fully embrace the good stuff in life without pause, and to know that even when things aren’t going well, this hard time, too, shall pass. It’s also something that can be cultivated. Why is this important? Science shows us that happiness is one of the best defenses against hardship. It creates resiliency, and it also allows us, by not getting stuck in a negative state, to see opportunities that might lead us back to a steadier, more contented outlook. The key to uncovering happiness is to be on the lookout for the sweet moments in life, big and small, and to really take them in. The friendly exchange with a stranger. The spring sun on your face after a long winter. The sense of uplift from a job well done. Start taking notice of these everyday moments, and bask in their glow for a beat or two. The more easily you can identify even the simplest of joys in life, the more of them you’ll discover, everywhere.   ...more

Kathleen Notes: I think it`s about being content...

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Timing Is Everything When It Comes To Marriage Counseling
People often contact me looking for marriage advice. They ask me “Can my marriage be saved?” or “Can you help us decide if we should stay together?” While these are complicated questions, my answer is usually something like: “Marriage counseling is hard work and there are no guarantees. But you are wise to invest the time to find out if your marriage can be improved.”....
.....Timing is an essential element in whether marriage counseling works. Unfortunately, most couples wait much too long to reach out for help repairing their marriage. According to relationship and marriage expert Dr. John Gottman, couples wait an average of six years of being unhappy before getting help. Think about this statistic for a few minutes. Couples have six years to build up resentment before they begin the important work of learning to resolve differences in effective ways.

Kathleen Notes: Check out this article to learn the 7 tips to help deal with differences between you and your spouse.

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An Inside Job

Universally I have found sabotage at the epicenter of this disconnect between desire for change and our ability to make it happen. Our patterns of sabotage impact our ability to leverage our suffering, to use friction to achieve lasting behavioral changes and emotional shifts. Sabotage keeps us orbiting endlessly around self-defeating dynamics. We can’t outrun it. We can’t trick it. The fix isn’t downloadable. There is no app to hack it. This is an inside job.

Sabotage is a universal human trend. It doesn’t matter if you work with me in therapy, consulting, or other venues of self-examination, sabotage is one of the primary dynamics we will observe. It is at the core of a lot of the self-defeating, self-limiting aspects of our behavior. Addiction, relationship problems, business performance, anxiety fueled processes, enabling, co-dependence, and a lot of the personality disorders I see in my line of work are all fueled by aspects of sabotage. With sabotage, it’s you against you.


Kathleen Notes: Sabotage is evidence of our sin nature at work. How to overcome it? We don`t have the ability in ourselves but with God`s help, "all things are possible."

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What Successful Couples Are Doing Right

In our research, we’ve found that successful couples turned toward their partner’s bids for connection 86 percent of the time. A bid can be something as simple as saying to a partner, “Wow, look at that beautiful boat out the window.” Then the partner can turn away by either ignoring the bid or responding, “Would you stop interrupting me? I’m trying to read.” Or the partner can turn toward the bid with even a simple acknowledgement, like “Huh, look at that.” Every time people turn toward each other in relationships, they’re building up an emotional bank account.

Jaak Panksepp, who wrote Affective Neuroscience, detailed the seven different emotional command systems in the brain. We’ve found that when you’re helping couples turn toward each other, you have to help them do so in all seven of the emotional command systems that are hard-wired into the brain.   ...more

Kathleen Notes: They say if you want to get people`s attention, bring up the topic of sex. In this article the John and Julie Gottman address how the emotional connection equals a better sex life in marriage.

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How to Settle the Mind

Sometimes, you get lucky in life, when the most important thing you need to do turns out to also be the simplest. One example is breathing. Breathing is the most important thing we need to do in our lives, and for most of us, it is also the easiest thing we ever do. If you belong to the population of people who can breathe effortlessly, you are so lucky! The same turns out to be true for meditation, that the simplest skill in meditation is also the most important. What is it? The simplest, most fundamental, most basic, and most important meditative skill of all is the ability to settle the mind.

What does it mean to settle the mind? Pretend you have a snow globe that you are constantly shaking. If I ask you to settle the snow globe, what do you do? You put it on the table, or the floor, or any other stationary surface. One of the literal meanings of the word settle is “to come down onto a surface.” You literally settle the snow globe down, that is all. So easy. Once the snow globe is settled, then over time, the water in it becomes still, the snow flakes fall to the bottom, and the snow globe becomes calm and clear at the same time.


Kathleen Notes: People are often surprised to find out that you can, indeed, control your thoughts. But first you have to learn how....

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A Secret Cause & Cure For Social Anxiety

Legions of people walk this earth held back by something which they cannot understand, and for which they have no words. It’s a feeling with the power to hold brilliant men back from achieving their full potential, and powerful women back from becoming presidents of companies. It’s a feeling that will not break you, but it will dog you. It will keep you standing alone at the PTA meeting, or sitting pretending to work while others chat freely at a conference. Unaddressed, it can set you apart so that you feel alone, and gradually wear away your connection to the world.

The Fatal Flaw is a product of the invisible, subtle powerful force, Childhood Emotional Neglect (CEN): A parent’s failure to respond enough to a child’s emotional needs.

Children who grow up in households where their feelings are ignored or discouraged push their emotions down and away, to adapt. As adults, they lack access to their own feelings, which are a vital source of richness and connection in life. Deep down, they sense something missing in them that other people have (it’s their emotions). These two results combine to form this un-nameable sense of being different, of not fitting in, of being alone and out of place; a perfect breeding ground for social anxiety.


Kathleen Notes: Makes sense...not just for social anxiety but many other challenges as well. Responding in relationships and life events are tough when you fear or unaware of your emotions.

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A Meditation for Moving On

Acceptance is not about liking something or agreeing with something—It’s simply about acknowledging what is happening, what is true in this moment. The more we can accept each moment as it is, the less we suffer.

Sometimes there are things in our life that we’re not crazy about, that are quite unpleasant, very distressing even—and yet there’s nothing we can do about it. And in those moments acceptance, acknowledging what is true without adding on layers of “I don’t want this to be true,” “It’s not fair,” “I don’t like this,” “Why did this happen to me,” can help us get through these difficult times with more ease. Importantly, when we settle into acceptance and see the truth of our circumstance in the moment—if there is an opportunity for change, if there is an opportunity to do something different—we have a better chance of seeing it. We have a better chance of developing wisdom about the possibilities in this moment when we see each moment with clarity.


Kathleen Notes: Does acceptance feel like giving up? Quite the opposite. Acceptance frees us up to move on and see what God has planned. I guarantee it`s better than anything you had in mind....

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How to Avoid the Pursuer-Distancer Pattern in Your Relationship

A partner with pursuing behavior tends to respond to relationship stress by moving toward the other. They seek communication, discussion, togetherness, and expression. They are urgent in their efforts to fix what they think is wrong. They are anxious about the distance their partner has created and take it personally.

They criticize their partner for being emotionally unavailable. They believe they have superior values. If they fail to connect, they will collapse into a cold, detached state. They are labeled needy, demanding, and nagging.

A partner with distancing behavior tends to respond to relationship stress by moving away from the other. They want physical and emotional distance. They have difficulty with vulnerability.

They respond to their anxiety by retreating into other activities to distract themselves. They see themselves as private and self-reliant. They are most approachable when they don’t feel pressured, pushed, or pursued. They are labeled unavailable, withholding, and shut down.


Kathleen Notes: Read all of the way through...I bet you will see yourself...I did.

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Parents empowered by `Wait Until 8th` keeping kids smartphone-free longer
The pledge is for smartphones only. Parents who want to wait on a smartphone but will allow their child to have a basic phone that just calls and texts can sign the pledge. The organization sees basic phones as free of many of the distractions and dangers of the smartphone.

Wait Until 8th wants to "let kids be kids a little longer." This was certainly the motivation of the Chigounis family, as well as a desire to keep Sophia safe.

"The main motivations for holding out were the addictive nature of the phones and the inappropriate texting, pictures and situations that occur with phones today," Erica Chigounis said. "We didn`t want her exposed to those things until she was older." Cyberbullying was also a concern.


Kathleen Notes: I like this idea and not just because it keeps kiddos from smartphones until they are ready. I appreciate the sense of community and support the parents are giving to each other.

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Obsessive Thoughts: Watching My Garden Grow

The lucky among us recognize obsessive behavior early. Many of us, however, get stuck in the obsessive brain. We know that something is not right, but rational thought seems to be pushed aside.

Obsessive thoughts and behavior can come with balanced mood, but especially with hypomania and mania. We have energy to do things, and this one thing we are doing makes us feel good. Since it feels good we want to do more of it. Soon we are thinking of nothing else. Normal daily activities get left by the wayside.

From here it is not pretty. We think about this one thing when we go to bed. Obsessing keeps us from falling asleep. We wake up tired in the morning—and still thinking about our obsession. We know there are other things that need to be done at home, at work, and with friends and family. We try to think about these things. But our minds keep going back to the obsession.


Kathleen Notes: Everyone experiences this from time to time. If it is happening often, it`s time to get some assistance. Read on for more insight and some good ideas.

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The Sad Connection Between Childhood Emotional Neglect and Narcissism

Believe it or not, there is a sad connection between Childhood Emotional Neglect (CEN) and narcissism. If you know very much about either, you probably find that difficult to believe.

After all, people who grow up with Childhood Emotional Neglect have a strong tendency to view themselves and their own needs as unimportant and secondary to others whereas, in contrast, those with narcissism are known for putting themselves and their own needs first.

How, then, could these two opposite personality styles be related? Actually, in quite a few very important ways.


Kathleen Notes: Children who grow up with some form of neglect or trauma (like CEN) are often more susceptible to additional trauma as adults. That is one of the reasons why I specialize in childhood trauma and also with adults...it`s all the same childhood trauma.

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The Silent Tragedy Affecting Today’s Children
Today’s children are being deprived of the fundamentals of a healthy childhood, such as:
  • Emotionally available parents
  • Clearly defined limits and guidance
  • Responsibilities
  • Balanced nutrition and adequate sleep
  • Movement and outdoors
  • Creative play, social interaction, opportunities for unstructured times and boredom

Instead, children are being served with:


Kathleen Notes: This article is a serious call to action for parents, grandparents, teachers, and caregivers!

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The Need for an External Regulator in the Playroom
Babies require the help of an external regulator to organise their internal experience.  We might even say that babies borrow the regulatory capacity of the caregiver as their own regulatory capacity develops. Allan Schore summed it up: “The mother is literally a regulator of the crescendos and decrescendos of the baby’s developing autonomic nervous system” (Bullard, 2015).
Understanding this is a key element in our abilities to help children process and integrate the challenging experiences in their lives; after all, the children we work with are babies disguised in kid bodies.  Children working through traumatic experiences are often incapable of self-regulation because their nervous system states are so activated – in a particular moment or possibly – that they never learned how to self-soothe in the first place.  That’s where you and I come in: helping children integrate requires a repatterning of their nervous system. This starts with us.

Kathleen Notes: This is part of the work children do in the playroom.

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Want Your Kid to Succeed? Don’t be a Lawnmower Parent
Lawnmower parents are to older kids what helicopter parents are to the younger set. Helicopter parents hover over their children and swoop in at the first sign of trouble. Lawnmower parents try to “mow down” any obstacle in their kids’ way that may cause disappointment or adversity, essentially creating a generation of kids who are not resilient and incapable of handling problems on their own....

No parent wants to see his or her children struggle or fail—it’s in our DNA to help our kids. But there is long-term damage that is occurring from this type of parenting.

Because many moms and dads are commandeering their children’s academic careers, students are arriving at high school or sometimes even college without any insight as to how to manage relationships with their teachers, counselors or peers. Since many parents have always bailed their children out when they forget assignments, gym clothes, or even their lunch, many kids have no problem-solving abilities and collapse at the first roadblock. And perhaps worse yet, lawnmower parents are producing kids who can’t make any decisions on their own in a complex, dangerous world.


Kathleen Notes: It doesn`t work to punish your kids for having a problem. At the same time, they can`t learn if you withhold the "lesson".

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Marriage Is Not an Island: Our Need for Community

My husband and I had a particularly difficult start to our marriage. There were no affairs, family deaths, or miscarriages—all things that might bring strife into a relationship. We simply found marriage to be far more complex and challenging than we anticipated.

And something made it even worse. We were all alone.

After moving to a new city immediately after our wedding, my husband and I went through the first few months of marriage without a spiritual community. At first, we didn’t see anything wrong with this. After all, isn’t marriage about pursuing a close, intimate relationship dependent on becoming “one” with your spouse?

We found that marriage is indeed about all of these things, but also that as believers, we are created to live in community.


Kathleen Notes: Having a community lends support and encouragement, especially to a new marriage.

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Dear Dad: “You Need to Love Your Wife as You Want Your Daughter to Be Loved”

Besides the one with our Heavenly Father himself, there’s hardly a relationship that can compare with that of a father and daughter. For so many, the way a father interacts with his daughter is the representation that a young lady holds of her relationship with God for the duration of her life.

Even more important to note, little eyes are always watching and soaking up more than most of us as busy adults can imagine.

She watches the way you hold her mom’s hand, the way you kiss her good night, and the way you speak to her with words of love, respect, and adoration.

Daddies are often protective of who their daughters will date and how they will be treated — but with a world spewing all sorts of distortions of love at them, there’s no way to better represent the way she deserves to be treated than by serving your wife well.


Kathleen Notes: In addition, talk to your daughter as you would like to hear her husband talk to her someday...

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Coping With Your Child’s New Neurodevelopmental Disorder

Many families each year receive a child`s new diagnosis of a neurodevelopmental disorder, diagnoses such as learning disabilities and delays, speech and language delays, Autism, and ADHD. The news of the diagnosis can be a relief for some families or can feel overwhelming and shocking for others. The diagnosis is not within parents’ control, but there are many things parents can do to move forward after receiving this news.

First of all, it’s helpful for the parents to maintain as positive a perspective as possible. Children are more than their diagnoses, as the diagnoses are only part of how children function. A diagnosis simply gives some clear understanding of the struggles and provides a direction of how to assist with the struggles. Our children are fearfully and wonderfully made even with this new diagnosis. God has a wonderful plan for our children and that plan has not changed.


Kathleen Notes: Finding support for you and your child is important: family, friends, school, church. In addition, make use of mental health counseling, occupational, speech, and/or behavioral therapy to find solutions.

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When Preteens Break Your Video Game Rules

12 year olds can be tough! Their brains are rewiring so they can be volatile. And suddenly their peers are very important to them, and we are less important to them, so we have less influence. That`s why maintaining a really good relationship with a child as they head into the preteen and teen years is so important, even as it can be tough to do......

.....So in this situation, your 6th grader was apparently actually sick (as corroborated by the school nurse) and had to be picked up at school to come home early, at some inconvenience to you and to the detriment of the preschooler. You told him no video games. Which, btw, I commend you on. I think is a very good rule -- if he is home sick, he can sleep or read or hang out on the couch talking with you or doodle with markers -- but no screens. Otherwise, it is too enticing for kids to fake illness. And if you follow my work, you know I don`t think kids should be using screens during the week anyway.


Kathleen Notes: I hear a lot of this struggle from parents. Please check out the "parakeet" article in addition to this one if this is a struggle at your house. Even though they may struggle, your rules are there to protect them and help them to grow.

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How Tuning Into Your Body Can Make You More Resilient
Luckily, it’s possible to strengthen your own body-based somatic intelligence to quickly respond to and recover from any sense of threat to your safety or well-being. What is somatic intelligence? It’s understanding how your body responds to danger and using that knowledge to support your body as you go through life—which, if you’re human, is bound to be filled with at least some adversity.....
......To better support our natural somatic intelligence, we need to soothe our nervous system through body-based practices that steady our brain’s perceptions of and responses to danger and help us retain a sense of safety. Once we master some of these techniques, we are prepared for more resilient coping, learning, and growth.

Kathleen Notes: It pays to tune into the brain-body connection in order to regulate your emotions and thrive. Resilience can only be built by leaning and and paying attention to what is going on...avoidance does exactly the opposite.

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Recognizing Enmeshment in Alienated Family Systems

Typically the roots of enmeshment can be traced back to parents who over-identify with a child, a dynamic often passed down through generations. Within this dynamic, boundaries are blurred—and may even be viewed as undesirable—and the parent may regard the child as an extension of the parent, rather than their own person, and treat them accordingly.

As a result, children of enmeshed family systems often develop emotional ties that elicit confusion, and they may fail to develop autonomy. An underdeveloped sense of autonomy may make it difficult for the child to act on desires that differ from the parent’s or lead a child to feel guilty when attempting to act on their own feelings. The enmeshed parent may also take it personally when a child attempts to demonstrate autonomy or independence, which can have a harmful impact on the child and the family dynamic overall.

Enmeshment between a parent and child makes it difficult for the emotions of the child to be separated from the emotions of the parent. It can be said, then, that a child may take on emotional pain the parent carries from enmeshment in their own family of origin. This is not uncommon and is often done unconsciously—a child does not realize they are taking on the parent’s emotional pain or that it is not theirs to carry.

Another way of looking at it is to think in terms of “absorbing” the emotional pain of the parent. A parent who is projecting emotional pain is likely not consciously aware they are doing it but simply repeating the cycle that played out in their childhood.


Kathleen Notes: As the article points out, this isn`t uncommon. For adults who are raised with this dynamic, the effects aren`t pretty.

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A Meditation on Anxious Emotions

This practice involves deep investigation into the causes of anxious feelings. Through this practice, you can discover the story lines that tend to trigger and drive your emotions. Although it may sometimes feel as though your anxiety comes out of nowhere, it usually has a source—typically some combination of conditioning, self-stories, memories, thoughts, and buried emotions.

That said, when you practice this meditation, don’t try to force yourself to find the source or meaning of your anxiety. The crucial aspect of this meditation is forwarding your journey of discovery into yourself. Whatever you may find inside, simply acknowledging it will help you live with more ease. Then, rather than putting so much energy into fighting your anxiety, you can begin to change your relationship to it.


Kathleen Notes: A good article on using mindfulness meditation to work on feelings of anxiety. Bonus: it contains a 20 minutes audio version to walk you through it!

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How Parents Can Help Teens Redeem Their Use of Technology
As parents, we have an opportunity to foster technology use in our teens that honors God and furthers his kingdom. It turns out, teens are typically drawn to social media because of the social connection, community, independence, learning, and leisure needed for their development. Although social media is notorious for being fertile ground for bullying, sexual behavior, and magnifying stresses, social media is also where teens can go to do what teens must do: connect with one another, challenge one another, and grow together. Parents can help their children to connect in healthy ways and engage in fruitful discussion online and offline through fostering a spirit of discernment and kindness.....
........Fear keeps many parents from allowing their teens to engage in social media use. It is up to individual parents to decide what is right for their children. However, social media use presents a unique opportunity to engage teens in development of the discernment and empathy that will be required of them lifelong. As Romans 12:2 instructs, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect” (NRSV). If our teens are going to use social media, let us equip them to use social media in ways that look radically different--radically loving, kind, and pure.

Kathleen Notes: Instead of seeing a problem, thy to re-frame the situation into an opportunity to teach and for your child to grow in wisdom and self-discipline.

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What to do with the Wintertime Blues

“Why art thou cast down, O my soul?” Psalm 43:5

Many recognize the Wintertime Blues’ name as “Seasonal Affective Disorder,” or “SAD.” This Major Depressive Disorder recurs regularly, according to the seasons, usually correlating to the amount of sunshine and cold. The inability to function and number of depression symptoms identifies each individual’s severity level.

Those with SAD suffer some specific symptoms: sleeping too much, eating too much, craving carbohydrates, and gaining weight. Many experience a desire to stay home and isolate.


Kathleen Notes: Here it comes...finding strategies to cope can make SAD easier to deal with while you wait for Spring.

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How To Validate Someone’s Feelings

For the realtor, the world revolves around Location Location Location. But psychologists, psychiatrists, and social scientists everywhere know that what really matters is validation.

And the absence of it....

.....Imagine this little child trying to understand himself, his world, and all the other people in it. Imagine that he doesn’t feel he can ask questions when he needs help. No one notices his feelings or emotional needs. No one says, “Let me explain this to you.” No one says, “Your feelings are normal.” No one says, “I’m here for you,” or “I see your emotions,” either by words or actions. 

This child is being sentenced to an entire life of seeking answers. An entire life of feeling like a non-person. An entire life of feeling less-than. An entire life of feeling angry or baffled or untethered, or all three.

An entire lifetime of feeling invalid.


Kathleen Notes: Validation equals spoken attunement...I see, hear and understand you. And that makes all the difference....

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What Every Parent Needs to Know About Praise

You may have heard that children who receive rewards are likely to stop taking joy in a job well done, because the extrinsic reward overshadows the intrinsic reward of internal satisfaction and pride. So kids who are given money for good grades lose their curiosity and desire to learn, instead focusing on pursuing the monetary reward, even to the point of being more likely to cheat.

The important insight from the Praise research is that praise has similar potency as a reward, so verbal praise has similar effects to tangible rewards. For instance:

  • Children who are praised for reading conclude that reading isn`t inherently rewarding, so they become less likely to read independently. 
  • Children who are praised for eating vegetables conclude that vegetables aren`t inherently delicious -- after all, you don`t praise them when they eat up their chocolate! The result is that they`re less likely to eat vegetables if no one is watching.
  • Children who are praised for sharing begin to share less when they think adults aren`t watching, because they have apparently learned from the praise that no one in their right mind would share out of the goodness of their heart.

Upsetting, right? Of course parents want to comment positively on reading, eating vegetables, sharing and other wholesome behavior!


Kathleen Notes: For 30+ years we`ve been told about how important our child`s self-esteem is. Finally we are hearing about the importance of self-efficacy and the correlation between it and a healthy sense of self.

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The Major Thing

In the eulogy George W didn’t mention once that his parents made sure he had organic food his whole life, or had Pinterest worthy birthday parties, or the perfect monogrammed matching outfits with his siblings. He didn’t mention that his parents made sure their week was planned with playdates and millions of extracurricular activities.  He reflected over and over again about how much his dad loved and was dedicated to his mother. 

I worry that we get so caught up in the minor things that we forget the major thing which is teaching our kids what unconditional love and loyalty looks like.  

As a counselor, I see so many marriages falling apart and so much strife and discontentment in life occurring because so much time and attention is spent on the minor things.  The results of this are broken marriages, discontentment, lack of self-esteem, anger, addiction, depression, anxiety, and in some cases suicide.  All of the resources given to the minor things in turn cause the major things to fall apart. 


Kathleen Notes:One of the best things you can do for your children is to love your spouse...and let them see it.

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Why Kids Need to Be Able to Tolerate Uncomfortable Feelings

From childhood through adulthood, the ability to tolerate uncomfortable and unwanted feelings is essential for negotiating every kind of relationship. If we learn early on that we have the wherewithal to get through situations that make us uneasy, anxious, unhappy, angry, etc., we are in a good position to manage our lives. This is learned through repeated encounters with these feelings, the successes and failures of dealing with them, and finally the experience of oneself as competent to manage.

By running interference for uncomfortable feelings, Isabel has been depriving Molly of developing her capacity to regulate her own emotions by feeling them and developing comfort with them. This constricts Molly’s ability to relate and leaves her without the necessary experiences that promote resilience and competence with her anxieties. Instead, she must find ways to defend against these unwanted feeling states and/or remain dependent on others to make them tolerable.


Kathleen Notes: Trust that your children are smarter and more resilient than you know! My mother used to say: "we teach our children to walk and ten we teach them to walk away"

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The Blameless Burden: Scapegoating in Dysfunctional Families

Now about that goat. It was selected from the herd and sent forth into the wilderness for reasons having to do with the sins of others. The goat had done nothing to merit banishment. But once the ashes were cold on the rituals of dispatching it, the goat found itself alone in the wilderness, isolated from its herd, in unknown territory, suddenly forced to fend for itself. It faced dangers from predators; difficulty finding food, sustenance, and shelter; and it lived the constantly woeful insecurity of a herd animal without a herd.

This is the story of the scapegoat.

In dysfunctional families, for reasons similar to those Aaron devised, there can also be a designated person selected for the role of scapegoat. In a family system, the selection process is less overt than Aaron’s. It is done more by consensual and habitual shunning that becomes an unspoken code of behavior: one person is chosen to bear the brunt of any psychological discomfort experienced by the family as a whole. It is justified by repeating the stories that create and then reinforce the image of the scapegoat as being a person who is worthy of disdain and disparagement.

Like the strong goat Aaron selected, the target of family scapegoating is also often the strongest and healthiest member of the family. At first blush, this may sound counterintuitive. But think about it a little more.


Kathleen Notes: The family scapegoat must be the strongest emotionally in the family in order to carry the tremendous weight. But it`s no fun...

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7 Things Resilient Couples Do Differently
Resilient couples know how to communicate assertively — that is, in a clear, confident and controlled manner. While that’s easier said than done, particularly with tough conversations, here’s a model to help:

C — Communicate the facts.
A — Address your concerns in an objective way
R — Reach out and ask the other person for his/her perspective
E — Evaluate outcomes

Most importantly, do your homework before you even have the conversation. Ask yourself whether you have an accurate understanding of the problem. I’m always embarrassed when I have a conversation with someone only to realize I never really fully understood the issue. (1)


Kathleen Notes: Assertive speaking and active listening will solve most problems...

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3 Ways to Be Sure an "Open Door" is from God

Just because an opportunity presents itself, and it looks appealing, doesn`t necessarily mean it is from God. And likewise, just because an open door looks a little uncertain, doesn`t mean you shouldn`t walk through it.

The key is knowing how to discern if an opportunity is really an open door from God. I don`t want to miss those open doors because I was afraid to walk through them. But I also don`t want to take every opportunity that comes along, assuming it is from God`s hand and has his blessings attached.

In a recent conversation with a friend, we talked about the faith and courage to walk through a door that God is holding open for us, even if we`re not exactly sure of what`s on the other side. But then the question came up: How can you tell if God is the one opening the door?

The Bible gives us some principles to help us discern if an "open door" or opportunity is really from God:


Kathleen Notes: It`s hard to know sometimes. Taking the decision to God in prayer and asking for His will (not ours!) to be done is a good way to move forward in confidence.

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The Science Behind Happy Relationships

When it comes to relationships, most of us are winging it. We’re exhilarated by the early stages of love, but as we move onto the general grind of everyday life, personal baggage starts to creep in and we can find ourselves floundering in the face of hurt feelings, emotional withdrawal, escalating conflict, insufficient coping techniques and just plain boredom. There’s no denying it: making and keeping happy and healthy relationships is hard.

But a growing field of research into relationships is increasingly providing science-based guidance into the habits of the healthiest, happiest couples — and how to make any struggling relationship better. As we’ve learned, the science of love and relationships boils down to fundamental lessons that are simultaneously simple, obvious and difficult to master: empathy, positivity and a strong emotional connection drive the happiest and healthiest relationships.


Kathleen Notes: Empathy, positivity and strong emotional connection...see the articles above to learn how knowing your own emotions help you to have these 3 traits in your relationships (with anyone, including yourself!)

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Think Slow and Other Tricks for Better Problem-Solving
All of this sounds rightly agreeable when laid out in those terms. No one thinks of herself as a sloppy thinker, but then, such is the tautology; a careful thinker would already know the pitfalls in his own process. Even then, history is littered with terrible ideas that lasted a very long time. As Carl Sagan wrote in his book Cosmos of Ptolemy, an astronomer of ancient Greece, “his Earth-centered universe held sway for 1,500 years, a reminder that intellectual capacity is no guarantee against being dead wrong.”
It’s freeing to realize you’re probably, profoundly, deeply wrong about something you believe very much. Freeing, because it gives you permission to think intently on what exactly that might be. We’re all victims of our hard-wiring, you see, and May revels in citing studies in neuroscience and behavioral psychology to point to our flaws, as well as our ability to overcome those. “The brain is passive hardware, absorbing experience, and the mind is active software, directing our attention,” he writes. “But not just any software—it’s intelligent software, capable of rewiring the hardware. I could not have said that with confidence a few decades ago, but modern science is a wonderful thing.” This is, in a nutshell, the value of bothering to bother. The more you force yourself to think slowly, the more likely your brain becomes to engage that gear.

Kathleen Notes: I think our world moves too fast the way it is. When we slow our thinking we can engage all of our brain, not just the impulses.

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Your Money Or Your Marriage?
In fact, research indicates that money is near the top of the list when it comes to issues that cause conflict in marriage. Perhaps you are experiencing the ongoing arguments that stem from differing ideas on where to spend your paycheck. Maybe you’ve fought recently about whether or not you should save or splurge. Maybe you’re worn out by the stress that comes when there’s month left at the end of the paycheck. And maybe you’re tired of seeing your spouse as an adversary instead of an ally when it comes to managing money. What can you do to work as a team?...

Stewards, Not Owners

The first principle you and your spouse must own is that whether we live in an ocean-front condo or rent a studio apartment, we are not owners of anything. As Christians, we acknowledge that everything belongs to God, and therefore, we are stewards of all we have. The parable of the tenants (Matthew 25:14-30) teaches us, among other things, that we are servants that God has entrusted with his wealth, to manage for his glory. One practical implication of this is that setting a budget is a necessity for married couples. Budgeting is a way of determining your priorities, and being intentional about managing the money God entrusts to you.

Kathleen Notes: I think if people/couples can begin to see that they are less "owners" and more "managers" of the financial blessings that God gives, it impacts how they view money and their relationship to it.

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Stop Overindulging Your Children

Here are some other signs of overindulgence. As you read them, watch for your weak spot:

1. Giving them things or experiences that are not appropriate for their age or their interests:

  • Allowing a 5-year-old to dress like a pop star.
  • Allowing a 12-year-old to watch an R-rated movie.
  • Removing curfew from a 16-year-old with a new driver’s license.

2. Giving things to meet the adult’s needs, not the child’s:

  • A mom buying her daughter the trendiest clothes, because Mom believes it’s a reflection on her own style.
  • A dad giving his son the “stand out” wheels at 16, so Dad’s friends—as well as his son’s friends—will think he’s “the man.”
  • A parent giving his or her children the best of the best in order to make the parent look successful.

3. Neglecting to teach children the life skills they need to survive in the “real” world beyond their home:

  • Tying shoes and dressing 4-year-olds who are perfectly capable of dressing themselves.
  • Doing the laundry for teenagers who are more than capable and need to learn to do it for themselves.

Kathleen Notes:...more harmful than helpful....by a lot.

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Give Your Spouse the Benefit of the Doubt
May I slay a very destructive myth? Perhaps you think the more your husband loves you, the better he’ll become at reading your mind. That’s a romantic but highly unrealistic and even destructive notion. It can create havoc in a marriage and hinder mature communication by keeping you from being direct, while at the same time tempting you toward resentment when your husband proves utterly incapable of telepathy....
......Men, none of us marry a stereotype. We marry a real woman. Get to know her. When you’re confused about something, ask her what’s really going on before judging her or jumping to conclusions. Don’t fault her for being unique or original if she doesn’t fit the stereotype. Celebrate her one-of-a-kind nature by being curious and by giving her the benefit of the doubt.

Kathleen Notes: This article is for both husbands and wives...take a look.

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5 Proven Benefits Of Play

A new paper in the journal Pediatrics summarizes the evidence for letting kids let loose. "Play is not frivolous," the paper insists, twice. "It is brain building." The authors — Michael Yogman, Andrew Garner, Jeffrey Hutchinson, Kathy Hirsh-Pasek and Roberta Michnick Golinkoff — ask pediatricians to take an active role by writing a "prescription for play" for their young patients in the first two years of life.

"Play is disappearing," says Hirsh-Pasek, a developmental psychologist who is a professor at Temple University and a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. By targeting doctors, she explains, the paper hopes to build on the success of a literacy initiative called Reach Out and Read. That program reaches nearly 5 million children annually by giving out children`s books at doctor visits. "You have an opportunity there" to change behavior, she says.

Prescribing play for kids? Really?...

.....Play is, by definition, intrinsically motivated. People and many animals do it just because. But apparently parents and teachers these days need more of a nudge than that to make the space for play. So here are some of the research findings that appear in the paper.


Kathleen Notes: Play is a child`s work. It encourages mental, physical, emotional and social development. Part of the struggle is to get kids off video games/TV and outside to play. Parents can help by going out to play with them.

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Finding Courage at the Crossroads of Fear and Change

Our decisions are unconsciously influenced by our experiences during childhood, adolescence, and adult life. We grow up in survival mode, learning to protect ourselves from the verbal, physical, and emotional onslaught of our parents, siblings, teachers, schoolyard bullies, and others.

These learned survival traits compound and confuse our thinking of who we are and the direction of our lives. They affect our daily actions, at times giving us distressing results in our confrontations, causing us to begin asking more contemplative questions at new crossroads: How do I decide what to do? What is my problem? Where do I look for helpful information? Why is it so important to know about my past? Who can help me with my decisions? When should I begin the search? Such thoughts radiate through our decision-making both internally and outwardly.

Whether we are sitting in our car at a crossroad to an unknown destination or at a crossroad in our mind confronting a fear resulting from an experience, can we determine who we are and what we are all about? What does all of this mean for us?

It means courage. As we walk through life, we carry our failures, losses, hurts, and other issues experienced while growing up with family or alone. We ask ourselves, “Am I any good? Am I worthwhile? Am I broken?”


Kathleen Notes: Fear can paralyze and making no choice IS a choice. That choice involves trying to be safe but it also involves stagnation. Finding courage is tough but necessary.

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What Is Your Role as a Christian in the #MeToo Movement?
We are in a significant moment in our society because of the #MeToo and #ChurchToo movements. People are coming forward about suffering abuse at the hands of others. What has been a private, quiet, and likely agonizing reality for thousands of men and women dealing with the trauma associated with sexual assault for many years is coming to light. What we know now cannot be ignored. How should you and I process this moment as laypeople? What should we say and do when a friend shares she* has been sexually assaulted? I am not a psychologist, but I am a survivor, and I offer six ways we as ordinary laypeople can think through and take action in the #MeToo era.   ...more

Kathleen Notes: A well written and thoughtful article. The only problem I have is with the #3 option that the author. Unless you are a mandatory reporter (counselors are) or the victim is someone who cannot protect themselves(a child for example), the decision to report is highly personal and should be left to the victim.

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12 Tips to Be a Brilliant Listener with Your Child
"What did you do in school today?"


Parents often ask what they can say to get their child talking. The secret isn`t about what you say. It`s about how you listen.

The most important skill in talking with anyone, including children, is listening. Not answering, not teaching, not lecturing, not fixing things or offering solutions. Not only do your kids not want that from you, but it would get in the way of them coming up with their own solutions. What your child needs from you is your full attention and empathy. That’s what deep listening is. Here`s how to become a brilliant listener.


Kathleen Notes: Listening is a vital component of attunement. You can`t imagine how powerful a good listener is....

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When Should I Meditate and When Should I Relax

Trying too hard is just that: trying. It pays to take it easy, particularly if we’re not taking it easy most of the time. Meditation is not a pill, with automatic results. How well it works depends on a lot of factors, one of which is our wellness to begin with.

Let’s face it. Our daily life may not be providing us with the most psychologically healthy environment. The fevered pitch that so many of us are asked to operate at—by employers, loved ones, our own inner critic and taskmaster—can truly exhaust us and deplete our physical and emotional resources. When I asked several mood disorder specialists who also teach mindfulness if they thought a meditation intensive was a good idea if you’re deeply stressed and burned out, their answer was emphatically no: When you’re that depleted, you need rest, pleasure, companionship, ease. Take time off, and leave the retreat for a time when you’re rested and ready to go exploring in your inner jungle.


Kathleen Notes: Sometimes, you just need to shut down for a while and rest....

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Are you “Phubbing” your spouse?
According to the article, “‘Phubbing’ is ruining American relationships,” phubbing your partner is the act of being on your cellphone instead of giving them your full attention when the two of you are together.  As my husband, Dave,and I have discussed in many of our blogs–including, “6 Subtle Ways You Cheat on your Spouse Every Day”–excessive cell phone usage is extremely detrimental to marriages.

According to the Fusion.net article, partners who felt “phubbed” were not only dissatisfied with their relationship, but many eventually experienced depression over time.  This is very concerning.

As a married couple, we must prioritize our spouse over our cell phone.  This probably seems like a given to most of you, but Reader, believing this and doing it are two different things.  I know, because I struggle with this issue too.


Kathleen Notes: Not just cell phones but computers, pads, televisions all contribute.

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Four Ways to Hack Your Screen Addiction

As a psychologist, I’m all too aware of the emerging and sobering body of psychological literature showing the serious and quantifiable emotional downsides to all this screen time, video gaming, Netflix-bingeing, and social media scrolling. When I read that higher levels of self-reported unhappiness and depressive symptoms are not merely correlated with more hours in front of the screen but are actually caused by more time in front of a screen it gives me pause...... 

......A report this year from the Pew Research Center found that a quarter (26%) of US adults are online ‘almost constantly.’ Interestingly, the number goes up when you look at what kind of device people are using. Among mobile phone users 89% go online daily and 31% go online almost constantly, compared to non-mobile users where 54% go online daily and just 5% say they go online almost constantly.
Clearly, our phones have ahold of us. So, what can we do to loosen their grip and create healthier mobile habits?

Kathleen Notes: It`s OK to use technology, but not when technology uses us...

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5 Daily Habits That Can Help You Stay Out of ‘Autopilot Mode’
Do the sluggish days of winter have you feeling like you’re in “autopilot mode”? Perhaps you catch yourself living for the weekends, keeping them jam-packed and exciting—something to look forward to on the calendar. In contrast, on weekdays you may come home from work feeling uninspired and flattened, having barely seen daylight.

Here are five small changes that can impact your happiness and contentment on a day-to-day level, no matter the season.


Kathleen Notes: Looking forward to the upcoming winter solstice...and the longer days that follow.

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Therapy Homework Has Its Place, but the Therapy Room Is Where It’s At

What I ask of the people I work with in therapy, and what I have found to be the most helpful in moving toward sustainable change, is to “rehearse” while in the room. It can be scary and difficult, certainly. But once there is some trust built up within the therapeutic relationship, I strongly encourage the person in therapy to let out, then and there, what they are thinking and feeling rather than “holding on to” or “taking in” a new revelation or introspective reflection.

It doesn’t need to be a fully formed thought. The emotion or feeling doesn’t even need to “make sense.” But processing it in the room gets us to some amazing places we might not otherwise arrive at, no matter how much home study gets done.


Kathleen Notes: "Rehearsing" while receiving unconditional positive regard from the counselor provides a safe place to process difficult feelings and thoughts.

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What ‘Go to Your Room’ Teaches Kids About Dealing With Emotions

“What do we think is going to happen when they go to their room?” asks Laura Markham, a psychologist who founded the site Aha! Parenting (ahaparenting.com) and promotes a model she calls “peaceful parenting.” Children may emerge from their rooms calmer, but, Markham says, they have missed out on an opportunity for development. “Under anger”—an emotion that often leads kids to act out—“there’s always fear or hurt or powerlessness,” she says. And one of the messages usually coded into “Go to your room” is Suppress those underlying emotions until you’re ready to interact with the world again.

A constructive alternative is for parents to talk things through with their kids—why did the child do what he did? “When the child feels heard by us,” Markham says, “then they will begin to take a deep breath and get under control.” A conversation—an acknowledgment of the child’s feelings, perhaps an explanation of why the world can’t be as the child would prefer—allows more vulnerable feelings to emerge. “If he was sent to his room, you wouldn’t have that breakthrough emotionally,” Markham says.


Kathleen Notes: Yes, this! "Go to your room" isn`t an attempt to help a child to calm down but often a way for parents to shield themselves from their child`s emotions. This teaches the child that their emotions are "bad" or inconvenient. This is how CEN is born.

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In The Moment Notes...

Each week I will collect and reflect on 5 to 10 relevant articles about important topics like parenting, marriage, relationships, and families. Within these topics I will address the challenges and joys, struggles and solutions from a Positive and Strengths-based approach. I am a strong believer in the power of relationships to grow, nurture and heal the human mind and spirit. I hope you find one or two of these articles useful for your practice, classroom or household. My opinions are open to discussion and even disagreement, as they are intended to facilitate the sharing of multiple thoughts and ideas! This publication is offered by In the Moment Child and Family Therapy, LLC, a Ministry of Resurrection Lutheran Church (WELS) in Verona and Monroe, Wisconsin.

I would really enjoy hearing your feedback if you care to give it at Kathleen@inthemomenttherapy.com
Sharing of this publication is encouraged so if you have a friend/relative/coworker who might enjoy it, feel free to forward them or encourage them to subscribe!

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