Monday, March 04, 2019

Incorporate Hygge into Your Life

Hygge (Hoo-gah) is a Scandinavian way of life that focuses on pleasure, presence and participation. It is a concept that involves finding the joy in the simple things of everyday life. The hygge lifestyle originated in Denmark and has contributed to their nation’s consistently high happiness ratings. Their culture focuses on a mood of coziness, feelings of wellness and contentment.

Creating hygge

In today’s busy world more American’s are seeking hygge as they attempt to find happiness within. Most individuals would see hygge as a form of self-care especially during the winter when weather related depression or Seasonal Affective Disorder runs high. Hygge involves surrounding yourself with items that soothe your senses. A hygge home has soft lights, warm drinks, baked goods and hosting an evening of deep conversation with caring friends and family. Some individuals prefer to take a long hot bath with their favorite bath oil. Other people prefer to read a book in their favorite sweats covered by their special blanket in front of the fireplace. However, you implement hygge into your life it should create and celebrate health and happiness. Start treating yourself today to hygge.

Tuesday, January 01, 2019

Open Communication in the New Year

Whenever we hear of another relationship that breaks up we speculate on the reason why. Unfortunately there are many reasons that can contribute to the failure with infidelity, finances, midlife crisis or just growing apart from each other. There is no simple answer to this painful experience and everyone will have their own unique story to tell.

Warning signs

Couples can get stuck in abusive communication patterns that hurt and distance them from each other. Research shows that women will bring up issues of conflict 80% of the time that their partner will want to ignore. If it is important to one, it’s important to the marriage. Avoidance of the concern will only cause resentment and the pressure will build until the argument loses perspective or why it even began.

Psychologist John Gottman did a study with 1,000 couples and found that criticism, contempt, defensiveness and stonewalling was found in 94% of failed relationships. Most males would identify this communication pattern as “nagging”. Everyone will use these defensive tools occasionally  but repeated patterns will cause your partner to feel anger, fear, hurt, sadness and alienation.

Healthy argument

Discussing small differences is important to do before they become a major issue in the relationship. A recent survey found that 44% of married couples believe that arguing once a week help to keep communication open. William Dougherty a professor of Family Social Science at the University of Minnesota states, “What the studies have shown is that it’s not so much whether couples get angry but how they handle it. There’s a difference between good fighting and bad fighting. Constructive conflict can put a spark in a relationship. Love needs a spark every now and then.”

Arguments can be an opportunity to discover what issues are important to the individual. It’s a way to reach the person and let them know you value them and want to be supportive. Healthy arguments can also be a way to model conflict resolution for your children. If you are yelling and cussing at each other you are displaying contempt and disrespect. Issues that are discussed and resolved appropriately can display how to compromise and move forward with the agreement.

Rebuild the Relationship

It is important when discussing different viewpoints to utilize “I statements”. This will keep you from engaging in blame when expressing your perspective. With every negative concern that is addressed make an effort to state five positive compliments about your relationship together. Then schedule your alone time together each week and give each other an intimate kiss and hug every day to remain emotionally connected. Finally separate the problem from the person. It’s the problem you’re upset about. If you feel stuck in a negative pattern seek counseling to learn healthy ways to communicate your concerns.  

Monday, December 03, 2018

Blending Holiday Traditions

The United States is referred to as the “melting pot” nation where all immigrants and their traditions have blended over the centuries.  Traditions that your family looks forward to each holiday are originally from different cultures around the world.  The Christmas carols we sing are from England.  The tradition of decorating the tree is from Germany and St. Nicholas originated in Scandinavia.  The Netherlands expanded on the myth to have St. Nicolas or Santa Claus fill the stockings hanging over the fireplace.  The United States extended the story adding the sleigh and eight tiny reindeer.
Be open to change
Determining how to celebrate the holidays for divorced or blended families can become difficult with schedule conflicts and trying to combine the traditions that were important to their nuclear family.  There are many solutions to the problem if everyone is willing to compromise and experience new traditions.  Communicate with non-custodial parents to make sure the children are present for the festivities that are important to them.  Try to be flexible and alternate the schedules when possible.  Discuss how change can be a positive event when blending your favorite traditions. 
Blending family traditions can be a challenging but rewarding experience.  When all the changes become overwhelming, try to focus on the reason for the Christmas season.  You are not competing with each other but explaining the importance of how your family customs are celebrated.  Traditions are about building special memories so that one day your family rituals will be passed on to future generations.  Acceptance and acknowledging what is really important to the special people in your life will create the holiday you will all want to remember.  

Sunday, November 04, 2018

Discuss Sexting With Your Children

Many children and adolescents are asking their parents for a smartphone this holiday season. In their peer group it is a status of superiority to own the latest version. Children from elementary school to young adult learn how to download the apps they prefer and communicate to their friends and family up to sixteen times a minute each day. They create a virtual world with minimal human contact. This can become a parent’s nightmare as they try to monitor appropriate interaction with friends. Trends are mounting around sexually explicit selfies or videos. They also capture and forward screenshots from intimate Instagram photos or FaceTime video chats.

Be Proactive

When parents make the decision to purchase a phone for their child, they need to have a conversation about preserving their privacy online. More than one in four teens under 18 years of age have received sexts and nearly 15% have sent them. According to a 2018 review of 39 studies this is happening more with the increasing use of smartphones. The JAMA Pediatrics survey studies report that over the last decade 12% have forwarded sexually explicit images without the subject’s consent and 8.4% have been a victim of sexts.

Sexting has been termed as the “gateway to future sexual activity”. Teens who have sent a sext are 32% more likely to be sexually active within a year’s time. Many children and teens don’t have the developmental ability to control their impulses at this age or exercise sound judgment. Sending a photo to the love of your life when you are 13 years old appears to be a logical choice.

Monitor the Electronics

Coerced sexting by aggressors who pressure or manipulate their victims can be emotionally devastating, triggering guilt, shame and embarrassment. This can be a nightmare for the parents and children involved as the photo is circulated online. Parents should begin teaching children about the risks before they are given a smartphone.  Children should understand the importance of keeping their private parts private! Your child needs to be strong enough to decline any request received, no matter how much social pressure is involved to send a sext.

Raising children today is very different now that technology has become a tool used to connect us with the world. What a young person posts on the internet today can haunt them later in life when they apply for that scholarship, interview with a potential employer or a job in public service. The potential legal consequences for juvenile sexting offenders range from community service to child pornography charges in some states.

Parents should start the discussion about the risks of sexting and emphasize it is never appropriate to pressure someone into sending a sext. Remind your child that there could be legal consequences for a poor choice and that once that image is online there is little that you can do to protect them. It is important to discuss what a healthy relationship is and coach them on safe responses if they are approached. If your child has had this experience seek legal counsel for your options and find a therapist who can guide you through the process of healing.

Monday, October 01, 2018

Relationship Shopping

Before dating apps were created people would meet through friends, family, at school, church or work. Now it is an online experience with a new vocabulary that feels like a marketplace full of choices. Currently, the most popular dating apps are Tinder, Bumble and Grindr which are less than ten years old. According to Pew Research Center 27% of daters between the ages of 18 and 24 have used a dating app.


The Journal of Social and Personal Relationships interviewed online daters and discovered that half of them lied about their height, weight or bank balance. The individuals interviewed had the perception that a great relationship could be had by discovering the right profile instead of cultivated with personal connection.

Tinder reported more than 50 million users in 2014, which has created an endless supply of profiles. Many daters are “benched” before the relationship even begins. Others are given “breadcrumbs” but really have no intention of being in a committed relationship. The “catch and release” is a technique used by people who love the thrill of the chase. When you finally agree to date the person, they immediately lose interest and look for the next victim. To “ghost” is to cut a romantic partner out of one’s life, ignoring all attempts at contact and leaving the "ghosted" to figure out why they’ve been dumped.


Breakups are rarely easy, but ghosting doesn’t give the individual an opportunity for closure. Someone that you thought cared about you disappears without an explanation. Research suggests that impersonal strategies are favored by those who fear commitment and avoid intimacy. Some surveys report up to 80% of young daters have experienced ghosting.

There are three main attachment styles utilized in relationships and vary person to person but are categorized as secure, anxious or avoidant. The University of Kansas researchers found 20% of adults have an avoidant attachment style and tend to suppress their feelings. Avoiders gravitate to ghosting to maintain the emotional distance especially when under stress. Another 15% of the population have an anxious attachment style who tend to worry and are easily distressed by conflict. The avoiders are more likely to ghost the anxious partner who is seen as high-maintenance.

While most people expect the courtesy of a face-to-face explanation when breaking up, the reality is you may never know the reason why you’ve been dumped. Your texts have been ignored and your calls are unanswered. Dating online is a risk most people are willing to take because it is more difficult to meet people in the digital age.

Monday, September 03, 2018

An Emotional Affair

Emotional intimacy is the most powerful bond in human relationships…..much stronger than sexual. A new type of infidelity has increased over the last decade and is one of the biggest threats to marriage….emotional affairs. You can have an affair without having sex. Sometimes the greatest betrayal happens without touching. Infidelity is considered to be any emotional or sexual intimacy that violates trust with your mate.

Sliding across boundaries

Affairs can happen in good marriages. They are less about love and more about sliding across professional boundaries into the personal area of your life. Today’s workplace has become the new danger zone of opportunities for emotional affairs which has only been surpassed by the internet. As these circumstances for intimate relationships increase, the boundaries between platonic and romantic feelings blur and become easier to cross.

When you discuss what your marriage lacks to a colleague of the opposite sex you are sending a loud message that you’re available for someone else to love and care for your needs. This behavior is also a breach of the trust that you share in your relationship. Discussing intimate concerns outside the marriage will create a false sense of intimacy that states your happiness is valued by this person.

Comparing another person against your partner will also create a dangerous negative thinking pattern. This can make you begin to daydream about this individual who seems to understand you. You will find yourself looking forward to seeing them, sharing personal news and imagining their excitement when you are together. This euphoric feeling will release dopamine in the reward centers of your brain which will also reinforce the illusion that this person relates to you like nobody else.

Not “just friends”

Individuals involved in an emotional affair will let their negative thinking patterns blame the mate for their unhappiness. A sense of entitlement evolves and resentment will build and push you from your spouse. As a result you will begin to pull away and make excuses to avoid joining activities with your partner.

Secrecy can then become another warning sign as it creates an unhealthy bond that gives a false sense of emotional safety. If your partner tries to interfere with the “friendship”, anger is directed at the invasion and your mood becomes more irritable or unhappy.

There will come a time in the alliance when one or both parties will fantasize about having a loving sexual relationship with each other. This discussion will add intensity to the desire. Not heeding the warning signs and finding time to spend alone together will push the bond from platonic to sexual. Healing your marriage after an affair is a very difficult process. It is best to be aware of the warning signs and understand that a friendship with the opposite gender can evolve to more.

Thursday, August 02, 2018

Kindergarten Readiness

The concept of kindergarten derived in the 1830’s from a German teacher who believed the children needed a way to transition from home into the school environment. Kindergarten was established as a way to interact and socialize. Children today are socialized at daycare or in pre-school so kindergarten has been restructured to meet the demands of academic readiness in the cognitive and social areas of development.

Readiness to learn

School readiness means that the child has the ability to learn and cope in the school environment without experiencing undue stress. Children should be able to separate from their family and trust the adults in the school environment. They need to understand the concept of sharing and how to take turns when playing with other children. Children should also display some level of social skills in how to resolve problems and work cooperatively with their peers. They must be able to adapt to the structure of the school day and follow the instructions from their teacher.

A real assessment of readiness isn’t based on the chronological age alone. Many schools will do an assessment several weeks before school begins that involve cognitive, linguistic, motor skills and social skills. Children that enter kindergarten with limited baseline skills of reading and math are unlikely to catch up with their peers. Many will need support services that require remedial learning with the help of an aide or tutor.  Children that don’t test well will have a re-evaluation three to six months later to assess if a developmental specialist or neurologist should be consulted.

Other considerations for optimal growth

There are many different academic settings to consider when choosing a school for your children. There are public, private, religion based, and Montessori schools. Other determining factors are class size, use of aides in the classroom, and if kindergarten is a full or half-day program. Structural considerations would be the locations of the bathroom, playground and lunchroom where interaction with older students should be limited.

There are many different developmental levels and skills found in the classroom. Teachers are working to meet the diversity, developmental needs and abilities of all children. Children learn best by doing. It allows them to learn through exploration and observation. It can also help them to follow their interests while building cognitive and creative talents. As you determine the kindergarten readiness for your children also seek an environment where they can be engaged and interested in learning for their optimal growth and development.