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Trouble at School and The Need For “We”

There is no doubt there is trouble at school. Virtually all educators and clinicians are talking about the rise of childhood anxiety being seen in greater numbers and in kids younger and younger. We are also seeing Educational Assistants leading the way of public sector workers with the highest rate of “long term injuries”. The school and student of today is unlike their parent’s generation. But why?

The seeds of why go back 50 years with the beginning of the deinstitutionalization movement. At the time it was all about getting “mental patients” out of hospital and into the community. There was a push away from the expense and stigma of institutionalization. To follow was the deinstitutionalization of institutionalized children. They were those who presented with “mental retardation” typically an outcome of Down Syndrome. There were also those with cerebral palsy and similar issues. The goals of deinstitutionalization were laudable: destigmatize, normalize, integrate. Over the years, we have also changed our language with reference to children with developmental differences.

However, with the push to deinstitutionalize, services did not keep pace. The answer of the day come the 1970’s and 1980’s, was case management. Case management was to be the panacea to help those displaced from institutions navigate the unwieldy and fragmented service delivery system in the general community. Still however, services did not keep pace.

Also occurring in the 1970’s and 1980’s was the impact of the women’s movement, changes to divorce laws and ups and downs of the economy. Together those differences collided to in effect make parents less available to children and thus the term “latch key kid” came about. These were the children whose both parents (separated or together) must each be employed simply to make ends meet. Concern was expressed that these kids may suffer emotionally/psychologically the result of less adult supervision having to run home at the end of their school day to empty houses left to their own and unable to play outside.

Come the 1990’s and 2000’s it was technology driving the wedge and connection between parents and children even wider. Computers in bedrooms, followed by parents on their iPhone and next kids on their android smartphones enlarged the schism and parental availability and influence. Additionally, with the faster rise and falls of the economy and less good paying jobs available, more and more parents must be in the low pay economy and have multiple jobs to just barley stay afloat. Throughout has been the inclusion movement, meaning all children, regardless of special needs would be served within the mainstream education system.

This perfect storm has created more kids with attachment disorders owing to the lack of parental availability, no fault of the parents but an outcome of economic, social and technological change. The impact of attachment disorder is anxiety and other behavioral issues. These kids don’t have the same kind or quality of relationship with their parents in this day and age as their parents had with theirs years ago. This is not an issue of love or caring. This is simply an outcome of the time and attention available for the expression of that love and caring. Parents are stressed out and as such, so are the kids.

Add to the above the fact that services for children with mental health, behavioral or academic problems still have not kept pace and we have more and more children whose behavior is bursting at the seams.

Without an appreciation of these historic events producing this current situation, groups are pitted against each other hurling blame and shame. Parents are vilified by some education workers and education workers are vilified by some parents.

Under duress people hunker down into positional thinking and argue in either or fashion the merits of policy. Parents argue over the merits of inclusion, versus mainstreaming versus least restrictive environment as if one is best for all. With the all or none thinking, the fight is on to argue positionally about the merits of one’s preferred approach to meeting all student needs.

In the meantime, the student still goes without proper supports, violence in the educational workplace escalates as do injuries and children’s mental health goes untreated.

The solution is in “we”.

Parents and education workers must come together. Parents and education workers need demand more resources to meet the needs of today’s student.

Also needed as has always been needed, is a continuum of flexible services. The answer does not lay in one approach or the other but an ability to offer an array of services attuned to the student’s needs at any particular time. Flexible services.

This message couldn’t be timelier given we are at a time when the current conservative government is limiting and withdrawing services, supports and needed curriculum from education.

It can always be argued to seek efficiencies, however, like a wolf in sheep’s clothing, “efficiency” is often code for cuts.

This is not a time for cuts. It is a time for all stakeholders, parents, students, educators, researchers and politicians to come together to review and renew educational policy.

We need parents asking their children, not how was their day, but what was your experience in school today. What did you see? How are your friends and other students? Were there any times you felt afraid today or in the past? What do you do when you don’t understand the work? Is there someone you can ask for help?

As all parents become more attuned to their child’s experience of school, more parents will come to learn the state of today’s classroom. This is not to create shame or blame. This is to create greater awareness so that more parents come to “we” and work along side education workers to create a better educational system.

Parental goals and educational worker goals are aligned.

We all want what is best for the student, the children. We all want a safe work environment where students can learn and flourish and reach their best potential.

With that, we must all work together.

I am Gary Direnfeld and I am a social worker. Check out all my services and then call me if you need help with a personal issue, mental health concern, child behavior or relationship, divorce or separation issue or even help growing your practice. I am available in person and by video conferencing.

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Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW

gary@yoursocialworker.com
www.yoursocialworker.com for counseling and support

www.garydirenfeld.com – to build your successful practice

 

Gary Direnfeld is a social worker. Courts in Ontario, Canada, consider him an expert in social work, marital and family therapy, child development, parent-child relations and custody and access matters. Gary is the host of the TV reality show, Newlywed, Nearly Dead, parenting columnist for the Hamilton Spectator and author of Marriage Rescue: Overcoming the ten deadly sins in failing relationships. Gary maintains a private practice in Dundas and Georgina Ontario, providing a range of services for people in distress. He speaks at conferences and workshops throughout North America. He consults to mental health professionals as well as to mediators and collaborative law professionals about good practice as well as building their practice.

I Brought My Calm to a Knife Fight and Won with These 5 Steps

I have professionally always advocated for bringing one’s calm to situations or persons in distress. In bringing our calm we are less likely to escalate a situation or person and more likely to generate more and better solutions for resolution.

I think though, in my private life, I have mostly been this way too.

I remember in high school being approached in an empty hallway by a known thug. He was brandishing a knife. The kind of knife he was holding is called a flick-knife. It is called a flick-knife because with flick of the wrist, the blade is exposed and with another flick, the blade returns to the sheath. This guy was approaching me flicking the blade in and out in a threatening manner, his eyes fixed on me.

I remained calm, although intimidated.

Before he could draw near to me and knowing that I could not outrun him. I called to him, “Wow, nice knife. How do you do that?”

With that, I walked briskly towards him, my eyes focused on his knife whilst I carried an inquisitive and admiring look for his expertise in managing the knife.

When by his side and still gazing at the knife, I said, “That’s amazing,” and added, “Can you show me how to do that?”

He proudly handed me the knife and explained how to expose and retract the blade.

I tried unsuccessfully and awkwardly, intentionally, and handed him back the blade saying, “Wow, I guess it really takes practice and you’re good at it. Thanks for letting me try.”

The fellow thanked me for my praise, pocketed his knife and walked on.

I too walked on, although I felt like I needed to change my pants. However, I reflected upon my choice of action and was pleased with myself. I felt I had won.

With my calm, I changed a threatening situation around and got past it.

That experience has served me well in my professional work with dangerous youth, high conflict parents and even in my private life with kin who can be challenging.

Here are the steps to surviving a knife fight and winning:

  1. Recognize when you are threatened (the trigger);
  2. Remain calm;
  3. Generate a number of alternative responses in your mind and think them through considering likely outcomes;
  4. Implement the response considered most likely to contain and resolve the situation peacefully;
  5. Afterwards, reflect on the entirety of the situation to either learn some lessons or reinforce your good response.

Managing and winning a knife fight doesn’t mean you aren’t scared. I sure was. Terrified in fact. Winning is about managing oneself to minimize risk of escalation, harm or other bad outcomes.

We do this by bringing our calm.

Next knife fight, bring your calm.

I am Gary Direnfeld and I am a social worker. Check out all my services and then call me if you need help with a personal issue, mental health concern, child behavior or relationship, divorce or separation issue or even help growing your practice. I am available in person and by Skype.

https://garydirenfeld.files.wordpress.com/2013/07/gary-feb-12.jpg?w=200&h=301

Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW

gary@yoursocialworker.com
www.yoursocialworker.com for counseling and support

www.garydirenfeld.com – to build your successful practice

 

Gary Direnfeld is a social worker. Courts in Ontario, Canada, consider him an expert in social work, marital and family therapy, child development, parent-child relations and custody and access matters. Gary is the host of the TV reality show, Newlywed, Nearly Dead, parenting columnist for the Hamilton Spectator and author of Marriage Rescue: Overcoming the ten deadly sins in failing relationships. Gary maintains a private practice in Dundas and Georgina Ontario, providing a range of services for people in distress. He speaks at conferences and workshops throughout North America. He consults to mental health professionals as well as to mediators and collaborative law professionals about good practice as well as building their practice.

Feeling Provoked?

We all get provoked.

The provocation can be by an intimate partner, our child, a parent, a colleague, our boss or an employee. The issue though isn’t about being provoked; the real issue is about managing ourselves in the midst of provocation.

In the midst of provocation the human response is to go into fight or flight mode. We seek to avoid the situation altogether or alternately, we may seek to take it on and perhaps give as good as we get. We’ve been triggered and the provocation gets the better of us.

How we handle provocation though says more about us that the provocateur.

Bill Eddy, a US lawyer/social worker talks about three elements when it comes to us being triggered. Those elements are:

  1. All or none thinking;
  2. Unmanaged emotions;
  3. Extreme behavior.

The challenge, according to Mr. Eddy is to develop flexible thinking, manage our emotions and moderate our behavior.

So much begins with self awareness – the ability to monitor oneself and recognize one’s emotional states. Only by first recognizing one’s emotional state can one then begin to regulate one’s emotions.

One regulates their emotions by first recognizing the emotional state and then putting thinking between the emotion and behavior.

By inserting thinking between feeling and doing, the person then gets to generate a number of alternative actions which is the hallmark of flexible thinking.

On the basis of the alternative actions generated the person can then determine the likely outcomes of the various alternatives if taken and then choose the course of action on the basis of the desired outcome. That lends itself to moderate behavior.

It looks like this:

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Manage yourself and you master your response and better manage the situation and provocation. This de-escalates situations and lends itself to better outcomes.

I am Gary Direnfeld and I am a social worker. Check out all my services and then call me if you need help with a personal issue, mental health concern, child behavior or relationship, divorce or separation issue or even help growing your practice. I am available in person and by Skype.

https://garydirenfeld.files.wordpress.com/2013/07/gary-feb-12.jpg?w=200&h=301

Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW

gary@yoursocialworker.com
www.yoursocialworker.com for counseling and support

www.garydirenfeld.com – to build your successful practice

 

Gary Direnfeld is a social worker. Courts in Ontario, Canada, consider him an expert in social work, marital and family therapy, child development, parent-child relations and custody and access matters. Gary is the host of the TV reality show, Newlywed, Nearly Dead, parenting columnist for the Hamilton Spectator and author of Marriage Rescue: Overcoming the ten deadly sins in failing relationships. Gary maintains a private practice in Dundas and Georgina Ontario, providing a range of services for people in distress. He speaks at conferences and workshops throughout North America. He consults to mental health professionals as well as to mediators and collaborative law professionals about good practice as well as building their practice.

 

Educational Assistants: First Responders with Violent Students

Parents have seen me post about Educational Assistants.

I don’t think the general public and mostly parents whose kids don’t need an EA understand how important their role is.

You see, in the past five to ten years kids have been getting more challenging to manage. This is the result of the shifting economy causing more parents to have to work and work longer hours with sometimes more than one job. It is also the result of technological change where even though more connected, we are increasingly disconnected, parents from kids and kids from play and nature.

You see, we all need connections to feel secure, without which we experience anxiety, the chief disturbance seen in kids today.

It is the EA in your child’s school who seek to be the social glue, keeping some kids together and others from freaking out. However when that child freaks out, happening more often than parents know, then it is the EA who acts as the behavioral and emotional fireman, seeking to contain explosions.

So parents, appreciate that without EAs, all students would be at risk of being caught up in the explosions and aftermath of behavioral outbursts. And the EA does their job, now, in this day and age, with no to limited prior knowledge of the very students who are explosive. They at times do their job with more protective gear than the police riot squad. EAs are the first responders in the schools keeping things safe when students act out. Their job has the record for lost time injuries, greater than any other service profession including police.

So parents, if you want your children to have a good day at school, start at home finding time to spend with them, limit theirs and your online activity, and inform yourself about and support the role of the Educational Assistants.

When you see your kid after school today, give them a big hug, enjoy a snack or activity which can include making the meal together and ask if any other kid lost it at school today. Then think of the EA, working on behalf of all kids trying to keep a safe and supportive environment for all students.

If you support the role of the EA and if you want more parents to read this, then please share this post.

I am Gary Direnfeld and I am a social worker. Check out all my services and then call me if you need help with a personal issue, mental health concern, child behavior or relationship, divorce or separation issue or even help growing your practice. I am available in person and by Skype.

https://garydirenfeld.files.wordpress.com/2013/07/gary-feb-12.jpg?w=200&h=301

Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW

gary@yoursocialworker.com
www.yoursocialworker.com for counseling and support

www.garydirenfeld.com – to build your successful practice

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Gary Direnfeld is a social worker. Courts in Ontario, Canada, consider him an expert in social work, marital and family therapy, child development, parent-child relations and custody and access matters. Gary is the host of the TV reality show, Newlywed, Nearly Dead, parenting columnist for the Hamilton Spectator and author of Marriage Rescue: Overcoming the ten deadly sins in failing relationships. Gary maintains a private practice in Dundas and Georgina Ontario, providing a range of services for people in distress. He speaks at conferences and workshops throughout North America. He consults to mental health professionals as well as to mediators and collaborative law professionals about good practice as well as building their practice.

When You Yell at Your Partner or a Child

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You are angry with your partner. You kinda lose it. Not terribly, but you at least raise your voice, perhaps point a finger, admonish.

Your partner reacts poorly and raises their voice, perhaps telling you that you cannot talk to them that way.

You try to return to your issue, but in a louder voice and maybe that finger is wagging more or is more pointed in your partner’s face.

Does this remind you of anything?

Think back to your own childhood and if you were scolded as a child. Assuming so, think back to how you may have felt as that child being scolded. Consider if your partner may have been scolded.

People often don’t remember what they were being scolded for, but typically do remember the scolding (or worse).

Many folks say they were yelled at, scolded, hit as a child and they turned out all right.

No. It’s not true.

If it were true you wouldn’t be repeating this pattern now in your intimate relationship. This is not turning out all right. This is repeating a pattern that hurts and does not resolve issues but rather makes things worse.

Of course your partner cannot hear the issue when scolded. Your partner is busy reacting to the shame felt in childhood for the same experience and now as an adult is revolting against it.

Rather than scolding either a child or your partner, seek to maintain your calm and explain your upset; explain how you feel; explain your love; explain your hurt; all in a calm voice that does not seek to shame or blame, but merely explain – about the impact of the other’s behavior upon yourself. Then, and most importantly, leave either the child or the partner time to let it sink in.

Do not expect or require an immediate response. Don’t even worry about a response as odd as that may sound.

Leave the child or leave your partner thinking about what you had to say, the impact of their behavior upon you, rather than a delivery that creates for the child or catapults your partner back to the pain of an early childhood experience.

Go about your business after that. Continue to be reasonable. See what happen over time. Be patient, Manage yourself.

I am Gary Direnfeld and I am a social worker. Check out all my services and then call me if you need help with a personal issue, mental health concern, child behavior or relationship, divorce or separation issue or even help growing your practice. I am available in person and by Skype.

https://garydirenfeld.files.wordpress.com/2013/07/gary-feb-12.jpg?w=200&h=301

Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW

gary@yoursocialworker.com
www.yoursocialworker.com for counseling and support

www.garydirenfeld.com – to build your successful practice

facebook-logo   linked-in-logo   twitter-logo

Gary Direnfeld is a social worker. Courts in Ontario, Canada, consider him an expert in social work, marital and family therapy, child development, parent-child relations and custody and access matters. Gary is the host of the TV reality show, Newlywed, Nearly Dead, parenting columnist for the Hamilton Spectator and author of Marriage Rescue: Overcoming the ten deadly sins in failing relationships. Gary maintains a private practice in Dundas and Georgina Ontario, providing a range of services for people in distress. He speaks at conferences and workshops throughout North America. He consults to mental health professionals as well as to mediators and collaborative law professionals about good practice as well as building their practice.

Trouble in Adult Life – Here is the Key to Change….

I don’t know that people really appreciate how influential their upbringing is on their adult life. I don’t know that people understand that you cannot escape your past, that it shapes the person you are as a grown up.

Jennifer Lopez refers to herself as Jenny from the block. No matter how high she climbs, she recognizes her roots, roots that continue to be influential and propel her.

I cannot escape my roots. I am Gary from the Jewish part of Toronto (Bathurst/Wilson). Even though non-practicing of my faith, I am Jewish to the core, the result of having grown up in a Jewish home in the heart of the Jewish part of the city.

Similarly, not only are we affected by the culture of our community, we are affected by the goings on in our homes. Our home is the kitchen through which our views of the world, sense of self, ways of relating are baked with the ingredients of parental and sibling role models.

While we cannot escape our past, for some, their past propels them to great heights, others to lead quiet average lives and for some, lives of desperation. Interestingly one’s own kitchen, even if with poor ingredients can produce outstanding results. Maybe less because of and maybe more in spite of. Nonetheless – it is one’s own kitchen, their family, their upbringing that remains influential – one way or another… or both. We cannot escape it.

If, however, there are issues from our past that undermine our present, while we cannot escape, we can become aware and with awareness comes choice.

Choice is magical.

Having choices is what opens us to a world of possibilities.

Choice begins with self-reflection, appreciating one’s history, one’s kitchen giving rise to the person of today.

Therapy is about unpacking the ingredients of your kitchen. Those influences unrealized that created the person you are – good, bad, in-between.

Are there issues in your adult life? Would you like to alter the trajectory of your adult life?

Be open to self-examination. Seek a therapist who can take you back in order to make better choices going forward. Learn the ways of change. Seek therapy.

You can’t change or escape your past. You can come to view it more clearly such that new choices and opportunities emerge.

I am Gary from the Jewish part of Toronto. Since my upbringing, I have maintained much of what I learned in my kitchen growing up. I have also made changes. So too can you.

I am Gary Direnfeld and I am a social worker. Check out all my services and then call me if you need help with a personal issue, mental health concern, child behavior or relationship, divorce or separation issue or even help growing your practice. I am available in person and by Skype.

https://garydirenfeld.files.wordpress.com/2013/07/gary-feb-12.jpg?w=200&h=301

Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW

gary@yoursocialworker.com
www.yoursocialworker.com for counseling and support

www.garydirenfeld.com – to build your successful practice

facebook-logo   linked-in-logo   twitter-logo

Gary Direnfeld is a social worker. Courts in Ontario, Canada, consider him an expert in social work, marital and family therapy, child development, parent-child relations and custody and access matters. Gary is the host of the TV reality show, Newlywed, Nearly Dead, parenting columnist for the Hamilton Spectator and author of Marriage Rescue: Overcoming the ten deadly sins in failing relationships. Gary maintains a private practice in Dundas and Georgina Ontario, providing a range of services for people in distress. He speaks at conferences and workshops throughout North America. He consults to mental health professionals as well as to mediators and collaborative law professionals about good practice as well as building their practice.

Help For the Person Tied to a Narcissist

In my experience, most therapists see folks who come to them voluntarily for depression or anxiety. Underlying the distress is often unrecognized trauma, usually from childhood. As a result, they are seeing otherwise decent folks who appreciate help sorting out their difficulties. This so fits with most therapists’ training and disposition as therapists see themselves as helpers and see clients as otherwise nice people. Hence you get a paradigm of nice therapists helping nice people.

This is far removed from the client who comes to them whose distress is tied to living with a narcissist.

The therapist is now meeting with a desperate person who is currently shell-shocked and likely in the throes of PTSD. The therapist will hear stories of gas-lighting, manipulation, lies and deceit from a person who is also described as charming in the company of others. In this situation, the client is either seeking help to change their partner, escape their partner or survive as co-parents. This represents a shift for the therapist as the therapist must accept the description of the unseen partner in horrid terms.

The person described by the client is not often seen in therapy as those persons never have an issue with themselves. They are rarely in distress and if they are it is for feeling thwarted by someone with whom they lost power and control. While this will drive such a person into rage, because they do not see themselves as the problem, they see no need for therapy. Their need is to restore their control in the relationship or otherwise wreak havoc through vengeance which they see as reasonable. Many therapists have not dealt with narcissists directly and when they do, with limited experience and exposure, they come to be tied up in knots too.

It is a challenging paradigm shift for therapists to accept that their compassion and empathy will not facilitate insight and healing in many narcissists and that while one can appreciate the terrible formative experiences such a person may have endured, they remain a current threat and danger to their targets – those whom they believe should meet their needs. If, by the way, a narcissist is seen in therapy, it is likely to help them restore control over their partner and if the therapist is not helpful to that goal, then the therapist is seen as thwarting their needs and thus may be a target of vengeance too.

Hence, many therapists are ill-equipped to meet the needs of this therapy client. This leaves this therapy client feeling more scared and alone and often invalidated for their experience, which only adds to their crazy-making situation and distress.

The required paradigm, from my perspective in working with someone living with a person described as a narcissist is validation and support. The therapist within this paradigm must come to appreciate, there are some folks aptly described as evil. This is so different as well from working with persons whose abuse is physical as often, the narcissists’ tools are not physical, but emotional and psychological.

Help for the client managing life tied to a person described as a narcissist must go beyond support and validation though. It must include survival strategies. Those strategies may be to manage in the relationship, extricate the relationship or co-parent as separated parents – depending on the needs and desire of the client.

The therapist must help the client build boundaries and develop reference points to reality that are not structured or determined by the narcissist. The client must be helped to strategically use empathy and respect in dealing with the narcissist even though this is counter-intuitive. It must be understood that strategies of empathy and respect does not include acquiescing to inappropriate demands or expectations or agreeing with the views or opinions of the narcissist. It just means leaving the narcissist feeling heard as that is actually soothing to such a person and can limit escalation of narcissistic exploitation. Help is also required to set a reasonable appreciation for what may be expected from the narcissist and help should also include self-care strategies.

To the person seeking therapeutic support, do ask your intended therapist is they have any knowledge, training and experience in supporting people managing a narcissist in their life.

To the therapist either supporting a person in relationship with a narcissist or working directly with a narcissist, if your knowledge or training or experience is limited, either seek supervision or refer the person to someone with greater skill. The real challenge in these cases is the paradigm shift. These people can be truly evil and their charm and niceness veils danger. The therapist’s own niceness and can make them ripe for exploitation by the narcissist. So sure, be nice, but at least not naïve. Our help must be helpful and include skill development.

I am Gary Direnfeld and I am a social worker. Check out all my services and then call me if you need help with a personal issue, mental health concern, child behavior or relationship, divorce or separation issue or even help growing your practice. I am available in person and by Skype.

https://garydirenfeld.files.wordpress.com/2013/07/gary-feb-12.jpg?w=200&h=301

Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW

gary@yoursocialworker.com
www.yoursocialworker.com for counseling and support

www.garydirenfeld.com – to build your successful practice

facebook-logo   linked-in-logo   twitter-logo

Gary Direnfeld is a social worker. Courts in Ontario, Canada, consider him an expert in social work, marital and family therapy, child development, parent-child relations and custody and access matters. Gary is the host of the TV reality show, Newlywed, Nearly Dead, parenting columnist for the Hamilton Spectator and author of Marriage Rescue: Overcoming the ten deadly sins in failing relationships. Gary maintains a private practice in Dundas and Georgina Ontario, providing a range of services for people in distress. He speaks at conferences and workshops throughout North America. He consults to mental health professionals as well as to mediators and collaborative law professionals about good practice as well as building their practice.

4 Parenting Tips for This Millennium:

Parenting for this millennium:

  1. Time over stuff: As for our guilt, no longer can we assuage it by giving our children stuff. Giving stuff suggests to kids that stuff is more important than relationships and we the parent will only be valued for the stuff we provide. No stuff, no value. Of course kids who are constantly given stuff don’t otherwise listen to parents. Rather than stuff, give 10 minutes of special attention to engage in a quick activity or admire something of the child.
  2. Disconnect to reconnect: As much as parents all complain about their kid’s use of tablets, smart phones and social media, truth was, so too do parents preoccupy themselves with such things, even when purportedly talking or being with their kids. Turn the devices off – at least certain times of the day, such as at meals and at bedtime. Be truly present and undistracted when with your child. That you turn off your device (actually off, not on vibrate) is a huge signal to your child that they are of value to you over and above anything else. Then you are in a position to truly reconnect.
  3. Reconnect through normal activities: Have time together as a family, typically through shared mealtime. Shared mealtime can be breakfast, lunch or dinner. Statistically, the more shared mealtime together, the better children’s behavior and the more likely you can transfer your values and morals to your kids directly as opposed to their picking up whatever by surfing the Internet.
  4. Parent with intention: Lastly be in charge benevolently. Not all expectations are a discussion. Just like in school, when the teacher says, take out your books, this is a demand, not a question. So too parents need to act with reasonable authority and a tone of voice that demonstrates not anger, hostility or fear, but a clarity that what is being sought, is actually required.

I am Gary Direnfeld and I am a social worker. Check out all my services and then call me if you need help with a personal issue, mental health concern, child behavior or relationship, divorce or separation issue or even help growing your practice. I am available in person and by Skype.

https://garydirenfeld.files.wordpress.com/2013/07/gary-feb-12.jpg?w=200&h=301

Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW

gary@yoursocialworker.com
www.yoursocialworker.com for counseling and support

www.garydirenfeld.com – to build your successful practice

facebook-logo   linked-in-logo   twitter-logo

Gary Direnfeld is a social worker. Courts in Ontario, Canada, consider him an expert in social work, marital and family therapy, child development, parent-child relations and custody and access matters. Gary is the host of the TV reality show, Newlywed, Nearly Dead, parenting columnist for the Hamilton Spectator and author of Marriage Rescue: Overcoming the ten deadly sins in failing relationships. Gary maintains a private practice in Dundas and Georgina Ontario, providing a range of services for people in distress. He speaks at conferences and workshops throughout North America. He consults to mental health professionals as well as to mediators and collaborative law professionals about good practice as well as building their practice.

I Want to Survive

There are two things that make us uniquely human:

  1. The will to survive;
  2. Concern over limited resources to survive.

Given the will to survive we typically will fight to escape death, not only on our own behalf, but on behalf of at least our family, then our friends and then others. There is a pecking order to this survival.

Picture 14Given the world and us have limited resources, we then concern ourselves with amassing those resources to appease our need for survival. In amassing those resources we then consider amassing those resources in groups. The group may be the family, the community and/or the country.

An issue becomes in determining who is in our group. By what distinction do we differentiate our group from another and then fight for those resources on behalf of the group?

With that, family members fight over inheritances; communities fight over what may affect property values; and countries fight over such resources such as what creates purchasing power and access to other resources such as water or food or personal safety.

We pit groups against each other based on differences in the quest to amass our resources.

However, throughout all this, there are also those who recognize that in order to appease the need to survive, we must to at least to some degree, share our resources, lest those with less seek to take ours through violence which then undermines survival.

So we give to others. We give within our families, communities, countries and even internationally.

Those with limited vision or those whose access to resources are truly limited and only provided at or near existence levels argue against giving abroad not recognizing that giving abroad does also provide some modicum of safety from infiltration by others seeking our resources by violence.

And so the world is organized into groups, groups who have identifiable characteristics to make identity and affiliation easy for the amassing of resources for survival.

However, the population has swollen and resources are shrinking and we are poisoning our supplies. So, we fight more and with greater concern for survival and access to those precious resources.

In our fight, we raise the image our group to limit the infiltration of the other groups.

Our vision of humanity is limited. We do not see the folly of group against group and this limits cooperative behavior. Thus we become anti-immigration, anti-identifiable minority, anti…. We put babies in cages to limit families who flea oppression and lack of resources to limit their access to other resources that are held tightly by groups of more means. We use tactics of vilification, demonizing others to justify our hoarding of resources. We become a mean-spirited society all in the service of our holding on to resources.

This is a topsy -turvy world. The race to save oneself is at the peril of losing that which also makes us uniquely human, our humanity, our compassion.

What if we had a vision of a broader group for which we fought for survival? What if it included the whole of the world? What if we pulled together instead of apart? What if we collaborated towards this vision?

Would we then seek to have clean air for all? Would we seek to maintain an abundance of clean water for all? Would we seek security of the person for all?

We must choose. Fighting is always fraught with uncertainty. One never knows for sure who will succeed.

Collaborating though seeks to offer a win-win for all. It may not be as lavash as the spoils going to the winner but that is uncertain and at tremendous cost.

I would much rather do with less on behalf of a larger group and insure greater safety and security for all than take a more restrictive view where harm is imposed.

I not only want to preserve humanity, but my personal humanity.

Seek leaders who seek peace and prosperity on behalf of the world. Stand for humanity, worldly and personally. Seek and practice compassion. Share.

Let us all win. With that we survive and thrive.

I am Gary Direnfeld and I am a social worker. Check out all my services and then call me if you need help with a personal issue, mental health concern, child behavior or relationship, divorce or separation issue or even help growing your practice. I am available in person and by Skype.

https://garydirenfeld.files.wordpress.com/2013/07/gary-feb-12.jpg?w=200&h=301

Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW

gary@yoursocialworker.com
www.yoursocialworker.com for counseling and support

www.garydirenfeld.com – to build your successful practice

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Gary Direnfeld is a social worker. Courts in Ontario, Canada, consider him an expert in social work, marital and family therapy, child development, parent-child relations and custody and access matters. Gary is the host of the TV reality show, Newlywed, Nearly Dead, parenting columnist for the Hamilton Spectator and author of Marriage Rescue: Overcoming the ten deadly sins in failing relationships. Gary maintains a private practice in Dundas and Georgina Ontario, providing a range of services for people in distress. He speaks at conferences and workshops throughout North America. He consults to mental health professionals as well as to mediators and collaborative law professionals about good practice as well as building their practice.

Managing Oneself to Manage One’s Relationship With the Ex

He called complaining about his ex, seeking to manage their situation better. I offered to meet with him in the role of Separation Coach.

It seems they had a fiery relationship that carried over into their separation and the care of their kids.

When asked about how he handled himself when upset by her, he acknowledged calling her the “c” word. I don’t know any more crude or inflammatory or abusive word a man can call a woman.

As much as there were some reasonable issues attributed to her, it was also clear how his behavior fueled any fire she may have begun. Because of this, ascribing blame was useless and not of value over describing how our own behavior can cause an escalation and even expectation of bad outcomes.

We met for less than three hours. During that meeting we discussed his temper and behavior. We also discussed how his child showed no joy in any of the extra-curricular activities attended. We also talked about the long game – a life-long relationship with his kids where his kids were great adults.

To that end I offered a number of strategies to enable his control of himself, particularly when triggered. Those strategies were tailor made and based on his life and interests.

We met again a month later, giving time for him to consider and practice the strategies.

The fellow was able to acknowledge the temper he had and how he used the strategies to manage himself.

He talked about the joy his child now seemed to have when partaking of the extra-curricular activities. He talked about not only controlling himself with his ex, but with his girlfriend too. He gave an example of leaving his cell-phone in a store only to remember leaving it there once back at the car. His girlfriend was apparently visibly concerned and immediately sought to south him. However, he advised he was fine; went back to the store; found his phone and returned to the car in good spirits.

Before this second meeting ended, we talked about the long game again – having a life-long relationship with his kids as great adults. We also talked about the impact of his behavioral change as a role model to his kids, particularly for their handling their big emotions. He advised of an incident of where his child threw an object against the wall more recently in anger. He further advised of how he maintained his calm to only discuss the incident reasonably with his child whereas in the past he might have shouted and admonished instead.

He was a changed man. He saw the changes in himself and the impact of those changes on his relationships. No more “c” word or any other foul language ever since.

Our first meeting was 2 ¾ hours. Our second meeting was 45 minutes.  I remain available should the need arise.

Similarly, I have worked with women to better understand their response to the behavior of others and thus manage themselves differently. Regardless of gender, as one changes, the situation may change.

Separation Coach

I am Gary Direnfeld and I am a social worker. Check out all my services and then call me if you need help with a personal issue, mental health concern, child behavior or relationship, divorce or separation issue or even help growing your practice. I am available in person and by Skype.

https://garydirenfeld.files.wordpress.com/2013/07/gary-feb-12.jpg?w=200&h=301

Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW

gary@yoursocialworker.com
www.yoursocialworker.com for counseling and support

www.garydirenfeld.com – to build your successful practice

facebook-logo   linked-in-logo   twitter-logo

Gary Direnfeld is a social worker. Courts in Ontario, Canada, consider him an expert in social work, marital and family therapy, child development, parent-child relations and custody and access matters. Gary is the host of the TV reality show, Newlywed, Nearly Dead, parenting columnist for the Hamilton Spectator and author of Marriage Rescue: Overcoming the ten deadly sins in failing relationships. Gary maintains a private practice in Georgina Ontario, providing a range of services for people in distress. He speaks at conferences and workshops throughout North America. He consults to mental health professionals as well as to mediators and collaborative law professionals about good practice as well as building their practice.