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Separated Parents: Truth or Peace. You may have to choose.

Chatted with someone about a dispute over parenting time and decision making.

They were also quite upset about the facts of their situation and wanted the truth to be known.

The thing is, the dispute regarding the care of the child was near resolved, yet they were hoping to pursue a determination of truth. A pursuit of truth between separated parents where both allege abuse by the other is risky. It’s almost guaranteed neither will agree on the events that occurred between them. Further, going in that direction can undo any agreement reached on the care of the kids. This in turn can give rise to a prolonged and expensive court battle.

The challenge in these situations is to keep an eye on the prize and that is an agreement both can buy into regarding the care of kids.

You know your truth.

Now provide peace.

Truth can cost more than the money. The ongoing conflict distracts from the child and immerses the child in an ongoing dispute.

Peace is priceless and typically provides for a better outcome for the kids, assuming they remain safe.

Therein was my guidance.

Seek a parenting plan you can live with.

If that is achieved, you have likely done well.

The pursuit of perfect or best, can undermine good.


Are you following me on Facebook yet? If not, you are missing many more posts!

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, former 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.

Changing Your Set-Point on Responding to Abuse

If from early on, you experienced trauma and were poorly supported, it may skew your set-point for self-protection.

As a result, you may inadvertently accept inappropriate behavior at a higher level than those without early trauma.

Those early traumas include fighting between parents, yelling and screaming, name calling, hitting, belittling, sexual abuse, parental separation, parental drug or alcohol problems, multiple moves, bullying, etc.

Many have accumulated multiples of these experiences early on.

As kids and without power or control of one’s living space, one concludes there is little to do but accept such. This becomes normalized.

The challenge, now in adulthood, is realizing this is not normal and nor do you have to accept it.

Now as an adult, you can develop agency, the capacity to act and protect yourself. It is also in so doing that a sense of worth and value is established.

As you now take care of yourself, set boundaries and risk losing those relationships now understood as harmful and/or exploitive, you take charge of your self-worth and elevate it.

You can change your set-point for when you act and this can emancipate yourself from today’s abuse and exploitation.

It may require mourning the loss of that which is unattainable, validation in the eyes of those who do you harm.


Are you following me on Facebook yet? If not, you are missing many more posts!

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.

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, former 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.

Trouble Developing Intimate Relationships? Here are three steps…

Relationship? How do you approach developing one?

Think of your head, your heart, your genitals.

Start from the top and work your way down.

Get to know someone. Experience that person over time.

Get a sense of how they manage boundaries and expectations. Observe and think it through.

Consider if what is observed and experienced is consistent with what you would want for yourself.

Be mindful of their social situation, knowing one is always a package deal with their family and friends. Be also mindful of economics and self-sufficiency with an ability to manage money effectively.

Assuming all is acceptable, consider your heart, consider the capacity to manage emotions.

On the basis of experiences shared and enjoyed, you may find yourself getting emotionally close. You connect through the heart.

Determine if those feelings are shared. Still, ask yourself, can feelings even be shared?

Are people mindful of their feelings and are they reasonable and proportionate to the circumstances?

How does this person manage both frustration as well as happiness?

Let the heart represent the full range of feelings and be comfortable with how they are managed by the other.

Assuming you think things right by the experiences shared and information gleaned and that ones manages and shares emotions reasonably, then you may want to connect sexually.

There too one must be comfortable and safe and respected. There too, decisions must be mutual. There too one’s desires for intimacy and frequency must be determined to sort out compatibility and or ability for problem solving.

If one is vulnerable, a rush through or past or reliance upon only one aspect can bring about relationships that eventually proves unsatisfying and indeed, in some situations, unsafe.

Some folks have poor radar for those who may not be suited for them.

Walking through head, heart, genitals, may help provide a structure for assessing relationships.


Are you following me on Facebook yet? If not, you are missing many more posts!

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.

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, former 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.

The Tools for Overcoming Mutual Hurts

Although now in their 40’s and having barely survived as a couple through much turmoil, they were committed to working things out.

Indeed, they had attended much therapy prior to our having met. They had done some good work already.

I suggested they have a private conversation and pretend.

I suggested to pretend they were now in their mid 60’s and they were discussing all the things they learned and did to manage their relationship more successfully. I asked that they have that conversation with a sense of pride for using those strategies.

My thinking was that they knew what to do but needed encouragement to see the value in doing so. I wanted to better cement them in the use of the tools. Imagine.

We also talked about accepting the hurts of each other as opposed to burying them. Burying hurts cause them to float up as it takes continue effort to have them stay down. With accepting the hurts of the past we can remember them as learning experiences and as places to measure our progress from. With that they are accepted and have a positive role on a go forward basis.

As for the triggers still experienced, they were causing guilt for the other, having been the source of the trauma reexperienced. Rather than languishing in guilt, now be the source of comfort.

Do not run from, but to your partner.

Thus you own the impact of past behavior and are there to witness and hold the pain. With that, one offers egoless safety instead of abandonment.

I look forward to catching up and learning of their use of these new tools.

I can only wish them well and honor their goal.

The work takes effort and practice.


Are you following me on Facebook yet? If not, you are missing many more posts!

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.

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, former 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.

When the Story Starts With, “I Have a Friend….

It begins with, “I have a friend.”

We next hear the story of the friend’s calamity and then how it coincides with some other event. That these events coincide are then used to make the assumption they are connected. This is the basis of a logical fallacy.

We all have them. Logical fallacies.

My personal big one was believing the whole world was was Jewish. This was based on my early life experience growing up near Bathurst and Wilson in Toronto. This was the heart of the Jewish part of the city. As a child, wherever I went, everyone was Jewish. From that I extrapolated that this was indicative of the whole world.

When we moved to Thornhill in 1967, all of a sudden, I was a minority in a community of mostly white Anglo-Saxon Protestants. My thinking remained that the whole world was Jewish and that this community was the exception.

It took years of learning and exposure to the larger world to truly learn how wrong my thinking was. This is a remarkably common phenomenon. That is the nature of the logical fallacy. It makes sense we would think as we do, although the basis for our thinking is wrong, a fallacy.

So it is with the “I have a friend” argument.

It is based on putting together two circumstances and believing there to be a connection where one doesn’t actually exist. In a world of 7 billion people, there is ample opportunity to make such false connections. These connections happen even faster if they coincide with a pre-existing concern or belief system.

This kind of logical fallacy is based on something also referred to as anecdotal evidence.

Anecdotal evidence is considered the weakest from of evidence. I have a friend. I was told. Have you heard.

Education and exposure to more robust information is key to moving beyond the “I have a friend” beliefs. It can take years to get it.

It was stunning when I finally came to understand the actual population of Jewish folks in the world. We are a remarkably small minority.

So too with other people’s logical fallacies. If or once we get it, we wonder how we could have ever thought otherwise.

The answer?

We’re human.


Are you following me on Facebook yet? If not, you are missing many more posts!

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.

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, former 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.

You Can Assess Your Own Drinking Level

Check your alcohol intake because alcohol consumption has risen during the pandemic.

We differentiate between 5 levels of consumption: non-drinker; light; moderate; heavy; and abusive.

A non-drinker doesn’t mean absolute zero. It really refers to the very occasional drinker who maybe a few times a year might have one or two drinks.

Light drinking is defined as one to six drinks a week, not more than three per occasion. Moderate drinking is a dozen beverages weekly or within the range of about seven to eighteen weekly.

Heavy drinking is 24 beverages weekly or within the range of 18 to 30.

Abusive drinking means that the level of consumption over the course of years put the person at risk of serious alcohol related illnesses. That level is defined as 35 beverages or a range starting at about thirty per week to sky’s the limit.

The most common alcohol related illnesses are esophageal cancer, cirrhosis of the liver, dementia of the Korsakov type, pancreatitis and diabetes.

However, as one moves across the levels there is also an increased risk for social and financial problems. Those problems may arise in the partner of the person consuming, their children or workplace, let alone for the person directly. The financial expense of consuming at a heavy level is about $2,000 annually.

Just to add, there is binge drinking which is defined as five or more beverages per occasion, at least once per month. Risks of binge drinking include unintentional injury and death as well as many other unintended outcomes.

A drink is defined as a standard size beer, four ounces of wine or an ounce to 1.5 ounces of liquor.

So, judge yourself, for yourself.

Please consume responsibly, should you choose to consume.


Are you following me on Facebook yet? If not, you are missing many more posts!

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.

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, former 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.

Research is More Than Your Opinion

Between my undergraduate, specialized honours degree in psychology and my masters degree in social work, I have taken three courses in research as well as conducted an undergraduate thesis and graduate research paper.

Without passing those courses, I would not have attained my degrees. With that, I have just enough background to appreciate the complexities of research to realize the limitations of my knowledge. I have an appreciation of how much there is to know and how little I actually do.

With that, I have only respect for the true researchers, scientists, epidemiologists, and bio-technologists. I hold their opinions in high regard.

Opinions derived from posts on social media or even those of contrary so-called experts, just don’t carry meaningful weight.

This may offend some. It doesn’t matter though.

Whether or not someone is offended because their view or opinion isn’t accepted in face of the actual research of scholars and professionals, only points to a limited appreciation of what actually goes into true research.

To add, of course in a world of more than 7 billion there will be many contrary views, bad outcomes and terrible personal experiences. While these should never be discounted or dismissed, we must still understand and appreciate that with regard to public health, we may not save everybody with each intervention, but more will be saved or the severity of harm reduced for the intervention, than not.

Public health during a pandemic is a lot like managing a game of Russian Roulette, where each must pull a trigger.

The challenge is to either have as few bullets in the barrel as possible, or have a larger barrel with far more empty spaces. So with this you limit how many will get shot and injured and die, but truly not everyone will survive.

In this pandemic, the trigger is pulled by the virus. Vaccines are like limiting its bullets or enlarging the spaces in the barrel so the likelihood of firing the chamber with the bullet is less. We have researches, bio-technologists, epidemiologist and other remarkable scientists worldwide whose entire careers are devoted to creating these, previous and future vaccines and medicines that almost all will rely upon.

I am forever indebted to their tireless efforts. They are the true researchers.

I count myself lucky for their work on our behalf.


Are you following me on Facebook yet? If not, you are missing many more posts!

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.

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, former 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.

When the Challenge of College or University Comes Home to Roost….

We are almost a month into school.

For those who have entered college or university, those students are just coming to face the extent of their academic challenges.

Some will rise, some will fall.

Parents will concern themselves greatly for those students in distress. For many, academic and social issues will not be new or unknown.

For many it will create hardship and conflict.

Do know that life does not and should not end with or without academic achievement.

This may be a time for student and parents to take stock and reconsider options better attuned to interests and true capacities.

This may also be a time to take stock and address any issues of mental health and/or drug use or addictions.

Don’t fight.

Instead, explore.

Come to terms with what is, not what ought to be.

When we address what is, then something may be achieved. Perhaps not what one first sought, but something necessary in order to then move forward, which may be towards a new direction.

Don’t fight.

Explore.

Support that.


Are you following me on Facebook yet? If not, you are missing many more posts!

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.

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, former 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.

Parental Boundary Setting Protects the Child

While perhaps well-intentioned, there are those folks who comment on the appearance of other parents’ children. It may be about weight, dress, hair, etc.

However delivered, if/when in the presence of the child, it still remains a form of shaming.

Even if politely delivered, this is likely intentional with the belief it may facilitate change.

It doesn’t facilitate change though. What it does facilitate is damage to the child’s self-worth.

You may be at a loss of what to say to such a person. Indeed, the person may be a relative of yours, your own parent or a friend. Here are some words for you to consider:

“Please hold your comments. You have just subtly shamed my child. That itself is not appropriate. My child is fine.”

The person may get defensive and may try gaslighting, suggesting you have taken their comment wrong. Do not get bamboozled. You can actually reiterate the above. If argument persists, it may be reasonable to leave or have the person leave.

Your providing this comment signals to the child you are protective of them. You are creating a safe space for your child.

This is a dramatic show of strength and boundaries for your child. It teaches your child a lesson about bullying too. We do not accept the inappropriate behavior of others and we protect those against others who even with good intention, act harmfully.

Privately with the child, you may wish to discuss the impact of the entire exchange and how the child the feels about themself. This provides the child the opportunity for expression and self-reflection. Therein if the child identifies an issue, you are able to provide support and facilitate problem solving.

As for the person who shamed the child, there too a private conversation may be necessary. Therein you can inform the person they are never to shame your child as a means to express concern or seemingly facilitate change. If the person has a concern about your child, they can bring their concern to you, privately.

When another exercises poor boundaries, it is the parent’s job to maintain them. This is done on behalf of the child.

It may feel difficult.

It remains necessary.


Are you following me on Facebook yet? If not, you are missing many more posts!

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.

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, former 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.

Isolated? Lonely? It may be an issue with boundaries….

Boundaries.

There are those who have tremendous challenges mounting theirs.

They may find themselves continually being taken advantage of. They may find themselves resisting any relationships for self protection, but thus feeling isolated, lonely.

For some of these folks, exploration of their past reveals much abuse. They may have witnessed abuse and violence between their parents. They may have been directly subject to such behavior themselves.

This is an abuse of one’s boundaries.

Abuse breaks them down. Abuse suggests you cannot protect yourself and if you try, you may be abused further. With that the only strategies left for survival are either appeasement, aligning with the abuser to escape their wrath or withdrawal.

Learning to finally set boundaries with such a background is scary.

Learning to set boundaries requires forming a realistic view and appraisal of one’s abuse history and the impact thereof. It may require coming to terms with the inability of parent(s) to take responsibility and repair for their behavior. It may require limiting relationships in order to create safety while realizing one may never achieve the love and respect sought from one’s family.

Learning to set boundaries in this context is hard work.

It also may require one to realize and accept they never deserved such circumstance and that they are indeed worthy and of value.

You are worthy and of value.

As you finally take reasonable care of yourself and distance physically and emotionally from those who disrespect and/or undermine and/or demean and/or exploit, then you heal. Then things may change for you.

Boundaries. It can feel like a risk, a challenge.

However, those boundaries are self-protective.

Boundaries are reasonable and you are worthy.


Are you following me on Facebook yet? If not, you are missing many more posts!

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.

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, former 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.