Tag Archive | Children Youth and Family

A Holistic Divorce

This past week I attended a two-day training on collaborative law that I would like to share because it is important to be informed of all your choices when considering a #divorce. Disclaimer – this is for #Ohio residents though there are about 18 states and about a dozen countries who practice collaborative law, so please check in your area to find out what applies to you.

If you are considering a divorce, there are four ways to go about this.

A. Collaborative Law

B. Litigation

C. Dissolution

D. Mediation

I’ll start with litigation which everyone knows about and this is your traditional way of going about getting a divorce. The judge may require mediation as a result of this and this is to try and cut down on court time.

Dissolution is where both parties agree on everything and they have an attorney write up their agreement and present to the court. A very inexpensive way to get a divorce however, as mentioned, both parties must agree. Usually this can happen when there are no children involved.

Mediation is where the couple hires a mediator to discuss what needs to happen and they present their agreement to their attorneys who files it in court. This can be done at the onset, you don’t have to wait for the judge to decide on this.

Then there is collaborative law which I call a #holistic divorce. This is where all parties (professionals and spouses) come to a table and discuss the business of getting a divorce. There is *no court involvement in Columbus, Ohio because the judge comes to the attorneys office to sign off on the divorce (*not the same with other major cities in Ohio, check with your state or country). If court involvement it would be once everything has been settled and then there is a filing of paperwork to approve the divorce.

Collaborative law includes two attorneys, a mental health coach or neutral (not in the capacity of a therapist, nor are they providing therapy but, the service is provided by a licensed therapist), a financial coach or neutral and in some cases other specialists are brought in, if need be, for consultation. All professionals meet with the spouse/spouses individually or as a couple upfront to explain the services and begin to assess the couple. Then all parties and professionals come to the table to begin a discussion of what is to take place. This can involve several sessions but there is no court involvement so the schedules are based on everyone at the table rather than dealing with court being in session. Therefore appointments can be more flexible.

What captivated me by this process is that a mental health coach is involved as well as a financial coach. This means two things. One, the mental health coach is there to help determine what is in the best interests of the children and the family. Someone who understands #psychology vs. a Guardian Ad Litem (aka GAL) who, most often, is not a therapist and does not understand mental health. The mental health coach is also doing an assessment to determine if the couple is going to be a good fit for the collaborative law process. In some instances, i.e., domestic violence, substance abuse and mental illness might not be a good fit for the collaborative law process. Two, the financial coach presents the facts of the figures. Then the parties say whose side of the page the items go on and talk about what they see. Eventually, how things will be divided up occurs with much discussion from the team.

In collaborative law, even the attorneys are in a relationship with one another that is not antagonistic as it would be in litigation. While they clearly will represent the spouse who has hired them, at the table they are not in a defensive position but in an empathic position for both parties. This means the spouse who hired them pays for them under the knowledge that their attorney will be listening and be prepared to be concerned for the opposite spouse as well. This is important because the process will not be about “winning” for their side but about the family gaining a supportive outcome.

The divorce process is an uncomfortable position for two people to be in. It is a major transition in someone’s life and how it is dealt with will determine the health and well-being of children involved (as well as the spouses) going forward. When the egos of two people can be mediated by a group of professionals who are helping them to see what is in the best interests of their family, it is more likely that a good outcome can be assured. This is not an inexpensive process yet compared to the time, energy and money that would be spent in litigation, it will most likely be less costly than litigation. The results will most assuredly be less costly on the emotional well-being of both parties and the children involved.

Please note this is NOT legal advice as I am not an attorney. This was presented merely for informational purposes. You should consult with your attorney to find out more information on these options. Also, please take a look at the links provided to gain more knowledge for  yourself. Thank you, Jeannine Vegh, M.A., I.M.F.T.

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Spanking the Kids

“Spare the rod, spoil the child.” Ancient Calvinist methodology that I grew up with. So did most of our generations prior to the eighties. How many times must I hear, “But I turned out just fine.” If this is the case then why do we continue to see single parenting on the rise but also abuse and domestic violence continuing to flow every seven seconds? Why are adults more eager than ever to talk to psychotherapists about their childhoods when corporal punishment was so “effective?” Why have the generations that followed raised the entitlement generation if their parents did such a great job? Why have parents lost that skill in teaching right from wrong, setting limits, and teaching good work ethics? Why are children no longer involved with their grandparents religious teachings?

Let’s take the issue of Children’s Protective Services (aka social services in some states) out of the picture. Don’t blame an agency for your thinking process. CPS does not look down on parents who set limits, teach right from wrong, or good work ethics. They do not look down on parents who take their children to worship. CPS is not responsible for the fact that parents use drugs or alcohol in higher numbers than your own parents did. They are not responsible for the fact that you are a single parent either and have been displaced from your birth place so that there are no family members nearby to help in bringing up the child. You are responsible for your child.

Spanking the Kids and the Debate over Spanking

The issue of spanking kids, as you will read in the article above, takes on polar opposites. Either you are pro or against. Like with any other political agenda these days, there is no in between. What people are hoping to accomplish is often the reverse of what happens. It did not happen for you and it won’t happen with your kids. We are also living in a society now that is much different from what you or I were raised in. In my opinion, limits need to be set with kids immediately before they even know what a computer is. When I hear parents say “I have no control over my child, now that there is an Internet,” I wonder what happened long ago when their child was conceived. When did they first start allowing their children to get away with things?

When you first learned that you were pregnant, did you engage in a healthy lifestyle? Meaning were you conscious of not smoking, doing drugs, or alcohol? Did you see your OB/GYN as requested by them? Did you focus on a healthy diet that included organic foods, vitamins, and limited the caffeine intake? Were you working at a job with lots of stress or did you cut back in order to focus on the pregnancy? All of these items of concern have had an impact on the child you brought into this world.

How quickly did you put your child in front of the television and then the computer to use as a babysitter? This has an impact on the way your child views the world. Or did you have your child with you at all times when you were at home, bonding with them. Were you a parent who spent time out in nature talking with your kids and teaching them about life?

Were your children raised in a two parent household? Do you and your spouse believe in team parenting? This means you put the children first above your egos. It means that you come to an agreement on the values you will teach your children. It is not easy to do when you can’t stand the person you divorced. That is why you divorced them. Nonetheless, the children come first.

So now when you talk about spanking your children, who really needs the spanking? How can we expect our children to behave when we have put them on their own for so long? When we have given them whatever they want, whenever they want it, to massage our own guilt feelings about what we did not have as kids. When we have focused on keeping up with the Jones’ rather than developing family autonomy. Have we taught our children to fear us or to make us their best friend? Neither works by the way.

Our children need to learn from day one that we love them and are there for them no matter what. They need us to sit down at the end of the day and read to them. They need us to spend time with them and talk to them about life as they grow. They need to see us being good role models. They need to meet and know their extended family, on both sides, and have a relationship with them. Even if it is Skype and vacations. They need to know what their limits are from day one. This means when you say no, you mean no. If you and their other parent don’t agree you need to sit down and have a talk with your child and explain why your rules are different (without damning the other parent). Remember, they love both their parents, even if the other is screwed up. This talk needs to continue each time they ask about it. You don’t ever stop being a parent. Being their friend is going to have adverse effects because they won’t respect authority or elders. They will learn too easily how to get away with things. They will expect the world will be their friend and this is not the case. Your boss is not your friend. Your landlord is not your friend. Your doctor is not your friend. Your lawyer is not your friend. Your accountant is not your friend.  So don’t teach your children to be your friend. You are an adult and a parent. Teach them to respect you and your values and then respect them as individuals, as they grow. Give them a voice but show them that they have limitations. Let them express themselves creatively but explain what you like and don’t like about what they are interested in.

If from day one you have raised your children, consistently, in a good and healthy atmosphere, taking heed to what has been said above, you won’t need to spank them. Believe it or not, children who have been raised in these environments and were not spanked, live much better lives than children raised in households with belts, spoons, whips, rulers and extension cords. No one raised with corporal punishment has a good sense of self without lots of psychological support. Spankings never stopped there and never occurred when someone was thinking logically. Generally there was emotional abuse and sometimes even sexual abuse. It was humiliating and degrading to the human psyche. We have grown as human beings and have realized that there are more mature ways of raising children.  Let us open our minds and step out of the box of what we once knew and hated.

The Caretaker

This is the person who takes care of the addict, the guy in prison, the wounded soul (who won’t do therapy), the ill one, the one who was jilted by his ex, the list can go on and on. You know who you are, male or female. I often see the caretaker in therapy and they will mention their role by name. This photo found here on the Internet portrays this role best.

What I often say to this person is: “Who is taking care of you?” The reply so often is a shy “No one.”

It is difficult because the caretaker’s other name is often martyr. Some of the people I have met could truly be called a saint as well. It is amazing what these people have done for others. Yet being a caretaker means we are letting go of ourself. It means that we are sacrificing our needs for the needs of someone else.

Is if fair to you to give up your life for another? What does this mean when you give up on yourself and give to another instead? I see it as a person who has low self-esteem. Often the caretaker is giving to another, what they really wish someone would give to them. It is often so obvious that I will say to the person “You really wish [name of the receiver] would do [this act of service] for you don’t you?” and they will say “Yes.” I will also say “No one was ever able to be there for you as a child and give you [this love, devotion] did they?” and they will say “No.” very sadly.

Caretakers were abused or neglected as children in one way or another. They may have received much love and attention by a grannie or auntie caretaker but because they were abandoned by their mother/father or both need to take care of another – still wishing to have the love they never received from their parent.

Unfortunately the people whom caretakers give to are unable to give back equally what is being received or gladly bestowed upon them. Caretakers generally are dealing with users or takers or if the person is sick, it is impossible for them to return the amount of support being granted to them.

What is important for caretakers, is that they do something to take care of themself. What happens when we give and give is that our body will step in and say “Hold on a minute!” The body begins to collapse from all this weight that the mind has usurped or decided was their burden. This is an example of the mind-body connection. Therefore caretakers will become depressed, eat too much (or choose another vice), and/or develop a dis-ease within. The body will do something to react to all the emotional battering that is being imposed. Think of the suffering couple where both are ill but one is more ill than the other (illness can be anything). This is when the martyr surfaces. “I have [insert illness], but who is going to take care of [insert name], if I am not here, so I have to take care of them anyway, no matter what.” What they are saying is, I am sick but my needs are secondary to that of my loved one.

Is this you? The caretaker is an exhausting role. I have known the caretaker to die before the ill one (or the most neediest). Sometimes this can just be too much for the body. I have known caretakers to go through physical and emotional abuse, just for an addict.

We can’t all be Sister Theresa. It is sweet and altruistic but no one cares. Often the taker or user is so caught up in what you are offering they expect it but they don’t sit in humble gratitude. The more ill person can’t be grateful if they are too sick to think of anything else.

Psychotherapy helps as a first step in healing or at least being conscious of this role we are taking on. Often my caretaker clients have already been to the doctor or psychiatrist if they are ill or in need of psychotropic medications. Caretakers don’t usually neglect their medical needs; they just see them as secondary to the one they are caring for most. It also helps to set aside time for yourself (the caretaker). You need your space, a place to re-organize, strengthen, heal. Victims of abuse rarely get this right and it is more about working toward letting go (separating from the batterer) rather than finding space. No matter what, it is important to acknowledge the role you are taking on and ask for assistance. Even if no one – out there will help you – professionals will. It is our job to support you and help you to know that you are NOT alone.

  • Caretakers (bodylogictherapeutics.wordpress.com)

Exploring S&M

Everyone is reading “50 Shades of Grey” right now as if the topic of S&M had just been invented.  Suddenly I am hearing about it all the time, from everyone, in and out of the office.  Having immersed myself in Paulo Coehlo, “Eleven Minutes” and Anaïs Nin, both of whom have written about this topic long ago, I fear people are getting the wrong message.

English: Photograph of Anaïs Nin as a teenager...

English: Photograph of Anaïs Nin as a teenager, circa 1920. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This isn’t a way to romanticism or true love, it is an exploration.  One that goes down a very dark road.

Partners who are into Sadism & Masochism follow rules and have strict boundaries. It is a two-way street, not one sided. Any type of sexual exploration should be mutual, if it is not this should not be on the agenda. It will only come to harm in your relationship. Wanting or not wanting this behavior has nothing to do with love. If your partner does not want it, it is all about you and this is something you need to look into with a therapist, not in a one night stand. If you give up a partner because they do not wish to engage in something they are uncomfortable with, this is not their fault. Remember movies like 9 1/2 weeks? It is meant to last for nine and a half weeks.  S&M doesn’t make a relationship. It just brings out inner psychological wounds.

Do you really need to go to the level of master and slave though?

There are ways to be kinky in the bedroom, on days when you feel a little more friskier than normal. Spanking doesn’t need to involve whips and chains, collars and other such sorts of implications of torture. If it is done in a spontaneous moment of passion there is a means to an end. It does not need to become a lifestyle that you should out yourself on in public.

What concerns me are adults with abusive backgrounds who are uncovering a need to be in control of the pain. I have worked with child sex workers, earlier victims of sexual abuse – who continue to be sexually abused as prostitutes. They believe they are now calling the shots.  They know they are being sexually abused but feel that if they can decide which john they do it with, somehow this makes it better. It doesn’t.

If you continue to allow yourself to be abused, when you haven’t healed from the trauma of youth (or a domestic violent partner) you are not really having fun.  Instead a pattern of self-mutilation is at hand. If you are engaging in the dark side and find yourself still needing to numb the pain with alcohol and drugs, this is not role play.

The only time you are in control of your life is when you have worked through the trauma of the past and put it behind you.  Its not forgotten but there is a memory that no longer runs your life. There is nothing wrong with fantasies being acted out through role play for mentally healthy people who want to unleash their creative energies. Doing it because you crave it, because it overwhelms you, because you feel as if you will go mad if you keep this fantasy locked up inside of you, is a cry for help.

Freud said that sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.  The novel is just a novel. It is not about you.

12 Rules for Raising Deliquent Children

This is one of my favorite articles for parents to read.

12 Rules for Raising Delinquent Children 

By: Ann Landers c/o Chicago Tribune (publication date unknown) 

1. Begin with infancy to give the child everything he wants. In this way, he will grow up to believe the world owes him a living.

2. When he picks up bad words, laugh at him. This will make him think he’s cute. It will also encourage him to pick up “cuter” phrases that will blow off the top of your head later.

3. Never give him any spiritual training. Wait till he is 21, and then let him “decide for himself.”

4. Avoid use of the word “wrong.” It may develop a guilt complex. This will condition him to believe, later, when he is arrested for stealing a car, that society is against him and he is being persecuted.

5. Pick up everything he leaves lying around – books, shoes, and clothing. Do everything for him so he will be experienced in throwing all responsibility onto others.

6. Let him read any printed matter he can get his hands on. Be careful that the silverware and drinking glasses are sterilized, but let his mind feast on garbage.

7. Quarrel frequently in the presence of your child. In this way, he will not be too shocked when the home is broken up later.

8. Give a child all the spending money he wants. Never let him earn his own. Why should he have things as tough as you had them?

9. Satisfy his every craving for food, drink, and comfort. See that every sensual desire is gratified. Denial may lead to harmful frustration.

10. Take his side against neighbors, teachers, and policemen. They are all prejudiced against your child.

11. When he gets into real trouble, apologize for yourself by saying “I never could do anything with him.”

12. Prepare for a life of grief. You will be apt to have it.