Tag Archive | Single Parent

Support for Partners of Vets, Desperately Needed

The film, “Thank you for Your Service,” is an outstanding movie. It is informative and directed more like a documentary rather than a blockbuster film with special effects and big names. This is essential to make it raw and to create an illusion that you are in the midst of someone’s private life. And you are because even though these are all actors, they are portraying real people and these events did happen.

So I would like to use this film as a spring board into the issue of support for partners of vets, which is not the intention of this film; though it is there begging to be the subtitle. All of this film caused me to be at the edge of my seat because the male soldiers were so emotionally unstable; I felt afraid of what they were going to do next. The ending hit with a bomb as the main soldier told the story of how a woman’s husband was killed. Yet what stuck with me the most was this line, which says so much about women today “Would you like a blow job,” she says thinking this will comfort her husband. He isn’t communicating with her and this is all she can think of. This comment and the woman’s fixation on sex (to get him to talk) during the entire movie is just one of the reasons it is imperative to have support for partners of vets.

Back in the early 80’s, my then husband was a sailor enlisted in the U.S. Navy. He was about to be deployed on a West-Pac (aka tour of the Western Pacific) for six months. The families were brought in for a meeting prior to their departure to help couples understand what to expect, or what was normal. They told us about the departure, a little bit about what was going to happen and when we should expect the men to return. They also talked to us about relationships and sending letters, and about the fact that the Captain’s wife would be our ombudsman, available to us while the men were gone. This woman, whose name I cannot recall, met with the ladies during the six months on at least a monthly basis. We got together to chat, have coffee, discuss the letters we were receiving, any news we might need to know and ask questions about our housing, our money or any other issues of concern. It helped to build comradery, alleviate isolation and perhaps depression, but also to develop respect for the military and our spouses.

As I work with the military now, as a contracted civilian psychotherapist, not one single person has understood what an ombudsmen is nor do they recall such intimate gatherings taking place as I assumed was typical. There are yellow ribbon ceremonies that take place months after a return from deployment. At these presentations it is nicknamed “death by power point,” which means there isn’t a lot of concentration on what is being said. The meeting I attended with my ex-husband in the 80’s was approximately 30 people with our Captain speaking to us directly. The ceremonies today can be anywhere from 70-300 and sometimes even more than this. My psychotherapy table is the least visited booth on the breaks. Once the ceremony is over, people race to get out the door first. It is very sad to me because this is too little, too late and I feel as if it is nothing more than a checkbox being ticked; rather than attention to the mental health needs of men and women both soldiers and their partners. When I talk to people about this, the only thing I ever hear is “it would cost too much money.” This essentially means a person’s life is not worth it. What we see in the movie noted above is the main character being told by the VA that he won’t be able to see a mental health person for a number of weeks. He responds that he could be dead [by suicide] by then.

Going back to the issue of partners in the military, the point is that women today have no self-respect (nor do men) and look at themselves as sexual objects rather than partners and team players. What can we expect though when we live in a sexualized society where people are overly focused on what your sex type is and are confused about what gender they want to be? Where women believe that a date means you need to have your breasts hanging out, heavy make-up and six inch heels rather than a time to dress like a woman with the intention of getting to know the man in front of you.

Many children today are raised by single parents and sometimes they don’t even know their father or their paternal family. Often I see that they are pacified by technology. The teen girls and young adult women I talk to don’t use birth control and so many are desperate to trap the guy with a baby. Others use feeble excuses as to why they don’t use protection such as the doctor said they couldn’t get pregnant or it has been so long without a pregnancy they thought they couldn’t. These guys are happy to become “gamers” today and the girls stand idly by wondering why they won’t pay attention to them. They don’t need a war to ignore.

Since everywhere a woman turns she is being portrayed as a sex object, in the media and society, what else is there for her to think? Parents are not educating their children on sexuality nor are they teaching standards (I see this moreso with one parent families because there is no time to have quality time). Parents often race to get home to cook dinner while they check FB or Twitter and start chatting with someone else who is not there. Thus the kids are following their intended role models.

Once women were groomed to be married and the talk of sex was the last thing they would learn (if they had a talk at all). They learned about courting men which meant being a good conversationalist. They learned to dress appropriately so as not to tease. They learned to behave like mature ladies rather than silly girls. They understood that at times men needed their space and to walk away and self-soothe if need be like attending to a personal project or hobby. Women used to be self-sufficient. They were involved in women’s groups, charities/fundraisers, raising their children, running a household. Their days as teens were not spent hoping they would get laid but hoping they would find a suitable match. Their parents didn’t allow them to shop at a store such as “Victoria’s Secret” and purchase thongs or push up bra’s (when I was a teen even, this was a store for adult women not teenagers), it was a time of restraint and modesty.

We have come to a place where we have no standards. There are no rules in society. We are career women yet many go to work thinking about some guy they will see there. We don’t dress like women who want to get ahead because we have lost a sense of dignity and integrity. More and more companies are adopting a work culture with no professional dress policies.

Therefore, how can we expect a young woman whose husband or partner comes home from war to think of nothing more than sex? The soldier is coming home from war without their mental health as a top priority, even though they are a ticking time bomb. The partner has no support, the soldier has no support and so it is the blind leading the blind. I’ve seen so many resources available to give the post-deployment folks free this and free that and incentives for one thing or another. All this money could be utilized more effectively by supporting them with psycho-education and mental health services that are mandatory and respected.

In the movie the soldier is told (by his superior), to not allow his men to see him as a weak person getting services from mental health. This is not an isolated situation as I hear this time and time again from vets and their partners. We are all too aware of the problems with the Veteran’s Administration. What some people don’t realize is there is not enough staff and people are backlogged and no one gets preferential treatment. The staff are not treated fairly or with respect in some cases, no different than corporate America. Essentially, they are government workers no different than at the Department of Motor Vehicles. I learned recently it is not run by the military but by a corporate boss who is assigned to head the VA but this is not necessarily based on merit, experience, or military background.

In Britain, after a woman gives birth, a health worker follows her for a year to teach her how to care for her new child. In Britain, when soldiers return from war, they are held on base for 30 days before reintegration into society (as I’ve been told by an officer) and have a much lower suicide rate than the U.S. When astronauts land back on earth, they too are held before being reintegrated back in society. Why do we choose to ignore the people we have trained to kill, knowing full well that more than 30% will come back with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder? Worse than this is that 20 veterans die by suicide daily. The American Association of Marriage and Family Therapists have been fighting with the military for years to hire us to work with soldiers on base. The jobs currently only recognize social workers.

What I would like to see is an independently licensed clinician, who serves as a family support worker. Someone who is assigned to a household that they follow for a year pre and post-deployment on a monthly basis. Someone who goes to the home weekly post-deployment, and then monthly once services are set up and followed through on. We do this with foster children as this was once my job. While in the home, the worker would be responsible for psycho-education first and foremost, secondly helping the family to fill out forms and explaining the importance of these services. Their job would be to assess and monitor follow-through on mental health support (not to provide it, i.e., not be the actual therapist as you cannot be in a dual role but offer counseling support). This job would then write reports to provide to a supervisor who is monitoring the clinicians in the home. No confidential information need be provided to anyone with exception to that which is a limit to confidentiality (which already exists for clinicians in the military). The records that pertain to mental health would be held by the supervisor. The supervisor could provide demographic information in the way of statistics so that the information gained could be utilized effectively within the military.

You would need a licensed independent clinician handling this assignment in the home as they would be qualified to assess major vs. minor psychological concerns that a simple case worker with only undergraduate knowledge would not have. Obviously, these clinicians would need special training to have more knowledge of military life, family needs as well as advanced training in PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorders), TBI (traumatic brain injury) and CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy) symptoms.
If this type of support were made available to families, I suspect (common sense) that one would see lowered rates of death by suicide, homicide short-term and long-term, military divorce post-deployment, and a better quality of life overall to be had by military families.

We are in a pro-military society now and have gained so much psychological knowledge about the effects of battle since World War I. Why are we wasting this valuable information? Why are we spending so much money on war and then spend money on incentives rather than quality support? Why is a soldier’s life valuable but his/her partner’s is not especially when the family unit is imperative to the success of the soldier’s return? The success rate of person’s who struggle with PTSD is partly dependent on how it is managed within the family (believability, validation) and what support systems they have available to them in the community as well as through mental health and other adjunct resources (i.e., books, workshops, groups).

What we are essentially saying to a soldier and their family is “Thank you for your service and hey, Good Luck to you!” Isn’t this a bit hypocritical? I think they deserve better.

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Making America Great Again

I hope with all my heart to see this take place. Several years ago I saw and predicted the next president of the United States. I told this to people wherever I went that I really felt Trump was going to win. This was a gut feeling not my politics. After returning to Ohio in 2010, I began to be in shock at the devastation I saw in this great State. I was already getting a glimpse of this driving cross country from California and noticing that people had changed to a very drastic level while I was gone. In 2010, this was my third time to drive cross country; once in the early 90’s, then in 2003 and again in 2010. It was difficult to see this change on the West Coast because I didn’t grow up there and people in that state can convince you of anything.  They believe they are in paradise even though so many live a faux existence on loan by a lot of deep debt. Driving cross country in 2010 I was now seeing franchise after franchise taking advantage of our quality of life and stealing the local man’s hard work and dedication to his restaurant that he had been known for, for decades. I saw people who had given up on local people in favor of fast, quick, predictable junk food and having travelled out of the country, the same processed unlovingly made food around the world.

In Ohio I saw the small beautiful farm and factory towns I grew up around, turned into meth labs. I heard about the rising drug culture here and how the doctors and pharmacists were playing a small role in this. I saw how the inner city, once a small segregated population of Columbus on one side of town, was now on all sides of town. People who once did not need to depend on a house key were now installing alarm systems, buying large dogs, and they were talking about their guns as if they were a pet but really a crutch to make them believe they were safe. I saw tagging in small neighborhoods that once were nice decent places to live. I feared that soon we would see bars on the windows and doors, just as I saw in Oakland and Baltimore, MD.

I saw locally a political system that has no term limits which creates a lack of democracy and a dependence on pretense of small victories. The only thing people could tell me that their mayor had done for them was give them a park to walk in downtown – after 20 years. On a national scale I began to open my eyes to the destruction of Made in China, created by Clinton and saw documentary after documentary and began to piece together for myself how the working class person’s lives were in such great ruin in America. Yet the Chinese are upwardly mobile to the U.S. with all the fortunes the company executives were bestowing on their children thanks to our country giving away our own families economy. Locally I am seeing young guys begging for money on the streets, a sight I never once saw growing up in Columbus. These guys are fewer than 30 years of age, who no doubt are unable to pass drug tests, but most likely a product of parents who gave up after losing factory job after factory job.

 I saw how this Obamacare insurance policy not only ignored the recession but also how it created havoc for the average person. Entrepreneurs like myself, who have to pay for their own insurance policy and hoped to get a great system. The mockery of us as a people, ensuring that this was going to be a good thing for us and then learning it was worse than what we had before. Leading us on into a second presidency as the insurance policy did not take place until after that time and then learning what it really meant. Huge unrealistic deductibles and paying 100% until you met them. Medication, in my case, that went from $30 to $700 so that I had to fight hard to find alternative measures. Finally, when tax season rolled around, the entrepreneur is punished for making more money than expected. As a result healthcare.gov comes after you for the discount; thereby making your profit less. For a one person company this is a financial upset that follows you into the next year.

Of course listening to my clients from all levels in these big companies here in our city, I began to see a pattern. The employee is expendable. From the executive down to the phone rooms, I learn about businesses that at one time cared and nurtured their staff, rewarded them for their hard work and then one by one cut back and took away every reason they had to get up in the morning. With the greediness of big corporations, seeing the increase in profits because of outsourcing, they began doing whatever they could to make even more money. Lowering their work ethics, sending mixed messages to the employees, rewarding those who played games rather than stood strong and determined, all to get rid of the larger paid for weak minded cheap labor that is easy to find. Even their customers are no longer people they care about. Why should they when the customer will easily be replaced by someone else. Or, why care when the company holds a virtual monopoly on the product and know people don’t have a choice in the long run. I hear stories of wonderful hard working, dedicated; loyal people who after decades were let go or suddenly given made up reasons by HR to put them on written reprimands which used to be a reason to re-train and now are a used to antagonize and destroy.  The cliché “it is their word against ours.” In my generation 40+, after being let go after years of dedication have a difficult time finding new employment. My own generation weakened by computers that hire people instead of human beings. Amongst my friends, so many unemployed trying to create businesses, using retirement money, taking jobs they don’t want just to make it through the year.

All of these things lead to value systems in the family unit being destroyed. A rise in the use of substances, a continued decline in long term marriages, people creating children to self-soothe their own inner wounds and as a result more and more children raised by one parent. This is creating children raised to feel entitled because they are soothed by guilty parents who give in to their demands because they are too tired to deal with the child’s confusion and frustrations in life. The kids are often pacified by toys and the internet (which replaced the television) and not being taught the value of a dollar or the importance of hard work and education. As a result they don’t feel a need to work, when they get money on the streets, or can become an expendable employee going from job to job without any repercussions. In some cases I am seeing young boys depending on girlfriends as substitutes for mothers, now expecting these young girls to continue pandering to their entitled lifestyle. Young girls than continue the cycle by not using birth control, hoping a baby will change him or get him to love them. Hoping the baby will give them the love they never found at home growing up.

In a modern society for women, fashion has now become about selling the self to whoever will take it. Girls wear skirts only a few inches under private areas with nothing underneath and walk on stilts of 4-6” with their breasts hanging very closely to the exits of tank tops or very low cut pieces of fabric stitched together to form a covering. If not this, they are in jeans that have holes in them because fashion designers have just created the newest look in what to do with dungarees and flip flops. Clothing once worn by miners and farmers are now the most needed staple fabric in America. This is the best we can expect right now and no one seems to complain. We are seeing very low standards in dress that are accepted now in many companies or big corporations that once expected good work ethics and were known for their policies on dress. Now that they are expendable, the company really doesn’t care what they look like. They are going to get rid of them next week, month, or year anyway.

It makes sense that many people in this country wanted to see a better America. Having been raised by working class people who held me to higher standards and taught me good work ethics and the value of a dollar, and knowing and trusting that most of the people I grew up with, from my generation heard the same, I knew our country was desperate for change. I knew they were holding these thoughts in silence, afraid of being politically incorrect, having to hide with friends in dimly lit areas to talk about their fears their frustrations yet online pretending to go along with the flow. The faux sense of socialization and temporary fame garnered from ridiculous ploys online to take advantage of those exercising freedom of speech because it didn’t measure up to their own worldview. A message was sent yesterday. It was a terribly close divide of our country though and will take time to heal from. Major change always takes time to heal and grow. This is a time to break down the political system and re-look at what to do next. It is not going to simply happen overnight and an inexperienced average person (meaning non-political) will be taught quickly and make mistakes along the way. We have a lot more fights ahead of us, people who don’t want change, who don’t want to give up their power, who have enjoyed taking advantage of people, enjoyed being greedy at the expense of so many. It is a scary time right now because of all of this. I am scared because it is a huge change and I don’t know how people are going to react to this and I assume they will try to take it out on others. I am not scared of the person running the country now but of the enemies who will be focused on collapsing this new system and will use the Internet and our country and our world to vindicate their feelings and cause people to join in. The election, more than anything, should show us how disturbing the Internet can be to our sense of right and wrong. Of course I had already seen this in families that I serve because it is destroying them. While there are some good and useful ways of being helped by the Internet, it is getting less and less easier to find them and much more likely you will find the destroyers instead.

As with every presidency that have shocked our systems in the past, and we have lived through it to tell, we must be patient, trust, give it a chance and try to think about the possibilities that could come from this. It is a historical moment and would have been no matter who might have won. Instead of attacking and going on the defense, think about what we can learn. Let’s come together and be a positive part of this change by questioning (because you want to learn) and listening.  How will this change our lives? Where will be in four years? What plans can you make for your future? Take time to contemplate rather than react.

Absent Hearts, Missing Pieces

This is the title of a memoir I published in 2003 but it is now out of print. I thought of the title again today when I was thinking of the holidays and all the sadness I continue to have of missing people in my life. Memories that won’t be made because of family members who have died or grandchildren who I am not allowed to see. I thought about being a single parent and all the women in my ancestry who were single parents, who began this trend long ago. I think about women today who glamorize this topic, the media who puts an entertaining spin on it, the women who argue with women who don’t want to have children, the 50% rate of unplanned pregnancies in America and the 40-50% divorce rate. I wonder about all the children who I have worked with over the years, who had no fathers because they weren’t allowed to see them. Mothers who were mad at the man they slept with because he didn’t give them the fantasy they craved. Fathers who are absent from children’s lives because they were players, addicts, pissed at the mother, never had a father themselves and didn’t know how to be one, the list goes on. These parents, who were quick to have sex but refused to take responsibility for the future by using birth control. I have been the kid, the granddaughter, and a single parent myself.

Imagine what it is like to be a child and your father is no longer around, as mine was at the age of four. By nine, my stepfather adopted me, because my father signed off on the papers so he would not have to pay child support. It sounds like a quick fix but I did not want this. I loved both my father and my stepfather. Imagine what it is like to suddenly be told that I could not see my two half-sisters, my grandparents, my stepmother, my aunts and uncles. As a young adult, it would be my maternal grandmother who put me in touch with my father and I began to become re-acquainted with my paternal family once more. She did not believe it was right what my family did. Re-connecting is not very easy when you have lost over a decade of growing with the people you once loved. It is not easy for them either. One of my half-sisters died before I could ever see her again. My memory of her is when she was about seven or eight years old.

Coming from such a tragic childhood, I fell into the trap of searching for someone to feel an emotional void. A guy I met in high school, who came from a father who was not there and who was at one time a batterer to his mother and an addict. I never knew addiction growing up; this was one issue I was lucky to not have to face as a child. Once I did face this and domestic violence from my husband, I got out quickly but not before having a child of my own.

I never re-married but I did continue to follow a path of looking to fill an emotional void. The difference though between myself and many other woman today, I took responsibility by making sure I did not bring another child into the world, just because I was looking for love in all the wrong places. One child raised by a single parent was enough for me. I learned my lesson there and I learned my lesson as a child. Life wasn’t easy for me, for my child and I wouldn’t do that to another until I figured life out and was more secure financially and emotionally.

My son grew up, eventually we found his dad and later, my son became a father as well. Unfortunately, he also took the path of an addict and brought three children into the world with three different women. He has since become a recovering addict, his father died unwilling to ever take responsibility for his health, his child or get off of the drugs. As a result of being an addict for so many years, these mothers of my son’s children were unable to admit to their own failures in the choices they made with men. The fact that neither they nor my son used birth control but yet it is “all” my son’s fault and they are angry with him. As a result of this, two of my grandchildren are not allowed to be visited by my son. He is able to keep in touch with the eldest who is 15 and old enough for Facebook but lives in a tiny town far away. This child wants to visit his dad but is forced to do what his mother requests. My son pays child support, gives him gifts for birthday and Christmas, talks to him almost daily but never gets to see him. In Ohio, it is not what is in the best interests of the child but what the mother wants. Men have no rights here to their children. Grandparents have no rights to their grandchildren.

My granddaughter lives near my son and goes to the same school as her half-brother and step-brother. Her name is not on the roster and my son believes she has been adopted by someone that her mother began a relationship with after him. My local grandson knows who she is though as he did meet with her a few times before her mother decided no one could be involved with her child. Her mother was in a relationship with my son, while he was in a relationship with my grandson’s mother. They were together in the same house he shared with my grandson’s mother even. Both of them were using drugs and partying “like there was no tomorrow,” but my son is the one who is in the wrong and my granddaughter is being punished, as is my son and I, because of this.

Being a single parent is no joy ride and it is difficult for the children to bear. I do not believe any parent should stay married for the sake of the children because this is not the answer. I do believe that we need to take more responsibility with our sex lives and the partners we choose. Having sex is fun, raising children is a lifetime and it costs money. It is easy to blame another but both parents have to take responsibility when a child is brought into this world. It is never ONE person’s fault. It is certainly not the fault of the children that the father did not give YOU, the mother, what you wanted.

My father was a player and hurt my mom’s feelings. This was wrong of him. I understand her animosity toward him because of this. I understand she needed the money from him as my stepfather was paying the way. However, it was not my fault that he was a player or that he wasn’t paying child support. He never harmed me and my parents were not desperate for money. After I was adopted, they made the same amount of money as beforehand. Meanwhile, I was emotionally wounded at the loss of my paternal family.

My son IS a recovering addict and has taken steps to clean up his life, get in touch with these women and reach out to be an involved parent. It is not my grandchildren’s fault that they want him to choose them now that he is clean. It is not my grandchildren’s fault that their mothers are jealous of his new life. These children will never have the benefit of their father and his family being in their life. They are being punished for their mother’s mistakes which they refuse to acknowledge and take responsibility for. My son was wrong for what he did and their mothers are wrong for their part too.

Many children will grow up in households, never knowing their fathers and in some cases their mothers. They will be turned against their fathers and in some cases will be told lies about who he was. From being a psychotherapist and having worked in social services, I see family patterns repeating themselves for many generations. I see girls being sexually molested by stepfathers, mom’s boyfriends, uncles, grandfathers. Often their mothers were too in childhood. I see boys who have spent time behind bars. Often their fathers were too.  I see adults coming in to tell me their anger toward the father who was never there. Telling me about fathers they didn’t know they had because they assumed the guy who raised them was the dad. I hear stories about mothers who never recovered from the man who jilted them and so the children aren’t really sure what to believe. Sometimes adults hold out hope that he might have been a good guy but more often than not, they take their mothers or grandmothers side of the story. Sometimes there is a huge blank from the families, because this is never discussed. The adult kids of missing parents don’t know what to believe.

Children have a right to know their families, both paternal and maternal. They have a right to figure out for themselves what this guy was like on their own as both my son and I did. If they then choose not to have a relationship with this person, it is on them. Closed adoptions are inappropriate and unfair to the child and to the family involved. If a mother has been raped by a man or if the man is a dangerous person to be around, this is one thing. The child should still be told. Many circumstances, neither of these situations are the case. In almost all circumstances, the grandparents are not to blame, nor the aunts/uncles, cousins, etc… The half-siblings of these children are certainly not to blame. Why do we continue to create this vicious cycle over and over again? Why do men and women continue to have unprotected sex? Why do women continue to lie to their children because they are upset with the father? It won’t end as long as we continue to ignore this topic because we don’t want to shame the single parent. Or because we aren’t being politically correct for some reason.

The holidays are meant to be spent with family. This is a time to create memories. It is a time to learn the stories of your ancestors. It is a time to find out who is who and make your own interpretations of what you see for yourself. Don’t kid yourself into believing that your lies will somehow help the child to have a better life. It never does.

You Don’t Need a Prince to Lead a Charming Life

Why be a princess when you can be a Queen? Not the Queen of country but of your own domain, your life. You don’t need a man to have what you want in life. Naturally, we want to share our life with someone but first we need to find out who we are, establish ourselves as women and then consider who we will choose to spend our time with. Either, you’ve made some mistakes and feel you need some guidance on how to re-think your future or, you have just started out on your road to college and would like some advice navigating this road ahead.

With all the negative representations of women we are presented with in today’s society don’t you want to change all of this and be a part of a different world? Do you ever ask yourself these questions: How can I, as a woman, reclaim my power? How can I, as a woman, reclaim my pride and self-respect? How do I, as a woman, ask for what I want in a polite or diplomatic way, rather than demand it? How do I, as a woman, find a person to share my life with and create a long-lasting union? A relationship that I will be happy with, not just tolerating. How do I, as a woman, put an end to divorce and babies out of wedlock and abuse rates rising higher and higher? How do I, as a woman, go back to a state of elegance, a time of pride and family, but also of love, peace and harmony? How do I, as a woman, create new rules for how to behave in society? My new book “You Don’t Need a Prince to Lead a Charming Life,” will help you to find these answers, if only you will give it a try.

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Parents Sex Lives and Children

Adults who had parents, who led less than extraordinary lives, when it comes to raising their children with ethics, often have poor relationships. If you saw your parents (one or both) fooling around, watching porn, unstable with women/men, generally this has an effect on how you view partners as well. Men or women whose parent was absent growing up presents a dilemma also. How can you know good choices to make with a partner when you weren’t given a good example growing up?

In my own blended family there are three girls (a fourth sister died). Our birth father was not there for us growing up. He was a player who married five or six times but he cheated on all of them.  I myself recall women in his house when I was there for visitation, who he was not married to. As an adult, he is still unable to admit to me what his mistakes were as a man. He will say “Well you know what I did to your mother,” which is denial in a backhanded way. All of us sisters, including the one who died had bad marriages and equally bad relationships. Only one of us has actually been married successfully a second time. Our birth dad was unavailable to all of us growing up and therefore our self-esteem, setting boundaries and asking for what we want has taken quite a toll on us emotionally. This is why I am a therapist – I can empathize with bad families. I am a good therapist because of the work I have done on myself. Experience alone is wasteful unless you have become a better person.

I have also worked with foster children for many years who have played the “Who’s your babies daddy?” game. In the inner city it is considered glamorous, in a strange sort of way, to have multiple children that you are taking no responsibility for. It shows you are a stud and guys make jokes about this. It is not funny when you see a young boy or girl struggling with their own self-esteem and following in a pattern of looking for sex for attention. It is the only way they know to get touched, even if it is inappropriate. Some touch is better than no touch at all. These kids fall prey to gangs, prostitution, drugs, crime, anything that will get them in some type of world that will pay attention to them. Many kids I worked with actually didn’t mind being behind bars. It was one safe place where they were more protected than on the streets. I could actually empathize with them. Three squares and a cot that you don’t have to sell yourself for each and every day. Someone setting boundaries with you. Going to school and not having to worry about getting on the bus. And the people who work at juvenile hall actually care about these kids. Good consistent attention and a safe haven.

Kids who have been sexually abused in families often have one or both parents who have also been sexually abused. If the parent did not have anyone to protect them growing up, how will they know what to do with their own child? Sure it sounds pretty easy but when you are a parent, you don’t come equipped with a social worker or psychotherapist license. You raise your children the way you were raised. Middle class parents tend to do the opposite in a desperate need to give their kids everything they didn’t have. They end up raising entitled children who have names like Snowden and that kid who was caught with the Taliban from Marin, CA. If rich people can’t seem to get it right, you can’t expect low-income families with severe post traumatic stress disorder, sometimes are on drugs or alcohol, to pay attention and get it right. If you don’t know how to clean a house, your house is going to be dirty.

It is not unusual then that I would have many clients who have horrible relationships. Who have partners who take advantage of them just like their parents did. This is why I prefer working with individuals. If they are coming to me, the chances are their relationship is on a one way street. Someone is giving way more than the other. There is no equality because they weren’t raised by parents who work together.  They were raised with parents who were making babies with everyone in town, watching porn, using substances, turning a blind eye to someone abusing their child, or were just not there.

This is the reason that I do a family history the second session. I tell people I want to see what dynamics they grew up with that they have brought into their adult world. People always get a kick out of this because as soon as I say that, they resonate with this immediately. I also tell them that studies show, 90% of relationship problems are unmet childhood needs. Once we go over what this is in the second session, it is not unusual to see this comparison in their own spouses/partners. It is sad when they finally get this and the knowledge is often accompanied by lots of tears. Yet an awakening is followed by a new path where you can have what you want going forward – or can you?

Yes and No. It really depends on how strong someone is. Having a childhood as I have described above takes many years of therapy, homework, workshops, groups, reading, exploring your own self and then of course taking care of your body. First you have to see the connection. Then you have to be willing to do the work. You have to be open to realizing you do have an ego and taking responsibility for all the choices you have made. Yes, the partner was an ass but you attracted this person into your life based on the mindset you had. Sometimes it even takes awhile for people to realize this person is not right for them. Until they do, they continue to be taken advantage of and not get their needs met.

I don’t mind working with people, even if it takes a long time, as long as they are making some discoveries along the way. If they are not, they generally back out of therapy to continue being in a relationship that is ruining their hopes of ever having happiness. This is not so bad for them either. When a person has been raised in such a horrible environment, sometimes this is more comfortable than separating from what is normal to them.

And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom. by  Anaïs Nin

Many people are stuck in the bud. When you think of a flower or better yet a caterpillar, in a cocoon, imagine how soothing this is. You are tightly wrapped up, very protected and it is dark in there. Nightime is often soothing when you are able to sleep. You are busy pretending the day never happened. Blossoming, opening up the bud, shedding the cocoon, this is risky and scary. You might not be good at this new life.

Think of these things as you raise your children. What images are you showing them? What interpretations are you making or telling yourself won’t hurt them? How much information are you giving them that they really don’t need to know? Hence the well-coined acronym “TMI.” Kids are not dumb. In fact their instincts and psychic powers are much stronger when they are little – until someone tells them that it is stupid or they are crazy. When someone says they are unworthy and will never amount to anything. This is when they begin to fall apart, lose their confidence, toss common sense to the wind and ignore their ability to see the double entendre.

Your children know you are having an affair. They might not put it in adult terms but they know something is going on that is strange and not normal for a parent to do. They know you are using substances – because everyone knows this. Because you are a new person once you’ve used them. You are no longer the good, fun parent but the evil person they have to lock their door for. They sneak out to pee and see their parent on the computer watching porn. They come into the room when adults are talking and hear the conversation about what mommy or daddy should not have done. Kids are curious, they wander around houses, they accidentally stumble on things. The truth is there. Think about how you are living your life. Is it really in the best interests of your family?