Divorced or Separated With Kids? Here Are 3 Tips for Helping Them Through This Holiday Season

The holiday season seems to come upon us earlier and earlier each year. Even before Thanksgiving, I started to notice all of the signs — colorful lights strung in front of houses, a glimpse of lit trees through windows and cheerful holiday tunes on the radio. Along with the high spirits the holiday season, a package of stress often arrives. This is especially true for divorced couples that struggle over how to make plans that optimize the holidays for themselves and, of course, their children — who want nothing more than normality. Read more

Opposites Attract, But They May Not Last, Unless…

Most couples can name several ways in which they’re opposites: neatness versus sloppiness; extroversion versus introversion; being high-strung versus laid-back preferring city versus country living, etc. And I’m sure you have something in mind that’s specific to you. It’s true that quite often and in many respects, opposites attract. But those areas can either help you thrive as a couple or destroy you! Read more

When Your Relationship is Rocky, Look Right at Your Expectations

One of the best ways to think of a relationship on the rocks is to reflect on your expectations for your relationship. What are they? What is it that you really want from your partner? What could your partner do now that would — from your point of view — make the relationship work again? Make a comprehensive list, and pay special attention to what you now recognize your unique issues to be.
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Your Best Mantra for the New Year

If you were to ask me what one thing the vast majority of the thousands of clients I’ve seen in my clinical psychology practice over the last 38 years have had in common, the answer might shock you. Almost without exception, what brings people to my office is what turns out to be a disconnect between the life they are living and the life they could be living if only they were empowered by their own choices.
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4 ‘Dangerous’ Yet Crucial Things Every Parent Should Encourage

I am a psychologist who works with adults, who are often very high achievers. So when I am asked if I see children in my practice, my routine tongue-in-cheek quip is, “only those in adult bodies.” More seriously, I’ve seen an extremely wide range of parenting results over my 38 years of clinical practice, ranging from outstanding to criminally horrific. Perhaps this is stating the obvious, but many parents either don’t realize or forget that the quality of the parenting we give our children is one of the crucial factors for determining how they will function throughout their entire lives.
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Resolving the Question of Whether or Not to Have Children

For some couples, the decision to have children is something that was discussed long before marriage—in some cases; I am told, on the first or second date ! But for many couples, deciding whether or not to have children can be one of their most daunting issues. With couples getting married later and women much more likely to have career dilemmas, the choice of whether or not to have children is often more urgent, since there’s so often a smaller window of time when women can safely conceive. Because this is one of life’s few decisions that is irreversible, it’s one that cannot be taken lightly or be made with haste.

The argument for parenthood is in many ways obvious: Parenthood can be infinitely and intrinsically rewarding on countless levels. There is no bond quite like that between a parent and child. And the experience of parenthood allows you to give in ways that are unique to this special relationship. Having children can also create a special bond between you and your partner as co-parents and ultimately lead to the incomparable joy of having grandchildren later on. It also allows you to see the world again through your child’s eyes, which can be extremely fulfilling—even when your children become adults.

Raising a child is also an enormous task; and its intensity cannot truly be imagined until it’s experienced. Every aspect of your life will change when you have a child and parenting will account for much of your time. There are years when it may even define you!

However, exploring and discussing the question of whether or not to have children can bring your deepest values, joys and fears to the surface. Here are some of the most common things to consider if you’re on the fence:

It’s not about you and your friends-The decision of whether or not to have a child needs to be made solely by you and your partner! Yet the pressure—real or perceived— from others can cloud your own thinking about this. Don’t let the desire to maintain your friendships by ensuring you are in similar lifestyles, be a factor in making the best decision for you and your partner. Make sure you and your partner ask yourselves, “Why do we really want children?”

It’s also not your parents’ decision-Many couples are or at least feel pressured by their parents who want grandchildren. Your parents may want grandchildren and be disappointed if they don’t have them, but they’re not entitled to grandchildren. Conceiving out of guilt is not going to serve anyone in the long run. Ask yourselves “Are we ready to make parenting our top priority and what sacrifices are we specifically ready and willing to make?”

A child will not save an ailing marriage- A common myth that I’ve heard many times is that having children will save or improve a dysfunctional or unfulfilling marriage; but nothing can be further from the truth. Children can sometimes strain and test the endurance of even the best relationships. Ask yourselves, “Can our relationship withstand the realities of having less freedom and private time together?” And perhaps ask yourself in the privacy of your own mind, “If we were unable to have kids or chose not to have them, am I still in a relationship with the person I want to grow old with?”

If you’re still not sure, the best advice is to work on this crucially important decision until you are less ambivalent. I also offer more guidance and some case studies on this subject in my book The Art of Staying Together. Bottom line: Having a child—when it’s what you and your partner truly want and have a loving home to provide—could be the most meaningful aspect of your life and the best contribution to the world that you can leave behind. But go into it with your eyes open.