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Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Tues's Psychological Trivia: Who Spent More Time With Their Children: Stay-At-home Moms, 1965, or Working Moms, 1998?


Thought for the Day: It's time for Tuesday's Psychological Trivia Question. This week we are looking at the changing roles of motherhood, so here goes:

  True or False: At-home mothers in 1965 spent more time with their children than working mothers did in 1998. 

What do you think? Feel free to post your guesses. Come back on Thursday for the answer.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Motivational Mondays: Balancing Motherhood & Dreams

Thought for the Day:  As I mentioned on Friday, I will be presenting this Thursday at the Museum of Motherhood & plan to dedicate this week's posts to the challenges of modern parenting. With more & more mothers joining the workforce out of necessity, the balancing act that mothers need to perform is more & more complex. Making time for children's needs, a social life & for their husbands may leave little space for a mothers' personal needs & even less for their personal dreams. Since Mother's Day is just around the corner, I'd like to make today's post the 1st in a series of posts. As I bring up the issues, I would love to hear how you are dealing with the complexities of modern motherhood. What works for you? What is not working & needs improvements to make it better? Are you able to make time for yourself & your aspirations? If not, why not?

Motherhood Everywhere *1
In my book, The Wake Up and Dream Challenge, I present many reasons it is important for people to make time for their dreams. In preparing for this week's conference, I am focusing on a slightly different perspective, which I did not cover specifically in the book. Why should mothers take time for their dreams? Many women have been taught that helping their children & their husband  accomplish their dreams should be their priority. An interesting explanation of this tendency among western women is given in the book, Too Good for Her Own Good, that women have been taught to put other's needs before their own.  Therefore, mothers may feel selfish if they spend time pursuing their personal dreams.

If all you did was spend time working on your dreams it would be selfish, however, it is a self assertive act, not a selfish one if it is balanced as part of the many things you do for others.

Here are some reasons it is important to make time for your dreams. First, if you give up your dreams for someone else, be it your husband, your children or your parents, you may grow to resent the people closest to you. In my book, I quote the song, "Someone Else's Dreams," a country music song written by Trey Bruce and Craig Wiseman. You can listen to it here performed by Faith Hill to see what happens when you follow someone else's dreams. If you neglect your dreams you not only will lose precious time, but you will feel robbed of your own dreams.

Mother with child at work *2
Another reason mothers need to pursue their own dreams, is that if you don't, you run the risk of trying to live vicariously via your children's accomplishments. Unconsciously, you may be pressuring your children to follow a path that is not their dream, but yours. They may also grow to resent the pressure. It may lead them ultimately to distance both from you & the activity that you have been pushing them towards. Helping a child find & pursue their dreams is an important part of parenting, but it must be done carefully to be sure it is the child's dream & not yours.

On My Shoulders *3

The most important reason to make space for your dreams is for your children's sake. Your actions will teach your children about the importance of taking time for themselves & pursuing their dreams. You are your children's most important role model. Your actions speak louder than your words.

Are you making time for your dreams? If not, what keeps you from working towards them?

*1'Motherhood everywhere' http-/
*2 'Motherhood everywhere' http-/
*3  'On my shoulders' http-/
All photos from

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Sunday's Comic Strips: A New Meaning to the Meaning of Subconcious

Thought for the Day: In NYC at TriBeca Film Festival & unable to post Sundays Comic Strips. Better late than never! I will write about some of the films I saw in the future. This photo is from a suc shop in Raliegh NC! It cerainly puts a new twist on Freud's concept. I will post later today a Motivational Monday post.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Saturday's Songs for the Soul: Songs About Motherhood & Empowerment

Thought for the Day:  Next week I will be focusing on new faces of motherhood. I will be speaking at The Museum of Motherhood on the importance of mothers pursuing their dreams, not only for their own mental health, but also as role models for their children. Therefore, I decided to start the week by sharing some songs about mothers, letting go & empowerment of women & mothers. Women, who in the past few years have broken into the "good old boy" network in Country music have been strong role models for women. I may share some more songs like these next week from other artists & genres.

"How Can I Help You Say Goodbye" performed by Grammy award winning singer Patty Loveless is the touching story of how  follows a mother helps her daughter deal with losses. This beautiful song was written by Karen Taylor-Good & Burton Collins.

                                                                                Suzy Bogguss performs "Letting Go," a song about the transition from childhood to adulthood when mothers (and fathers) need to let their children go. She wrote the song with her husband songwriter Doug Crider.

This video of Mary Chapin Carpenter who wrote & performs, "He Thinks He’ll Keep Her," includes a short portion of her speaking about the song's message of empowerment of a wife & mother who realizes that she must change directions in her life to live her own dreams.


"Wide Open Spaces" is another coming of age song performed by the Dixie Chicks. I love the lyric & the soaring melody that captures how important it is for parents to give their children room to make their own mistakes. The song was penned by Susan Gibson. Natalie Maines, the lead singer from the Dixie Chicks has a new solo album coming out on May 7th ironically called "Mother." I will have to check it out when it is released.

I hope you enjoy these songs & will come back this week  to read about the changing roles of mothers. Have a wonderful weekend!

#FF Friday's Fab Finds : A Boston Tribute, No More Tears, Research on Terrorism, & Chocolate Bars

Thought for the Day: In light of all the negative press still fixated on Boston, here are some Fabulous Finds that are more uplifting. Today's finds consist of a creative way San Francisco runners ran in response to the Boston tragedy, a former actress helping abused women build a better life, a study that found patterns that may help us prevent terrorism & how a six year old boy raised $150,000 for his sick friend. Read on to restore your faith in humanity with this Friday’s Fabulous Finds!

San Francisco Runners Spell Out 'BOSTON' on Their Jog Last Tuesday night, the San Francisco Road Runners Club organized a 6.78 mile run to support Boston. Considering Boston’s & San Francisco’s long-standing rivalry, this was an incredibly thoughtful, compassionate gesture.

Somy Ali

Former film star devoted to rescuing women from domestic violence. No More Tears is a non profit organization founded by Bollywood actress, Somy Ali. She quit the film industry to aid immigrant women to escape from abusive relationships. To do this, she temporarily puts women up in a motel, helps them move into a studio apartment & helps them find work. Learn how this superstar has helped more than 600 women & children create better lives for themselves.

Why Are Terrorists So Often Young Men? The Huffington Posts’s article, “Why Are Terrorists So Often Young Men?” investigates neurological determinants of terrorism in young men. Author Meredith Melnick chose to examine gender & age. Perhaps the findings will help focus on this at risk population to develop preventative programs. Read this article to learn more about this startling phenomenon.

Dylan & Jacob
Six year-old Dylan Siegel Raised $150,000 for his best friend who suffers from a rare illness. This video featured on AOL tells how Dylan wrote & published a book, The Chocolate Bar. Click to learn more about this amazing enterprise. Better yet, go to to donate to the Jonah Pournazarian Glycogen Storage Disease 1B Fund at the University of Florida & receive a copy of the book.

Hope you will come back for Saturday's Songs for the SoulSunday's Comic Strips & next week's posts which will be focused on why mothers need to keep dreaming as role models for their children. This will be the topic of a talk I will be giving at the “New” Motherhood?: Evolving Policies, Practices, and Families Conference on MAY 2, 3, 4 at The Museum of Motherhood in New York City. My presentation will be on Thursday, May 2 at 3 PM. If you will be in NYC please come & meet me! Have a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Thursday's Time to Reflect: When All the Bad News Brings You Down

Thought for the day: The best angle from which to approach any problem is the try-angle. - Unknown
The try-angle approach to problem solving must be followed by the Try-Try-Again-Angle.
- Dr. Barbara Lavi When 'wake up' dreamers are given lemons in life, they dream anyway, but they too must confront their feelings of discouragement. Here's my reflection on how to deal with the impact of all the bad news we are inundated with of late.

When current events begin to get me down, I try to find a way to 1st make some sense of what has transpired. I write about it, find lessons to take away from what has happened. I don't just make lemonade, as I wrote in a previous post, I open a store. I also try my best to keep structure in my life & adhere to routines. I have been working hard to deal with the events following the Boston Marathon Bombings, as my posts for the past week plus, have shown. I hope they have been helpful to all who have read them. Today would have been scheduled to be Thursday's Trivia Answer to a Tuesday's Psychological Trivia post, however, I have been playing catch up all week. There was no trivia question last Tuesday. I'm finding myself in a more serious mood. I usually have no trouble finding something to write about, but today, I am at a loss & I think I know why.

The magnitude of the events in Boston, the explosion in Texas & now fires blazing in Alabama are simply difficult to handle. This has been an exceptionally hard year for us all. It began with Hurricane Sandy & was followed by the Sandy Hook Tragedy. In times like these we all, psychologists & healers included, must take some time to reflect. Ironically, not having a trivia question to answer forced me to stop.

Yesterday, one of my readers commented on my post Wednesday's Words of Wisdom on whether schools should be helping children learn to act according to obedience or follow their conscience when there is a moral conflict. Here's what the reader wrote & how I responded:
Although I agree with your sentiment, I just can't see how this going to happen in the public school setting. There has been a lot of backwards thinking for so long; I find it hard to believe that they are going to change very much despite this or any other tragedy.
Thanks for commenting Clayton. I agree that it will be hard to get public schools to change, but parents need to let their school systems know that it is important to them. Speak with your PTA about the need to address these issues. It is worth it for the future of our world. 

I am not a Pollyanna, I know that all change takes time & hard work. When people came to me in Boston discouraged that things will simply never change, I encouraged them to remember the changes that have transpired in the not so distant past. It took years, but the United States withdrew from the Viet Nam War due to continued protests by the people. Mothers Against Drunk Driving have changed the laws surrounding drunk driving & have made a difference. The Berlin Wall came down. Segregation was outlawed in our country. The brave people who fought for these & other causes were discouraged, but they took the time & made a difference. Sometimes, we need to let the feelings of discouragement get to us, take the time to reflect, regroup & discover the ways we can make changes happen to improve the plight of our troubled world. 

What do you do when you feel discouraged? Has all the bad news made you feel fatalistic? What has helped you when you have felt this way?

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Wednesday's Words of Wisdom: Stanley Milgram on Conscience Vs Obedience

Thought for the Day: As the sad news about the suspects in the Boston Marathon Bombings come in, many questions are still unanswered. Stanley Milgram was a Yale psychologist whose conducted research on conscience & obedience to authority. His findings sheds light on possible explanations for how young people lose sight of right & wrong when they submit to the authority of leaders or older siblings. Psychologists & educators must focus on ways to prevent what leads some people to be influenced by authority figures into committing violent attacks. According to Milgram, "The disappearance of a sense of responsibility is the most far-reaching consequence of submission to authority." How can we help teach people to resist the pressure to conform & to hold onto a sense of responsibility for one's own acts? Have our schools been paying too little attention to these issues as we focus on the 3 R's & standardized testing? I believe that we must help children & young adults learn to respect one another regardless of race, religion or ethnic background & teach them to settle differences without violence or physical harm to another human being. I'd love to hear your thoughts on this matter.

To read more about Milgram's work take a look at The Milgram Experiment on Simple's site

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Motivational Monday & Tuesday: Signs of Resilience

Thought for the Day:  This would have been my Motivational Monday's post, but I was too busy to complete it yesterday. Given the circumstances, I hope you will understand. I have a policy, whenever I can I do critical incident work following traumatic events. When Cigna EAP calls following bank robberies, deaths, & other traumatic events, I reschedule my private clients & go to help on site. I see this as preventative care & work with as many people affected by these events as I can. Last Tuesday & yesterday, I went to Boston. Here are some of my thoughts, impressions & advice from my recent experiences. I hope they will help you as well, since "We Are One Boston."

As I drove from CT to Boston, I did not know what to expect. After a week-long ordeal with tragic losses, injuries, a lock down, followed by a successful manhunt, how would the city I called home from 1981 to 2000 be handling the trauma? As I approached on the Massachusetts Turnpike, I saw the 1st sign of how Boston is coping. There were literally 4 electronic signs, the kind used to post traffic warnings, which said, “We are One Boston… Thanks for everything.”

After I exited the turnpike, I entered Newton, driving along Commonwealth Avenue, part of the route of the Boston Marathon. As I noticed the beauty of the sunlit day, the second signs appeared loud & clear. On both sides of the street there were joggers running & parents pushing carriages. It looked like any ordinary spring day in Boston. People were showing not only their relief that the terror was over,  but also their determination not to let the events stop them from living their lives fearlessly.

When I reached the infamous Heartbreak Hill, I noticed that the statue (photo above) which has honored the Boston Marathon for years had been decorated. Both bronze runners had been given number tags from this year's runners. One statue holds an American flag; the other is raising flowers. The statue pays tribute to the courage of this year's runners & is a signal to all Bostonians to carry on.

On Monday, as I drove to Norwood for the critical incident assignment, I saw more signs. While following a city bus, I noticed that intermittently, in addition to the number of the route, were the words, “We Are One Boston.” A car dealership’s sign proudly stated, “Boston Strong.” There were signs everywhere that people finding creative ways to cope, show their support & recover from the surreal events.

Yesterday, I went to a large company in the Boston area I spoke with employees from around the Boston area including Watertown. They wanted to know how to help their children, friends & themselves deal with the aftermath of a mass tragedy. Some had been at the finish line & moved seconds before the blast. They recognized the wounded as having stood beside them. I spoke about survivor’s guilt & shared ways to speak with the children who by the grace of a few seconds were saved from injury.

Some people were having trouble sleeping or fearful of going out alone. Others were struggling with memories of previous losses of loved ones from illness or violence brought back by the traumatic events. Many people wondered how to help injured friends who are still in the hospital. There were native Bostonians grieving for their city. There were also new immigrants feeling isolated,  wondering why they had come to a country beleaguered by violence.

In this day & age, whether you live in the Boston area, across the USA or abroad, we are truly. "One Boston." Television brings tragedies such as these into our homes. To a lesser degree, events like these impact on us all. We all have some survivor’s guilt & fears. It is normal to have questions about how to help family, our selves & especially our children cope with these traumatic events.

Here are some of the things I encouraged people to do:

The first & most important thing you can do is ask for support. Talk to friends & family about how you feel about what has transpired. As hard as it may be to speak about our feelings, tears, anger, disbelief & helplessness are normal responses to trauma. It is important to talk about your feelings to recover. Many of the people had trouble speaking without crying at first, but by the time they left, they felt more in control & had ideas of things they could do that would help.

It is also important to remind yourself  & your children that there are many more supportive, good people in the world than those intent on doing harm.  In traumatic events, we are exposed to both the worst & the best parts of human nature. Media often focuses on the shocking, dramatic worst elements. Pay attention to people's natural instinct to help other human beings in time of crisis.

Turn off the TV or internet if you are feeling overwhelmed by the coverage which may be traumatizing.  Take care of yourself, make sure you rest, eat, exercise & follow as normal of a routine as possible.  Volunteer to help out. You will feel in more control of the situation if you feel there is something you can do to alleviate the situation.  Allow yourself to grieve if you have recently lost a loved one or have a loved one who has been hurt in the tragedy.

                                                         The Most Valuable Ring

I told the story of The Most Valuable Ring (You can listen to the story on the video, it may help you with this challenge as well.) to one of the people who came to see me. After I finished, she took off her wedding band & showed me an inscription: “We fall to conquer.” I asked her permission to share it here & she agreed. Tragedy can strengthen us. If we experience the loss, process it & cope with the fall, we can become stronger & conquer. We are one Boston.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Sunday's Comic Strips: Charlie Brown & the Psychology of Magical Thinking

Thought for the Day: This cartoon from Peanuts, the syndicated daily and Sunday American comic strip written & illustrated by Charles M. Schulz, is a wonderful illustration of how the psychology of magical thinking can impact on us & make us fearful. All last week the very serious topic of how to heal from traumatic events following the Boston Marathon bombings took center stage on my blog. Boston's strength & resilience will help combat magical thinking. Neil Diamond's surprise performance of Sweet Caroline at the Red Sox game yesterday is yet another testament that Boston will stand tall & not let terrorism stop this amazing city from living life to the fullest. I will be in Boston tomorrow & look forward to helping people cope with these events. Have a great weekend.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Saturday's Songs for the Soul: Wishing for Boston's Strong Recovery

Thought for the Day:  Getting the news last night that the 2nd suspect had been captured was such a relief. Although the recovery will take time, the world sighed a sigh of relief. I will be going to Boston to help out again on Monday & feel good that I will be able to use my expertise as a psychologist to relieve some of the traumatic impact. For today, I chose some songs that will uplift our souls as the world processes what has transpired. The songs & videos speak for themselves.
One More Day by Diamond Rio is a song that always reminds us of cherishing every day we have with others & cherishing our memories of those we have lost.

Sweet Caroline at Yankee Stadium last week is a touching tribute from the Red Sox arch rival. It makes it clear that we are one nation, not just a Red Sox Nation!

The National Anthem at Bruins Game 1st home game following Marathon bombings. This was another show of courage & determination of the American people in the face of the challenges last week. Those of you following the blog should know that one of the people singing proudly is related to Katy, the little girl who recently had a heart transplant.

 Have a wonderful weekend!

Friday, April 19, 2013

#FF Friday's Fabulous Finds: Coping With Traumatic Events in Boston

Thought for the Day: After the events in Boston this week, one could easily lose complete faith in humanity. In spite of the gravity of the events, here are some articles to remind you that most people are good. Hopefully, these finds will help you cope with all the difficult news & build resillience. You will be able to learn about the psychology of terrorism, read a moving story, & more. As I prepare this post, CNN is reporting the capture & death of one of the terrorists & a massive manhunt in Boston for the 2nd terrorist. To those of you in the Boston area, stay safe in your homes knowing that an army of police are working to keep you safe & the world is watching, hoping for the speedy conclusion of these stressful events.

The first find,  The Boston Marathon is Everything That's Right with the World, focuses on how the Marathon depicts the magnitude of the human spirit, in the face of countless negative news reports about the explosion. As the author, Katie Lannan, describes it: “It’s a 26.2-mile chain reaction of support, & today it stretched longer than it ever has before, when a collaborative spreadsheet cropped up, full of Bostonians offering lodging to stranded strangers, when exhausted marathoners reportedly kept going until they reached Mass General & could donate blood, when the Red Cross announced they’d met their need after only a handful of hours.”

strategies are examined. Focusing on the breaking news following tragic events is one way of trying to understand traumatic events. This article gives some tips on other ways to cope.
In the third find, Psychology of Terrorism, John Grohol, PsyD, CEO of website PsychCentral, describes why terrorism occurs. Obviously, this is one of our less uplifting pieces, but understanding the psychology behind terrorism may help us make sense of the Boston Marathon tragedy & find ways to reduce terrorism.

People Are Good, After All, our fourth find, provides research results that support the belief that people's "first impulses are selfless." The author, put it well: “If human nature is simply the way we tend to act based on our intuitive and automatic impulses, then it seems that we are an overwhelmingly cooperative species, willing to give for the good of the group even when it comes at our own personal expense.

My fifth fabulous find, Shattered Glass, written by educator, parent, LICSW & consultant, Margie Bogdanow, (who also happens to be my sister-in-law) recounts a true Bostonian’s agony in discovering the acts of terrorism against her beloved hometown. She recommends that we react to this hardship through “caring for one another, by continuing to find the good in one another, by smiling at strangers, by helping those in our midst who need it – today & everyday, by holding our families close, by listening to our children, by finding creative & constructive ways to express our angst & anger, & most importantly, by each of us continuing to do whatever we can possibly do to make this world a better place.”

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Triumph Over Terror Thursday: United We Stand

Thought for the Day: My apologies for posting so late today. I was in Boston yesterday helping out & have been playing catch up all day today. I do want to share some of my thoughts on what will be a long healing process following the devastating attack on the Boston Marathon. What is striking to me both as I watch the news coverage & as I spoke with Bostonians yesterday is the tenacity & determination not to let an act of terror stop people from living their lives. 

Of course, people are shaken & worried, but they are planning to keep going. I learned yesterday about a young man who sent out an e-mail to his friends inviting them to walk or run the last mile of the Marathon route. As of yesterday 20,000 people had shared his invitation to join him. Another group of runners is planning a Triumph Over Terrorism run following the entire course of the marathon. They are in the process of choosing a date. My guess is that there will be many more runs & fundraising drives to help the injured recover.

This kind of resilience coming so soon after the tragic event is a sign of the strength & determination of Boston & our nation. I found the photo (above) on Google+ it is an amazing photo of a heart made up of hundreds of people. I believe that if we could take a picture of the world it too would resemble a heart reaching out to Boston. Support is even coming from their arch rivals, The Yankees. Sweet Caroline is being sung across the nation in both baseball leagues. In all the sports associations across the nation, there have been touching tributes.

One woman I met with yesterday said she was at a loss for words when they saw runners in the uniforms from the Marathon from other countries standing in Boston sharing their grief. She felt like telling them to come back next year & not to be afraid. I encouraged her to go ahead & talk to them. Let them know she supports them. The terrorist or terrorists who committed this heinous act wanted people to be afraid. Hopefully, as the stories of how perfect strangers did whatever they could to help those in need of assistance, despite the danger, we will feel greater trust in the goodness of most people. United we stand & together we will triumph over terror!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Wednesday's Words of Wisdom: Maria Montesorri & Fred Rogers on Fear

Thought for the Day: As I will be in Boston today helping people dealing with the trauma of Monday’s bombings, I have turned to quotes by two educators that may help you deal with the tragedy & combat the natural fear of strangers that arises after such events. I hope you will take time to find ways to heal from this tragedy, since we all have been traumatized. I hope these words will help you & those near to you.

As more information is released regarding the Boston Marathon bombing, we can be inspired by a quote from Italian physician and educator, a noted humanitarian Maria Montessori who lived from August 31, 1870 till May 6, 1952. The founder of Montesorri schools believed that, “Establishing lasting peace is the work of education; all politics can do is keep us out of war.” It often seems that terrorism & fear of strangers go hand-in-hand. We’re afraid of strangers because of terrorism & related atrocities. Terrorism feeds off this mentality, though, doesn’t it? Of course, recovery from these traumatic events is incredibly difficult. But, ultimately, we will only recover if we stop fixating on the senseless violence & emphasize that countless bystanders ran toward the scene of the crime to help. Even in the face of great danger, people rushed to save the lives of perfect strangers. Although the horror of the events is undeniable, we must remember most people are intrinsically good & willing to go out of their way to help strangers. Let’s seek out the heroes in this situation. In times of crisis, more often than not, you’ll see many helping hands. At the end of the day, take a cue from another educator, Fred Rogers, who helped children via television to deal with multiple crisis.: "When I was a boy & I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, 'Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.'"

Here's a video clip of Fred Rogers on talking with children about tragic news on television. You can also download a free e-book for parents & children, When Bad Things Happen to Children, on my webpage. It was written in response to the Sandy hook tragedy, but can be adapted to the current situation.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Stand Tall Tuesday: Boston Will Finish 1st

Thought for the Day: I could not post Tuesday's Psychological Trivia, given the gravity of yesterday's events in Boston. Instead, I want to offer support to Boston's heroes & remind parents of a resource to help them speak with their children about the tragic events. As I watch the footage & coverage of the tragedy that occurred yesterday, I am struck by the rapid response & relative composure of the crowd & first responders. Although people are describing the scene as "chaotic," onlookers & first responders reacted amazingly calmly. Their ability to do so surely saved lives. People sprang into action & helped those in need despite the uncertainty of the situation. The organizers of the Boston Marathon quickly stopped the race & helped runners reach safety. Boston is a strong proud city that will find a way to deal with this challenge. Like a marathon the recovery process will take time, but the rest of the nation & the world will be supporting them as they recover. The good people of Boston will stand tall & finish first.

One of the Dream Nonprofits featured in my book, The New York Says Thank You Foundation, posited this message today on Facebook:
For every horrendous act of terror, multiple heroes rose to the occasion & went out of their way to help the survivors.

Since families & children were impacted both at the event & by seeing it on television, I want to remind people that the free PDF downloadable book, "When Bad Things Happen to Children" is still available on my website (Look to the left of the video about my book for the light blue square with the free download box.It looks similar to the information below). It can easily be used with children to help them draw & express their feelings about what they have seen & heard about the traumatic event. Although it was written with the Sandy Hook Tragedy in mind, it is applicable to this event as well. It prints out page by page, so that parents can decide which verses & pages to use with their children. There is a parents' guide explaining how to use this book & additional resources included.

 Look  for this download in a light blue box to the left of a video about my book on my webpage:
Download Free Ebook 'When Bad Things Happen To Children'
Fill out the form below to download your free copy of 'When Bad Things Happen To Children', written by Dr. Barbara Lavi and Lee Delzingo

Monday, April 15, 2013

Special Edition: My Heart Is In Boston

Thought for the Day: I just returned from North Carolina. As I said in my earlier post today, I was on a high from a wonderful family wedding filled with support of family & lifelong friends. I learned about the tragedy in Boston just after getting off a plane in NYC. Immediately, I began calling my children, family & friends who live in Boston. Although my family & friends are all fine, for so many others, things are not. I lived in the Boston area from 1981 till 2000 & feel like Boston is my second home. I am angered to hear that anyone would target runners & their families waiting to cheer them on at the finish line. Many of the runners were raising money for charities. When events like these occur, it shakes our belief in the goodness of mankind. It is ironic that it occurred just after I wrote a post about learning how to trust strangers. I, like Anne Frank, "Despite everything, (I) believe that people are really good at heart." If we let events like these stop us from continuing to lead our lives & develop friendships, we will be allowing evil people to achieve their terrible plots to frighten us. To the injured & those in mourning know that people around the globe care & are praying for your healing. As citizens of the world viewing the horror on TV, sadly Boston could be any of our home towns. We must all do what we can to fight for peace & understanding. We must work to reduce violence.

Motivational Mondays: Why Your Parents Were Wrong When They Said, "Don't Talk to Strangers"

Thought for the Day: Three things have been impacting me over the last few days. First, I have been thinking about the psychological impact of friendships since I began this series last Monday. It has been leading to multiple questions about the therapeutic process. Although my clients are not my friends, the therapeutic relationship teaches clients how to trust & therefore helps them be able to develop healthy relationships including friendships. The second event that relates to friendships was a funeral. It was my sister-in-law's 90 year old mother who passed away following a long slow loss of her physical abilities. She was my late brother Larry's mother-in-law, therefore, the loss brought back the sadness of my brother's death. Friends & family came together to celebrate her life & share in the grief of her death. From the sad beginning of the week with a funeral, this weekend brought the joy of my nephew's wedding. At the wedding, there was a coming together of my younger brother's amazing group of friends from childhood & college days, my nephew's childhood & college friends, our family & the bride's family & friends.

I have been blessed to have grown up in a family that encouraged friendships. Our home was always open to friends. My brothers & I learned to develop & stay connected to our friends. In times of sorrow we lean on our family & friends & the sorrow is easier to bear. In times of joy our friends are there dancing & sharing in the joy, making it even more joyous.

When I brought up the topic of friendship with LinkedIn colleagues, they brought up the paradox that therapists are not friends with their clients. There are clear boundaries that are necessary, however, in many ways clients become something even more significant than friends. Therapists are privy to their clients' most intimate aspects of their lives. We become the keepers of their "secrets;"  however, they are not privy to their therapists' lives. Although therapists are not total "strangers," in many ways they are strangers. Clients slowly build trust in their therapists & share the issues that have lead them to seek help. One LinkedIn colleague, Tamara H., M.S., a psychotherapist from Pennsylvania, wrote that friendship "is essential in all of our relationships. You cannot have a good marriage without friendship, you cannot have a good mother-daughter relationship without a friendship, & you cannot offer an authentic counseling experience to your clients if there isn't an appropriate level of friendship as the foundation. Friendship, with appropriate boundaries, is always useful." Another LinkedIn therapist, Sharon Aumani, an RN who with Mental Health specialty from Portland OR, wrote,"The "with appropriate boundaries" is an important piece & may be loosely defined by some. I have a less traditional relationship with my counselor that I have greatly come to appreciate, but there are still clear boundaries." Psychotherapist Eleanor Avinor noted that,"Friendship is very important to mental health: it enhances our feelings of belonging & acceptance. It is a mirroring of the good parts of ourselves. It is another form of attachment & can build on early attachments & even help repair early attachments that were not satisfying enough." 

It is understandable that parents teach their children not to speak to strangers, however, if they never talked to strangers they would never make friends. All friends were once strangers & every stranger could become a friend. As we grow up, we observe our parents speaking to strangers. My father could find something interesting about every person he ever met. He would talk to a salesman in a store or a doorman at a hotel. He would find out where they were from & how they landed the job. then he would tell us about how interesting they were. When we traveled around the country, he would look in the phone book & call people with our last name to see if they might be from the same part of Russia where my grandfather grew up. They were strangers who happened to have the same last name, but my father would simply introduce himself & try to get to know them. 

My mother encouraged us to bring our friends into our home, especially new friends. It was her way of getting to know our friends & making sure they would be good influences on us. If they did not like someone that we befriended they were able to talk to us carefully about their concerns. We were always taught to judge people by their behavior & not their looks, religion or race. My younger brother learned not only how to make friends, but also has been able to keep close contacts throughout his life with a circle of at least 50 childhood friends (from around the United States & beyond) who have continued to get together several times a year. Their children are also friends with my brother's friends' children. I stay in touch more loosely, but whenever I see my friends, it feels like no time has passed & the friendship is still strong.

This kind of gradual education both in my own relations with childhood friends & observing my parents' interactions with strangers & friends, taught me how to decide who to befriend & who to be more cautious about befriending. I am grateful to my family for teaching me how to develop friendships with people who were first strangers. In the therapeutic relationship, clients are also learning how to build trust & believe that trusting relationships can be developed. In future posts, I will share thoughts about what else is needed to develop healthy friendships.


Sunday, April 14, 2013

Sunday's Comic Strips: Who or What Is Man's Best Friend?

Thought for the Day: With all this talk about friendship, we have not addressed man's best friend. Are we replacing man's best friend with smart phones? Are smart phones & social media helping us be more connected to other people or more distant, Do we text & leave voice messages instead of meeting up with or talking on the phone with friends? What do you think? Have a great weekend & hope to see you next week for another angle to friends & mental health.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Saturday's Songs for the Soul: You've Gotta Have Friends

Thought for the Day: It's time for Saturday's Songs for the Soul. Since this week was devoted to issues surrounding the importance of friendship (Motivational Mondays: What Is "Friendship Deprivation & How Does It Impact on Mental Health? & Thursday's Psychological Trivia Answer: Friendship the Secret Weapon in the Fight Against Cancer), I chose songs about friendship. I am also celebrating my nephew's wedding with family & many of  my brother's friends whom I have known since they were in elementary school. I appreciate their support over the years. The 1st  two videos show how celebrities come together to help various causes. The 1st video includes a montage for an Easter Seals Marathon in 1992, see how many of the celebrities you recognize. The 2nd shows The Rolling Stones in a benefit concert for victims of Hurricane Katrina. When disaster strikes, friendships help us get through the difficult times. The third is a son, No Man Is An Island (based on a poem by John Donne.), that I have always loved performed by the Van Dykes, a group I have never heard before. Have a wonderful weekend!    

                                                          "You've Gotta Have Friends"
                                                     Montage for Easter Seals Marathon
Pat Boone, Rita Coolidge, Robb Weller, and Maria Conchita Alonso go to the tote board in 1992, followed by a montage with Bette Midler's "You've Got To Have Friends" of celebrities and Easter Seal kids of the past including Groucho Marx, Lucille Ball, Ed Asner, Jack Klugman, Joan Lunden, Carol Burnett, Lassie, Michael Landon, Peter Falk, Bill Cosby, Bob Hope, and Hank Aaron. Can you help and identify some of the stars I couldn't?                                                                                

The Rolling Stones playing in Milwaukee, USA, as part of the benefit concert for the victims of the Hurricane Katrina, aired on September 10, 2005.

                                                 No Man Is An Island by the Van Dykes

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Friday's Fabulous Finds: Healing Social Pathology 1 Friend, City, & App at a Time

Thought for the Day: It’s finally Friday! This week we have been talking about friendship & society's pathology. The finds relate to ways to start treating the social ills we have been talking about. You may enjoy the first two finds if you liked our Words of Wisdom post from this past Wednesday titled “Phillip Zimbardo Shyness: A Social Pathology.  The first is a program that teaches cities to become emotionally healthy. Programs like these can help treat the social pathology we discussed. The 2nd find is an article titled “Friendship Lessons from Introverts.” It debunks the myth that introverts lack strong relationships. What can we learn from them to enhance our relationships? The third find brings 5 free mobile apps for PTSD, Stress & Anxiety. These apps can help people heal from the violence & stress of our modern world. The 4rd fabulous find came from an article called “Diagnosis: Humans,” a NY Times Op-Ed Piece by Ted Gup. It concerns society’s desire to constantly “fix” our human flaws with objects &, or, medication. It certainly raises questions to consider as we grapple with society's dilemmas.  The last find is a less informative but entertaining YouTube video. It shows how a group of friends added a pleasant surprise to their friends’ wedding party. We hope our posts this week have helped you consider initiating new friendships, cultivating existing ones & growing as a friend. Happy Friday, everyone!

The Children's Project
1) Emotionally Healthy Cities Dr. Gerald Newmark, author of How to Raise Emotionally Healthy Children & co-founder of The Children’s Project, explains what an emotionally-healthy city is. Click to learn how all cities can strive to become emotionally healthy cities. Thanks to Kelli Cronin for sharing information with me about The Children’s Project on LinkedIn.

2) "Friendship Lessons from Introverts" 
According to this source, introverts offer such benefits to friendships as becoming a better listener, frequent meaningful conversations, and having significant one-on-one time with friends. If you are an introvert, this post is for you!

3) 5 Free Mobile Apps for PTSD, Stress & Anxiety 
This informative article promotes applications that can alleviate people's suffering from PTSD, stress, & anxiety. Its author, Dave MacDonald, is a psychotherapist, consultant, & educator hailing from Asheville, North Carolina. I found this post on Links4Shrinks on LinkedIn.

4)  Diagnosis: Human Written by Ted Gup, this article sheds light on society’s tendency to mistake our flaws & humanity for mental illnesses. Gup puts it well: “We have become increasingly dissociated & estranged from the patterns of life & death, uncomfortable with the messiness of our own humanity, aging &, ultimately, mortality.”

5) Friend's Surprising Wedding Present

                                    See how friends prepared a unique surprising wedding gift.

Thursday's Trivia Answer: Friendship the Secret Weapon in the Fight Against Cancer

Thought for the Day: It's Thursday & time for the answer to Tuesday's Psychological Trivia question:      

         True or False:
               Friendships can make cancer become less deadly.

The answer is true. Friendships are the secret weapon in fighting cancer (& other serious illnesses.).Research indicates that having strong social supports can improve the prognosis of cancer patients. Researcher has (1) found that “Social well-being in the first year after cancer diagnosis is a significant prognostic factor for breast cancer recurrence or mortality." They suggest that maintaining or enhancing social support for women soon after their breast cancer diagnosis is a way to improve outcomes. It has also been found to improve recovery from ovarian cancer (2), strokes (3), & colorectal cancer in men (4). (Other studies report similar benefits of friendships for patients following cardiac arrests, preventing memory loss & with depression.) Given these findings, it is important to find ways to make & nurture friendships to help improve the outcomes of serious illnesses. Having a network of friends is like an insurance policy for the challenges that life puts in our path. Tomorrow on Friday's Fabulous Finds & next week we will continue to look at both the importance of friendships & how to build them. A few of the finds relate to ways to this topic. Have a great end ot the week!

If you would like to read more about how friendships & social support can help fight cancer & other serious illnesses, here are a few articles:

1) Breast cancer: Social Support May Improve Breast Cancer Outcomes form the
Journal of Clinical Oncology They found that, "Social well-being at six months after diagnosis was linked with both survival and risk of recurrence. Women with the highest level of social well-being had a 38% reduction in risk of death and a 48% reduction in risk of recurrence. The aspects of social well-being that appeared to provide the most benefit were marriage and family, social support, and interpersonal relationships."

2) Ovarian Cancer A study finds social support and other behavioral factors are related to levels of a circulating protein which at high levels is associated with a poor prognosis in advanced ovarian cancer.
3)   Stroke "Social support had no effects on rehabilitation of light clinical neural functional default of patients with stroke(P>0.05), but it had effects on rehabilitation of moderate and severe clinical neural functional default of patients with stroke"
4)  Harvard Cancer study Low social support was associated with higher risk of both colorectal cancer incidence and mortality in men.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Wednesday's Words Of Wisdom: Phillip Zimbardo Shyness: A Social Pathology

Thought for the Day: As we continue to examine the value of friendships, Wednesday’s Words of Wisdom this week come from contemporary psychologist, Philip Zimbardo, who was born in 1933. After earning three undergraduate degrees in psychology, sociology, & anthropology from Brooklyn College, he went on to receive his M.S. at Yale University. Zimbardo is best known for ground-breaking psychological theories & experiments such as the Stanford prison study, Time Paradox, Lucifer Effect, & Abu Ghraib analysis.

For today’s post, I chose a little known quote by Zimbardo on shyness:
         “The level of shyness has gone up dramatically in the last decade. I think
     shyness is an index of social pathology rather than a pathology of the individual.”
If shyness stems from society’s ills & is not an innate disposition, how can we treat the societal pathology? Is it possible this societal illness interferes with developing friendships in our modern world? Does it deter people from responding to or making advances to initiate friendships. Could it be a factor in what I described in Motivational Monday's post as "friendship deprivation?" Since Zimbardo’s observations, has the increase in shyness morphed into a societal distrust & sense of lack of safety? Could this fuel some people’s apprehension & adamant belief in the necessity to own guns to feel safe? If shyness stems from societal problems & the increased fear of strangers that plagues some segments of our society is similar, how can we help reduce these fears & heal the social pathology?

Over the next couple of weeks, I will address these questions as I examine the benefits of friendship to our mental health. The answers are complex. The solutions will take time. But if we grapple with them for long enough, we’re sure to eventually reduce the shyness & fear that’s becoming so prevalent in society.  We need to look to psychology, education, sociology & other disciplines to begin to discover answers. What are your thoughts? I hope you will join me in this discussion.