Wednesday, December 9, 2009

"Nurturing Gifted Children"

Current research indicates that spanking actually lowers kids’ I.Q.

Who knew?

I had known that spankings can do psychological harm to children and damage their relationship with their parents. But I didn’t know the impact was even more widespread than that. If spanking lowers kids' IQ, then by inference, it impedes their school performance and in general, their ability to get along in the world. And it creates an aggressive response in those children who have the misfortune to come in contact with a parent's belt or open hand.

Let me say from the get-go that the majority of people who become parents feel the weight of the responsibility that comes with it. Not to mention the weight of being on call when their child needs them 24/7. They take their responsibility seriously. Most are well-meaning, loving parents, even when they mess up and lose their cool. Or even when their kids push their buttons and they "wig out."

That is just regular, garden-variety kids. Rearing intelligent, intense kids can be especially challenging. It takes a special knack to parent them. By definition, intellectually gifted children are intense. The more intellectually gifted the child, the more intense he/she is. Which means that he/she feels everything more deeply, reacts more strongly, challenges more vociferously, has greater emotional needs and requires more intellectual stimulation than the average bear. These are the kids whose achievements most people admire. But it can be quite a challenge for parents to nurture their growth to adulthood.

So let's tip our hats to the parents of those children who give us a run for our money, who ask us questions we don't know the answers to, and who feel things more poignantly than others. And let's high five those kids who are naturally intellectually curious, smart and sometimes smart-alecky, and most assuredly who love whole heartedly.

One of them likely will find the cure for cancer, how to extract oil from the ground without devastating it, or write the next Great American Novel or storied music as Mozart did at age 4.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

“The Top 5 Signs Your Marriage Needs Help”

You’ve just had a fight with your spouse. Is this a harbinger of a brewing storm? Or is it normal? How do you know when your marriage needs help?

I have seen marriage from every possible camera angle. I've worked with couples to save and heal their marriage before it becomes irretrievible. I’ve worked in premarital couples counseling to help the smart ones assess their strengths and identify their weaknesses as a couple. I have done couples counseling with folks who’ve been married for five months or 40 years. Sometimes, they seek my help for marriage enrichment, and sometimes because their marriage is in trouble. I have done divorce and post-divorce counseling to help couples stop recycling the same problems in their divorce that precipitated their divorce. And I have been a divorce mediator for couples who seek a saner way of divorcing, and an arbitrator for couples who insist on continuing their marital conflict long after they have divorced.

From all this experience, I offer the following 5 major signs that your marriage probably is in trouble.

1. When you and your spouse continually rehash the same argument, you probably need marriage help. Whether you literally fight about the same topic,or the dynamics of the fight are the same, your marriage is in trouble. In healthy marriages, couples know how to address their issues with each other before they become ongoing problems that tear at the fabric of the marriage. So if you find yourselves having an old, familiar argument that goes nowhere, you are wise to seek couples counseling before you dig a rut so deep that it is impossible to get out of it.

2. If arguing and fighting are the primary way you and your spouse emotionally connect, your marriage is in danger. In a strange way, fighting is "safe" because neither of you has to feel vulnerable to the other when you are in conflict. Yet fighting generates an intense connection. However, this mode of connecting becomes emotionally – and sometimes physically – dangerous. If this description fits your relationship, your marriage definitely will need professional help.

3. If you find your self-esteem eroding since marrying your spouse, your marriage is becoming too emotionally costly for anybody’s good to be left the way it is. Of course, your marriage isn’t necessarily the only challenge to your self-confidence. But especially if you sense that your spouse is deliberately undermining you, you are in danger of losing yourself in your relationship's dysfunction. This benefits nobody, and you likely will need couples counseling to help reverse this corrosive negative dynamic.

4. If it seems like everything and everybody is more important to your spouse than you, this makes for very lopsided investments in your relationship. Maybe you tend to feel that way anyway because of difficult prior experiences that had nothing to do with your spouse. In this case, ideally you would need your spouse’s help to heal that old wound while you both work on becoming more equal partners. Further, if you have married a very self-centered spouse, you definitely will need professional help to correct this increasingly untenable situation, if indeed it is correctible.

5. If you find yourself just not liking your spouse any more, something is going very wrong. I am not talking about the temporary feeling everyone occasionally experiences when you are convinced that marrying your spouse was the dumbest decision you’re ever made! Rather, if this feeling is persistent and gets worse, you definitely will need professional help before there is nothing left between you.

In conclusion, while there certainly is no one-size-fits-all approach to assessing and improving a marriage, I hope this gives you some guidelines. If you are uncertain as to how viable your marriage is and what can be done to improve it, remember that I offer a complimentary consultation to help you assess your situation. Just e-mail me at to request your appointment.