Friday, September 18, 2009


A friend once told us this amusing fact: his huge Rottweiler is afraid of cats. His story goes that when the dog was a young pup, it tried the usual dog-hates-cats snarling and snapping technique on an older cat. Unfazed, the cat coolly let the pup have his merry way. The cat probably got irritated after a while and without warning, a feline claw lashed the dog's sensitive nose. The poor dog probably felt that it was the worst pain he'll ever feel that he associated cats with it. From then on, he gave cats a wide berth. Even when he grew the size of a small horse and could probably swallow a whole cat without effort, they still lorded over him. This huge beast, which can reduce grown men to quaking, is afraid of little cute cats.

We can laugh about the absurdity of this pair but come to think of it, don't we all have our "little cute cats"? Don't we all have those little fears that shaped us into what we are now? Wasn't there a particularly painful experience that taught us to react to things in a particular way?

As little kids, we were constantly barraged with lessons on what to do and what not to do. It could be as instructional as 'don't play with matches'; 'don't talk to strangers'; 'eat vegetables' and so on. These got ingrained in your system that doing it became automatic. That's great but what if you were constantly told 'you're not good enough'; 'your grades are lower than so-and-so'; 'you're not pretty'; 'you're fat' etc.? Unfortunately, yes, this negative outlook got into your psyche too.

Like a dormant computer virus, it got embedded into your programming. Let's say you were always told that you're ugly. You grew up thinking that and each time you try to improve your looks, this 'virus' creeps up and tells you 'don't bother, you're ugly'. As it has been in your subconscious for so long, you believe it and will just go on as you are. Substitute the word 'ugly' with 'fat' or 'stupid' or any of those degrading terms and you get the drift.

Would you like to go on like that all the time? Well, pretty much like a computer, you can also give your subconscious an anti-virus to counteract the negatives. The simplest way is to constantly affirm a positive mantra to drown out the negatives. You are, in fact, reprogramming yourself when you do this. Say 'I am smart and I can_____ (replace with whatever you want to do)' or whatever variation you can think of. It might take a lot of willpower, practice and time to get accustomed to this new program though. Say it repeatedly, whenever you have a free moment, until it becomes real to you. Remember that all the negatives came about because you heard it all your life. Hearing positives will work the same way.

Unlike my friend's Rottweiler, we can be smart enough to realize that we are bigger than our 'cute cats' and they better stay off our paths when we tell them to go away.

~thanks Moni Arora

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

A Father's Role

The role of the father has change dramatically since even a generation ago. My father was still relegated to waiting room while my mother labored and gave birth. My dad even had to be woken up by the nurses after one of my sibling’s births.

Today, the father is often an integral role in the entire birthing process. Many fathers will enroll in child birthing classes, being the mother’s coach, as well as childcare classes wherein the father learns (perhaps for the very first time) how to change a diaper, bathe a baby and the like.

Becoming a father can be one of the most significant events in a life of a man. For many fathers, the birth of a child can be a significant emotional experience filled with mixed feelings such as excitement, fear, maybe terror is a better word, and of course, joy, satisfaction, anticipation. These responses often depend on whether the pregnancy is planned or unplanned, the quality of the relationship with the mother, previous experiences with childbearing and childrearing, and other cultural and ethnic norms.

The fathers often brings to the childbirth experience his presence, knowledge, and understanding of the laboring woman; love for the mother and his child; and a sense of advocacy coupled with a desire for the woman to have a positive birth experience.

However, many men feel ambivalence about being there. Since the father is more of a spectator than a participant in the process, he is more likely to witness the actual birth process, for example, the “water” breaking, vaginal delivery, the blood and placenta, cutting the umbilical cord etc. While most fathers are excited about the process and can view only what they desire, some may not be so excited. This may be a good talk to have with you significant other and discuss the possibility of NOT having the father in the room.

Fathers sometimes find their sons' infancy challenging. They love the baby and delight in his noises and new activities, but infant care seems to be more Mom's area. In fact some mothers sometimes unwittingly prevent Dad from taking a more active role by insisting that the baby be held, fed, and rocked in a particular way (usually hers). Dads may then fall back on working and providing for their new family instead of taking an active role.

Yet studies have shown that infants whose fathers were closely involved with their care were found to be more cognitively developed at one year of age than infants with less involved fathers.
In addition, fathers’ positive attitudes toward their infants were related to their children’s problem solving competence later in their children’s lives.

Don’t shoot the messenger but studies have even shown that while the mother's role was important, by far the most influential factor in a child's emotional health was how involved the father was in a child's early life.

When fathers spend more time with their babies, they get to know exactly what each of their baby's signals mean. This familiarity allows fathers to respond sensitively, meaning that they know when their baby is hungry rather than when he just wants a change of scenery.

Fathers tend to provide more verbal and physical stimulation, by patting their babies gently and communicating to them with sharp bursts of sound. As babies grow older, many come to prefer playing with their fathers who provide unpredictable, stimulating, and exciting interaction. This stimulation is important because it fosters healthy development of the baby's brain and can have lasting effects on children's social, emotional, and intellectual development.

Interestingly, as a child grows, an involved father will typically spend more time playing with the child. Often this play is the rough-and-tumble kind which most kids thoroughly enjoy. Yet, even if a father is NOT as involved, the father becomes extremely important to the child through playing.

When fathers play with their toddlers, they are not just entertaining them. They are providing challenges for toddlers to learn how to interact with the world and with others, in a safe, structured way. Through rough-and-tumble play, fathers create obstacles for their children and teach them about limits and boundaries.

At the same time, they encourage them to explore their own strength, their ability to do new things, and their impact on the world around them. Toddlers who must work out for themselves how to achieve goals…such as finding a ball the father has hidden behind his back or wrestling their father to the ground…are practicing important problem-solving skills. In fact, when fathers are good at playing with their young children, these children score higher on tests of thinking and problem-solving skills.

This play flows over into the emotional realm as well. Such play can teach kids frustration tolerance, dealing with loss or defeat, being good sports, and the like, but mostly helps the child explore and experience their emotions and express them in appropriate ways.
When children have fathers who are emotionally involved-that is, they acknowledge their children's emotions and help them deal with bad emotions-they score higher on tests of 'emotional intelligence'. Moreover, they tend to have better relationships with other children and behave less aggressively.

Fathers' involvement in their young children's care can even last well into adulthood. Again, don’t shoot the messenger, but mothers seem to have much less impact in this area of emotional regulation and peer relationships than fathers. It really is fathers who can have a major influence on helping their children build strong social relationships during childhood and later in life.
As far as gender differences, a boy learns from his father, without even realizing he's doing it, what a man is and does. He learns about masculinity, about what men like and don't like. He also learns from the father how to interact with women, based upon the interactions he sees between his father and his mother. Your leadership in the family (even in divorced or non-married situations) is essential to your son. Many adult men report that they either wanted to be "just like my dad"—or wanted to be his exact opposite.

Girls also learn how to let men treat them based upon their parent’s relationship. Studies have shown that women who grow up with parents who are abusive toward each other will often find themselves in abusive relationships. The role of the father in this area is critical. What girls want most from their father’s is TIME. You don’t have to do special outings or make every moment ideal, just doing chores with her, being around her. Ask her to help you rake the leaves, wash the car. If she wants to go to the mall with her friends, either go with her and make it an outing (seriously, she may roll her eyes at the suggestion, but later in life she will appreciate your time) or insist she stay home and help you around the house.

Of course, you are still at the beginning of your journey with you child. The bottom line is that the father is VITAL, ESSENTIAL and CRITICAL to the child. Fathers are as involved as you can and be aware that little eyes are watching you to see how you behave. They desire your TIME and presence. Realize that just being there, hanging out with them is the greatest gift you can ever give them. Mothers, unless the father is abusive to the child involve the father as much as possible in every aspect.

DO NOT underestimate the power a father has in a child’s life.


Gottman, J.M., Katz, L.F. & Hooven, C., Meta-Emotion: How Families Communicate Emotionally, Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum, 1996.

Koestner, R.S., Franz, C.E. & Weinberger, J., 'The family origins of empathic concern: A 26-year longitudinal study', Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 61, 1990, pp. 586-595.

Lamb, M.E., 'The development of father-infant relationships', in Lamb (ed.), The Role of the Father in Child Development, 3rd edition, 1997, pp. 104-120.

Parke, R.D. & Brott, A.A., Throwaway Dads: The Myths and Barriers That Keep Men from Being the Fathers They Want to Be, Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1999, pp 6-7.

Power, T. G., 'Mother- and father-infant play: A developmental analysis', Child Development, 56, 1985, pp. 1514-1524.

Teti, D.M., Bond, L.A. & Gibbs, E.D., 'Mothers, fathers, and siblings: A comparison of play styles and their influence upon infant cognitive level', International Journal of Behavioral Development, 11, 1988, pp. 415-432.

Yogman, M., 'Games fathers and mothers play with their infants', Infant Mental Health Journal, 2, 1981, pp. 241-248.


Monday, September 14, 2009

Monitor Your Journey

A diary can play many roles. It can be a confidant, a vehicle of self expression, a tool that facilitates clarity of thought, or a repository of dreams.

A diary can also be a powerful source of comfort during challenging or traumatic periods. When you record those insights and incidents that clearly demonstrate you are on the right track, you can return to your words days, weeks, or months later and find uniquely soothing reassurance.

A diary with a specific purpose can be a good tool for keeping track of experiences before the passage of time can skew your perception of events. It reflects the immediacy of your life and thus provides you with a landmark to return to when you begin to doubt yourself. If doubt does arise, simply open your diary to reaffirm your experiences. The confidence, surety, passion, and bravery you felt in a single moment is preserved, giving you a means to recapture those feelings in any place, at any time.

Your diary serves as a repository of personalized encouragement. Your recollections will create a positive feedback loop that helps you cope with doubt and challenges in a constructive way. Reading back through your diary when life seems uncertain can show you that your misgivings are unfounded. As you draw consolation from your uplifting words, you will know without a doubt that you are indeed living your life, your way.

Thursday, September 10, 2009


So why the change from Swine Flu to H1N1....were the swine offended? Oh, well. I'm not sure there will be as big a pandemic as they are thinking. Seems overblown to me, but what do I know?

For all the latest government information on the upcoming flu season, go here:

Of course, if there isn't a big outbreak they will say that it was due to all the hard work they did and that the vaccines work. If there is a pandemic, they will say not enough people took it seriously or that not enough got vaccinated or that the unvaccinated spread it around. That's typically what we've seen. However, there is a lot of information that the vaccines are not all what they say.

For more information on vaccines, go here:

Best of health!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The Doormat is Too Nice

Nice guys finish last. ~ Leo Durocher

Some of us are habitually victims, doormats, "poor things." No matter what, we never say no. The more we practice being nice guys the less able we are to cope creatively. we place the blame, along with the responsibility, elsewhere.

James is a good example of this: He is well past fifty and has been divorce for 2o years. Yet he is still seeking sympathy for what his wife - and God - did to him all those years ago. He had inherited a sizable amount of money from his parents' estate and little by little his alcoholic, food-addicted wife managed to spend it all. It wasn't that he gave her the money or failed to manage the money himself. What happened was, he explained, she "just spent it all up! How could she do that?" The obvious, healthier question never occured to him: How could HE allow a sick person to eat up a small fortune?

The moral of the story is that being "too nice" isn't the real problem. What measures of irresponsibility have you been filing under other names?

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