CONTACT MY OFFICE:
(503) 222-6678 - Portland, Oregon
(360) 256-0448 Vancouver, Washington
   info@kmarshack.com

Therapy

ADD & ADHD
ADOPTIVE FAMILIES
ASPERGER & MARRIAGE
COUPLES IN BUSINESS
DEPRESSION & STRESS
ENTREPRENEURIAL LIFE
EXPAT ONLINE THERAPY
HIGH CONFLICT DIVORCE
MARRIAGE COUNSELING
MIND & BODY HEALTH
PARENTING
PERSONAL GROWTH
RECOMMENDED LINKS
NEWS CENTER
ONLINE STORE
Overview
ADD in Adults
Parenting a Child with ADD
Overview
Articles
Overview
Coping with Anxiety Disorders
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Overcoming Depression
Managing Stress
Conquering Fears & Phobias
Overcoming Social Phobia
Overview
Couples at Work & Home
Dual Career Couples
Families in Business
Overview
Recognizing High Conflict Divorce
Overview
Conflict & Communication
Infidelity
Couples at Work & Home
Love, Sex & Intimacy
Maintaining Strong Marriage
Dual Career Couples
Codependence
Advice for Singles Only
Overview
Alcoholism Recovery
Stop Smoking
Weight Control
Headache Relief
Holistic Health
Managing Blood Pressure
Releasing Unresolved Stress
Overview
Am I a Good Parent
Blended Families
Gifted Child
Coping with ADD/ADHD
Adoptive Families
Overview
Gifted Adults
When to Seek Help
Psychotherapy Options
Laid-Off from Work
Overview
Calendar of Events
Media Coverage
Newsletter
Press Center
Seminars
Related New Stories
Subscribe
Sample
Enriching Your Live Archive
Entrepreneurial Couples Archive

Enriching Your Life!

Sign up for my FREE newsletter! Get practical tips for you and your family.

Kathy Marshack News

Entrepreneurs - Stop Complaining! Try Honest Self-Assessment Instead

Monday, May 15, 2017


Stop complaining signStop complaining? But it feels so good to complain! It helps you get things off your chest, feel heard, and start working towards a solution. Your business moves forward when you identify problems and communicate about them. Or does it?
 
The reality is that complaining has become a knee-jerk reaction to anything we don’t like. We complain about the weeds in our yard, our pants that have become too tight (as we sit there eating a cookie), the high cost of living, and the trials of running a business. As a society, we have become quick to complain and slow to change.
 
There are times, of course, when “complaining” or notifying someone of a problem or injustice is a good thing. Discussing a problem with a team of people can help solve it faster and more effectively. However, most of the time our expressions of pain, dissatisfaction, or resentment are simply reactions to a perceived issue.
 
What’s wrong with complaining? Simply put: it doesn’t do anybody any good. It won’t solve your problem. It won’t make you feel better. It will waste your time, time you could have spent working on a solution. Complaining also fosters a negative attitude in you and the person listening to you.
 
Another problem with complaining is it relegates you to perpetually being a victim. The more you complain, the less you feel in control of your life and your business. As an entrepreneur, you have worked hard to be in control and lead your company to greatness. Complaining takes away some of that power you have.
 
The most common response to obstacles involves a mental process where we solely consider possible external or technical reasons for the problem. What kind of obstacles do you encounter in your business path? Is your first reaction to find an outside source for the problem? The product isn’t good enough. My competition has better advertising. The economy isn’t doing well. The more you think like that, the less control and power you have over your problems.
 
Let’s look at these problems a different way. Rather than being quick to look to eternal forces that are holding you back, could you look internally? When working through obstacles in life, I encourage you to question every aspect of your approach to your business, including your methods, biases, and assumptions. This kind of rigorous self-examination requires that you honestly challenge your beliefs and goals, and work up the courage to act and make a change.
 
Look deep and determine your personal definition of real success. What exactly are you looking for in life? Do your goals for your business truly align with your definition of success? Honestly evaluate your strengths and weaknesses. Everybody has both! Realizing who you really are will help you determine the best path to take and changes to make. And in the end, look for the positive. Don’t let challenges stop you. Instead, view them as incentives to change and move in a positive, new direction.
 
When you look inside yourself you take back your power as a successful entrepreneur. Other people and things did not make your business great – you did! So only you can take back your life by taking a deep look at yourself instead of complaining.
 
I encourage you to look at and complete the Self-Assessment Exercises in my book Entrepreneurial Couples – Making It Work at Work and at Home. They will help you dig deep on a number of topics from your working relationship with your spouse, to your views on family and money, to how you view yourself. These are great tools to begin your journey inside yourself.
 
Sometimes we need the help of a trained professional to get past barriers and assess ourselves honestly. If you live in the Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA area, please contact my office to set up an appointment.

Can Entrepreneurs Get Away with Sleeping Less?

Wednesday, May 10, 2017


Man laying in bed looking at computerAs an entrepreneur, you likely pride yourself on your resilience and tenacity. You push yourself beyond your limits, often sacrificing physical needs for the benefit of your business. Perhaps one of the first things to go after starting your business was a good night’s sleep.
 
How much sleep do you get at night? Eight? Six? Less? Do you find yourself staying up late and waking up early to care for all of your personal and business commitments? 
 
Being sleep deprived has almost become a status symbol in our culture. You must be very important, very in-demand, if you don’t sleep much. It is also viewed as evidence of a strong work ethic. Especially among entrepreneurs, a good night’s sleep is often looked down on, as something only lazy people get to enjoy. The reality is while you need to work hard and even make sacrifices to build your business, sleep should not be one of them! If you want to grow a successful business, a consistent lack of sleep isn’t going to help your cause.
 
What about the people we hear about who thrive on five hours a night? That’s great for them. But know that they are a tiny group, making up only three to five percent of the population. Most likely you are not part of this group. Sleep experts tell us that the majority of healthy adults need between seven and nine hours of sleep every night. That applies to even the busiest entrepreneur!
 
But you may think, “I haven’t slept more than five hours a night for months, even years. And I’m doing just fine.” Is that really enough for your body, though? Try this: the next time you go on vacation, track your sleep. How long do you sleep at night? Do you wake up feeling more refreshed and alert? As the day progresses, do you feel sharper, more even-tempered, and attentive?
 
If you notice that you feel consistently more alert and even-tempered after a solid seven to nine hours of sleep, then take that to heart. You’re an entrepreneur, not a superhero. Good sleep, and enough of it, is non-negotiable!
 
Your body and mind are not “fine” when you skimp on sleep. You may learn to survive on less sleep, but you can’t train yourself to thrive on less sleep. However much sleep you need is fixed, and you need to make the effort to get it.
 
Why is sleep so important? Your body rejuvenates overnight. Your cells, muscles, and organs all perform vital, life-sustaining tasks when you sleep, keeping you healthy. Lack of sleep is linked to everything from depression to heart disease to cancer.
 
Lack of sleep also affects your memory, impulse control, and stress management. It makes you less efficient at running your business. Sleep deprivation impairs your ability to make good decisions, follow through, and communicate effectively. The qualities that led you to entrepreneurial success – innovation and adaptability – are quick to decline.
 
So if you are not getting enough sleep, take action now. Reschedule your routine to leave enough time for sleep. Do you need eight hours to feel good and perform at your best? Then plan accordingly. Take charge of your physical and mental health by getting the right amount of sleep for you!
 
Sleep problems can be deeper than simply not having enough time to sleep. If insomnia has become a problem for you, please consult with your physician. If he or she can’t find a solution to your chronic insomnia, and you live in the Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA area, please contact my office to set up an appointment. I can help you get back on the road to optimal health and wellness.

Muffled Love – Why Aspie Love Is Different

Monday, May 08, 2017


I’ve often been criticized for saying Aspies lack empathy; perhaps another way to consider Aspie love is that it’s muffled – they feel but can’t express it.One morning I was trying to fathom how Aspies love. I’ve often been criticized that I’m wrong to say that those with ASD lack empathy. Perhaps another way to consider Aspie love is that it’s "muffled;" filtered through a system of fits and starts and blind alleys and occasionally smooth sailing.

Empathy is far more than a collection of sensitivities. For example, the human body is 90% water with some chemicals mixed in, but I doubt that anyone would think this concoction of water and chemicals constitutes a human being. The same is true of empathy. Empathy is much more than the sum of its parts. Empathy is a marvelous symphony of instruments, musicians, composer, conductor and audience. It’s an interaction that creates the thrill of the concert. Just the same with love; it’s the interaction that makes it the art of loving.

I suspect what is so confusing about an Aspie's love is that it’s not complete. They may feel love in their heart, but never express it to you. They may melt into tears when they see an animal in distress, but have no compassion for your suffering. They may bristle with defensiveness if criticized but feel no compunction when criticizing you. The occasional offering of love stalled by a moment of disconnect is not loving, is it?

I’ve known enough Aspies to realize that they do feel love, of a sort, but it isn’t the reciprocal love we expect and have with others. The love is there inside them but it’s hidden by those blind alleys, so we have to assume it’s there. How confusing.

If you’re a member of my Asperger Syndrome: Partners & Family of Adults with ASD Meetup, please join us as we discuss this topic during our next free teleconference entitled: Muffled Love. It will be on Thursday, May 18th at 3PM PT. If you’re a NT in an Aspie/NT relationship and haven’t joined yet, please feel free to do so. Not only will you learn a lot, but you’ll find a group of very supportive members who understand what you’re going through.

If you’d prefer a one-on-one with me to ask questions, please take advantage of my Asperger Syndrome Remote Education. It’s not therapy, but it will help you have a deeper understanding of how Autism impacts your life. Not sure what we can talk about? Reading a free chapter from my book, “Out of Mind – Out of Sight: Parenting with a Partner with Asperger Syndrome (ASD)”, will give you a place to start. Click on the image below to download your complimentary copy.

Walk in the Shoes of Someone with Asperger’s Syndrome

Wednesday, May 03, 2017


Here are some resources – videos, articles, and more to help you understand what it’s like to live with Asperger’s Syndrome as you walk in their shoes.From time to time I come across information that helps my readers “put themselves in the shoes” of those with Asperger’s Syndrome. When you don’t have it, you can’t fully understand what they’re dealing with. This empathy is so vital. It makes it possible for you to help but also to regulate your own emotional responses toward your autistic friend or loved one.


So I was excited to find a wonderful resource recently in a New York Times article that features a video by Joris Debeij called Perfectly Normal: Autism Through a Lens. It shows what it’s like to be a high-functioning autistic man. Jordan is able to drive a car, hold a job, and have a stable relationship with his girl friend, Toni. Yet it’s easy for him to become overwhelmed as he balances reality with his imaginary world.

At the 6:45 minute mark of the documentary, it swirls into a chaotic experience of sound and visual imagery that lets you experience the sensory overload that people with autism experience. After you see it, you’re going to understand why they choose to be off by themselves in their own world.

Toward the end, Jordan does make a profound observation: Because he feels that no one is completely normal, he says it’s important to see everyone as a person with a disability, not as a disabled person.

The author of this excellent piece, Eli Gottlieb, has a brother who is severely autistic and has been institutionalized most of his life. He describes his experience here. There is also an Autism Speaks YouTube video on their story - click here to view it. Your heart will go out to them as they reveal the struggle their family has gone through to come to terms with living with Autism


Perhaps you see similarities to your own experience. If you suspect someone you care for has Asperger’s, a high-functioning form of Autism, please consult with a mental health professional who specializes in Asperger’s Syndrome to make sure you arrive at the proper diagnosis. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and schedule an appointment.

More Asperger’s Syndrome resources: Many people view my newsletter, books, Meetup Group, and Remote Education as lifesaving resources. It’s so important for you to know that you’re not alone. If you’re new to my website, please click on the image below to download a free chapter from my book, "Out of Mind - Out of Sight: Parenting with a Partner with Asperger Syndrome (ASD)". It helps you see the science behind ASD.

Don’t Be Afraid to Seek Solitude to Refresh Yourself

Monday, May 01, 2017


Don’t be afraid to be alone with your thoughts, because only through productive solitude and introspection can you know yourself and find peace.Do you make time to be alone with your thoughts? Many people are actually afraid to allow such solitude. Any lull in a conversation and they have to jump in and say something. And when they’re alone, they’re always plugged in…to their phone, to music, to noise in the background. Quiet makes them nervous.

The Altlantic ran a recent article that said that embracing solitude can have huge psychological benefits as it helps you confront who you are and how you can “out-maneuver some of the toxicity surrounding you”. Yet it also reported on a study that a quarter of the woman participants and two-thirds of the men chose experiencing electric shock over being alone with their thoughts. That’s severe!

Clearly, many people are suppressing unresolved issues rather than facing them. While it can be uncomfortable or even painful to confront these issues, in the long run, your mental and physical health will improve if you allow yourself the time to process them. Many people find that enlisting the help of a trained mental health professional gives them the support they need to effectively resolve these stresses. (I’ve had wonderful success using NET – Neuro Emotional Technique to help my clients let go and move on.)

While it’s true that solitary confinement has been used as a punishment that can drive some people crazy, intentionally seeking solitude can be a rejuvenating experience if you know how to regulate your emotions effectively. Productive introspection let’s you get acquainted with yourself, one of the most important relationships you can have. Without such times of solitude you can develop a group mentality. Instead of thinking for yourself, you may let the group define who you are more than you think possible.

How can you find solitude in your busy life?

  • Rise before others and go for a walk outside as the sun rises.
  • Leave the radio off when you drive.
  • Start a practice of meditation.
  • Take solitary walks at lunchtime.
  • Make a day trip by yourself to wander around a contemplative place like the Portland Japanese Garden.
  • Turn off devices and journal about your thoughts in the evening.

The more you seek times of productive solitude the more pleasurable it will become. Some of the long-lasting benefits are that you’ll gain clarity on your priorities, desires, and needs. You’ll know who you are and what you stand for. You’ll reinforce your convictions and beliefs.

If the silence is too painful because you’re plagued by something that you can’t resolve, please seek the help of a trained professional. You deserve to enjoy life more fully. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and schedule an appointment. Or if you’re an American living in a foreign land, please feel free to request remote counseling.

Money Tips for Couples Starting Their Own Business

Wednesday, April 26, 2017


Couple sitting at desk looking at billsYou’ve got a new business idea? Great! Your romantic partner is on board to work with you? Even better! As you begin to plan the logistics of how this new enterprise with your partner will grow and thrive, it goes without saying that planning financial matters will be on the top of your list of things to do.

These plans do not refer solely to financial matters directly related to the business, such as start-up costs, fees, and overhead. When you’re working together as a couple, money issues are also part of your personal lives. One partner may keep their full-time job while the other devotes their time to the new business. Maybe you will both quit working and jump in with both feet. How will this entrepreneurial venture affect your children?

As a couple, you need to determine ahead of time, how you will manage your money, or lack thereof, during this transition.

Over the years, I have had the opportunity to work with many entrepreneurial couples, and there is a pattern among those who have long-term, happy relationships interwoven with a prosperous business life. Here are some money tips for couples starting their own business I have seen work time and again:

  • Make a plan for personal expenses. Know what you have, and what you can afford. Growth usually requires a certain amount of risk, but don’t go into your new situation blind. Create a solid plan for how you will continue to pay for your personal expenses as the business grows.


  • Prepare to live on a single income. It may not come to this. Your business could be profitable immediately. Or you may both continue working full-time until the business reaches a point where you feel comfortable with one or both of you quitting your full-time job. But be prepared for the idea that you may very likely have to survive on less for a time. Make sure that no matter where your money is coming from, you both feel like equal partners. Regular communication is vital to maintaining that feeling of partnership.

  • Designate responsibilities. Don’t get lost in the chaos that comes with launching a new business. Keep in touch with each other and make sure everyone feels valued. For efficiency’s sake, you may divide up duties along the lines of who is most capable or available. At the end of the day, though, you are just as responsible as your partner for the success of your goal. If one spouse is less involved in the business, show gratitude for the work they do and sacrifices they make in other ways.


  • Give 100%. Each partner should consider themselves 100% responsible for the quality of their individual life as well as their joint venture (i.e. parenting, household duties, managing & promoting a business). You should put your whole self, talents, intuitions, and muscle into the marriage and business partnership. When both partners do this, it makes them each equally responsible for the outcome.


  • Communicate. There is no substitute for regular, meaningful communication. What does this have to do with money? Your business will suffer if you are not working together as partners in life and business. Take time out from the stress of entrepreneurship to reconnect and keep love as your top priority. This means talking about things unrelated to your business. Talk about the things that feed your soul, that concern you, that bring you joy.


  • Maintain a healthy work-life balance. Starting and running a successful business requires an inordinate amount of time and energy. It could result in you losing touch with those most important to you. It is also crucial to care for your personal health and well-being. Your business can’t run without you, and your partner doesn’t want to do it without you. Set aside time to be active in a way that energizes and invigorates you, and schedule time with your family and friends. That time spent recharging your batteries can be just what you need to persevere and achieve even greater things.


Talking about money is a top stressor for many couples. When you add in the stress of starting a new business don’t be surprised if things get a bit rocky in your relationship. I’ve helped many couples make a success of their marriage and their business. If you live in the Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA area, please contact my office to set up an appointment. If you live elsewhere, take a look at remote education services specifically for entrepreneurial couples.

How to Be a Fearless Woman Business Owner

Tuesday, April 25, 2017


Woman standing in business suitAre you a woman business owner? You’re not alone. According to the National Association of Women Business Owners, in 2015, “More than 9.4 million firms are owned by women, employing nearly 7.9 million people, and generating $1.5 trillion in sales as of 2015.” That’s pretty impressive! Yet I find that so many successful businesswomen still feel inadequate at times.

Of course we all have different life experiences, and come from varied backgrounds and circumstances but there are certain fears that women frequently face as they run their business. What are they? And how can you conquer these fears so you think and act like a truly fearless leader?

Let’s examine three common fears and how to get past them:

1. Fear of not being viewed as “nice”. Women tend to avoid saying or doing things that could be viewed as aggressive or selfish. So they put their needs and desires in the background, not talking about them or even acknowledging them. Have you ever caught yourself doing this?

The problem is, when you don’t feel heard or recognized, resentment usually follows. Resentment grows quickly, and it doesn’t go unnoticed by those around you. When they feel the tension, but you’re not communicating what the problem is, it causes more tension and everyone just ends up feeling like they’re walking on eggshells around you – definitely not a pleasant, productive work environment.

The best gift you can give people you work with is to be clear with them about your goals and desires. Even if they don't agree with you they know where you stand. Nothing is hidden.

2. Fear of confrontation. This is closely tied in with the fear of being perceived as “not nice”. Women often will try to bury conflicts instead of actively resolving them. Perhaps you’ve done this before. You walk around as if everything is fine, when you are really upset. Maybe someone isn’t fulfilling their job duties, or you have an employee who is ten minutes late every day. It is an issue that needs addressing, but you just can’t bring yourself to do it.

Avoiding conflict can lead to serious problems. Issues can fester, and progress isn’t made. What began as a minor issue or annoyance will grow into a huge problem if it isn’t addressed quickly.

To move forward, you must firmly, but respectfully, confront the issue at hand. Acknowledge that there may be differing opinions, but insist that things get talked out. Keep talking until you reach a resolution. It may be that your difference of opinion is just what the system needs to be more profitable and productive.

3. Fear of failure. The idea of failure gives everyone some level of anxiety. As a woman, you feel failure differently. You fear failure in your business venture, but also worry about failing at your marriage or as a mother. Women place a high value on work-life balance, and a perceived loss of that balance can cause a woman to feel like a failure.

This particular fear can be paralyzing. It can prevent you from taking chances or growing your business. It keeps you from reaching out or taking on more responsibility. It holds you back from growing personally and professionally.

The next time the “what-if’s?” start taking over, take a minute for yourself. Be still, quiet, and let yourself feel the fear and anxiety. Then, once the emotions have settled, move forward and take action. Without risk and investment, there is no return. Without putting in a good deal of time and money, you wouldn’t have your company. Without your hard work at your company, your children would not have the future you want for them. Without putting your heart on the line, you wouldn’t have close relationships with your loved ones. Remind yourself of the good results of your past decisions. Have confidence that you can move forward to experience more positive results.

There are many other challenges that you as a woman business owner face, and other fears as well. If you know you could use someone to hold you accountable and help you push beyond your self-imposed boundaries I would love to work with you. If you live in the Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA area, please contact my office to set up an appointment.

Criticism – Why This is a Big Issue for Those With Asperger’s

Wednesday, April 19, 2017


Since people with Aspergers Syndrome are sensitive to receiving criticism, yet they’re very good at giving it, you and your family need to learn how to copeHave you noticed that those with Asperger’s Syndrome are very sensitive to receiving criticism? Often they hear criticism where none is implied. AS men in particular interpret a difference of opinion or a different perspective as a criticism of whom they are as a person. And they hear criticism of a family member as a criticism of themselves, so they may respond by refusing to communicate or end up lashing out in a very hurtful manner.

Doesn’t it boggle your mind that you’re accused of criticizing when all you do is ask one little question? Why does this happen? Questions and the criticism come from very different perspectives. While we ask questions to clarify and to open up discussions, the Aspie takes a different tack. Aspies rarely ask questions for clarification because that would require a Theory of Mind. Instead, their focus is to answer (or ignore) our questions as they attempt to close down the discussion and focus on a black and white solution. They rarely pick up that we’re trying to work toward collaboration. Thus our questions are confusing to them and bring the accusations that we’re criticizing them.

Ironically, while those with Asperger’s Syndrome are hypersensitive to receiving criticism, they are unaware that they often give criticism. This can be very exasperating and can even break your spirit if you’re constantly on the receiving end this abusive behavior.

Are you exasperated and with all of the criticism leveled at you by your Aspie? On Wednesday May 3rd we’re going to address this problem during our free teleconference entitled: What's with all the criticism? It will help you finally understand this convoluted interchange and develop strategies to deal with it. You’ll learn how to keep your sanity despite this double talk. And more importantly you’ll discover how to avoid the blame associated with collaborative efforts.

If you’re not a member of the Asperger Syndrome: Partners & Family of Adults with ASD Meetup, be assured it’s a safe place for you – the neurotypical partner to someone with ASD. Why not join us today?

Also, if you haven’t read my book, “Out of Mind – Out of Sight: Parenting with a Partner with Asperger Syndrome (ASD)”, you can get your first chapter free by clicking here. This book has become the go-to resource for many men and women who want to understand their Aspie partners better.

Why Expatriates Can Benefit from Remote Counseling

Monday, April 17, 2017


Woman smiling and looking at computer screenAre you an expat? Are you living and/or working in a country other than your native one? Your reasons for moving abroad may have included secular work, volunteer work, retirement, or a quest to immerse yourself in a new culture for an extended period of time. It is an amazing privilege and experience to live in a new place and learn new things.

To be a successful expat, you know that you cannot simply recreate your old home and environment. So you’re probably working hard to learn the language. Maybe you’re experimenting with new ingredients and cooking techniques. You’re finding your new favorite market, coffee shop, breakfast nook, and bookstore. And you’re getting to know your new community and seek to become a contributing part of it.

These exciting changes and adjustments, though, are part of why some expats struggle emotionally. Take, for instance, suddenly living in an environment where few people speak your language. The people at work may speak it, but those in the community, on public transportation, at the market, and behind the counter at a restaurant may not. To be constrained by language barriers is isolating. Even when you have some grasp of your new language, fluency takes time and the process can be frustrating.

As an expat, you also have to adjust to your new environment. Your new area may not be as safe as your previous neighborhood, limiting mobility and walks alone. Or maybe your spouse is working, leaving you to fend for yourself during the day. And if you do want to grab lunch with a friend while your spouse is at work? They are all back in your native country, and phone calls can be expensive!

This can all lead to feelings of isolation, frustration, or depression. You realize that you could really use the help of a therapist to navigate your transition to a new life in a new country. But how do you find a therapist when you live abroad?

It can be a challenge. There may not be that many qualified therapists in your area. And finding them isn’t always easy. When you do find a good therapist, they may not speak your language. If you are living in a small community, there is also a chance you know the therapist. It can be uncomfortable to open up to someone who has connections to your outside life.

What is an expat to do? To fill this void in mental health care, I am starting a new service designed specifically for expatriates. Remote Counselling Services for Expats utilizes a HIPPA compliant, online video program to connect us, no matter where you are in the world. Via video conferences, I can help you navigate the unique situations that you face.

I have over thirty years of counseling experience, and I am so excited to offer my services to those living abroad! If you are an expatriate and are experiencing trouble adjusting to your new life, please take advantage of this unique, new service so you can get the most of your international experience and your life!

Setting Up the Next Generation for Success

Wednesday, April 12, 2017


Child holding parent's handWhen you ask a parent what they want for their children, most will tell you that they want them to be happy and successful. Success is a broad term, though. Success can equate with academic achievements, community influence, and wealth. It can also refer to character. Most parents want their children to develop industriousness, generosity, and kindness.

However you measure success, what does it take to get there? Does your child’s success depend on wealth, the best schools, a nuclear family arrangement…?

The New York Times published the article, “What Does It Take to Climb Up the Ladder?”, and I found it intriguing. It examined the less-easily measured qualities that lead to success, like resiliency, curiosity, and self-control in relation to socio-economic and family status. What was interesting to me is that family money, in and of itself, is not a determining factor in development of these character qualities. What has more bearing on character development is the structure of the family unit.

How so? The young people who struggle the most come from broken homes, often from single-parent households. This quote from the article really sums it up: “Family disruption perpetuates disadvantage by creating barriers to the development of cognitive and noncognitive skills, which in turn sharply reduces access to college. The lack of higher education decreases life chances, including the likelihood of achieving adequate material resources and a stable family structure for the next generation.”

While this is interesting, it doesn’t tell the whole story. Children from a wealthy, stable, well-educated family can lack the resiliency and grit to make it through life successfully. On the other hand, many wonderful humans come from single-parent or disadvantaged households.

Whatever your family situation is, here are some tips to help raise successful children:

Embrace an authoritative parenting style. Authoritative parents are rational, receptive, and flexible. They encourage independence in their children, but give them only as much responsibility as they can handle. Instead of demanding blind obedience, they set clear rules and are willing to explain those rules to their children. Children of authoritative parents are independent, assertive, self-confident, and socially responsible and tend to do well academically. Because they are allowed room to try new things on their own, these children are well aware of their strengths and weaknesses, and are ready to work on both.

Model the behaviors you want to see in your children. Your children see everything you do, and soak it up like a sponge! Make sure your actions are saying what you want them to say. Be honest and authentic.

Don’t focus too much on achievement. Of course, you are proud of your child when they get good grades or excel in some other way. But are those individual achievements really what’s most important? Isn’t it the journey? True success comes from teamwork. The most successful people surround themselves with talented people who make up for what they lack. If you focus too much on the individual achievements of your children, they will not learn how to work with others, ask for help, and may give up out of discouragement.

Offer praise (but not too much). Children need praise to build their self-esteem, but not so much that they depend on praise from others to feel good about themselves. Their confidence must come from within. When you do praise your children, praise the effort they put in to something.

Say no. This simple, but powerful technique is key to raising a successful child. It teaches children to work hard for what they want, and to be patient when they have to wait for it. Help them set goals and create a plan to achieve them. This will teach your children how to deal with the initial disappointment, and refocus on the goal ahead.

Parenting is never easy and sometimes you find yourself unprepared to deal with a challenge. Rather than spinning your wheels and getting more and more frustrated with your child, talk to a family counselor. The right advice and the right time can save you and your family a lot of heartache. If you live in the Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA area, please contact my office to set up an appointment.


Recent Posts RSS


Tags


Archive