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A Criticism-Free Home: Bringing Happiness Back

children and relationshipThis morning on Good Morning America, I saw a segment about a mother who stopped criticizing her children and focused on positive reinforcement. Some people may think, “Duh!” But step back and think about the way you parent. I believe this idea really is groundbreaking for some because criticism is so common in all relationships.


After more than 35 years of research, Dr. John Gottman found that criticism also degrades marital relationships. Criticizing loved ones drains the relationship of positive interaction and then of trust. If someone feels constantly judged, how could they feel safe in the relationship? Gottman considers this a gateway behavior in relationships that can lead to even more negativity and eventually contempt.


So why not scrap criticism from your family and relationships entirely? Most people don’t understand what criticism is and how to swap it out for more positive behavior-based conversation. Moving away from criticism doesn’t mean only saying great things about everyone, it simply means that the focus should be on behavior and not on the individual value of those involved.


Here are 5 steps to create a criticism-free home.

  1. Don’t Personalize. So much of the time, we evaluate others’ behavior by how it makes us feel and react from that emotion. If you feel upset, first calm down. I hate to break it to you… but most of the time, it’s not actually about you.
  2. Speak From Values… (More)

We’re Not Dysfunctional, We’re Family! Happiness, Conflict & Today’s Family

When working with my nuclear families as well as my blended-family and divorced clients with binuclear families, I sometimes find myself saying, “You’re not dysfunctional. Of course you don’t get along, you’re a family!” In this age of instant gratification, we seem to be under the impression that we should maintain a constant state of family happiness.learn to communicate

First, that’s impossible. Happiness is a transient state that we move into and out of based on a variety of factors, including life events, behavioral choices and personality style. Research has proven that it is impossible to always feel happy. Add to that the unique complications that parenting through divorce brings, and you are guaranteed that things will sometimes feel uncomfortable.

My clients frequently run away from emotional discomfort and hide in substances, food, work or other distractions. I encourage them to directly confront the discomfort and problem solve their way to happiness. Avoiding conflict and discomfort doesn’t bring happiness, it brings numbness. So if you and your partner are arguing, find out why. If you and your kids aren’t getting along, address it. But don’t assume discomfort equals dysfunction.

Here are three key ideas for recognizing normal discomfort in a family:

1. What is normal for your kids’ development? (To see the full article

Value-Based Parenting: Family Values for a Lifetime

children and relationshipWe have all heard our children say, “Why?” When given a directive. The normal response? “Because I said so!” This exchange usually leads to frustration for both parents and children. What if there was another way? What if you could link behaviors and choices back to the values of your family? [Read more…]

My kids don’t listen, my family is out of control

my family is out of control - regain control over my familyDo you feel that your kids don’t listen to you? Do your kids just ignore the rules in the family? With help from Teresa, you can turn your family life around.

What can you get out of parental counseling with Teresa?

In counseling with Teresa, you will learn how to regain your parental authority. [Read more…]

Baby can’t sleep through the night

my toddler or baby can't sleep through the night

Get help with your child’s sleep routine and enjoy parenting again.

Are you an exhausted parent? Exhausted moms and dads are all struggling with their children’s sleep habits. One of the biggest challenges in early parenthood that causes parents to feel exhausted, frustrated, and isolated, is when their child or baby can’t sleep through the night. If you feel that you have no energy left to parent your kids, don’t reach for another cup of coffee just yet. Help is available. [Read more…]

Late Teens and the Confused Parent

Provided by Teresa in January 2014. Teresa assures that this image came from Microsoft Clip Art. This image was used in the old blog

It’s hard to see your teen dealing with the social, physical, and emotional transitions that occur during adolescence. And it’s not any easier for a parent of a teen. Last night, I ran into a friend who asked about how to help her 19 year old get over a breakup.

When you nurture and love a child for so many years, it’s incredibly difficult to step back and let her make her own mistakes. However, no one ever learned by being told something, they learn by doing. Think of life like medical school…see one, do one, teach one… mistakes that is. [Read more…]

Anxiety, Depression and the Everyday Mom

Provided by Teresa in January 2014. Teresa assures that this image came from Microsoft Clip Art. This image was used in the old blog

There has recently been an upswing in publicity around mothers who admit to taking anxiety and depression medication to cope with the stress of being a mother. I understand that most people who aren’t mental health professionals would be quick to judge a statement such as, “Medication makes me a better mom.”

Everyone needs to develop appropriate coping skills, but sometimes coping skills aren’t enough, at least not exclusively. Demonizing the appropriate use of medication for mental health issues does a disservice to women and mothers. It takes us back to the 1950s, when mental health and medical issues in women were largely minimized or disregarded. [Read more…]

Difficult Conversations With Your Parents

Provided by Teresa in January 2014. Teresa assures that this image came from Microsoft Clip Art. This image was used in the old blog

As children we usually cannot wait for our own home, our own life and our own rules. For some of us, no sooner is that goal reached, and another issue arises that we never anticipated… aging parents. As time goes on, you may find things that concern you about your parents’ lives. Perhaps they are forgetting things more often, or they become ill or injured. Your parents may even need to rely on you more often than before. If you have concerns about your parents and their lifestyle, health or mental capabilities, preparing for an honest and direct conversation can be the best approach. What follows are a few tips for when that time comes. [Read more…]

Talking About Tragedy

Provided by Teresa in January 2014. Teresa assures that this image came from Microsoft Clip Art. This image was used in the old blog

Has your TV been on since Friday’s tragic events? Mine was. Over and over I heard the question, “How do we talk to our children about these events?” Unfortunately, I did not hear the experts answer the question. Therefore, I thought I would provide some recommendations. [Read more…]

What is “Having It All?”

Provided by Teresa in January 2014. Teresa assures that this image came from Microsoft Clip Art. This image was used in the old blog

 Many of you have heard about the July/August 2012 article in The Atlantic entitled, “Women Still Can’t Have It All.” Anne-Marie Slaughter has a great point. Women can’t have the perfect home, perfect kids, be the perfect mother and have the perfect career. However, neither can men. Idealism aside, all of that is just plain hard work. It is possible to greatly enjoy your career, work hard to make things happen in your life and have a family. The key is to understand which is most important at any given moment. [Read more…]