Join Dr. Coleman and radio host psychologist Chris Blazina as they talk about parental estrangement on blog talk radio’s The Secret Lives of Men. Show will air Tues., Apr 27 at 12PM, PST.
Watch Dr. Coleman when he returns to ABC Television’s View from the Bay on Wed. May 12th to talk about the effect on marriage when women earn more than men.
Join Dr. Coleman as he participates in a telewebinar, Cohabitation: From Confusion to Clarity with psychologist, Dr John Curtis, author of “Happily Unmarried,” Mike McManus, President and Co-Chair of Marriage Savers, and University of Denver senior researcher Dr Galena Rhoades.
Well, if you live in Russia and speak Russian, I’ll be interviewed this Monday, April 5 at 11:30 AM, PST on Radio Free Europe on the topic of the changes that American women have made from the 1960s to the present. The show is broadcast from Prague into Russia. Fortunately for me, my interview will be conducted in English. I will post the translated interview on the site as soon as I have it. Meanwhile, tell all of your friends in Russia to tune in!
Dear Dr. Coleman,
Re: your book, When Parents Hurt: “Would love to hear more about why we have to not argue, not demand of our kids, not tell them our feelings. I am willing to do it, and it does help, but I would love to hear more about that whole way of thinking. Thanks again for writing the book.
I get asked this question a lot and it’s an important one. I recommend this to parents who have been estranged from their adult children because I think it’s critical that they keep the door open long enough so that one day they can have a more mutual relationship. But, if things have gotten so bad that there’s been an estrangement (or it’s on the verge of one), it means that you don’t have the luxury of a mutual relationship in the way that you might with a non-estranged adult child. With the non-estranged, there would be plenty of room for both of you to talk about your feelings and even have more open conflict because the whole basis for the relationship is not on the chopping block. With an estranged child, you have to create the conditions where some time, maybe years later down the line, there’s enough goodwill for your child to either see you more clearly or accept your perspective. If they’re estranged, they’re probably not yet ready to hear your perspective. It may make them turn away because it makes them feel too guilty; they may think that you’re defending yourself for something that they just want you (wrongly or rightly) to take responsibility for. They may feel (wrongly or rightly) like you’re blaming them for their feelings.
This isn’t fair, of course. I know that. But I’m a pragmatist when it comes to families. We have to start with where the 2 of you are right now, not from where it should be.
You can’t be demanding because you don’t have that much power. It’s a little like a marriage where one person has a foot out the door and is willing to divorce. The person who doesn’t want the marriage to end doesn’t have the same power to make demands as the one who is okay with it ending. I know this is very hard to do, but it’s a good thing to do, nonetheless.
Dear Dr. Coleman,
What do you do when you don’t like the kids of the man you married? I married a great guy 3 years ago, love of my life, but his kids drive me up the wall. They’re disrespectful to him (not to me yet, but I’m sure that’s coming), demanding, and spoiled. Worse, I just don’t like them as people. They’ll all be out of the home in about 5 years but that’s 5 years too long. How do I survive?
This is a common complaint that I get from stepparents. There is a lot to tease apart here:
Dear Dr. Coleman,
I recently saw your appearance on ABC-TV where you stated that it is important for both parents, no matter what the circumstances leading to deciding to divorce, to tell the children it is a mutual decision. I can understand your reason for this yet I have this question. For me, choosing to divorce is a destruction of a child’s safe, protected, secure world of a stable family. I would like them to think that at least one of the most important people in their lives would not choose to do that to them but sought to preserve their world as they knew it. I do not want them to be angry at their father, I would seek to encourage their relationship as much as I am able. But somehow making it appear as if we are both willingly breaking up their home makes me feel they are left feeling that their security is not important enough to either one of their parents. I would really appreciate your thoughts on this. Thank you.
Thank you for your question. This is a very common point of pain and confusion for parents.
There was a good article recently in The New York Times titled, “When is It Sex Addiction?” The article featured 3 experts weighing in on what distinguishes sexual addiction from simple opportunistic behavior. Personally, I’m a little bored by politicians and celebrities hiding behind the language of disease processes to defend their actions. In the U.S., in order to qualify for the position of celebrity, one is almost required to have a period of embarrassingly bad behavior followed by a round of apologies for that behavior, followed by photo-ops of the new, improved person, until the next fall from grace. Among other reasons, falling from grace may be one of the only ways that the super-successful have to defend themselves against the amount of envy that they generate in others.
That said, sex addiction is a real disorder and those who suffer from it are in genuine need of both help and support. Sexual addiction is characterized by feeling out of control, engaging in self-destructive and self-sabotaging behavior, and using the behavior to cope with underlying feelings of anxiety and poor self-image. It may be harder to empathize with someone who looks like they have no reason to feel inadequate. However, many of the qualities that might drive someone to become famous or wealthy are the same that would cause them to act out; that is, a powerful desire to disprove ongoing feelings of shame and inadequacy.