Step-Families and Triangulation in General

In Family Systems Theory, triangulation is when any two people form a stronger bond with each other against a third person. There are so many family combinations of mom/mom or mom/dad or dad/dad or grandma/dad and so on that I couldn’t possibly address all of them. When two nouns are needed, I’m going to use mom and dad. When just one noun is required, I’ll say the person, but if it’s two, I’ll use mom, dad, and child/ren. You can apply your own labels suitable for your family system once you see the pattern. Here is a list of some of the possibilities: Child and mom form a stronger alliance than mom’s alliance with dad, which drives dad away. One spouse, after the divorce, deliberately communicates messages to the child that indicate the other parent is inferior or the first parent is so much better, loves the child more, etc. A child cultivates a relationship with the biological parent and shuns the stepparent. A stepparent shuns the child and cultivates her relationship with her new partner. Grandma and child against grandma’s child, the parent. This example covers much of what triangulation is all about. It is a family system where...

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Need Sleep Now?

A common sign of depression is sleep disturbance, not being able to fall asleep as well as waking up one or several times during the night or waking up before you are ready to wake up. It's also a common sign of a new baby in the house, worrying about something, feeling stressed and anxious, and various other things similar to what I've listed. This exercise is excellent although it will take some practice and patience. You can't do it once or twice and give up because you don't think it's going to work. This article explains why it will work for just about everything except someone snoring very loudly right next to you or living within feet of  train tracks and it's a much better solution than drugs that can be addicting like Ambien. Now, if your doctor prescribes Ambien for you please take it. You should do what your medical doctor tells you to do. However, you might also give this exercise a try and see how it goes. Good sleep is essential for good mental health. If you aren't getting enough sleep your symptoms will likely increase, not decrease, something you should avoid if at all possible....

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How to Criticize Someone Without Hurting Their Feelings

In all of the years I've worked as a psychotherapist this is one issue that cuts across sexes, age, status, wealth and just about everything else. If you "stuff" something, meaning you don't tell the other person what you're thinking or feeling for fear of upsetting them, there will eventually be some fairly serious consequences to you like major depression or anxiety, or drinking too much or self-soothing with food, etc. or to the other person in the form of out of proportion anger or an emotional blowup from you. Something that might have been a manageable issue if was handled right away gets "stuffed" and over time more and more unsaid issues combine into a not very pretty picture. The point being that not being able to say what you think to another person because you're afraid to hurt them or make them mad will have consequences to you and to them. Most people just don't want to hurt the other person's feelings, an admirable idea, and they don't know how to say something critical in a way that the other person will hear without getting upset. This is an interesting article containing tips about how to criticize in...

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Ten Signs of a Toxic Kid

In every bookstore there are books about toxic parents and we all have to agree that we learned as we parented and most of our kids have some legitimate complaints. Usually we did the best we could do with what we had to work with. What we had to work with is often called “multi-generational family patterns of dysfunction”. Put simply, it means we learned how to parent from our parents who learned how to parent from their parents who learned how to parent from their parents who learned how to parent from their parents and so on, each generation handing down the same or mostly same parenting style until it gets to the helicopter parent of today who decided to do a 180 and parent exactly opposite the way he/she was parented and winds up creating toxic kid from hell. Healing and understanding is possible, sometimes with the help of a therapist. Guilt doesn’t help anyone and guilt is the chief cause of toxic kids. Here are just a few examples of toxic kids: Your kid only gets off the couch to go to the refrigerator and bathroom. Your kid is thirty. Your kid brings his/her laundry to your...

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