All About Caregiving

In a 2004 national survey, the AARP found that 44.4 million Americans are providing unpaid care to an adult, and the estimated annual value is $257 billion. To do so is a beautiful act of love and devotion, but also a great drain on one's physical and psychological resources.

Recent Posts on Caregiving

Physical Punishment—and Violence

Physical punishment is damaging to the mental health of children and the societies in which we live. There are alternatives that build on children's ability to integrate feelings, language, and cognition.

How to Have a Husband on the Side

By Bella DePaulo Ph.D. on August 31, 2015 in Living Single
What if you are married with kids, but you don't consider your spouse the most important person in your life? How can you arrange your life to honor the people you care about most, and also maintain the important place of both parents in the lives of the kids?

The House Drunk: Finding Our Way Out Together, Part 2

Following up on the previous entry, Ray and his mother learn skills for building a real relationship despite the complications that are part of addiction. And here we are, learning how to do the hard work of building better relationships, together, when addiction makes it even harder.

Humor, Screens & Children

By Jamie Krenn Ph.D. on August 18, 2015 in Screen Time
A sense of humor can lend itself as a protective factor for troubled or uncertain situations one may have through life’s journey. Included in this piece are some ways to think about humor development as applied to current children’s television programming from birth to elementary school years.

Disability and Humanity in Therapy

By Ryan Howes PhD, ABPP on August 12, 2015 in In Therapy
How do physical disabilities impact psychological treatment? How do they impact the therapist? Dr. Deborah Buckwalter shares her thoughts in this Moments of Meaning video.

Believing in Your Child's Success

As a parent, watching your child struggle at something can be difficult. Seeing him or her fail can be devastating. Optimism allows you, as a parent, to find the positives in struggle and failure.

The "House Drunk"—Irrelationship & Addiction, Part 1

Irrelationship is not alcoholism; but, it is similarly chronic, compulsive and progressive. Regarding families suffering from alcoholism and addiction, having one's role as a caretaker usurped by a foreign and anonymous source—even when treatment has been strongly encouraged or even demanded—is often an unexpectedly conflicted, confusing and complicated experience.

4 Ways to Set Boundaries

By Shawn M. Burn Ph.D. on August 04, 2015 in Presence of Mind
Most of us must set boundaries around our helping and giving at some point in our lives. But internal conflict is common when we place limits on what we’ll do for or give to others, even when we know it’s the right thing to do. Managing this boundary-setting ambivalence is key to setting and maintaining healthy boundaries.

Happy Mothers

Happy mothers-what does it take? We have one of the most demanding jobs in the world, yet when it comes to recuperation, you'd be surprised how little we actually need....

What Your Doctor Can't Say to You

By Arthur Dobrin D.S.W. on July 31, 2015 in Am I Right?
This conversation can cause a healthcare provider to lose her license.

Can't Stand Your Self-Absorbed Parent?

By Susan K Perry Ph.D. on July 30, 2015 in Creating in Flow
Got an aging parent or in-law who's a narcissist? They're arrogant, have a sense of entitlement, are always ready to instill guilt, they insist rules don't apply to them, and they fly into a rage if challenged. There's help for you.

6 Things You Can Say to Support Someone Who's Depressed

By Jean Kim M.D. on July 27, 2015 in Culture Shrink
How can well-meaning people provide support to someone with depression, aside from avoiding tendencies towards judgment? How can one head towards greater understanding and connect with someone who is suffering?

Seeing the Person Within the Persona

Irrelationship is about a lot of things: a co-created and shared defense, compulsive caregiving, Performing and Audiencing, suffering and feeling trapped and helpless. It is also about hiding out in a routine, a song-and-dance routine. That routine is like a mask that protects the self from observation—it is a persona-in-action (an enacted disguise).

The Archeology of Misbehavior

Archeology is the study of human activity in the past. The archeology of misbehavior is studying current behavior to uncover hidden sources. The “ruins” of misdeeds are built upon personality architecture and cultural landscapes.

An Invaluable Lesson From Elders

Although suffering in life is inevitable, we can mitigate it.

47 Reasons Why It's Really, Really Good to Be an Aunt

By Melanie Notkin on July 24, 2015 in Savvy Auntie
Every aunt knows how fortunate we are to have the love of our nieces and nephews. And we are grateful to their parents, who have given us the gift of aunthood. And so, Auntie's Day is also a time for us to appreciate all really good things that aunthood brings...

Is Family Equality a Right to Surrogacy?

By Elliot Hosman J.D. on July 22, 2015 in Genetic Crossroads
With marriage equality the law of the land, the dignity of LGBTQ families calls for an ongoing conversation about the regulation of the ART and surrogacy industries.

Backing Away From Lovers' Leap

The heartfelt sense that we've met some long lost part of ourselves in that new friend with whom we so readily, easily, and fluidly fell into what seemed like the rare moment of intimacy within which we can share our "darkest" and "deepest" is irrelationship all dressed up to look, once again, like the cure to our disconnected state.

Toward a More Civil Divorce

By Liza Long on July 16, 2015 in The Accidental Advocate
In a high-conflict divorce, both adults share the blame. But the adversarial family court system doesn't do much to help parents or their children. My thoughts as a mother on the three Michigan children sent to juvenile detention for refusing lunch with their father: it's just lunch.

Don’t Be Shameless! Why Good People Feel Bad Emotions

We tend to protect our children from shame. Should we?

Keep in Step: The Complexity of Stepfamilies

Lynne works with the underlying complexity of her stepfamily to create strong family bonds.

Year of the Caregiver?

Senate and House consider bills to support and fund caregiving. AARP Forum calls for recognition of caregiving.

Friendship as a Moving Target

By keeping our need and desire for closeness with others diffuse, migratory and superficial we are able to play out irrelationship dynamics in larger social circles. We suspend—at least postpone indefinitely—our awareness of how we have secured ourselves from being realistically disappointed by people in our current lives.

You Are Your Child’s “First Verb”

"First Verb Parenting" sees parents as a “child’s first verb”---loving action figures giving meaning, direction, guidance, and linking---to children, their attentive subjects.

5 Things You Should Never Say to Someone Who's Depressed

By Jean Kim M.D. on July 01, 2015 in Culture Shrink
What isn’t helpful and remains a huge hurdle for the lay public to understand about depression is that it isn’t just a matter of moral failure or weakness or lack of willpower. The following comments are worth avoiding when talking to people you know going through a depressive episode:

Are You a Codependent Beast of Others' Burdens?

By Shawn M. Burn Ph.D. on June 25, 2015 in Presence of Mind
Do you have codependent tendencies and if so, what should you do about it?

“Daddies Are Not Mommies”

Irrelationship starts as reversed caretaking often initiated because parental resources are stretched thin. Irrelationship is less likely if parents are being taken care of—if they are taking care of each other, are able to be empathetic, intimate with each other and to share parental responsibilities. A "Direct-Care Dad" is someone who does just that: Happy Father's Day!

Tackling the Emotions in Borderline Personality Disorder

People with borderline personality disorder have one of the most challenging psychological problems to treat. Furthermore, if you or someone you know is in a relationship with someone who has this disorder, you know how difficult it can be to live with the disorder. Mentalization-based therapy, focused on emotions, may provide an important new approach.

Grieving the Loss of a Child: The Five Stage Myth

The trauma experienced by grieving parents cannot be captured by the five stage model.

Denial Only Makes Chronic Pain and Illness Worse

It’s better to live within the limits of what I can reasonably do than to pretend things are as I wish they would be.