Tuesday, April 29, 2014


          Parents, spouses, and (believe it or not) even teachers sometimes refer to people they bring to counseling as 'lazy.' I have an immediate emotional response, but typically wait to hear their whole story before suggesting that "lazy," as a description of a person, is bogus. I mean, I interpret it as a description of their behavior. It is typically used as a demeaning label, a bad personality trait. To me it means that a person is not doing the work that's expected of them for one reason or another (including the possibility of unrealistic expectations). Those reasons are likely low motivation (ie. not a priority), anger (they don't want to do it because they're angry at you, and won't say why), not accepting of their responsibility to perform the task, or have been given the excuse that "you're lazy" and they want you to continue to take care of them. And that's your reward for allowing someone to get away with being "lazy." YOU have to do it. That's called enabling.

            Now if they come to me and are diagnosed with malingering (or labelled 'lazy'), I want to figure out why this person is not behaving responsibly and what the family or relationship dynamics are that help maintain this behavior. Sometimes it is part of a larger emotional issue, like depression. But often it is a form of communication in which the person (for example a child, or spouse) is passively expressing anger, and/or exerting some control over their life that feels controlled by someone else (like a parent, teacher, or partner). Stop giving them the excuse of laziness, and make some changes in the relationship. Listen more. Negotiate and compromise better. Offer some rewards. Often more loving attention is a valuable incentive. Becoming more controlling by trying to force them into action often has the opposite effect, that is, they get the attention (although it's negative ) but get more stuck in their noncompliant behavior. It's like you're rewarding their "laziness." Help them break this bad habit, and replace it with responsible action. You and they will be much happier.

Friday, April 4, 2014

The Art of Parenting

Parenting is something that we are all capable of. Well, those of us who have kids. Initially it requires a focus on the wellbeing of our offspring, while guiding them to reach their potential. Our role changes as they get older. The amount of involvement parents have in their child's life when the child becomes a teen and then an adult depends on their needs, and yours. And if we don't change how we relate to our child as they age, you will possibly grow apart. Unconditional love is what motivates us to do the work required for good parenting. The parent's creativity, sustained energy, patience and motivation, and the beauty that results from communicating this love is what elevates parenting from 'just a job,' to an art form. That love needs to be communicated in EVERY interaction with our child. This not only includes expressing our joy about their successes, but showing your love by not degrading them when we are disappointed or angry at them. Even if they act like they don't need us.
You can create a loving, nurturing environment for your child by developing a strong bond with them early (or later) in life. This will help them trust and rely on your influence, and input in their life. Of course there's no handbook that tells you what to do to be the "perfect" parent. However, your unconditional love expressed through good communication (especially LISTENING), will go a long way in helping you master the art of (good) parenting.