Parenting Articles & Tidbits

  • Parental Guilt Experiment
  • Addicted to Love
  • Children in Divorce

Parental Guilt Experiment

  Guilt has a funny way of guiding your parenting even when you’re unaware it’s happening. Jot down the first thing that comes to your mind when you read the first part of each sentence. Then go back over what you wrote to see what patterns come through. Make note of any question that had you stumped or any you didn’t want to put down your first response. Becoming aware of your guilt level in parenting is the first thing you need to do to change it.


I usually feel guilty when

Sadness is

The first time I remember feeling guilty was

When I made a mistake, my mom would

I should 

A father should

Mistakes are

I have to be

Fear is 

In order to be accepted I

I feel shame when

One of my greatest fears is

I don't want to

When I discipline my child

When I take time for myself

I need

If others knew my shortcomings

When others share their feelings with me

I can't

When I made a mistake, my dad would

Anger is

A mother should

If I allow myself to fully realize what I am saying here

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Addicted to Love

"Might as well face it, you're addicted to love..." - Robert Palmer

Can you be addicted to love? Anything in bloated portions can be dangerous, even something as wonderful as a good relationship. Some people have stayed in a relationship until it literally killed them, just for love. Take the short quiz below, as it illustrates many of the signs and symptoms of love gone bad.

If seven or more of the following describe you, the danger of love addiction is very real.


  • come from a family in which emotional needs were not met;
  • assumed a caretaker/pleaser role to gain approval;
  • are attracted to people who don't treat you well;
  • find loving, kind, stable people boring;
  • put forth over 50% of the effort, or take over 50% of the responsibility;
  • are very tolerant of others and spend a long time hoping for something different;
  • make excuses for his/her behavior, holding out for the way it used to be, or could be;
  • have a low self-image: you believe you have to earn happiness;
  • are terrified of abandonment and being alone;
  • control or manage your partner's life in an effort to help him/her;
  • focus on others, thereby avoiding personal responsibility;
  • have other addictive tendencies: overeating, too much TV, working too much, etc.;
  • fear disapproval so much you rarely say 'no', or express your true opinion for fear of displeasing or losing your partner.

Sternberg (1988) identified ten indicators of healthy love. As you read over the following list, keep your marriage and other personal relationships in mind, but also asses your professional liaisons as well.

Successful partners:

  • do not take their relationship for granted;
  • make their relationship an important priority;
  • actively seek to meet each other's needs;
  • know when and when not to change in response to the other;
  • value themselves;
  • love each other, not their idealization of each other;
  • tolerate what they cannot change;
  • are open with each other;
  • make good times together and grow through the bad ones;
  • do unto each other as they would have the other do unto them.

As you have been reading this column, rivers and streams are slowly eroding mountains of solid rock. But you would have great difficulty detecting the process because of its gradual, quiet destruction. Similarly, relationship addiction slowly erodes intimacy by imposing unhealthy demands, crossing various boundaries, and ignoring vital information.

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Children in Divorce

There is so much conflicting information out there on divorce and its effects on children. Just this week the CBS Evening News reported on a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association saying that childhood trauma can make it more likely a person will smoke as an adult, and make it harder for that person to quit. One of the traumas cited was if a child’s parents got divorced. As I’ve read the studies over the years, I’ve found some themes, but that by no means makes this the absolute truth. You must look at your own situation in light of the current research. Some of the research on children of divorce indicates that children:


  • are often better off after the divorce as opposed to staying in a continually conflicted household.
  • usually believe the conflict/divorce is their fault, especially when younger. Younger children also exaggerate the possibility of parental reconciliation, as well as feelings of abandonment.
  • are often triangulated or triangulate themselves to take the pressure off the conflict between mom and dad.
  • can learn to manipulate well during the first few years after the divorce, playing off of anger between the parents, or parental fears of losing their children.
  • report lower self-esteem than those in healthier, non-divorced families, but higher than children in continually conflicted two-parent houses.  The later only occurs about a year after the divorce, and through that first year, boys especially evidence more problems than those in continually conflicted two-parent homes.
  • boys tend to have more difficulty with their mothers after a divorce, than do girls with their fathers. respond to the grief with anger, depression, fear, and guilt especially within the first year.

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