Archive for the ‘Children’ Category

Connecting with Children in a Smart Phone World

Thursday, February 8th, 2018


Connecting with your child is a concern shared by most parents. Smiles and coos come naturally for so many parents of infants, but there are other points of connection that are more confusing and difficult to master. From feeding times and tummy time in infancy to family time and screen time as children grow, understanding what your child needs in order to feel connected to you overwhelms like a tsunami at times.

One point of connection becoming clear through scientific research has to do with screen time. Not just a child’s screen time, but the parent’s time spent in front of a screen. Dr. Tallie Baram and others, a group of researchers at the University of California at Irvine, demonstrated that “fragmented” parenting leads to negative emotional issues as children develop. Interactions with parents, i.e. smiles, conversations, etc., are necessary for children to develop the ability to enjoy activities and relationships.

Fragmented parenting is a phrase used to describe parents who are frequently distracted from those interactions with children under their care. Dr. Baram theorizes that if children lack the fullness of experience with caregivers at key points in development, they are more likely to engage in unhealthy pleasure seeking activities as  pre-teens and teenagers as well as other developmental setbacks through the years.

Of the distractions that lead to fragmented parenting, smart phone use is the most pervasive. Persistent notifications vie for our attention and have a psychological power all their own. Studies have already shown Facebook “likes” make us “feel better” and have addictive qualities of their own. If you find yourself checking your cell phone frequently, take some time to consider how you can temper your usage when you are with your children.

A few suggestions:

Leave your phone in another room unless you know someone will be calling.

Schedule social media checks or game time infrequently throughout the day, limiting time spent looking at social media and screens.

Inform your friends of your restricted social media use. Many people understand the need to limit time online, so posts like these have become more frequent in the past few years.

Of course these are not the only key in connecting with your kids, but the distractions of smartphones and social media can hold you from building a solid bond. If you have concerns or questions about your child’s well-being you can contact us at 918-745-0095.

Good luck making connections.

Written By Chris Hogue, MA, LMFT


Baram, T., et. al. (2012). Fragmentation and unpredictability of early-life experience in mental disorders. American Journal of Psychiatry, 169(9), 907-915.

Vasich, T. (2016). Put the cellphone away! Fragmented baby care can affect brain development. UCI News. Retrieved from 


Is Your Child Shy?

Friday, December 12th, 2014

Most shy children grow up to be socially functional adults who are able to speak up in meetings or give presentations, but during their formative years, these activities may be quite painful for shy kids.

It is important to distinguish what we mean when we talk about shyness. It is probably a commonplace distinction for most of us to be able to label our friends, co-workers, and children as either exuberant and outgoing or shy and reserved, but what might be going on inside the mind and body-state of the shy individual?

According to psychologists and social researchers, shyness (on the other end of the spectrum from exuberant) has to do with social inhibition. That fancy phrase means that kids may experience stress when faced with interacting with peers or adults in social or education environments, or pretty much any environment as a shy person can attest.

Shyness (social inhibition) therefore is different from being introverted. Introverted kids may be quite content to pursue individual tasks and not crave social interaction. Shy kids may in fact desire to spend time with their peers, but feel socially uncomfortable in doing so.

What’s the big deal about shyness then? Is it a problem? Shy kids are at greater risk of experiencing social anxiety as they grow into their adolescent and adult years. If the rate of anxious adults in the general population is as high as 10% of people, then shy kids are 3 or 4 times as likely (30-40%) to experience social anxiety later in life. Some shy kids, as the social pressures mount in middle and high school years, turn to alcohol or substances to help facilitate social interaction. Still, social anxiety can be overcome…there is a myriad of skills and cognitive-behavioral of help available (yes, we can help with that). Most shy kids learn to regulate the stress involved with social situations. The news isn’t’ all bad…

What positive characteristics do shy kids exhibit? Well, for one thing, as a socially inhibited individual, shy kids are much less likely to be risk takers. They are more likely to ‘think before they do’ (look before you leap) rather than leap first and examine the risk after your parents have to take you to the ER for a broken collar bone (insert your own story of risky behavior here). Shy kids may be “more attuned to threats in their environment1”

Parents, this part is for you… how then do we best assist our shy children? Instinctually, when we see people in stress or pain, we want to comfort and protect. Researchers2 say, “The prototypical shy child is timid, with a coy smile,” which is why we often are drawn to shy kids. However, the best way for a shy child to learn to navigate the stress of social interactions, is to be gently supported. If parents can take a step back from rescuing their kids, while being supportive and encouraging, their children will begin to take steps to do things on their own. Are you debating whether to keep your shy preschooler home? It may be better in the long-run if your child attends daycare and learns to interact with their peers. Those children are less anxious than shy kids who stay home with a parent or nanny.

It is important to remember not to label our children’s temperament as bad or negative. There is plenty of room in the world for slow-to-warm-up kids. They often grow up well adapted and possessing many useful skill sets. Just think about it…if we didn’t have cautious thinkers, how would we have come up with all this research in the first place?

1Robert J. Coplan as quoted in Weir, K (2014) Born bashful: Psychologists have new insights into the causes and effects of childhood shyness. Monitor on Psychology 45 (10), p.50. (
2 Dr. K. Perez-Edgar, also quoted in the same Monitor article

by Dr. Tim Doty

Dr. Doty’s personal web site


For further reading:
Wolfe, C.D., Zhang, J., Kim-Spoon, J., & Bell, M.A. (2014) A longitudinal perspective on the association between cognition and temperamental shyness International Journal of Behavioral Development doi:10.1177/0165025413516257

Pérez-Edgar, K., Reeb-Sutherland, B. C., McDermott, J. M., White, L. K., Henderson, H. A., Degnan, K. A., … Fox, N. A. (2011). Attention Biases to Threat Link Behavioral Inhibition to Social Withdrawal over Time in Very Young Children. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 39(6), 885–895. doi:10.1007/s10802-011-9495-5

Cain, S. (2013) Quiet: The Power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talking. Broadway Books.


Wednesday, November 19th, 2014

(part 1; part 2; part 3)

Many parents fear asking their child about suicide thinking that by asking they might give their teenager some ideas or perhaps plant a thought in their head that may be acted upon later. As result they never ask and end up surprised! Don’t be that kind of parent, ask your teenagers about suicide. Questions never killed anyone, if anything the question will let your teenager know you care. However, don’t forget that relationship is always the key to getting good information. So if you want to get the truth from your child you will need to approach them with great care and loads of respect. Chances are you will have earned the right to ask them about suicide because you have been working hard to connect with them over the past few weeks and months by meeting them right where they are and taking the time to really listen (without judgment and without pressure) to what has been going on in their life.

First, take a deep breath and try to stay calm. Of course there is a chance that when you ask them if they have ever thought about suicide that they will say yes. This “yes” may be one of the scariest “yes’s” you have ever heard and you will need to be prepared for the emotional impact this has on you. No parent ever wants to hear about their child having considered suicide, but don’t forget that you are not alone; many other parents have gone before you and survived.

Second, once you have calmed down you will need to try your best to ask about the following 4 things (White, 1999): (Remember, you are not a mental health professional and no one expects you to be, however, having more information is going to be really helpful when trying to help your teenager cope with this stuff both now and in the future).

IDEATION: Thinking about suicide and planning your death are two different things. Studies have found that 20-30% of teenagers will report experiencing thoughts of suicide at some point during their teenage years (Brener, Krug, Simon, 2000; Kandel, Raveies, & Davies, 1991). While these numbers are alarmingly high, it would seem that thoughts about suicide are fairly common during the teenage years, so you will need to be ready to deal with them.

INTENT: As stated above thinking about suicide and wanting to die are two different things, however they always need to be assessed together. When your teenager tells you that they have thought about suicide your next question needs to be about motivation; do they want to die?

MOTIVATION: By asking about their intentions you are attempting to figure out if they really want to die, are attempting to manipulate, are crying out for help, or have some other reason for wanting to die (White, 1999). Remember, that just because they maybe attention seeking or manipulating does not mean that they are not a serious risk! In most cases they will say “no” when asked about motivation, however its fairly common for someone who has experienced thoughts of suicide to be somewhat ambivalent about their desire to die; a part of them wants to die, yet another part of them doesn’t. Helping them resolve this conflict may be the key to keeping them safe.

Here are some questions you could ask to assess INTENT (White, 1999):

“Why do you want to die?
“What are the contents of your thoughts?”
“What does death mean to you?”
“How long have you been thinking about hurting yourself?”
“How frequent and persistent are the thoughts?”
“Are you pre-occupied or obsessed with the idea of killing yourself?”
“Can you control your thoughts?”

Having a plan is often the most important part of determining what is going on with your teen. Suicide can occur without a well thought out plan, however most individuals experiencing thoughts and intentions will often very quickly arrive at a plan. Some will spend days, even weeks, planning their attempt without telling a soul.

Questions to ask yourself in addressing your teenager’s plan (White, 1999):

How far has the adolescent developed the plan?
When is the proposed plan going to occur?
How specific is the plan? (place, time, method)
Is the plan effective and feasible?
Is the adolescent’s chosen method lethal?
Will he/she have access to the chosen means when he/she needs it?
Does he/she know how to use the means?
Has he/she rehearsed his plan?
Has he/she taken precautions to avoid rescue?

When asking about your teen’s plan you will want to try and figure out just how plausible their plan appears to be. While every suicidal thought, intent, and plan should be taken very seriously and properly addressed by a competent mental health professional, some plans need to be taken much more seriously than others. The more lethal the means the more dangerous your teenager might be.

The 4 most common means of teenage suicide are:

Guns: Firearms typically account for about 60% of all completed suicides in the United States and any suicidal thought or plan that incorporates their use needs to be taken very seriously!
Cars: While there does not appear to be any statistics regarding teenager’s use of cars as a means of suicide, it is safe to say that not every death by auto accident is an “accident.”
Drugs: Drug overdose is very common in western culture and many, if not most, of the suicide attempt victims I have worked with decided to kill themselves by taking a handful of pills, or combine pills with alcohol.
Combination of all three

When asking about METHODS and MEANS you need to ask about two things:

ACCESS: Does your teen have access to the tools they are planning to use? Consider guns, knives, explosives, belts, ropes, sheets, medications (prescription and over the counter), drugs and of course alcohol.
KNOWLEDGE: You will need to find out how much your teen knows about the means they have mentioned. Do they even know how to use a gun? Do they know how to hang themselves? Etc.

PLEASE REMEMBER…Any person who is experiencing thoughts of suicide needs to be assessed by a mental health professional as soon as possible!

***Any advice given on this website is offered in generic form. In other words, all of our site visitors have unique qualities that play a role in their personal mental health. We do not know you personally and can therefore not take into consideration these qualities when offering advice, and do not claim to do so. All information provided on this site is designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between a patient/site visitor and his/her existing psychologist, mental health professional, teacher, or professor.***

Brener, N. D., Krug, E. G., Simon, T. R. (2000). Trends in suicide ideation and suicide behavior among high school students in the United States, 1991-1997. Suicide & Life-Threatening Behavior, 30, 304-312.
Kandel, D. B., Raveis, V. H., & Davies, M. (1991). Suicidal ideation in adolescence: Depression, substance use, and other risk factors. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 20, 289-309.
White, T. W. (1999). How to identify suicidal people: A systemic approach to risk assessment. The Charles Press Publishers, Inc., PA.

by Joe James, Psy.D.
other articles on teens

Is My Child Depressed?

Thursday, November 13th, 2014

It is difficult to know how many children (pre-teens) suffer from depression. The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) estimates that, at any given time, 11% of children under the age of 18 meet the diagnostic criteria for Depression. We know that girls are more likely than boys to suffer from depression and that the risk increases as the child becomes older. But these numbers include teenagers; it is hard to find statistics for children from pre-K through age 12.

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) the symptoms of a Major Depressive Episode include:

  • Depressed or irritable mood most of the day.
  • Loss of pleasure in activities.
  • Significant weight loss weight gain.
  • Insomnia or hypersomnia nearly every day.
  • Psychomotor agitation or retardation nearly every day.
  • Fatigue or loss of energy nearly every day.
  • Feelings of worthlessness guilt.
  • Diminished ability to think or concentrate, or indecisiveness.
  • Recurrent thoughts of death (not just fear of dying), suicidal thoughts either with or without a specific plan, or a suicide attempt.

Adults and teens can talk about how they feel. The younger the child, the less they are able to verbalize feelings of hopelessness, helplessness, and sadness. Instead, children act out their feelings instead of talking about them.

The depressed child may be more irritable and angry than sad. They may be clingy, sulky, or grouchy. It was once thought that all depressed children hid or masked their depression with anger, but we now know that some kids do indeed look sad and blue.

The main things to look for are:

1. Changes in social activities.
2. Loss of interest in school.
3. Changes in academic performance.
4. Physical complaints such as headaches or stomachaches that don’t respond to treatment.
5. Crying spells for no or little apparent reason.

Treatment options for depressed children are the same as for adults – counseling and medication. For children, we are more likely to recommend family counseling than individual counseling. Medications may be helpful but generally we want to try counseling first and are slower to refer to a physician for medication.

written by G. Bowden McElroy, M.Ed.
more articles on depression



Wednesday, November 5th, 2014

(part 1; part 2)

While there are occasions when someone may significantly hurt him or herself “out of the blue”, most cases involve warning signs. The problem is that most of us don’t notice them! There are a few things you can be looking for. First, and foremost is a significant change in behavior, such as increased drug use, moodiness that appears to be over and above “normal”, withdrawal from either friends or family, and an increase in impulsive high-risk behaviors (Debski et al., 2007).

Perhaps most common is the proverbial “change in friends.” Rather than spending time with the friends your teenager has had since the 5th grade, he or she may begin to bring some “new” kids over to the house. While it is good for your teenager to branch out, meet new people and make new friends, most often this group of friends is the one your parents told you about when you were a teenager. They look and act in a manner inconsistent with your values and will often result in you making statements like “I just don’t like his friends” and “things really started to change when ‘so and so’ started coming around.” While a significant change in friends does not mean your teenager is thinking about suicide, this change often comes with many of the other warning signs such as doing drugs, the onset of a depressed mood, a drop in school performance, and run-in’s with the police.

Second, making statements about suicide or expressing some type of preoccupation with death should be taken seriously. For some these types of behaviors can become so common that you may begin to ignore them. If you find this to be the case, please consult a mental health specialist immediately. Suicidal statements, even those that are passive in nature (ie. “you guys would be better off without me”), need to be taken seriously and addressed directly. Some studies have found that as many as 83% of teenagers who successfully killed themselves made a verbal threat to do so during the week prior to completion (Brent, 1995, as cited by Rubin, Wainrib, & Bloch, 1998).

Because depression is so closely related to suicide, the symptoms of depression and teenage suicide should be closely monitored. Symptoms include (Debski et al., 2007):

Major changes in eating or sleeping habits (too much or too little of either)
Expressions of hopelessness, guilt, shame, or worthlessness
Intense anger toward self and/or others
Drop in school performance
Loss of interest in usual activities (ie. quiting the football team)

Studies have shown that teenagers who deliberately hurt themselves (i.e. cutting) are 4 to 10 times more likely to die (Goldachre, & Hawton, 1985; Hawton & Harris, 2007, both as cited by Hargus, Hawton, & Rodham, 2009) and as many as 70% of teenagers who reported an act of self-harm also reported at least one suicide attempt (55% reported multiple attempts) (Nock, Joiner, Gordon, Lloyd-Richardson, & Prinstein, 2006, as cited by Hargus, Hawton, & Rodham, 2009). That is pretty alarming! You should take self-harming behaviors very seriously.

Significant changes in behavior, making suicidal statements, symptoms of depression, and cutting/self-harm are all behaviors that can very easily get “lost” in the day to day busyness of life. That is why it is so important for you to do what you can to connect with your teenager on a regular basis. Your teenager doesn’t need you to breath down their neck (and most likely will let you know this on regular basis) but they most definitely need and want the adults in their life to show them that they care.

***Any advice given on this website is offered in generic form. In other words, all of our site visitors have unique qualities that play a role in their personal mental health. We do not know you personally and can therefore not take into consideration these qualities when offering advice, and do not claim to do so. All information provided on this site is designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between a patient/site visitor and his/her existing psychologist, mental health professional, teacher, or professor.***


Debski, J., Spadafore, C. D., Jacob, S., Poole, D., & Hixon, M. D. (2007). Suicide intervention: Training, roles, and knowledge of school psychologists. Psychology in the Schools, 44(2), 157-170.

Hargus, E., Hawton, K., Rodham, K. (2009). Distinguishing between subgroups of adolescents who self-harm. Suicide & Life-Threatening Behaviors, 39(5), 518-537.

Rubin Wanrib, B., Bloch, E. L. (1998). Crisis intervention and trauma response: Theory and response. Springer Pub, NY.

White, T. W. (1999). How to identify suicidal people: A systemic approach to risk assessment. The Charles Press Publishers, Inc., PA.

by  Joe James, Psy.D.

(more articles on teenagers)

When Your Child is Anxious

Wednesday, October 8th, 2014

We all strive to provide a safe and satisfying life for our children. We want to protect them, as long as reasonably possible, from the worries of this life. However, some children (adults as well) just seemed prone to be more anxious than others. This can be very discouraging for parents. These children tend to find things to worry about. They often find things that seem outrageous for a child to be concerned with, yet they lose sleep and find these thoughts intrusive and overwhelming.

So what is a parent to do? Initially, avoid going into panic mode. Managing your own anxiety is an important part of helping our children manage theirs. Also, episodes of anxiety that go away as quickly as they begin, are not abnormal for many children. We all have struggled with these moments in our lives. However, if a child has developed a pattern of excessive worry and it is beginning to impact his or her ability to function, then intervention is indicated.

Initially, helping a child to think clearly, and providing appropriate reassurance, may be all the help that is needed. Also, aiding them to find healthy diversions, to short circuit troubling thoughts, can be very helpful. Even simple lifestyle habits like a healthy diet and exercise can be useful tools in overcoming anxiety.

If these things are not enough, then professional help may be necessary. Many parents will want to start with their pediatrician. It is useful to have the pediatrician involved early in the process so that possible medical concerns can be ruled out from the start. The pediatrician may suggest seeing a therapist. A therapist can help the family determine the sources of the anxiety problem and suggest appropriate treatments. Typically, treatment will involve a combination of individual and family therapies. Treatment will often focus on controlling troublesome thoughts and managing stresses in a child’s life. If response to these interventions is not sufficient, there may be a need to include medical intervention. The pediatrician and/or a psychiatrist would need to be consulted on these occasions.

Throughout all these processes, it is important for parents to be patient, hopeful and encouraging. The ability to model hopefulness and realistic expectations will go a long way though all aspects of treatment.

by Eric Clements, M.S.

(more articles on anxiety)

(more articles on children and parenting)

Understanding the New Definition of Autism

Wednesday, August 20th, 2014

About a year ago, the American Psychiatric Association published its latest diagnostic manual. Known as the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, 5th edition (DSM-V), it has a number of changes from the previous edition, and not all of them are popular. One of those changes has to do with the Autism Spectrum Disorders.

Previously the DSM-IV, identified three different diagnoses, that were understood to be on the Autism spectrum. (There were others that had some relationship, but aren’t as relative to this article.) Autism, was used in situations where social, academic and self care skills, were all significantly impaired. Aspergers, was used when there was less impairment, and that impairment was usually focused, in the social realm. Often, academic capacity, might even be enhanced. This enhancement might be focused in specific academic fields. Pervasive Developmental Disorder was used when there was some level of impairment, but it was even less severe than Aspergers. Many individuals with Aspergers or Pervasive Developmental Disorder, can be quite creative, and likely have been significant contributors to very many, of the scientific and engineering advances, across the history of humanity.

In the DSM-V, all of the above diagnoses, are listed as Autism. Then the level of severity is identified. The phrase “on the spectrum” is often used, to identify individuals who have, Autism related difficulties, with widely varying degrees of severity. This use of a single term, is controversial for a number of reasons. Because of how the word “Autism” has been used historically, those on the higher level of functioning and their families, often prefer the previous designations. The association with the more significant level of impairment, is considered a hindrance, to their acceptance, by society. Many, had been able to take some level of pride, in the previous labels, as more than likely, names like Einstein, Tesla, and Bill Gates, could be counted among their numbers. The broadened use of the Autism label would remove much of this positive perspective.

However, this change in terminology, has very little, if any, impact on the manner in which we treat and interact with those who are “on the spectrum”. The following are some things to consider when dealing with someone identified with these issues.

-Those on the spectrum typically do not read facial expression and tone of voice well. Coaching them to become aware of these elements of communication, is very important.

-They do have emotions, but often appear emotionless. We must be careful with what we say and do around them. We are still impacting them, in either an encouraging or discouraging manner, even if it does not appear to be the case.

-Often they deal with hidden anxiety and depression. Our interactions with them still necessitates the skills of being a safe person, who listens to and cares for them. As with everyone else, those on the spectrum, will find this helpful as they deal with these distressing emotional issues.

-Understanding social appropriateness is difficult. i.e. conversation topics with buddies, may not be appropriate with your teacher. We must not jump to conclusions when these inappropriate statements or topics seem to come out of nowhere. This is an opportunity to educate them about related social skills.

-There may be difficulty dealing with some sensory triggers. Loud noises, large crowds, temperatures, some touch or textures may be troublesome. Occupational Therapists use the diagnosis of, Sensory Integration Disorder, and they can be quite helpful in treating these issues.

-Many of these individuals, are quite brilliant and creative. Many, if not most of the innovations that make up modern life, are the result of someone who has aspects of high functioning Autism (Aspergers). Helping them to see the positive in this, can be quite encouraging.

-Parents will need to educate themselves about their child’s difficulties, and become their advocate in many situations. Some situations may include educational, church, teams, extended family, and even with neighbors and friends with whom they may be spending significant time.

Therapy can be quite useful for the families and individuals who are dealing with these particular disorders. If you think someone you love may be dealing with Autism spectrum issues, please consider finding a therapist to serve your needs.

Eric Clements

Grandparenting: How to Help Without Butting In

Tuesday, September 17th, 2013

grandparentsAs grandparents, you want your grandchildren to grow up in the most loving, healthy environment possible. You can play a significant role creating that environment by how you interact with your children who are now parents.  A few tips on making the best choices for the best environment include:

  • Don’t tell your “kids” how to raise their children.  Avoid judging their parenting style.  If you disagree with their decisions (and there will be times you will), bite your tongue unless you are asked for advice.  Your job is to be the grandparent, not the parent.
  • Respect their parenting efforts and look for reasons to complement them. Validating them builds not only their confidence but builds their relationship with you as well.
  • It’s important to realize that methods on raising children vary from one generation to the next.  For example, discipline styles and methods (or lack thereof) often become a source of tension.  Using a gentle approach in offering your input on this topic can avoid a defensive attitude and power struggle for “who knows best”.
  • Being a parent is hard work and most parents are a bit unsure of their parenting skills (remember?).  What they need is encouragement.  By being less critical, they become less defensive.  By being more supportive, you create a strong, healthy relationship with your “kids” and a loving, healthy environment for your grandchildren.

 Lois Trost, M.S.W

Lois Trost headshot

How to Talk to Your Kids About News and Tragic Events

Monday, April 15th, 2013

The following is reposted from our CFI Facebook page:

man listening to childIn light of the tragedy at the #bostonmarathon today, please be cautious how much of the news you take in around your children. We advise that children who are not of age to understand violence and tragedy (and really, who among us does understand it), can be insulated from the news as long as parents and caretakers shield them from the information. Obviously, at the speed of communication, many of our teens, pre-teens, and adult family members will have seen/heard about the violence and we should take care to console one another in the face of tragic events. For younger kids, there is no need to watch/listen to reports of violence in front of them. If they hear about the tragedy, take time to explain with child-appropriate wording. We will post resources ASAP.

Here are the resources we linked to on Facebook:

If you, a family member, a loved one, or a child are experiencing difficulty in response to tragedy in the news, we have staff available to help you manage traumatic stress reactions.  Give CFI a call to set up a time to meet with one of our professional therapists. 


What Should I Do When My (Adult) Children Are Getting Married?

Tuesday, April 9th, 2013

The quality of relationship you have with your adult children will often determine how much counsel your children will accept from you.  It is important not to rush to judgments or counsel BEFORE you have earned the right to speak.  Rushed judgments or counsel before it is welcome can permanently damage relationships with our adult children and their future spouse.

BE VERY SLOW TO EXPRESS ANY DISAPPROVAL YOU MIGHT FEEL.  The key here is that this is an ADULT child, now capable of making independent decisions.  If they already have their mind made up, expressing disapproval make only serve to damage the relationship you have with your adult child.  Mistakes made at this phase of life can effect future relationships for the rest of your life.

Any negative opinions you might express toward your adult child’s chosen spouse will likely get back to them.  Your disapproval may offend, damage trust, and cause your child’s future spouse to pull away.  If your adult child goes ahead and marries this person, they may never like or trust you, or allow you into their life.

Consider the gift of pre-marital counseling to your adult children considering marriage.  A comprehensive assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of a planned marriage, offered by a trained and objective professional, may carry more weight than your own opinion.  Further, this gives your adult children the counseling or therapy they may need to get their relationship on firm ground.

Dale Doty, M.S.W., Ph.D.

Dale Doty, Ph.D.