Family Relationships

Join other women in the sandwich generation - share ideas and solutions as you learn to nourish family relationships without starving yourself.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Kids of Michael Jackson: Still Sad but Doing OK

At the anniversary of Michael Jackson's death, his children are likely feeling the sadness that is typical for all of us when we lose someone we love. In her book, On Death and Dying, Dr. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross first identified the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and, finally, acceptance.

Working through these feelings is easier with the support of family. And it's evident, in recent comments made by Katherine and Germaine, that the Jackson family is rallying around the children. 'They're spending time with their cousins and that family love will keep them going.'
In light of the maelstrom of scandal and negative press facing Joe Jackson, he remains the patriarch of the Jackson family. He and a large brood of kids, including both Michael Jackson’s children, including the questionable fourth child of Michael Omer Bhatti and Jermaine’s, took a caravan to Las Vegas for the holiday weekend. The kids looked upbeat and joyful, despite preparing for the first holiday spent without their father Michael. Michael Jackson’s three children Prince, Paris and Blanket were not joined by their caretaker and grandmother Katherine Jackson which is shocking since Michael had requested in his Will that she care for then and that they not be placed into the hands of his father Joe Jackson. Katherine Jackson does not celebrate holidays because of her religion as she is a Jehovah's Witness, but the Jackson brothers, sisters, and their children do traditionally gather for one day, Thanksgiving, said by Tito Jackson in a recent interview. Despite the drama the children seem to be in good spirits as they run through the wind at a rest stop with their cousins. Joe Jackson had a bit of trouble keeping his hat on his head from the rest stop back to the car. Fame Pictures, Inc
If you're caring for your grandkids under stressful circumstances, what follows are ideas to consider as you nurture them and yourself:

It is necessary to mourn what you have lost. In divorce, it may be the dreams you had for the future. In death, the sadness about not having the loved one as a part of your life. As you work to communicate openly, all of you can feel safe enough to talk and grieve together.

Accept the changes in the family, whatever they are, even if you're in the crossfire. Validate the children's feelings and withhold blame regarding their parents. While you're showing support, try not to take a particular side or excuse bad behavior. Remember that your primary concern here is to attend to the immediate concerns and needs of the children.

Protect the children from the comments of others. Whether the absent parent's behavior stemmed from a serious emotional problem or a hunger deep inside, now you can shield the children from its impact. Focus on your relationship with them and build trust so that they'll feel more accepted, nurtured and confident.

You may want to watch this Fox News report on the one year anniversary of Michael Jackson's death. Need more information about positive role models as you reach for your goals as a grandparent? Sign our email list to the left of this post and download a free ebook, "Courage and Lessons Learned."

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Monday, June 28, 2010

The Children of Michael Jackson One Year After His Death

This week marks a year since Michael Jackson died. After his untimely death, a major focus was the future of his children, Prince, Paris and 'Blanket.' According to Jackson's will, his mother was to raise them - and the judge granted her permanent custody. All the while, pundits were busy predicting who would really take care of them.
In light of the maelstrom of scandal and negative press facing Joe Jackson, he remains the patriarch of the Jackson family. He and a large brood of kids, including both Michael Jackson’s children, including the questionable fourth child of Michael Omer Bhatti and Jermaine’s, took a caravan to Las Vegas for the holiday weekend. The kids looked upbeat and joyful, despite preparing for the first holiday spent without their father Michael. Michael Jackson’s three children Prince, Paris and Blanket were not joined by their caretaker and grandmother Katherine Jackson which is shocking since Michael had requested in his Will that she care for then and that they not be placed into the hands of his father Joe Jackson. Katherine Jackson does not celebrate holidays because of her religion as she is a Jehovah's Witness, but the Jackson brothers, sisters, and their children do traditionally gather for one day, Thanksgiving, said by Tito Jackson in a recent interview. Despite the drama the children seem to be in good spirits as they run through the wind at a rest stop with their cousins. Joe Jackson had a bit of trouble keeping his hat on his head from the rest stop back to the car. Fame Pictures, Inc
The number of boomer grandparents assuming care and financial responsibility for grandchildren continues to increase. Statistics show that over 2.9 million grandparents are raising more than 4.5 million grandchildren. This is particularly true in families that involve a habitual drug user, a single parent or one with a chronic illness.

Despite the superstar status of the Jackson family, there is something quintessentially human and familiar about them. Hasn't each of us, as a result of death or divorce, had a complicated situation in our own family? Do what you can to maintain structure and continuity. By stabilizing the children's environment with a familiar routine, they'll begin to feel less anxious and more secure. Children are resilient. As you consistently model hopeful thinking and positive actions, they are bound to thrive.

If you're caught up in the middle of a painful tragedy or complex crisis, log on to the blog all week for ideas to consider as you begin to take better care of your grandchildren and yourself.

Ready to get started? You can learn more about Michael Jackson and fatherhood from Wikipedia. Read an article about how to turn a crisis into a challenge on Her Mentor Center. And if you click on 'Comments' below, you can share your practical tips about caring for your grandkids.

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Friday, June 25, 2010

Wooden, Wimbledon, and World Cup

Wondering what these three W's - Wooden, Wimbledon, World Cup Soccer - have in common? All three of them can serve as impressive role models for success, especially this week.
Former UCLA basketball coach John Wooden waves before the start of the NCAA national championship game in Seattle, in this April 3, 1995 file photo. Wooden, the peerless U.S. college basketball coach who became known as the Wizard of Westwood while winning a record 10 national championships at UCLA, died on June 4, 2010, at age 99, a spokesman for the UCLA Medical Center said. REUTERS/Jeff Vinnick/Files (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL OBITUARY)

John Wooden was known for his inspiration and motivation on and off the basketball court. His style was gracious, even as he focused on creating Competitive Greatness in his players and in the rest of us, through his Pyramid of Success. Some of his favorite sayings come to mind this week, reviewing two sporting events that represent more than just games.

It was a grueling Wimbledon first round match that lasted over 11 hours, spread over three days. The match finally ended at the 980th point, after John Isner hit a winning shot in game 183, beating Nicholas Mahut in the third set, 70 games to 68.
LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 23: John Isner of USA (L) and Nicolas Mahut of France prepare to leave court 18 as light stops play at 59-59 in the last set on Day Three of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on June 23, 2010 in London, England. The game has become the longest in Grand Slam history (Photo by Hamish Blair/Getty Images)

Records were broken all over the place - so, even if we never strive to play at Wimbledon,what lessons can we learn from this match? What can it teach our kids about good behavior, determination and never giving up?

Each young man was gracious - in victory and in defeat. They each reflected one of John Wooden's aphorisms, "Things turn out best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out."

Each player resolved to give his all, putting himself on the line, as well as the tennis ball. Perhaps they were recalling Coach Wooden's wisdom, "The man who is afraid to risk failure seldom has to face success." Mahut reflected after his loss, "I just want them to remember that we were just two big fighters and one of them just won." Isner said in an interview just after his record-breaking win, "I told myself to just go for it. I didn't want to lose that point playing the wrong way. If I go for my shot and miss, that's fine."

Refusing to give in to exhaustion - both physical and mental - both Isner and Mahut continued to serve aces, even into the fifth set, with a record 215 between the two of them. They each rose to the challenge and, in the process, set an example of determination for us all, reflecting Wooden's advice: "Make the effort. Do your best. The score cannot make you a loser when you do that; it cannot make you a winner if you do less."

The USA Soccer team's second round win at the World Cup was a reason for cheering around America. When Landon Donovan scored an extra-time goal - in the 91st minute of play - Team USA advanced to the round of 16.

June 23, 2010 - Tshwane/Pretoria, Guateng, South Africa - 23 JUN 2010: Teammates Stuart Holden (USA) (11) and Brad Guzan (USA) (behind) react to Landon Donovan's (USA) (10) goal on the replay scoreboard in the stadium. The United States National Team defeated the Algeria National Team 1-0 to win group C at Loftus Versfeld Stadium in Tshwane/Pretoria, South Africa in a 2010 FIFA World Cup Group C match.
What lessons can the 3 million-plus kids who play soccer in the U.S. take from this World Cup win? Again, let's turn to John Wooden for direction.

Hard work is an integral part of any success, be it in sports or in life. As Coach was fond of saying, "Failing to prepare is preparing to fail" and "Big things are accomplished only through the perfection of minor details." Their years of training allowed the U.S. soccer team to take advantage of the opportunity to score, after over 90 minutes of strenuous play, when the Algerian goalie blocked the ball but let it roll free.

That play, as well as others during the game, highlighted the teamwork required to bring about the win. Working together over months and years created the energy Donovan and the rest of the team needed to score, providing the counterbalance to Wooden's caveat, "Goals achieved with little effort are seldom worthwhile or lasting."

So, even if you and your kids are not world-class tennis, soccer or basketball players, you can improve your game - and your lives - by using these 3 W's as role models. Play on!

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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

John Wooden and the Perfect Baseball Game

John Wooden was so well known for his leadership role as a basketball coach and player that not everyone knew he had also lettered in varsity baseball his freshman year in college. He later coached baseball and his love of the game continued throughout his life.
Legendary UCLA head basketball coach John Wooden throws out the ceremonial first pitch before the start of Game 2 in the 2002 World Series between the San Francisco Giants and the Anaheim Angels at Edison Field in Anaheim, in this October 20, 2002 file photo. Wooden, the peerless U.S. college basketball coach who became known as the Wizard of Westwood while winning a record 10 national championships at UCLA, died on June 4, 2010, at age 99, a spokesman for the UCLA Medical Center said. REUTERS/Adrees Latif/Files (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASEBALL OBITUARY)

With his keen sense of moral principles, Coach Wooden would have been proud of the behavior recently exhibited by the Detroit Tiger's pitcher Armando Galarraga and the umpire, Jim Joyce, who prevented Galarraga from being credited with a perfect game. When umpire Joyce incorrectly called the runner to first base "safe," Galarraga accepted the call stoically, although if correctly called an "out," it would have earned him a rare perfect game in the record books.

When Joyce realized his mistake, he took responsibility for it and immediately went to apologize to Galarraga, who accepted his apology with dignity and grace. The following day, both men treated each other with respect and reflected the high ideals of good sportsmanship.

June 3, 2010: Detroit Tigers' Armando Galarraga (58) takes part in the lineup exchange with umpire Jim Joyce who's bad call cost him a prefect game the day before todays MLB baseball game between the Cleveland Indians and Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park in Detroit, Michigan.

Columnist Peggy Noonan wrote in the Wall Street Journal about lessons for our children that were abundant in the interchange between Galarraga and Joyce - "that a victim of injustice can react with compassion, and a person who makes a mistake can admit and declare it."

It may not have been an official perfect game, but these two men were the perfect role models for our children about what sports figures can teach our children - and us - about civility, honesty and good behavior.

For stories about other role models for you and your kids, join our free newsletter email list and receive a complimentary copy of Courage and Lessons Learned: Reaching for Your Goals. You'll learn about strategies to guide you as you continue you important, and often difficult, job of raising children today.

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Monday, June 21, 2010

John Wooden as Role Model

Having celebrated and thought about the family men in my life yesterday, I remembered that our Los Angeles icon John Wooden had once been described as a "walking Father's Day card."

His philosophy of life - as well as his entire persona - exemplified everything we could wish for as a role model for our children. We were fortunate to be able see him here, on occasion, during the years of his retirement from basketball. He was an accessible fixture in our community - breakfasting at a local diner, speaking to the staff for his birthday lunches at our community hospital, signing books full of his wisdom at UCLA. My older son attended the Wooden basketball camp as a teenager, learning fundamentals, teamwork and good sportsmanship as well as soaking up the home-grown aphorisms that Coach was eager to share.

Looking back over his sayings, it's clear that they don't relate only to competitive athletes but rather to all of us who strive for a life of value and meaning. Always the teacher, here are some of Wooden's motivational thoughts through the years:

Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.

Don't give up on your dreams, or your dreams will give up on you.

Failure is not fatal, but failure to change might be.

The main ingredient of stardom is the rest of the team.

Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do.

Talent is God-given; be humble. Fame is man-given; be thankful. Conceit is self-given; be careful.

You can't live a perfect day without doing something for someone who will never be able to repay you.

Can these sound bites form a solid foundation for some of the lessons you want to impart to your own children? This week we'll look at how John Wooden and other sports figures can serve as role models and set the tone for your own parenting.

And if you'd like to read about some other contemporary figures who can be role models for you and your family, join our free newsletter email list and receive a complimentary copy of Courage and Lessons Learned: Reaching for Your Goals.

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Friday, June 18, 2010

Summary of Virtual Book Tour with Dr. Jed Diamond

Ready for the wrap up of our Virtual Book tour with Dr. Jed Diamond? Thanks to those of you who tuned in to the spirited discussion yesterday. And for the newcomers, you can read the Q&A on Thursday's blog. What follows is a summary of our readers' questions:

One woman asked:

We hear so much about estrogen loss at menopause and the controversy around using hormones. Are there similar issues for men with low testosterone?

Jed's reaction:

There are a number of similarities between the hormonal changes women go through at menopause and the changes men experience at Andropause. One difference is that hormone replacement for women have often involved using replacement hormones such as Premarin (a synthetic estrogen), which are not bio-identical to what the body produces. For men, adding testosterone is bio-identical.

Since you can't patent a natural substance like a hormone, the pharmaceutical companies used synthetic estrogens for women, but for men used natural testosterone and patented the delivery system such as the patch, cream, or gel.

Many practitioners believe that bio-identical hormones are better than synthetic. Compounding pharmacists can make bio-identical hormones for women, so women, too, have a choice.

Several readers had concerns about their partner's resistance:

I KNOW my husband is having problems but he won't have any part in discusssing it. Stepping back and taking a deep breath doesn't cut it anymore - I'm thinking about a divorce. Any suggestions?

Jed had a lot to say about this one:

One of the main reasons I wrote the book was to give women specific things to do when the guy doesn't want to talk about what is bothering him.

Many men are afraid that talking about the problem will make things worse or it will increase their feelings of shame and failure.

One of the tools that is most effective for men is to take the quiz which is in the book and at It's a non-threatening way to assess what is going on.

Often when men get their score they are much more willing to talk, particularly if they feel that they won't be judged.

I help women and men, find better alternatives than divorce. No one wants to end a marriage. They just need help to see how problems can be addressed and resolved.

Another query:

You talk about declining male hormones causing irritability but I've heard that men who take male hormones and steroids can get very angry too. What's the difference?

Jed's answer:
Our research shows that declining male hormones, particularly testosterone, is one of the causes of Irritable Male Syndrome.

A few men who use high doses of anabolic steroids to increase muscle mass get more irritable. It's called 'roid rage.' But the much more common experience of most men is that is we age our testosterone levels decline. If they get too low, we become more grouchy and irritable.

Fortunately there are a number of excellent ways to increase testosterone, including diet, exercise, and hormone restoration.

What many women want to know:

How can I tell if my husband is really experiencing IMS or is just using it as a cop out - trying to blame anyone or anything else for his behavior?

Jed's response:

Many ask how they can tell if a man is experiencing IMS. The best way is to take the quiz I developed. Its in the book. You can also take it on line at

More than 60,000 men and women have taken it. You can get a score which compares your answers to all those who have taken it. Many men reach out for help after realizing that they have a high score.

Kathy and Brianna wanted clarification:


Dr. Diamond, can you tell me a little more about what you call woundedness?

According to Jed:

By woundedness, I mean all the psychological, physical, and social, pain that men carry in their bodies, minds, and spirits.

For instance, many men feel a great deal of shame, as economic dislocations force more and more men out of good paying jobs.

Men also feel a great deal of pain because their relationships with their partner and family is not working and they feel bad that they aren't able to give their families what they want and need.

Men often keep a lot of pain bottled up inside and it leaks out as anger and blame.

Irritable Male Syndrome is not a sign that men are "mean," but rather a sign that they are "men in pain" who are doing the best they can.

I'm happy to offer a whole host of interventions to make life easier for the men and the women who love them.


What's a velvet bulldog?

Jed again:

The Velvet Bulldog is a way of relating to the man where you are kind and caring, but you don't let yourself be walked on or abused.

For instance, you might say, "I love you and care about you and want us to get through this, but I won't allow you to call me names or put me down."

Thank you all for your questions and comments. If you'd like to order a copy of the book you can do so by going to

Want more help about how to move toward your relationship goals? Sign our email list on the left-hand side of this post. You'll receive a free monthly newsletter, Stepping Stones, and complimentary ebook, Courage and Lessons Learned: Reaching for Your Goals.

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Thursday, June 17, 2010

Virtual Book Tour: Dr. Jed Diamond and "Mr. Mean"

Today we are delighted to welcome Dr. Jed Diamond to our blog’s Virtual Book Tour. Jed is the author of Mr. Mean: Saving Your Relationship from the Irritable Male Syndrome. He is the director of MenAlive, a program that helps men and the women who love them. Mr. Mean answers critical questions that women and men have about how they can heal themselves, their partners and their relationships. Now see for yourself:

Nourishing Relationships: How did you come to write this book?

Jed Diamond: When my previous book, The Irritable Male Syndrome: Understanding and Managing the 4 Key Causes of Depression and Aggression, was published in 2004, I began getting letters from women and men throughout the world telling me I had struck a chord and the book was helpful in saving their relationship. This is a typical response I received from a man:

Dear Dr. Jed,
I am a 45 year old man going through a divorce. I found your website, took the IMS quiz and scored 161, but didn’t seek help at the time. I thought I could handle things myself. That was a big mistake. If I had truly understood what I was dealing with I would have been able to see my relationships in a more realistic manner and I would probably still be in my house with my loved ones enjoying the holidays instead of being kicked out and on my own.
I wrote this book in order to help the thousands of women and men whose relationships are being destroyed by IMS.

N R: Why did you choose the title Mr. Mean?

J D: I chose the title because so many of the men suffering from IMS express their pain through anger and blame and often come across as being angry and "mean." Here’s a typical letter I received from a woman:

Last month a man came home from work with my husband’s face but he did not act at all like the man I married. I've known this man for 30 years, married 22 of them and have never met this guy before. Angry, nasty, and cruel are just a few words to describe him. He used to be the most upbeat, happy person I knew. Now he’s gone from Mr. Nice to Mr. Mean. In spite of how he treats me I still love my husband and want to save our marriage. Please, can you help me?

N R: You say your goal is to help 42,000 families in the 42 days between Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. Tell us about what you’re doing.

J D: This year Mother’s Day is May 9 and Father’s Day is June 20th. I know there are thousands of men and women who are suffering the effects of IMS. I want to reach 42,000 families to offer them the support they need to get through these difficult times.

People can go to my website at They can order a copy of the book and get additional free bonuses. In addition I’ve partnered with, the largest website for social publishing and reading in the world with more than 50,000,000 visitors a month. On Scribd people will be able to read my book, make comments, ask questions, even publish their own experiences. Come to my website to learn more.

N R: In the book you describe your own difficulties dealing with irritability and anger in your own life. Can you tell us about that?

J D: When I hit my early 40s I found myself becoming more hypersensitive and irritable. Little things started bothering me. I didn’t realize I was going through some kind of change. It seemed to be that other people, particularly my wife Carlin, were going out of their way to irritate me. I would often fly off the handle and get angry. At other times I would withdraw into stony silences. My wife complained that she was always walking on egg shells. She never knew whether I would be loving and caring or mean and angry. We were both miserable. It took me a long time to figure out that I was going through what I came to call The Irritable Male Syndrome or IMS.

N R: What are the primary symptoms and causes?

J D: I have found there are four core symptoms:

1. Hypersensitivity
The women who live with these men say things like the following:

•I feel like I have to walk on eggshells when I’m around him.
•I never know when I’m going to say something that will set him off.
•He’s like a time bomb ready to explode but I never know when.

The men don’t often recognize their own hypersensitivity. Rather, their perception is that they are fine but everyone else is going out of their way to irritate them. The guys say things like:

•Quit bothering me.
•Leave me alone.
•No, nothing’s wrong. I’m fine.

One concept I have found helpful is the notion that many of us are “emotionally sunburned,” but our partners don’t know it. We might think of a man who is extremely sunburned and gets a loving hug from his wife. He cries out in anger and pain. He assumes she knows he’s sunburned so if she “grabs” him she must be trying to hurt him. She has no idea he is sunburned and can’t understand why he reacts angrily to her loving touch. You can see how this can lead a couple down a road of escalating confusion.

2. Anxiety

Anxiety is a state of apprehension, uncertainty, and fear resulting from the anticipation of a realistic, or fantasized, threatening event or situation. IMS men live in constant worry and fear. There are many real threats that they are dealing with—sexual changes, job insecurities, relationship problems. There are also many uncertainties that lead men to ruminate and fantasize about future problems.

3. Frustration
IMS men feel blocked in attaining what they want and need in life. They often don’t even know what they need. When they do know, they may think there’s no way they can get it. They often feel defeated in the things they try to do to improve their lives. These men feel frustrated in their relationships with family, friends, and at work. The world is changing and they don’t know where, how, or if they fit in.

4. Anger
Anger can be simply defined as a strong feeling of displeasure or hostility. Yet anger is a complex emotion. Outwardly expressed it can lead to aggression and violence. When it is turned inward it can result in depression and suicide. Anger can be direct and obvious or it can be subtle and covert. Anger can be loud or quiet. It can be expressed as hateful words, hurtful actions, or in stony silence. The primary causes of IMS are: Hormonal fluctuations, Biochemical changes in brain chemistry, Increasing stress, Loss of male identity and purpose.

These four often interact with each other. For instance, when we are under stress it throws our hormonal balance out of whack. When we lose are job or are afraid of losing it, our male identity is threatened and hormones like testosterone plummet.

N R: How do you know if a man is suffering from IMS?

J D: In doing the research for The Irritable Male Syndrome, I developed questionnaire that can help men (and the women who love them) to determine whether they are suffering from IMS. More than 60,000 men and thousands of women have taken the questionnaire. People can do it on-line at The score can help you determine if IMS is a problem in your life.

N R: Why do so many mid-life men turn mean?

J D: Although Irritable Male Syndrome can occur at any age, it is quite prevalent at mid-life. What is it about mid-life that causes men to become angry? Why do they take it out on the person they say they love the most? These are the kinds of questions I hear from women who are trying to understand what is going on in their relationship.
Not all men experience all these losses, but most men experience many of them:

•Hormone levels are dropping.
•Sexual vigor is diminishing.
•Erections are less frequent and less firm.
•Children are leaving home.
•Parents are getting sick and dying.
•Job horizons are narrowing.
•Job security is gone.
•Retirement seems less and less possible.
•Friends are having their first heart attacks and cancer scares.
•Hopes and dreams are fading away.
But with recognition and support, mid-life can also be the most powerful, productive, and passionate time that we’ve ever experienced in our lives.

N R: Can hormonal changes cause men to become more irritable?

J D: Although many people associate being “hormonal” with being female, the truth is that male hormonal changes are every bit as real and can be as troublesome as any changes that women experience. It's time we broke the silence and began talking about the fact that men, too, undergo hormonal changes throughout their lives.
Dr. Gerald Lincoln, who coined the term “Irritable Male Syndrome,” found that lowering levels of testosterone in his research animals caused them to become more irritable, biting their cages as well as the researchers who were testing them. Low testosterone also has a negative affect on men. Although low testosterone is more prevalent in men over 40, it can occur in men of any age.

N R: How do you get through to a man who refuses to admit he has a problem?

J D: Ninety percent of the men who are going through IMS don’t recognize that there is a problem. When asked, they will usually deny that anything is wrong. If pressed, they will withdraw or lash out. Most spouses of IMS men feel they are caught in a bind. “I feel I’m damned if I do and damned if I don’t,” a 56-year-old woman, married to an IMS man told me. “If I try to help him recognize there is a problem, he resists me and things get worse between us. If I ignore the problem, things just get worse and I feel that I keep getting emotionally battered. What can I do?”

1. Take a deep breath, relax, and move towards the problem.
2. Think about helping yourself, rather than helping him.
3. Recognize his anger and “meanness” as expressions of his inner ambivalence and woundedness.
4. Act like the Velvet Bulldog. Be gentle but tenacious.
5. Take things a step at a time. Denial releases its grip gradually at first.

N R: What are things you can do right away to keep the relationship from going under?

J D: Although repairing the damage caused by IMS can take some time, there are things a woman can do right away to keep the relationship from going under, including the following:

1.Don’t panic.
2.Reach out and connect with what is stable in your life.
3.Just say “no"! No about moving out, etc.
4.Remember his brain is locked on to the “old witch,” but it can change back to the “young woman.”
5.Stand up for yourself.

NR: Thanks so much, Jed, for joining us today. You've been so generous with your time and knowledge about this sensitive topic and we appreciate your honesty and wisdom. You can learn more about Jed's work and Mr. Mean at MenAlive.

We’re also grateful to the readers and sandwiched boomers who have dropped by. If you have questions for Jed about the challenges of living with a partner who is going through emotional changes that are affecting your relationship, please click on "Comments" and let us hear from you. And log on again tomorrow and we’ll be summarizing your questions and Jed’s feedback.

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Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Conflict Resolution for Boomer Couples

Don't you already know there is no perfect relationship? All couples get angry and argue, so you're not alone. But remember, when resolving conflict, keep your words sweet - you may have to eat them. Your arguments may not have as much fallout if you and your partner accumulate positive reserve in your emotional bank account - that is, the more positive interactions and feelings, the less damage.
Couple yelling at each other
Agree to stop arguing and postpone a difficult conversation until you're both feeling less upset. Decide, together, to step away and put distance between you and the situation. Take a break and wait until you both are settled enough to listen to each other.

While you're unwinding, think more constructively - for example, his anger isn’t all about me; we really do love each other; she's under a lot of pressure at work; this too shall pass; I'm upset now but I know we’re right for each other.

Throw yourself into an activity that gives you immediate release and stay there for a while - call a friend and let off steam, take a long run in the park, put on earphones and listen to music that stirs your soul.

Distraction can be powerful, no matter what form it takes. Be playful and try humor or turn the controversy into a debate. Using adaptive defenses can lead to deeper and more meaningful conversations.

Practicing these strategies can make a difference in the outcome of your disagreements. As Russian writer Leo Tolstoy said, "What counts in making a happy marriage is not so much how compatible you are but how you deal with incompatibility."

Are you an entrepreneur or small business owner? In honor of Effective Communication Month, you can pick up tools to help you communicate better with your customers, clients and prospects - even your spouse! Although you do have to opt-in to get the free gifts of your choice, check out this giveaway to see if it works for you.

And remember to log on tomorrow for our Virtual Book Tour with Dr. Jed Diamond and his new book, "Mr. Mean." Come prepared with questions about the problems in your relationship - you'll receive smart and practical solutions from Jed.

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Monday, June 14, 2010

Boomer Couples and Effective Communication

Did you know that June is effective communication month? And since our Virtual Book Tour this Thursday features Dr. Jed Diamond and his newly published book, Mr. Mean, the blog posts this week will be about how we talk and listen to each other.
Man Whispering into Woman's Ear
Ready for your 'to do' list? When addressing a sensitive subject, talk about a specific outcome you would like to achieve. Be honest and direct about what you have to say. As your body language, content and tone of voice really matter, calibrate your emotions and monitor any negative comments. Try to take some responsibility by using "I-focused" statements and be clear that what you're saying is not necessarily universal but your own opinion.

Try to listen closely to your partner's response without planning a rebuttal. And look at the issues from their perspective, which may be very different from yours. If you can be empathic to their viewpoint by asking questions, both of you may be more open to understanding the other position. And what could be better than that?

If you're beginning to think about Father's Day, read more about effective communication on our website,, in an article entitled 'Father's Day, Boomer Men and Communication.' And while you're there, look around for other information that may interest you. The Library is full of articles with practical solutions to family problems.

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Friday, June 11, 2010

Senator Ted Kennedy and Reaching Your Goals

To finish up our week about having the courage to create the life you want, we use Senator Ted Kennedy as an example. No matter what challenges he faced, he never took his eye off the goal.
WASHINGTON - MARCH 31:  Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chairman Edward Kennedy (D-MA) presides over the confirmation hearing for Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius to be secretary of Health and Human Services on Captiol Hill March 31, 2009 in Washington, DC. Sebelius, the current Democratic governor of Kansas, has been nominated by President Barack Obama to help lead the charge for health care reform.  (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Kennedy's life was marred by tragedy and scandal - from the assassination of brothers John and Robert and the earlier death of his brother Joseph in World War II, to the deadly Chappaquiddick crash. Despite his personal losses and failings, Kennedy persevered. He served alongside 10 United States presidents and was well known for his political insight. Another significant role he played was as patriarch to his brothers' children and grandchildren.

You, too, can gain perspective, whether you're hit in the face with a crisis or making a slow transition into the next chapter of your life. Expect a cascade of feelings - anxiety, the desire to hold on, resentment, sadness, fear, even a sense of freedom. The emotional roller coaster ride is normal. If you have the fortitude to step back, take a deep breath and face the situation squarely, you can't help but grow from the challenges.

An article in Time called Senator Kennedy one of the greatest legislators in American history. You may not want to run for political office, but are you ready to take the first step toward a new goal? Sign our email list to the left of this post and download a complimentart ebook with practical strategies that can help you do it. Here's to the courage to begin re-writing your own story.

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Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Dara Torres and Susan Boyle: How to Reach Your Goals

Continuing our conversation about having the courage to reach for your goals, here are two very different women who exemplify that and can serve as role models:
AUSTIN, TX - MARCH 05:  Dara Torres swims in the Women's 50 yard Freestyle preliminaries during day one of the 2009 USA Swimming Austin Grand Prix on March 5, 2009 at the Lee and Joe Jamail Texas Swimming Center in Austin, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
What about champion swimmer Dara Torres who, in her early 40s, won a medal at the Bejing Olympics? Don't remain a spectator - jump into the game of life and become a winner yourself. Why question whether you're too old to reach your goals or to balance family and career. It's never too late to challenge yourself. With maturity, drive and focus, you can achieve your dreams. Excellence comes with hard work and practice. Learning about the training schedules of athletes reminds us that accomplishments don't come easy. Repetition is the handmaiden of success. Set long-term goals as well as realistic and incremental steps to reach them. Give yourself credit when you achieve an objective and move ever closer toward your ultimate goal. Strive for your personal best - and remember the most important competitor you have is actually you.

British singer Susan Boyle, in some ways, is everywoman. Her first appearance onstage, with the initial negative reaction from the audience and judges, taps into insecurities we all have. Who hasn't felt frumpy or unattractive, unsure of ourselves or at a loss for words? Susan lived a simple life, caring for her elderly mother, singing in the church choir and practicing her music. When you see the instant rejection, it makes you wonder if our society is focused on the wrong things. Let your creativity run wild so that you see yourself from a different perspective. The first step is just to begin the process. Then your positive experiences will soon provide the incentive to continue. There may be some stumbling blocks along the way, but never give up.
COLOGNE, GERMANY - DECEMBER 12:  Susan Boyle performs during the 3rd semi final of the TV show 'Das Supertalent' on December 12, 2009 in Cologne, Germany.  (Photo by Stefan Menne/Getty Images)
Read the rest of Dara and Susan's stories - and discover practical tips that can help you reach your goals - by signing our email list to the left of this post. And learn more about these talented and motivated women by typing in their names on wikipedia.

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Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Family relationship experts need tips to promote free ebook

Family relationship experts need tips to promote free ebook


Monday, June 07, 2010

Revisiting the Courage of Captain Sully Sullenberger

As members of the sandwich generation, you may have your hands full with the challenges of parents growing older and kids growing up. But that's no reason to neglect what you need.

Perhaps there's a goal you've wanted to reach for a long time - start a small business, rekindle an old friendship, run a 5K? When you think about working toward a goal and the inevitable changes that go along with that, you may wonder: How do I access my strengths? What can help me grow? Who will I be then?
NEW YORK - JANUARY 05: Captain Chesley B. 'Sully' Sullenberger III attends the premiere of 'Brace for Impact' at the Walter Reade Theater on January 5, 2010 in New York City. (Photo by Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images)
There are a lot of people we can look to who have had the courage to reach deep inside and make something happen. Take, for example, Captain Chesley (Sully) Sullenberger, the pilot who landed the passenger jet on the Hudson River. Bravery and humility - often at the heart of fairy tales - are qualities that can inspire all of us to be the best that we can be. And, with the doom and gloom of the economic crisis, we want to feel hopeful again.

Learn to be as prepared as possible ahead of time. Sullenberger was ready. He's a former air force fighter pilot, an expert in safety reliability methods and has 40 years of flying experience. Although you may not need training for an emergency landing, you can become equipped for what lies ahead. If you're making an important presentation at work, setting guidelines for your kidult who can't find a job and is moving back home or talking to your dad about giving up the car keys, learn as much as you can about the issues. Research the subject, write out talking points and get feedback from those whose opinions you value.

This week on the blog we'll be writing short vignettes about people whose names you probably recognize. In their stories, you’ll find practical tips about drawing on your own strengths to create the life you want. Try on these strategies and see how they can work for you.

If you want to read more about Captain Sullenberger and his remarkable act of courage, sign the email list to the left of this post and download our free ebook, Courage and Lessons Learned. And if you would like to stay in touch with him, you can follow Sully on his Facebook page.

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Friday, June 04, 2010

Resiliency in Difficult Times

Do you feel inundated by bad news coming at you from all sides? The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is spreading and the gushing thousands of feet below the surface has yet to be fully contained; new unemployment figures in the U.S. confirm the dismal private sector job creation that continues to lag; international conflicts rage and at home citizens are divided about immigrants' rights. World news reflects the tensions you may be feeling in your own relationships. How do you deal with the challenges coming from the rich but often problematic complexity of your family life? Here are some tips for you:

Draw upon your own strength. You will learn more about your capabilities when you are tested by hard times than when everything is going well for you. Resiliency is increased each time you get up and put one foot in front of the other. Bravery comes in many actions - facing an illness, providing for your family, starting a new career - not only on the battlefield. To learn more about identifying your Character Strengths, visit the Authentic Happpiness website and take the VIA Survey of Character Strengths. Use the ones that seem to define you - Signature Strengths - to support your progress through tough times.

Just as those in the foxholes feel the honest emotions of fear, anger, pain, guilt, anxiety and loneliness, allow yourself to experience these emotions when they are a part of your life.
Mature woman crying, side view, close-up
Especially if you are a Sandwiched Boomer, it's easy to become overwhelmed by all you have on your plate. Torn between caring for your growing children and aging parents, it's normal to feel stressed and anxious at times. Don't blame yourself. Once you are able to acknowledge these feelings, then you can begin the long process of coping with them.

If you remember the fragility and transience of life as you move through it, you will savor each good moment you have. Integrate and reflect on all you have achieved in balancing your work and family with your own needs. Living your life to the fullest is a lasting mark of respect you can pay to your family and to the veterans you honored this week who have sacrificed the innocence of their youth for you.

For some role models of courage, look to the left of this post. When you sign up for our monthly newsletter, Stepping Stones, you will receive a link to a complimentary copy of our ebook, Courage and Lessons Learned. There you'll find stories of resiliency and practical strategies for success in difficult times.

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Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Connect with Your Family This Summer

Now that Memorial Day is past and school will soon be over, have you thought about how to use those extra summer hours to connect with your family?
Memorial Day Service at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery

With the summer season now unofficially open and the barbeque back in service, can we still learn from the heroes we honored on Memorial Day who have served and given their all to protect our way of life? As we respect their unique bravery, we can direct their lessons to our own family situation and apply the same principles to those closest to us.

Express the gratitude you feel for what they have given you - protection, opportunities, love, strength, enjoyment of life. You have doors open to you now because of them. This can begin with something as simple as a heartfelt "thank you," and develop into a more textured and thoughtful recognition of what you are thankful for. Find out more about the benefits of expressing gratitude through the Authentic Happiness website

Recognize the importance of revealing the love you have for each other. Those who have been in harm's way know the meaning of the words, "it's too late." Don't put off sharing your love; decide to make it a priority. Each day, acknowledge those you love, and who love you, as if it were your last.

Understand the value of friendship. Those in the service have trusted and leaned on each other as they've shared their experiences and relied on their camaraderie. Know that we are here to take care of our friends and family - close and extended - difficult though it may be at times.

Community support is there for the taking when you know where to look and how to ask for it. Be open to the reality that you might need to utilize the input and generosity of others. You are not diminished when you allow another to help you.

Are you looking for some ideas about how to connect and have a special family vacation this summer? Even Sandwiched Boomers can relax and enjoy time with extended family if you plan ahead. This summer, create memories to carry you and your family through the rest of the year. And log in to share your ideas about family togetherness.

To read stories of modern day heroes and how they coped with challenges in their lives, click on the link to the left. You can sign up for our monthly newsletter, Stepping Stones, and receive a complimentary copy of our ebook, Courage and Lessons Learned, which showcases tips and strategies to use in your own family.

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