Long Distance Grandparenting

Fortunately, technology now offers an opportunity to be aware of what’s going on, and changing, in their lives as well as having some positive influence.  Various modes of communication make it possible to keep those relationships fresh, fun and frequent.

With young children, you can talk, sing, read short books and show them age appropriate  items of interest with zoom, face time or videos….a treat for you both and maybe a little ‘time off’ for parents.   Doing so on a consistent basis sets the stage for future ‘visits’ and something to anticipate, further solidifying the connection.  As they age, ask about their activities – school events, and tell them some of yours.  You can both read the same book and talk about it.  If you travel, send them a tee shirt, brochure or other souvenirs with descriptions of the area and your memories.  In addition to your lovely vacation and nice memories, you broaden their horizons.

As your grandchildren grow, playing games varies with their interests and skills.  “Toy Theater” has a wide choice of fun educational games to be played on two computers.  It’s learning for the young and a good reflex experience for  seniors.  If your grandchildren are age seven or older, chances are they will know about a number of sites for computer play and be happy to display their skills.

With maturity and the solid foundation of your connected relationship, your grandchildren will be more likely to include you in their news and lives. Being lovingly understanding, consistent and flexible offers a safe haven when they are presented with awkward or difficult situations.  In addition to learning new relationship skills,  they  appreciate what a gift grandparents are!

On Your Own, Again and Feeling Down?

It’s never easy, whether you initiated coming apart or your partner/spouse did, or, if the ‘end’ was recent or a while ago.  Are you feeling like the single sock in the drawer, the lonely only that serves no purpose and has nowhere to go?   It can feel bleak and daunting but needn’t be !   Being lonely, when you are in a relationship can feel worse, for many, than feeling stranded alone.   Either way, it’s time to work through the experience and not be stuck in that drawer.

It’s time to hop out, build support and  rediscover and expand your world.   Inform others that you are ready and eager to reconnect with them.  They may have felt, or realized, that you needed/wanted private time to heal.  Select friends and relatives who are able and likely to be available and reach out. Consider a support group with those who are dealing with similar situations and take advantage of the opportunity to make new friends. With others in your boat, you won’t need to do all of the rowing.   Hear their mistakes and triumphs and share yours.  Determine if their solutions might work for you.

Some of your friends who are coupled may not really ‘get’ what you are experiencing.  They may be used to socializing only with other couples.  Others, whose relationships are shaky, might feel somewhat threatened, as if your situation could be contagious.  If it happened to you, could they be next?  You‘d be surprised to know what is behind the curtain in a number of couple relationships.  Many couples I see, in couples’/marriage counseling, report that  “Everyone thinks we have the perfect partnership”. Could some friends feel threatened by your attractiveness vis a vis their own partner/spouse if they are not feeling secure?  If you ended your relationship, might some envious that you were able to act on behalf of your unhappiness.

Having a respectful dissolution of your relationship often leads to feeling more whole  and contented.   If you have children, establishing positive co-parenting assures that you are doing the best for your offspring, now and for their future.  You and your co-parent  slog through parenting quagmires together; remember that happens with couples who are still together.  Mutual positive parental statements and actions communicate to children that ”We can’t live together but we will work together to raise you” and “We can even recognize and appreciate each other’s  qualities”. Both are powerful role model messages. Stepping out of battle zones should relieve their and your stress and  even some of the “now single blues”.

Know yourself: What makes you happy?  Don’t be critical of him or her and what they did or didn’t do.   Focus on your mistakes and the changes you want to make before you seek someone new.  We all have thought and behavior patterns that carry through our relationships.  Were you needy, passive aggressive, responsive?    Know which characteristics you want to maintain and those you might need to alter.  Talk to someone you trust or work through obstacles with a therapist.

Live it:  Being on your own more allows for doing things you  have wanted to but never could.  Use that time, especially when your children are not with you.  Missing them and secluding yourself does nothing positive for you or them.  Revive old interests and be open and ready for new ones.   Make it an adventure!

Possibilities:   Announce when you are ready to meet a special someone, not out of need but want.  Don’t be shy about asking. Separation and divorce can seem a nightmare but they offer an opportunity to change and move forward, with you in charge.






























Partner/Spouse Communication

INSTEAD OF                                                       TRY 

Another business trip?                          I’ll really miss you.

You never listen to me!                        How can I help you hear this?

It’s your problem!                                  Let’s see how we can fix this .

You  put me down a lot.                         It hurts when you say that.

You don’t care.                                     I feel you are distant…am I right?

You’re always late!                               Can I send you a reminder earlier?

Stop yelling!                                          I hear better if you tone it down.

You deal with the kids now!                  I’m out of options…can you try?

You need to lose weight.                      Let’s exercise… together1


Silence…Not Always Golden

I’m not suggesting to not ‘hold your tongue’ briefly rather than use sarcasm or say something deliberately hurtful.  I am referring to using the ‘silent treatment’.  It’s no treatment at all in the sense of restoring or dealing with a relationship…with a child, friend, partner or spouse or parent.

Long ago, a woman told me that when she did something wrong, as a child, her mother did not speak to her, for a week!  She did not always understand why her words and/or behavior, were not acceptable.  Silence was her mother’s go-to punishment. She felt unloved and, therefore, unlovable.  Many problems, in that and other relationships, ensued.

We all feel upset with friends and family at times.   Ideally, we can discuss our reactions about something they said or did.  We let them know we were hurt and why.  We reach out to them to have a dialogue.  Communication fosters relationships.  If a friend just drops out, the other friend simply does not exist to them anymore.  That hurts and there is no way for the discarded friend’s thoughts and feelings to be heard.

Some couples engage in loud disputes and even throw or break things…not great. At the other end of the spectrum is silence.  Often, with couples, one person has to talk and the other keeps their feelings inside.  Disputes result in a traumatic tango…it does take two.  Something occurs between them and one partner withdraws.  The more s/he pulls back, the more the ‘talker’ needs to hear and be heard.  The silent partner recedes even more and the talker feels placed on the other side of a thick wall, as if s/he did not exist.

Extended silence does not resolve differences. It shuts them down so there is no way to resolve a disagreement.  Those who make up, letting the past be the past, without discussion,  move forward without understanding.  History does repeat itself, especially in relationships.  There are areas in which our personalities either “fit” or don’t fit.   Other situations will engender those differences and we need to know how to settle them in a way that enables us to move along  more  smoothly on the bumpy road of relationships.

Are you the silent one?

  • Are you silent in order to punish?
  • Do you feel you would lose the verbal match?
  • Are you self aware of how you feel in situations?
  • Do you prefer ‘just the facts’ briefly?                                                                      Do you dislike talking about your feelings?
  • Would you prefer to not hear details of others’ feelings?
  • Are you a man, or woman, of few words in general?
  •  Has  this  affected .your relationships?

What to do if you have answered ‘yes’ to the above

  • Acknowledge that the above is your style.
  • If it has affected relationships, reflect.
  • Do you want to alter your response to disputes?
  • If yes, share with those with whom it is an issue.
  • Seek counseling                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Are you the talker?
  • Try not to feel as if you don’t exist
  • Share that you feel abandoned with extended silence.
  • Acknowledge your need to connect and share feelings.
  • Ask if s/he needs some time to gather her/his thoughts.
  • Learn if s/he prefers another way to communicate.
  • Suggest .counseling to learn  a better  way.                                                                                                                                                                                                  Extended silence is not a viable way to settle differences whether it serves as a defensive mode to protect you from a verbal onslaught or to quietly bully. It will cause more problems than it settles. Dare to share !



Coming Apart From A Narcissist?

Let me introduce you to the narcissist.  Narcissism is a personality disorder, which is a maladaptive and deeply ingrained pattern of behavior and personality style. It can develop from our genes, early childhood and teen experiences and the environment in which we are raised.   In general, the narcissist has a sense of grandiosity and entitlement which can cause him/her to be manipulative, critical, envious of others, and demanding.

Narcissists feel easily slighted, exaggerate their talents, expect special treatment, want the best of everything (because they deserve no less ! ) and are swift to blame others.They are arrogant, to various degrees, need constant attention, and lack empathy.  If they fall short, they are fragile and experience vulnerability and humiliation.  Under the bravado and charm, is a core of insecurity, often unconscious.  They look down at those they consider to be inferior.  There are legions of narcissists on our public stage  in all fields..

Are you in a relationship with someone who only seeks to fulfill his/her needs?   Does it seem that their attention to you, and others, is a means to appear giving but is more about getting attention or having their way.  Their charm may have  attracted you but, as time passes, you observe that it is superficial and geared to serving their own interests.  What is underneath that public charm is not so pleasant.  You will be told that you have stopped being interested, proud and supportive and that is why your relationship has deteriorated.  It’s never their doing. If your partner cannot recognize or acknowledge any part of their contribution, don’t expect any cooperation.  Once they can no longer seduce you into their web, they will accuse you of all the problems in the relationship (please note: we all have some input).

If you admit to some your shortcomings, and that doesn’t make any difference, it may be decision time…to stay or leave.  Such decisions are painful and deserve deep consideration.  If you cannot tolerate your situation and decide to come apart, be prepared.  Try to avoid ‘pressing’ certain buttons that may encourage more abuse.  Do not be reactive to your partner’s behavior  Focus on protecting yourself, your assets and, if applicable, the children. It will not be easy early on but eventually you will be freer to pursue your own goals.    In addition to family and friends, a counselor and good lawyer are critical supports to help you extract yourself.








Kale in My Smoothie

relationships be open and observeI don’t like kale but it seems to be so healthy, why deny myself ?  I love the banana, mango, blackberry, sometimes peanut butter, milk and other berries, depending on what’s in the refrigerator, a great way to start the day.  One weekend visit, my cousin made a smoothie with some of the above…and kale. I watched her make it and thought “yuk” but I did taste it.  (Don’t we tell our kids, “Just try one bite” ?)  It looked nice and green and was… delicious.  I never even tasted the kale.  Now, and for years, I feel even healthier and savor it daily.

Lessions learned:

  • Observe
  • Be open to new things
  • Sample (take a  chance)
  • Enjoy and benefit from the above

Can’t we say the same thing about relationships and experiences? How many times have we not gotten to know someone better because they didn’t fill some of our preconceived expectations?  Not being open to new things and people shrinks our perspective and limits our quality of life.  Giving someone new a chance to appreciate them and/or their differentness can open new horizons for us.  Possibilities are  enriching and endless.