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  • Writer's pictureKenny Wolford

I hear these words in my office from parents often…”my child is my best friend.”

Here’s the thing…best friends are “equals” that give and take in a way that creates balance. As a parent…we are older, more experienced in life and have to make important decisions that can highly effect the outcome of the health and well being of the family. Some of those decisions…many of those decisions…are ones that a child may not like, but based on said adult experience are still the right ones to make. If you are best friends with your child, you may not be making the harder decisions and are setting up your child for some rough times ahead.

I fully expect that there will be moments in my daughter, Izzy’s, life where she proclaims to “hate” me for the boundaries that I set. She is only 6 and is already unhappy at times for the moments when I say “no” to her, but you know what…she also has a very clear and consistent understanding of what is ‘ok’ behavior and what is not and that makes her feel safe. It doesn’t keep her from trying to push my boundaries and that is completely natural for a child of 6 years old or a 17 year old to continue to see if the “rules” have changed, if the parent is paying attention and is consistent…or testing to see if the parent cares more about what the child thinks of them than they do with providing the future tools to thrive within a society that has rules. In fact that is a strategy that many kids learn to use to try to get what they want…to play on the fact that their parent or parents are human and care greatly about what people…what they, as their kid, think of them. Are they cool, do their friends like them…can they hang out and “shoot the shit” or drink a beer together. I have clients who regularly smoke pot with their kids in order to feel accepted and liked. Then, they punish their kids for bringing drugs into the house. Mixed messages are extremely confusing and detrimental to your kids.

Be a parent first…a friend second. The long term health of your child depends on it and they will respect you in the long run.

Kenny Wolford

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  • Writer's pictureKenny Wolford

Often…all too often…an individual comes to me for therapy and they vent their long and dirty laundry list of their partner’s shortcomings. They talk of the terrible fights, the dysfunction and lack of hope. I allow a certain amount of this ‘venting,’ but eventually, I say,

“wow, those are a lot of items about your partner that don’t seem to be working for you…can you tell me the reasons that you are choosing to stay in this relationship?”

The answer is generally,

“I love him/her”

This is a perfect time for me to say…

“So, what does that mean to you…on a daily basis…loving him/her and being loved by him/her?”

It is like a suddenly took away this person’s ability to form coherent sentences at this point as they squirm in their therapeutic seat and hem and haw over the fact that if they were to shrink the idea of what loving and being loved by their partner down to a daily basis, they are not sure what that would look like…what it should look like. What is should FEEL like!

I believe, as a Marriage and Family Therapist…as a human being, husband and father…that “love” is something that is put into motion on an hourly basis. “Love” is a verb. Action is required. It is not something that is just a general, ambiguous and overarching thing that is expected and expressed because of a commitment. It is not a passive act that allows one to have the privilege of using the words “I love you.” Love is highly connected to empathy, sympathy, good boundary setting skills, emotional vulnerability and self-care. Love is extremely hard work…harder than any physical occupation that exists outside of relationship.

I challenge you to break down the idea of loving and being loved to what goes on in your relationship on a daily/hourly basis…use “love” as a verb and put it into action and reaction. Be aware that it is the total sum of the small acts of loving kindness that represent true happiness and prosperity.

Kenny Wolford

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My therapy clients hear it from me often…if you want to become a better, healthier and more authentic person…you need to be held accountable for the specific goals that you set. One way to do that is by finding a good therapist that is directive and goal oriented. Pretty much…the first question that I ask each week when a client comes for their session is how they are doing with the goals that we outlined the week before. They know this and try to avoid the uncomfortable deluge of shame and guilt by at least accomplishing some follow through in their upward movement.

There is a problem with the scenario of your therapist being the only one who knows what your short and long term goals are…daily accountability and motivation. 99% of one’s world exists outside of the therapy office and I certainly cannot follow you around to your work and home and make sure you are accomplishing what you wanted to do. So, It is incredibly important to create a network and safety net of trusted allies that will know and ask as well as observe your movement towards being authentic. All too often, individuals keep their shameful desire to better themselves…to stop lying or judging so harshly as a secret. These secret goals do not set the open expectation for change and obviously, those who need to do a lot of work in this area are not great at self-motivating towards such goals.

So…become more transparent to the people who can best help you stay accountable towards your ‘inner’ and ‘outer’ personal work. Set a trap for yourself by creating checks and balances within and without your daily system. You will be less likely to fail, more motivated to accomplish some movement towards a healthier existence…

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