Dancing With Our Parenting Ghosts: An Interview with Gabrielle Kaufman, MA, LPCC, BC-DMT, NCC

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Whether you work with parents and/or kids, you’re about to have a child, or you’re a “veteran” parent, you’ll find something moving and helpful in my recent interview with dance/movement therapist and licensed professional clinical counselor, Gabrielle Kaufman. Our interview begins with a compelling discussion of the impact of inter-generational trauma on our parenting, and Kaufman’s belief (one that’s shared by many practitioners in her field), that “history is carried with us from generation to generation,” and that the “story we never get to tell gets transmitted to the next generation” for good and for bad.

Gabrielle Kaufman, MA, LPCC, BC-DMT, NCC

Gabrielle Kaufman, MA, LPCC, BC-DMT, NCC

Kaufman offers practical tips to expecting couples and parents on how to “dance with the ghosts” from our past—both those we live with from our own childhoods and youth, as well as those from our ancestors—and how to ease the pressure we put on ourselves, and on our partners, as parents.

Kaufman is also a masterful storyteller. She offers compelling metaphors to help us better understand these concepts, which she believes to be so important for new and seasoned parents. She even suggests some great books for kids to help them develop their emotional vocabularies, their ability to “articulate their feelings.”

Not only do I urge you to listen to this interview for the powerful information Kaufman provides, but also listen for the very relatable and powerful stories she conveys. If you’re already a seasoned parent, versus expecting or new to parenting, feel free to fast-forward to 15 or so minutes into the interview, though I’d hate for you to miss the great story Kaufman tells about one new mother’s sensory memory after giving birth to her son. Bottom line: I hope you enjoy this interview, as I believe it’s filled with incredible gems of wisdom for expecting couples, parents and the professionals who support families.

You can listen to the interview here. If you want to download it, please click the green icon in the lower right of the audio player.

Check out Gabrielle Kaufman’s website to learn more about her and her work.

Discover how to thrive in your parenting & your relationship!

The New Science of Relationships: An Interview with John Howard, MA

Discover how to thrive in your relationship & your parenting!

In recent years, discoveries in neuroscience have found a foothold in the media, not to mention in the fields of psychology and life coaching. We’ve heard about the “plasticity of the brain” and the role of “mirror neurons” in mother-child bonding, for example. As a society, we’ve become more aware of how our brains impact us and, as if not more importantly, of how we can impact our brains.

In my recent interview with John Howard, MA, a couples therapist and educator who specializes in the new science of relationship, we explore both the ways in which our brains impact how we show up–or don’t show up–with loved ones, as well as how we can start to tap into neuroscience to improve our relationships with others and ourselves.

John Howard, MA

John Howard, MA

While, on the one hand, John notes that “90% of partner interactions are unconscious”–we’re only aware of about 10% of our communication, which suggests we’re often unaware of what triggers us and what causes us to respond with fear, anger, &/or mistrust with the person we hold nearest and dearest–on the other hand, John reminds us that “relationships can be healing.”

With the healing and transformative power of relationships in mind, so to speak, John offers great tips on how we can positively shift our love dynamics and develop practical skills to increase our connection with spouses (and kids!). Listen to my interview with John Howard. If you’d like to download the interview, click on the green & white icon in the lower right of the audio-player. Click here to learn more about John.

If you’re not an avid listener, but are keen on reading more about this topic, here are two book recommendations:
Dr. Fran Cohen Praver, The New Science of Love
Dr. Stan Tatkin Wired for Love

Discover how to thrive in your relationship & your parenting!

Why An Attachment Pregnancy Can Benefit Your Baby & Relationship: An Interview with Laurel Wilson

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While there are a million resources to help women and their partners better understand the pregnancy and birth process, few are as knowledgeable and accessible as Laurel Wilson, BS, IBCLC, CCCE, CLE, CLD, CPPI. Laurel’s impressive array of acronyms reflect her decades-long devotion to women’s health and familial wellbeing, a devotion reflected in her co-authored books with Tracy Wilson Peters, The Greatest Pregnancy Ever (2012) and The Attachment Pregnancy (2014).

I had the pleasure of interviewing Laurel and am immensely grateful for her insights about, and advice for, women regarding their physical and emotional health during pregnancy, and for couples about the importance of their relationship health as they welcome a new baby into their lives.

One of my favorite parts of my interview with Laurel focuses on her concept of Conscious Agreement, a way for us to ensure that the choices we make–both individually and in relationship with others–align with our  deepest desires, those that reflect our best selves. The principles that underly Conscious Agreement are key to my coaching with individuals, couples and teams. I found Laurel’s unique take on the concept very informative.

If you’re expecting a baby or considering getting pregnant, I encourage you to listen to my interview with Laurel. To download the interview, click the green/white icon on the audio player. Click here to learn more about Laurel Wilson and her wonderful work. Enjoy!

Discover how to thrive in your relationship & your parenting!

Why A Child Psychologist Can Be An Important Member of Your Family’s Village: An Interview with Dr. Pamela Loman

Discover how to thrive in your relationship & your parenting!

When I first heard the title “pediatric psychologist,” I couldn’t help but think of someone who’s so clinical in their approach they’d have little to offer kids, certainly not the people skills to relate to them. While the moniker “child psychologist” seemed better, I still assumed a link to pathology, to something being very wrong with a child to need those services.


Dr. Pamela Loman

I was wrong, as confirmed in my interview with child psychologist, Dr. Pamela Loman. Dr. Loman powerfully explains how child psychologists—at least the best ones, among whom I include Dr. Loman—support families through a range of life transitions and challenges, and serve as consultants over the lifespan of a family’s evolution. Dr. Loman works with kids and parents navigating changes that are as commonplace as starting school or welcoming a new baby, or as specific as dealing with the loss of a loved one or exploring a possible medical diagnosis, such as ADHD.

I urge every parent to listen to my interview with Dr. Loman to better understand the broad scope of circumstances for which your family might benefit from consulting with a child psychologist, and to also better comprehend ways in which couples’ dynamics  support, or stifle, children’s psychological and emotional wellbeing. Plus, Dr. Loman offers some great tips for self-care and what to look for in a child psychologist. To download the interview, click the green/white icon on the audio player.

If you live in Sonoma County, check out Dr. Loman’s child psychology practice. Also, learn more about Dr. Loman’s Discovering Joy retreats, which she co-leads with Dr. Nicholas Egan. These are workshops to which you can travel from anywhere!

Discover how to thrive in your relationship & your parenting!

The Power of Collaborative Divorce: Interview with Marc T. Christianson

Click here for your FREE copy of Parenting Tools for Divorce or Separation. Click here to listen to my interview with family law expert, Marc T. Christianson. 

Even under the best of circumstances, the decision to divorce is stressful. The stress only increases when we have children together, not to mention when we’re in conflict with our soon-to-be-ex. As someone who helps parents attain co-parenting effectiveness, I’m just as eager to support those efforts among couples who part ways, as those who stay together. For better or worse, so to speak, while we’re not always spouses for life, we remain parents for life. Finding productive ways to limit the fallout of  divorce on our kids (and ourselves) is always helpful.

In my interview with family law expert, Marc T. Christianson of Tacoma, WA law firm, McKinley Irvin, you’ll learn about some of the common challenges of courtroom divorces and  alternatives to that approach, most notably collaborative divorce. One of the  advantages of pursuing collaborative divorce, which Marc explains late in the interview, is that it significantly lessens the emotional and financial stress of divorce for parents and reduces the negative impact of divorce on our kids. While listening to legal advice and explanations is  challenging for  many of us, myself included, I  encourage those of you contemplating (or in the midst of) divorce to listen to Marc’s interview all the way through, especially because he also offers great tips for finding a divorce attorney. For more information on Marc and his firm, visit the McKinley Irvin website.

Click here for your FREE copy of Parenting Tools for Divorce or Separation. Click here to listen to my interview with family law expert, Marc T. Christianson. 

Moms’ Bodies and Relationships: Interview with Lara Catone

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Before moms give birth, many worry about their post-baby bodies; postpartum, they’re bombarded with advice from friends and the media about how to get their  pre-birth bodies back. While some moms succeed in morphing back into past proportions–Hollywood stars, most notable among them–a lot of women find their bodies either changed forever or, when standard crunches and exercise fail, unsure how to drop weight and/or diminish mummy tummies.

While none of this is, specifically, a relationship issue, the impact on moms’ marriages can be profound: how we feel about our bodies, how comfortable we are in them, how sexy or unsexy we feel–which includes how we look (or don’t look)–directly affects how we relate to our spouses, how much we invite or repel intimacy, sexual or otherwise, how we respond to compliments or lack thereof.

Lara Catone Sexual Wellness & Yoga Expert

Lara Catone
Sexual Wellness & Yoga Expert

Meet Lara Catone, a yoga and sexual wellness expert, who has created an  exercise program that throws out the shaming approach of so much postpartum exercise info, and offers women a supportive, physiologically-based way to reconnect with and shift their bodies. In fact, as Lara notes in my recent interview with her (see link below), going crazy with crunches can make matters worse for those whose core muscles  separated during  pregnancy and birth .

I wanted to learn more from Lara about the impact of birth on women’s bodies–yes, yes, I hear some of you yelling: “I’ll tell you about the impact of birth on  women’s bodies!!!”–not only to increase understanding, but also to find solutions, and  learn more about the effect of all of this on moms’ relationships, while offering advice on what spouses can do to help.

Long way of saying, listen to my interview with Lara (click on the white/green icon on the player to download). Apologies that the audio-interface ain’t pretty, but Lara’s expertise and insights are wonderful!

To learn more about Lara Catone and her upcoming online exercise program to help women flatten their tummies, and get their sexy back, check out yogafordiastasis.com and www.laracatone.com.

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Managing Relationship Issues During, and About, the Holidays

I originally wrote about this topic three years ago, when I’d first started this blog. Much of what I wrote then remains true and, because I’m as keen to remind myself of some of the tips that I offer others, I wanted to revive and revise this post now. I’d love to hear your thoughts and tips on how to best manage differences of opinion with your spouses, and your kids, about holiday traditions, about where to spend the holidays, etc, so please feel free to comment on this post.

I’m writing this on Halloween, a fun holiday that gives me great joy, since both my kids adore it (my daughter is Super Girl this year and my son is Scooby Doo). But if we’re talking about favorite holidays, Thanksgiving wins hands down.

I’ve attributed my favoritism to the fact that, as an ex-pat Canadian, I didn’t grow up with the national fanfare and non-denominational appeal of U.S. Thanksgiving, which means I don’t have any childhood baggage around the holiday. No distressing family memory, no assumptions about what Thanksgiving merriment should look like.

In the absence of that baggage,  Thanksgiving has seemed—to me at least—like an opportunity for festive inventiveness, a day to be designed and redesigned annually to reflect my shifting experience of gratitude.

Now that I’m married, and a mother, I’ve been thinking about how to keep that inventive spirit alive and how to approach any number of occasions, not just Thanksgiving, in a way that both honors my own and my wife’s distinct holiday yearnings and reflects what we want to create together as a family.

Like many things that are passed from one generation to another, how we celebrate holidays—including, where and with whom—gets naturalized over time:

We’ve always done it this way and we always will.

Yet as parents in committed relationships, we often juggle two different sets of family traditions. When that happens, it’s not uncommon for couples to spend so much time negotiating, or battling over, holiday details that we forget to discuss and, better yet, discover what kind of holiday we—as a couple and as parents—want to create for ourselves and our family.

How do we  create our family traditions?

A great first step, assuming you’re spending the holidays with your, or your spouse’s, family of origin (meaning, the family you grew up with), is to approach this season like a an explorer charged with discerning the unique tribal practices of your hosts.

Your job is to be curious about those practices—even if you grew up with them—to better understand their importance and their symbolic value to the tribe.

Once you’ve had a chance to record data about your and your beloved’s holiday traditions, both of you jot down those that are most important to you, those that honor each of your priorities and values.

Next, share your discoveries with your spouse. Don’t be surprised if, it turns out, that what you value most about your childhood traditions is more about how they enhanced your sense of self or family than the practices themselves.

Understanding what we don’t appreciate about some of our own or our spouse’s holiday traditions is equally useful; by inverting what we dislike, we often find what’s important to us and what we want to honor in our own family.

Once you’ve done this legwork, ask yourself and your spouse:

What traditions feel non-negotiable?
What about those traditions is so important to me and to you? 

If you find that one or more of those traditions spark disagreement, consider:
Given how important this tradition is to me, how do you think we can find a way to honor it, at least to some degree? OR

How might we honor each other’s traditions—even the ones we dislike—in a way that’s respectful? How can we communicate our different perspectives to our kids and still reflect a team spirit, even if we don’t agree with each other’s priorities? 

And, perhaps, most importantly:
If we were to set aside both our families’ holiday traditions and imagine starting from scratch, how would you describe what this holiday means to you and what you’d like it to mean to our family?

What new or revised traditions might capture the spirit of your holiday vision?

Many of us experience holidays (or pressure from parents or in-laws about holidays) as  sacred. Conversely, some of us bridle against holiday fanfare so much that it’s hard to imagine the merits of any past traditions.

Whatever our story, holidays offer our relationship and family an opportunity to understand what we do and don’t appreciate from our own childhoods and what unique traditions we can design for our own children.

In that sense, we’re not just explorers this holiday season, we’re time travelers; inspired by  holidays of yesteryear, we’re primed to  bridge the gap between our pasts and our kids’ present.