January 20, 2006
January 20, 2006


More and more clients have these complaints: “Our adult children are disrespectful, swear at us, are ungrateful, refuse to work , and treat our home as if it were a hotel with maid and on-call room service.”

“I’m not in love any more.” “S/he refuses to make love. I feel unloved.” “I go into a rage and demand affection.”

It is my opinion that these two dissimilar situations between parents and their offspring and couples are one and the same phenomena. My article on “loveless marriages” in 1978 apparently was the beginning of a trend that now is being reported on the Dr. Phil and Oprah show. The connection between the two situations appears to me to be that focusing on the appearances that one believes is necessary to keep love alive for “sex” changes family goals. Some adults are jealous of the attention that infants require. (Of course a book discoursing material goals, sexual goals, etc. is really needed to completely assess the deterioration of family values. However, for this column the entire issue has to be simplified to fit the editorial needs of a newspaper column.) Some adults work long hours to provide the toys which cost more than their weekly groceries.

I grew up in a small town upstate. Children milked the cows before and immediately after school. My family had a hotel and waiting on customers, mowing the two acres of grass weekly, helping with repairs to the building and gardening for the fresh produce was an understood need to survive. Offspring were needed to cooperate with the family income. Youngsters understood that life was more than good looks, but hard work. Today, the parents run the children to fun activities and complain that they are not having enough fun. Our fun was pride in our accomplishments as we developed self confidence that we could take on the world and prosper regardless of various adversities that life holds.

Boy Scouts teach those lessons as long as the parents don’t intervene and do the projects for the participant. ( I have observed such intervention. Parents owning the task rather than acting as a consultant). Parents have added unnecessary stress to their lives which impacts negatively on their love feelings for each other. Obviously the context of family life has evolved past a family survivalist situation, but parents can create improved dynamics. First, the emphasis should be on bringing up citizens that enjoy working towards a goal with their own efforts.

Second, happiness is a byproduct of self confidence so happiness should not be a value, but allowed to develop. Family entertainment could step back to the old days when story telling, singing, playing an instrument or dancing in the dining room, playing catch in the backyard where ways in which happiness and family connections were cemented.

Thirdly, teaching our siblings how to get along with one another, not separating them every time they are in discord, but modeling the skills is a requirement for a lifetime of cultural conflicts with bosses, spouses, and even other countries. Diplomacy is not just for the politicians. Polite tactfulness in daily life advances everyone towards a more complete happy life as the outcome not the goal.