The Choices of Adult Children

Parent Advice






It is natural to be distressed if you are a parent watching your adult child make decisions that seem to be unwise.   Further, it often seems to makes sense to feel that some action is urgently needed to change unhealthy behaviors. Particularly, with alcohol or drug addiction, it is tempting to think about an intervention. And we know that some interventions, if conducted by a skilled professional can lead a person to agree to treatment.

However, setting up an intervention, may yield disappointing results.  We need to accept that more often than not, we are powerless over controlling other people.

With my clients, I try to help them to embrace the inevitable truth that they are often powerless over controlling their adult children’s decisions.  I encourage them to accept the inevitable limits of a parent’s capacity to influence adult children. I suggest to my clients that it is only through closeness and connection that parents have influence.  Criticizing adult children and aggressively confronting them with one’s own perspectives regarding how they should live their lives is at cross-purposes with the goal of maintaining an amicable relationship.  And if you remain close, you ultimately may have more influence.

Having said that, as a family member, it is wise to state what you are observing (sticking to facts, not impressions) and then to offer support and resources. But if the loved one refuses that assistance, you need to work on acceptance of what you cannot control.



10 Commandments for Couples


1. Chill First: Take a time out to get calm before discussing conflict; you want to communicate, not vent

2: Love Comes First: Remember the other’s endearing qualities before beginning


  1. It’s a Partnership not a Duel: Don’t try to change one another, but to understand and support one another
  1. This Isn’t Badminton: Agree that each partner has the chance to speak without interruption while the other listens;
  1. Take a Lesson from Cats: Start with an attitude of curiosity rather than judgment
  1. Honey First:

Speaker–Encourage your partner’s listening by opening with a positive

  1. This Isn’t about You:

Listener– Temporarily pull the window shade on your issues

  1. Put Down the Sledgehammer and Take Off the Armor

Speaker–Resist the temptation to criticism and blame

Listener–Defensiveness blocks communication; put yourself in your partner’s shoes

  1. First, Do No Harm

Speaker—Voice appreciation rather than contempt

Listener– Stay attentive to your partner’s complaint

  1. Lighten Up

Speaker–Humor is bonding; smile, even elicit a chuckle

Listener—Do not make jokes about the speaker’s issues

  1. Stay in the Present

Speaker—Don’t bring up ancient history

  1. Know When to Stop

Speaker–Don’t perseverate on the issue. Make your point, then listen.

Listener: If your partner is going on and on, gently offer to voice your understanding of the problem.

Couples & Anxiety



If you are having difficulties in your marriage, assess whether if one of you has anxiety.

Research indicates a link between anxiety and martial distress, with anxious individuals reporting greater martial conflict and lower levels of marital satisfaction (Whisman, 2007; Whisman, Sheldon, & Goering, 2000; McLeod, 1994).

People with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) are more likely to divorce (Hunt, Issakidis & Andrews, 2002) and report low relationship quality with their partners compared to those with other psychiatric diagnoses (Wittchen, Zhao, Kessler, & Eaton 1994), suggesting that the treatment of anxiety stands as an important topic when approaching successful techniques in couples therapy.

Stay Calm in Love: Dr. Daitch’s Tips for a Happy Valentine’s Day

CupidValentine’s Day is just around the corner. For those couples wishing to enhance their sense of connection,

Dr. Carolyn Daitch, Director of the Center for the Treatment of Anxiety Disorders in Farmington Hills, MI has five easy tips to recommend.


C: Communication requires de-escalation: successful communication requires deescalating your own heightened emotion before engaging your partner.

U: Understanding is NOT automatic: you and your partner are not always going to share the same perspective—so the assumption that your partner should, by default, understand your perspective can cause frustration and alienation for both of you.

P: Practice makes permanent: repeated practice, not just good intentions or a single instance of success, brings about the change in your relationship that you want to see.

I: Interdependence is the key: a good balance of dependence and independence is the key to healthy relationships.

D: Deescalate whenever needed: when you are in conflict with your partner and emotions start to escalate, take an immediate cease-fire, or “time-out” to calm down before reengaging. Heightened emotion, whether it’s anxiety, fear, anger, or sadness, only heightens disconnect in an interaction. You need to deescalate your own heightened emotion before you’re going to experience connection in any communication.

Embracing and putting these tips into action will help couples feel the warmth of Cupid’s arrow without its sting this Valentine’s Day.