The lessons from our Dads’

My Dad been gone a long time, but I always feel a little pang during my day. I miss him. My father was a complicated, brilliant, difficult, witty and amazingly brave person.

He had to be both parents a lot as my mother was mentally ill. He was the reason we weren’t all shipped off to orphanages. That’s whet they did in those days before foster care. They sent kids to a large place run by nuns who cared for them in a non-motherly way. I never had to go. He stayed with us through all the long stretches with no mom in the home.

As a teenager, I volunteered at that orphanage. I saw firsthand what I had escaped.

He encouraged me, put me through college, told me I could make it and convinced me that in spite of a tough upbringing, I could do what I dreamed of doing.

Raising six kids was not an easy thing for a man in those days. He had help at home, some good, some terrible. I have no idea how he kept going. Drinking didn’t solve his problems, but he escaped from them as much as one can with alcohol. You do pay a price for that kind of self-medication, don’t you? He died at age 65, not so much older than I am now.

I look at his life and see his strengths and his weaknesses realistically. I am more than glad for those strengths. He taught me that you can overcome anything and rise from the ashes as many times as it takes. I loved him deeply. We shared a wonderful adult, father-daughter closeness anyone would envy. He was my guide, my mentor, my coach and my personal adviser.

He died happy, knowing that I was happy, that I married a wonderful man (still married to him 28 years later), and that his little girl had grown up to be what she wanted. He saw me evolve from a nurse into a lawyer and cheered the metamorphosis. I will be grateful to him forever.

My father taught me courage in the face of difficulty, more than any other human being I have ever met. For that, I remember him as an honorable man. I long ago forgave his faults and shortcomings, choosing instead to focus on the good he did for me, for my mother, my siblings and for a lot of other people as well.

No matter what kind of a father you have or had, today is a day to think of the good in him.

Tonight, my kids and I will celebrate the evening together at dinner. We’ll have a toast to their terrific Dad and to my Dad. I will remind them of my father’s legacy of courage and strength and wish the same qualities for them in their young lives. He passed before they were born. I’ll tell them that if I can leave as powerful a legacy with them as he did with me, they are lucky kids indeed.

Wishing all the dads who read this the best of your Father’s Day. And for your families, may they appreciate all that is the best in you.

And now from Mikol:

It’s my third Father’s Day since I lost my dad Joe D. Davis.

It’s still a little sad, and nostalgic for me.

For those who may be having difficulty this Father’s Day, coping with a Dad who is changed because of aging, or you’ve recently lost a Dad, know that there are many resources to get the support you need. At AgingParents.com, we provide advice and help in person or by phone. We’re here for you and we want you feel in control when things feel out of control. Support is just a click away.

Until next time,

Carolyn Rosenblatt and Mikol Davis,

AgingParents.com

Why is it so difficult to get professional help?

Have you ever found yourself feeling the blues and no matter what you try  you just can’t feel right?  So what can you do to cure the blues?

Well, how about the TV commercials that promise to fix those blues with a magic new pill? If you are a man then you are very unlikely to seek any form of professional help. Instead you will just try to tough it out, hoping that tomorrow will bring a better day. Yet for many of us, that better day does not seem to ever arrive. So then what can you do?

Well most of us will eventually go see our family doctor and believe that maybe there is something physically wrong that the good doctor has a pill to fix us right up.  The doctor gives us  checkup, asssures that there’s nothing physically wrong and suggests that you might want to see a psychologist.  The doctor might refer you to someone, or might not.

So, you finally get around to the decision that the blues aren’t getting any better, you’re sick of feeling bad, and you make that leap to start looking for help.  How does anyone know where to start?  Most people who have insurance call their carrier to see if mental health help is covered and get a list of providers.  At that point, they don’t know what to, what to ask, or how to pick someone.  When you’ve got the blues, it’s already hard to make decisions, let alone this one!

As a provider of 37 years worth of mental health help for people of all ages, I suggest the following, should you find yourself in need of some help.

1.  Figure out if you’d prefer a man or a woman.  For some, it doesn’t matter.  For others, they’re definitely more comfortable with one or the other and starting to look for a therapist of your preferred gender (or LGBT) is  a place to start.

2.  Find someone who is close in age to you, or older.  Therapists who are of similar age to yourself may share some of your life experiences and understand you better.  A very young therapist if you’re middle aged, for example, might not relate well to your descriptions of what you are going through in the context of where you are in your life.

3.  Look for a goal oriented therapist.  Too many therapists are happy to take your money, and be listeners, but the purpose of therapy can get lost.  You’ve got to define why you’re there and what you hope to get out of the experience.  Defining this for yourself is a first step.  Therapy is not an exercise in just talking.  The idea is to help you understand yourself better and make changes.  The therapist who is right for you will be one who has the skill to lead and guide, rather than simply passively listen.  You can buy a mannequin if you want a passive thing to appear to listen and nothing more. Get your money’s worth from your therapist!  If there are no hard questions and no suggestions, you’re in the wrong place.

If you are in distress, spend some time working on finding the right person to help you get to a better feeling place and change the way you manage those emotions.  Therapy can be a lifesaver.  Yes, it’s work even finding a therapist, but it’s well worth the effort.

Why Parents Can’t Make Their Kids Happy

Here we are in the holiday season. It is truly a time for us to reflect on the many blessings in our lives. However those thoughts of gratitude are ever so quickly replaced by thoughts of all that is not right in our lives. What is it about our American culture that we often don’t take the time to truly appreciate all that we have, and instead believe that if only certain things in our life could change we would be really happy?

So we teach our children to always believe that happiness can only achieved if they fulfill certain cultural conditions. Happiness is therefore always elusive and a possible future condition, but how about now?

Parents need to be clear themselves about how to be happy. Happiness, as defined in our culture, comes from possessions, material trappings of success, or other externals. The truth about happiness is that it is achievable but that it comes from within.

Parents need to demonstrate for their kids an example of how to be happy by enjoying what they have, and being in the present
Remember to appreciate who your children are today, rather than the hope of what they will become tomorrow.

Thanksgiving Checklist: How To Calm Family Conflict

Hello
Family often means conflict.
So I want to share something with you that is important to know and to keep in mind if you are spending time with your family this Thanksgiving holiday.
Relationships rarely improve when people try to change each other.
Rather, we find happiness by focusing on each others positive attributes. Expressing gratitude and appreciation for these qualities creates a loving, accepting atmosphere for everyone.
So over the holiday weekend, think about how you might share your gratitude for your loved ones with your loved ones. Put these things on a mental checklist, keep them in mind, and while you’re with your family, tell them.
That’s it for now. Thanks for reading.
Wishing you peace, acceptance, and a wonderful and loving Thanksgiving 🙂

Sincerely,

Dr. Mikol
P.S. Please send me your comments! I’d love to hear from you.