Doing Life Together

thinking womANHannah hadn’t spoken to her mother for a month and the tension between them could be cut with a knife.

It was Saturday morning and Hannah was contemplating picking up the phone and making a call. She wanted to resolve the problem. But here was the rub. It was her mom who said hurtful things to her. Why should she call her? After all, mom was the one who created the problem.

When you’ve been hurt or upset by another person like Hannah was, the tendency is to want to wait until that person comes to you to apologize or talk it out. After all, why should you make the first move when you’ve been wronged?

Don’t wait. Make the first move. It is the right thing to do. 

In my book, I Love My Mother But… I say that only children fight about who goes first. Peacemakers make the move towards peace. If there is distance in a relationship and repair needs to be made, the sooner the process begins, the better. It doesn’t matter who puts down their pride and moves towards reconciliation. What matters is that the process begins.

When it comes to conflict, you are responsible for your actions, not what the other person does. Scripture tells us that if we have ought against our brother, we go to him. It doesn’t say, wait until he/she comes to us. Pride is what usually keeps us from moving forward.

In order to resolve a conflict, make the first move. Go to the person and see if you can work through the hurt or disagreement. You will feel better having taken the step towards repair. This doesn’t guarantee that the other person will be receptive, come around or apologize. But it does provide opportunity for all three of those things to happen. And you will feel better having made an effort.

Hannah picked up her phone and made the call. “Mom, I know we haven’t spoken in awhile. I wonder if we can talk about what happened?” It wasn’t easy to make this move, but when she did, she was relieved. The burden she carried was gone. No matter how her mom responded, she was obedient to the command to go to the person and try to reconcile. She controlled the part of the conflict she could control–her response to the problem. Whatever, the outcome, at least she tried to make amends and be a peacemaker.


2573762303_365ac020f8_bRich and Sharon have constant fights, and the fights take on a common pattern. Sharon is dating a narcissist.

The key traits of a narcissist are to be self-centered, need to be admired, be right, not admit fault and feel superior. All of those traits describe Rich, who is becoming more difficult whenever there is a disagreement. Sharon isn’t sure marrying him is a good idea.

Whenever Sharon disagrees with Rich, he becomes very upset. The other night at a party, he accused Sharon of flirting. When Sharon insisted he was overreacting, he continued to accuse her. Rich felt threatened-the usual trigger that starts their conflict. No matter how many times Sharon tried to calm him down, he continued to escalate.

The escalation led to verbal abuse in which Rich continued to make accusations, accusing Sharon of not loving him, being uncommitted to the relationship, having eyes for other men and so forth. This lasted for hours until Sharon finally gave up! Defending herself goes no where, as Rich is relentless with his accusations when he believes he is right.

When Sharon gave up, Rich became the victim! Sharon’s silence was interpreted as evidence that she was guilty. Rich told Sharon that her inability to defend herself supported his claim of  jealousy. Sharon felt guilty and allowed his twisted logic to make her feel bad. Somehow Rich became the victim of the fight he actually started. But Sharon also felt relief that his relentless accusations stopped.

Rich felt empowered. In his mind, he justified his accusations and felt superior. However,  the feeling of having the upper hand will only last until he feels threatened by something again.

Sharon has been with Rich a year and feels exhausted by this relationship. She realizes that conflict with a narcissist will be on-going unless he gets help. Since Rich refuses to acknowledge a need for help, she makes the decision to walk away from the relationship. Of course Rich believes it was all Sharon’s fault.


ID-10093057Blog Question: My husband is very anxious about the birth of our second child. He is feeling the economic pressure of our expanding family and worries about everything. He is making me anxious because of his state of distress. What can I tell him to calm him down? I know God will provide if we are faithful. 

Maybe this study published in Pediatrics will help him realize he needs to trust and let go of anxiety or worry. The study included 32,000 children and found that the psychological distress of dad during a baby’s pregnancy did impact child development.

Specifically, fathers were given a screening questionnaire regarding their mental health status during their child’s pregnancy. Later, mothers were asked to also fill out questionnaires regarding their child’s development. Controlling for a number of variables, a link was found between the fathers’ mental health and their children’s later developmental problems.

Dads who scored high on anxiety and distress when the mom was 17-18 weeks pregnant, had children who were more disruptive and anxious at age three! We don’t know exactly why this is, but maybe the mental health of the father later impacts his parenting, or maybe his mental health impacts the mother’s mental health, or maybe there is a genetic link.

The point here is that the mental health of the dad, not just the mother, impacts the developing child. So let your husband know that his anxiety and distress could be affecting that unborn child. It is time to trust God to meet your needs and let go of that worry. Your new baby is too important and you want to give him or her the best start possible.


child footballI’ve been in practice for over 20 years and worked in a center for ADHD. One of our goals was to make sure the right kids were correctly diagnosed when it came to ADHD. Great care was taken to do the proper assessments that help make the diagnosis.

So if you have a child whom you think might be ADHD ask, “Who is making the diagnosis? And based on what?” With 10-11% of U.S. children given the diagnosis of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), we need to make sure the diagnosis is correct.

According to a national survey sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics, family members are usually the first ones who express concern, but in about a third of the cases, day care workers or schools note the signs.

A third of time, pediatricians make the diagnosis, followed by psychiatrists, and then primary care doctors. Psychologists diagnose about 14.1% of the time and yet their evaluation process is critical, especially with children. The median age of diagnosis is age 7, with one-third of children diagnosed before the age of 6. Overall, 53% of the time, it is the primary care doctor making the diagnosis.

So what does this mean? In my opinion, it means that you need to have a full evaluation by a psychologist or psychiatrist when diagnosing children 6 and younger. I would recommend the same for those over the age of 6 as well. Reports from caretakers, school personnel, family and others who interact with the child are very important. There is an organized and evidenced-based approach that should be followed.

Typically, to make the diagnosis, the child should meet the criteria in the DMS V (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual) that mental health therapists use. The extent of the child’s impairment and distress across multiple settings should be reviewed and multiple informants (parents, teachers, other adults, etc. and the child) should be interviewed or surveyed.

Important to remember is that there is no single test to make the diagnosis. It is process with several steps as information is gathered and signs of the disorder are observed. A checklist of symptoms, answers to questions about past and present problems, psychological tests in order to measure IQ and social and emotional adjustment, and a medical exam to rule out other causes for symptoms are all needed. If you still feel unsure, it’s fine to ask for a second opinion.


References:  Visser SN, Zablotsky B, Holbrook JR, Danielson ML, Bitsko RH
Natl Health Stat Report. 2015;3:1-7