Thursday, December 11, 2014

The Distracting Power of a Cellphone

According to a series of experiments led by researchers at the University of Essex, just putting your cell phone on the table (not even holding it) appears to reduce in-person conversation quality. The researchers observed, “The evidence indicates the mere presence of mobile phones inhibited the development of interpersonal closeness and trust, and reduced the extent to which individuals felt empathy and understanding from their partners.”
You know how we dump our boots in the "mud" room on the way into our homes? Maybe a bin for phones belongs there too.

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Did You Get Some Chill Time Last Summer? If Not, Plan Your Winter Break for You and Your Family’s Sake

Vacation is no laughing matter. It's imperative for you and your family to hit the reset button in your brain. A walk in nature or listening to music acts as a neural reset button and provides much needed perspective on what you're doing. Taking breaks is biologically restorative. If you were a workaholic all summer, plan a winter getaway in some warm weather with your spouse and family.....for goodness sakes. Click Here for Daniel Levitin's NY Times article.

Monday, September 01, 2014

Is Divorce Contagious?

As if divorce statistics aren’t depressing enough…a colleague recently sent me this link. It’s research from Brown University that is published by the extraordinary Pew Research Center and is enough to make me sick. “Social contagion” theory suggests that the spread of information, attitudes and behaviors is through friends, family, and other social networks. One degree of separation is 75% more likely to divorce? OY!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Going From Man-To-Man….to Zone

When you go from 2 children to 3, that is what happens to parents; zone defense.  A recent NYTimes article described a growing number of three-child households in Manhattan. Really? With some of the highest apartment prices in the world, could that be true? It turns out the article describes the significant increase in three-child families with incomes in the 200K to 400K range. So we’re not talking your typical American family here by a long shot.
Community does play a role in family size decisions. For people in normal income brackets who frequently use the subway system, holding on to your child/children continuously is a priority. I am often on the NYC subways and I am personally much calmer when I see two parents and each has one child rather than one parent with 2 or (Yikes) 3 children all to him/herself. The high cost/small square footage of Manhattan apartments makes it impractical to have a large family size. So it follows that many couples, when expecting their second or third child, move out to the suburbs. The one child family is still the most common family size in NYC.

This article reminded me of when family size researchers altered the standard FamSize question and began to ask: If money is not at all a concern, how many children would you and your spouse like to have?


Monday, February 03, 2014

Half of U.S. Pregnancies are Unintentional: Think Family Size Decision People!

Your Family Size decision is the most important decision of your marriage. I have told hundreds of couples in my 36 years as a marriage therapist, that there is no more vital decision in the hands of every couple than, when to start a family and how many children to have. I stress vital decision because other marital decisions, such as where to live, are in the hands of every couple, but don’t rank nearly as high as the family size decision.

Employment, proximity of extended family, and fertility are also essential to a marriage, but they are not decisions that are firmly in the hands of each couple. Today’s Blog Post coincides with the release of Guttmacher Institute data showing that over 50% of the 6.6 million pregnancies each year in the U.S. are unintended. I plead with couples, please wake up and smell the data!

My principal concern: Dozens of noteworthy research studies have shown that marital satisfaction declines with each child because of the enormous cost of each child, emotionally and financially. That being the case, I don’t want couples to have children…for no reason. I believe that the whimsical approach to this crucial decision has significantly contributed to the agonizing 50% divorce rate in the U.S.

Don’t be haphazard about this decision….make your family size decision with confidence and determination. And what is the ideal family size for you? As many or as few…as long as you think it through. Couples should not spend time contemplating the ideal number of children; they should ask themselves one key question: Is now the best time in our lives, from a personal, health, and marital perspective, to have a(nother) child? 

Advice Bullet Points:

>Don’t have another child for gender balance: you may not get the gender you hoped for.

>Don’t have another child to mirror your family of origin: that was then; this is now.

>Don’t make up for lost time by having rapid-fire children: have a minimum 2 year space between children.

>Don’t have another child to hang onto your Nanny: some couples do it----I kid you not.