Katie Lemieux, LMFT Coral Springs

10 Questions to Ask Yourself About Dad

Last month in honor of Mother’s Day, I wrote about the lessons learned from mothers and how we choose to incorporate (or reject) those lessons into our own parenting style.

Did you know, we spend 75% more on Mother’s Day than we do Father’s Day? Why are dads getting the short end of the stick when it comes to showing our affection?

Don’t forget Dad!

Dads are often forgotten when we think about parenting. Afterall, who can compete with a “Mother’s Love”?

Yet how many times do we hear, “Well, s/he needed a father figure growing up.”  The word father or dad doesn’t have to be just 1 person.  If you grew up without a dad for whatever reason I am sure you had many father figures.

Although I have 1 dad, I was blessed to have different male role models in my life each of them had a specific importance and taught me so many things.

Dads are usually known for being the “fun” parent, the parent who can fix anything, the disciplinarian or in my house the one who got in trouble.  My grandfather was always being yelled at by my grandmother for wrestling with my brother’s in the house.

Dads also get pegged often as being less emotional.

A Dad’s Love

Just like we learn from our mothers, we also learn from our fathers.

Around Mother’s Day, I asked you to consider your own childhood and how it impacted your views on parenthood.

Let’s take a look at what you learned from dad or the males in your life:

  1. What did you learn about love and relationships from your father?
  2. What things did you want to incorporate into your relationship/marriage/parenting based off your parents?
  3. What things did you not want incorporate?
  4. Rituals and traditions dad brought into our family was…
  5. A good memory that I have dad was…
  6. My dad made me feel special by…
  7. When I think of the word “dad”…
  8. Something my dad did/taught me that is important to me in our parenting is…
  9. Something my dad did that I didn’t like when I was a child was…
  10. An ideal dad or father is…

These questions can be difficult to ask, especially for adult children of abusive parents. Despite the difficulty in asking these questions, it’s important to do because it creates a roadmap for how you parent your own children and engage in a loving, healthy relationship with your partner or spouse.

This Father’s Day, I encourage you to spend a little time reflecting on what a “Father” means to you. What does being fatherly mean to you? How do you incorporate feelings of fatherhood into your own life, whether it’s by supporting your partner or spouse, embracing your role as the father in the family, or being a positive male role model in the lives of children.

If you’re looking to explore more about what it means to you to be a father, I’m just a click or phone call away at Katie@FamilyAndCouplesCounseling.com or 954.401.9011.

Career Coaching Private Practice

If You Were to Die Today

With Memorial Day approaching this month, a favorite quote of mine comes from F. Scott Fitzgerald. He said, “For what it’s worth… it’s never too late, or in my case too early, to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit. Start whenever you want. You can change or stay the same. [sic] I hope you live a life you’re proud of, and if you’re not, I hope you have the courage to start over again.”

When I coach other entrepreneurs who are opening up a business one of the very first conversations we have is…

What’s your “why”?

The coaching process begins with a pretty big question: “Why?”  No, it isn’t to make money or because I thought I should.  It is way bigger than that.  

  • Why did you even get up in the morning?
  • Why did you become an entrepreneur?
  • Why do you want to offer your services to others?
  • Why will it matter?
  • Why should anyone care?

How will the world change and be a better place because of your work? What is the legacy you want to leave behind after you’re gone?  What is your 100 year goal?  Pretty heavy stuff, right?

Death is uncomfortable…

It’s hard to believe how many days are dedicated to it: El Dia De Los Muertos in Mexico, Good Friday in Christianity, Memorial Day, even Halloween in the United States are just a few of the many celebrations throughout the world which focus on the inevitable: death.

Death doesn’t always have to scare us though, sometimes death can be the motivation we need to succeed.   What would you want people to say about you once you’re gone? Are you living that kind of life you want to? What are the changes you need to make now so that you’re living that life today?  Are you doing the things you dreamed about doing or at least taking actions towards those goals?

When I was in the 8th grade I took course on Death and Dying. As part of the course we had to write our own eulogy. I have since did that exercise several times with the most recent being February 2017.  Have you ever written your own eulogy?  Interesting right?  When I coach people in writing goals we always start with the end in mind and work our way backwards.  If you decided to try this exercise and write your own eulogy starting with “the end” (depends on your beliefs) in mind how close or how far are you away from the person who is being eulogized?  Puts stuff into perspective one way or the other doesn’t it?  Career Coaching Private Practice

Death as motivation…

I want to encourage you to use the idea of your own death as a motivating tool. Do the things which you are afraid of now; do the things that scare you because you think that business venture won’t work, or that you don’t have the money saved up for that trip around the world.

Make a plan and get going on it now, not tomorrow or “someday”.  Live your life like the person whose eulogy you wrote.  If that means traveling the world, be the best parent you can be, making more time for the truly important things or whatever your “it” is, like Nike says, “just do it.”  We aren’t promised tomorrow and there is no better day than today to start living and being your best self.  

Looking to motivate yourself more, resolve old issues in your personal life or relationship? Or maybe you’re finally stepping out of your 9 to 5 doldrum. If you’re looking for a guide to help you get started on your life’s next big adventure, I’m just a click away Katie@FamilyAndCouplesCounseling.com.

Katie Lemieux, LMFT Family and Couples Counseling Coral Springs

Humor and Hot Air Balloons

Life is better when you’re laughing.

When’s the last time you had a good belly laugh with your spouse or partner?

Can’t remember? You’re overdue for a good laugh, then.

Laughing is essential for relationships, friendships, and overall life. Anyone who’s ever worked with me knows I love to bring my personality and humor into the room; it lightens the mood and connects us.

In honor of National Humor Month, I have a question to ask you: where is the humor in your relationship?

Many of the couples I work with my practice comment on the lack of spontaneity, fun, and excitement they once experienced as a new couple. The “business of the day” or life has gotten in the way of couples connecting on a deeper level, including sharing fun and humorous moments together.

This past month, to inject a little humor into my own relationship, I began watching a TV Show on Netflix called “No Tomorrow” (for those of you already familiar with this show, high five!) I know, this was a little counterproductive to some New Year’s Goals, especially for those who wanted to lighten up on the #Netflixandchill.

“No Tomorrow” is about a 30-something year old woman who begins a relationship with a man who believes the world is about to end, and lives his life accordingly. “No Tomorrow” really caught my attention, not only for it’s sense of humor, but the deeper message it sometimes not so subtly slips into each episode.

For those of you who’ve been following my blog for some time, you know I love to dream big and set goals for myself, both personal and professional. One of my goals was to take a hot air balloon ride, and in January, I finally did! What an experience!

How are hot air balloons related to humor? I’m glad you asked. I probably laughed more on my hot air balloon ride than I ever have in my life. Truthfully, it might have been nervous laughter, although sometimes we have to take risks with ourselves in order to have a little fun. I think I also laughed at the fact that there were 12 people in a basket, floating by a balloon filled with hot air. Now that facts and logic of it all was pretty funny.

Seeing the humor in everyday life is a little bit hard at first, especially if you or your partner aren’t accustomed to laughing together, or if you’ve forgotten how to laugh. Sometimes, we have to laugh at ourselves in order to make the best of otherwise difficult situations.

My call to action for you this month is to find one thing to laugh about each day with your partner or spouse, whether it’s something the other said or sharing a funny meme you found on Facebook or watching silly cat videos, whatever tickles your fancy just do it! If you or your partner need a little guidance to find the humor in your life, don’t hesitate to reach out. I’m just a phone call or click away at 954.401.9011 or Kate@FamilyAndCouplesCounseling.com. Looking forward to laughing with you!

Family and couples counseling Coral Springs Katie Lemieux LMFT

Does Your Relationship Need a “Checkup”?

How’s your relationship been feeling lately? Any fever, aches, pains? What about congestion, runny nose, itchy eyes? No? Okay.

What about communication, how often are you and your partner communicating? Hourly throughout the day, every few hours, or just once when you get home before you go bed reporting back what I call “the business of the day”.  It kind of sounds like… “What’s for dinner?  How were the kids?  Did Rebecca do well at swimming?  How was work?”  You know this I am sure! This communication is necessary but not deeply intimate or connecting.   

How about satisfaction? How satisfied are you currently in your relationship, on a scale of 1 to 10, with one being completely unsatisfied and 10 being completely satisfied.

If any of these questions got you thinking about the quality of your relationship, you might need a relationship check up. It might seem odd at first to think about giving your relationship a check up although nothing could be further from the truth.

One of the most disheartening statistics I’ve come across as a couples counselor is that the average couple waits six years before reaching out for help. Six years! While couples may wait to enter couples counseling for a variety of reasons, this means there’s a long time where one or both individuals in the relationship is feeling hurt and these feelings are going unresolved.

Another common complaint I hear when couples enter counseling is while the relationship is “alright” at the time, the couple isn’t experiencing the same level of happiness or satisfaction as they previously were in the relationship.

This is where I like to introduce the concept of a “Relationship Thermometer” to the couples I work with in therapy. Just like the first step in checking your physical health is to take your temperature, the first step in checking your relationship health is to see where you’re at as a couple.Does Your Relationship Need a Check Up

Checking in frequently and regularly with your partner about his/her level of happiness and satisfaction in the relationship, as well as your own feelings, is crucial to the long term success of your relationship.

It’s a shame this key piece is often overlooked in relationships yet it’s crucial for you and your partner. Most couples get hung up on the necessary, yet unrewarding, communication habit of conducting the “business of the day”.  These topics are important for the continued functioning of the household while at the same time keeping couples stuck on a “merry-go-round” of topics.

This merry-go-round isn’t hurting anyone, but it certainly isn’t helping you and your partner get the relationship you want.

So, how do you start using your relationship thermometer and get you and your partner off the merry-go-round? My colleague Susan Block, LMFT and I have a great video on “How Code Words Can Help Improve Your Relationship” that looks at ways couples can incorporate code words to quickly and easily communicate with one another about their feelings.

Phrases like, “I’m so well done” might indicate a particularly tough day at work and can help partner’s respond in a meaningful way. Code words work best in relationships when both individuals know and can agree upon the code words and their respective meaning. (You might not get the results you want if you start speaking in code without letting your partner know!)

Think you might want to delve a little bit deeper into your relationship check up? Another great tool I use with the couples I work with is the “Gottman Relationship Checkup”.  

The “Gottman Relationship Checkup” looks at 60 areas within the relationship and helps couples identify and highlight what’s going well, what needs improvement, guides the overall focus of the couples counseling as well as gives you tools and activities to do outside of session.  I would love to get you started on the Relationship Assessment it is backed by 40 years of research on couples, good stuff!

If you’re taking your relationship temperature right now and realizing your relationship isn’t so well, don’t hesitate to reach out for help. Remember, the average couple waits 6 years before getting any kind of professional help. Maybe you’ve waited long enough. I’m just a phone call or click away at 954.401.9011 or Katie@FamilyAndCouplesCounseling.com, talk with you soon!

Want More Time? Organize It!

“Lack of direction, not lack of time, is the problem. We all have 24 hours in a day.” – Zig Ziglar

The New Year is here! The bottles have been popped, resolutions made, and the gyms crowded with “resolutioners” who many habitual gym goers believe (or hope) will be gone by the first week of February.

It’s the start of a new year and the possibilities to your success are endless! Or are they?

In my coaching practice, where I work with clinicians who are looking to build successful private practices, one of the statements I hear for why things won’t work out are “I don’t have the time.” In fact, it’s something I myself used to say all the time, until my own business coach pushed me out of my comfort zone (You can listen to this amazing podcast on Tips for Time Mastery in Private Practice with Michael Dill).

Where does this notion of “not enough time” come from and how can we become masters of own time?

I’m sure you’ve read some alarming statistics throughout your lifetime, about how much of our time is actually devoted to (or wasted on) certain things. “The average American watches 5 hours of live TV a day” is just one of the many you can find, breaking down exactly how we spend our time.

Seems a bit excessive, doesn’t it? Five hours on TV a day. When you add that to an 8 (9 for those with unpaid lunch) hour work day, an hour long commute (on average), plus 6 to 8 hours sleeping, you’re left with only about 1 to 3 hours of other time which you can devote to other things.

Now, don’t get me wrong I get sucked into relaxing, decompressing by watching TV. I love  a good movie, Shark Tank, The Profit and a few others just as much as the next person.  Yet there’s something about spending a large majority of our free time on such an inactive activity that leaves me wondering. I wonder how much more could be accomplished with more segmented uses of time.

It’s a tip I learned from my own business coach and have begun implementing in my everyday life. You’ve heard the phrase “Eat the frog first”. This month I want to encourage you to “Eat only the frog first”. This means doing the most important things you need to get done FIRST.  Yes that means before you check your email, hang out on Facebook or any other distraction tactics you have, and I know you do because I have plenty of those too.  This is one small skills to master your time.  

One thing to keep in mind as you begin the journey to getting organized this month, whether it’s organizing your home office and your finances in order to prepare for tax season, or even beginning to draft a plan for a next big move in your life, like home buying, career change, etc. is that part of getting organized requires you to stay focused and simultaneous let go.

Staying focused and letting go are two of the hardest things to master when working on a project. It’s tempting to give up and move on to another task if the first one we’re working on just isn’t working. And it’s hard to let go of the vision in our head of what we thought things would look like when we were finished.

Take home improvement projects for instances; it can be a daunting task to remodel any part of a home, whether it’s the bathroom, kitchen, bedroom, wherever. Do-it-yourself and even professional projects might not live up to the expectation we had of the finished product.

In order to move forward and get organized we need to let go of the past, things that no longer serve us whether they be tangible things, relationships, activities and items we no longer use or need. In the spirit of the new year, and new you, I encourage you to take a mental inventory of things in your life requiring a little more focus and attention, while also looking at areas where you can find a little more balance in your life by letting go.

Getting organized can be hard and might require a little more coaching to get you in a space where you need to be so you can focus, don’t hesitate to reach out. I’m just a phone call or click away at 954.401.9011 or Katie@FamilyAndCouplesCounseling.com.

What Mask Do You Wear in Your Relationship?

Ever wonder what mask you wear in your relationship? A late night Pinterest prowl produced the following Pin:

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Interested in what this could mean for couples, I quickly used Google to search for “Japanese phrase about multiple faces”. While it appears the above statement is not Japanese in origin (but still very clever and thought provoking), there is the idea in Japanese philosophy of honne and tatemae. These Japanese words describe the contrast between a person’s true feelings and desires (honne) and the behavior and opinions displayed in public (tatemae).

With Halloween fast approaching (my favorite, and yes I still dress up) the idea of having two faces can seem akin to wearing them within your relationship and begs the question what do you wear in your relationship with your family, friends, co-workers, kids, partner…? Are there parts of yourself that you hide from others because you believe they won’t be accepted or because they are conflicting with a commonly held belief?

As a counselor one of the most important things I find when working with individuals or couples, one of my most important tools is unconditional positive regard. This acceptance of my clients allows for a more open dialogue between us about aspects of themselves they would like to change and how to bring about this change.

During a recent intern supervision, an intern expressed a deep sadness over some family troubles with a teenage child and voiced concern about the fact that while trying to help clients navigate difficult relationships and family dynamics, felt fraudulent because of their own perceived failings to handle their own family conflict.

Perhaps you even feel this way too. Successful in one area of your life, maybe at work, you desire improvement in another area, like your relationship.

  • What mask are you wearing at work that you take off at home?
  • Conversely, what mask are you wearing at home that you leave behind when you go to work?
  • Is it wrong to wear a mask anyway?  
  • How is wearing a mask helpful in certain situations and not in others?  
  • Do you want to wear a mask?
  • What would it be like if you can be your true self in all situations?
  • Are you even aware of the masks you wear?  

The term “two faced” undoubtedly garners negative attention. We feel that those individuals who cannot show their true selves must be sinister or untrustworthy, hiding the truth and speaking negatively behind our backs. In essence, someone who lies or makes contradictory statements may be someone we think twice about befriending.

Is that mask acceptable? This month, I want to encourage to be your truest self, without fear of being too much or too little.

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Parental Alienation – When Having a Marriage and Family Therapist is Important

The National Parents Organization put out a great article on a change coming out in the DSM V – Diagnostic Statics Manual for mental health diagnoses and disorders. According to the article in the new DSM V it addresses Parental Alienation.

This is a huge advance in the world of systems. Parental Alienation is being defined as the impact that parents have on their children by alienating them from the other parent. This most often happens in bitter divorces, when one parent has strong resentment towards the other, etc.

Parental Alienation according to the article is “Parental alienation is a mental condition in which a child  usually one whose parents are engaged in a high-conflict separation or divorce allies strongly with one parent and refuses without good cause to have a relationship with the other parent. This process takes place when a parent or caregiver encourages the child rejection of the other parent. Parental alienation is driven by the false belief that the rejected parent is evil, dangerous, or not worthy of affection.”

You can read more by going to the article.

If this has occurred to you or someone you know getting a Marriage and Family Therapist or a therapist skilled in family therapy or systems therapy can be very beneficial. Also involving the legal system to court order therapy requiring both parents to participate can be beneficial as well. If you have further questions on how we can be helpful to you please contact us 954-401-9011.

by Katie Lemieux