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.

Does Your Relationship Need a Check Up

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!

What Mask Do You Wear in Your Relationship?

A late night Pinterest prowl produced the following Pin:


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.