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The Importance of Relationships

The Importance of Relationships

The Importance of Relationships

As human beings, we are born with an innate biological and neurological need to establish connects or bonds with other human beings.

We are essentially the sum of the quality of our relationships with others. We are not hard-wired to be detached, free-floating islands, however, we can often find ourselves experiencing moments of utter isolation, even when we are surrounded by others.

We acknowledge that humans are social creatures and that establishing positive and reciprocal relationships are critical elements to our overall sense of wellbeing. As individuals, we are happier and healthier when we develop healthy bonds with others throughout all stages of our life.

Why are relationships important to us?

As eloquently described by Balfour and Vincent (2012) ‘The evidence now is clear: the quality of our relationships has profound implications from our earliest years, for the emotional, cognitive, and physical development of our children, to our latest years, in old age, affecting the likelihood of hospitalization, the rate of progression of disease in dementia, and even some mortality rates. In these materialistic times, we can say with some certainty that the apparent nebulous world of our close attachments to our partners [and relationships] has the most material, measurable consequence for our lives’.

The quality of our relationships and connections with others, such as our parents, siblings, romantic partners, friends, colleagues, mentors, and tribes, have the potential to directly influence our ability to create a prosperous, healthy and meaningful world for ourselves. Quality relationships assist us in dealing with life’s challenges and pain.

Human beings need connection and relationships when they are afraid, anxious, or unsure of themselves and want to compare their feelings with those of others. Relationships help people to confirm and validate thoughts, feelings and experiences as well as creating a foundation of self-esteem and self-worth.

What happens when we lack positive relationships in our lives?

In our technology-pervasive world that we find ourselves living in, a lot of us have seen a dramatic shift in our ability to connect. The world almost seems smaller. The elements of distance and time are no longer barriers to communicate and the volume of social connections has significantly increased.

Then why do so many people nowadays feel alone or isolated? It’s due to the quality of our connections or relationships. Not all relationships are meaningful, nor do they satisfy our most basics needs or yearnings for connection. Some relationships can be harmful, considerably impacting our health, our well-being and sense of self-worth.

How can we establish positive and nurturing relationships?

Relationships are fluid, evolving entities and they require ongoing care and attention. Comparable to the idea of self-care, we need to care for and nurture the relationships that in turn, support and nurture us. This reciprocal relationship takes time, patience and energy. Developing quality relationships also entails some basic proficiency in connecting with others and being open to the experience. Here are some interpersonal elements to consider when creating healthy bonds with others.

  • Define your relationship needs: what is a positive, reciprocal relationship to you?
  • Identify, establish and manage healthy boundaries.
  • Accept and celebrate differences in others.
  • Offer compassion and express gratitude.
  • Create space and time to connect.
  • Listen and be present.
  • Forgive and offer exoneration.
  • Develop effective communication skills.
  • Be open to offering and receiving constructive feedback.
  • Learn to trust and respect others.
  • Be open to the experience of connecting.
  • Manage conflict quickly and considerately when it arises.
  • Be real - as Oscar Wilde cited, ‘Be yourself; everyone else is already taken’.  

Practical Exercise

Take a few minutes this next week to write down a short list of some of the more important relationships in your life.

Think of a relationship with another person who consistently recognizes you, acknowledges you and endorses your feelings and ideas? How important is this relationship to you?

Next, write down a short list of the relationships you would like to nurture. Take mental stock of why each of these are important and how you would like to enrich the relationship.

Over the next 4-6 weeks, connect with each person. After this period, sit back and reflect on how your life has been enriched.

If you would like to learn more about forming positive and reciprocal relationships then let's connect. Book a free 20-minute consultation below and let's start a conversation.

Cheers, Simon

Simon Niblock, MA is an Austin TX based, Marriage and Family Therapy Associate who is dedicated to helping men, couples and families find peace, direction, and meaning in their relationships. Click on the button below to book a consultation.

References:

Balfour, A., Morgan, M., & Vincent, C. (2012). How Couple Relationships Shape our World Clinical Practice, Research, and Policy Perspectives. London: Karnack Books.

Web, L. (2013) Developing positive relationships. Retrieved from https://trainingmag.com/content/8-tips-developing-positive-relationships

Flickr image by: Farhad Sadykov

The Changing Landscape of Fatherhood.

The Changing Landscape of Fatherhood.

Image by   白士     李   on Flickr

Image by 白士  on Flickr

With Father’s Day upon us, there’s always a flurry of commentary about the ever changing role of fathers and what it means to be a Dad in this day and age. If you can ignore for a brief moment the consumer emphasis of this ‘hallmark’ day, it offers the opportunity to celebrate and acknowledge the special bond that exists between a father and his children.

As part of this celebration, it’s time to start a dialog about the ever changing landscape of what it means to be a father.

The men that I work with in therapy describe a tremendous range of parenting and relationship challenges and experiences. With the increase of solo parenting, blended and extended, same-sex and non-married families, not to mention transformations in our commercial and cultural, political and immigration, technology and legal world, it’s honestly no surprise that the role that fathers play in the lives of his children has never been so diverse; or equally bewildering.

The widely oscillating story between nurturer and provider that occurs in contemporary society has the potential to create a tremendous amount of stress for fathers. While there is an increasing movement for fathers to provide greater levels of emotional support and connectivity for their children, some fathers battle to find the right balance between intimacy and fun and traditional roles of being the breadwinner or disciplinarian. This combination can cause confusion for children and tremendous discord between spouses.

Finding the right balance between traditional and contemporary fatherhood roles is a challenge for many fathers who are trying to create their own authentic parenting style. Some fathers describe that the foundation of their role has become slowly eroded or diluted. Others state the opposite, describing their roles as increasingly fulfilling and empowering. These different perspectives may be due to the way fathers are valued (or potentially devalued) in society and the accompanying cultural environment. It may also be as a result of the legacies left for them by their own fathers.

So, let’s not wait until the third week of June each year to have this crucial conversation.

Father’s are ready to openly explore unchartered territory about their relationships with their children right now. They are becoming parenting advocates, they are working closely with other fathers, they are educating themselves and they are even seeking professional help far more readily than any generation that came before them. Fathers recognize that fatherhood is a challenging job and they are willing to acknowledge and take accountability for any mistakes they may have may along the way. They are also willing to savor the love and connectivity with their children when things go well.

Let’s continue and support this conversation beyond this weekend.

So to all the dad’s, fathers, stepfathers, grandfathers, foster dads, and any other dad-like figures that play a role in the life of a child, I take my hat off to you. Fatherhood, regardless of what shape, form or flavor you can imagine, can be for some, one of the most rewarding and fulfilling roles that men can ever experience. It’s bloody tough, and fatherhood should be celebrated each and every day.

If you are preparing for fatherhood, exploring what fatherhood means to you or would like to enhance your relationship with your children but find that you sometimes struggle, then let’s talk. Call me on 512-470-6976 to book an appointment.

Arohanui, Simon

Simon Niblock is an Austin TX based, Marriage and Family Therapy Associate who is dedicated to helping men, couples and families find peace, direction and meaning within their relationships. 

Call Simon on 512-470-6976 to book an appointment.

CLICK HERE TO EMAIL

 

Come On Dad, Read Me Another Story...

Come On Dad, Read Me Another Story...

Image: Kelly Sikkema on  Flickr

Image: Kelly Sikkema on Flickr

Reading with your kids; encouraging life long learning, curiosity and socialization in your children.

As a Dad, one of my most delightful memories was reading to my boys. Naturally there were the old favorites that had to be re-told for the fifty millionth time. I’m pretty sure I can quote the ‘Hungry Caterpillar’ off by heart even after all these years. Sometimes, I used to make stories up on the fly. The lads would give me the intro and I would go from there. No two stories were the same. That was always a great way to stretch theirs and my imagination.

As the boys got older, we encouraged reading by giving them ‘book pocket money’ which allowed them buy as many books as they could within their budget once a month. Not only did they become very selective with their purchases, they also became very good at understanding the value of their allowance.

I loved that they often bought books that came in a series, so that they ended up creating a collection. Many of those books still sit on our bookshelf. Now its university text books, not ‘Zac Powers, 24 hours to save the world. Before bedtime, I would have them read to me. Just one or two pages, until it was handed back to over to me to continue the story.

What was really important to me was that they learnt to love reading and that it created a shared experience. As we read together, my kids would ask questions. In that moment, we were really connected.

According to Simon Kuiper, the good old bedtime story and self-managed reading is vital in childhood learning and social development. Evidently, that time of evening when we as parents are about to collapse, is according to neuroscientists, the peak learning moment of the day for children.

“Pretty much the best way to form your child’s brain is to talk and read to them. He/she needs to hear words and imagine stories. He/she also needs to learn the patience to sit on your lap for ten minutes [or lay quietly in bed] and just listen - the perfect preparation for school (minus the lap). Seeing you read will make them want to read, too. Your child wants to be like you.”

As the boys got older they would often carry around a book with them where ever we would go. This was great when we went out for dinner and the final morsels of their dessert had been gobbled down and we adults were still eating.

Books were their entertainment and an incredible source of conversation. As a parent, you were truly kept on your toes when your child asks you, “did you know Dad?” - when referencing ‘100 Amazing Facts about Pirates, Dinosaurs, or Ancient Egypt. I loved when they were little and we would curl up and read together. I’m blessed that I had the chance to feed their growing brains in such a wonderful, enchanting way.

Being a Dad is damn tough and the kids will eat you alive if you’re not feeling 100% equipped and ready. All Dad’s can use a little help and support on occasions. 

If you are preparing for fatherhood, exploring what fatherhood means to you or would like to enhance your relationship with your children but find that you sometimes struggle, then let’s talk. Call me on 512-470-6976 to book an appointment.

Arohanui, Simon

Simon Niblock is an Austin TX based, Marriage and Family Therapy Associate who is dedicated to helping men, couples and families find peace, direction and meaning within their relationships. 

Call Simon on 512-470-6976 to book an appointment.

CLICK HERE TO EMAIL

Simon Niblock, Couples & Family Therapy

Reference: Kuiper, S. (2015). Reading to your kids. Retrieved from: http://www.askmen.com/dating/single_fathers/reading-to-your-kids.html

 

Understanding the Benefits of Marriage and Family Therapy

Understanding the Benefits of Marriage and Family Therapy

Image by Katt Grigg on Flickr

Image by Katt Grigg on Flickr

Since starting my practice as a Licensed Marriage and Family therapist associate, I’ve been asked numerous times, “what exactly is a marriage and family therapy?”

Given the opportunity I could quite easily rabbit on for hours explaining how therapy works and what value can come from seeing a licensed marriage and family therapist. Naturally, that comes with the territory when you are passionate about what you do.

Luckily, the clever team at the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT) created this short yet informative video on understanding the benefits of Marriage and Family Therapy.

It offers a straightforward explanation on how a Marriage and Family therapist might work with either an individual, a couple or a family who are seeking help and how the challenges that led them to seek help might be considered.

Alternatively, for those who are bandwidth restricted (or just prefer a short sound bite), here’s a nicely worded summary of how marriage and family therapy works according to the AAMFT.

“Marriage and Family Therapists are trained in systemic, or relational, therapy and believe that throughout life we exist in a number of relationships that directly and indirectly impact our well-being. Our relationships with family, friends, co-workers and neighbors influence and create our individual experience” AAMFT, 2015.

If you are considering therapy, please take a few moments to watch this 3-minute video.

If you would like to know more about how therapy might help with your own circumstance, then feel welcome to call me today on 512-470-6976 to discuss.

~ Simon