Thursday, April 13, 2006

Family dinner is vanishing because the family has vanished.

Family dinner is vanishing because the family has vanished. I know a Mom who IM'ed her kids that dinner was on the table and then whoever showed up got to eat and whoever was in the middle of a video game got what was left. Everyone is busy and pulled in a dozen directions these days, which prohibits sitting down over anything together, let alone a meal.

School, work, commute, ball practice, music lessons, going to the Y to work out, shopping, and everything else eats away at the concept of 'traditional family.' That model of family vanished and so did that model of how to get together.

Today I encourage families to get together with their schedules on Sunday night, map out how and when to connect, or when they will be going to the same place at the same time to be together. The goal is connection, we don't do that around a kitchen table much these days, but we still can connect if we take the time to plan for it and then make it happen. "

Dwight Bain Bio:

Author, Nationally Certified Counselor & Certified Family Law Mediator in practice since 1984 with a primary focus on solving crisis events and managing major change. Professional member of the National Speakers Association and Critical Incident Stress Management expert with the Orange County Sheriffs Office, founder of StormStress.com and trainer for over 1,000 business groups on the topic of making strategic change to overcome major stress- both personally & professionally. Access more life coaching strategies at DwightBain.com or LifeWorksGroup.org

Counseling results over the Internet?

The British Journal of Psychiatry published research a few months ago indicating that the success rate for Internet counseling was about the same as traditional counseling. Here's a portion of my thoughts about that study as it applies to positive change in the lives of people in Europe or the US. "Taking any positive action to change brightens up our mood, because we are moving forward to do something about an area of our life that needs improvement. Internet-based therapy could generate short-term results in mood for many people who are too busy to schedule a counseling appointment, or too exhausted, or too afraid to go through the process of trying to get in and see a qualified professional.Often, mild depression is caused by the accumulated daily stress of life, career pressures, relationship issues, the consequences of past decisions, or even something seemingly trivial, like traffic. I suspect the results of the study reflects people who know they need to work on an area of life, because taking action after gaining quick access to insightful answers always moves people forward.


Dwight Bain Bio:Author, Nationally Certified Counselor & Certified Family Law Mediator in practice since 1984 with a primary focus on solving crisis events and managing major change. Professional member of the National Speakers Association and Critical Incident Stress Management expert with the Orange County Sheriffs Office, founder of StormStress.com and trainer for over 1,000 business groups on the topic of making strategic change to overcome major stress- both personally & professionally. Access more life coaching strategies at DwightBain.com or LifeWorksGroup.org

Strategic Change is key to move through the stages of rebuilding a family after divorce:

There is a predictable process for parents and kids to rebuild a new family system together after divorce. Here are the four stages, (which could take years to complete,) and how it works to guide you or someone you care about in moving beyond the pain of the past to move toward a new life of connected and loving relationships.

1) Broken-
the children's parents close their marriage to each other, breaking their family apart into separate single parent households.

2) Blending-
one, (or sometimes both) of the children's parents have a new relationship that grows to the point of remarriage, frequently with several children involved, (think "yours-mine & ours). This is where knowing how to include the kids in forming this new family unit is critically important to guide adults and kids in avoiding conflict to build unity together as they begin to form a new family system.

3) Bonding-
these two families join together through the process of expanded relationship development and building on their unique strengths while setting boundaries on the areas of weakness to form a connected family environment of acceptance and love instead of power struggles and control.

4) Blessing-
this is the final stage where two different and unique families have grown together into one stronger new unit. They have not sacrificed their past or the people they used to be connected with; rather they have embraced their past and present to enjoy feeling more valued as they head into a stronger future together.

The journey through these four stages isn't easy, but the payoff in stronger kids and healthier families is huge and well worth the trade for everyone looking to be part of the most wonderful and sometimes most challenging relationship in life- parents & kids.

One concern to be aware of is the growing trend of giving children or teens pricey jewelry as a visual 'commitment during the remarriage process. This could easily backfire, since some teens could easily perceive 'bling' as a bribe to 'buy' some level of relationship instead of earn it the old fashioned way through building trust day by day.

Elaborate or expensive gifts are quick and easy and often lose their meaning as the years go by, strong relationships take time to develop and increase in value every day. One is a nice thought, the other a necessary part of moving from two broken families into one that is connected, bonded and blessed.

Hope these insights are useful to you through the process of bringing two broken families into one stronger and more connected one. If you would like more information on growing through the stages, or the mechanics of the wedding ceremony to bring in grandparents or other extended family members right from the beginning on the wedding day; please share your thoughts with us via the comments section on the blog, or directly through our counseling website, www.LifeWorksGroup.org I'm looking forward to hearing the success stories from people and families coming together to make their homes the happiest and safest place imaginable as they moved from a broken family... to a blessed one.
Please let us know what worked for you if you and your partner if you are able to connect with these ideas, or ifif you need more data or clarification on this process, since we all can always learn from each other on how to make a positive difference in the lives of people who are given a second chance to rebuild a stable family environment as well as to reach out and help the little guys and gals impacted by divorce who are counting on their parents to make healthy choices in the days ahead.

- Dwight Dwight Bain Bio:Author, Nationally Certified Counselor & Certified Family Law Mediator in practice since 1984 with a primary focus on solving crisis events and managing major change. Critical Incident Stress Management expert with the Orange County Sheriffs Office, founder of StormStress.com and trainer for over 1,000 business groups on the topic of making strategic change to overcome major stress- both personally & professionally. Professional member of the National Speakers Association; Corporate client list- Disney, Toyota, AT&T, Harcourt, DuPont & Bank of America. Organizational client list- US Army, Florida Hospital & International Critical Incident Stress Foundation. Quoted in: Investors Business Daily, New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Orlando Sentinel & Newsday.Contact Info:Main Office: 407-647-7005 Dedicated FAX: 407.647.8874Mailing: 1850 Lee Road, Suite 250, Winter Park, FL 32789
Counseling resources: www.LifeWorksGroup.org
Coaching resources: www.DwightBain.com

What changes are taking place in how people of faith are responding to Divorce?

Here are some recent trends to be aware of in understanding how the Christian community is changing to deal with the task of rebuilding life on the other side of divorce. I've noticed these changes over the last fifteen years as a certified family law mediator in Florida as well as over the last twenty years as a professional counselor focused on guiding people on their journey to rebuild their broken world today, while praying for a chance to experience a better world tomorrow.

Does divorce still carry a stigma in Christian circles?
Divorce is still viewed as a failure for believers because it is the very public unraveling of many private sources of pain; however it's dramatically improved over the way it used to be. Thirty years ago the stigma of wearing a scarlet 'D' was like the kiss of death in many Christian circles. Today divorce is more common and accepted as just another sad reality of life. Contrast this against what used to be viewed as a rare occurrence among people who didn't love God enough to work hard enough to keep their marriage together. People seem to have moved past casting harsh judgement against those who have been divorced and come to accept it as a normal stage of life.

Do Christians have enough support from churches in terms of counseling and groups?
Yes, but many people still seem to delay seeking help because they are too embarrassed to talk about the growing distance in the marriage and will try to 'fake it till you make it' until a relationship crisis explodes into pre-divorce litigation. Seems to me that divorce support groups are either underused for post-divorce emotional recovery or overused as a place to avoid feelings and escape loneliness without having to go to a bar. I believe that processing grief and loss are a necessary part of emotional healing and forgiveness to become healthier people on the other side of the divorce and that a counseling or support group environment is an excellent place to start as well as grow stronger in moving from a painful past to a better future.

Is the divorce rate among Christians any higher than people who don't go to church?
Sadly, yes. I've noticed that some people who are extremely involved in church do seem to divorce more often; which I attribute to their fatigue or fears that never get dealt with because they are so busy all the time. I don't think it's about their faith.
Basically the pattern works like this for many couples who believe in God- but get too burned out to take positive action to change...
They wait too long to get professional help, which allows every problem they are facing to get ten times worse.
This allows massive internal 'relationship cancers' to develop...
This eventually 'kills' the marriage... a process called 'divorce' where the 'dead' marriage is laid out to rest and buried legally just like a corpse.

Sometime I'll walk a couple through the top 25 measurable factors that indicate how alive or dead the marriage has become and more importantly, what they can do about it to make a healthier change and it's interesting since they can almost instantly identify the key elements that led to the dysfunction or distance in their marriage, as well as which areas are causing the most pain and need to change the fastest in an attempt to prevent the marriage from failing or ending. I believe that even the most difficult of situations will still have other options to explore directly to help calm a situation down so that both parties can begin to rationally sort through the issues together and come to some healthy conclusions together.

What are the key issues Christians face in the wake of a divorce and how do those differ from non-Christians?
Christians feel massive guilt over having failed at their promises to stay committed 'till death do us part'
Christians have some loss of church supports, since it is highly likely that one or both will leave their life groups or church out of embarrassment or awkwardness with their former married friends or church members.
People in leadership may not only quit church post-divorce, they may quit on their belief system and feel crushing anger or resentment at God
Churched people still have a greater likelihood of not being completely alone through the process, since God always seems to send someone to reach out to encourage or bless them, even when they feel the most alone. I've heard this called being touched by "Jesus with skin on"
It's been my experience that the Christians have a harder time with divorce in the first year, but can rebuild their lives faster over the course of time because of their faith and the connection they have to healthy people in their church who have a caring and positive outlook to come alongside them to give encouragement and support..
Unchurched people may walk through the stages of divorce completely alone, which often sets them up for crushing loneliness, and rapid rebounds into other relationships just to avoid being alone.
Remember the warning that it's always better to be alone with doubts or questions than to be in the wrong relationship with the wrong person for the wrong reasons at the wrong time and knowing that things weren't a good fit, but it beat being alone. This common fear leads many people to avoid facing the real issues that led to their first divorce, which tends to set them up for a string of other setbacks or relationship failures.
You have to take care of you before you can effectively try to reach out and take care of others.
If you are in the midst of rebuilding your life on the other side of divorce, take heart and press on and know that our counseling group in Florida is here for you.
If you are trying to figure out a way to find options for a troubled marriage in great distress that don't include divorce, then be encouraged as you contact our group to help guide you in stabilizing the highly complex or difficult relationship challenges you may be facing right now on your journey to rebuild a healthier and more balanced marriage in the days ahead.

At the LifeWorks Group we are committed to helping you find the most effective course of action to move past the stress as you change to grow stronger on your journey of success. Please access our extensive section of counseling tools and resources to help you and those you care about at www.LifeWorksGroup.org or coaching resources focused on building a balanced life of responsible actions instead of regrets and fear at www.DwightBain.com

You are not alone, and we are here to personally help you grow stronger since we believe that our mission is to 'make life work better for you.'


- Dwight Dwight Bain Bio:Author, Nationally Certified Counselor & Certified Family Law Mediator in practice since 1984 with a primary focus on solving crisis events and managing major change. Critical Incident Stress Management expert with the Orange County Sheriffs Office, founder of StormStress.com and trainer for over 1,000 business groups on the topic of making strategic change to overcome major stress- both personally & professionally. Professional member of the National Speakers Association; Corporate client list- Disney, Toyota, AT&T, Harcourt, DuPont & Bank of America. Organizational client list- US Army, Florida Hospital & International Critical Incident Stress Foundation. Quoted in: Investors Business Daily, New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Orlando Sentinel & Newsday.Contact Info:Main Office: 407-647-7005 Dedicated FAX: 407.647.8874Mailing: 1850 Lee Road, Suite 250, Winter Park, FL 32789 Counseling resources: www.LifeWorksGroup.org
Coaching resources: www.DwightBain.com