Do You and Your Partner Speak Different Love Languages?

Jennifer comes home after a long day at work.  Jeff has just prepared dinner for her and their three children.  He is excited because he intends to inaugurate a special family meal involving a new recipe each week.   The dinner is ready when Jennifer comes home.  They sit and eat, and engage in a lively conversation.  However, after the dinner, Jennifer seems sad.  When Jeff asks why, Jennifer complained that Jeff never does anything to make her feel loved. What’s going on here?  Jeff loves … [Read more...]

The Circle of Virtues: How to Cultivate Character Your Child

We all want our children to be moral.  However, in a society made up of so many different groups of people, who gets to define what is moral?  Whose morality?  Whose values? At first blush, this seems like a difficult question.  That is because there really is diversity when it comes to values and virtues.  People and social groups differ.  And we need to find ways to respect these differences.   But this is where the conversation should start, not where it should end.  The mere fact that we … [Read more...]

“I’m Relaxed, Laid Back, and Without a Care in the World!” (You say that is if it were a good thing…)

By Michael F. Mascolo, Ph.D. Several years ago, I had the opportunity to conduct research in India.  My research compared the sense of self among American and Indian adolescents.  I asked adolescents to describe how they experienced themselves in relationships with different people.  I also asked them to describe how they experienced themselves when they were “just being me”. The results were illuminating.  I had always been told that adolescents and adults in Asia thought of themselves in … [Read more...]

How to be Happy

If you ask people what they strive for in life, many people will say that they wish to be happy.   Of course, this makes good sense.  But what do we mean by happiness?   And how can we attain it?  The answers to these questions are not so clear. So we want to be happy.   How can we make this happen?    One way to live a happy life is by continuously asking ourselves what I like to call “The Most Important Question”.  What is that question? “Is what I am doing good?” This is an easy … [Read more...]

Find the Good in Each Moment

So, if happiness means finding that which is good in life, how can this be done?   What if things aren’t so good right now?   Does that mean I must resign myself to unhappiness?   How do I know what is good?   Does this mean that I always have to be trying to “do good”?  Does it meant that I can’t seek pleasure, and that I have to sacrifice myself for others? Not in the least. Here are three basic ways to cultivate that which is good in life. 1.  Find what is good in the present … [Read more...]

Our Culture of Narcissism: Has it Affected Your Child?

by Michael F. Mascolo, Ph.D. My door is open. A student comes into my office. She walks in and says, “I’d like to drop one of my classes”. I smile, and as welcoming as I can be, I ask, “Do we know each other?” Another student failed two courses during the previous semester. He had good reasons – a series of serious emergencies had emerged and he couldn’t complete his work. He was too ashamed to talk to his professors about his situation. I urged him to write to them. Knowing that he would … [Read more...]

An Open Letter to Teens about Sex

By Michael F. Mascolo, Ph.D. The following is a letter to teenage children about sexuality.  This letter is for all teens, regardless of their age, sexual orientation or political persuasion.  It was written in a spirit that I hope will be seen as free from any particular political agenda, liberal, conservative or otherwise.   My hope is that the values expressed in this letter will be something that many of us can agree upon.  However, if we differ, my hope is that it will at least lead to … [Read more...]

Four Fears that Undermine Good Parenting

Many of us, as parents, harbor some unfounded fears that, if left unchecked, can easily get in the way of our attempts to be good parents. Nice Parent, Mean Parent Have you ever noticed how often parents speak – even in jest – of being “nice” or “mean” to their children?  “My son wanted  to go to a friend’s house before finishing his homework.  I didn’t let him, and he missed the chance to see his friend.  I’m such a mean parent!”  “She knows she can get whatever she wants from her Dad.  … [Read more...]

How to Parent with Attitude

David Elkind, the famous developmental psychologist, once wrote that “parenting is an attitude”.   I recall that when I read this statement, many years ago, I didn’t quite understand it.  I had a glimmer of what he meant, but I kept thinking: What type of attitude?  And it can’t just be an attitude, right?  After all, a parent actually has to do something to raise children. I think I understand now what Elkind meant.  There is, as you know, a lot of advice out there, from a variety of … [Read more...]

Managing Conflict Between You and Your Partner: Separate the Solution from the Problem

Managing Conflict: Separate the Solution from the Problem The other day, Cindy called Duncan at work.   Cindy asked Duncan to review a letter that she had just written to one of her clients.  Duncan was busy, however, with his own crisis.  He had two deadlines to make in less than an hour.  He didn’t have the time to help Cindy.  What’s more, Duncan feels that Cindy has a tendency to call him in the middle of the day to make requests like this.  “Cindy”, he said, “I need you to stop calling … [Read more...]