Power of the Dinner Table Ritual

It's come to my attention that very few families actually practice the art of gathering around the dinner table anymore. Ok, so most of my childhood dinners ended in arguing, fist-banging and my mother retreating to her bedroom, I still feel it is necessary to the mental health of families today...how ever you define family. My family consists of me and my dog, but then again, there are no children present. I read recently that it is important to a child's wel-being to have at least 15 minutes of a parents undivided attention a day. That doesn't mean as the parent is arguing with them or attacking them for misbehavior, it means, asking questions about their day, checking in on home they are doing emotionally, academically, physically and with their peers. When the child responds, "everything is OK," the conversation doesn't end there. "What do you mean by OK?" should be the next question. Details, details, details. "What did you find interesting at school today?" Try not to ask yes, no questions, because you'll only get yes, no answers. Suggest your child help out with the dinner preparation even if it is a take out meal.
Be creative with your communication style with your child/children. Sit down and do a nonverbal drawing together about how you and your child's day was. All you need is a big piece of paper or small and markers. Each picks a color marker and take turns drawing images that represent your day.
When your down, talk about the images. You can learn a lot from pictures.

Hip to Social Media

Ok, so I'm still trying to figure out how to get google to spot my blog and professional info. I hear google sends out spider like legs to tap into the most popular, original, cool stuff. Isn't art therapy cool? Isn't trying to get awareness to anti-bullying beyond cool? And, isn't empowering midlife women just way too cool? So, what's the problem. Maybe I have to get my cheerleader outfit out, though I was never a cheerleader, start tooting my own horn. I'm on linkedin; I'm on Twitter, though I resisted for quite some time, and, I have a blogspot. It's a whole new world out there with social media, but I think I'm catching on. Things I know that are hip:
Adam Lambert must win Idol
Susan Boyle must win England Has Talent or whatever it's called. And, she must not pluck her eyebrows!
Bo is reeking havoc in the White House - I told you they should have gotten a rescue!
Green saves money
Finally, government...stay out of my womb, out of my bedroom and wedding plans.


Bullying has been going on for a very long time. Peer pressure can be endless and children can feel like they have nowhere to turn ,but to end their lives as two boys did recently. Schools pretty much tell bullies to stop it., teachers have so much on their plate as it is, it's hard to keep track of the bullying that takes place outside of their classrooms. So who's responsibility is it? Parents who speak up and address the issue with school administrators have to be advocates for the children nonstop to get the school's attention and then they risk being labeled trouble-makers. So, what should be happening? As a mental health professional, I believe anti-bullying education has to start at a very young age. Bullies need early counseling at the first signs of aggressive behavior and support groups need to be set-up in schools for all children to attend whether they are bullied, do the bullying, or are not bullied. Children should not be afraid or threatened if they speak up as victims or observers of bullying. So, I'm bringing the issue to my local Marriage and Family Therapy organization, CAMFT, California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists to address and begin going to schools and speak with parents. Parents need to check in with their children on a daily basis about their day at school and not be satisfied when their child responds that their day was "OK." Bullying needs to be talked about at home, at the dinner table and whenever possible. Book smart is one thing...emotional smart is just as necessary.
Be Aware
Marriage and Family Therapy Intern #52087
Supervisor Gwen Lotery, MFT #37140
art & guidance 4 the body, mind & soul