Category Archives: Uncategorized

Find Your Child’s Hidden Design

Zach, 16, was diagnosed with ADHD and Executive Functioning problems. This meant that school was never fun and he resisted homework and lied sometimes about anything related to school. He was also depressed because school is a huge part of his life and it wasn’t what made him tick.

His mom, concerned and motivated to help him, came to me for coping strategies. While I appreciate the role of coping and strategies in the lives of teens, focusing on this aspect of functioning is not the most effective way to help teens do well in life. Supporting our child to find their hidden design is far more powerful. Their hidden design is their power skill, the unique aspect of their personality or skill set that may not fit into some objectively defined success story. But this hidden design is what motivates them, what drives their choices, constitutes how they find flow and will likely be their contribution to the world.

Keep Reading

Help Teens Find Authentic Satisfaction: Trust Them

 “You cannot teach a man anything; you can only help him find it within himself.”

– Galileo Galilei

How can we trust our young adults when we never learned to trust ourselves?


Most of us were raised to believe that parents are meant to guide young adults based on our beliefs. School and other values we hold dear are an extension of this externally imposed system of knowledge and experience.  For many self-motivated teens who know their passions and learn experientially, rather than from what we or others tell them to be true, self-education in its various forms may be a better fit. What worked for us (law school, saying no to body art or that exercise regimen) may not work for them.

Keep reading on Psychology Today

The Education Within: How do teens and parents balance the culture of expectation with self-knowledge?

Education is not the filling of a pail but the lighting of a fire. —Yeats

What does it mean to light a fire rather than fill a pail? To start, our culture, its educational tenets, and the messages of unbridled capitalism promote pail filling. The focus on products (homework, SAT scores, As) over processes and competition over finding one’s own particular skills constitute an “outward in” approach to education that leaves an epidemic number of teens paralyzed. Failure = death.

Expectations are for small minds. —Albert Einstein

When we can’t fail we can’t succeed and life becomes a dissociated experience in which we must choose only the best aspects of ourselves to present to the world. Chronic focus on the outside, on expectations, while ignoring the inside, emotions, instincts, one’s own soul’s map, leads to the development of what psychologists call “the false self.”  Many of my adult patients, the product of this culture and education, bemoan the fact that they feel they are running alongside their lives, rather than living in them. Anxiety, depression and even despair can follow from this sense of disconnection from our authentic selves.

Keep reading on Psychology Today

Your Teen Is Not You

A well-meaning dad in my practice came into my office at his regular time, his eyes wide, perched at the edge of the couch. He wanted to share something; he could hardly keep it in.

“I realized something this week,” he blurted breathlessly.

I waited, wondering which of the many tangled moments had just been unfurled:
“My son is not ME!”

This may seem obvious from an intellectual standpoint; we all know this is true. In my experience over 30 years of seeing parents and families, and as a mother myself, I know that most of us act as if it were not true—that, in some way (much of the time) our teen is us.

Keep reading on Psychology Today

Six Deep Breaths Back to Connection With Your Child

10:15 p.m. on Monday night. It feels like Friday already.

My 11-year-old, a writer who gets her “inspiration” around 9:00 p.m. every evening (which feels like the middle of the night as I’ve been up since 5:30 a.m.)  was chattering in bed. Suddenly, happy moments from the day turned to a rant that I hadn’t given her enough time to write after I had promised to.

From the darkness my daughter whined, voice strained and tired:

“You said you would give me time after and you didn’t.”

My cortisol shot through my veins. My heart dropped to my feet. I could feel my defensive, angry Mama surging. My mind spun and the thoughts whirred:

“It is never enough for you, Natasha. You are never satisfied. How have I raised a child with no gratitude who is always pushing for more? I cannot take this. I have no more energy. I guess I’m the worst Mom. I am going to go insane.”

Keep reading on Psychology Today

Three Transformative Strategies to Empower You And Your Teen

As the Dalai Lama once said, “Those who drive us the craziest are our best teachers.” While research and your grandmother agree that human happiness depends on the quality of our closest relationships, maintaining that connection with our teen can be challenging. What I have found is that our teens are mirrors for our deepest selves. The following strategies, gleaned from thirty years working to repair broken ties between parents and teens, suggest that what you fear becomes what you face; your greatest weakness becomes your saving strength.

Keep reading on Psychology Today