Our thoughts and prayers go out to everyone whose relationships are forever changed by the shootings in Santa Barbara.

Blame abounds. Who or what is responsible? Video games, lax gun laws, a seriously flawed mental health system, garbage movies and video games, the parents, a kid suffering from Affluenza and narcissism?

Apparently, the shooter was a lost, lonely kid who we believe was mentally ill, but do we know his diagnosis? Schizophrenia? Antisocial Personality Disorder? Who knows? But his self-admitted ‘pining for his mother’ speaks volumes about the ugly seed growing in him. This guy experienced a lot of loss in his formative years.

Loss 1 – Parents moved him from Europe to the U.S. at age 5 = Loss of culture, home and possibly extended family

Loss 2 – Parents divorced at age of 6 = Loss of family, safety, and stability

Loss 3 – Dad quickly brought new woman into his life = Loss of hope of family reunification, loss of time with Dad

Loss 4 – Mom moved back to Europe = Loss of primary relationship…and hope.

Most kids, depending on their temperament, could handle this.

Instead of pointing all fingers at the shooter, we could take a look at a narcissistic society that lacks emphasis on commitment to marriage and family. I’m not blaming the parents for doing what most have done. Sometimes dissolution is unavoidable but in many or maybe even most cases we could make it work. Maybe we ought not to rely on the common thinking that we shouldn’t stay together for the kids. Maybe we should.

Here are a few suggestions for help in dealing with building a strong marriage, or helping kids cope when divorce is the only answer.

An evidence-based online program for kids whose parents are going through divorce. Children of Divorce – Coping with Divorce. Kids who take this course during their parent’s divorce, or maybe even after, have a far better chance at sustaining good mental health both now and into their adult lives. Highly Recommended

A helpful book on building a strong marriage: Take Back Your Marriage: Sticking Together in a World That Pulls Us Apart

Great gift for anyone having a baby:

Becoming Attached: First Relationships and How They Shape Our Capacity to Love

It’s “All About Better Parenting Month” at Unhooked Books, where we strongly advocate for prevention. Better parenting lands right smack in prevention-land!

Parenting and Mental Health Connection  Loads and loads of research, not to mention common sense, tells us that parenting is key to better long-term mental health and other improved outcomes as children grow into adulthood. This translates into reduced violence, reduced drug/alcohol and other addictions, higher achievements in education, better relationships, reduced dependence on medical, mental, and financial assistance, all leading to a more productive and healthier society. And it all starts with parenting.

In those early years, attachment and bonding with both parents is so important. Modeling empathy, flexible thinking, moderate behaviors and managed emotions has more impact on children, through mirror neurons, than ever before known. Sometimes even the best parents have difficulty with emotionally intense kids and need a little extra help. The books we offer at Unhooked Books are carefully selected after intensive research to ensure they offer help that has been proven to work. We want to help every parent become a better parent through education and skills-building!

A full listing of books included in “All About Better Parenting Month” is below. These books help with topics ranging from the most basic parenting to dealing with kids who might prove a bit more challenging and those who have to deal with unique challenges. We have books on partnership parenting, co-parenting after divorce or separation, helping kids with parents in conflict, child alienation, dealing with trauma, with bullying, addiction, autism, Asperger’s, emotional dysregulation, addiction and other issues. We know more about parenting now that at any other time in history and we have loads of research to tell us what works and what doesn’t work so let’s not waste the opportunity to put it to work for us!

“Reality” TV and Parenting  You may think this silly, but after watching nearly every episode of shows like Intervention, Hoarders, Rehab, Couples Therapy, Obsessed, and others, I’ve observed that nearly 100% of the people featured have one thing in common from their childhoods – absent, abusive or neglectful parents. Some were intentional and others were not, but the effect was still the same. Wouldn’t it be great if we could put these shows out of business in the next generation by helping young parents be better parents now?

February is  “All About Better Parenting” Month  Throughout February we will have author interviews of our top parenting book picks, and the best news……all parenting books are on sale all month!

This is a complete listing of the parenting books on sale this month. And, let us know if you have a great parenting book you’d recommend. We just might add it to our offering!

7 Things Your Teenager Won’t Tell You

A Smart Girl’s Guide to Her Parents’ Divorce

An Umbrella for Alex

Becoming A Better Parent: Ten Things We Need to Know About Parenting

Between Fathers & Daughters: Enriching and Rebuilding Your Adult Relationship

Borderline Personality Disorder in Adolescents: A Complete Guide to Understanding and Coping When Your Adolescent has BPD

Don’t Alienate the Kids! Raising Resilient Children While Avoiding High Conflict Divorce

Helping Your Troubled Teen: Learn to Recognize, Understand, and Address the Destructive Behavior of Today’s Teens

Kids First : What Kids Want Grown-Ups to Know About Separation & Divorce

Mom’s House, Dad’s House: Making Two Homes For Your Child

Parenting a Child Who Has Intense Emotions: Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills to Help Your Child Regulate Emotional Outbursts and Aggressive Behaviors

Parenting After Divorce : Resolving Conflict and Meeting Your Children’s Needs

Parenting from the Inside Out: How a Deeper Self-Understanding Can Help You Raise Children Who Thrive

Parenting Your Child with Autism: Practical Solutions, Strategies, and Advice for Helping Your Family

Parents Are Forever

Partnership Parenting: How Men and Women Parent Differently–Why It Helps Your Kids and Can Strengthen Your Marriage

Putting Children First: Proven Parenting Strategies for Helping Children Thrive Through Divorce

Roots of Empathy: Changing the World Child by Child

The Whole-Brain Child: 12 Revolutionary Strategies to Nurture Your Child’s Developing Mind

Through the Eyes of Children

Thanks for being a Better Parent!

Megan Hunter
Unhooked Books

ImageThe 49th Annual Association of Family and Conciliation Courts Conference (AFCC) was another fantastic opportunity for Judges, Lawyers, Psychologists and Social Workers to get together to find clues about unraveling the puzzle of high conflict divorces. With this year’s theme “Attachment, Brain Science and Children of Divorce” a lot of research was presented pertaining to attachment.

Two things struck me from the conference. The first point was how lucky AFCC members are to have a forum for learning about the most up-to-date research and practices. The second point was despite all the work being done, that we have only begun to understand the complex dynamics of high conflict divorce and that research is desperately needed pertaining to interventions with high conflict families.

Unfortunately, even the best laboratory research may not generalize to the “real world” and people are so complex that no two families are alike.

My view of families is that they are stuck in a brick outhouse, and a ripe one at that. To explain this, each “brick” is a separate problem, whether the parents own issues from before the relationship, problems in the relationship, communication or problem solving weaknesses, extended family interference, mental illness, or a multitude of other possibilities. Solving issues in such high conflict families involves chipping away at one brick at a time while also teaching the family new skills and processes.

As professionals, we are obliged to keep up with the best possible knowledge of the day, while using “clinical judgment”, which is more of an art than a science, to meet the unique needs of each family we work with. The vast number of excellent programs emerging for working with high conflict divorces is both reassuring and overwhelming. Each program is a tool for the professional’s tool belt, and no one thing is, or ever will be, a cookie cutter solution for such families. This is one area where we do not have to worry about being replaced in the foreseeable future by computers and videos.

Even though professionals in the midst of divorce proceedings appear adversarial, including the mental health professionals at times, events such as the AFCC conference show that we are all on the same team – the one aimed and helping kids be their best.

About our Guest Blogger

ImageStephen Carter, Ph.D., is a Registered Psychologist based in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, specializing in counseling and assessments with adolescents and children, and assessments and interventions with divorcing families. He is the author of Family Restructuring Therapy, which is available for sale via unhookedbooks.com  This book is a “how to” manual for working with families in separation and divorce using an active, directive therapeutic process called Family Restructuring Therapy. This philosophy and effective process works well for the “normal” divorced family who need to learn new practices and patterns, and for the “high-conflict” family whose behavior patterns have become so maladaptive that the children’s well-being is at risk.

A valuable resource for mental health professionals, and also for lawyers and the Court when trying to decide what can be done with challenging parenting battles. It is clearly not a passive approach to counseling. If you’re tired of witnessing the damage that conflict has on children and want to engage in the highly satisfying work of helping parents communicate effectively and seeing children relieved of the burden of picking sides, devour this book and get to work!

To learn more about Dr. Carter, or to explore family counseling options, please visit www.familyrestructuring.ca or send him an email at carter@chvbv.ca.