Articles of Interest

Lifestyle

Shih Tzu & The Art of Love

Photo 03-09-2013 13 58 25For most of the history of dogs and dog-kind, the phrase “man’s best friend” has been used and overused to describe our relationship with those four-legged balls of fur that roam our homes. I simply believe this phrase isn’t doing justice to what I have discovered having a dog is truly all about. We (my wife and I) were searching desperately for a dog last year, approaching the task with an uptight demeanour normally reserved for purchasing houses or private jets. This was a dog after all; we couldn’t just dump it in the bin if we found it lacking or take it back to IKEA for a full refund.

Daisy the Shih Tzu came from owners who seemed startled that they even had a dog, much less needed to feed and care for one. Despite our reservations, Daisy was really impossible to resist. She was charming from the short 30 minutes we got to spend with her. Excited, tail wagging like a furry metronome, she danced around us in the joy of being given attention, culminating in her flipping over to allow us to rub her stomach, a favourite activity of hers. We bought her.

Little did we know the impacts of allowing a new furry friend into our house. We knew that having a dog would be fun, new…but life changing?

Absolutely. Gone are the days when all we would see of the children was a quick flash as they dashed through the door and dived onto the sofa, tablets and smartphones in hand. Gone are the days when I would drearily look forward to a day of some mild work and staying at home. Gone are the days when the most exercise I did was walking back and forth to the kitchen cupboard to make cups of tea for diminishing returns. Daisy was here!

Trying to explain having a dog to a non-pet owner is like trying to explain having a child to a stubborn teenager who thinks kids are ‘icky’. Dogs can teach you a new level of responsibility, love and respect. Let me try to impress upon you how this happens. Dogs require constant care and attention, yes, but they give almost exactly what they take. Daisy’s joy is palpable every time she is taken on something as simple as walk, or every time she flips over for a (aforementioned) stomach rub. Daisy is a quiet dog, but not timid – whenever she growls, you can be sure there is a problem with you, not her. Our communication with her means that we have learned to respect her, and back away whenever she is uncomfortable, while similarly she respects our control of the household (bar the odd day when she sees fit to sneak upstairs).

But hey, before you think I’m yet another pet-obsessed urbanite consider this; Daisy is no pampered pooch, she has no pet insurance and never will; she doesn’t get grooming sessions at a parlour; she doesn’t get organic, natural, blueberry flavoured gourmet food and no, she is never allowed in the bedrooms.

Having a dog, especially a small, perky and happy dog teaches you a different way of looking at life and how your simple relationships should work. It also teaches you that love, respect and trust are universal values that make happy relationships.

Lifestyle

Santa, this is Selfie. Can I have iPhone 6…

5122843The crowning of ‘Selfie’ as the word of the year 2013 is the icing on the cake for millions of parents trapped in the ‘childcare generation’ – a generation that is exhausted and overwhelmed  by the demands put on them by their children’s needs and desires.

Selfies are popular with celebrities such as Justin Bieber, Rihanna and the Kardashians who want to keep their brand image refreshed by posting selfies on a daily basis. And empowered by the likes of Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat, we can all post our selfies and be mini-celebrities now, with a matching sense of celebrity entitlement.

“‘My iPhone 4 sucks, I need a new phone!’ – Are you familiar with this constant whining of a ‘non-contributing zero’ generation?” – Louis CK.

Rampant consumerism and global media reach; glorification and normalization of greed; ubiquitous craving for information and the ever decreasing lifespan of attention; the sober reality of diminishing expectations from our next generation while we live longer  – all these are interconnected in ways most of us would rather not acknowledge or think about. Instead, we have succumbed to giving in to an insatiable desire to have nothing but the latest and the best; ‘good enough’ just won’t do. We insulate our children from the real world in the guise of protecting them and letting the avalanche of information from devices and gadgets crowd out more meaningful interactions with human beings.

As parents we need to get the principle of ‘good enough’ back on the agenda – convenient or not. For too long we have bought into the simplistic narrative of letting our children buckle to peer pressure instead of investing our time and resources patiently and diligently in teaching them how to live with it.

So what can we do? Remember, by year seven your child will be very aware of themselves and their place in the world. They will be starting to assert their own identity and learning that behaviour has consequences and the effect that it has on others. So start early, by five years of age at the very latest; Set boundaries. Invest time, money and resources in three fundamental pillars of human development; reading, sports and music. It is as simple as that.

We can do better. We have to do better.

Lifestyle

3 routes to a perfect mate

ringsAs unique as a fingerprint, each partner brings their own style of relating to a couple relationship.

Our choice of a partner is based on our need to find someone who is similar to us, our family,  our friends and yet different enough to bring something new and valuable to our existing network of relationships. Sounds a bit like hiring a new colleague? It isn’t.

Psychologist Henry Dicks proposed that we choose out future partner based on 3 major areas of ‘fit’ together

1. The public fit: the social class, ethnicity, and education between couples. This is what your parents will look for.

2. The private fit: personality, attitude, shared interests and shared aspirations. This is what your mates will look for.

3. The unconscious fit: the idea that we are unconsciously finding connections with other people. This is what your therapist will looks for!

Dicks believed, and lots of psychoanalysts nodded in agreement, that our unconscious mind plays a far larger role in partner selection than generally acknowledged. He proposed that unconscious mind seeks out complementarity in the other partner on the basis of our childhood experience with our parents and we seek out a partner who is like a cherished parent or unlike a disappointing parent.

“The child is father to the man”

Henry Dicks believed that a relationship requires at least one ‘fit’ and a good relationship needs at least two of which one must be the ‘unconscious fit’. Most couples aren’t aware of their fit until something happens to disrupt it, laying open repressed parts of unconscious needs and expectations which are unmet. Couples therapy can uncover the unconscious forces underlying your relationship conflict and help you adapt, change or realign your ‘couple fit’.