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We Are Awesome Parents

"Nothing is worse than active ignorance."

-Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Have you seen the recent commercial of the family who just got the new iPhone 6s for their teenage daughter? The commercial is advertising new usage plans aimed at families who consume high volumes of data use. The family highlighted in the commercial is driving down the road with dad at the wheel, mom as passenger, and the daughter in the back seat, completely engaged in all the functions her newly acquired multi media device has to offer.  The daughter is talking to her friend when the dad asks, “Is that an extra expense”?  The mom assures dad “it’s in the plan”.  Dad proclaims, “We are awesome parents”.

Next the daughter is taking a selfie capturing the momentous moment and texting it to her friend.  Dad worriedly asks mom “Is that included in the package or an extra expense?”  Mom confidently confirms, “It’s covered”.  Dad replies, “We are awesome parents”. 

Lastly, the adolescent daughter is seen wearing headphones and rhythmically bobbing and swaying with exuberance to which her father sternly quips, “What is going on back there?”  She replies in a loud voice, “I am streaming my music, this is so awesome!”  Dad begins to question mom when she interrupts with quiet assurance “its in the plan”.  And dad repeats one final time “We, are awesome parents”. 

As I watched this commercial I thought about families who come to my office impacted by technology and its ill effects.  I liken technological devices in the home to “the new liquor cabinet”.  Awesome parenting in this day and age involves new skills to keep our children safe.  These skills are new, and different from skills necessary in previous parenting generations. 


Do you know how to keep you children safe with regard to their technology? Would you allow your child to visit the “red light district” in Amsterdam?  Even worse, visit it unattended and alone?  Would you allow your child to talk and visit with strangers in your home?  Even worse, visit with them in your home without your knowledge?  An unsupervised Internet connection serves this same virtual function.

Do you know whom your child “friends” with their social media?  Do you know how their technology might be impacting them, their relationships, and their self-esteem?  In 2010 a British Survey of 14-16 year olds reported 1/3 of these respondents had seen pornography online before age 10, 81% looked at pornography online, and 75% said their parent never discussed pornography with them.  In 2013 a child online pole reported 60% of kids said they have been asked to send a sexually explicit text of themselves. 

Just as you wouldn’t send a child out into the world without education for alcohol or drug dangers, don’t let them be exposed to the Internet without similar education and safeguards of protection.  Just as you teach them about alcohol and drug use and abuse, teach them about the impact technology can have on them, their brains, and their relationships.  Your children likely won’t learn this anywhere else.  Research has shown until the age of 14 parents are the #1 influence over their children with regard to sexual matters.  Research also shows parents will be the last resource if parents do not create the bridge of communication.

Our clinicians at RRC have specific knowledge and cutting edge training to educate parents and adolescents about safe on-line behaviors and the ill effects of technology on the brain and their relationships.  We offer education for parents and psychoeducation groups for adolescents to safely explore how the Internet and smart phones impact their social life.

This summer our staff will be facilitating groups for middle school and high school age teens to explore how technology impacts their life and relationships.  We also offer education information sessions for parents in our center as well as in the community.

  • The Teen Girls Guide to Technology, Real Relationships, and Real Talk
  • Parenting in the Age of Techology

For more information contact us at 770.676.7748


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Does this statement describe anyone you know?  Your mother, your aunt, your best friend or perhaps YOU!  In our culture today, moms wear many hats.  Some are single moms in the workplace trying to meet all the needs of their children by playing many roles: taxi driver, tutor, meal maker, personal shopper, schedule keeper and soccer coach.  These roles result in little time for oneself.  Some super moms are “stay-at-home” moms, and because they are NOT in the workplace, are consistently called upon to show up at school to:  supply birthday parties, drive, chaperone field trips, volunteer their services in the school office, and help the teacher out when asked.  

Motherhood is a 24/7 occupation that never gets a day off. 

 The job description doesn’t offer a 2-week vacation or a certain number of sick days. The typical 8-hour workday, is often more like 18 hours…from before sunrise to well past sunset.  For “stay-at-home” moms, the job can be so demanding that some have thrown in the towel and joined the workforce just so they can reclaim some sanity and get some time of their own!  Mothers are the “glue” that keep the family together and function smoothly. When that “glue” becomes stressed, it no longer holds.  This shows up when moms get short-tempered, critical, judgmental and even jealous of other moms who “seem” to have a more carefree lifestyle. 

Moms get discouraged with the unending list of responsibilities which never seem to get done and just roll over to the next day.  They never get the satisfaction of seeing a task completed or hearing “job well done”.  Therefore, moms begin to question their value and self-worth. They build up and harbor resentment and feel unappreciated.  These are dangerous emotions to hold if not dealt with in a positive manner. 


What is the prescription to battle these feelings?  One must be pro-active in taking care of oneself! 

Whether you are in the workplace, or a stay-at-home mom, being a mom is both physically and emotionally draining and requires that moms have a game plan for getting their batteries re-charged.   Recharge is best before they feel as they can no longer run “that machine” called “family”! 

There is a much over-used illustration, but it is true:  When the flight attendants give safety instructions for decreased cabin pressure during flight, they tell you to put the oxygen mask on yourself before putting it on your child.  As moms, it is our first instinct to take care of our child before ourselves.  We do it all the time!  But in this case, it would be detrimental.  We MUST take care of ourselves in order to have any mental, physical and emotional stamina to care for others who are in our care.  In the long run, if we see to our own needs, we will have the patience, perspective and perseverance needed to successfully tend to our families’ needs.

Here are a few ideas of how to take care of yourself.  First, it helps to identify what your needs are! Look at 4 categories.  Physical, mental, emotional and spiritual.  Think about what helps you in all these areas? Physically, is it a spa treatment such as a facial or massage?  Or it may be as simple as taking off a morning or afternoon when the kids are in school and just being at home alone reading a book, magazine or catching up on emails.  You can also join a gym. Get some exercise! Exercise kills 2, 3, or 4 birds with one stone because it satisfies needs in the physical, mental, spiritual and emotional areas!  Exercise beats anti-depressants in clinical trials to combat depression, hands down!.

Being organized and having a structured schedule helps one get in the routine of caring for one’s needs.  Build it into your day/week to insure that it gets done.

Mentally and emotionally, you may need to off-load some taxing issues that are constantly on your mind.  Talk to a friend or therapist.  If you are married, talk to your spouse.  Take care not to off load too much adult content to your kids.  You do not want them to feel that they have to take care of you when they are not age appropriate to do so! 

Be confident in expressing your feelings about different subjects.  Being free to feel is a gift.  Our children feel intensely. Sometimes as moms, we shut down our feelings in order to adequately perform all our duties.  In short, we become robots!  Spiritually, start your day with a devotional or meditation to calm your inner soul.  It may require you to get up a little earlier than the rest of your crew, but it is YOUR time to get grounded before the onslaught of the day!  Modeling self-care behaviors for your kids is important.  If your children see you take care of yourself, it will ultimately have an impact on them.  Additionally, they will be the recipients of a more patient, fulfilled mom and it teaches them good habits for them to learn to take care of their own needs when they get older!

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Adolescent Internet Addiction Disorder – Recent Medical Findings

This past week the American Psychiatric Association’s annual meeting took place. A literature review of 13 published articles was presented.  These articles showed people with Internet Addiction Disorder (IAD), especially those addicted to internet gaming, show certain brain abnormalities. 

Studies found an increased blood flow is actually seen in the areas of the brain involved in pleasure and reward centers.  These findings support a 4-year study involving more than 80 experts in neurology and addiction medicine that was released by the American Society for Addictive Medicine (ASAM) in August 2012.  The ASAM study defined addictions as a chronic neurological disorder involving many brain functions most notably an imbalance in the so-called “reward circuitry.” 

Sree Jadapalle, MD, a 2nd year psychiatry resident of Morehouse Medical School, presented the summary of literature review findings at an APA press conference in New York. She reported the prevalence of Internet Addiction Disorder is present in about 26.3 percent of adolescents!  Her report further concurred with my own clinical observations in treating adolescents on two continents for the past 20 years.  While parents would bring me their children when they discovered illicit drug use, often, I was way more concerned for what was going on with technological devices in the child’s bedroom with texting, sexting, social media, webcams, and video gaming on the internet.  Her findings conclude Internet Addiction Disorder statistics are higher than illicit drug use.

These behaviors disturb the dopamine delivery systems.  Basically, when involved in these behaviors, dopamine is delivered at rapid expense rates and the brain gets depleted that allow one to mood regulate appropriately.  It would be like using all your water at the beginning of a hike in the desert without the ability to replenish supply appropriately. 


IAD is not currently an established mental disorder but a variety of screening tools can, and should, be used for screening among adolescents with mental health problems given the increasing prevalence of suicidal behavior in this age group.  Depending upon the degree and length of exposure to internet addiction, an adolescent child may demonstrate an indifference to consequences which can include psychological, social, and work difficulties.

The presented research shows a significant correlation between IAD and mental health problems, including depression, suicidal behavior, obsessive-compulsive disorder, eating disorders, attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, as well as alcohol and illicit drug use disorders, said Dr. Jadapalle. Some studies show that IAD may increase suicide attempts in the presence of depression.

The therapists at Relationship Recovery Center have specific training in process and chemical addictions (ie. Internet, Sex, Shopping, Gambling, and Gaming).  If you are seeing problematic signs or symptoms in your family members, we are here to help with cutting edge assessment and treatment.

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Good Grief! Making Holidays After Death or Divorce

By Cindy Martin, LAMFT, ASAT (2), EMDR


As we near the end of the year, everyone is telling us to be happy! But what if we have experienced the loss of a loved one or the loss of a family as we have known it through divorce?  How do you manage to be happy then?  I suggest 4 things to think about:

1.    Create a New Family Tradition

2.    Surround yourself with Support

3.    Come to grips with feeling sad, but be open to feeling joyful

4.    Take steps to welcome Healing in the New Year

The holidays can often be something where we just survive rather than thrive-especially if we are in a BLENDED FAMILY!  There are only so many hours in a holiday season and the question then becomes, “who do we spend it with?”  The children often ask, “Will Santa know whether to deliver the gifts to Mommy’s house or Daddy’s house?”  Even the best plans for the holidays can be tinged with sadness because someone or something is missing that was there before.  As human beings, we don’t like CHANGE!   Statistics tell us that 20% of children live in step families, so it’s important to address these issues rather than ignore them.

1.    Create a New Family Tradition-every family has holiday assumptions, so rather than be sad that they cannot be fulfilled as in the past, make new ones that can soon become family memories as warm as the old ones.  Do what is best for your current family and your current situation.

2.   Surround yourself with Support-if certain family members are insensitive to your new circumstances, perhaps this is the year to spend time with those people who you feel supported by.  Or maybe you need to communicate to family members what makes you feel supported.  You can’t expect that they will automatically know.

3.   Come to grips with feeling sad, but be open to feeling joy- don’t be afraid to cry.  Sometimes the release is good for you.  There's no avoiding sadness when your heart is broken, but neither is there a complete absence of joy. Sometimes you're afraid to feel joy when you're grieving; it can feel like a betrayal to be happy. Or you fear that if you're too happy, those around you will think you're officially "over it" and your sorrow will no longer be tolerated.  In modeling for children, it’s good sometimes to see parents cry and then be able to be happy again afterward.  That way they can understand their own conflicting emotions.

4.   Take steps to welcome Healing in the New Year-a new year can mean a new beginning.  The holidays may bring moments of pain along with moments of happiness, but resolve to take steps to care for yourself and those you love by increasing visits, learning to listen to each others’ emotions, and perhaps getting support from professional counselors who can guide you into forming new traditions that will stabilize the family when the next holiday season rolls around.

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The Importance of Family Traditions

By Nina M. Laltrello, MFT, CCAADC, CSAT-S, CMAT

Family traditions are an important element to family continuity and togetherness.  All families have important rituals and traditions whether they know if or not.  Family traditions say a lot about a family and what creates special meaning to its members.  The holidays that a family chooses to celebrate with flourish, says what is important to a family.

·        Traditions give meaning to a family and define what is important in a family.

·        Traditions and rituals define who is in a family by their attendance at the celebration.

·        Family celebrations contain elements of what is important to a family by including special foods.

·        Family rituals or celebrations allow a family to make sense or meaning of change in family structure like in the case of weddings or funerals.

·        Religious holidays like Christmas and Passover transmit important symbols and images but link our family to the outside world with friends, community, and the world.

·        Family rituals voice beliefs and make meaning.

·        Rituals tap into a family’s creativity and appeal to people of all ages.  They create a way for families to bond across the generations.

·        Rituals allow families a way to pass history, meaning, and culture to the next generation.



So when you sit down to that family holiday meal, think about what you have gotten from the generations that have preceded you.  On this holiday, think about which traditions are important to your family and why.



Source: The Intentional Family:  Simple Rituals to Strengthen Family Ties.  Dougherty, William J. (1999)

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By Cindy Martin, LAMFT, ASAT (2), EMDR


Just the sound of it conjures up images of being in the kitchen with a smoothie recipe.  You put each ingredient in the blender:  the banana, the berries, the apple, the yogurt, the skim milk.  Then you turn the blender on, wait a few seconds and what comes out looks nothing like what went in!  It doesn’t even have the same texture or taste of the original separate ingredients.  It turned into something very different.  It is much the same way with blended families.  We are each very distinct individuals and yet when we come together by the marriage of two individuals who want to spend the rest of their lives together, the families that follow them are expected to gel, mold and generally become one as well!  This is not an easy task.

Statistics tell us that more than half of all Americans living today either have been, currently are, or will be in a step or blended family one or more times in their lifetime.  Remarriage rates have dropped while co-habitation rates have increased.  I have observed that many single parents feel that re-marrying and putting two families under one roof is too hard and brings too many problems, therefore they just don’t do it.  They get used to their own unique set of problems and don’t have the energy or desire to tackle anyone else’s.  In these instances, I believe they are short changing themselves and their families.

Mary Pipher, a noted psychologist says that “while families are imperfect institutions, they are also our greatest source of meaning, connection and joy.”  And although a single parent family is still very much a family, blending two families together successfully can double the meaning, connection and joy!

The complex structure of blended families cries out for quality integration of the relationships between individuals within each of the family units.  It requires developing a skill set of valuing diversity and differing opinions, tolerance of various traditions, and acknowledgment of accepted boundaries. 

Family Reunion

Blended families need not achieve the “ideal” to become successful, but they must foster a sense of belonging, an “us against the world” mentality, where each member is supported, validated, valued and LOVED!

So go ahead and taste that concoction in the blender, you might find out that merging all the various ingredients together is actually more pleasing to the taste buds than it is to have just a banana, a berry, an apple or yogurt all by itself!

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Facing Heartbreak Spouse Treatment Group

At the Relationship Recovery Center, one of our primary missions is to help families heal from the damage of addiction.  While almost everyone is familiar with chemical addiction (drugs, alcohol), until recently sexual addiction has flown “under the radar” and gone under reported and untreated for the most part.  Primary reasons for this include:  1) lack of understanding of the illness (or the belief by many mental health professionals that it isn’t an illness at all), 2) lack of treatment resources (paucity of mental health professionals trained to treat the illness), and 3) failure of the mental health industry (the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual or DSM; insurance companies) to recognize and legitimize the illness.  AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) groups began in 1935, and the DSM did not recognize alcoholism as an illness until 1968.  SAA (Sex Addicts Anonymous) groups began in the mid 1970’s, and DSM, as of this writing, has still not recognized sexual addiction as an illness.  The overreaching opinion of the staff of RRC is that the participants in these groups are indeed “pioneers.”

The staff at the Relationship Recovery Center has taken steps to meet the needs of the community by initiating treatment programs for both sex addicts and their spouses.  On March 25th a small group of brave spouses came to the first meeting of the Facing Heartbreak Spouse Treatment Group.  Our group focuses on helping spouses heal after they have discovered that the person they loved and trusted the most has been hiding a secret life as a sex addict. 

The group uses a 12-step, task-oriented, recovery model based on the book “Facing Heartbreak” by Stefanie Carnes, Ph.D.  The group will offer practical therapeutic advice and specific tasks to educate and empower the partner of the sex addict through the recovery process.  The group will be limited to six participants, but currently there are openings remaining.  Please call the RRC at 770-676-7748 if you would like to schedule an assessment with one of our staff.