Former therapist. Author of the Heart of Madison series & My Words are Whiskey


A parent’s guide through the ages

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Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

It occurred to me the other day that I am still a first-time parent. Last year, I was the first time-parent to a five-year-old and a seven-year-old. This year, I’ll be a first-time parent to a six-year-old and a going-on-eight-year-old. I’ve been trying to wrap my head around figuring out how to be a parent to children recently diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder when I realized this: we are all learning, every day.

Anyone who tells you that they are an expert at parenting is lying to themselves — or to you. Unless they are both educated as a parenting expert and an actual parent, this can’t possibly be true. …

It’s a case study in codependency.

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P.S. I Love You’s resident film critic, Taylor Williams, recently called Jerry Maguire “one of the best romcoms of all time”. If anything, this film is the antithesis of romance. While it might have been a fan favorite in 1996, re-watching it 24 years later was an entirely different experience. Instead of enjoying a timeless romance, I was struck by one example after another of toxic codependency. This love story couldn’t have more red flags if it was trying.

This Blockbuster rom-com Jerry Maguire has one thing going for it: great writing that resulted in memorable lines. It has infiltrated pop culture, and even I am not immune to throwing out a random “Show me the money” or “You had me at hello.” While a younger version of myself categorized this film as the height of romance, an older, wiser, and healthier version of me can see that it is a near-perfect example of textbook codependency. …

How to say what you need to say when you don’t want to say it

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Photo by Jez Timms on Unsplash

My family does conflict in one of two ways — with avoidance or aggression. Growing up, I had an easy model for all the wrong ways to deal with conflict. I didn’t have the opportunity to learn healthy ones. Most families I knew seemed to ignore their problems or let them blow up in spectacular fashion. I had an innate sense that something about it was wrong, but I had no idea how to do conflict any other way.

For a long time, my style was aggression. I could give as good as I got, and I didn’t shrink from a fight. I could go literally toe to toe with anyone and stand my ground. It wasn’t admirable though. I was filled with rage. Rage at being disempowered. Rage at feeling that I was never loved or accepted for just being myself. …

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