Ilona L. Tobin, Ed.D.

Licensed Psychologist

Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

From the second they arrive on the planet, just inches long and utterly dependent, our children occupy a place in our hearts deeper than most any other relationship.

We nurture, guide, feed and protect them for years. The relationship brings us a complex mixture of joy, frustration, sadness, delight, anger, pride and love. Our children occupy our focus like nothing else, as they grow taller and more independent with every year. And then they go away.

Of course, we knew that from the beginning. And that’s been the goal all along.
But that doesn’t make an empty nest any easier when it finally comes.
Fortunately, an empty nest is also the beginning of another era for parents, one that can be equally fulfilling.
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With hardly any thought at all, you can probably say whether, in your family of origin, you played the role of the responsible one or the rebel, the people pleaser or the mascot. Roles serve an organizing function. In a family, roles sort out each person’s relationship to the group. While there’s nothing inherently wrong with roles, they become a problem when they’re rigid and shape poor choices as a teenager or adult.

Roles are especially harmful in families where abuse and/or addiction occurs. They become a vain attempt to control a situation that is chaotic and frightening. Also, as John Bradshaw explains in On the Family, roles function to project the image of the happy family, preserving denial that anything is wrong.

Based on the work of Virginia Satir, Claudia Black and Sharon Wegscheider, below are the common roles that children play in the family, as well as that role’s impact on adult life.
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