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The Kids See it All: The Effect Fighting Parents have on their Children

The Kids See it All: The Effect Fighting Parents have on their Children

As parents, we do a lot of silly things because let’s face it, we’re still learning, too! That being said, out of all the things we could possibly do to damage our children, fighting in front of them is definitely up there.

But Parents Fight

Though it is perfectly normal for parents to have points of contention between them from time to time, the way these are dealt with is important. Even when conflict seems unmanageable between two partners, taking part in activities like couples counselling can help mitigate damages. This also help prevent extra drama from unfolding in front of the children.

But we’re Not Fighting with Them

Of course you aren’t fighting them. Many parents flaunt the old argument, “I might fight with my partner but I never take it out on the kids”. The fact of the matter is whether you realize it or not, where your kids are concerned, you are doing damage.

How it Effects the Kids

There are numerous way in which fighting with each other in front of your children effects them as proven by research. Here are some of them.

Makes them Insecure

A child’s sense of safety comes partly from stability between the parents and within the home. When your kids see you fighting, that sense of security is threatened. No matter how much you reassure them, actions speak louder.

If the home environment does not feel safe, neither does the child. Damage is done.

Make them Feel Responsible

Children often feel that they are they cause for their parents fighting. They cannot comprehend or appreciate the deeper dynamics associated with such things and hence chalk it up to it being their fault.

This creates feelings of low self-esteem and worthlessness that carry forward well into adulthood if not addressed.

Normalizes and Role Models Questionable Behavior

Let’s face it, none of us are our best when we’re losing our tempers or in the middle of a fight. We say ugly things and sometimes behave just as badly.

For a child, you’re basically tearing down their image of acceptable and replacing it with acceptance of the most toxic behaviors. You normalize the worst of yourself.

Affects their Personalities

The kind of stress and trauma that a child experiences when parents fight can only really be appreciated by the child going through it and the adult in therapy. It is so much that it makes them develop unhealthy interactions, coping mechanisms and behaviors just to get by.

As children, this might look like bad personal hygiene, erratic behavior, a drop in grades or increased aggression.

As adults, what these look like is dysfunction, problems with rage, mood disorders, depression and addiction to name a few.

Affects Their Relationships

When children see parents fighting time and again, two things happen. One, they have trouble trusting love and affection. Two, they associate intimacy with conflict.

These subconscious realizations, or changes, result in high levels of dysfunction in future relationships and family life.

Working through the Trauma

Sometimes we do things because we, ourselves have had a hard time growing up. Maybe our parents were not as well informed as we were.

As adults, we are well informed and highly aware. Further, the tools by which to change and better ourselves are available to us.

Counselling can help us unravel damages that have been done and ensure that our childhood traumas do not continue to hurt us and those we care about. If you’re looking for a reliable therapist who works with anxiety and conductsrelationship and family counselling sessions in Palo Alto, you have options.

Azizeh E. Rezaiyan is a highly qualified and licensed therapist working with both English and Farsi speaking clients with over two decades of experience with individuals and couples alike.

The Connection between Childhood Experiences and Adult Depression

As professional psychologists, we come across people suffering from some form of depression and/or anxiety on a routine basis. Whether it’s about relationship issues or problems at the workplace – the underlying cause in most cases of adult depression are connected with some form of adversity the patient faced in their childhood.

When we talk to people involved in substance abuse, addicted to alcohol, or struggling with low self-esteem in adulthood, one thing is usually common – they’ve all been victims of painful events in past. These events become the root most of their problems stem from. There are usually two types of events that lead to adversity later in life:

  • The absence of necessities
  • The presence of hurt
  • These events could include severe bullying, the absence of love and attention, alcoholic parents, sexual abuse, loss of a loved one, lack of appreciation, and more. Time and over, there have been various clinical studies conducted on this subject and the findings have been unanimous: traumatic or stressful events occurring in the early developmental phase of a child’s life can have a continuing impact on their brain. It is also known that depressed people with a history of childhood trauma tend to be more reckless and suicidal than people with depression without childhood traumas. Roughly around 20% women and 10% men in the United States recall being victims of physical or sexual abuse when they were young. However, these figures are conservative because sexual abuse is often not reported. These children, when they grow up into adults, report depression, somatic, substance abuse, and anxiety symptoms far greater than those without a history of abuse. These people are also more suicidal than their counterparts.Negative childhood experiences have an adverse effect on the developing mind of a child. These events scar them for life and the symptoms become clearly visible once the child grows up and develops a personality – that is, of course, tainted.At Silicon Valley Marriage Counseling, we explore and discuss the causes and symptoms of your anxiety and depression to understand your condition better. This helps us talk you through and overcome your suffering.

Depression and the Absence of Intimacy

Depression is not confined to the mind alone. It affects every single aspect of your lives. Prolonged depression takes its toll on your physical, emotional, and mental wellbeing. This sometimes leads to problems in personal relationships and the one that takes the worse hit is your relationship with your partner/spouse.

Depression can cause a perfectly healthy relationship between partners to go sour. This only adds further trouble in the lives of people going through a rough patch (depression in this case), because let’s face it – a strong relationship between partners/spouses is therapeutic. It is a source of love, comfort, support, and closeness.

When a person is depressed, they tend to become withdrawn. They feel lethargic and are often unable to find the energy or motivation to do even the most normal things in life – this includes sex too!

Loss of appetite, sleeplessness, loss of intimacy, mood swings, and inattentiveness are common in people with depression. Most of the times these acts make the other partner feel unloved and/or unwanted – this is where the problem begins – this is where relationships begin crumbling.

Depression and Intimacy

Depression tends to upset the routine systems and functions of your body, either slowing them down or displacing them. This impact is most vivid in the case of sleep. You might have noticed how a person with depression has trouble with sleep – either they sleep too less or too much – in each case, sleep is invariably disrupted.

Similar is the case with intimacy and sex. Having sex requires good co-ordination, spontaneity, and most importantly – it requires energy – lots and lots of energy. Unfortunately, people suffering from depression aren’t really up for things that require “too much effort”, which is why intimacy between couples is the first thing hit by adversity.

Depressed men experience a loss of libido and may even face problems with getting an erection. Women on the other hand, lose their interest in sex and have trouble reaching an orgasm.

The good thing is that these problems disappear when one starts improving their condition. As depression wears off, people may find their interest in sex renewed, which happens to be one of the first signs of recovery.

Through couples’ therapy, we at Silicon Valley Marriage Counseling can help you overcome depression and bring back intimacy to your relationship. After all, everyone deserves to be happy in life.

How Does Early Parenting Affect Your Child’s Future?

The early years of a child’s life can play a crucial role in determining the quality of life that will exist in their future. If you are a new or expecting parent, it may seem overwhelming to consider the repercussions your parental actions may have on the remainder of your child’s life.

While you may only be responsible for a portion of your child’s future, preparing early and learning as much as you can about responsible parenting, will help give your child many advantages down the road.

Science continually impresses upon us the significance of development in your child’s early years. More than ever before, we are learning the role that early childhood development plays later on in life. This early childhood development is ultimately in the hands of the parents, which can feel like a daunting task.

The simplest bottom line to remember is that children register and pick up on more than we realize, so it is crucial to always be aware. Early parenting, or “parenting during the early years of your child’s life,” has the potential to affect your child’s future in nearly every way—including these major areas discussed below:

· Social skills and familial interaction: From the moment you bring your child home from the hospital, they begin to learn how they fit into your family unit. It is during these early years, and therefore during the early parenting stages, that your child learns crucial social skills. He or she discovers how best to interact with others, including family members.

Even when children are still young, they can be taught important principles like sharing with siblings/cousins/friends, respecting their parents, saying “please” and “thank you,” etc. Remember that you are their primary role model. Your young child will observe your tone, word choice, and overall mannerisms—so make sure your behavior is something you want mimicked!

· Emotions and anger management: While it may sound silly to think of teaching a toddler about anger management, you have the opportunity to instill good habits in your child’s mind during their formative years. Children can understand many elements behind the concept of right and wrong, and you can teach them during the stages of your early parenting how to act and cope when they are happy, sad, upset, or angry.

While you should never use extreme punishments when teaching your young child, enforce timeouts and reiterate that it is never acceptable to punch, bite, or kick another child. Conversely, encourage positive behaviors like hugging, including everyone, and using kind words.

· Religion, education, and other cultural values: As a parent, during the early years of your child’s life, you are their primary teacher and guide. The values, morals, and experiences your child is exposed to during this time will impact what becomes important to them later—so it is ultimately up to you to ensure your child is taught wisely!

The attitude you and your spouse have toward education, religion, and all other societal values sets the tone for the attitude your child will have toward education, religion, and all other societal values as they grow.

As your raise your children, it’s important to remember that there is not one “right” way to do so. As a parent, you will not be perfect—and you will find that parenting is almost never simple. You and your spouse will need to work together to establish a home where you feel comfortable raising your children, and laying the groundwork for their successful futures. This process may take a bit of trial and error.

Have patience with yourself, particularly during the early years of parenting—and remember that the most important thing is to always love your children.


Recovering from Holiday Preparation and Family Visits: Lessons for the New Year

As January closes and life returns to normal, you may find yourself reflecting on this past holiday season. With errands to run, presents to buy, parties to attend, homes to decorate, and food to prepare, your November and December were likely filled with the typical hustle and bustle that accompany the end of each year.

If your family is like many others, the additional stress of visiting loved ones during the holidays can add strain to an already on-edge household. Even if your family visits did not go as planned during the holidays, there are still lessons to be learned and important takeaways to carry into the New Year.

Preparing for future visits

As your nuclear family prepares to visit members of your extended family, it is normal for everyone to feel a range of emotions. Even with no bad blood or buried issues, members of your family may still feel nervous or anxious about the visit. Often, living far away from family means only seeing or talking with them a few times each year, which means extra pressure is placed on holiday family get-togethers.

Using this past year’s experiences as guidance, take a realistic look at what your family can change in order to make future visits more low-key:

  • Budget for travel expenses and book hotels and plane tickets far enough in advance to avoid last-minute hiccups.
  • Be honest about how much time you have to give. If you will only be with extended family for a few hours or a few days, do not expect to finish everything on your wish list. Focus on a handful of small, inexpensive activities that will include everyone in the group, and make sure there is enough downtime to counteract the higher stress levels that may accompany the events.
  • Do not stir the pot—decide ahead of time to not discuss any issues that will cause contention or hard feelings between family members. You do not have to sugarcoat every little thing, but save large, emotional conversations for another time.

Go out of your comfort zone. If you are not as close with certain siblings, or if your kids hardly know half their cousins, make a conscious effort to branch out and spend time with different family members. You will both make new friends and avoid having the same, annual arguments with your go-to family members all at once.

Readjusting your expectations

Families are made up of imperfect people who make mistakes, but holiday family visits are not the time to focus on them. As your family prepares to spend time with loved ones, it is important to readjust your expectations about what the visit really means. Thanksgiving dinners and holiday gift exchanges do not provide the appropriate setting or amount of time for pulling skeletons out of closets, and it is unrealistic to expect that lifelong sibling rivalries or parental issues will be resolved in a matter of hours. If you go into a holiday visit expecting that all conflicts have been pushed aside and that relationships have been magically strengthened, you will undoubtedly be in for a disappointment.

Focus on the positive

Rather than anticipating that the holidays will erase years of history, focus on the positives that can come from spending time with your loved ones. The holiday season is a time to combine old traditions with new beginnings, and there is no better place to turn for inspiration than to your extended family. In the short amount of time you have together, choose to share stories, memories, recipes, photographs, and friendships—not disappointment, blame, guilt, anger, or sadness.

It takes sacrifice and honest effort from everyone involved to make a large family unit work, and problems will rarely if ever be solved during a small holiday visit. Your relationships with your loved ones may never be perfect or even ideal, but your family members can do their part to make visits more enjoyable. Change what you can, accept what you can’t change, and love everyone anyway.

If problems with family members are affecting your life and you need help, please contact me for a 20 minute free consultation at 650-692-9664.

3 Elements of Trust: Marriage Advice for a Healthy and Fulfilling Relationship

An intimate relationship should be based on trust. In a healthy marriage, the couple makes the deliberate effort to cherish and adore each other on an ongoing basis. Each partner makes the other feel they are “the special one” by physical and verbal affection. However, for this dynamic of mutual cherishing and nurturing to be possible, the intimate relationship should be a sanctuary with trust and respect as its base and foundation.

There are 3 main types of roadblocks couples often face when trying to create long-term intimacy. Many couples have difficulties with these and seek marriage help/counseling and couples therapy when they find themselves having a hard time trusting each other despite good intentions.

  1. Reflexive Mistrust: If you often have a hard time trusting others, “mistrust” is a recurring theme in your life. Most likely, it has something to do with you and your life experiences. Mistrust could be a generational theme passed down from grandparents or parents, or ill treatment you may have received in your childhood. Our body and our mind remember the pain and the hurt. When in love, all these memories of other close relationships are triggered and it can strongly impact how you see and treat your partner.
  2. Healthy Judgment: In order to trust others we first need to have trust in our own ability to form a healthy sense of judgment. We need to be able to trust our gut and feel our inner body messages. To have a healthy sense of trust, we can’t just rely on our mind and our thoughts. We need both the inner and outer messages. We need both: gut and heart messages and our analytical mind that together, can accurately assess the facts and the realities we are in.
  3. Patience and Effort: Trust grows and therefore requires time to build. In order to trust we need to get to know one another in different settings and situations. We need time to observe not only our partner but also our own reactions and behavior related to our partner in various situations. It is vitally important that during times of conflict we approach our partner with the intention to resolve fights and misunderstandings instead of blaming, hurting, and finger pointing. It is important to see the positive intent of our partners despite their missteps and mistakes. You must keep in mind that no matter how hurt you may feel, your partner is worthy of trust rather than calling their integrity in question whenever you are upset.


Trust and intimacy are key for lasting, fulfilling relationships. The process of building trust requires frequent self-reflection, self-assessment, and nurturing in order to grow and sustain, and couples who put in the effort reap great rewards as the relationship grows and deepens.

‘Taking Care Of’ or ‘Caring For’ Your Partner? Why it Matters.

Marriage guidance, advice, and relationship tips from expert marriage therapist Azizeh Rezaiyan

In my couple’s therapy sessions, partners often talk about “taking care of each other.” They go on and on about all the ways they make special efforts to make their partner happy. Unfortunately, these couples are not alone in their confusion about the difference between taking care of their partner (caretaking) and caring for their partner.

The fact is, there are only two people whom we should take care of in life. One is our own self and the other is our minor child. Of course, there are times and exceptions when we must take care of our ill partner or old parents, but they remain exceptions. For the rest of the people in our lives our task instead is to remain caring. This conflation of caretaking and caring for is incredibly common, and it is very dangerous and damaging to relationships.

In marriage and relationship counseling, couples learn in depth about the difference between the act of caring and the act of caretaking. The topic deserves the extra time and attention; it is crucial to learn the difference. Not understanding it can mean one spouse’s genuine efforts to be kind and loving can be a source of marital discord. It’s an unfortunate fact that well-meaning attempts to show care can take the marriage into “needs to be saved” territory.

Here’s the critical difference between caretaking vs. caring for:

Caretaking: When we take care of our partner in an intimate relationship, the dynamic in the relationship becomes a parent-child one. This dynamic kills intimacy and sexual desire. Gradually, partners on the receiving end of caretaking feel controlled, inadequate, and slowly resentful. In addition, they receive the message that they are incapable of – or not smart enough to be – taking care of themselves. The partner also perceives they are not inherently lovable. They learn that in order to be loved, they must do things for the caretaking partner at the expense of their own well-being. This dynamic eventually makes the partner feel exhausted, taken advantage of, and angry that no matter what they do, nothing is good enough.

Caring for: When spouses engage instead in caring for each other, both partners perceive a sense of genuine kindness and reward of feeling fulfilled. Caring for without caretaking remains respectful to the boundaries of self and others. It is supportive but not intrusive. It enhances intimacy, bringing sensuality and love to the relationship which strengthens the bond between the couple.

If you or your partner seem to have a problem with the distinction between caring for and caretaking, really consider seeking marriage counseling. Caretaking can be toxic and deadly to an otherwise good relationship, and it is imperative to address it. Spending some time and money addressing caretaking relationship issues and learning healthy “caring for” strategies can truly mean a happier, more fulfilling marriage and life. This is an area where couples therapy can be most effective, so if you need marriage help with caretaking, take heart. Don’t deny yourself and your spouse the peace and happiness that can result when healthy relationship behaviors take root.