Archive for the ‘Therapy’ Category

This next Wednesday, November the 9th, FBC and Alethia Family Counseling will host two short seminars for adults – moms, dads, grandparents, teachers and others –

We will be in the Great Room at FBC South Campus (just south of the new loop) at 9:30am (hoping that is convenient for parents who drop off kids at school and can make it then) and again at 6:30 that evening in the same location.

Do not hesitate to reach out to either the church or Alethia.


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Hello everyone – a few years ago, I was invited to speak at a church about talking to kids about death.  Recently, a child had died in their community, and they wanted tools to talk to their children about it.  Recently, in our community a child was kidnapped and apparently killed.  As Alethia scrambles to get resources to the seminar, you might find this video helpful (there is a part two as well):

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This is a group I highly recommend that is starting in November:


For every mom who has ever been overwhelmed by their child’s fears, for every mom who feels isolated and unsure of how to deal with the extreme emotions their child displays regularly, for every mom who could use a little guidance in helping their child move through their anxiety – this group is for you.


Join Millie Tanner, LPC and Allison Cooper, LPC  for 3 group sessions to discuss healthy ways to navigate anxiety and all the challenges of parenting a child with anxiety. Beginning November 1st we will equip you to with insight and practical steps to guide your child through the stress in their world.


Topics we will cover include:

  • Learning how to explain anxiety to your child
  • Common red flags to look for with your child
  • Effective ways to parent an anxious child
  • How to best discipline a child who is anxious
  • Guidelines for determining what is manipulation and what is anxiety
  • Specialized coping skills you and your child can use together


Cost is $50 per session and seating is limited. You can call to register at 903-561-8955.



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We are here to help.  Join us and share ideas.Alethia Navigating Parentingseminar-3

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Ginger and me

Happy Valentine’s Day!

I was recently asked to comment on the question of how much time a husband and wife should spend together… and most often this actually takes the form of “how much time is it reasonable to for me to ask my spouse to spend with me (since I have asked and they told me what I was asking for was unreasonable).

I have a couple of comments.

First, before I say anything else, I want to communicate that one of the things that can make marriage fun is when you know you can ask for what you want.

I think a spouse should generally not be chastised for asking for what they want… I am serious when I tell my wife that I want her to feel welcome to ask for what she wants.  If my wife wants more time, more focus (can you imagine?) from me, then I want to know it!

I cannot promise that she will always get it, but sure want to know about it just in case I can!  This rule is a family rule, by the way.  The kids area also allowed to ask for what they want… but not promised to get what they want…

And I love, even when I cannot provide, to dream with my wife or child.

“I really want that toy” …  “Man, I bet it would be great to have every toy we could imagine – what else would you like if you could wish for it?” – that isn’t sarcasm, it can be just dreaming with them!

Also, different people have different Love Languages – one of which is “Quality Time” (according to Gary Chapman)… in my marriage, I would translate that for my wife into “Undivided Attention.”

The idea here is that one spouse may be satisfied with less time than the other… but why not take the opportunity to give it?  I want to be able to give what I can when I can, because The Lord knows that I will not always be able to say yes.

God is a God who loves to give good gifts… and I love to reflect Him as a good gift giver to the people I love the most.  I love to give them what they want, when I can or when I think it is right/best. Now, on to the question more directly…


For years, counselors have compared marriage to a garden.  This comparison works on many levels.  I have pointed out before that one comparison is that the “natural” state of a garden (meaning the state it exists in without the intentional input of energy) is death; the “natural” state of marriage is divorce.  Without the intentional input of energy, marriage dies.

Many want to think of marriage as similar to drifting downstream together… but that would imply that the natural state of marriage is to go where it needs to, but that isn’t the case, as anyone who is married knows.

I assume most therapists would agree with me that very few marriages end with the emotional bang… most marriages that end in divorce, drift into divorce.

There is more to look at in regards to this issue here at boring marriages… and ideas of how to avoid that drift!  If the question is one of sex, it may actually be about intimacy, so I would encourage you to take a look at the conversation about how those things are linked in powerful ways.

But in response to the question asked, the first answer would have to do with what kind of garden you have?  If a garden is otherwise healthy, and in an environment that engenders health (think two people who are generally healthy and who have quite a bit in common), then less scheduled and intentional time is probably necessary.

Years ago, I think I remember hearing James Dobson say that he figured a good minimum goal would be:  15-30 minutes a day, 2 hours a week, 1 night a quarter, and one weekend a year.  I like these, and would generally agree…

By this he meant (if I am remembering it correctly) that we need direct and meaningful conversation and interaction 15-30 minutes every day in order to keep the garden in good shape.   Then, we need to plan a more extended period each week in addition to that – a date, couch time, etc. of meaningful interaction; then an overnight away about 4 times a year and a longer couple’s vacation about once a year.

Keep in mind, this is focused time!  Watching TV together, while nice at times, would not count, unless you were engaging at the time with one another (in which case, feel free to turn off the television).

Now, you can already see that a one-size-fits-all rule just won’t work, though.

So, what are some concepts that might work?  Jump on over to part II

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Talking to Kids About Sex Part I

I married a girl who grew up in the city… with no guns in the house.  Naturally, she was concernedpDSP1-16568032dt
about us having guns in our house, especially when we began to have children.

So, I called my father and asked him about it.

It’s ok, don’t worry… this article is about talking to kids about sex…
hang with it….

I remembered that I had never really been even tempted to get into the guns without dad – but I didn’t know why.  Sure, I feared the
consequences of getting caught… I knew it would be really bad… but that certainly wasn’t enough.  The guns were stored in a gun cabinet right in the hallway outside my room, and though it was locked, I knew where the key was.

He told me that I had no reason to ever sneak to the guns… I knew perfectly well that all I had to do was ask.  There was never any reason to go without permission, because there was even more freedom in involving my dad.

Plus, I was taught to understand guns as what they are – a tool, not a toy… from a very early age.
Though I saw them as special, meaningful and powerful, I did not see guns as a taboo topic with my father and there was no value or purpose to trying to make them something to sneak on my own.

I want that same attitude for my kids for guns too… that they respect and understand certain things without fearing them.

This touches on one of my basic rules for parenting that I have:

I want my kids to think of me as someone who brings freedoms and new experiences to them, rather than someone they have to wrest truth or freedom from.  I never want to be a barrier to them getting what they need, while being a strong barrier against the things that would damage them.

Man, these are two tough concepts to integrate, am I right?  However, I was sure that I wanted to apply it to this topic…

I want that for other topics as well…

Movies, food, tools, money, and


So, we have tried to create, from very early, the impression that we are comfortable talking about sex.

Further, a few times, we decided to intentionally engage in conversations about sex.   We were seeking to be responsible to initiate the conversation.

Very few parents seem to do this part… initiate… even if they are willing to have some kind of talk.

Unlike the “talks” I hear about…

 that seem more like a mythical legend given how many people know it is supposed to happen versus how many seemed to have ever experienced anything healthy,

we wanted actually to have age-appropriate, normalized, sober and honest freeing conversations with them about these subjects.

Since I have had many people ask about this, I thought that I would report on the process I went through with my oldest son.   I know that each parent has to decided before God what is the best way for them to go about this, but this will be a report on our conversations.

First, I would like to take a stand against the conversations about sex that are essentially child abuse… ridiculous attempts at giving one’s own children a magazine published for men still stuck in adolescence… the whole point of us as men teaching our children about sex is so that we can be the main voice in their lives about the truths of sexuality.

My good friend Matt Lantz referenced that God was the only and most powerful voice for Adam and Eve about good and evil until they ate from the tree of such… then the truth became muddled by other voices.  I desire to be main voice in my children’s lives about this kind of important matter!

As almost all of us know, the pornographic world will be happy to be their main voice, and it certainly will be if we aren’t.  Why on Earth would we introduce that world to be their voice?!?  It is vital that we keep all those voices as far from our children as we can… that is why we cannot
have them in our houses… and any access points (televisions, computers, the mail, etc) need to be filtered.

This isn’t about fear – it is about making sure my children learn God’s perspectives on sex and knowing it well before the world’s excrement gets a shot at them…

The men I know who struggle least with issues of pornography in its various forms are those who were given the most time to mature before
they had to face its addictive power.

Now, on to the format that I decided to use with Mark.

First of all, I wanted to find a good Father/Son event that would create ample opportunities to talk alone and to debrief if he wanted
to.   Further, I wanted to create at least 2 or 3 distinct chances to talk spread over a few years.

There is a Buffalo River trip that some guys go on each year in Tyler – Mark wanted to go on that one, so it seemed perfect.  So, at some point on the trip for the last 3 years, I have initiated the conversation.

Year One:  God’s purposes for sex

Year Two:  The biology of sex

Year Three:  The broken aspects of sex

Next week I will go into more detail on each of these… Part II here.

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Now, another other option(go back and read part I and II if you have not)  is to sit still, or move away, and develop more and more resentment about not getting your “needs” met. (Sex is not a need, and that is why I put it in quotes in recognition of how many other counselors and others refer to sex as a need. Unlike air or water, an individual can survive without it.  The four needs, as everyone knows, areinternet-4-necessities water, shelter, food and internet connection)

By the way, if you are both content, then you still aren’t done – because life changes and circumstances can change desire and opportunity in either of you.

Also recognize that there are seasons of life – when you have more or less energy to do what doesn’t come naturally to you… or that requires emotional or physical energy at all!

Did you know that allegedly, each parent loses about 2 hours of sleep per night during the first year of the child’s life? That represents 730 hours of sleep in a year lost!

104 nights of 7 hours of sleep lost.

In one year.

And this is merely one of the stressors to our energy levels that come with little children…

(I am going to publish an entire article on this thought soon, as well… about marriage satisfaction)

And it means that it is that much tougher to engage in activities that do not come naturally, or to express attitudes that do not come naturally. Sex, and the initiation of sex are common examples of such – things that

So, it becomes even more important to do the things that create the feelings and attitudes that would make a sexual encounter seem like a good idea for both marriage partners… and both partners can help create those as well.

So, if you are interested in having your spouse more often, sexually, (for understanding why I use this term, read here)… then it will be important to try to create the right conditions for your spouse to have the energy… and interest… to engage with you. Security, rest, affection, encouragement, and appreciation are some of the things I hear about the most often.

And, as the sex talks above will make clear, it is vital that you make sure your spouse knows that you choose him or her above sex itself… that you want them – even if sexually is the way you want them – not just sex.

If you are the spouse who desires sex less frequently, then you may need to figure out if there is any special reason – low testosterone (your doctor can check for you)? Masturbation? Scripting created by pornography, feeling bad about your body, messages about sex, resentment, hurt feelings, past experiences, exhaustion, a combination of these?

Examine your life and your heart and see what barriers there might be.

Then deal with them.

If you aren’t willing to try to adjust your thinking or learn and grow, for the sake of your spouse, then there is probably a problem that needs to be dealt with.

The rule of thumb is that if you are in a boring marriage, it is most likely because you are a boring person… we are not passive victims of boring marriages.  Check it out.

Get counseling if you need to… and you will likely need help to deal with many of those things listed above. Also, there are some great books and online resources to help.

There are great resources out there for better understanding of sex from the perspective of freedom and truth.

I recommend Feldhahn’s materials

And, I recommend Shannon Ethridge’s materials  Shannon’s material is especially valuable in evaluating the motivations, and de-motivations, in regards to sex.

And there are others, but those are other good places to do some research to learn better and more, after you have exhausted the resources here.

I think God intended for sex to be a powerful agent of connection, affection, strength, peace and unity Marriage Heart Healthin marriage. If sex is NOT generally in that role in your marriage, may I recommend reading, studying and perhaps getting counseling to help that change! Also, I and some of my therapists are available for seminars and conferences to help you and some friends and maybe your whole church, turn this around!

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