About the Author
John C. Friel, Ph.D., is an internationally recognized author and speaker as well as a skilled clinician. He is a psychologist in private practice St. Paul, Minnesota, and Reno, Nevada, who has sold over 500,000 books co-authored with his wife, Linda, and is the national director of the ClearLife(R) Clinic Program. Since 1980, John has consulted, trained, conducted siminars, and presented engaging keynote addresses for business and industry, hospitals, mental health clinics, government agencies, lawyers, doctors, and many more.
Linda Friel is known throughout the U.S., Canada, England, and Ireland for her therapeutic and training expertise in the areas of family systems, survivors of unhealthy childhoods, depression, anxiety, addictions and personality disorders. She is cofounder and national director of the ClearLife/Lifeworks Clinic, which is a special four-day therapy program to help people move beyond the painful patterns of childhood shortages.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
Chapter 1 The Seven Worst Things Parents Do ôWhat could turn intelligent, independent-minded adults into virtual wimps?ö Barbara Walters asked this question at the beginning of a recent ABC News 20/20 segment about small children tyrannically controlling their parents. During this valuable piece of television journalism, viewers were subjected to videotaped scenes of a mother climbing in and out of bed with her little child. For several hours, the child manipulated the mother, bargained, sabotaged and pretty much ran the show, and Mom just kept playing the game. We watched another child who had a whole cup filled with toothbrushes in an obviously failed attempt to get the child to brush his teeth by giving him ôchoices.ö We watched a child whine about wanting a can of soda with breakfast. Her mother said ôno,ö but her father almost immediately turned around and gave the soda to his daughter ôto keep peace.ö It's hard enough to watch these painful examples of well-intentioned parents trying methods that seem logical on the surface--but don't work. It is even harder to watch children who, if allowed to continue running the show, will be psychiatric basket-cases by the time they reach adulthood. A FAMILY IN TROUBLE Eric and Pamela first approached us during a break at a seminar we were presenting. They wanted to know how to handle what they described as a normal problem their son was having. They seemed appropriately tentative about how much detail to offer, saying that he was a little resistant to brushing his teeth twice a day. We responded with an answer that matched the detail we were given; they seemed satisfied with the answer, and we moved on to the next person in line. Eight weeks later, we noticed a new appointment in our book for an Eric and Pamela Jamison. When we greeted them at their first appointment, we recognized them as the couple who had asked the question several weeks before. Bobby, their five-year old son, indeed resisted brushing his teeth on a regular basis, but that was just the tip of the iceberg. He also threw tantrums whenever he didn't get his way. Subsequent systematic measurement indicated that he was having as many as four major tantrums per day. He typically refused to eat what Pamela prepared for dinner, demanding something different, and then refusing to eat that after Pamela had gone out of her way to prepare it just for him. Bedtime was a nightmare that was causing an increasingly dangerous rift between Eric and Pamela, and mornings before work were so stressful that Eric was seriously thinking of moving out for fear that he might do something harmful to Bobby. And there was more. Much more. But as we listened to their family structure unfold, what struck us most was the family's lack of definition. We were witnessing a family that had been unraveling for months and was now on the verge of despair. We told Eric and Pamela the following: ôWe admire you. It takes a lot of courage and wisdom to admit