Lotus Guide March 2013 column
Dr. Gayle Kimball
Q: How do I talk to my teenage daughter about sex?
A: Lectures don’t work well but peer experiences do. Talk about your own sex education process as a teen and what you wish you’d known. Or, talk about a case study that illustrates the point you want to make, such as that condoms don’t prevent contracting herpes sores on exposed parts of the body. Make books available, such as the chapter on sexuality in my The Teen Trip: The Complete Resource Guide based on teens’ experiences. Rutgers University has a sex ed website written by teens for teens (http://sexetc.org). Do the talk now before a romance interferes with rational thought.
Ask if she has any questions and offer to exchange questions and answers in writing if it’s too embarrassing to talk in person. When my son started asking about sex, I made a point of explaining how a clitoris is analogous to a penis and should not be ignored. He told his friends so some accurate information went out on the teen grapevine; know that you’re educating more than your daughter.
Q: My wife and I get into disagreements that leave me feeling exhausted and hopeless. How do we break the stalemate?
A: Discuss feelings as they come up. Don’t gunnysack resentments and irritations because when they explode it seems unreasonable. Share your feelings with this formula, “I’m feeling ___ because ___ and a possible solution is ______.” Be flexible and open to negotiation. Check out your assumptions with something such as “It sounds as if you’re feeling _____ because ______.” Often your partner will have an insightful clarification that you need to understand. Men are tempted to want to skip the sharing of feeling to get to a solution, but this is shortsighted as feelings can cloud logic and understanding if not acknowledged. Feeling heard and understood, even if not agreed with, goes a long way toward feeling good about each other.
Set aside time each week to listen to each other, just doing clarification and active listening, not inserting your reactions or defenses. Always include appreciations for each other. Give each other praise every day and do something fun together at least once a week to enhance the glue that holds you together. Check the Internet for suggestions on conflict resolution or email me for websites.
Q: My grandson goes back and forth to Mom’s house, Dad’s house. Both are remarried and both the stepparents are critical and short-tempered with my grandson. Any advice I can give him?
A: I’d give each couple helpful parenting books, such as Jim and Charles Fay’s Love and Logic Magic for Early Childhood or Siegel and Bryson’s The Whole-Brain Child, but it’s unlikely you can change them. Focus on teaching your grandson coping techniques such as the visualizations in my CD for kids, Kids’ Mind Power. Explain that it’s not about him; it’s about the stepparents’ own frustrations and that he’s learning to be a strong boy who can handle difficult challenges. It helps that he feels safe talking with you.
Q: My boyfriend likes his women friends. He’s faithful to me, but I still get jealous. How should I handle this?
A: Be appreciative that he likes women, as some men don’t because of unresolved mother issues. Use the bit of anxiety to be creative in adding romance and interest to your relationship. Also, cultivate and spend time with your own friends.
Q: I work at my desk in front of a computer all day. I’ve read that sitting so much harms your health, but what can I do? I need the money.
A: Many studies find that sitting too much is bad for our health and shortens life expectancy. Get up and stretch and change position at least every 30 minutes. Stand up and squeeze your bottom to realign the pelvis, slightly tighten and release the abdominal muscles, and roll your shoulders back with the thumbs pointing away from the body and then forward. Avoid slumping forward while sitting in front of the computer as forward rotation of the shoulder can result in damage to wrists and carpal tunnel problems. As you sit, keep your chin behind your chest bone. See a YouTube video by physical therapist Kelly Starrett (www.youtube.com/watch?v=kfg_e6YG37U).
A study of more than 6,000 adults found that those who exercised for about 10 minutes were as healthy as those who exercised for longer periods, as long as the short exercises added up to 150 minutes a week. Use your work breaks to walk or use a resistance band, available online, along with exercises. You might start a trend at work.
For your eye health, look away from the computer or book at various distances. Rub your palms together and rest them over your eyes, visualizing black velvet cloth for two or three minutes to relax your eyes. Gently push in and out in the notch in your eyebrows. Download a Tibetan eye exercise chart to strengthen your eye muscles.
Q: My brother won’t talk to me and my daughter-in-law and I aren’t close. I feel sad but what can I do?
A: Continue to be friendly, send your brother greeting cards, and tell your daughter-in-law what you appreciate about her, but put your energy into creating an intentional family with friends who want to spend time with you. Let go of your expectations of how family should behave. Wayne Dyer pointed out that “peace is the result of retraining your mind to process life as it is, rather than how you think it should be.”