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          Open Up to Your Family

          September 03, 2002

          Do you find it difficult to say “I love you” to your spouse or children? Do you hide your feelings and emotions because you think they make you appear weak? If this sounds like you (or someone you know), Dr. Phil has some advice:

          If you’re emotionally cold or mean to your children:

          • Remember that you are a pivotal person in your child’s life. When you yell, criticize or embarrass your child, you’re leaving a permanent mark on him/her. When you fail to point out what makes you proud or why a child is special, you also write on the slate of him/her.

          • Do some self-analysis. Label five patterns of behavior or responses that you can see are hurtful to your child. Make a commitment to eliminate those patterns of behavior from your repertoire and take them out of the mix.

          • Use Dr. Phil’s eight steps for coping to condition yourself to stop this behavior. At first you may feel like you’re just going through the motions, but keep in mind that this is only your starting point.

          • Don’t use your own parents’ behavior to justify yours.

          If you're cold and distant to your partner:

          • Examine where your attention is focused, if not with your partner. Often, people will overload in an area of their life where they feel safe, because they are afraid of or intimidated by dealing with a different part of their life.

          • When you're confronted with difficult situations, it's easy to retreat to your comfort zone. Learn to stand up and face your problems.

          • Understand that your children can always tell what's going on, even if they never say anything about it. They are learning from you.

          • By cutting yourself off from your partner, you're withholding positive energy. This is one of the cruelest and most powerful things you can do.

          • Consider that by retreating to your comfort zone, you're missing out on the true currency of life — the joy and fulfillment of your family.

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