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Heartland Health Care Center - Oakland
Health Care Center
Rehabilitation and Skilled Nursing
34 November 24 2011
very day we make many
ments in the short-term and establish
decisions. Some are minor,
an explicit precedent for the future.
like what TV show to watch
What parent hasn't experienced
or what to eat for dinner. Others are
decision struggles involving their
more crucial, such as how will the
children? How often do parents have
mortgage be paid or when
to deal with a child who
and if to have children.
whines, cries or screams
Each family has a dif-
when not getting his or
her way, especially in pub-
process, which can be
lic? Parents may respond
a means to success or a
to the universal complaint
source of conflict.
"that's not fair!" by forcing
In some families, the
an older child to yield to a
decisionmaker is dictated
younger one or a younger
by who has the power or
one to an older one, say-
assumes the role of leader.
ing, "you'll get your way
That person may control
some day when you're
family choices based
on role, status, income,
Frequently, a dispute
experience or expertise.
is not about the decision
If a leader makes poor
itself, but the way it's
decisions regularly, oth-
made. Parents may make
ers may try to override him or her,
decisions in haste just to avoid con-
though this is easier said than done. troversy. They may choose the full-
Some family members seize the
denial position: "No one is getting
decision-making power by asserting (whatever)!" or the full-surrender
a greater knowledge than anyone
approach: "I'll give you (whatever)
else. This "decider" states opinions
this one time only." Whether the
as facts, leading to argument, antag- obstinate child is placated or the
onisms and disparaging remarks,
deserving child is deprived, it will
such as "that's a dumb idea" or
be harder to impose a method
"we've already tried that." However,
good decisionmakers examine many
One suggestion to end sibling
possibilities; this is the key to think- squabbles is to use an arbitrary
ing outside of the box.
method to select who chooses. For
When decisions are being made
example, a quick way is based on
in conjunction with others, the real
the children's birthdays. If it's an
challenge is to maintain a suitable
odd-numbered day, the child who
standpoint. Without realizing it, we
has an odd-numbered birthday gets
can unconsciously react as if we are
to choose. It is the same for even-
still children, quickly losing maturi-
numbered days. Or, allow one child
ty in the moment. Consultation gives to propose some options and the
way to manipulation when parents
other to select from the list. As a
or others feel they have the right to
last resort, parents can always flip a
direct people's decisions because of
coin. The key is to avoid any accusa-
financial need, presumed wisdom or tion of favoritism.
However you decide to decide,
For example, a young couple feels
keep best practices and your fam-
pressure when choosing one set
ily's interests in the forefront. Above
of grandparents over the other to
all, bear in mind that confidence in
baby-sit. Is their decision based on
making decisions is bolstered when
their own convenience or to appease another's input is viewed as advi-
others? To avoid feeling guilty or to
sory, not compulsory. You can always
avail yourself of others' advice, but
They can counteract this uncon-
you don't have to take it. For that
scious process by formulating their
matter, you can reject anything said
decision prior to presenting it.
in this column. The decision is up to
Expressing a position without guilt is
easier when you stick to a predeter-
mined decision rather than vacillating Dr. Daniel Rosenbaum is a clinical social
when challenged by people who may
worker at Counseling Associates in West
have ulterior motives.
Bloomfield. Reach him at (248) 626-
Standing firm can defuse argu-