Phillip C. McGraw The Family First Workbook

ISBN 13: 9780743285278

The Family First Workbook

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9780743285278: The Family First Workbook

In Dr. Phil's #1 New York Times bestseller Family First: Your Step-by-Step Plan for Creating a Phenomenal Family, he gives parents courage and a solid understanding of the principles for making your family phenomenal. Now, with The Family First Workbook: Specific Tools, Strategies and Skills for Creating a Phenomenal Family, Dr. Phil puts you to work practicing purposeful parenting, walking you through scenarios and exercises in which you and your family will act on these proven principles to build pride, unity and hope for the future. You'll master a host of concrete, in-depth tools for raising happy children who approach the world with integrity, honesty and respect.
Dr. Phil wants to help parents get their priorities back in order by putting family at the center of their lives. Families don't have to suffer through mediocrity because of parents who don't communicate and children who act out because they aren't receiving the right balance of guidance and discipline. You can shape your household into a functional, supportive, stimulating and safe place -- a place that you and your kids are happy to call home.
With innovative individual and group exercises, challenging self-appraisals, a Daily Intention Journal, specific guidelines on managing conflict, special material for divorced and blended families, and much more, the workbook will show you how to be the best role model, guide and advocate for your child.
Dr. Phil makes you ask yourself the hard questions, and he reveals the hard truths. You are raising America's future; you must invest the time and energy to do it right. The reward -- a happy, fulfilled home life that lets your children thrive -- will be well worth the work.

"Sinopsis" puede pertenecer a otra edición de este libro.

About the Author:

"Dr. Phil" (Phillip C. McGraw, Ph.D.) is the host of America’s number-one daytime talk show and is perhaps the most well-known expert in the field of psychology and human functioning in the world today. In his 16th year on television and his 11th year of the Dr. Phil show, he has devoted his international platform to delivering common sense information to individuals and families seeking to improve their lives. Passionately pursuing such topics as family functioning, domestic violence, anti-bullying, addiction and the myths of mental illness, he works tirelessly both on and off the air. Dr. Phil has carried his message from the senate chambers of Washington, D.C. to the suburbs and inner cities across America. He and Robin, his wife of 38 years and counting, along with their "wonder dog," Maggie, reside in Southern California, as do his two sons, Jordan and Jay, along with daughter-in-law, Erica, and two grandchildren, Avery Elizabeth and London Phillip.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Chapter 1: Family Matters

What's wrong with the world...

People livin' like they ain't got no mamas.


-- THE BLACK EYED PEAS

He lives in two worlds, this twelve-year-old boy. Every day, he troops in and out of those two worlds, in and out of the tiny paint-peeled tract house he lives in with his father, mother and three sisters. To say his is a modest neighborhood is kind. To the casual observer the houses are indistinguishable. There is kind of a peace and order to the cookie-cutter sameness, everything in its place and a place for everything. At least so it appears. Like every other neighborhood in America, suburbia or the inner city, every home is a façade, an outward face that betrays little of what lies inside. Sometimes what is inside is the opposite of peaceful. Behind the social masks, all too often lie families that are chaotic and disconnected, that threaten to disintegrate with the next crisis. The boy lives in just such a house and in just such an American family.

Outside the doors of his home, the boy finds a world that seems immeasurably more validating. He has a small group of friends and acquaintances to whom he in some ways feels closer than his own family. Yet they too seem distant and different because he is different, at least in his own eyes. Among them, he, like so many others, wears a social mask of "okayness," but he doesn't know theirs is a mask as well. He seems relaxed, even confident, but secretly he's always on guard, because he knows he's not like them, not really. He knows he and his family are poor and that they live differently with different problems, problems you just don't talk about. He's making one of the first and most common mistakes children make: He's comparing his private reality, his world behind the door, to the social mask of all of his friends. He assumes that what he sees is the truth, and in comparison, his image of his own family situation suffers dismally.

In the world beyond his home, the discovery of athletics has been an absolute godsend. He and his family don't have the money, the clothes or the ability to participate in any of the extracurricular activities except for sports, which are free to all students. In fact, at his young age, the boy already works two jobs, and so he embraces sports as a leveling device. On the playing field, he doesn't have to talk or be like everybody else; he doesn't have to have money or a fancy upbringing or even a stable home. He just has to be what he is -- a strong and coordinated kid, able to excel at just about any sport. Through athletics, he has found not only his self-esteem but an acceptable outlet for a burning anger that he doesn't understand, but knows is always there. Even with sports as an outlet, violence and fights are an everyday occurrence in a rough testosterone-driven world. Backing down is not an option. Because of sports, the urge to win has been planted in his head like a fast-growing seed -- he loves being in the thick of competition and he has learned what it takes to win and others are eager to follow. The seed has sprouted; he doesn't like being second-best.

School life is less comfortable. He is smart, though not academically motivated. He reads all of his textbooks from cover to cover the first few weeks of school and masters the material, but could care less about class or grades. Homework is turned in only if it is handy to do so. Teachers find him quietly charming but reluctant to get involved. His writing is excellent when he bothers to do it. His test average is A+.

To his twelve-year-old sensibilities, being out with his buddies, playing sports with a passion and getting through each day are what life is all about -- "out there," at least, in "that world." Out there, in that world, he is his own person, but always with an undertow from the other world, the world behind the door.

Once he goes home, he enters a completely different world, and he becomes a completely different person.

Cut off from his friends, his athletics and his school life, he is withdrawn, sullen, depressed, lethargic and emotionally detached from the rest of his family. Being the only boy, he has his own small room and he stays in it the vast majority of his time. He has no television, not even a radio. He just stays quietly to himself and even comes and goes through his bedroom window to avoid walking through the house. Unbeknownst to his parents he roams the streets after the family is asleep. He sleeps little as his paper route starts at 4:30 a.m. Days and nights don't seem much different when you are alone. He yearns for the hours to pass so he can make his way out into the other world, the one in which he is more functional, engaging, successful and motivated, at least in some areas of life. There is an astonishing contrast between what he is like in that world, out there, and what he is like in this world, in here.

But why?

Before that question is answered, let me tell you that in the many years that I've worked with the parents of troubled youngsters like this one, it became quite common to hear a mother or father request that their "problem" child be fixed. "Get our child straight!" they would demand. "We just don't know what happened! He just seemed to go downhill overnight. He is so withdrawn, so down and depressed. What is wrong with him? Can't you do something to fix this problem?"

Is this right thinking? Not even almost. No matter what maladaptive behaviors a child is exhibiting, I can guarantee you that the problem is almost certainly with the entire family, and most often the child is just the sacrificial lamb dragged to the altar of the counselor because he or she happens to be making the most noise and has the least amount of power or ability to shift the focus to someone else.

Trying to understand a child's behavior without interviewing the rest of the family just won't cut it, and any therapist worth their salt knows it. I want to be sure you know it too. So let's step through the front door with the twelve-year-old boy I described earlier and observe the other five parts that would be missed if a therapist, or more importantly, you, as a defensive parent, trivialized or ignored the family aspect.

Life "in there," life with his family unit, is tumultuous, volatile and unpredictable. Here's the real cause for this boy's refusal to plug into his family: His father is a severe and chronic alcoholic. He is typically emotionally unavailable to the boy, and to the rest of the family. He and the boy have clashed violently when the alcohol takes over and while the father barely remembers the confrontations, the experiences are seared into the boy's mind and heart. Further, the father has aborted his career in sales, uprooted the family, moved to a new state and returned to school at a university in the hope of a brighter yet highly speculative future. Though nobly inspired, this decision hurtled this family of six into grinding poverty. There is little inner connection as each family member's own personal struggles drain them of energy. Hunger gnaws at times and doing without is just how it is. Life is insecure, as the children are the poor "new" kids. Life is emotionally barren, full of desperation and drama, with one crisis after another. Tired and struggling, this family is not coping well at all.

dClearly scarred by the psychological and emotional stress, the boy's two older sisters try in their own way to escape the turmoil. But this turns out to be a classic case of "out of the frying pan into the fire." Both sisters have ill-fated elopements with boyfriends before finishing high school. Tension is everywhere in the home. The boy loves his sisters and they have protected him and helped him in a number of ways, but then they were gone. When they returned home, they were strangely different. They weren't just the other kids in the family anymore. And so, the boy feels further isolated. Although loving and caring, the mother works long and grueling hours on her feet as a store clerk just to keep food on the table. She is ill-equipped to deal with or counterbalance such a dominantly patriarchal family and such disconnected kids fleeing from their father's alcoholism. Baby sister is cute but silent. God only knows what she must be thinking. She is extremely dependent, afraid to leave home even to sleep over at a friend's house. She must stay close; this deal could cave any minute. The boy stays close to her, and they talk late at night, but he realizes that the less she knows, the better.

Both the mother and father were born into poor, uneducated families, and consequently, they had very little idea that life offered anything other than what they were exposed to. Tragically, the father had suffered severe mental, emotional and physical abuse at the hands of his own mother, and this legacy crippled his relationship with his own wife and children.

This is the world in which we find this twelve-year-old boy. He is embedded in a family on the verge of imploding and to evaluate him in isolation would be an exercise in futility. There is in this world an enveloping bleakness.

Trouble runs in packs.

If you haven't figured it out already, I know every detail of this story because I lived in that house. The story is my own. I was the twelve-year-old boy who moved from one world to the next, and back again. That was how I saw and experienced my life. That doesn't mean that my perception is correct or is how the other five members of my family would describe it. Every family member's experience and perceptions are different, but you can bet that everything each member thinks, does or feels bears on every other person in the family.

Although it isn't much fun to recall, I'm telling you this story because it's one I lived, and one I can say with great confidence illustrates that family matters. Family matters because it is the single most outcome-determinative factor shaping one's outlook and achievement. Your family powerfully determined what you've become and how you think about yourself, and so it will be for your own children. That's why among all words in the English language, none means more to human beings than "family."

In a typical family of four, there are five distinct personalities because you must also count the collective one. Your family's collective personality is a bundle of all the personalities, subsystems, roles and rules that exist, values embraced, the togetherness (or lack of) in which you live, standards and expectations and the thoughts and beliefs you share. The collective personality of your family can affirm and build on what you have to start with or it can countermand and erode the family unit.

If you want to understand your children, you must think of your family as a system. Whether we're talking about a family with a husband, wife and children, a single-parent family, a blended family, a gay or lesbian family or a multigenerational family with grandparents living in the home, a family is a system, not just a collection of individuals. If you were to look up "system" in the dictionary, you'd see it defined as "a regularly interacting or interdependent group of items forming a unified whole." To understand this concept, think of the systems at work in everyday life -- even your own body, which is made up of a number of interacting parts. For example, if you rupture a disc in your lower back, you may experience what is called referred pain in your legs, and even in the bottom of your feet. No part works in isolation; the function or dysfunction of even one part affects the whole.

The same is true of a family. In a family where the mother is diagnosed with cancer, her disease is not simply a personal problem; it's a family problem because the entire family is affected. Whenever something happens to a family member, whether it is cancer, substance abuse, an addiction, a chronic illness or failures in life's pursuits, no family member can avoid being touched by it.

These events dramatically impact a child's socialization -- the ability to learn, be independent, get along with others and understand the importance of rules. Moreover, it impacts academic progress and the building of self-esteem.

Socialization is one of the most important jobs a family has. When the family fails to provide the healthy nurturing children need, the impact on their lives can be destabilizing and can cheat them out of the chance to be the best person they can be. Children who are not properly socialized have problems in the world. They do not respect the authority, hierarchy or boundaries of their parents. They have poor impulse control. They can be selfish and extremely demanding, with little regard for how their behavior hurts the family. The resultant dysfunction of unsocialized children simultaneously contaminates the very family that may well have spawned their troubles. A vicious cycle, to be sure.

Of course, who and what you have become is also dictated by your education and your relationships with your friends, neighbors and employers. And as previously pointed out, a huge influence is the massive media machine -- five hundred TV channels, the Internet, the radio, the newspapers. If you don't think so, just consider the now-unequivocal evidence that violent television and films, video games and music increase aggressive and violent behavior in children, teenagers and even adults.

Yet for all that, the family -- your family -- remains the most powerful influencing factor. Your past experiences may make you want your family to not be such a powerful influence on who you are or who you become, but it is, whether you like it or not. Bottom line: We need to get it right, right now.

THE NOBILITY OF PARENTING

As a parent, you're the head of your family, and therefore you occupy an unbelievably powerful role in shaping the tone, texture, mood and quality of this interconnected and vitally important unit. You're a system manager. By successfully managing this system, you can parent your way to a phenomenal family -- and avoid the problems and erosion seen in so many of the families in your very own neighborhood.

But let me ask you:

· What kind of family manager have you been up until now?

· Are you working on a day-to-day basis at managing your family, treating it as a project, giving it the priority it deserves?

· Are you creating a family environment that brings out the best in your child?

· Do you have the skills necessary to give your child his or her best chance at succeeding in this world?

· Have you overcome any "family legacy" that has contaminated the way in which you define and parent your family?

· If the other parent is in the home or active in the children's lives post-divorce, do the two of you have a parenting plan that provides guidance based on consistent values?

· Do you have a plan and an objective in mind for what successful parenting is and will yield in your child's life?

· Have you created an environment that generates feelings of safety, security, belongingness, self-confidence and strength for the child or children in your charge?

· Is your family nurturing your child's individuality and acting to ensure that he or she will become the unique and authentic person God intended?

I know you just answered those questions, but I ask you to go back and read them over again, and this time answer them keeping in mind that you are writing your children's future with your answers. Those questions are just a beginning of the self-examination you must be willing to do if you're going to strengthen the foundation on which your children are basing their lives. Frankly, I know that some of you re...

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