Saturday, September 29, 2007

Dr. Phil and Hope

My wife told me that the famous, and very wealthy, Dr. Phil had a couple on his TV show this week who was having some serious problems in their marriage. Phil, in his usual confident manner, said: "I can tell in just a few minutes of an interview whether there is any hope for a couple. "

Phil proceeded to tell the couple, and the entire world, that the signs of a hopeless marriage are simple: Personal attacks that include Criticism and Contempt.

Phil was partially correct, Criticism and Contempt along with acting like a stone wall and withdrawing into a cold shell, are usually of a divorce train a coming. However, Phil failed to mention that such marriages can be saved and healed if a couple will work hard in good faith.

He also forgot to mention that the signs of divorce he was quoting came from Dr. John Gottman's research. Gottman's materials are those we referenced in our June training in Clermont County, Ohio. That is the DVD we are giving away for the asking.

Why is Phil acting so hopeless? Why are so many secular therapists feeling so helpless about helping people in trouble? Now the American Psychological Association even says it is wrong to help a man or woman who wants to change his/her sexual compulsions.

Why are they feeling so helpless and hopeless when we know people can change? We know that counseling actually works in most cases. We see evidence of changed lives daily.

So, don't give up. If you are having conflict with someone you love, get a counselor, social worker or psychologist. You can also get our DVD and read our books. Don't give up!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Free Video on DVD

We video taped the two presentations in June for Committed Couples and last week a friend, Karl Metzler, finished up his volunteer work of placing all nine sessions on DVDs. He did a terrific job by designing a beautiful package and placing the Power Point Slides on the last DVD.

These can be used for your own information about how to have a healthy relationship or put it in the DVD player and use it to teach a small group. If you are a church volunteer, small group leader, Pastor or educator you will find them very provocative and useful. Each session is about 20 to 25 minutes.

If you would like to have one write me at

Listen Up!

I did a doctorate in the Sixties and Seventies graduating in 1975. Even back then the leaders of the counseling professions like Carl Rogers were saying that listening well was the key to being a good or great counselor.

But that seemed unlikely because most of the books and classes I took emphasized how much I was supposed to know about the theories of psychology and human development.But, when researchers started doing what is called, "Outcome Studies" and discovered that Dr. Rogers and Dr. Carkhuff were right.

I became convinced that the ways we treat people are more important than what we know about people. As the old saying goes, "People do not care how much you know until they know how much you care." The outcome research made a lot of sense to me so I did a lot of reading and discovered that the key to good marriages, good parenting, good sales, good pastoral care, good management, good leadership and good living was also good listening and good caring.

Listening with love and understanding are not just for the pros. Everybody can grow and learn to relate better by learning the simple skills of listening. Why not order my book, Listening for Heaven's Sake from

Just type in Gary Sweeten and see all the titles that come up. Buy one of the books and write me what you think. We have just published a version of Listening in Russia to join those published in Sweden, Norway and Denmark. All told we hav sold over 250,000 copies world wide.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Social Skills for Children and Youth

The Future Welfare of the nation depends upon the education and welfare of our families and how they rear their children. The following article emphasizes that kids must learn realtional skills from their parents and the quality of those relationship skills will largely determine how well your kids do in life.

The depression and violence among young people concern us all. The pain of families whose children hurt themselves or others causes us deep pain. There are, of course, no instant experts and no instant answers on how to change the situation. However, we do know how children develop the interpersonal and social skills necessary for success in life and that will reduce their need to react inappropriately to disappointments.

The data on reducing children’s problems are clear. Research indicates that we should involve children in church, extra-curricular school activities with caring adults who listen. Structure, discipline, adult role models, hard work and good social skills are the foundation for a secure and happy life. Below we list the skills that are most important for children to know.

Beginning Social skills
1. Listening to other people
2. Preparing for a conversation-focusing on a topic
3. Starting a conversation
4. Carrying out an interactive conversation
5. Asking good questions
6. Saying, thank you
7. Self introduction
8. Introducing other people
9. Offering compliments to others

Advanced Social Skills
10. Asking why
11. Asking for help
12. Joining in with others
13. Giving instructions
14. Following instructions
15. Apologizing
16. Convincing others

Emotional Skills
17. Emotional self knowledge
18. Expressing feelings
19. Understanding others’ feelings
20. Putting self in the place of others
21. Dealing with others’ anger
22. Expressing affection
23. Dealing with fears
24. Rewarding self

Alternatives to aggression
25. Asking permission
26. Sharing with others
27. Helping others
28. Negotiation
29. Self-control
30. Standing up for personal rights
31. Saying no
32. Responding to teasing
33. Avoiding trouble with others
34. Keeping out of fights

Stress Skills
35. Expressing a complaint
36. Answering a complaint
37. Talking after a competition
38. Dealing with embarrassment
39. Dealing with being ignored
40. Resisting group pressure
41. Responding to failure
42. Dealing with false accusation
43. Planning Skills
44. Dealing with boredom
45. Suggesting something to do
46. Finding a problem’s cause
47. Setting a goal
48. Gathering information
49. Prioritizing problems
50. Making decisions
51. Concentrating on a task

Goldstein, A.P., Sherman, M., Gershaw, N.J., Sprafkin, R.P., and Glick. Training Aggressive Youth in Prosocial Behavior, Journal of Youth and Adolescence, Vol. 7, No. 1, 1973

Americans Agree: Kids Are Not Being Prepared for Life

Barna Report from October 26, 2004

(Ventura, CA) - The presidential election season has brought to light numerous issues on which the nation’s population is divided. According to a new survey from The Barna Group, however, there is one issue on which most adults agree: the nation’s children are not being adequately prepared for life.

Based on interviews with more than 1000 adults nationwide, the survey discovered that less than one out of every five adults believes that children under the age of 13 are being “superbly” or “pretty well” prepared for life emotionally, physically, spiritually, intellectually or physically. Fewer than one out of every twenty adults believe that America’s youngsters are receiving above average preparation in all five of those areas of life.

Moral and Spiritual Development Lags the Most

Adults were asked to evaluate how well children under the age of 13 are being prepared for life in each of five dimensions. Using a scale that ranged from “superbly” to “poorly,” half or more of all adults contended that children are “not being prepared well enough” or are “poorly prepared” for the life that awaits them in relation to each of the five dimensions tested.
Adults feel most confident in the intellectual preparation that children receive these days. However, just 18% said kids are prepared “superbly” or “pretty well” in the intellectual dimension. In comparison, half of all adults said kids are “not prepared well enough” or are “poorly prepared” intellectually to effectively grapple with life.

Physical development generated a similar response pattern. One-sixth of adults (16%) felt that children were being superbly or pretty well prepared physically, while a slight majority (54%) felt they were not being prepared well enough or were being poorly prepared physically.
Adults indicated that children are faring somewhat worse in the area of emotional preparation: only 12% gave positive ratings compared 62% offering a negative assessment.

The lowest ratings, however, were reserved for the moral and spiritual preparation of children. Only 8% of adults said kids get better-than-adequate preparation in the spiritual realm, while more than 7-out-of-10 adults (71%) said children get inadequate spiritual training. Similarly, 8% said kids get above average moral preparation while three-fourths said youngsters get inadequate moral preparation.

Thursday, September 6, 2007


In June we sponsored workshops on consecutive Saturdays to train mature couples how to reach out and help other couples and families. We were sponsored by grants from both the Federal Government and the State of Ohio through Beech Acres Center.

Before the month of September is over we are going to have a dynamic reunion for all the original attendees. We will answer questions, find out what the trainees have been doing or are planning to do to support committed couples and happy families.

Stay tuned for the exact day, date and time as well as the place.

Girls and Suicide

ATLANTA (AP) -- The suicide rate among preteen and young teen girls spiked 76 percent, a disturbing sign that federal health officials say they can't fully explain.
For all young people between ages 10 to 24, the suicide rate rose 8 percent from 2003 to 2004 - the biggest single-year bump in 15 years - in what one official called "a dramatic and huge increase."

The report, based on the latest numbers available, was released Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and suggests a troubling reversal in recent trends. Suicide rates had fallen by 28.5 percent since 1990 among young people.

The biggest increase - about 76 percent - was in the suicide rate for 10- to 14-year-old girls. There were 94 suicides in that age group in 2004, compared to 56 in 2003. The rate is still low - fewer than one per 100,000 population.

Suicide rates among older teen girls, those aged 15-19 shot up 32 percent; rates for males in that age group rose 9 percent.

"In surveillance speak, this is a dramatic and huge increase," Dr. Ileana Arias said of the overall picture. She is director of the CDC's National Center for Injury Prevention and Control.

More research is needed to determine whether this is a trend or just a blip, said one child psychiatrist, Dr. Thomas Cummins of Children's Memorial Hospital in Chicago. "We all need to keep our eye on this over time to see if this is a continuing trend."

Overall, there were 4,599 suicides among young people in 2004, making it the third-leading cause of death, surpassed only by car crashes and homicide, Arias said. Males committed suicide far more often than females, accounting for about three-quarters of suicides in this age group.

By GREG BLUESTEIN Associated Press Writer

Monday, September 3, 2007

Ohio Labor Stats

Study of Ohio's work force by Policy Matters Ohio, a union-backed advocacy group:

Ohio has 2.8 percent fewer jobs, or 158,000, than when a recession began in 2001.

The state has lost almost 21 percent of its manufacturing jobs over that period.

Ohio's gross domestic product grew 22.3 percent between 1990 and 1997 but only 13.3 percent between 1997 and 2006.

Two-parent families increased their working hours by 17 percent between 1979 and 2006 to 3,488 hours a year.

The likelihood of being in a union declined in Ohio from more than one-fourth of workers in 1983 to just over 16 percent in 2006.

Source: Policy Matters Ohio

More pressure on families. We really need to support each other now.

Americans Work a Lot

Yep, we who live in America work an awfully lot. It seems to be part of our DNA and our heritage to put in a lot of hours in the market place.

GENEVA - American workers stay longer in the office, at the factory or on the farm than their counterparts in Europe and most other rich nations, and they produce more per person over the year.

They also get more done per hour than everyone but the Norwegians, according to a U.N. report released today, which said the United States "leads the world in labor productivity."
The average U.S. worker produces $63,885 of wealth per year, more than their counterparts in all other countries, the International Labor Organization said in its report. Ireland comes in second at $55,986, followed by Luxembourg at $55,641, Belgium at $55,235 and France at $54,609.

The productivity figure is found by dividing the country's gross domestic product by the number of people employed. The U.N. report is based on 2006 figures for many countries, or the most recent available.

Only part of the U.S. productivity growth, which has outpaced that of many other developed economies, can be explained by the longer hours Americans are putting in, the ILO said.
The U.S., according to the report, also beats all 27 nations in the European Union, Japan and Switzerland in the amount of wealth created per hour of work - a second key measure of productivity.

When I was in college the professors called it, "The Protestant Work Ethic" and suggested that the root cause of our work obsession was John Calvin's theology. I do not know if it has that root cause but I agree that Americans, by and large, go to work earlier and stay later than any other developed nation in the northern hemisphere.

Our passion for work can be positive or negative. I was so interested in work that for several years I neglected my family. The people I loved most actually suffered because I was so over committed to people I worked for. NOT SO GOOD!

Now I try to keep my life in better balance but it is not easy. I have the kind of personality that sees "Work as play and play as work." So, I have decided to make sure I work at play. Now, Golf is my main work.