Why Don’t Men Seek Therapy? Masculinity.

By Dr. Christopher Kilmartin

Scene one: an 8 year old child comes home from school and says, “The other kids are picking on me.” The parent responds with, “I’m so sorry, honey. Does it make you feel sad?”

Scene two: another 8 year old child comes home from school and says, “The other kids are picking on me.” The parent responds with, “Well, what are you going to do about it?”

You might have guessed that the child in the first scene is a girl; the second a boy. Parents and other adults tend to socialize girls to take the inward journey – to spend time thinking about how they feel. Boys are socialized toward the world of action—to solve the problem.

In the extreme, both can be problematic. The tendency for women to “ruminate”—to dwell on feelings passively, is thought to be responsible for doubling their risk of depression compared with men. Men, however, have at least double the risk for substance abuse and four times the risk for suicide. [Read more…]

Gynecomastia: The Truth about “Man Boobs”

Gynecomastia is the benign enlargement of the mammary gland in men. This affliction is characterized by enlarged mammary tissue which gives these men what is colloquially referred to as “man boobs.” Contrary to popular assumptions, true gynecomastia often has little to do with being overweight. Rather, it is the enlargement of the actual mammary gland that causes the swelling. With an incidence of 32% to 65% in the general population, gynecomastia is a problem that plagues a large chunk of the male population. It is also rarely discussed.

The stigmatization of this type of surgery for men is different than it is for women undergoing a similar procedure. While female breast enhancement surgery is common and usually well accepted, surgical breast alterations for men are still highly stigmatized. The boys and men who suffer from gynecomastia often do so in silence. Some men who discuss their problem with their primary physician are told to lose weight or, if they are children, told that it is “baby fat” that it will disappear with age. Other men are ashamed because they think it detracts from their masculinity. But this is changing. The most recent statistics from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons notes that while the rate of cosmetic surgeries increased only 1% from 2013 to 2014, breast reduction in men increased 14% from 2013 to 2014.
[Read more…]

Leading by Example: Fun Ways to Get Kids to Ditch the Electronics for Exercise

By Jereme Thomas

Kids these days. They spend way too much time indoors playing on their Xboxes, Nintendos, and iPads. How do you get them outside to rediscover the joys of kiddom? You have to make the experience exciting and relevant for the child. Here’s how.

Giving children a place to play is one of the most important things you can do to encourage them to move their activity outside (or get more movement in their day). Companies, like Totally Swing Sets, create an “instant park” in your back yard, eliminating excuses children often have for not going outside (“there’s nothing to do”).

If you live in a cramped area or don’t have much yard space, even a smaller swing set can help. Alternatively, take your child to the park.
[Read more…]

Is There More to Life Than Just Taxes?

No matter what anyone says, part of being a dad—for most of us—involves providing for our family. I have yet to speak to another father who doesn’t spend at least some time thinking about money—whether he’s the sole provider or shares that responsibility with his partner. So even though we’d much rather just spend quality time with our families, we’re often distracted by trying to figure out how to bring in more money.

I’ve written a lot about the heavy toll that financial stress takes on us. Besides causing all sorts of health problems, going through a personal financial crisis or just worrying about money can lead to drug or alcohol abuse, and can definitely strain our relationships. It can also muddle our thinking, cause depression, and negatively impact our performance at work. That, of course, could lead to losing the job, which would make the already-bad financial situation even worse. So how do we get a handle on the situation and keep financial worries at bay?
[Read more…]

Parenting During the Holidays after Divorce: Naughty or Nice?

A guest post from Angie Hallier

The holidays can be a rough time for divorced families. Traditions that were established for the family during the marriage inevitably change. One parent may be without the children for a part or all of the holidays, and there may be less money to go around than there was when the family lived in one household. But the last thing you want is for your children to have bad holiday memories to grow up with – memories of fighting, anxiety, stress, and guilt. Believe me, bad holiday memories will stay with children into their adulthood. I recently met a successful TV talk show anchor who told me he never had a happy Christmas until after he was married. His childhood was filled with horrible memories of divorced parents ruining Christmas by fighting every year over who would have the children, and then acting so poorly the children felt horribly guilty going to the other parent’s house. He said he and his siblings actually had to split up once so each parent could have “some” of them.
[Read more…]

What Happened To Sports? In 2014, Technology May Have Taken Its Place

amy williams sports 1

A guest post from Amy Willliams

“Hey Sam, you want to play catch?” “No thanks, Mom.” He didn’t even look up from his device. While saddened, I wasn’t shocked. This scenario is happening far too often in my family, and in our current technological world, as kids become engrossed in games on their phones and tablets start taking place of physical activity.

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Image Courtesy of Shutterstock

What happened to sports? It’s as if America’s favorite pastime has fallen to the wayside, unable to compete with the intense, addicting graphics thrust into the hands of these young, impressionable minds. It is not only a mere pitfall of the digital onslaught, it seems as if it’s becoming an epidemic.

The Good Old Days
Just twenty years ago, kids were still hopping on their bicycles and peddling to the nearest baseball field to get into a scrappy game with the locals. Play areas were filled with sweaty, mud-covered children playing football, baseball, heck, kill-the- guy-with-the-ball, returning home only when necessary to fuel up for lunch. Then, it was back out again until the sun went down and dinner was being served. The only problem parents encountered was trying to stop dirty sneakers from mucking up the house.

We Fell Into It
Eventually, an interesting thing began to happen. Small advancements in play technology started appearing. First it was TV pong, then handheld sports games on cumbersome devices, and finally a complete industry flood of fast-paced, miniaturized, highly realistic games that seemed to mezmerize and hypnotize our children overnight.

The next thing we knew – we were competing with overpriced systems, games, devices, you name it, that we purchased! At the same time, we were plugged into our own.

Fading Sports?
It may not be that bad yet, but it’s getting there. Due to lack of interest in physical activity, many kids may develop serious problems. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that, “childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents in the past 30 years,” and that “children and adolescents who are obese are at greater risk for bone and joint problems, sleep apnea, and social and psychological problems such as stigmatization and poor self-esteem.”

In addition, according to a 2011 report published in the Journal of Park and Recreation Administration, kids are spending less time outside, yet when they do, they bring their electronics with them! Take a look at some schoolyards and you’ll see groups of the “heads down tribe” wasting away in the summer sun.

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Image Courtesy of Shutterstock

One Hour Recommended
The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and the National Association for Sport and Physical Education both agree that children should get at least one hour of moderate exercise a day. An hour? Heck, you weren’t even warmed up after an hour when you were a kid. Yet, today if parents can get an hour of physical activity out of their child they’re lucky.

Dragging a kid away from their device to play sports is a challenge. This makes so many children miss the golden opportunity of learning team play, gaining self-esteem and experiencing something that will enhance their lives and their health in a variety of so many other ways.

We Can Do Better
If we get them out for an hour, so be it, but we can do better. Leading by example is the first lesson to send their way. This means that the less they see us on our devices and the more interested we become in their world may very well get them to look up. Here are a few tips on how to incorporate sports in our kids daily lives:

  • Start by showing interest in their video game by asking to play with them,
  • Ask them (or do it yourself) to keep a one week log of the time spent on their device.
  • At the end of the week, show them a list of other activities that could be achieved in the same amount of time. For example, half the time could have been dedicated to improving or learning a sport. Be prepared to spend this extra time with them if they take the bait and want to get out there.
  • Arrange sport activities for your child and their friends.
  • Start a long term sports program they can look forward to each day.
  • Implement electronic-free time zones that the whole family adheres to.
  • Acknowledge and encourage their effort.
  • Have as many family meals together as possible.

Although it may seem that technology is taking the place of sports in our kid’s lives, it doesn’t have to. All it takes is some extra attention from a variety of angles rather than an iron fist (which seems to always backfire). Put in the effort and before you know it, your child will be chasing, hitting, kicking, and throwing a ball in no time.


Amy Williams is a journalist and mother in Southern California. Finding a balance with technology is something her family is constantly working on. You can follow her on Twitter for more!