Dr. Laura Schlessinger is a California-based marriage and family therapist who has hosted a nationally syndicated radio program for many years. Her views are conservative and she is one of those people you either love or hate. She is a tireless advocate for children, families and the commitment of marriage. If you plan to call in to get support for leaving a relationship that is just too “hard” or for placing a new adult relationship ahead of responsibility to your children, you should be forewarned that Dr. Laura will chew you up and spit you out. She closes any loophole or escape clause regarding parenting and the vows of marriage.
I haven’t always agreed with her advice. Often it was because it shed light on some of my own bad decisions that I had already built a good case for. But I have always respected her straightforward unwavering insistence that we alone are responsible for the choices we make. Lousy childhood? Bad parents? Divorce? Addiction? Without discounting the injustice and impact of growing up under difficult circumstances, we still have not forfeited our right to make good decisions, now. We can choose to let those earlier experiences define us and determine our future, or we can refuse to be a victim.
People seem to call Dr. Laura with the specific agenda of proving that their situation is an exception. They go into long accounts of historical evidence which she rarely wants to hear…because no matter the affliction, the prescription is the same: energy spent on anger and blame would be far more beneficial invested in happiness, plans for a good future and taking control of their own actions.
Dr. Laura has written a number of books on interpersonal relationships. One of my favorites is “Bad Childhood-Good Life”. It is a testament to the power of the human spirit to not only overcome the most difficult life experiences, but to end their assault on a life of joy and peace. She encourages us, through the stories of her listening audience, to not accept victimhood.
The chapter on “closure”, a widely accepted practice in the mental health industry, is especially enlightening. It reveals the potential psychological injury in repeatedly confronting and talking about a traumatizing life experience. The notion that one cannot move on without closure suggests that there is a way to erase a negative thought or situation. Real closure would be a decision not to ruminate and suffer but rather to let go and get on with the business of creating your best life. Yes, change is difficult and often scary but believing you can’t change will soon become reality.
The conclusion of the book is a confirmation that you can have a good life no matter how bad your childhood, your first marriage or mistakes you have made in the past. Living a good life does not mean you will be insulated from dealing with pain and disappointment; it’s about how you choose to deal with them. Embracing the realization that you always have choices is not only liberating, it is empowering. There is a conqueror in all of us!
Dr. Laura always ends her broadcasts by saying, “Now go do the right thing”! I love that advice. The right thing is often not the easiest or the most convenient…but the choice is always ours.
This book and most of Dr. Shlessinger's can be found at www.amazon.com. I purchased my own copy and have received no compensation for my recommendation.