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Steven Kalas

Watching, cringing, as film family makes real-as-life errors

My private practice is replete with issues of divorce, helping children cope with divorce, parental alienation, postmarital dating and blended families. Single-parent homes. Various custody arrangements. Two birthdays. Two Christmas celebrations. Two vacations. And how the hell do you group photographs at ensuing weddings, bar mitzvahs and baptisms?

Texting and driving and the Long Arm of the Law

I keep seeing the “It Can Wait” public service commercials. There’s a website,, where you can sign a pledge to never text and drive. I’d go there and sign the pledge, but I don’t need to. I have my mother instead. And my girlfriend. Together, they converted me (through strategic harping) to a “no texting while driving” policy.

Sorry, Dr. Freud, sense-seeking may not solve much

The Freudian Mystique is culturally pervasive. People come to therapy hoping to find that dramatic flash of insight. That “ah-ha” moment when they can say “That’s it! That’s the reason! I bite my fingernails as a compensation for my mother’s ‘rejecting, withholding breast,’ at which I did not have a nurturing experience!”

Please, Good Readers, don't stop the dialogue

They say, sometimes, of a baseball pitcher, “He’s gonna waste one.” This means the pitcher has reason to deliberately not throw a strike. The pitcher is going to throw around the strike zone. It’s a chess game. His purpose is to test the batter. To lure the batter into the pitcher’s game. To see if the batter will expose some tendency or intention. To keep the batter off balance. So the pitcher “wastes one.”

When enough is enough, it's time to start changing

A friend tells me about his therapy and his therapist. For session after session — weeks, now — my friend has tried to explain the history between his brother and himself. He has taken great pains to describe the great pain he carries about the relationship — chronically disrespectful, disdainful, scornful, critical and bullying. Never physically abusive, but emotionally cold and sometimes just plain humiliating. Since as long as my friend can remember.

Waiting for the right time could be a foolish thought

When I was a child, my father more than once threatened to get a baseball bat and etch “Steven’s Attention Getter” into the wood. He told and retold a story about a farmer plowing a field behind a stubborn ol’ mule, the punch line of which had to do with the stick the father carried on the plow — the mule’s “Attention Getter.”

Knowing of love and feeling loved are different things entirely

For years I’ve argued that “love is not how we feel but how we act” — with “argue” too often becoming the operational outcome — and you develop that concept insightfully and eloquently. But does your parenting example validate the claim that no difference exists “between a love you can’t show and not being loved at all?”

Love: At least know it's always there

So, if I said to you, “I’ve opened a bank account in your name. The account contains a balance of $5 million. To access the money, you’ll need the PIN number, which only I know. And I’m not going to tell you.”