Skip to content

Opening a closed spirit

March 14, 2013

No parent is perfect. Everyone makes mistakes. We yell when we should console. We attack when we should comfort. We challenge when we should support. Our kids are unruly in the grocery store, we lash out because we are embarrassed or in a hurry or late for an appointment. Whatever the cause, no parent has escaped the effect of a closed spirit in a child. One can always tell when a child has closed down to us emotionally when they won’t allow us to touch them. They won’t look at us directly and when they do, the look would kill us if looks could kill. You know what I am talking about.

How does one open up a closed spirit? Here are a few ideas to unlock the heart of your child (or spouse) and get back into safe and loving contact:

1. Get soft and tender. It’s time to slow down, take a deep breath, and speak softly. Invite yourself into their room or invite them to your space, but do so in a safe, sensitive way. Go over the details of how you’re feeling about being distant from them and what you think you might have contributed to their feelings of resentment or anger.

2. Seek information. Ask them to tell you exactly what is their perception of the “injustice” or actions you took. Listen carefully to what they say and repeat it back to them after they finish to let them know you heard and understand.

4. Ask forgiveness. Simply state, “I am sorry that I hurt you in the way you have just told me (describe it in their language).” Don’t defend or explain and don’t argue their memory–it is their truth, not yours and they are reacting out of their own hurt and pain. See if they will verbally forgive you.

5. Reach out to touch. You will know whether forgiveness is complete if your child or spouse allows you to physically touch them. If they pull back or resist your advance, go to step five. If everything is O.K., thank them for forgiving you.

Step 5 is to go back to Step 1 and do it all over again.


Five ways to check your family temperature

January 10, 2013

What is the temperature of your family? Is it a happy place to live? Is it safe for everyone? Is loving concern being modeled often? Is forgiveness readily available and given often? Is anger the definition of the family relationship or is cooperation and shared responsibility at the forefront?

Each family creates variations of temperature (otherwise known as emotional quotient) by how it interacts with one another. So often, our homes reflect what has been taught to us by our parents. We don’t stop and think about how we would like our homes to be; we simply acknowledge that they are what they are and there isn’t much we can do about it. This is not true! Every day determines how our family life expresses itself. It may be angry today, but that does not mean it needs to be angry tomorrow. We can do something in the present to change the dynamics. Here are a few suggestions on changing the temperature of your home to something more positive:

1. Get your courage up and ask your spouse or your child to forgive you for the most recent time you have unloaded on them in anger (even if you were right).

2. Start a family night where the entire family gets together, turns the television off, and plays games.

3. Ask the family how they would like to be family, ie., ask for advice from even your youngest about how they would like the family to relate to each other.

4. Take time each week to be one-on-one with each family member ¨including your wife or husband.

5. Stop saying “You are­” and start saying “I feel­”.  This way, you convey that something is not working for you without accusing or attacking someone you love.

Good luck. Try it right this very day. You’ll be amazed at the difference it can make.

Meet the Director

April 6, 2012
Bob Bretsch is a clinical psychologist who specializes in children and family issues. He has been happily married for over thirty nine years and has two adult children. Presently he is enjoying his grandson as he enters his high school years. Bob is a counselor, teacher, writer and amateur golfer who enjoys people and sports. Bob has taught on the college level, been a high school counselor, served as pastor of several churches, has written for numerous magazines and is presently writing a book on spiritual connections and their importance to our identity and mental wholeness.

Bob grew up in the Far East. From the third grade until college, he was immersed in various cultures and loves to hear the cultural stories and histories of any country he visits. His worldview is shaped extensively by his early upbringing in vibrant, culturally-rich countries. He realizes there is more than one way to do anything and he brings this approach into his therapeutic and professional encounters. His work, at present, finds its roots in Portland, Oregon where he and his wife founded Portland Kids, now called Empowered Kidz, and is moving the program to other parts of the country and often travels outside the Portland area to accomplish this goal. His resilience based work with children in giving each child the tools of resilience anchors itself in providing entry level work such as summer day camp programs as well as after-school, fun Saturdays, and week-night activities which lead to deeper and richer relationships resulting in developing optimistic and successful young adults. His commitment to any child who joins the program to remain in contact and support with them for 12 years…from six years of age to eighteen…makes Empowered Kidz a unique approach to developing hopeful adults.

Building Resilience….

May 27, 2011

We are committed to making a child’s life as successful as he or she chooses it to be.  We want them to succeed.  To that end, we make a promise to provide a twelve year relationship with each child in our program. We think long term commitments to a child’s welfare are integral to their growth and development.  So, in addition to our programs, we provide counseling services, child advocacy, and community restoration wherein we place within certain stressed communities trained individuals who have chosen to live at those locations and seek to build the social structure of that community from the inside out.  Social transformation, as it is called, begins with a “Common House” that becomes the center for these broken neighborhoods.  Some of our children enjoy our programs and are positively affected by the virtues and values they learn, but go home afterward to sometimes dangerous or dysfunctional environments.  By transforming these living conditions by sharing common things, we seek to help children by helping their families be successful as well.  Whomever we serve, we seek to build resilience.  There are ten ways we offer the gift of resilience:


1. A relationship with a caring adult
2. An opportunity to contribute and be seen as a resource
3. Create effectivencess in work, play, and relationships
4. Healthy expectations and a positive outlook
5. Self-esteem and assisting each child in reaching personal goals
6. Self-discipline
7. Problem Solving and critical thinking skills
8. A sense of humor
9. Independence and appropriate control of their environment
10. A sense of over all well-being