Susan's Blog


Marriage takes time, patience and effort. Even the couples that look like they have the perfect marriage, struggle at times. When you enter into marriage, you need to be prepared to work at it. Here are some common mistakes and misconceptions that couples need to avoid in order to make their marriage last.

  1. Your partner is responsible for making you happy: A lot of people make the mistake of expecting their partner and marriage to make them happy. This can put a lot of pressure on a relationship. Each individual must be responsible for their own happiness. It's important to maintain your own interests, your own friends and your own "life" so to speak. Otherwise you run the risk of losing yourself and who you are in your marriage. When you are happy in your own life, this is what you bring to the marriage table and it translates into a better relationship.
  2. My spouse should understand me: One of the most frequent things I hear in my office from a couple is "I'm not a mind reader." Don't assume that your partner knows what your needs are, knows how you are feeling and/or knows what your expectations are. Communication is key in any relationship. Men and women are different in how they express themselves and what's important to them. Expecting your spouse to "understand" where you are coming from can sometimes feel like an uphill battle. Instead, it can be worthwhile to say "I don't really understand how my partner feels or why that's important to them, but, I want to make them happy." Focusing on making your partner happy, instead of understanding them can help alleviate the power struggle.
  3. They know I appreciate them: Never assume that your spouse knows that you appreciate them. Not feeling that simple sense of "thanks" can lead to resentment and anger. When we think of appreciation, it's a common mistake to think that it's mostly women that need to hear verbal praise and gratitude. Men also want to feel admired and recognized. Say it, don't just think it. People need to hear positive feedback.
  4. Falling into a predictable routine: Falling into a routine can stagnate a marriage and a relationship. Maintaining date nights are so important. Do different things, explore interests together and take the time to just "be" together. It's vital to attain balance in your own individual life as well as your marriage. Don't take your marriage for granted.
  5. Kids come first: While kids are a priority, it is just as important to prioritize yourself and your spouse. Children tend to feel safe and secure when their parents are happy. Ignoring your needs and your partners' needs for the sake of your children will eventually lead to frustration and bitterness- on the part of you and your spouse. It is not healthy to live just for your children. You will find yourself a more patient and understanding parent when your life revolves around more than just your children.

Susan Lieberman is in private practice in Toronto as a family therapist and public speaker. For more information call (416) 512-6356.


All children lie. When a parent first discovers that their child has lied it can be very upsetting. Even though it is expected, parents worry that the lying may be a sign of troubled times ahead. To some degree, lying is a normal part of childhood- children exaggerate, make up stories, deny things and conceal the obvious. However, if lying continues as the child gets older and it becomes more frequent, parents should take more active steps to understanding the causes and dealing with it.


  • Fear - most children lie to avoid being punished and yelled at. When kids are scared of the consequences of their behaviour, they often lie to avoid being discovered.
  • Habit - habits are easy to form and can be hard to break. It doesn't have to take long for children to get into the habit of lying. If this is the case, one way to deal with lying is to give the child the opportunity of "coming clean" without worrying about being judged or punished.
  • To avoid doing a task or chore - "did you do your homework?" "yes I did it!"
  • To protect a friend or family member
  • For love, approval and to impress others - kids will often exaggerate their accomplishments to win approval.


Children often lie as a way of self- preservation. You can't stop your kids from lying, but it's vital that a parent create an atmosphere where their child does not feel pressured to lie in order to avoid consequences.

  • Role Modeling - children are observant and extremely mindful of their parents behaviour. Even when a parent tells (what they perceive to be) small lies, they are teaching their children that it is okay to lie.
  • Reward Honesty - Children thrive on attention- negative or positive. At times it can be useful to ignore the lying and give more attention to the positive behaviour and the times that your child has been honest.
  • Don't Reprimand Your Child for Telling the Truth
  • Talk about Family Values - Talk to your children about why honesty is valued and what can happen when a person is dishonest. Use age appropriate examples and scenarios to illustrate your point. Children need to be informed by their parents and need to understand that honesty is part of their "family value" and way of life.


  • Give yourself time to calm down. When your first reaction is an overreaction, your child is more likely to shut down and not communicate about what happened. Your goal needs to be encouraging your child to talk to you honestly. This is best accomplished by being supportive and calm.
  • Once you find out why your child has lied, follow through with the consequences for the misbehaviour. For example, if your son lies to you about cleaning his room, consequence him for not cleaning his room, not for lying.
  • After resolving the situation, talk with your child about the problems that lying can cause and how much you disapprove it.
  • Punishing a lie tends to be unsuccessful. It is more important to discover the reason for lying and then to deal with the problem and not the symptom. Teach your kids how to problem solve. It is a parent's responsibility to show their kids how to get what they want in acceptable ways.

Dealing with a dishonest child can be difficult and frustrating and it should concern you. We want our children to tell the truth- not be afraid of it. We want our children to be honest- as a valued way of life.

As a Parenting Educator and Family Therapist, Susan Lieberman has spent almost 15 years helping kids, teens and adults meet success. For more information please visit for helpful downloads and other proven resources!


  • Provide a quiet, clean workspace, whether it be a desk or kitchen table.
  • Keep an agenda, diary or calendar of assignments and events.
  • Stay in contact with the school, attend meetings, read newsletters and attend parent/teacher interviews.
  • Know what is going on in your child’s life.
  • Encourage and support your child.
  • Show your child how you work hard and learn new things.  Help him/her find answers to difficult questions in books, library resources or on the Internet.
  • Make sure school comes first in the family’s priorities- before sports, jobs or socializing.  It is helpful if one parent is present and available when homework is being done.
  • Do not sweat the hairdos, clothes, Pokemon cards or music of otherwise happy students and kids.
  • If something goes wrong and your child fails a subject or a year, offer hope and a chance to redeem him or herself.
  • Love your child and show it.  This is the cornerstone of success.

Susan Lieberman is in private practice in Toronto as a family therapist and public speaker. For more information call (416) 512-6356.


Are you planning a road trip with your children?  Sitting still in the car for hours isn't an easy feat for a child.  Road trips can be fun and filled with wonderful memories, but they can also be quite stressful.  If you are about to embark on a family trip, follow these tips on how to entertain kids in the car and make your next trip a great one.

  1. Purchase travel-sized games for your kids.  Most popular games, like Trouble and Connect 4 can be found in smaller versions.
  2. Go to the dollar store and buy some crayons, colouring books, crossword puzzles and activity books.
  3. For longer trips it's okay to rely on electronic devices- either handheld, or a portable DVD player so you can play movies.  If possible, make sure each child has their own to avoid arguments.
  4. Most kids love music and love singing.  Pack along your family's favourite CD's and have singing contests and sing alongs.
  5. Make enough stops so that kids can get out of the car, go to the bathroom and stretch their legs.  Even taking 30 minutes to stop at a neighbourhood park can make the long trip easier.  It will help ease fidgetiness and will be a good release of energy.
  6. Go to the library and check out some books on CD.  It can be enjoyable to listen to a funny, entertaining story together.
  7. Let each child pack a small bag of their own favourite things.  This can include a favourite blanket, pillow or stuffed animal.  It can also include some favourite toys, books or activities.
  8. Pack lots of snacks- healthy and junky.  A family road trip is a time to break some of those health conscious rules.  If you're going to eat in the car, it's a good idea to pack some wipes for clean up and a garbage bag to keep everything off the floor.
  9. Bring along a first-aid kit.
  10. Have an accessible change of clothes for each child "just in case."
  11. Games such as I Spy, Rock Paper Scissors and watching for different States and Provinces on license plates are also good traditional car games.
  12. Map out your route ahead of time with your children and give them different landmarks and points of interest to look for.  Make it a contest.

Taking a road trip with the whole family involves planning and thinking ahead.  But if you take everyone into consideration, pack appropriately and go with a sense of humour, you will create unforgettable memories, have a great experience and come out of it a survivor!

Susan Lieberman is in private practice in Toronto as a family therapist and public speaker. For more information call (416) 512-6356.


1 in 7 children are involved in bully-victim interactions. All children lose when aggression is tolerated: the bullies, the victims and the bystanders.


Before beginning therapy it's important to be proactive and ask your therapist some questions. Every therapist has a different style and a different way of connecting with their clients. You want to make sure that their approach and background is right for you. The following are some questions that will shed some light on the therapy process and make you feel more comfortable moving forward within the therapeutic relationship.


The Holidays are over and it’s time we all got back to the reality of our daily lives. Chances are at some time in your life you’ve made a New Year’s Resolution- and broken it. I know I have. This year, stop the pattern of resolving to make change, and then not following through. Some of the most common resolutions are:

  • Losing weight
  • Paying off debt
  • Saving money
  • Getting a better job
  • Getting in shape
  • Eating better
  • Quit drinking/smoking
  • Reduce stress
  • Take a trip

Every time I make a resolution, I always find it more effective when I write down my goals on paper and then break them down into small steps. For example, telling yourself to lose one pound a week can seem more attainable and less overwhelming than a more general statement such as “lose weight.” The attitude of “small change leads to big change” needs to be adapted. This could mean the difference between actually sticking to the resolutions and achieving success and giving up within a few weeks, which seems to happen more often.


As kids start participating in sports, it is up to their parents to help guide them in the fine art of winning graciously and losing graciously. Teaching healthy sportsmanship begins when a child is young. Losing typically becomes an issue at around the age of four.

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