Contextual Work – What? Why? How?

Contextual Work points to ways of breaking down roadblocks between people. These barriers limit the healing and richness of truth, trust, and fair consideration.

For over 50 years, groups of people have collaborated to illuminate, simplify and clarify the complexities of Contextual Work.

Our Community in Dialogue bands together to help deconstruct the roadblocks between people. That is, to help unravel tangled relationships regardless of circumstance (e.g., family, work, school).

I thought it was just me against him. What? After my divorce I saw five different therapists. I never wanted to bring my former husband in. No one challenged me. I might have learned something if we were in the room together. Why? I thought it was just me against him. How? Everyone has a side that counts. What was his?

I thought my wife and I were a united frontWhat? My daughter and I are both musicians. My daughter gets in the car and turns on the jazz station. My wife, her stepmother, objects to loud music. I ask my daughter to turn it off. It doesn’t occur to me to back up my daughter over my wife. Why? That’s what my parents did. What is the alternative? My wife and I could not have a child of our own. Is she mourning? I try to compensate her loss. My daughter is 26 and my only child. And my wife gets testy when she doesn’t feel backed up. So I fall silent. How? Inclusion: Everyone deserves to be heard. There is relief to be found in each party’s voice.

Now the tables turnWhat? I had a heart attack. Cutting back work and earnings became necessary. Now I am in need financially. Both of my grown children say, “Dad if you need financial help, ask us. We just don’t want you to be stressed about not having enough.” I am very uncomfortable asking them. Why? I feel a failure as a father if I take from them. I am supposed to care for myself and for them. Then I am supposed to pass an inheritance to them. How? Consider their gain in giving to me. They are grateful and want to give back. I gave to them in their need as children and young adults. Now they want to give to me in my need. In this way receiving is giving. What do I owe? What do I deserve? What is fair?

Contextual Work is a road map. Underneath most spoken words are layers of unspoken meaning. Contextual work points a way to peeling back these layers for the sake of freeing people to deepen their capacity for speaking with candor; deepening trust; healing wounds. Contextual work takes courage.

To illustrate… layer upon layer:

“Let’s talk about it later,” may express an intense wish to defer the ugliness of words flying between us:

  • Sides are taken.
  • There is silence between us.
  • Is our silence a pause? Kara is orchestrating her father-in-law’s funeral. Sam calls from vacation. Jody is immersed in work. I am adjusting to living alone. These occupy our attention.
  • Is this cold silence containing rage that wants revenge?
  • Is it a waiting for strength and willingness to engage?
  • Jody feels cut out, excluded.
  • The silence is broken briefly. Jody visits me in my new place. She says it is beautiful. She and Kara greet each other.
  • Indirectly Jody’s visit softens the flow of ugliness between us.

We begin to absorb and reflect. We feel the impact of each other’s words. Then…illumination. Suddenly, new thoughts form. New words tumble out. We find courage to go forward:

  • To refine our words and ask each other to do the same
  • To help each other make ourselves clear
  • To temper violent reactions
  • To be fair
  • To become safe for each other
  • To deepen trust between us
  • To hear our ancestors’ voices in our words; surfacing hidden loyalties
  • To break free of chronic silence, blame, and resignation
  • To risk the initiative to re-build linkages, regardless of outcome
  • To repair intended and unintended injuries
  • To mend collateral damage for ourselves and future generations
  • To lend each other courage

Discover what Contextual Work points to in your relationships:

  • Only each and all of us can answer why our voices count
  • Or what is fair
  • Or what it means to consider consequences for each other
  • And, who deserves consideration

** We Invite You To Engage **

Community in Dialogue: Barbara R. Krasner PhD, Douglas W. Schoeninger, PhD, Karen K. Allen MBA, Rachel Joyce MPA, Russ Parker DDiv, Ernest Szoke JD

Blog Site:

Website:   Trustcounts.Org

Contact Us:  Trustcounts1@Gmail.Com 


Posted in Author: Barbara R Krasner PhD, Author: Doug Schoeninger PhD, Author: Ernie Szoke JD, Author: Karen K Allen MBA, Author: Rachel Joyce MPA, Author: Russ Parker DDiv, POINTING A WAY...RIPPLE EFFECTS | Leave a comment

It’s Further Than I Think

I had a heart attack December 28th. Five months later I am on a snorkeling adventure with children and grandchildren off the coast of Florida. What can I handle?

I take a chance. I jump six feet into the water, feet first. I head for the the rock outcroppings. The water is cloudy. I go nose to nose to see any fish. I feel comforted seeing my grandchildren swimming nearby. 

I am getting tired. I look up to locate the boat. “Oh, shit.” It’s further away than I thought. I head back. Out of energy. I keep swimming off course. Will I make it? Stop. Rest. Start again. I make it. Now to get into the boat.

I’m on the lower rung. Six feet to go. “Take off your fins. Put them in the basket.” I reach down for the fins, struggling to hold on to the ladder. From behind me I hear young voices: “Can we help?” “Yes please”. Fins in the basket, I reach for the ladder. A hand comes from above. “Grab it.”  I’m lifted into the boat. “Thank you.”

Pointing A Way

  • Taking A Risk
  • Unanticipated Help
  • Grace Before Me, Behind Me, Beside Me, Above Me, Beneath Me, Around Me, Within Me.
  • Help Offered, Help Received
Posted in Author: Barbara R Krasner PhD, Author: Doug Schoeninger PhD, Author: Karen K Allen MBA, MYSTERY, TRUST | Leave a comment

Her Favorite Cooking Pot

“Where is the pot, Frances? It isn’t in its usual place.” “I put it in the oven.” “I don’t want it there! I forget it’s there when I turn on the oven.” “I want it there. I want the stove top clear.”  “I don’t want to ruin your favorite cooking pot.” “It’s always your way!” [I’m seeing all I do her way.] I repeat, “I just don’t want to ruin your pot!” We leave it. When she sees it, she puts it in the oven.  When I see it’s missing, I take it out. She leaves the room. “What’s so important about this to you?” “The house is such a mess. I need order somewhere.” Her life feels so much out of control. 


I reassess my investment

“I get it. I’ll try to remember it’s there.”

A small thing to me has big meaning to her

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Your Husband is My Hero

My husband and I work with a personal trainer, Mark, at a nearby gym.  My husband is obesely heavy and is limited in his ability to exercise.  Over time, people have commented on how much stronger and steadier my husband has become. One day, I met a woman Mark calls “the champ”. Mark and “the champ” both call my husband “athlete”… which he considers a four-letter word.  I saw the champ in the locker room that day and told her she was my hero because she is so fit.  She said, “Your husband is MY hero.  My Daddy died three years ago.  He was extremely heavy and didn’t do anything about it.  It was horrible to see all the tubes connected to him. My Mom calls me and asks where I am.  ‘At the gym.’  ‘Again?!?’  I don’t want to die like my father.  Your husband is doing what my father wouldn’t and my mother won’t.  HE is my hero.”


Everyone has a side

Opening up her grief

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Entering an Elevator

I was going to the elevator.  A couple was ahead of me.  The woman was in a wheelchair. I insisted that they go in first. “No”, they signaled; “you go first.” I did. We headed to the same office and I ended up in line before them.  I turned to them. “You should have been in line before me.” They smiled and moved ahead of me. The man was overwhelmed with all he was handling, including the wheelchair. He looked up and nodded his appreciation.

A Pointer:

It was only fair

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Holding the Door

Holding the door: I was walking into the entrance of the hospital for meeting with a doctor. I noticed two people coming down the steps on the other side of the door.  one was helping the other, who was limping. I stayed where I was and held the door open for them. They thanked me profusely and insisted that one of them open the door for me. 

A Pointer

Taking a moment for spontaneous kindness.

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Taming Invisible Loyalties

Under my rage was a profound desire to love my father…and receive love from him

A moment of discovery: I was pounding the walls, raging at my father. I wouldn’t stop. I would not be defined by my mother’s voice saying “don’t upset Dad”. Then, unanticipated, my emotions were transfigured. My rage revealed itself for what it really was: my passion for relationship.

Dad was an engineer. He was learning statistical quality control to save money and improve product. I was intrigued when he showed me how it worked. I liked math and statistics and his eagerness to show me. I even kept a drinking glass he gave me, which had the ASQC[1] logo on it. He was hoping to convince the CEO to form a new department to implement this new way of doing things. He had already saved the company $21,000 using this technique.

So he wrote the CEO a letter:

The company made an investment in my training. I expected to put some of these techniques into operation. Such was not the case. A result that depressed me considerably.

Further, I was assigned additional duties without help or compensation. The workload became excessive and resulted in a mental depression; this time so severe that I was hospitalized over the holidays, and required special treatment.

I remember visiting my father in the “sanitarium” on the way home from church one Sunday.  I was taken to see the electric shock equipment they were using to treat him. I was shaken. My seven-year old imagination of my father’s brain being shocked was terrifying.  This memory remains vivid.

The company was very fair in giving me a leave of absence with full pay during this period. This was an expression of goodwill that I greatly appreciated. Personally the expense of this episode used up all of my 1947 Christmas bonus, and then some.

I like the way my father credits the company in the midst of his despair. Reading this, my respect for him grew. My memories are of him railing against company managers for ignoring him. This letter has none of that tone.

By his account, my father had three severe depressive episodes: one in 1941 when I was two; one in 1942 when I was three, one in 1947 when I was seven.  I remember him staying in bed for days and my mom tending him. Seeing him emotionally paralyzed frightened me. How long will this last? Will it end? What’s going to happen?

These three episodes resulted from what my physician calls an “overly conscientious complex”.

Now, in this reading, I’m identifying. I know my “overly conscientious complex.” I suffered depression at age 33. And a heart attack at 75.

My one weakness is not knowing when to say “no”. Even though the facts and common sense dictate that I should do so. 

Not knowing when to say no is true of me, too.

I felt that my mother expected me to parent my father. Not until reading this letter did it occur to me that my father experienced similar expectations, in his case to take care of his mother. His father committed suicide when he was 7. He found his father hanging when he went to give him a hug and kiss on his way to school one morning.

Father was an only child. I imagine he carried guilt over his father’s suicide. His mother told him, “You’re now the man of the house.” He had to feel pressed by expectations to fill the gap.

Hence I frequently find myself overburdened. Through bitter experience, I hope I have gained a philosophy and an understanding that will prevent recurrences.

My father would recount the moment he found his father hanging. Vividly. Visually. With no visible emotion. Every time I speak this memory, I tear up. Am I crying his tears? Crying for him? Right now I’m tearing up.

The remainder of my father’s letter addresses issues logically.  This logic is so different from our dinner table exchanges, where he frequently ranted about how he was mistreated at work. I would point out to him other sides and perspectives. I was 7, 8, or 9 years old, trying to open him up to possible interpretations.

In retrospect, I see that I was trying to save my father additional hurt and shame by offering him other perspectives. I was afraid that his rants would spill out at work and further damage his value and cause.

My friends seemed to like my father. But I worried that they would lose respect for him when he ranted in their presence, usually while he was driving. I was afraid of his road rage. I was also ashamed and concerned that I would lose the respect my friends.

When I was in graduate school, my father visited me. I remember him raging at an auto mechanic who did or didn’t do something.  His calm reasoning disappeared when he felt betrayed by a man of authority.  He did that with me as well. When I was 11, we were in the dining room just outside the kitchen.  He was ranting about homosexuals.  I said to him, “They have a side.  These are human beings.”  He raged at me, “Why are you trying to kill me?”  No conversation. Maybe he felt that I didn’t get it; I wasn’t hearing him, I wasn’t on his side.

My daughter Karin and son-in-law Scott took me to cardiac rehab yesterday. Scott was unusually silent and seemed upset. Karin recounts, “Scott gets upset with me when I raise views that contradict his. He gets angry. And feels I’m not on his side.”

Mother schooled me to take care of Dad. If I fought with him, I would go to my room. Was I sent or did I escape?  Either way, Mother came to me. She asked me to stop upsetting him.

Was my voice too powerful? Too injuring? Speaking up, even now, is a project. When someone interrupts me, I give way. It’s a loyal response.

My mother died when she was 49 and I was twenty. I never had a chance to engage her as an adult. I even missed her funeral; I was out of the country. My father was 86 when he died. I had time to engage him.

Questions to Consider

  1. Whose tears am I crying? Whose sadness do I carry? “Am I crying his tears? Crying for her? Crying for me?”
  2. What do I owe and to whom? What do I deserve and from whom?
  3. How do I show my passion for relationship? “My rage revealed itself for what it really was: my passion for relationship.”
  4. How could anyone conceive of rage being an expression of love?
  5. Is my voice too powerful? Too injuring? “Speaking up, even now, is a struggle. Giving way is my usual, loyal response.”

 I Have No Teaching. I Only Point A Way ( Martin Buber)

Loyalty is preferential attachment to persons entitled to priority in a given context.

Invisible Loyalties:

  • Are resources and stumbling blocks
  • Guide our motives.
  • Inform our choices.
  • Are the foundation of Contextual Work; within, between, and across generations.
  • Elude our awareness.
  • Yet we intuit their presence

The Consequences of Invisible Loyalties:

  • Unseen, loyalties may blunt imagination and impede the capacity to act.
    • My grandfather’s suicide.
    • My father’s demand for recognition in the workplace
    • My rage, directed at my father.
  • Made visible, loyalties can become a resource – to be examined and re-cast:
    • My grandfather’s suicide became my family’s compassion for his suffering
    • My father’s demand for recognition sensitized me to his need for validation
    • My rage, directed at my father, is transformed into love for him
  • The ability to grasp the threads of invisible loyalties may stimulate imagination that kindles us to act justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly.[2]

[1] Association for Statistical Quality Control

[2] (Micah 6:8)

Posted in Author: Barbara R Krasner PhD, Author: Doug Schoeninger PhD, Author: Karen K Allen MBA, LETTERS TO PEOPLE I LOVE, LOVE, TRUST | Leave a comment

“On Being Saved”

Dear Veronica,

“Are you saved?” “Dad, how do you deal with those words?” I am taken off guard. I am afraid. How will you react to my answer? Will you misunderstand me? Will you hear me as judgmental? I hear your fear of “Christian language”. Will you hear my words through the lens of legalistic religion?

I am grateful that you reach out to me. I feel so blessed by our conversations. Yet I am fearful.

“Are you saved?”

I am furious. “Is she saved? “He is saved.” “He is not saved.” “They are not believers.” “They are believers.” I feel wounded. Ignored. Dismissed. Diminished. Judged as insufficient. There is no room for me here.

I hear people being dumped into heaven or hell; shoved in and out of God’s family. The question offends me. If the answer is “yes” or “no,” will I think I now know the person?

What are you asking me? Why do you ask?

I grew up in a family of Baptists (Mom and Dad), Pentecostals (Uncle Rob and Aunt Krista), and atheists (Aunt Katherine and Uncle Ned).

Mom’s sister, Aunt Katherine, atheist and spokesperson for the Socialist Labor Party, fascinated me. “Mom can I ask Aunt Katherine about her socialist beliefs?” “Yes but no arguing. She has her beliefs and we have ours.” I interpreted mom, “Listen. Ask questions. But no debate, no open disagreement.” I hated upsetting my mother.

I’d say, “Aunt Katherine, what is socialism? Why do you care about it?” Aunt Katherine explained her ideas with enthusiasm. “Workers deserve a fair shake. They are exploited. Used to gain wealth for a few. This is intolerable.“ I thought silently, “Then why don’t you believe in God?” I would never ask that question, and risk mom’s look. However, Aunt Katherine was forthright, “If there is a God why do Christians hate and judge. Where is love? My dad was blackballed from the railroad when he went out on strike. The churches never helped. They don’t seem to be around when justice is at stake.”

Aunt Katherine’s children, my cousins, voiced similar views, “If God were real then Christians would behave that way. We experience Christians as judgmental, exclusive, intolerant, concerned with their own welfare and future. They believe in war.”

When I was 17, my grandmother was dying of cancer. At church one Sunday night, I found my mother in the chapel praying. She looked disturbed and I asked her, “About what?”

“Rob is trying to convince Mother to say the sinner’s prayer. He doesn’t think she is saved. He is afraid she is going to hell. He is pressuring her to confess her faith in Jesus. She won’t do it and he is getting more insistent.” “Good smart stubborn woman,” I am thinking. I knew Grandmother’s faith in Jesus from our conversations. I think she kept her faith quiet unless there was a genuine exchange to be had. My mother seemed horrified by her brother’s pressure, and doubly troubled that this was occurring in her atheist sister’s home. “Aunt Katherine is furious. She is trying to protect Mother. I feel caught. I don’t know what to say. I hate what he is doing”.

No wonder I feel offended by the question, “Are you saved?” I was pained by Mom’s distress. Uncle Rob’s pressure on Grandmother upset me too. No one should be treated that way.

When I was growing up, every other word from Uncle Rob was “Praise the Lord”. I wanted him to shut up. I was annoyed. And it made my dad uncomfortable.

Then he changed. In his 80s, Uncle Rob told me, “God showed me in a dream that Mother is home with Him. And Father too.” I was so happy. I felt relieved. “Maybe I can talk to him.” Testing my truths and experiences with him now seemed possible.

What does “saved” mean? Living life fully? Acting justly? Loving mercy? Walking humbly?

What is one saved from and saved for? From fear, hatred, arrogance, alienation? For rest, restoration, reconciliation, reunion, joy? Growing up I heard “saved” and “not saved” as who was going to heaven and who was going to hell. What about this moment?

In my family my atheist Aunt Katherine seemed the most alive, full of joy, committed to the downtrodden. She was visibly tolerant of differences, deeply respectful of persons. There were differences. But I never saw her as contentious. We were free to honor each other’s convictions. She wrote poetry. Her poetry enfolded me.

And my cousins engage life with compassion and care, much like their mother.

I ask, “Do you believe that the way you care for others has no enduring value? You talk as if what you value has no eternal substance, no sustaining ground to draw from.”

They ask, “How do you make that leap of faith? There is not enough evidence for me. Too much evil in the world to believe in a loving God.” I say, “But I experience God’s love!” “Tell us what you experience,” they respond. “How do you know that is God?”

From these conversations I concluded that some live closer to God by professing atheism. They refuse a God they see others worshipping, a God who condemns and excludes.

Later, my cousin Barry drew me aside. “My son has become a Fundamentalist Christian, and is very judgmental of me. Can you help me? I don’t know how to talk to him.”

Who lives saved, now?

As Paul says in Romans 2:14-16 (The Message)

“When outsiders who have never heard of God’s law follow it more or less by instinct, they confirm its truth by their obedience. They show that God’s law is not something alien, imposed on us from without, but woven into the very fabric of our creation. There is something deep within them that echoes God’s yes and no, right and wrong. Their response to God’s yes and no will become public knowledge on that day God makes his final decision about every man and woman. The Message from God that I proclaim through Jesus Christ takes into account all of these differences.”

Eager for your response. Love,




  1. How do you respond to the word “saved”?
  2. Who do you find yourself categorizing? Who do you experience categorizing you?
  3. How do you respond to someone who strongly disagrees you? Can you confirm him/her?

Pointing the Way:

  1. Seeing merit in a person. Never discount another entirely. If I do, I discount myself.
  2. Imagining what is real for the other.
  3. Testing whether another can hear versus concluding that someone will not.
Posted in Author: Doug Schoeninger PhD, Editors: BR Krasner PhD and KK Allen MBA, LETTERS TO PEOPLE I LOVE, LOVE | Leave a comment

“Do You Have My Back?”

I started out to share some homey events that happened between Austin and me over the years.  For example, we were writing a book together.  But it was going in the wrong direction.  We were critiquing instead of making ourselves known.  Our words seemed negative.   So we dumped our year-long effort and started over again – for six more years without murmur of dissent.

Austin, Karen and I spent time together late on Friday afternoons, collaborating and integrating our work. Almost before we began a search for what I wanted to say today, Karen came across words that seemed written for this moment. Who knew?

 Do You Have My Back? 

(Austin J Joyce, October 12, 2012)

To a soldier or a street fighter the question is the mystical backbone of relationship.  It is a bond held up  as unbreakable.  It is an invisible oath one takes formally or intuitively: no matter what, you will be there for me and I will be there for you. Continue reading

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“I’ll Listen If No One Else Does.”

October 2, 1978

Dear Mom and Dad,

I am somewhat distressed by the fact that both of you seem to feel that you have in some way failed us in our upbringing. It is all very well to say with a hindsight of time and experience. But, how were you to know way back then which was the best way?  Being neither naive nor a fool, I saw, as early as when Hannah and Raoul [foster children from Cuba] first came, that  your acceptance of that responsibility was a mistake.

Dad, you speak of not wanting to slight Raoul or myself by proffering attention to one or the other, but that was an inevitable and inherent problem of the situation.

To both of you I say, I do not hold either one of you responsible for any of my failures or fuck-ups.  Perhaps you might have been more forcefully influential, but I suspect that there would have been greater hostility between us, that I may have misunderstood your intentions, and regard them as examples of unfair parental authority.

Mom, your total immersion in civil rights and equal housing movements was the only time I ever felt slighted by either of you.  Yet, it was something that you had to do, and in the long run it contributed to your continuing ascendent career. To have denied yourself would have been an unfortunate turn of events.

To both of you, your supposed “lacks” were more than outweighed by the sense of ethics that you instilled in us, at least in me. Perhaps Mom and I have less of a problem of “understanding” each other because we’re inherently more alike. For that matter, I don’t “know” my sisters any better than I “know” my father.

But Dad, don’t forget that one tires of the response “whatever you want” in the sense that one stops asking when one always gets the same response. To assert yourself would not have slighted us.  It may have even provided more opportunities for us to share our experiences. To compare yourself to the way I run my life is both unfair and unhelpful. Thanks to you, I do run my life the way I do. I hate to be harsh, but that’s the “breaks” of time, circumstances and experiences.  But to deny your future because of your past is also unfair and unhelpful, not only to yourself, but to those who care about you.

At this point in your life it is no less impossible for you to arrange time for your desires than it is for me to plan my priorities because I have more options. You’re the one who told me not to worry about my finances. Who told me I could do whatever I wanted to do, because I had the capabilities.  So do you; why don’t you practice what you preach, instead of hiding in your false absolutized sense of failure? There are plenty of people who respect you just for what they see, and who would continue to accept and respect you were you to assert more of who you would like to be.

In other words, they accept you for what you are because that’s the only side of you they ever see. Maybe they’re more than a little interested in what they don’t or can’t see because of one reason or another. “There is no sin except stupidity”. I heard that Oscar Wilde said that. To make artificial absolutes is the biggest example of stupidity that I can think of. No one is really stupid; they only act stupidly. Try cutting yourself a break. I’ll listen if no one else does. That’s a start, isn’t it?

Take care and all my Love,



October 21, 2012 / July 27, 2014

Hey Son,

I just found a letter you wrote to Dad and me when you were 22.  It is ten months since Dad died.  I am sorting through photo and papers I want to store.  Your letter is the last piece I touch. I read it slowly, hungrily, with no memory of seeing it before.

You write with candor, acuity, accuracy and with fundamental truths — with insights and maturity beyond your age. You write with a directness that you may have reined in over time. I hear your forgiveness, your advocacy and your disappointment.  Maybe you are the one who should have been the family therapist.

Two things strike me hardest. 1) Challenging whether we are failed parents: “Your total immersion in civil rights and equal housing movements is the only time I ever felt slighted by either of you.”  As for me. When I helped Hannah apply to law school I realized how left behind I felt. I felt I was without direction. So, full steam ahead! I entered every door that opened to me — without assessing losses to you.  I remember how stung you were on the occasions of President Kennedy’s and Martin Luther King’s deaths; when Dad and I went to Judson Church in New York, leaving you behind.

And 2) pleading with Dad to let you know who he really is: “Why don’t you practice what you preach, instead of hiding in your false absolutized sense of failure? There are plenty of people who respect you just for what they see, and who would continue to accept and respect you were you to assert more of who you would like to be. In other words, they accept you for what you are because that’s the only side of you they ever see.”

Dad would hear your words more keenly now, Scott. Remember the exchange between him and you? “Dad wanted to come home. And I felt helpless”, you told me. “So I helped him get into warm clothes and wheeled him out into the fresh air. We walked for a while and his cap slipped over his eyes. I bent down to fix it and saw him crying. “Why are you crying, Dad?”  “I never dreamt that a son of mine would care for me this way.”

Dad knew he didn’t know how to make himself known. His commission to me at the end was, “Tell the children, Budir, tell them how much I love them. Tell them.”

Can we talk again? I imagine that you may not know the significance of your voice in my life.

With abiding love,


July 31, 2014

Did I write that?  And now looking back I’ve made some of the same “mistakes” or “missteps” or whatever they’re called, whether perceived or real.  So how smart was I?

Scott M. Krasner

July 31, 2014

“From Generation to Generation”: it started a long time ago.

Maybe you can hold tight to much of what’s good in who you are to your guys.  One night you invited Dad to go to an art store with you and Zach. Dad came home, spilling over with joy at the three of you being together. He stood in awe of how you parented Zach and Tate.

As for me, I see you as a caring loving father who, to this day, does things with your sons that Dad and I never thought to do.

Not perfect, but confirming. Who you are to the boys is already evident in who they are to their family, to each other and to the world.



Spoken Here, Heard There!

The Goal is Engagement.



Questions to Consider

  1. Dad, who are you under your “facade”?
  2. Do you know what it is that you want?
  3.  How is it that I repeat how my father withheld himself?

Pointing the Way

  1.  Each father, mother and child are a triad. Trust is gained when a child is able to speak freely to one parent without being disloyal to the other.
  2. The discovery that I repeat what I find offensive in my parents, frees me.  I can recognize their vulnerability.  I am free to change.
  3. Recognizing a parent’s contributions and limitations is an alternative to blame.  It can clear a pathway to give and take.


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