Happy New Year to you, Rick! Glad to have your excoriating responses to kick off this year with me.

As is often the case regarding your responses to something I've written, my first response is - yes, yes, yes, I agree with much of what you say. But here's the thing - while, of course, it true that there are great people in every field, including parenting, who've had no formal training, and there are lousy people in every field who've had a lot of training, my point is that in terms of our priorities as a society, we are much more concerned about how good our lawyers and plumbers are than how good our parents are. Nothing is a panacea, and neither therapy nor education nor even experience guarantees enlightenment by itself, but couldn't we at least make an effort?

So many political and religious bloviators talk about the "sanctity" of marriage and the family, but what is that sanctity based on beyond the most base of animalistic instincts to copulate and procreate? I've been working in the human services field for a long time - 30 years as you often remind me - and I've seen kids kept in horrendous situations by our courts and institutions simply because the biological parents have the most highly valued and protected rights by virtue of nothing more than... their biology!

If you read carefully what I wrote, Rick, what I am making my cause here is to stop the idealization of parenthood and treat it as we do any other significant "occupation" that impacts on the welfare of our society, and subject the rearing of children to at least the minimum amount of scrutiny we give to the water pressure in our showers!

Finally, since you regularly bring it up, I don't know where you get your ideas about what constitutes being a good therapist, though it sounds kind of like the archaic "blank screen" approach to psychoanalysis that never did Woody Allen any good, but I definitely see healthy anger and ass-kicking as part of my tool box when it comes to guiding people on their paths. My aggression isn't "displaced" - it's meant for the people I'm directing it at, and calling someone who's acting like a fool a "fool" isn't "attacking," it's making an accurate assessment. I'm not serving any Kool-Aide here, and I challenge you to identify what you think my "dogma" is.

From my vantage point, there is such a thing as Reality with a capital "R." It's not all subjective or relative. No matter what anyone's opinion is, on this planet, there's gravity. If you jump out a window, regardless of your beliefs, you're going down. And so on.

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