It's the middle of another of our Canadian winters, and I find myself driving along our snow-covered streets just as a new layer of sleet begins to fall.

Maybe I'm driving faster than I should be, or maybe it can't be avoided given the circumstances of these treacherous roads, but suddenly I feel my car sliding. I've hit an invisible patch of ice and my tires have lost all traction. My pulse rises as I come to the dreaded realization that my car is out of control and swerving dangerously.

A little voice in the back of my head instructs: Turn the wheel in the direction of the skid.

The only problem is that this little voice is completely counter-intuitive...It's the number one rule for skidding, which I learned decades ago as I began my driving career. This stops the wheels from locking and enables the car to regain traction so it can once again be guided in the right direction.

The only problem is that this little voice is completely counter-intuitive. As I speedily come closer to a head-on collision with a huge 18-wheeler in the oncoming lanes, or as I approach the tall metal pole which will undoubtedly leave an ugly gaping dent, every instinct in my body screams the opposite.

My knee-jerk reaction is to turn the wheel as far away from the skid as possible, despite the fact that previous experience has proven that this will make my slippery slide even worse. It takes my every bit of self-control to resist my instincts and abide by this logical rule.

In parenting our children, and in forging stronger relationships with our spouses, we often encounter "icy patches" and slippery situations.

It could be that a child is driving along the path of life a little too recklessly. Or maybe our relationship with our spouse is on "auto-pilot," ill-equipped for those hazardous "frosty conditions" along the way.

Perhaps the slide could have been avoided with the right preventative measures. Or maybe not. But right now we are in a situation that our child or marriage has lost its footing and is skidding dangerously.

It might be "bad" words that your young child begins to use which you are unaccustomed to hearing. It might be negative friends or conduct that your teenager is bringing home which you don't approve of. It might be a spouse's outburst of anger, jealousy or hurt.

Our knee-jerk reaction is often to swerve in the opposite direction, in an attempt to get ourselves as far away as possible from this precarious situation.

Do you hear yourself loudly bellowing at your teenager, "I will not have that kind of conduct in my home!" or "Don't even think of ever bringing home such friends again!"?

Do you hear yourself sternly reprimanding your youngster: "No child of mine will speak that way. How dare you!"?

Do you scream back at your spouse, before slamming the door in his face: "Such an outburst is completely uncalled for!"?

In such out-of-control moments, perhaps it would be more logical—though far more difficult—to follow the number one rule of skidding: Follow the direction of the skid.

Not in the sense of getting deeper into the unwanted circumstances or behavior. But in the sense of following and understanding why your child or spouse is having the issue to begin with.

Empathize with the pain, the self-doubt, the hurt or anger that has lead to the slideFollow your teen's line of thinking, and you might better appreciate why he is going through this phase. Observe your young child to determine if she is trying to attract your attention through her inappropriate words. Listen to your spouse as he shares the frustrating circumstances which generated his outburst.

Empathize with the pain, the self-doubt, the hurt or anger that has led to the slide.

It might not be your intuitive, knee-jerk reaction. It might even make you feel more vulnerable or threatened. But only by pursuing the source of the skid can you arrive at a solution—and help you both emerge safely.