Category Archives: Parenting Issues

Struggling with Parenting? Begin with You

sad-black-woman-378x329Parenting is hard work.  At times it can be overwhelming, lonely, exhausting, discouraging, exciting, joyful, rewarding, encouraging, and fun within just a few short minutes.  The wide range of emotions  you feel from excitement over watching your child finally ride a bike without training wheels to paralyzing fear as they ride that bike straight into an on-coming car is enough to drive you into some unhealthy potato-chip-eating-addiction.  Yet despite the stress, you couldn’t imagine your life without your kids and you try hard to be the very best parent.

So you read lots of parenting books, talk to friends, and listen to experts on how to be a better parent.  But how much time have you invested in understanding your natural parenting style?  Yes, how you were raised has a lot to do with how you parent both good and bad, but you are also born with a personality style that is directly comparable to your parenting style.  When you understand your personality and parenting style (and perhaps more importantly, your spouse’s style), you will naturally be a better parent.

Active.  It is easy to tell if you are an active parent just by looking at your family calendar.  Is it full of too many things to do with not enough time?  Do you find that when you have some down time as a family, you want to go and do something rather than just sit at home?  As an active parent, your favorite questions will be centered around the word “Who”.  Who else is going? Who are your friends?  Who do you want to be?  Active parents have a lot of energy, are exciting to be around, and adventurous but they usually over commit or don’t follow through with promises.

Bookkeeper.  Imagine an invisible ledger which details all of the gifts, grades, thank-you notes, kind acts, punishments, harsh words, phone calls, and hugs for each child.  Now imagine trying to keep that ledger in balance so that one child is not favored over another, so gifts are equally divided, and punishment is equally distributed.  This is the bookkeeper parent who can do such a task in their head.  As a bookkeeper parent, your favorite questions will be centered around the word “How”.  How are you going to do that?  How do you feel?  How did you get that done?  Bookkeeper parents are very fair, diplomatic, and loyal but can easily get their feelings hurt in the process of parenting.

Cautious.  Danger lurks behind every corner which is precisely why a cautious parent is so careful about what they say, do or act because you would never want to be irresponsible about anything in front of your child.  Setting a proper example for your child in behavior, thought, and control of emotions is important to you.  As a cautious parent, your favorite questions will be centered around the word “Why”.  Why did you do that?  Why didn’t you finish that?  Why aren’t you doing it this way?  Cautious parents are detail oriented, analytical, and perfectionists but when pushed they can become irrationally moody and over explain.

Direct.  There is no beating around the bush with a direct parent; whatever they are thinking will be stated in a short period of time and not always at the most opportune moments.  There is no question as to who is in charge if you are a direct parent, you are and your child knows it.  As a direct parent, your favorite questions will be centered around the word “What”.  What are you doing?  What are you trying to accomplish? What is your point?  Direct parents are goal oriented, focused, and motivating but they can easily overpower a child and miss an opportunity for tenderness.

Knowing your style of parenting compared to your spouse’s style might just be the life-saver you need in preparation for your next parenting argument.  All of these styles have good, bad and ugly elements as one style is not better than another.  Rather, a child does well when all styles are represented and a more balanced approached to parenting is taken.

 

There is hope for your exhaustion.  Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

Help! My Child Has Become a Teenager

Child angry at parentsIt seems like it happened all at once.  One moment you were praising your kid for being so good and the next thing you know he/she is a completely different child in a foreign looking body.

Not only are the clothing choices a bit different but the shoe size is rapidly increasing, the attitude is becoming disturbing, the vocabulary adds new shock value, the interests are unusual, and your once sweet child became a hormonal teenager with mood swings so high and low you need a score card to keep up.  To make matters worse, parenting is stressful as you and your spouse don’t see eye to eye on what is normal teenage behavior and abnormal teenage behavior.

Beginning at age twelve, your child develops critical thinking skills which literally transforms your child’s mind from being receptive to your opinion into questioning your opinion.  The goal of this age is to help your child develop strong critical thinking skills not to impair them during the process.

You can impair them by demanding that everything be done your way without questioning and without explanation.  While this is practical at a younger age, it is not during the teenage years where peers begin to have a greater influence than before.  Think about it for a second, which would you rather have: a teen who questions what others tell them or a teen who believes everything others tell them?

Hormones.  Imagine PMS times 10 for a teenage girl or a mid-life crisis times 20 for a teenage boy, now you have a better understanding of the intensity of hormones running through their body.  No, this is not justification for poor behavior but it does explain the origin of the mood swings.  It is hard to remember that these hormones are new to your child. Afterall, it took you many years to become use to your own emotional mood swings and it will take many years for your child to adjust as well.  This is a process, not a one-time event and expecting anything less or more immediate will only intensify your frustration.

Respect.  Your once respectful child is likely to become disrespectful with you lately for unknown reasons.  With such repeatedly poor behavior it is easy to make your child’s disrespectful attitude the subject of nearly every conversation. This is unproductive.  Instead, begin with the end goal in mind of having a good relationship with your child. Pay attention to what your child is really saying rather than how they say it.  Really listen to your child by finding some area of common agreement however small, then address the disrespect.  Your child will be more likely to positively respond to your requests after you have heard theirs.

Love.  I Corinthians 13:4a says that love is first patient and then kind.  As your child’s parent, you must first be patient with them and then kind.  This means that no matter how long it takes for your child to demonstrate a loving attitude towards you, you must continue to patiently wait for them with kindness in your voice.  This is loving behavior that is fitting for a parent.  It does not mean that your child can walk all over you and be repeatedly rude. It does however mean that when your child is rude, you don’t return the rudeness but act lovingly.

Discipline.  The days of time-outs are over. If you don’t know your child really well, you will not be effective in disciplining them now.  For instance, if video games are your child’s thing, then taking away the video games as punishment is effective.  But you can’t take it away all the time or the punishment will lose its’ effectiveness.  Basically you must have a variety of interests which you can draw from when needed.  Yet you also need an absolute bottom line such as boarding school, reform school, or some alternative program always in your back pocket and ready to bring forward when needed.  If it comes to this, don’t back down, that is not loving behavior.

Teenagers are an interesting group of people and no matter how difficult you might struggle with them; they are well worth the effort.  One day you will look back fondly on these years and perhaps gain a couple of really good stories to share with their kids one day.

 

There is hope for your exhaustion.  Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

The Lonely Side of Mothering

playground (Excerpt taken from The Exhausted Woman’s Handbook)

When my kids were little, I struggled in a restroom to change one’s diaper while another was screaming and another clung onto my pants. An older woman looked at me with envy and said, “Oh, these are the best years of your life.” I thought she was nuts. I hadn’t slept in days, was extremely exhausted, and had vomit on my shirt. By contrast, she was perfectly groomed.

 

Another similar comment came from a friend who called me while driving to work. She had just dropped off her child at daycare. I was at home scraping sticky Cheerios off the sofa and beginning the never-ending pick-up of stuff. Yet another remark came from my husband who said he wished he could stay at home. I desperately wished for adult conversation about anything other than kids. For me, some of the loneliest and exhausting years of my life came when I “got to” stay home with the kids.

 

Please don’t misunderstand. This is not ungratefulness for the opportunity to be at home. To watch my kids take their first step, play on the playground, pick on their siblings, or experience one of their countless accidents resulting in an emergency room visit— I’m extremely grateful for these times. These instances are priceless and will be joyfully shared at my child’s graduation, wedding, or with their kids. But they were also lonely.

 

Admit it. Many days would go by when the only real adult interaction was yelling at a TV commentator over some stupid political decision. Many more days would go by without an uninterrupted bathroom break let alone a hot bath or a pedicure. Nights would go by without sleep because a child was frightened, hungry or sick. Worse yet, no one seemed to understand the loneliness — not the older woman in the restroom, not my friend going to work, not even my husband.

 

Explain it. I never communicated my loneliness. Instead, I just listened to their comments without interjecting my feelings. Basically I stuffed my feelings down because I thought they were wrong. On a rare occasion some communication would happen, but it usually was mixed with frustration and anger. There are many ways to explain hard topics, but I never took the effort. I traded in my feelings for a fake image of perfection on the outside, but the inside was disastrously isolated.

 

Embrace it. Looking back, loneliness is a part of life as a whole. It does not define me as a person; I am not depressed, socially awkward, or have a dislike for people. Rather, the opposite is true in every way. But loneliness can still happen. The only conclusion is that loneliness is on the full spectrum of emotions that everyone should experience. After all, how can joy be recognized without knowing what suffering feels like? How can peace be understood without first experiencing strife? How can communion be embraced and celebrated without loneliness creating a longing for communication in us?

As the kids grew-up, things got much easier. The parents of my kids’ friends became my friends. They helped to bring sanity and normalcy to a seemingly crazy, exhausting life. Now, looking back on those years, I can honestly say that they were some of the best years of my life despite the loneliness and exhaustion.

 

There is hope for your exhaustion.  Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

Christine Hammond is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and author of The Exhausted Woman’s Handbook.

You can purchase The Exhausted Woman’s Handbook at Xulon Press, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and iBooks. Or just click on the book to the right.

Teenage Rebellion

Here is a video on handling teenage rebellion.

There is hope for your exhaustion.  Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

 

Parenting Teens

Teenage years can be difficult.  Here’s some help.

There is hope for your exhaustion.  Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.  

 

Parents Beware: 10 Stupid Things Your Kid Might Try Over Summer Break

surfingx-largeJust compiling this list of stupid things your kid might do over summer break was enough to drive me, as a parent, into a massive anxiety attack.  After all, summer break should be about camps, swimming, going to the beach, parks, and hanging out with friends.  Unfortunately the combination of unsupervised kids, the internet and time to burn can be a deadly combination.

After the shock of my anxiety attack died down, this list is meant to frighten you as a parent and perhaps to wake you up to the possibilities of immature behavior that goes way beyond the fears of social media, bullying, internet pornography, and gambling.  Unfortunately each of these items is very easy to research on the internet and some even have YouTube videos explaining how it works.

  1. Choking Game, Pass-Out Game, Fainting Game, Space Monkey.  This is self-administered or friend-administered choking to the point of losing consciousness in order to achieving a high.  Every time your kid does this, they lose brain cells that can never be regenerated and some have even died from it.
  2. Huffing, Sniffing, Dusting, Bagging.  This is sniffing inhalants found in common household products such as bug spray, room deodorizers, and glue.  The poisonous chemicals are sprayed into a rag, inhaled directly from the container or sprayed into a bag placed over your kid’s head creating a high when inhaled.  Numerous cases of permanent brain damage have been reported.
  3. Drinking bleach.  There are many false rumors on the internet that drinking bleach will help your child to pass a drug test or that it is an effective way to commit suicide.   Rather, your kid is likely to end up in the emergency room with severe intestinal, stomach, and esophagus damage.
  4. Sexting, Rounds, Nude Pictures.  The idea of rounds is that you start small such as sending a picture of bare skin to another kid and they in return send another one back with each one escalating the previous picture.  Sexting and nude pictures are commonly done with iPods, iPads or cell phones.
  5. Boozy Bears, Drunken Gummies, Rummy Bears.  Gummy bears are soaked in rum or vodka and then eaten in order to get drunk.  The worst part is that the gummy bears look normal after they have absorbed the alcohol so it is difficult to detect.
  6. Eyeball Shots, Eyeballing.  Kids put vodka directly into their eyes in order to get drunk and avoid the alcohol smell on their breath.  Many kids have found that this leads to blindness instead.
  7. Butt Chugging, Vodka Tampons.  Frightening but true, another way kids get drunk is by soaking tampons in vodka and then inserting them into the rectum.
  8. Skittle Parties, Pill Parties.  Kids raid parents, grandparents, and friend’s parent’s medicine cabinets looking for prescription drugs.  Typically they only take a couple of pills as not to be noticed and then place all of the pills gathered into a bowl.  Then the kids roll some dice and take the number of pills which match the number on the dice.  The pills are taken randomly so no one knows what effect it will have after being ingested.
  9. Purple Drink, Purple Jelly, Texas Tea.  Made popular by several RAP songs, this is a drink combination of Jolly Ranchers, Sprite, and liquid codeine cough medicine.  The concoction produces hallucinations, unresponsiveness and lethargy.
  10. Car Surfing, Ghost Riding, Urban Surfing.  Kids stand in a surfing position on the top of a car, hood or trunk while the car is in motion with speeds as high as 55m.p.h.  The driver is usually a teenager who is inexperienced in handling vehicles.  Teens are two to three times more likely to be involved in a fatal car accident compared to experienced drivers.

It is truly shocking to learn the stupid things kids will do because someone told them it would be a good idea.  Lest you believe that these are just the older high school kids doing such acts, several articles indicate that kids as young as 10 are engaging in these behaviors.

Now that you are warned about the latest in stupid things kids do, it is your job to educate your child and remove dangerous items from your house.  Prescription medication, alcohol, and dangerous household chemicals should all be locked up not just for your kid’s safety but the safety of their friends who come over.  Talk to your kids about choking, car surfing, sexting and bagging; more than likely they already know of someone who has tried at least one of these items.

This is not the time to bury your head in the sand, naively believe that your child would never do one of these things, or minimize the risks by justifying your own poor choices as a kid.  Instead, be aware, communicate, and educate so your kid won’t become a negative statistic.

 

There is hope for your exhaustion.  Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

What to do When Mother’s Day is the Hardest Day of the Year

The Mother’s Dream

The Mother’s Dream (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For many women, Mother’s Day is the hardest day of the year.  Perhaps you are one of these women who have little to no contact with your child, outlived your child, tried unsuccessfully to conceive a child, or lost your child through a miscarriage or abortion.  Just the mention of Mother’s Day brings to the surface the emotions you have long tucked away of disappointment, deep sadness, distress, dejection, and despair.

Yet you are torn because in many ways you have learned to move forward.  You avoid the crowded churches, shops, and restaurants on Mother’s Day, spend time with other mothers or your mother, or even remind yourself how grateful you are to have had a child.  But the heaviness in your heart is still there and despite the good moments of the day, you really can’t wait for the day to end.

Will it always be this way?  Yes and no.  Much like other holidays which exist for the purpose of remembering the lives that have been lost such as Memorial Day or Veterans Day, Mother’s Day will be for you a memorial of sorts.  It is a day to remember what was lost or never even gained in the first place.  But just as the anniversary of a person you lost brings back memories and feeling, over time, the emotions won’t be so intense.

How can I survive this day?  Reserve a portion of your day for the purpose of being alone with your thoughts and feelings.  Don’t take the entire day to do this or pretend that you don’t need to do it at all, instead take care of yourself and give yourself a gift of remembrance.  This is a good time to journal your thoughts, allow the tears to flow, and pray.  Then choose to spend your day surrounded with people who love you and are sensitive to your feelings.

What do I say to others?  Be honest.  If you really want to go somewhere on Mother’s Day, speak up; if you don’t, say so.   If you are sad, don’t pretend that you are not.  Set reasonable expectations for yourself and for others instead of assuming they already know what you are thinking or feeling.  Then communicate those expectations kindly to minimize the hurt feelings later.

Why am I having anxiety over this now?  Even if your loss occurred many years ago, you might find a sudden resurgence in your emotions this year compared to previous years.  While the intensity may be less than the initial Mother’s Day, for some reason, this year is hitting you harder.  This is perfectly normal.  Take a moment to reflect on your life and see if there is any new circumstance lately in a relationship or your environment.  Your increased anxiety may actually be misplaced anxiety over new things that you are not properly addressing.  By addressing the new things, the old issues will subside again.

Everyone has hard days during the year that are more difficult than others to get through.  Mother’s Day seems a bit crueller because everyone else appears so happy.  Just remember that you are not alone in your thoughts and feelings, many other women feel the exact same way and sometimes it takes the courage of one person to say this is a hard day to make a difference in the lives of others.

 

There is hope for your exhaustion.  Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org

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