Tag Archives: struggling with parenting

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.

The ABCD’s of Parenting

Here are a couple of videos on the ABCD’s of parenting.

Struggling with Parenting?

Active Parents

Bookkeeper Parents

Cautious Parents

Direct Parents

 

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.  

Struggling with Parenting? Active Parents are Fun

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHaving kids is a blast.  There are so many places to show them, so many things to explore, so many things to do and so little time.  It seems as if your calendar is always full and it probably is with birthday parties, trips to the zoo, new playgrounds, play dates with friends, soccer practices and just going to stores.  At home there are plenty of toys, games, crafts, and most likely an entire room devoted to the kids where they can play for endless hours.  You like all of the activity and encourage your kid to try new things constantly.

You are an Active parent.  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?  You are interested in the people in your kid’s world and usually use your kid’s interaction with others as an indication of how well-adjusted they are.  If your child is like-minded, this conversation is easy but if not your child shuts down and can’t seem to figure out why this matters so much to you.

The Good.  Your kids will not be bored.  If anything, they will be exhausted at times and crave some down time to just sit on the sofa and watch TV.  You most likely encourage them to participate in a wide variety of activities and are not easily upset when your child changes their mind to a completely different sport.  After all, you probably did the same thing as a child.  Regardless of your financial status, your child will have many adventurous stories to tell, have a lot of physical activity, and numerous types of friends.

The Bad.  Exhaustion from excessive activities and lack of proper sleep are two of the biggest down sides to active parenting.  There will be times when the excessive activities on your calendar are too much for you and your child to manage so someone is likely to get disappointed or hurt when you can’t deliver on a promise.  Your promises have a long shelf life with your child and as they get older, they will remember and remind you of all broken promises.

The Ugly.  Too much activity does not allow time for recollection, rest, and relaxation so your child may grow up struggling with finding a balance between activity and inactivity.  The numerous friendships that you encouraged your child to have and maintain may also be overwhelming for them causing them to run in the opposite direction away from friendships.  Finally, your lack of following through on promises is an unhealthy model for your child who may also grow up making and breaking promises.

Understanding your parenting style is not about beating yourself up and or pointing fingers at your spouse.  Rather it is about understanding your natural strengths and weaknesses so you can build on the strengths and minimize the weaknesses.  Remember, active parents are fun so be fun and minimize the number of broken promises.

 

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.

Struggling with Parenting? Bookkeeper Parents are Fair

mother and childIn your head you keep a constant ledger and running total of all the gifts, grades, thank-you notes, kind acts, punishments, harsh words, phone calls, and hugs for each child.  You carefully check the ledger daily to ensure that your kids are all getting equal time, attention, and punishment as the thought you might be unfair to one child is extremely painful.  It may sound exhausting, but the alternative of appearing to favor one child over the other is far worse than having to maintain the ledger.

You are a Bookkeeper Parent.  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 are you doing?  Bookkeeper parents are very fair, diplomatic, and loyal but can easily get their feelings hurt in the process of parenting especially when accused of being unfair, undiplomatic and disloyal.  If your child is like you, they appreciate your fairness and see such an act as love.

The Good.  Because you pay attention to all of the little signs, the hurt feelings, and body language of your child, you really don’t miss an opportunity to show compassion, love and tenderness.  You are a gentle parent who tries hard to see things from your child’s perspective and given a choice you will side with your child over nearly anyone else including your spouse.  You really do care about your child’s struggles and you go out of your way to be understanding.

The Bad.  Rules are sometimes too flexible as you are more interested in understanding how your child could do such a thing rather than punishing them for violating a rule.  This can cause confusion for your child who quickly learns that by shedding a couple of tears they can win you over and reduce their punishment.  One comment from your child of “you are being unfair” is likely to send you in a tail spin as you examine your ledgers.  This becomes a great distraction from the real issue at hand and your child escapes without punishment.

The Ugly.  Your child will learn how to manipulate you and as an adult will manipulate others by using a person’s sensitivity against them.  They may even become uncaring to the point of ignoring the feelings of others all together because they see feeling driven people as manipulative.  This creates an unhealthy environment for their children who are likely to be more like you and less like their parent.

Understanding your parenting style is not about beating yourself up and or pointing fingers at your spouse.  Rather it is about understanding your natural strengths and weaknesses so you can build on the strengths and minimize the weaknesses.  Remember, bookkeeper parents are fair so be fair and minimize the hurt feelings.

 

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.

Struggling with Parenting? Cautious Parents are Aware

Overprotective-Parents“Failing to plan is planning to fail.”  This is one of your favorite quotes and your child already knows it by heart.  You are a careful planner in every activity with many detailed lists in order by priority and usually color coded for easy reference.   This is responsible behavior and irresponsible behavior is not having a plan because danger lurks behind every corner and you might be unprepared.   It is important that you set the proper example for your child in behavior, thought, and control of your emotions so you are very careful about what you say, how you say it and explaining why you do what you do.

You are a Cautious Parent.  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.  If your child is like you, they will ask a ton of “why” questions and be thrilled that you take the time to respond.

The Good.  There is reason and logic behind every decision and you are more than willing to explain how you came to the conclusions that you did.  You love to share your knowledge of the world in detail and could go on and on about one topic for hours.  Your child enjoys having their own personal “Encyclopedia” who is very resourceful and can cut research time down to a matter of minutes.  Unfortunately, most schools don’t accept “Dad” or “Mom” on the works cited page.

The Bad.  You have a desire to share your wisdom with your child but too much information at the wrong time can do more damage than good.  Over explaining things does not equip your child to reason through things for themselves and frequently your child will be lacking in critical thinking skills as they have learned to just trust your judgment rather than figure it out for themselves.

The Ugly.  As an adult, if your child is still relying on your wisdom to guide their life, they will continue to flounder at nearly every job they do.  Still looking for someone to spell out every detail so they don’t have to think for themselves and risk making a mistake, your child will find comfort in menial employment instead of living up their full potential.

Understanding your parenting style is not about beating yourself up and or pointing fingers at your spouse.  Rather it is about understanding your natural strengths and weaknesses so you can build on the strengths and minimize the weaknesses.  Remember, cautious parents are aware so be aware and minimize the over explaining.

 

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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