You Just Never Know

5
Dec
2011


By Dana Bailey

So many times in our life we have acquaintances and that is all they ever are…just people you know of, but not about.  We watch others around us; how they live, how their children behave, how they react to others, but give little mind to who is watching us.

I became very aware of this recently when we moved away from a neighborhood we had lived in for more than 5 years.  Word spread quickly on our street that we were moving and our family began to hear from others who had observed our family without us realizing it. It is quite scary to think about now.

I think I was a horrible neighbor.  I didn’t know much more than my next door neighbors name.  She was a very private person and I tried very hard to not invade her privacy.  I didn’t even know the names of the people who were 2 doors up and the family across the street-we just waved each other.  Many of my children, on the other hand, knew more than names, they knew about our neighbors.  They knew where they went to church, how many times they had been married, how long they lived there, how often they wanted their grass cut and anything else they thought to ask.  My kids were great neighbors. Our son’s cut the grass for many, our daughter babysat for several of the families, our younger sons would help out however they could. [Read more…]

Don’t Stress Out Your Relationship Over the Holidays

7
Nov
2011


By Natalie Chandler, MA, LMHC, LCAC

Unfortunately, for so many people, just hearing the words “Christmas” or “Holidays” produces stress and anxiety.  It is definitely the busiest time of year, filled with things that can create anxiety and stress. There is so much to focus on.

For a moment, let’s focus on relationships. When January rolls around do you wake up and see the man next to you (your husband) and say, “Who are you and where did you come from?” If so, you might be neglecting your relationship during the Holidays. It’s easy to do with so many obligations, commitments, and fun things to do.

Here are  a few helpful tips/reminders of how to keep up your relationship in the midst of the potential chaos:

1. Keep limits on your activities. It’s easy to feel like we have to do EVERYTHING! There are so many fun things that we want to do and many events that we are obligated to attend. However, it’s important when filling the calendar to decide as a couple or family how you want to chose to spend your time. I would encourage you to put it into 3 categories: [Read more…]

If You Get In A Hole, You Have To Get Yourself Out

27
Sep
2011


By Tamara Wilhelm, MA, LMHC, LCAC

One of my favorite things to do is listen to my husband’s grandparents tell us stories about things they’ve experienced in their life. One of the stories that sticks with me the most is one his grandmother told about getting her car stuck in a pothole.

Grandma was out running errands in a shopping center one day and was driving in the parking lot. It had been raining hard, and a very large pothole had filled up with rain water and was not visible to drivers. As she drove over the pothole, her tire got stuck in the pothole (can I reiterate this was a very large pothole!) and her car was immobile. She was stuck.

Grandma proceeds to call grandpa to let him know she’s stuck in the hole & needs his help. His response? “You got in the hole, you get out of it!” Ouch. She was furious. She needed help. Now she was stuck and alone.

Now I doubt grandpa knew what he was doing at the time. To most of us, it looks as though he’s being a rude and unsupportive husband. However, at closer look, he’s not enabling his wife. Instead, he is forcing her to figure out things for herself. [Read more…]

How Do You Model Conflict?

1
Aug
2011


By  Joleen Watson, MS, NCC

I remember being somewhere around the age of 10 and witnessing my parents have a fight about– and yes, I’m being serious– the size of the garden (insert laugh track here).

Even at the age of 10, I somehow knew their fight couldn’t possibly be about the size of the garden, and of course, it wasn’t.  My parents rarely fought, so they were engaging in a power struggle, which just happened to be about the garden.  I didn’t realize it at the time, but their fight about the size of the garden (and both of them needing to prove how “right” they were) was teaching me something about conflict that I would later need to “undo”.  On the other hand, I remember my best childhood friend sharing with me that she never saw her parents fight– not even once!

This was modeling something about conflict for her, as well.

Of course, neither of these are healthy ways of modeling conflict.  You could find as many parenting books as the day is long to discuss different ways of teaching conflict resolution skills, but what is your relationship model for conflict and what is it teaching your child?

Here are some common things we hope healthy conflict will  teach our children:

  1. The art of negotiation– when appropriate.  Healthy relationships are about successful negotiation.  It’s important to model for your children how to do this.  If one person has the majority of the power in the relationship, there probably is not much negotiation going on.  Of course, most relationships have things that are non-negotiable, such as morals and values.  Teaching your child when it’s appropriate to negotiate and when it’s disrespectful will help them learn healthy boundaries with others.
  1. How to have a voice.  Having a healthy voice means teaching your child to put words to their feelings and not feeling like they are “wrong”  or “bad” for disagreeing, even when they don’t get their way.  Sometimes it can be confusing in our family systems about what the unspoken and unwritten rules and messages are about having a voice.  If one person tends to be overly passive and the other more direct and forceful, a child may not learn to incorporate the two and have a healthy voice.
  1. You can still feel love when you are angry.  Many times, people who grew up in households with a lot of conflict feel like they aren’t loved when someone is angry with their behavior or a choice they made.  Confusing the two can cause a person to bottle up anger for fear that they will be “unlovable”.  It’s important to teach a child that you can feel angry (in an appropriate way), while still feeling love.
  1. Anger is NOT rage.  Anger is a feeling;  rage is a behavior.  If we grow up in an environment that confuses the two, we will most likely become afraid of a feeling that is healthy and normal.  Anger can sometimes be confusing though, because it can be what we call a “secondary emotion”– meaning that often times, there are more vulnerable feelings underneath our anger.  For example, if your spouse arrives late for your date night, your instant feeling might be anger, but underneath it, you might really feel hurt or rejected.  It’s important to learn how to communicate the underlying feelings to show your child that anger can be expressed appropriately, and without having to “act it out” in an unhealthy way that is rage.
  1. You don’t always have to be right, especially if you want to be happy. In other words, you don’t have to be the one who is “right” in knowing the exact size of the garden!  I doubt either of my parents felt very fulfilled when they found out who was “right” that day.  And I doubt that either of them felt more emotionally connected and pleased with their relationship after one of them was crowned the “right “one!  Long before the days of Dr. Phil, I had a graduate school professor who used to say “Do you want to be right, or do you want to be happy?”.  This also includes not doing everything perfect!  There is no such thing as a perfect parent, no matter how hard we try.

While these lessons certainly don’t encompass all of the things we hope to teach our kids about healthy conflict, hopefully it provides a good starting place for evaluating your own relationships and how you manage conflict.

How do you model conflict in your relationship and what are some important lessons you hope to teach your children?

 

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Increasing Your Child’s Self-Esteem

13
May
2011


“Kind words are short and easy to speak but their echoes are truly endless” - Mother Theresa

One of the most valuable things you can do as a parent is to build your child’s self-esteem.  Self-esteem is the collection of beliefs or feelings we have about ourselves.  How we define or think of ourselves influences our motivations, attitudes, and behaviors and affects our emotional adjustment.

Healthy self-esteem is a child’s armor against the peer pressure and challenges of society.

Kids who feel good about themselves seem to have an easier time handling conflicts, persevering and resisting negative pressures. They tend to smile more readily and enjoy life – isn’t that what you would like for your child?

Patterns of self-esteem start very early in life – beginning when your child is a toddler and develops even more as they get older.  You play a major role in this development – as with most things, it all begins in the home. [Read more…]