Family Articles

Healing My Inner Child

Friday, December 12th, 2014

Healing My Inner ChildDear Inner Child,

You’ve been through so much and I am not sure how you coped. Your strength inspires me with every memory I recover. I know you are the reason we are alive today. And I thank you for all you did to keep going. Sometimes, others ask me how I lived through it and I don’t know the answer.

You carried that burden. And to some extent, you still do.

Designated Caregiver: Holiday Drinks and Mental Illness

Wednesday, December 10th, 2014

holiday stress man bigstAlcohol is a staple at the holiday table despite widespread tales of family dysfunction. The truth is social lubrication makes it a lot easier to deal with some of the more difficult people in our families. But when you add mental illness to the mix, you run bigger risks than a shouting match about politics or someone going home wearing the stuffing.

My older brother Pat was diagnosed with schizophrenia eight years ago this December. Drinking alcohol is not advisable on his medication. It makes him extremely drowsy. A few beers after taking his medication in 2007 and he passed out in the bathroom, slamming into the toilet and sliding it clean off the floor — and he’s not a big guy.

4 Reasons to Forgive but Not Forget

Wednesday, December 10th, 2014

4 Reasons to Forgive but not ForgetWe’ve all heard the admonition “you need to forgive and forget.” Many of us heard this as a child from our parents when we had been wronged by a sibling or friend. We were told to turn the other cheek and give our pals another chance.

Some of us learned the idea behind this was the golden rule — do to others what we would have them do to us. As parents can be quick to point out, we’ve certainly been guilty of committing our own transgressions and needing forgiveness.

Do You Connect or Control?

Tuesday, December 9th, 2014

Do You Connect or Control? My youngest always fought with me over the littlest of things. Lately I had even resorted to bribing her in return for the peace it brought.

“Put away your plate,” I reminded her after dinner the other night, “otherwise no iPad.”

“I don’t care,” she retorted. “And you can’t stop me.”

The Middling Effect of ‘Hit and Run’ Parenting

Monday, December 8th, 2014

The Middling Effect of the "Hit and Run"Parenting the older adopted child (or any child, for that matter) can be trying. I forever seem to be competing against his impressions that I just can’t relate to his beliefs, ideas, or perceptions, however reasonable they might or might not be.

After all, adults from his past likely were not paragons of physical, mental, or emotional stability. Notwithstanding more than four years together, why should he regard my intentions any differently? Variability in his trust in me to parent him while sensitively meeting his needs still leaves me with little wiggle room to make the right impression.

Overcoming Family Assumptions

Saturday, December 6th, 2014

Overcoming Family AssumptionsHave you ever wanted to be in a relationship but felt frustrated because no matter how hard you tried, disappointment or bad results developed?

As an example, let’s follow Joey through a few years of her life, starting from when she first entered college.

Joey was a reflective, serious, and caring young woman. She had a handful of friends whom she dearly appreciated. They had common interests, shared activities, and were available when any of them asked.

As the college years unfolded, Joey wanted to be in a relationship, similar to the ones she observed her friends starting.

How to Sit with Someone Else’s Pain

Saturday, December 6th, 2014

How to Sit with Someone Else’s PainA few months ago I wrote about how we can sit with our own painful emotions. Often we don’t. Instead, we gloss over negative feelings. We self-medicate. We berate ourselves for having negative feelings, making us feel even worse. (I can’t believe I’m upset about something so small! I’m so sensitive. I’m so stupid for feeling anxious about that.)

What’s also difficult is sitting with someone else’s pain and supporting them. It can feel awkward and uncomfortable — especially if we have a hard time with our own emotions. Our knee-jerk reaction may be to ignore what’s happening, offer solutions, be overly positive or act on any number of behaviors that dismiss the person’s feelings.

Too Stressed to Meditate

Friday, December 5th, 2014

Too Stressed to MeditateFor the past couple of years, meditation has been easy. I’d put in some hard work over the previous decade and had found a place of stillness each time I took to the cushion. Sure, sometimes what I met as I observed my mind was difficult, but my practice had become productive and indispensable.

I spent the last two years as a stay-at-home dad of a toddler. I did all of the dad, and much of the mom, stuff. I managed the house, cleaned (badly), cooked (very well), arranged activities and play dates, and did what I could to keep the family satisfied.

None of this was easy, but my daughter napped every day. And while she napped I had a solid 35 minutes to meditate, without fail. I taught a couple of classes each week, and led a Wednesday night drop-in meditation group, but that was more rewarding and fulfilling than taxing.

Then it all came to an end.

ADHD & Adults: Help for Organizing Your Household

Friday, December 5th, 2014

ADHD & Adults: Help for Organizing Your Household Almost every symptom of attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) plays out in the household, said Terry Matlen, MSW, ACSW, a psychotherapist and author of the book The Queen of Distraction: How Women with ADHD Can Conquer Chaos, Find Focus and Get More Done.

Disorganization and distractibility lead to lost papers, unpaid bills, piles of laundry and lots of clutter, which can negatively affect relationships and spark blowups, she said.

Lack of planning leads to late dinners, leading to both cranky kids and parents, she said. (Plus, many kids with ADHD also are picky eaters, which complicates meal-planning even more, she added.)

Strings Attached: When Gifts Aren’t Really Gifts

Friday, December 5th, 2014

Present Flickr image from JD Hancock

“The catch about not looking a gift horse in the mouth is that it may be a Trojan horse.” – David Seller

Having recently gotten married, I received a lot of gifts from close friends and family. If there is anything I’ve learned it’s that some of these “presents” come with strings attached.

A gift is an act of altruism, of generosity. The point of gift-giving is to show love and appreciation for another person. It’s not about a dollar amount. It’s not about custom. It’s about being thoughtful — an important thing to remember with the holidays fast approaching.

How to Make Peace with Your Childhood

Thursday, December 4th, 2014

How to Make Peace with Your ChildhoodYour childhood probably is tucked safely away in the past. But many of us underestimate the degree to which childhood events continue to affect our adult lives. It’s hard to imagine that events that occurred decades ago can stay with us, but underestimating their effects — even into adulthood — can be detrimental to our well-being.

Our most critical and influential developmental stages occur in childhood. We’re like sponges, absorbing the good and the bad all around us. It’s during this time that we develop our view of the world and of ourselves. These viewpoints may be developed early on but they often leave a permanent imprint.

Holiday Survival When Anxious or Depressed

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2014

Holiday Survival When Anxious or DepressedFor those of us who suffer from anxiety or depression, the holiday season can prove especially challenging. The juxtaposition of unhappy thoughts alongside the cheery Christmas music, nostalgic movies dripping with holiday sentimentality, and advertisements displaying jubilant people celebrating the season can make us feel even worse.

The American Psychological Association lists financial concerns, unrealistic expectations, and the inability to be with certain family members and friends as contributing factors to holiday anxiety. Mix in the stressors of shopping, family reunions, travel, office parties, and dealing with houseguests, and no wonder this seasonal “cheer” can be a landmine.

Family &
Parenting



Recommended Books

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