Recently, my daughter turned 4 years old. I …
Recently, my daughter turned 4 years old. I …
Traditions are the foundations of the holidays. They cultivate bonds between families and friends. They make great memories. And, even if they’re ridiculous, they make for great stories (and hilarious pictures, no doubt).
Traditions are as unique as the families they originate from. For instance, every New Year’s Eve, my family cuts loose to old school Russian music, eats lots of European cuisine and exchanges presents at midnight. When my father was alive, every Hanukkah, we’d blast the Barry sisters, use the living room as a dance floor, and only take breaks for bites of potato latkes.
With the holidays in full swing, we wanted to know how therapists celebrate the season. Below, in this month’s Therapists Spill piece — a regular series that gives readers a glimpse into practitioners’ personal and professional lives — clinicians reveal their favorite rituals below.
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) doesn’t just affect the individual. It affects the entire family, according to Mark Bertin, MD, a board-certified developmental behavioral pediatrician and author of The Family ADHD Solution.
Parents of kids with ADHD not only have to navigate a complex neurological disorder, but they also have to contend with criticism and judgment from others, he said.
For instance, parents might be told that ADHD doesn’t exist or that their child’s disorder is their fault. Or they’re criticized for putting their kids on medication.
Not surprisingly, studies show that parents of kids with ADHD are at greater risk for anxiety, depression, relationship problems and divorce, among other issues, Dr. Bertin said.
That’s why focusing on ADHD’s effect on parents is critical. Without it, “we aren’t addressing ADHD fully,” he said.
Most progressive parents know that lying to our kids is not a good idea — it’s not respectful or kind, and is likely to erode the trust our child has for us.
However, what about Santa, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, and unicorns? Is it okay to tell our child that Santa Claus and the like are real? Are these just innocent ‘white lies’ that we all tell our kids so their faces light up with joy as they indulge in the pleasure of make-believe?
Or is it a dangerous path that deeply affects our child’s capacity to trust adults when they eventually find out the truth?
Both my husband and I grew up believing in Santa and never felt betrayed when we figured it out. However, my eldest son, Jack, was told Santa was real, and boy was I unprepared for the fallout when he eventually found out the truth.
Discussing and exploring the well-being of one’s partnership isn’t often on the list of baby preparation to-dos. After all, pregnancy can be a joyful time — one that elicits feelings of anticipation, newness, and excitement. Immersed in the pregnant possibilities of motherhood, energy focuses on what will be gained by starting a family. Baby showers mark this time by gifting the family with the necessary gear to outwardly navigate and welcome this new life.
“Get a lot of sleep.” “Go see a lot of movies.” “Take a Babymoon.”
When advice is offered, it often centers around the notion that couples can prematurely fill up their well-being reservoirs, meeting needs that won’t be fulfilled for a while postpartum, as if these can be stored in the ’happiness’ hump of marital satisfaction.
While these are all wonderful suggestions, highlighting the changes couples are about to experience, they ignore the emotional preparation that so often helps pave the way for the passage to parenthood.
“You hear a lot of dialogue on the death of the American family. Families aren’t dying. They’re merging into big conglomerates.”
~ Erma Bombeck
They are called stepfamilies, blended families, reconstituted or reconfigured. The modern family often includes multiple people from multiple relationships. More than any other time of year, holidays highlight the departure from what has been seen as the “traditional” family.
As with most things, this can be an affirmation of successful reconfiguration of one’s family or a reminder of all the things that were, and perhaps still are, wrong. For most, it’s a complicated mix of regrets, relief, anger, sorrow and joy.
For most, it’s how the adults manage the situation that determines the health and safety of the heart part of the new configuration of the family.
As if modern life wasn’t hectic enough with constant demands on our time and attention, we’re also expected to successfully navigate all of our relationships too. Often with little help outside of our own experience. While experience can be a great teacher, it can also derail us into ruts.
Worse yet, we may not even realize the communication, attachment and relationship ruts we get into.
The good news is that help is now at hand.
She recounts the story of sending an article about her severe depression and suicidal thoughts to a family member who said “Thanks.” She shares another story of a good friend who implied she should stop taking medication that supposedly blunted her emotions — and “tough it out like the rest of humanity.”
Borchard also writes:
…I was both enraged and saddened that friends and family were shocked to hear that two doctors sliced me open — before full anesthesia kicked in — to save little David’s life in an emergency C-section. Yet when I voiced the desperation of depression — which made the knife cut feel like a knee scratch–they often brushed it off, as if I were whining to win some undeserved sympathy votes.
When we misunderstand mental illness — and its gravity — we do damage. Rather than give individuals our understanding, compassion and support when they need it most, we intensify their struggle.
But educating ourselves can help. Below, therapists share several common myths and misunderstandings about mental illness.
I met Jay when he was four years old. He came into my office because he said, “She’s a bitch and I would like to fuck her” to a preschool girl.
He was four.
I truly believe that he had no idea what he was saying and what the actual words meant. However, he had been exposed to these words and had even witnessed many things that he never should have. Jay had been recently removed from his parents custody and sent to live with his grandfather.
Why am I telling you this? Your kids are going to school with other Jays now. He’s the little boy with behavioral problems. He’s the grade-school kiddo who french kisses girls on the bus. He’s the sexually promiscuous teenager.
Cinderella is mistreated by her wicked stepfamily, which gives her an awfully hard time about going to the ball and meeting her Prince Charming. Dorothy finds herself following a yellow brick road as she journeys to Oz and encounters evil along the way. Alice falls down a rabbit hole into Wonderland, a completely mystical world.
Classic fairy tales are actually not as child-like as we may presume.
While some may take the stories at face value, for the sole purpose of entertainment, other researchers tell us that these are wise stories infused with meaning and symbols.
Hyperactive kids with ADHD are always on the go, according to Roberto Olivardia, Ph.D, a clinical psychologist and clinical instructor in the department of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. It’s like they have a motor winding them up. “Words like ‘Energizer Bunny,’ ‘Speedy Gonzalez’ and the ‘Roadrunner’ are common nicknames to describe the never-ending vessel of energy ADHD kids exhibit,” he said.
For instance, rather than sitting at their desk, they might jump up several times to sharpen their pencil, said Ari Tuckman, PsyD, a clinical psychologist and author of Understand Your Brain, Get More Done: The ADHD Executive Functions Workbook. Rather than sitting at the dinner table, they might walk around it — or go and play with the pet, he said.
Physical hyperactivity isn’t the only concern. Hyperactive kids also experience racing — and “rarely singular or linear” — thoughts, Olivardia said. “The idea of ‘shutting their minds off’ is a foreign concept to someone who is hyperactive.”
If you ever wondered if there was something wrong with bullies and those who engage in bullying behaviors, researchers now have some better idea.
It could be a component of a mental disorder, according to a study out of Brown University and presented today at the American Academy of Pediatrics annual meeting.
After analyzing responses from a parent survey, the researchers found that those who were considered bullies were more than twice as likely to experience depression, anxiety and attention deficit disorder (ADD or ADHD).
Bullying is a problem in many schools. But we need to realize that bullying isn’t always just plain ‘ole bad behavior. Sometimes there are other factors at play.