Posts Tagged ‘Family’

Looking Inward

May 21, 2015

Often when we find ourselves unhappy in a relationship, we look at the other person as the problem. Psychologist and author Dr. Sherrie Campbell cautions us to look to ourselves before we look outwardly. She says you should first examine your own role, as you may be contributing to the problem more than you think. Dr. Campbell shares a few tips to help you look inward.

Resist complaining. Instead of resorting to the childlike behavior, have a serious discussion with the other person. Start with how you want things to be rather than expressing dissatisfaction or starting a conversation from a negative place.

Stop defending. Listen to the other person without interrupting and correcting them. If you’re too busy defending yourself without listening, you’ll be closing yourself off to the information the other person is trying to tell you. This makes it hard to connect and understand the other person.

Understand and state your needs. Think about what you really need from the other person in the situation. This is different from what you may want. What is it that’s keeping things from moving forward in a positive direction?

Know your weaknesses. Perhaps you are quick to judge, or maybe you have a short temper. Knowing the areas you need to work on within yourself can help when you run into problems in a relationship. Think about how these weaknesses may be interfering in your relationship, and what you can do to work on them.

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Caring for the Caregiver

February 23, 2015

Many people are responsible for ailing parents or loved ones. Many are serving as caretakers in addition to working full- or part-time. This can lead to burn out, depression and physical illness for the caretaker. Now two people need help!

To avoid the double whammy of trying to nurse yourself while taking care of another, consider the following pointers for self-care from the Visiting Nurse Association of Southeast Michigan.

  • Prioritize your time.
  • Set realistic goals for your time. There’s always tomorrow.
  • Identify the main stressors in your caregiving role and find ways to cope with them.
  • Treat yourself to a therapeutic massage.
  • Eat and rest properly and exercise daily, even if it’s only for a few minutes.
  • Hire a teen or older adult for daily breaks.
  • Spend time with people who make you laugh.
  • Don’t take the ill person’s negative moods personally.
  • Ask for and accept help.
  • Develop a support system for yourself – and remember that you can feel supported and in touch with others on the phone and via email if your time is restricted.
  • Allow yourself to be less than perfect.
  • Take one day at a time.

When Baby Brings the Blues

January 16, 2015

Postpartum depression is a very real concern for new mothers.

It’s one of life’s most beautiful images, a mother holding a newborn infant. Unfortunately for some new mothers, caring for their baby is the last thing on their minds. They’re among the mothers who experience postpartum depression following delivery.

An estimated 10% to 20% of new mothers experience postpartum depression (postpartum literally means “after birth”). Although the symptoms usually go away within a few days, some mothers experience them for several weeks or more, threatening their ability to care for their child and themselves.

Postpartum depression (PPD) is believed to be caused by a hormone that physically prepares a woman for pregnancy. This hormone is manufactured in large doses in the last stage of pregnancy, but most all of the hormone is flushed from the body during delivery. Between delivery and the time it takes for the body to bring this hormone to normal levels, a woman can experience depression.*

Unfortunately, PPD is hard to detect. Many women are ashamed of their depressed feelings. They also may believe that they’re bad mothers, which only heightens their shame. Those closest to the new mother may sense that something is wrong, but dismiss it as the normal stress of childbirth.

If you are pregnant or trying to conceive, be aware of the possibility that PPD can develop. Awareness may lead you to be more conscious of your emotions in the days following delivery and to come forward when your feelings are uncomfortable.

*Postpartum depression is only one type of postpartum problems. Some mothers experience postpartum obsessive compulsive disorder, psychosis or anxiety disorder after delivery.

Signs of Postpartum Depression

  • Sluggishness, fatigue, exhaustion
  • Sadness, depression, hopelessness
  • Appetite and sleep disturbances
  • Poor concentration, confusion
  • Memory loss
  • Over concern for the baby
  • Uncontrollable crying, irritability
  • Lack of interest in the baby
  • Guilt, inadequacy, worthlessness
  • Fear of harming the baby
  • Fear of harming oneself
  • Exaggerated highs or lows

Toddlers Should Toddle Instead of Watching TV

June 26, 2014

To help prevent a child from developing attention deficit disorder, keep children under 2 years old away from the TV.

Researchers at Children’s Hospital and Regional Center in Seattle found that for each hour of TV watched each day between the ages of 1 and 3, the risk of attention problems at age 7 increases by nearly 10%.

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is one of the most common mental disorders among children. It affects between 4% and 12% of children, and boys are more likely than girls to develop the disorder.

TV is not the sole culprit, say researchers. They say that genetics and even neglectful or distracted parents may play a part in whether a child develops ADHD. However, they also propose that TV may be partly to blame because it rewires children’s brains. Experts say that TV images and sequences of events move much more quickly than real life. If a child is exposed to this rapid experience of time, they might develop and attention deficit disorder.

To promote health, The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends:

  • No TVs, DVD players, VCRs and video games should be allowed in children’s rooms.
  • Allow no more than one to two hours of TV a day for older children and no screen time for those under 2.
  • Make sure children engage in other activities such as reading, sports, or creative play.

Being Assertive

June 12, 2014

To get ready for difficult conversations – asking a spouse to change an annoying habit, a supervisor to change his/her mind about something important to you, or a family member to reconsider a hurtful statement – use the following steps.

Think about how you’ll feel during the conversation. If you think you’ll feel tense or anxious, you might prepare by practicing some calming techniques.

Think about how the other person will feel. If the person will feel caught off guard, she may become angry or defensive. Be prepared.

Think about the different ways you can express your thoughts. Experts say statements that begin with “I feel” work best. These “I feel” statements can help you stay focused on your own feelings and your responsibility for them rather than on attacking the other person. Note: Be sure to use words that describe your feelings – “I feel hurt when you call a name” – rather than using the “I feel” statement as a setup for an attack – “I feel like you’re a jerk when you call me a name.”

Think about what the other person might say in return. This will help you think of other ways to effectively communicate what you want to say.

Follow through by having the conversation. Many people go through these steps only to back out at the last minute. But not having the conversation can leave you feeling bitter, hurt or wronged. Be assertive. Give yourself permission to express your feelings and have that conversation.

Breaking the Cycle of Addiction

February 28, 2014

Childhood can and should be a time of wonder and discovery, when parents nurture, protect and care for the precious gifts of life they have brought into the world. But for children of alcoholic parents, life often is filled with shame, suffering, and fear. These children may find themselves trapped by the same disease that affected their parents and grandparents, unless there is outside intervention from caring adults in their lives.

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), which is part of the US Department of Health and Human Services, children of alcohol-addicted parents can suffer from physical illness and injury, emotional disturbances, educational deficits, and behavior problems. Perhaps most troubling, however, is the fact that children of alcoholics (COAs) are two to four times more likely to become problem drinkers and continue the addictive practices of their parents, with similar devastating consequences.

SAMHSA urges every adult to learn about the needs of COAs and the simple actions they can take to help COAs develop into healthy adults. We know that COAs are at greater risk for substance abuse problems in their own lives. But we also know what to do to help them avoid repeating their families’ problems. We can break the generational cycle of alcoholism in families.

That’s good news for the millions of children in the United States who live in households in which one or both parents have been actively alcohol dependent in the past. Experts say COAs can be helped, whether or not the alcohol-abusing adults in their families receive treatment. Adult relatives, older siblings, and other adults who have contact with COAs at school, in the community, through faith-based organizations, and through health and social services agencies do not need formal training or special skills to be caring and supportive.

The help a child of an alcoholic, one must take that first step – by showing you care. Since research shows that one in four children lives in a family with alcoholism or alcohol abuse, many adults will not have to look far to find a child to help.

Almost every community has resources to help make a difference in the lives of COAs. Services such as educational support groups and counseling are widespread. A free publication, It’s Not Your Fault is available from SAMHSA’s National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information, offers important insights and resources for adults who want to help. For more information, call 1-800-729-6686 or http://store.samhsa.gov/product/It-s-Not-Your-Fault-NACoA-/MS732.

 

Compulsive Spending

December 13, 2013

It’s a disorder as powerful as compulsive gambling or compulsive eating.

 

Overspending around the holidays is a problem for many people. But it’s one that can be easily remedied with thrift and good-spending habits in the months that follow.

But for some people, overspending is a year-round compulsion with drastic complications. Compulsive spenders may fisk their jobs, their families and their careers to acquire things.

University of Florida researchers estimate that between 2% and 8% of the population spends compulsively. Symptoms of the problem include:

  • being preoccupied with shopping or the idea of shopping
  • frequently buying unneeded items
  • routinely spending than one can afford
  • shopping for longer periods than initially intended

U of F researchers say compulsive spending is just like any other impulse-control disorder: shopping and the act of acquiring things lessens feelings of emptiness or anxiety. The disorder eventually takes its toll. The average compulsive spender is $23,000 in debt, usually in the form of credit cards or mortgages against his/her home. The person’s marriage or family life may suffer due to high debt, his/her job may be in jeopardy due to absenteeism following a shopping spree, and his/her social life may be in shambles due to borrowing money from friends. Some compulsive spenders may be in trouble with the law, stealing from their employers or others to pay off debts or to buy more.

To end the cycle, the person must acknowledge the problem and get help. If you or someone you know may be a compulsive spender, seek professional help.

Stress Happens

December 9, 2013

Stress happens, especially during the holidays. We all experience holiday stress. Don’t let it ruin your holiday. Stressors to monitor during the holiday season are financial, time, and emotional.

Some tips to reduce stress are: keep within your budget; create memories – memories will last longer than most gifts; limit commitments; and schedule some “down time” to energize your emotional well-being. Evaluate your activities. Does this activity add value to your holiday? Even traditions can be stressful when you are short of resources. Only participate in those activities that are meaningful to you.

Remember, memories of the holidays will last much longer than most any gift you give or receive. Make them good ones!

Talking to Children About Divorce

August 2, 2013

Divorce brings with it a lot of changes and a very real sense of loss. Children and parents grieve the loss of the kind of family they had hoped for, and children especially grieve the loss of the presence of a parent. That’s why some kids – even after the finality of divorce has been explained to them – still hold out hope that their parents will someday get back together. Mourning the loss of a family is normal, but over time both you and your child will come to some sort of acceptance of the changed circumstances.

So, how can you decrease the stress your child feels over the changes brought on by divorce? Mainly by learning to respond to his or her expressions of emotion. Here are some ways divorcing parents can help their children:

  • Invite conversation
  • Help them put their feelings into words
  • Legitimize their feelings
  • Offer support

It’s important to maintain as much normalcy as possible after a divorce by keeping regular routines, including meals, rules of behavior, and methods of discipline. Parents should also work hard to keep their parental roles in place. Your child, no matter how much he or she tries to understand, is still a child. If you confide in your child, he or she may have difficulty relating to the other parent. This means not blaming the other parent or putting your child in the middle of an adult situation that he or she doesn’t have the maturity to handle.

 

The Key to Balancing Family and Work? Prioritize.

May 31, 2013

Keeping a healthy balance between your work and your family can seem almost impossible to a parent or spouse with full-time employment. However, making conscious choices to prioritize the most important events in both spheres can help you live a balanced, happy life. If you let your work define your entire life, there is a good chance you will miss out on precious family bonding time that you can never get back.

Put Your Family First. Amidst the importance of both your career and your family, a balanced life is not easy, but making the decision to value your family will point you in the right direction. A practical way to get focused on your family is to collaborate to create family goals. Find out what your kids want to do as a family (i.e. to visit a local attraction or play a family game) and do it! Put it on your calendar, and be sure not to miss it.

Dealing with the Difficulties. Though we can endlessly discuss the decisions you should be making, even if you make all the right choices, there will still inevitably be times when work takes over. Sometimes responsibilities will mount that cannot wait and you will miss out on a family event. Accept this possibility now so that when the time comes, you aren’t overwhelmed or disappointed in yourself.

In the meantime, you can take positive action to ensure that your time at work is spent efficiently so that you can get home to your family as quickly as possible. Don’t let endless distractions and procrastination rule your life.

Practical Tips for Parents. The most important decision for parents to make is to be present where they are. Don’t come home to your kids with you mind still at the office. Separate your roles, leaving work at work so that you can more fully enjoy the time you have at home with your family. In doing so, you’ll quickly notice more of the little things that make life special, both at work and at home.

Plan Regular Family Dinners. The concept of family dinners may seem too simple, but plenty of studies have demonstrated that kids whose families regularly eat meals together are less likely to do drugs, smoke, drink, get depressed, develop eating disorders and consider suicide and more likely to eat fruits and vegetables, do well in school and communicate with their parents. That being said, make your family dinners a priority. Use the time together to catch up with each other, figure out what it is that your kids want to do as a family, discuss upcoming family events and delegate responsibilities for those events.

Have Fun with Your Kids. Don’t just split your attention all the time – make intentional plans with each child to make sure that they are all nurtured and loved in the unique ways they need. Also, many people today work so hard that they never take a break – don’t be afraid to take a family vacation! Those memories will be invaluable.

Don’t Forget Your Spouse. The trap of focusing all your energy on work and the kids is far too dangerous. Be intentional about one on one time with your spouse as well. Your relationship still requires work, even after years of marriage. Plan romantic dates, or just meet up for coffee in the middle of a workday. Find ways to keep on dialoguing, no matter where each day finds you.

The Benefits of Balance. Although balance may appear to be a daunting goal, difficult to achieve, any steps you take towards it will seem like a heavy load lifted off your back. Small choices can make a huge difference in your family life. Assess your responsibilities carefully and decide which ones make the cut of your priorities and which ones are not worth your time and energy.