Positive Changes 4 Women, Inc

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Whose problem is this? April 19, 2013

Whose problem is this? A parent calls to report that her 13 year old daughter is failing middle school. “She has no motivation to do her homework. I have tried everything I can to get her help? I have had her tested for learning disabilities, I have a hired a tutor, I have even told her that I would pay for private coaches to help her improve in softball and she still refuses to do anything.  I have talked to her teachers and her friends. She is a wonderful kid, but she is manipulative and lazy. You are my last hope, I don’t know what else to do?”

The way this mother was speaking about her daughters problems, it seemed like that she felt it was her responsibility to solve her daughter’s issues. The mother had anxiety, difficulty in sleeping, increasing anger problems and a chronic sense of failure. The mother believed that if her daughter had a problem, then so did she.

Parents today are having difficulty trusting that their children will make good choices. Parents are scared and are feeling pressured to make sure that their children succeed in every facet of their life. They are becoming obsessed with creating the “perfect image,” for their child(ren). They are rushing in to protect their child(ren) from ever experiencing, pain, sadness, discomfort and failure.

They will do everything they can to make sure that their child stay on top, which means their child’s life can consume 100% of their energy and time, leaving no room for friendships, romance or free time. These parents have been known to supervise their homework, chastise teachers when their child gets a “b,” clean their rooms, sign them up for extra classes, hire tutors, help them get a job and get involved in their child’s friendships. Yet what parents don’t realize is, that the harder they work to relieve their child(ren) of feeling any pain or suffering, they are also robbing them of any internal resourceful coping skills and accountability.

Children today are growing up in a world that is more focused on extrinsic goals rather than intrinsic goals. Even teens who are driven to achieve often feel lost from their inner self. Because these teens are so often focused on living up to everyone’s expectations, that they either don’t develop or relinquish their own goals, which is why we have seen teens lose motivation, become bored and empty and a rise in anxiety and depression. Highly involved and controlling parents often leave their kids feeling angry, depressed and ironically feeling like a failure

It is a fact; teens are more stressed out today than they were 50 years ago. Psychologists, counselors, psychiatrists, physicians are seeing an increase in teens and their parents for depression and anxiety disorder. In fact an article “Freedom to Learn,” in the psychology today website stated that “five to eight times as many high school and college students meet the criteria for diagnosis of major depression and or an anxiety disorder as was true half a century or more ago” At the top of most parents stress is their child(ren)’s academic achievements. Statements such as; “it’s very competitive out there, I have to make sure my child takes advantage of every opportunity, or else they won’t get into their choice of college, ” have become a part of a parents everyday vocab. Madeline Levine, author of “The Price of Privilege,” stated that “research is showing that parents emphasis on academic achievement is linked to their child’s “maladaptive perfectionist striving” Madeline describes “maladaptive perfectionism” as “perfectionism that impairs functioning,” ( feigning illness to skip school, difficulty with sleeping because of worrying about tests, performance etc). “ This coping mechanism is highly correlated with depression and suicide.

So ask your-self the next time you find your-self frustrated at your child for not performing to your standards, or rushing into save them from struggle when they didn’t get that “A,” what you are really teaching them?


Mother Daughter Relationships April 16, 2013

Filed under: parenting — Positive Changes 4 Women, Inc @ 5:53 pm
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“Suddenly, through birthing a daughter, a woman finds herself face to face not only with an infant, a little girl, a woman-to-be, but also with her own unresolved conflicts from the past and her hopes and dreams for the future…. As though experiencing an earthquake, mothers of daughters may find their lives shifted, their deep feelings unearthed, the balance struck in all relationships once again off kilter.”

When I read this quote by Elizabeth Debold and Idelisse Malave, it sent a shiver of truth down my spine. A mother daughter relationship is unique and at times can be complicated one. It is said that a mother daughter relationship is more powerful and intimate than most relationships. .

So what is it about a mother daughter relationship that makes it so uniquely personal, powerful and sometimes has the ability to drive you to the edge of insanity? Conflicts are bound to happen in any relationships; after all, it is a part of being a human being. Could it be that females are genetically wired to be in a state of conflict and angst? Could it be that you have your own baggage from the past which gets triggered when your daughter(s) tell you about their issues with other females? Do you try to live vicariously through your daughters in the hopes of correcting your mistakes? Do you put unreasonable expectations on your daughters, stunting their independence and personalities? Are you trying to save your daughters from committing the same mistakes that you made? Or Is it because as a daughter you have felt unloved, criticized, misunderstood? Are you seeking to fulfill those unmet needs?

Yes, raising a tween girl can sometimes be a never ending ride of emotions that has on many occasions left you feeling dizzy and helpless. Girls (and indeed all females) have an innate need to bond with other females. Every nuance is monitored, analyzed and processed. There are days when your daughter will come home crying seeking solace and comfort in your arms because her “best friend” of the day spoke to someone else and not to her. Or she will be crying because she heard them saying mean things about her. Then there are days that just the way you breathe will annoy her and will create world war three. The truth is “Mothers and daughters are unintentionally critical of each other placing expectations on each other that are almost impossible to fulfill. Yet what I do know about these relationships is that both mother and daughter want the same things.

1. They want to be validated, respected and loved

2. Surprisingly they speak the same language but have difficulty communicating it correctly

When I have asked mothers what they wanted from their mothers, they come to realize that they were wanting and needing her to be someone that she was not. They realized that instead of loving their mother unconditionally, they were being critical of the way she was choosing to live her life. They felt that she was not making the right kind of choices with her life.” Sound familiar? SO the cycle continues because unintended messages are the result of the breakdown in communication that has gone awry.

So ask your-self what are your unresolved conflicts? What better way to face your conflicts than through honesty? Being honest with your-self allows you to mother from a whole new universe and not you’re your past. Being honest allows you to set the very important boundaries for your mother daughter relationship and allows your daughter to become the person she was meant to be and not what you want her to be.


A letter to my 16 year old self! April 2, 2013

Filed under: personal stories of inspiration — Positive Changes 4 Women, Inc @ 5:16 pm
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At some point in therapy I will typically ask my clients to write a letter to their 16 year old selves. At 16 we feel like we know everything and it is the time we will probably take some of our biggest risks, but along the way we end up loosing ourselves and become lost in our fears.  The point of the exercise is to remind you of what is important and why you are important.  Everybody was born for a reason!

Below is a letter from a client who did this exercise and graciously agreed to publish on this website.

A letter to my 16 year old self!

I just want you to know you have the world at your feet.

You have so many great qualities to share, don’t cut yourself short or think you that you don’t deserve to true friends or know what true love feels like. You have so much to offer, don’t be afraid to put yourself out there to meet new people an do different things. Your life will be what you make it, enjoy every moment for what it is.

Please learn to trust yourself, listen to what your and your gut tell you. You will have so many great successes and failures in life, whether it be school, career, friends, relationships, learn from both!! They will make you a better person. Take away from success and failure what you can, chart your own path, don’t let others do it for you. You will meet many people along your journey, some well intentioned and true, some you need to let go of. Don’t be scared to let the bad ones go, you will be a stronger person and better person. Be strong and independent, face adversity head on even though you may be unsure or scared. Let yourself be vulnerable and let your friends see the true YOU!!! They will love you for who you are and will be there no matter what because they love you.

Your life is going to be an amazing journey with some bumps along the way. You will fall down, and sometimes be pushed down. But get up!! Brush yourself off and keep going because those things will not define your life, they will give it character and color. Nothing can break your spirit. You are a survivor and a fighter. Don’t let anyone take that away!

Please don’t give up on yourself, you can make your life everything you want it to be.