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Connection January 28, 2014

Filed under: parenting — Positive Changes 4 Women, Inc @ 10:14 pm
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Typically when I see a child in my office it is because of a breakdown in communication. However, both parent and child are usually frustrated and want me to help “fix” the other person.   What they are really to say is that they want a relationship with the other person.  So What i try to teach each person is to be accountable and responsible for their own feelings and actions.

Here are some tips to help reconnect and to take accountability and responsibility for your behavior and actions.

1: Take a break from control:

It is important to remember that being in “control,” does not equal “controlling.” So if you find your-self losing your temper, shutting down, placing blame on the other person for your feelings, feeling stubborn, shouting, throwing things or screaming, then you are no longer in “control.” You are now demonstrating controlling behavior.

2: Pay attention to your own triggers and thoughts.
If you are insecure or have fears of failure , or issues with anger, it can dramatically affect your connection with your child. Do you find your-self shutting down, interrupting or shouting when your child doesn’t do what you want them to do? If so then you need to work on your own issues before you can have any influence over your own child. Look at your-self as investigator. Remember this is not about blame. This is about figuring out what needs to change to make your relationship stronger and better. Your child looks to you to help them through difficult and stormy times. They need parents who are calmly and confidently in control, and to be in control, a parents ability needs to be independent of their child’s behavior or misbehavior. So I encourage you to challenge yourself and to get a better understanding of what your triggers are. Think about a recent incident with your child that did not go well and then answer the following three questions.

1. What was I feeling when my child either ignored me. shouted at me, refused to do something etc

2. What was I thinking before, during and after the incident?

3. Why did this situation bother me

4. What could I have done differently?

3: Ask yourself the opposite of what you expect them to do.
The most common complaints I have from parents are; “my kid is lazy, she doesn’t listen, she is spoiled, she is manipulative, etc.” Lets take the example that “she doesn’t listen.” You could probably easily list all the reasons why she doesn’t listen. From this perspective it can limit the relationship. So instead try asking your-self all the reasons why, your child “SHOULDN”T” listen to you. Go ahead try it. Here are some examples of the answers parents have given; “I don’t listen to her, I dismiss her feelings and tell her she is lying, I get angry when she interrupts, I shout, I blame her for my feelings, I smile when she is crying, she is probably frustrated, she probably doesn’t trust me, etc” and the list goes on.

4: Learn to stay calm in the storm by not focusing on the incident.
A child is undergoing massive changes and sometimes this can trigger bouts of intense anxiety, anger and sadness. They may scream, hit their sibling, skip school, not do their homework, lie etc. What a child needs at this point is a strong leader. Someone that is going to help them get through this storm. If you as the parent find your-self getting angry, crying, giving orders or shutting down, then you are no longer in control.

First check in with your feelings and thoughts.

Second ask your-self “the opposite of what you want or expect them to do.” “Why should she skip school ?” Why should she NOT do her homework?” “Why should she NOT talk to me.”

Third: Wait until the storm has passed to talk about the incident. In other words resist the temptation to nag and lecture during the storm. You won’t get anywhere and it will only cause a further disconnect

5: Find a connection with your kid:

All to often I will hear parents talk about how they don’t like their kids choice of music, the type of clothes they wear, the friends they hang out with, the shows they watch or even there after school activities, but then get upset when the child does not listen to them or wants to be with them. A child who feels that they have nothing in connection with their parent will feel alone and thus will seek out other people who share the same likes. They are seeking attachment with other like minded people. Think about your interests and your likes. Would you seek out other people that show no interest in what you like? If a child does not form that attachment through sameness, then she will seek it elsewhere and gradually shut out the people who do not share the same interests.
Look at this as a great opportunity to understand what makes your child tick and to have some positive influence. It is not really about what YOU like. This is about connecting with your child and celebrating who she is as a person. Children always long for a parent’s approval and acceptance and one of the greatest gifts we can give our children is to celebrate in their unique talents, personalities and interests.

 

You have to acknowledge that there is a problem!! August 13, 2013

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It can be tempting and easy to ignore our fears and problems in the hopes that they will just disappear or miraculously solve them-selves. .   However, the truth is, problems rarely disappear on their own, and the longer you ignore them the bigger the problem can become. This can cause some women to use destructive and sabotaging coping mechanisms.  Thus, the earlier you acknowledge the problem, the quicker it is solved.

Avoidance
In many ways, this technique can create new problems  making the current situation worse.  Avoidance can help some women not deal with their pain.  There is a fear that acknowledging  that a problem exists may reveal deeper shame of not measuring up to what they think they should be. Acknowledging a problem is about a fear of change. A fear of success. A fear of failure.

Take for example Jane and Tom.  Jane and Tom have been married for 10 years raising two kids in small town suburbia.  Jane works part time and Tom runs his own business. Jane is starting to feel neglected and unloved because Tom is spending more hours at the office. Rather than Jane and Tom address their problems and talk about their feelings,  they create new problems. Jane actively avoids her husband by telling her-self that he is not in love with her, doesn’t find her attractive, or that he is selfish etc. She starts to spend more time with her girlfriends and starts to welcome the attention from strange men. Feeling the tension at home, Tom is reluctant to come to home and will sometimes waits till the kids and Jane are in bed.  Intimacy between them start to decrease, creating a bigger distance between them. Instead of acknowledging that there is a problem, they both chose to avoid talking about their feelings.

Acknowledging  your problems, requires understanding of when and why you are avoiding them.  Below are three tips to help guide you on whether you are actively avoiding your problems.

1.  Pay attention to your feelings!

If you find your-self feeling agitated or angry then you may be using avoidance. Check in with your-self. Ask how you feeling?  Where is the stress/

2. Pay attention to your thoughts.

Negative thinking can creep up on you unexpectedly, burying itself deep within your soul that it becomes a habit. When you have checked in with your feelings, ask your-self what your thinking?  Most common response is “i’m not thinking anything.” But that is a sign that you are not tuned in to your feelings and thoughts.  You are on auto pilot.  Your feelings will tell you what you are thinking.  Ask your-self if you believe something will go wrong, or that you will not be able to cope? Are you telling your-self that my husband doesn’t love me, or I’m not worthy, or there are no good men out there etc.

3.  Pay attention to your own Behavior!

Are you drinking more than usual. Are you taking pills to calm your-self down? Are you snapping at your children? Do you find your-self gossiping about other people? Are you avoiding intimacy?  Do you feel stuck? If you find your-self taking unnecessary precautions or building safety walls around you, then you may be avoiding that a problem exists.

Become your own investigator.  Learn to ask questions.  Feelings influence how you think, and thoughts affect how you feel, which will then lead to the way you behave.  Work on changing your-self and not others.  If Jane acknowledged her problem, she would recognize that she was fearful of her own feelings and was embarrassed to talk about them because she learned at an early age, that expressing your feelings was a sign of weakness.  Instead, she focused on Tom and blamed him for the way she was feeling.

While acknowledging that there is a problem can be scary, it can also be freeing and empowering .

Each of us must confront our own fears, must come face to face with them. How we handle our fears will determine where we go with the rest of our lives. To experience adventure or to be limited by the fear of it.” ~ Judy Blume

 

The importance of putting your-self first!! May 15, 2013

Filed under: parenting — Positive Changes 4 Women, Inc @ 3:34 pm
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Why it’s important to put your-self first!

Whether you choose to be a stay at home wife, go to work full time or attempt to do both, one of the most important relationship you will ever have in your life time is the one you will have with your-self. I can hear the excuses, “ I don’t have time for that,” “that is selfish,” my family needs me, my job needs me, “my children needs me, etc.” Yet, not putting yourself first teaches other people how to treat you. Do you teach them that you have all the answers or that only you can do everything and then you wonder why no one offers to help you? Do you teach people that you don’t have time for friendships and romance because you are to0 busy taking care of everybody else? Do you teach your children that only you can solve their problems and then get frustrated when they screw up?

Ask your-self how you can have a loving and trusting relationship with others if you don’t even like your-self or believe that you are stupid, worthless, ugly, unlovable, or on auto-pilot etc. Having a good relationship with your-self is vital to having a good relationship with other people. It is about taking care of your-self so you can take care of other people. It takes time to get to know your-self and to find your authentic voice. Like most relationships there are highs and lows and questions whether this is worth it, but in order to create healthy and happy relationships, it is very important to take time for you-self

Taking time for your-self allows your brain to recover, allows you to reflect on your strengths and to celebrate your achievements. You are happier to be around because you are relaxed and rested. Putting your-self first reminds you how important you are and how important you are to other people. It sets a great example to those that have children, after all actions speak louder than words. Putting your-self first is one of the greatest gifts you could give your loved ones because you will be present and not off in some lala land thinking of all the many things you have yet to accomplish. In a nutshell putting your-self first will improve every aspect of your life.

Getting to know your-self is not a race to the finish line. It is about endurance. This is about self care. Here are some questions to ask yourself as to why “putting yourself first is difficult.”

1. Why do I not put my-self first?

2. What  excuses do I use for not putting myself first?

3. What do I worry about if I put myself first?

4. How do I teach people to treat me?

5. Do I view asking for help a sign of weakness or strength?

6. How can you be a role model to other people?

 

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 from a Daughter to a Mother September 10, 2012

Filed under: parenting — Positive Changes 4 Women, Inc @ 4:20 pm
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As a mother it is normal to want a relationship with your teen daughter and to want her to come to you with her problems. However, this is usually the time the teenager is trying to separate and find her own identity. In my experience, mothers and daughters want the same thing, a close and loving relationship. Yet due to changes, communication gets lost in transit. Below is a letter from a teenage girl to her mother expressing her feelings. This letter eloquently depicts the struggle and turmoil of a teenage girl seeking her mothers validation, while trying to discover her own Identity.

My Mom angers me, frustrates me, and annoys me. But she also makes me feel happy and loved. She made me who I am, and for that, I will always be grateful.
Tomorrow I have an operation. I’m nervous. So throughout the day, my Mom kept telling me not to get my hopes up. I kept telling her that this person wouldn’t let me down, “it’s my operation tomorrow.” I believed that no matter what, he would come. I was wrong. I called my friend crying. Little did I know, my Mom heard me talking and crying to my friend via my baby brother’s intercom. When I finished my conversation, she entered my room with a cup of tea, Oreos, hugged me and then left again. I didn’t need to tell her what was wrong, she didn’t ask, she knew. It’s funny, but moms always know what’s going to happen, they always seem to be one step ahead.

As teenagers, we don’t always want to listen to what you have to say. We moan when you ask us about our life. We say “Stop being so nosey” or “I am allowed a private life.” Then when you don’t ask we say “You never ask about me,or you don’t care”. Truth is, you are never going to win, because even we never quite know what we want. We are indecisive, we are confusing and we are no angels – but the truth is, no child is an angel.

So please don’t be offended, when we don’t want to participate in the same boring talk everyday. You know the one, “how was college” “did you have a nice day,” “who did you hang out with,” etc. Yes we know you are trying to connect, but honestly it can be very boring. So try finding out something new about us every day, or tell us something new. I love being told weird facts like “a cucumber is 97% water” (I think that’s correct) My Mom has never done that, but if she did it would be amazing.

When my Mom is mad at me, I say “One day, you will tell this story to your grandchildren and you’ll be laughing about it” it’s true. Everyone gets mad and moody but as your child we don’t want to hear about our mistakes every day. We don’t always need a lecture!!! We just sometimes need you to listen. We know how tough it is out there. The silent treatment is HORRIBLE, honestly… I don’t think I could ever ignore my children (If I had any), no matter how mad I was at them so I don’t appreciate it when my parents do that to me.

Moms get offended easily, all the time (You’ll probably read that and say “no we don’t!) Haha I am here to say “yes you do.” We don’t mean to offend you, it just comes out or it comes out the wrong way. I have put my Mom through some stuff but honestly, she hasn’t put me through anything negative. I’m grateful for the chores I had to do because now I can look after children, cook and clean which all my other 18 year old friends can’t do. I’m grateful for the curfews because now I enjoy being able to come home whenever I want on a night out, if it was always like that it would just be “normal” not fun. At the time I wasn’t grateful for these curfews. The odd rule will be broken and the odd curfew will also be broken but like I said it’s not the end of the world. So please learn to take a breath. Chores and rules aren’t the end of the world, so don’t be mad if we want to lie in bed all day and only come downstairs for food and pop. We all need a time out. It is our chance to figure out who we are and what we like. We cant do that if we are constantly in motion 7 days a week from 7am in the morning to 10-11pm at night trying to be “perfect. Let us make mistakes.

All moms are different, different people, different out looks on life. One Mom may agree with one thing that you allow your child to do and another Mom may completely disagree with your style of parenting. But it doesn’t matter what other mothers do, because I would much rather my Mom do what she thinks is best for ME.

I think my Mom proved today that silence can speak louder than words, she didn’t have to say a single thing to me to know that she loves me more than anything in the world. Thank you. Moms make mistakes but so do we. Isn’t that how we learn about life?

What I want you to know is this…” knowing that you will be there on every path we take in life is comforting. So try not to worry too much, because in the end, we will eventually find our own way,”

And oh yea…We really, really hate the “I told you so“.