9 Key Benefits We Experience When Our Nervous System Is Regulated
“We know a lot about what happens to a human system when it is sick and unwell. What we know less of, is what happens in a system that is healthy!”
Total brain stop on that one. And she is right. We are so good at pathologizing and looking at what is wrong. Maybe instead we could look at what we want to move towards and then ask the question: what must happen to get there?
So with those words of experience from a women 30+ years into her craft said — here’s a list of what we, as nervous system specialists, know a healthy human system is like when it’s fairly free from anxiety and way more calm.....
.....If you find the bulk of these benefits are not happening for you then there is a good chance your nervous system is living in what we call survival stress chemistry (think: that fight/flight response pumping out adrenaline and cortisol all day long, or, the freeze response being so hardwired that to feel nothing is the norm).
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Kathleen Notes: Most people don`t think in terms of their emotional state being "regulated" or "unregulated." Perhaps if we take the root word "regular" to mean as it should be.....

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Sappy, Sloppy Emotions: What’s the Point?
For every emotion, there is a purpose. Emotions are incredibly useful tools to help us adapt, survive and thrive. People who were emotionally neglected were trained to try to erase, deny, push underground, and in some cases, be ashamed of, this invaluable built-in feedback system. Because they are not listening to their emotions, they are operating at a disadvantage from the rest of us. Pushing away this vital source of information makes you vulnerable and potentially less productive. It also makes it harder to experience life to its fullest.

Emotions do more, though, than drive us to do things. They also feed the human connections that give life the depth and richness that make it worthwhile. It is this depth and richness which I believe provides the best answer to the question, “What is the meaning of life?” Emotional connections to others help us stave off feelings of emptiness as well as existential angst.

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Kathleen Notes: “Although many of us may think of ourselves as thinking creatures that feel, biologically we are feeling creatures that think.”-Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor, Neuroscientist and author of My Stroke of Insight

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Do You Have Emotional Integrity?

Here is the Merriam-Webster Dictionary’s definition of Integrity: The quality of being honest and fair; the state of being complete or whole; incorruptibility; soundness.

What, then, is Emotional Integrity? It’s knowing what you feel and why, and being able and willing to share it with others, even when it’s painful for you.

So general integrity involves being honest with others. Emotional Integrity involves being honest with yourself: facing uncomfortable or painful truths inside yourself so that they don’t harm the people you love. It’s more about your internal choices than your external ones. It’s the opposite of what we think of as denial. It’s the opposite of avoidance.

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Kathleen Notes: I think that often the hardest person to face is yourself...

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Sticking It to Stigma!

The archaic definition of the word stigma is “a scar left by a hot iron” (Merriam-Webster). It was meant to be a mark of shame or discredit. The modern definition of the word stigma means: “a set of negative and often unfair beliefs that a society or group of people have about something.” (Merriam-Webster).

While both definitions do define the word stigma, I believe that more times than not the first definition is a by far a better definition of what most of us have felt too often regarding the stigma surrounding mental illness.

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Kathleen Notes:Next week, October 7-13 is Mental Health Awareness Week. A good time to "Cure Stigma!"

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Stop Taking Away Recess
Your American elementary school kid probably gets about 25 minutes of recess per day. Half of that recess time is structured, meaning the activities are planned by an adult. 97% of teachers say recess improves student performance and was especially important for kids who “tended to behave badly.”
Yet 86% admitted to taking away recess as a consequence for that same behavior. And 7% of schools had no recess at all. This all according to a study by the International Play Equipment Manufacturer’s Association and its Voice of Play initiative, which surveyed 500 randomly selected US teachers....
.....Recess isn’t just a lot of running around and yelling, like it might look to outsiders. There is, instead, a lot of complex play and negotiation going on. Recess is where kids practice social skills and role-play with peers after a day spent being told “no talking,” and “sit still,” and “eye forward, please,” according to Peaceful Playgrounds.
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Kathleen Notes: Play is a child`s work in so many ways that we can`t easily see or measure until it disappears. Are we ready to start teaching kids the way they need to learn yet!? Children don`t go to school so that teachers and staff can have jobs, it`s the other way around.

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Mindful Parenting for ADHD

ADHD is far more than a disorder of attention. It influences social skills, communication, morning routines, bedtime, technology use, eating habits, homework, and anything requiring coordination, planning, or foresight. In addition, your child’s ADHD affects others around him, especially family members.

In fact, ADHD often creates unproductive patterns in parents’ lives. When parents become overly stressed or overwhelmed, that affects their children. None of us are at our best when tapped out. And because ADHD itself increases family stress, it makes it harder for you to manage your child’s ADHD, which then amplifies stress further. Incorporating mindfulness into your life can break this draining cycle.

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Kathleen Notes: Dr. Hollowell (expert in ADHD for kids and adults) calls this the "crazy cycle". Mindfullness keeps us "in the moment". This helps decreases stress and increases the ability to cope for parents and kiddos. Why? It stops/slows down the "crazy cycle."

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`Everyone brings their own baggage`: Couples counseling more effective if done in early signs of trouble

Most often, couples go to therapy two to five years after the start of negative feelings, such as increased conflict, lack of communication or intimacy, and discontentment in the relationship, said Amy Padron, a marriage and family therapist with the Glenview Counseling Group in Illinois. And according to relationship and marriage expert John Gottman, couples wait an average of six unhappy years before hitting the counseling couch. That’s a long time to suffer through discontentment, Padron said.

“This unresolved conflict continues to damage the relationship further,” Padron said. “I encourage couples to seek therapy sooner rather than later, as the relational work in therapy for them is so much easier when there are not years of unresolved hurts and resentments.”

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Kathleen Notes: So many times couples wait until counseling is their last option. Going sooner isn`t as much a sign of trouble as one of health.

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Weathering the Storms of Life as A Couple
Some time back, I watched my daughter play soccer. At one point, two players got so caught up in their individual efforts to dribble the ball that they failed to see that they were teammates! Immediately, a chorus of parents piped up: “YOU’RE ON THE SAME TEAM!” Unfortunately, married couples can make the same error. When stress mounts, and patience drains, we tend to lash out at those closest to us-- which can mean aiming our frustration square at our spouse. But you’re on the same team! Picking fights, lashing out, or taking your pain out on your spouse is like sawing off the tree branch that you’re both sitting on. Remind each other that you are partners, not adversaries. Show extra grace with your spouse, overlooking minor annoyances, and be patient when your husband or wife isn’t at their best. Keep in mind that your spouse isn’t the problem–-it’s that storm blowing around you that is causing you grief.   ...more

Kathleen Notes: If one spouse has a problem, the other one does too. Combine your strengths and check your ego at the door....

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What Happens When a Highly Sensitive Person Grows Up with Emotional Neglect?

If you’re highly sensitive, there’s a good chance that you experience emotions in a very strong way — so much so that your emotions can flood you. That’s because highly sensitive people (HSPs) are born with a nervous system that processes and “feels” things much more deeply than the average person. Most HSPs are aware of their own feelings and the feelings of others, which can be a powerful gift.

But what happens when you grow up in a family that doesn’t value this trait at all?

That could mean:

  • Parents who said you were “overreacting” for having feelings
  • Your parents never expressed their own emotions, and were uncomfortable when you did so
  • Being labeled as different (a “dreamer,” a “crybaby”) because you are sensitive

Sadly, this isn’t uncommon. In fact, a growing body of research suggests that many otherwise healthy families raise their children with emotional neglect — a failure to value or respond to emotions.

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Kathleen Notes: An excellent article to help explain highly sensitive people, childhood emotional neglect and what happens when both are present as we grow up. The good news is that you can recover, often with the help of a trained professional counselor.

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Practical solutions for real parenting problems When Your Child Is Hellbent on Misbehaving: Time to Invite a Meltdown?
Sometimes we all just need a good cry. And kids, with their immature frontal cortex, need to cry more often than adults, to heal all those feelings that are making them act out. But that`s only healing if they have a compassionate witness -- the safe haven of a parent. Leaving your child to cry alone just traumatizes her, and gives her the message that she`s all alone with those scary feelings, just when she needs us most.

So when a child is acting out, remember that she`s "acting out" feelings she can`t express verbally.  That`s a signal that she has a full emotional backpack that needs emptying.  She just needs you to connect with her to help her feel safe enough. ...

.....When your child is making you or others miserable, it`s a red flag that he`s miserable inside and needs your help with his big feelings. That`s your cue to step in. He`s signaling that he needs you to hold him emotionally, and maybe literally. And he`ll keep acting out until you help him.

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Kathleen Notes: THIS is how to avoid Childhood Emotional Neglect (CEN).

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8 Ways A Child’s Anxiety Shows Up as Something Else
Your child might ask repetitive questions for reassurance and no matter how many times you answer, the question repeats. You might have the perfect child at school that comes home and constantly picks fights with you or siblings. You may have a child that can’t focus, motivate, or even loses sleep at night. Or maybe your child is downright angry. Anxiety, in fact, can manifest in a multitude of forms....
....Anxiety and sleep problems have a chicken and egg connection. Research has shown that anxiety can lead to sleep disorders and chronic sleep disruption can lead to anxiety. In children, having difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep is one of the hallmark characteristics of anxiety....
....Anger and anxiety are also both activated in the threat center of your brain. When the brain perceives a threat, the amygdala (a small, almond-shaped cluster of neurons in the brain) activates the flight-or-fight response which floods your body with hormones to make you stronger and faster. This genetic wisdom protects us from threats and danger. Because anger and anxiety are both activated from the same brain region and have similar physiological patterns (rapid breathing, heart racing, pupils dilating etc.), it’s possible that when your child feels like there is a threat (e.g. going to a party), the fight or anger response is activated as a form of protection. 

Finally, one of the markers of generalized anxiety is “irritability” which is also part of the anger family.

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Kathleen Notes: Just a sample of a really informative article...anxiety often looks like something completely different for children...and adults.

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Don’t Be a Peg
This isn’t a gender thing, by any means. Men can also be “Pegs.” We’ll call these men “Regs.” One wife told me that the biggest deterrent from her having enthusiastic sex with her husband was his constant criticism. In her husband’s opinion, she didn’t cook correctly; she didn’t clean correctly; she didn’t drive the right way, raise the kids with enough discernment or even chew her food in the correct manner.....
.......In my book Cherish I stress how it’s never our job to judge our spouse. Our job is to cherish our spouse and to encourage our spouse. Constant disappointment, whether it’s expressed through verbal jabs or a nonverbal rolling of the eyes, or worse, expressed contempt in front of others (“Let me tell you what I have to live with…”), rarely achieves the desired aim. Far more likely than getting people to feel sorry for you, it’s probably going to make them feel sorry for your spouse. It’s a losing strategy, but some spouses keep trying it for years. Everyone knows a spouse’s “job description” is to honor, love, respect and cherish. It’s what we promised to do and what God calls us to do. Even more, our job as Christians is to encourage: “Encourage one another and build each other up” (1 Thessalonians 5:11).
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Kathleen Notes: No one is ever motivated by criticism.....

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Why Relationships Are the Key to Longevity

Plenty of exercise. Healthy food. Positive attitude. Plain old good luck. There’s lots of advice out there about how to keep body and brain in optimal shape as the years roll by.

But Louis Cozolino, professor of psychology at Pepperdine University, is deeply engaged with another idea. In Timeless: Nature’s Formula for Health and Longevity, he emphasizes the positive impact of human relationships.

“Of all the experiences we need to survive and thrive, it is the experience of relating to others that is the most meaningful and important,” he writes.

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Kathleen Notes: Both injury and healing take place within relationships. God made us to be relational beings: with Him and with each other. It makes sense that it would play a big role in living a long and happier life. However, that being said...check out the following article...

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God Used a Parakeet to Love Our Daughter

When our daughter Deborah, aka Peanut, was 16, we had one of those father-daughter kitchen conversations. Amid the mealtime mess and clamor came this declaration: “Dad, I want to be able to do what I want to do … with whoever I want to do it with … whenever I want … for as long as I want.”

I wasn’t sure I had heard correctly. “What did you say?”

When she repeated her statement, I smiled and said, “Peanut, what if your parakeet came to you and said, ‘Deborah, I’d like to go do what I want to do, with whoever I want to do it with, whenever I want to do it, for as long as I want to do it. And right now, I’d like to go on the porch and play with the cats!’”

Deborah loved her parakeet, affectionately named Sweet Pea. “Would you let Sweet Pea go play outside, Peanut?”

She quickly dismissed my fatherly attempt to reach her. “That’s a silly illustration, Dad.”

I said, “No, it’s not. There’s a cat on the porch right now. Sweet Pea is in the cage right now. The cage is actually a protection for Sweet Pea, don’t you agree?”

Feeling uncomfortable, Deborah attempted to change the subject … and I let her. I knew she had heard.

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Kathleen Notes: Wonderful story and analogy of how/why parents can protect their children until they`re ready to do it for themselves.

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Creating Successful Children By Emphasizing Values
How much should parents focus on achievement? Should we constantly push our children to do their best? Or should we put more effort into helping them become well-rounded individuals who care for the needs of others, even if they might not be quite the students they could have been otherwise? A 2017 study of parents` values suggests that framing our choices this way may create a false dilemma. Children whose parents emphasized values, such as respect and kindness, as much or more than they emphasized achievement were not only better adjusted; they also did better in school.   ...more

Kathleen Notes: If parents can focus on raising "good people` vs high achieving people, it would appear to be a win-win.

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Four Tips for Handling a Difficult Family Member
Few people can hurt us as much as the people closest to us. Usually, that’s family. Most people have at least one family member who is verbally brutal, judgmental or just plain thoughtless.  Unfortunately, when we react to the rude comments these people make, our reaction can easily make us look worse than them.....
...The worst thing you can do is let a critical or verbally brutal person hurt you. If you prepare yourself in advance, stay calm, and say something assertive, you will appear unscathed and will earn the admiration of all those around you. Then, when you go home, think it over and remind yourself that this person is attacking you because of his or her own weakness. Don’t take it in. Be Strong.
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Kathleen Notes:...and who doesn`t have at least one difficult person in their family....?

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3 Steps to Healthy Emotional Regulation

It often appears that perceptions of truth define reality in the sense that our learned beliefs about self and others become so ingrained that they often go unchallenged and take on a life of their own. Such may be the case with our emotions—they may be categorized as good or bad, negative or positive. By categorizing emotions in this way, we may consciously or subconsciously attach more value to some emotions while negating, minimizing, or avoiding others.

This selective approach to categorizing emotions has far-reaching effects on how we deal with a wide range of emotional content, including our ability or willingness to accept what feels uncomfortable. By seeking out so-called “good emotions,” we may neglect uncomfortable or painful emotions including worry, fear, frustration, anger, rage, bitterness, resentment, sadness, hopelessness, and helplessness, to name a few.  It can be argued that establishing a dichotomy or differentiation of good vs. bad emotions inhibits emotional and mental health.

Much is known about the deleterious effects of stuffing one’s emotions, and the same can be said about the harmful effects of burying uncomfortable or painful emotions. In order to establish good emotional health, all emotions must be given a voice. Keeping in mind this framework of viewing the entire range of emotions with equal value or validity, we can now explore three steps to emotional regulation.

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Kathleen Notes: Good mental health is all about emotional regulation. Emotions are normal, helpful and never, ever right or wrong. They just are. It`s what we think, say and do about those emotions that can be wrong or sinful.

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The Benefits of Being a Patient Person

As virtues go, patience is a quiet one.

It’s often exhibited behind closed doors, not on a public stage: A father telling a third bedtime story to his son, a dancer waiting for her injury to heal. In public, it’s the impatient ones who grab all our attention: drivers honking in traffic, grumbling customers in slow-moving lines. We have epic movies exalting the virtues of courage and compassion, but a movie about patience might be a bit of a snoozer.

Yet patience is essential to daily life—and might be key to a happy one. Having patience means being able to wait calmly in the face of frustration or adversity, so anywhere there is frustration or adversity—i.e., nearly everywhere—we have the opportunity to practice it. At home with our kids, at work with our colleagues, at the grocery store with half our city’s population, patience can make the difference between annoyance and equanimity, between worry and tranquility.

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Kathleen Notes: Yup, but what if you`re NOT a patient person? Read on for strategies to help cultivate patience and reap it`s benefits.

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To Be Happy, Fail and Try Again

Nick Offerman, actor and woodworker, grew up working on his family farm in Illinois. During this time, he learned to enrich his own life through hard work, instead of relying on modern comforts—a philosophy he continues to practice today.

In this video from BigThink, Offerman shares three lessons on happiness that have carried him through life.....

....He paraphrases a speech from author Neil Gaiman, who said: “If you make mistakes, it means you’re out there trying. It means you’re taking a swing at achieving something. And if you’re not making mistakes, it means you’ve given up…”

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Kathleen Notes: My clients will tell you that I embrace and encourage making mistakes. Knowing that it`s OK to fail helps people to move towards self-acceptance and a great way to learn things!

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Surviving Arsenic Hour
Every parent knows arsenic hour, when hunger, homework, and exhaustion merge into one big emotional accident waiting to happen. One obvious reason that kids have meltdowns at the end of the day is that they`re hungry and tired, whether they`ve been home with you or out at school. But there`s another reason. After having spent the day apart, your child feels disconnected from you. Until he reconnects, he`ll let you know how alone he feels by acting ornery and uncooperative.
There`s another reason that kids who are at daycare or school all day lose it when they`re reunited with you. It`s hard work for little people to keep it together all day in the face of all those developmental challenges, disappointments and rules. All day, they store up big feelings they can`t process, waiting to be safe with Mom or Dad to let those emotions fly. This is true even if they love daycare or school and beg you to pick them up later. It may be fun, but navigating all those people is still stressful. So the minute they see you, their "executive self" relaxes, and their "baby self" comes out to seek comfort. Be ready to be emotionally present for your kids, focus on connecting with them, and you`ll stave off some meltdowns and set a pleasant tone for the evening. It all starts with you.
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Kathleen Notes:"Arsenic Hour"...not just for children anymore. Home is our "soft place to land" and is often where all of the junk of the day also lands.

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When the Narcissist Becomes Dangerous

In many ways, it seems like it would be fun to be narcissistic. Wouldn’t it be great to go through life feeling superior to other people, and with unwavering self-confidence? Yes!

But as we all know, there is a dark side to narcissism. That unwavering self-confidence is as brittle as an eggshell. Narcissists don’t move back and forth on a continuum of self-esteem as the rest of us do. Instead, they run on full-tilt until something taps that protective shell of self-importance hard enough. Then, they fall into a million pieces. Under that fragile, brittle cover lies a hidden pool of insecurity and pain. Deep down, the narcissist’s deepest and most powerful fear is that he is a nothing.

With his brash, self-centered ways, the narcissist can hurt the people around him emotionally, and often. His deepest fear is of being exposed as “a nothing.” So he will protect his own fragile shell above all else, even if it sometimes emotionally harms the people he loves the most.

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Kathleen Notes: People with narcissistic tenancies not only lack a strong self of self but also boundaries. It becomes necessary to have strong boundaries in addition to empathy in order to protect yourself and others.

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Listening To Your Spouse
Communication is more than just speaking and thinking that your message will be heard and understood. Meaningful communication is much more than just a one-way street.  Effective communication requires less talking and more listening, hearing, and responding. It requires being intentional. While communication happens when one person speaks to another, it`s never just a one-directional event. True communication is dialogue where relationship is nurtured. The listener hears and digests the content and reflects information back to the speaker. The listener plays a powerful role in helping the speaker to feel heard. Good communication bridges a gap between people allowing an exchange of words, actions, and emotions. It moves us from isolation to community....
......James 1:19 says that we are to be "quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger." Communication is about listening first, but we cannot listen if we do not engage. Communication has to be about WANTING to hear, WANTING to know, and WANTING to share.
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Kathleen Notes: We have a human need to be heard and understood. When both spouses feel that way, the rest is so much easier.

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Focus on Your Husband’s Strengths

Honor is the key to a man’s heart. By requiring wives to serve their husbands, God is giving them the keys to their husband’s hearts.

One important way to honor your husband is by focusing on his strengths and not his faults.

I’ve heard it said before that the devil is the “accuser of the brethren.” There are five ways Satan accuses us. He is always accusing me to God, God to me, me to myself, me to you, and you to me.

Why? Because he hates relationships, and he wants to destroy those five important human relationships.

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Kathleen Notes: As Christians we HAVE an enemy...it`s just not your spouse....

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Kids and Chores

When my children were very young, I found myself cleaning up their messes, working hard to keep our home clean and feeling a bit frustrated that so many jobs were left for me. Over time, I began to realize that my frustration was a nudge to look more closely at what was happening in our family. It seemed faster and easier to do things myself, but they also had lessons they needed to learn.

As I thought about my goals for all of my kids, I quickly realized that this approach would not work for us. We want to raise children who take responsibility for their own needs and messes. We want to raise children who understand what it means to work and to do so diligently. We want to raise children who understand that this home that we share is a blessing and it runs most smoothly when we all do our part. Having chores helps us to spread out the work it takes to enjoy the life we love.

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Kathleen Notes: Chores help your child grow in responsibility,learn necessary life skills and helps to curb entitlement. 1 Peter 4:10 "As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God`s varied grace."

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Coping With Your Child’s New Neurodevelopmental Disorder

Many families each year receive a child`s new diagnosis of a neurodevelopmental disorder, diagnoses such as learning disabilities and delays, speech and language delays, Autism, and ADHD. The news of the diagnosis can be a relief for some families or can feel overwhelming and shocking for others. The diagnosis is not within parents’ control, but there are many things parents can do to move forward after receiving this news.

First of all, it’s helpful for the parents to maintain as positive a perspective as possible. Children are more than their diagnoses, as the diagnoses are only part of how children function. A diagnosis simply gives some clear understanding of the struggles and provides a direction of how to assist with the struggles. Our children are fearfully and wonderfully made even with this new diagnosis. God has a wonderful plan for our children and that plan has not changed.

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Kathleen Notes: Finding support for you and your child is important: family, friends, school, church. In addition, make use of mental health counseling, occupational, speech, and/or behavioral therapy to find solutions.

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When Preteens Break Your Video Game Rules

12 year olds can be tough! Their brains are rewiring so they can be volatile. And suddenly their peers are very important to them, and we are less important to them, so we have less influence. That`s why maintaining a really good relationship with a child as they head into the preteen and teen years is so important, even as it can be tough to do......

.....So in this situation, your 6th grader was apparently actually sick (as corroborated by the school nurse) and had to be picked up at school to come home early, at some inconvenience to you and to the detriment of the preschooler. You told him no video games. Which, btw, I commend you on. I think is a very good rule -- if he is home sick, he can sleep or read or hang out on the couch talking with you or doodle with markers -- but no screens. Otherwise, it is too enticing for kids to fake illness. And if you follow my work, you know I don`t think kids should be using screens during the week anyway.

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Kathleen Notes: I hear a lot of this struggle from parents. Please check out the "parakeet" article in addition to this one if this is a struggle at your house. Even though they may struggle, your rules are there to protect them and help them to grow.

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How Tuning Into Your Body Can Make You More Resilient
Luckily, it’s possible to strengthen your own body-based somatic intelligence to quickly respond to and recover from any sense of threat to your safety or well-being. What is somatic intelligence? It’s understanding how your body responds to danger and using that knowledge to support your body as you go through life—which, if you’re human, is bound to be filled with at least some adversity.....
......To better support our natural somatic intelligence, we need to soothe our nervous system through body-based practices that steady our brain’s perceptions of and responses to danger and help us retain a sense of safety. Once we master some of these techniques, we are prepared for more resilient coping, learning, and growth.
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Kathleen Notes: It pays to tune into the brain-body connection in order to regulate your emotions and thrive. Resilience can only be built by leaning and and paying attention to what is going on...avoidance does exactly the opposite.

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Recognizing Enmeshment in Alienated Family Systems

Typically the roots of enmeshment can be traced back to parents who over-identify with a child, a dynamic often passed down through generations. Within this dynamic, boundaries are blurred—and may even be viewed as undesirable—and the parent may regard the child as an extension of the parent, rather than their own person, and treat them accordingly.

As a result, children of enmeshed family systems often develop emotional ties that elicit confusion, and they may fail to develop autonomy. An underdeveloped sense of autonomy may make it difficult for the child to act on desires that differ from the parent’s or lead a child to feel guilty when attempting to act on their own feelings. The enmeshed parent may also take it personally when a child attempts to demonstrate autonomy or independence, which can have a harmful impact on the child and the family dynamic overall.

Enmeshment between a parent and child makes it difficult for the emotions of the child to be separated from the emotions of the parent. It can be said, then, that a child may take on emotional pain the parent carries from enmeshment in their own family of origin. This is not uncommon and is often done unconsciously—a child does not realize they are taking on the parent’s emotional pain or that it is not theirs to carry.

Another way of looking at it is to think in terms of “absorbing” the emotional pain of the parent. A parent who is projecting emotional pain is likely not consciously aware they are doing it but simply repeating the cycle that played out in their childhood.

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Kathleen Notes: As the article points out, this isn`t uncommon. For adults who are raised with this dynamic, the effects aren`t pretty.

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Finding Courage at the Crossroads of Fear and Change

Our decisions are unconsciously influenced by our experiences during childhood, adolescence, and adult life. We grow up in survival mode, learning to protect ourselves from the verbal, physical, and emotional onslaught of our parents, siblings, teachers, schoolyard bullies, and others.

These learned survival traits compound and confuse our thinking of who we are and the direction of our lives. They affect our daily actions, at times giving us distressing results in our confrontations, causing us to begin asking more contemplative questions at new crossroads: How do I decide what to do? What is my problem? Where do I look for helpful information? Why is it so important to know about my past? Who can help me with my decisions? When should I begin the search? Such thoughts radiate through our decision-making both internally and outwardly.

Whether we are sitting in our car at a crossroad to an unknown destination or at a crossroad in our mind confronting a fear resulting from an experience, can we determine who we are and what we are all about? What does all of this mean for us?

It means courage. As we walk through life, we carry our failures, losses, hurts, and other issues experienced while growing up with family or alone. We ask ourselves, “Am I any good? Am I worthwhile? Am I broken?”

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Kathleen Notes: Fear can paralyze and making no choice IS a choice. That choice involves trying to be safe but it also involves stagnation. Finding courage is tough but necessary.

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What Is Your Role as a Christian in the #MeToo Movement?
We are in a significant moment in our society because of the #MeToo and #ChurchToo movements. People are coming forward about suffering abuse at the hands of others. What has been a private, quiet, and likely agonizing reality for thousands of men and women dealing with the trauma associated with sexual assault for many years is coming to light. What we know now cannot be ignored. How should you and I process this moment as laypeople? What should we say and do when a friend shares she* has been sexually assaulted? I am not a psychologist, but I am a survivor, and I offer six ways we as ordinary laypeople can think through and take action in the #MeToo era.   ...more

Kathleen Notes: A well written and thoughtful article. The only problem I have is with the #3 option that the author. Unless you are a mandatory reporter (counselors are) or the victim is someone who cannot protect themselves(a child for example), the decision to report is highly personal and should be left to the victim.

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In The Moment Notes...
Each week I will collect and reflect on 5 to 10 relevant articles about important topics like parenting, marriage, relationships, and families. Within these topics I will address the challenges and joys, struggles and solutions from a Positive and Strengths-based approach. I am a strong believer in the power of relationships to grow, nurture and heal the human mind and spirit. I hope you find one or two of these articles useful for your practice, classroom or household. My opinions are open to discussion and even disagreement, as they are intended to facilitate the sharing of multiple thoughts and ideas! This publication is offered by In the Moment Child and Family Therapy, LLC, a Ministry of Resurrection Lutheran Church (WELS) in Verona and Monroe, Wisconsin.

I would really enjoy hearing your feedback if you care to give it at Kathleen@inthemomenttherapy.com
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Sharing of this publication is encouraged so if you have a friend/relative/coworker who might enjoy it, feel free to forward them or encourage them to subscribe!

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