Welcome to In the Moment Notes

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Raising Resilient Kids Who Are Prepared for the Future

Many parents I meet are alarmed and unsure about how to enable their children to succeed in a future that will bear little resemblance to the world in which we made our way. Facing uncertainty can make us anxious, and we pass that anxiety on to our kids.

We overprotect and overdirect our children, turning our kids into risk-averse rule-followers. Yet that’s exactly the opposite of the mindset they’ll need if, as experts from multiple fields agree, adaptability, curiosity, risk-taking and flexibility will be the survival skills of tomorrow....

....If we’re serious about equipping our kids to thrive in a very uncertain, accelerated future, the only skill we absolutely know they will need is the ability to adapt. Lifelong learning will be the key to job security. In addition to hard skills in an individual’s particular field — for instance biology, economics, or the law — lifelong learning involves capabilities such as flexibility, curiosity, tolerance for failure and collaboration. These skills are of critical importance, require effort and intelligence, are amenable to teaching, and just as challenging to master as hard skills. By any measure, “soft” is a misnomer for these skills.

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Kathleen Notes: Resilience is connected to a good sense of self-esteem, which comes from self-efficasy.

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How Child Abuse and Neglect Plant the Seeds of Racism in Our Children

Truth be told, I felt somewhat stunned as I read this comment. It expressed in perfect prose some things that I know, with every fiber of my being, are fundamental truths.

Yes, anger is the flip-side of fear.

Yes. The way we treat our children shapes our world.

Yes. Of course. Childhood neglect and abuse are the root causes of anger, racism, and hate.

Anger is a fascinating emotion in many ways. It flows like water, touching and affecting all who are near it. One important way that anger differs from other emotions is that it always seeks a target.

Anger is not satisfied floating freely, like sadness or other forms of pain. Anger is built into us as a self-protective measure, so it naturally needs to be directed at someone or something.

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Kathleen Notes: Yes, and more. CEN is sneaky because it`s what isn`t happening. Hard to stop what you are unaware of...

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When Feelings Are in the Driver’s Seat

What we know about feelings and emotions….

Good feelings are desirable. People spend billions of dollars and risk their health and very lives in their search for good feelings. Who among us doesn’t like to feel great? A Spring day, the brisk air, sunshine, flowers, butterflies, and a picnic under a tree on a hillside. I’ll take that in a heartbeat. (Feels good just to imagine it!)

–Feelings are fickle. Feelings are poor barometers of anything. Emotions can be manipulated by the food we eat, the amount we sleep, fatigue, temper, the conditions around us, the last thing our boss said to us, and a thousand other factors.

Feelings are often detached from reality. You’re on the phone with someone and suddenly, you sense the line is dead or that they’ve left. You call their name. “I’m here,” your party answers. That inner sense misled you.

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Kathleen Notes: Just because you think something doesn`t make it true...

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4 Ways You May Be Keeping Yourself Running On Empty

House, job, family. Parenting, grocery-shopping, errands, and social media; we are all people of the world. And in today’s world, our lives are overly full in so many ways. So it’s ironic that so many of us feel so very UN-full.

The feeling of emptiness is elusive. It’s experienced differently by different people. Hardly anyone knows how to put it into words. So you may at times say you’re stressed or down because it’s the best word you can come up with, even though it doesn’t seem to quite capture what you feel.

Even more likely, you say nothing. After all, you can see that your life is actually very full. You have no idea that so many people around you feel a sense of emptiness as well.

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Kathleen Notes: Busy-ness is just one way we keep ourselves from feeling our emotions.

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Rediscovering fatherhood in the plague year

Few Father’s Days could be more important than the one approaching. COVID-19 is a crisis that will require the strengths of dad and the family to restore the nation to full economic prosperity. Similarly, the racial crisis will not be solved until fatherlessness and the consequent boy crisis are addressed.

How? COVID has left us with a few hints.

Even as the coronavirus has deprived many dads of the ability to provide, it has allowed many children to value dad’s time as much as dad’s dime. It has helped many dads experience at a deeper level that, while their career is for now, their children are forever. And it is bringing to the conscious level an unconscious “Father’s Catch-22” — the pressure to love his family by being away from the love of his family.

Since the mid-`60s, an ever-increasing number of our children have found themselves separated from their dads. This rise of father absence often leaves single moms overwhelmed; dads depressed with neither purpose nor love; children more likely to be damaged in over 50 developmental areas; and pockets of fatherlessness that become pockets of crime.

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Kathleen Notes: Fathers, you are so important and our society has made it seem otherwise for the last several decades. Our society is reaping what we have sown and we have a chance to stop and heal. Will we take this opportunity seriously?

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12 Healthier Alternatives to Screen Time When Kids Are Stuck at Home With No School

YouTube, TikTok, Disney+, Netflix, Nintendo Switch. Despite our best intentions, screen time does tend to creep up when the going gets tough. It’s certainly no shock, right parents? 

They’re feeling under the weather. You’ve got a headache. You are trying (desperately!) to work from home. You’re on a conference call and you NEED them to be quiet for 30 minutes. (And, then there’s what your boss told you needs to be done ASAP after. So add another 45 minutes.)

It’s life in the digital age. But pediatric psychologist Kate Eshleman, PsyD, says thinking outside the box is the best way to minimize the amount of time your kids spend staring at their device of choice. Need some inspiration? Here are her top 12 recommendations for disconnecting without hearing the dreaded, “But I’m soooooo bored!”

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Kathleen Notes: Some really good suggestions,and not just for kids... take a look!

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Who’s Your Hero?

This speaks to the fundamental notion of who our hero is. If I am my own hero and others mistreat or even challenge me, I’m going to be tempted to resent or hate them. How dare they attack me? I’ll be less inclined to respond with grace, empathy, kindness and compassion because I’m going to make it all about me. The danger that so rarely gets talked about is that toxic people tempt us to become toxic when responding to their toxicity. Ambrose, an early church father, warned believers of this over 1600 years ago when he wrote, “He who irritates us and does us an injury is committing sin, and wishes us to become like himself.” If toxic people make us respond in a toxic way, they win.....

....If Jesus is my hero, then when others mistreat me, I don’t have to make it about me, and I can love them in return and walk away without being obsessed with their opinion. Instead of fretting about them, I can meditate on God’s acceptance and affirmation and feel good instead of nasty.

If Jesus is my hero, even when I fail I’m newly grateful for God’s provision in Christ and turn to worship instead of self-loathing. My sin leads me to meditate on the heroic sacrifice of Jesus and the kindness and generosity of God’s forgiveness more than my rottenness. One leads to hope while the other leads to despair.

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Kathleen Notes: Nothing about Jesus or how he responds to us makes sense in human terms, that that is marvelous!

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Need a Summer Vacation With Your Spouse? 8 Ideas

Are you aching for a summer vacation with your spouse? Time away from the kids, work, and home to invest in a little marriage R&R?

Having hunkered down for months, we’ve all seen more of our homes than we’ve probably liked. And I don’t know about you, but having “VACATION” underlined, circled, and written in red on my calendar makes me really happy.

Kind of giddy, actually.

And I’d wager the thought of a romantic getaway with your spouse about now makes you a little (or a lot) giddy too.

Yet options are limited. International travel probably isn’t our best bet. Cruises are questionable. We also might have personal limitations—whether it’s our own or a loved one’s health, job loss, or even lingering social restrictions.

But maybe, with a little creativity, a summer vacation with just you and your love is still possible.

Here are eight ideas for a romantic summer getaway for you to consider. Maybe one will be right up your alley!

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Kathleen Notes: Some great ideas..I like #2 and #4

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How it Feels to Have Emotionally Neglectful Parents

The sad reality is that growing up in an emotionally neglectful family, with your feelings ignored or discounted, has profound effects on how you feel as an adult, the choices you make, and your perceptions of yourself.

The Emotional Neglect you experienced as a child stays with you throughout the decades of your entire life. It hangs over your relationships, holding them back from developing the depth and resilience that you deserve to have.

But there is one relationship that is uniquely influenced by CEN. It’s affected relentlessly, even if silently, from Day One of your life. It’s your relationship with your parents.

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Kathleen Notes: If you have wondered if you might be struggling with Childhood Emotional Neglect, this article might help you to clarify.

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We Need Rituals Now More Than Ever
I believe that we’ve never needed rituals more than we need them right now. I’m not talking about rituals as elaborate religious ceremonies. I’m talking about the quirky ways that you come together as a family, like over a meal....
.....The big thing about rituals is that we feel terrible if they get disrupted. We count on them. Rituals provide an anchor when the seas are rough, and they remind us that we are part of a family when life feels topsy-turvy. Research shows that regular and dependable rituals can help families remain resilient during difficult times.
Rituals are different from routines. Routines help us get done what we have to get done, making sure there is time set aside for working, playing, eating, teeth-brushing, showering, checking social media, and other important activities. Routines give structure to the day, while rituals offer connection and meaning. Routines tell kids what to expect and plan for, while rituals help kids feel at home, feel that they belong.

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Kathleen Notes:...and as humans, we are in a constant search for meaning...

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Handling Boredom: Why It`s Good for Your Child

“Mom, Dad....I’m bored.”

Makes you feel put on the spot, right? You might even feel like you`re a bad parent. Most of us pressured to solve this "problem" right away. We usually respond to our kids’ boredom by providing technological entertainment or structured activities. But that`s actually counter-productive. Children need to encounter and engage with the raw stuff that life is made of: unstructured time.

Why is unstructured time so important for your child`s healthy development?

One of our biggest challenges as adults, and even as teenagers, is learning to manage our time well. So it`s essential for children to have the experience of deciding for themselves how to use periods of unstructured time. 

Maybe even more important, unstructured time gives children the opportunity to explore their inner and outer worlds, which is how they discover who they are. It`s the beginning of creativity; how they learn to engage with themselves and the world, to imagine and invent and create.

So the best response to "I`m bored," is:

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Kathleen Notes: While bored kids can drive parents...well, off their game shall we say...I`m a big fan. Bored kids become creative as long as no one "solves" their problem.

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7 Ways Dads Influence Their Daughters
Fathers have an incalculable impact on their daughters. Most psychologists believe, and I am one of them, that all future romantic relationships are influenced positively or negatively by the way a girl interacts with her dad in the childhood years.

If that is true, then fathers should give careful thought to this responsibility and seek to be what their daughters need of them. There are, I believe, at least seven components to that assignment.
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Kathleen Notes: Dads are irreplaceable and what they do (or don`t do) is so important.

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How to Bond With Your Stepfamily: 5 Tips

Quarantine and blended families don’t mix. At least not in most blended families, especially in the early years. And if you’re wondering how to bond with your stepfamily while you are all home, you might feel … well … stuck.

Members of stepfamilies need space in order to function properly. But a pandemic puts everyone together in confined spaces for weeks on end.

Some kids aren’t able to see their other parent because of travel restrictions or medical safety precautions. The parent who has the kids currently might enjoy the extra time, but to kids, it’s heartbreaking.


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Kathleen Notes: Tough stuff, here`s some help for blended families and really, for any family!

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How to Have Productive, Insightful Conversations: The Vertical Questioning Technique

Have you recently moved and wish you could make new friends?

Do you have lots of acquaintances but want more close friends?

Is it hard for you to make meaningful connections on first dates?

Is your spouse asking you for more emotional closeness or connection?

Did you grow up in a family that avoided meaningful conversation (Childhood Emotional Neglect or CEN) and now it’s hard for you?

Do you dread social gatherings because you struggle to make chitchat with people?

Do you need to socialize or network for your job and find it difficult or unpleasant?

Do you find small talk boring, meaningless, or useless?

— Then this technique is for you!

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Kathleen Notes: A great technique that is actually fairly easy to learn. One note though, it can be a bit intense for some people, especially if they don`t want to or know how to connect with their emotions. That doesn`t mean you shouldn`t use it, just be aware that some folks may need to go slow for a bit.

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4 Habits for More Joy in Marriage
The brain magnet has shown that attachment—specifically, joyful attachment—is the most powerful motivator in life.
No doubt, joy in marriage changes a home.ohn Ortberg says, “Joy is God’s basic character. Joy is His eternal destiny. God is the happiest being in the universe.” Joy, happiness, laughter … those are part of the character of God. How can we bring that joy in marriage?

Nehemiah said to his people, “The joy of the LORD is your strength” (8:10, NIV). The Israelites were in immense tragedy and trial when Nehemiah said this. When you’re in the middle of a valley—and some of you are there right now—you need to know the strength you need actually comes from the joy-center of God.

Joy in marriage can shift a household. I (Ann) feel like in our culture, there’s a storm outside our homes. When our families walk in the door, we have the power to create an atmosphere of joy, love, and the fruit of the Holy Spirit.

The question is: Where do you find joy? In Philippians 4:4 (NIV), Paul said, “Rejoice in the LORD always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” He’s being very specific here. If you want joy, you find it in the Lord.

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Kathleen Notes: Home and marriage can be a refuge from the world and it`s stressors, but we need help from God to really do it right.

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How Childhood Emotional Neglect Makes You Doubt Your Own Memories, Experiences, and Feelings

Miranda is standing in front of the restaurant waiting for her fiancé, Mark, to meet her. 20 minutes go by, followed by 15 more. As she continually checks her phone to see if he has texted, she vaguely remembers this happening the same way about 3 weeks ago but quickly erases this memory from her mind.

Just as it starts to sprinkle, and right when Miranda has completely lost her patience, Mark runs up and taps her on the shoulder. “Sorry, Babe, my meeting ran late at work,” he says casually. “I hope there’s not a big wait for a table,” he says as he grabs her hand and they run through the door of the restaurant.

Miranda has no chance to utter a word of her frustration. As they are seated and start ordering, she hides her anger from Mark. On the outside, she seems fine. On the inside, she is working hard to manage her frustration.

“Mark didn’t seem to think it was a big deal that he was late, so I must be over-reacting,” she tells herself. Over the course of the meal, she successfully manages to bury her feelings under 6 feet of ever-present self-doubt.

In this brief glimpse into Miranda’s life, we see some serious problems. Did you notice them?

  • Miranda abolishes her memory of a previous similar incident from her mind.
  • Miranda gauges her own feelings against Mark’s. His feelings are actually irrelevant in this situation since he’s on the opposite side of the problem.
  • Miranda overrides her own feelings instead of expressing them and giving Mark the chance to understand her. In doing so, she actually dishonors herself. She also deprives Mark of a valuable opportunity to work through it with her and deepen their connection.
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Kathleen Notes: Children (and adults) will ignore behaviors and experiences that challenge their relationship with their parents because it`s so integral to their own self-concept.

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Social distancing destroys our lives as social beings
It is a reminder of the degree to which our social and cultural life and our parliamentary processes, in fact our whole model of work and play, depend on physical proximity to other humans. It is an integral feature of most activities in which we engage and the buildings in which they happen. There is talk of social distancing being required for a long time. Let us be realistic about what this means. Social distancing means the destruction of our life as social beings. For centuries, humans have put up with worse epidemic diseases than this and conserved the things which make humanity wonderful. Will we be the first generation who can’t face it?   ...more

Kathleen Notes: God designed us as social beings, it`s in our DNA. We can`t alter that and expect to be OK. I fear the damage we are doing to people, especially children.

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Setting Limits with Teens and Preteens
It`s frustrating -- and even scary -- when we make an agreement with our child and they don`t keep it.

It`s even more frustrating and scary when we realize the limits of our power as parents. At some point, all children become too big to force them to do things physically. Intimidation stops working. 

But when our frustration gets the better of us and we resort to nagging, yelling, and giving them the cold shoulder by "not engaging," we just drive them further away.

As that barrier grows between us, future cooperation becomes less likely. The young person begins to feel "My parents never understand." Managing the parent by lying becomes more likely.

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Kathleen Notes: Parents, your power is in your relationship with your children.

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5 Ways to Honor Your Stepdad on Father’s Day

My daughters were 3 and 5 years old when I married my husband, Randy, following a messy divorce. The road has been bumpy, with curves and potholes along the way, but the girls will tell you they dearly love and cherish Randy. Though they are now young adults, I still enjoy watching them celebrate their stepdad on Father’s Day.

If you need a few suggestions on how to show appreciation to a stepdad in your life on Father’s Day, or at other times, consider one of their ideas:

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Kathleen Notes: Being a step-parent is a tough gig..,thanks to those Step-dads who have stepped up!

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Learning Relationship Safety Signals to Build a Secure Self

Life is crazy more times than not. Life, and our relationships, are full of uncertain, unknown, confusing moments. How, then, do we adapt to experiences in life that we feel unprepared for? This question comes up in every session I have with clients – and almost every conversation with friends and colleagues.

When you didn’t grow up in a secure environment, something every child should have had but most of us didn’t, then life can be even more complicated.  The research indicates that one in four of us has what we call a secure attachment.  That means, of course, that the rest of us, three of every four of us, do not.

As ominous as that sounds the very good news is that we can actually develop a secure self as we go through life.  In attachment theory, we call that developing an “earned” secure attachment.  We literally use the experiences of our lives to build a secure self inside our body, mind, and heart.  The child researcher, Karlen Lyons-Ruth, describes this as an inner scaffold.

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Kathleen Notes: I really like this article because it addresses the need for attachment as we raise our children but also because it addresses that it can be repaired as adults!

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Teaching Emotional Intelligence When Emotions Run High
When storm clouds brew, even the most well-intentioned parent can get triggered and escalate the upset rather than calm it. But when your child wrestles with the more "difficult" human emotions, he needs your help to learn how to manage them. This is the most important time to teach emotional intelligence -- meaning to help your child develop the abilities to soothe himself, regulate his emotions, and get along with others. Here are six ways to help your child develop a more emotionally intelligent brain, every day.    ...more

Kathleen Notes: Tough to do in the moment when feelings are running high, yet hands-on learning often is the most effective.

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Delicious Difference
Dr. Bud lists double this amount of neuroscience, but since this is just a blog post, not a book (I’m happy to recommend his book if you want to read more), this should be sufficient to make the point that this isn’t about any specific opinion, it’s about the reality of neuroscience. One of Dr. Bud’s students tried to argue (for political and social purposes) that except for our genitals, men and women are identical, to which he responds, “our brains are even more different than the rest of our bodies.”

Understanding this research makes me appreciate marriage as much as it makes me appreciate my wife. There is so much I can learn from my wife as God designed us, to better understand her, to study her and learn from this aspect of her humanity that is simply not natural to me.
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Kathleen Notes: Each spouse brings a different set of thoughts and abilities to the table. Not wrong, not better or worse, just different.

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5 Ways to Improve Father’s Day With Your Emotionally Neglectful Dad

But the world is full of people who have more complex relationships with their dads. If you feel either confused or disappointed about your father, there’s a fairly good chance that it’s because of Childhood Emotional Neglect or CEN.

  • Do you get irritated or snap at your father for apparent no reason?
  • Do you cringe a little inside when you have to talk to your dad?
  • Does being alone with your father make you feel awkward or uncomfortable?
  • Are you uncertain whether your father loves you and/or is proud of you?
  • Do you sometimes feel that your dad doesn’t actually know you very well?
  • Do you look forward to seeing your father, and then often feel vaguely let down or perplexed afterward?

All of these questions are designed to highlight something that is missing from your relationship with your father; something that’s invisible and typically hard to pinpoint, but which is absolutely vital for a healthy father/child relationship.

It’s emotional connection.

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Kathleen Notes: A little late, but such a good article I didn`t want to miss it!

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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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