Welcome to In the Moment Notes
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Hate Hate

If you love your family and your friends and those who agree with you but hate one, two, or ten people who disagree with you, you are, by definition, still a hater. All your love for the others who are like you doesn’t stop you from being a hater. Even if you hate someone because they hate others, you are still a hater. You are joining in their cause. Satan doesn’t really care why you hate. He just wants you to hate. Whether your hatred is based on personal grievance, prejudice, political persuasion, or anything else, you are still, by definition, a person of hate even if you hate just one person.  And that makes you part of the problem, not part of the solution.

If you only hate Republicans or only hate Democrats, you are still a hater. If you only hate whites, or blacks, or men, or women, you still are a hater. No hatred is purer than any other hatred. Arguing that your hatred is justified for any reason is like members of the Ku Klux Klan arguing over who amongst them is most like Christ when their very membership, the cause that joins them, denies and mocks Christ our Creator. None of them are like Christ. There is no holy KKK alliance. And there is no holy hater.

When it comes to people, the only thing we should hate is hate. God wants everyone to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth (1 Tim. 2:4). For me to curse anyone, or wish ill on anyone, is for me to curse God’s plans, desires, and heart for that person. When hate enters my heart, I begin working against God’s will. I am no longer a God follower. I am, by definition, a God resister. Another word for this is antichrist.

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Kathleen Notes: God tells us to love instead of hate. Why? Because He knows how destructive it is to us mentally, emotionally, physically and especially spiritually. Here`s the best part...He enables us to do it with His strength!

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What if all I want is a ‘mediocre’ life?

What if I all I want is a small, slow, simple life? What if I am most happy in the space of in between? Where calm lives. What if I am mediocre and choose to be at peace with that?

The world is such a noisy place. Loud, haranguing voices lecturing me to hustle, to improve, build, strive, yearn, acquire, compete and grasp for more. For bigger and better. Sacrifice sleep for productivity. Strive for excellence. Go big or go home. Have a huge impact in the world. Make your life count.

But what if I just don’t have it in me?

What if all the striving for excellence leaves me sad, worn out, depleted? Drained of joy. Am I simply not enough?

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Kathleen Notes: Great article and very thought provoking. Reminds me of this verse of Scripture: "But godliness with contentment is great gain." 1 Timothy 6:6

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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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Communication Basics

Healthy communication consists of talking and listening. We have to speak clearly and also listen well. Both roles of talking and listening need to be done well for communication to be effective.

This requires the need to fill two distinct roles:

  • The Speaker – What do we want the other person to hear and know?
  • The Listener – What is it the other is trying to share about their experience? 

When working to communicate well, it is best to pick one role and stick to it for time. It can help to separate these roles so that we are not formulating a response when we need to be hearing what is being said. You cannot speak and listen at the same time.

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Kathleen Notes: “If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame” (Proverbs 18:13)

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Verona Area Kids Expo

Verona Area Kids Expo


Saturday, November 3rd 
9am-2pm
Verona Area High School

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Kathleen Notes: Stop by and say hi! In The Moment Child & Family Therapy, LLC will be there with Resurrection Lutheran Church. We`d love to see you!!

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Verona holds third Kids Expo

The Verona Area School District’s third annual Kids Expo presented resources and kid-friendly activities for parents and their pre-kindergarten children Saturday, Nov. 4.

VASD elementary schools, Verona Pre-K and area daycare centers and fitness and enrichment programs set up booths in the Verona Area High School gym with interactive activities for kids and information for parents.

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Kathleen Notes: It was a fun event and a great chance to meet some of the kids and families in the Verona community!

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To Thine Own Self Be Kind: 8 Random Acts of Self-Kindness
Silencing the critical voices within can be a challenge, but it’s one worth taking on—and small acts of kindness toward ourselves can be incredibly transformative. “Self-kindness helps stop the constant flow of negative self-talk, criticism, judgment, and relentless pursuit of perfection that most of us have come to see as normal.

When we treat ourselves with kindness, compassion, and understanding, we feel worthy, nurtured, and secure.  When we provide ourselves with an unconditional environment of safety and security, we free ourselves up to take more risks in service of our potential.”

Simply put, the more gentle and forgiving we are with ourselves, the more likely it is that these positive vibrations will overflow into our interactions with those around us. “When we accept our own imperfections and limitations, we are much more able to have empathy for others’ shortcomings.  This helps us be more accepting and loving in all of our relationships,” says Cohen.

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Kathleen Notes: No one can pour from an empty cup. When you nurture yourself adequately (self-care) you have so much more to give others. Jesus knew when it was tie to pull back and spend time in solitude and prayer.

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7 Habits That May Actually Change the Brain, According to Science
The brain is by far our most precious organ–others are good, too, but they all pale in comparison to the mighty brain. Because the brain works so hard around the clock (even while we’re sleeping), it uses an extraordinary amount of energy, and requires a certain amount of nutritional support to keep it going. It’s high-maintenance, in other words. But there may be misconceptions about what keeps a brain healthy–for instance, there’s little evidence that omega-3 supplements or green smoothies would do anything above and beyond generally good nutrition. So what does science actually tell us can help our brains? Here’s what we know as of now.   ...more

Kathleen Notes: If you knew what to do to give your brain an assist, you`d do it, right? Of course you would!

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Why Hiding Who We Are Hurts Us

The false self develops as an adaptation that protects the individual and makes it possible for the “true self” to go into hiding. Often, the development of the false self is unconscious, and the individual may not be aware that this defense is protecting him (or her) from intolerable feelings. Over time, awareness may develop that the “me” who is acting in the world is “not me.” As these “not me” feelings get stronger, the feelings of being loved, being successful, deserving of recognition, etc., cannot be felt as me, or as the “true self.” It is, after all, “not me” who is loved, admired, or successful. This leaves no room for good self-feelings and frequently results in increased hiding to diminish the risks of being seen and known.

As the individual becomes increasingly aware of the false self adaptation, he (or she) is also aware that he (or she) may not know what will appear when the “true self” begins to emerge. It feels risky to be vulnerable and speak one’s feelings. How the person will be responded to is an unknown. The false self emerged early in development and was successful in protecting the person from intolerable feelings. Now that the false self no longer protects so well, it takes courage to begin to allow the true self to emerge. There are no assurances that the old shaming ways that required the adaptation to a false self won’t be repeated. Jeff’s relating of his early experiences with his parents, his shame, and his negative self-feelings were a brave expression of his “true self.”

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Kathleen Notes: Being your "true" or authentic self is risky, especially if your sense of self is based on the opinions of others. You can`t truly be known (or understood) unless you take that risk.

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Love Love

A person who loves love doesn’t have to worry about being “caught” or overheard. When you act out of love, there’s tremendous peace. If you are “caught” speaking of someone else, it will only bring you closer to the one you are speaking about because you speak only encouragement and blessing.

A person who loves love has tremendous hope. Because you want the best for someone, and because you believe in God, there is never a moment when you “give up” on someone because you would never give up on God. If you want the worst for someone, you are betting against God, hoping that he fails to woo them, win them, and transform them. Pity the person who depends on God failing for them to be satisfied....

.....A person who loves love feels unusually close to God. “God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them” (1 John 4:16). You feel the favor of God, the fellowship of God, and the joy of God in seeing something good happen to and within someone. You align yourself with God and his aims and all the presence of heaven rejoices with you, increasing your own joy and happiness.

Indeed, one of the very best things about being a Christian is being freed from hate by living a life of love: “Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us.” (Eph. 5:1-2)

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Kathleen Notes: The follow up to last week`s lead article. I love a happy ending...

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Joy to the World

“But the angel said to them, ‘Don’t be afraid, for look, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people…’” Luke 2:10

Want to know the absolutely best present you could give your spouse or family for Christmas this year?

You won’t find it on the ubiquitous “12 Best Christmas Gifts for Wives” or “Ten Gifts Your Husband Will Really Love” Internet lists that circulate this time of year.

The best gift you can give to each other and your children is a heart filled with Christ-inspired joy.

In a Christmas Day sermon, Martin Luther proclaimed, “Whoever preaches [Christ] rightly, preaches the Gospel of pure joy.”

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Kathleen Notes: My wish for you this year, that the love and joy of Christ would be yours through faith. A Blessed Christmas to you and your loved ones!

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How Radical Acceptance Can Help You This Holiday Season—and Beyond

Radical acceptance is a concept used in dialectical behavior therapy (Linehan, 1993). It involves learning to accept reality as it is in the present moment. This does not mean we agree with or are happy about what is happening, but through acceptance, we avoid the suffering we would otherwise be subjected to.

A major part of our suffering is due to the negative thoughts we have about ourselves, as well as the situations we encounter in our lives. We may beat ourselves up for behaving in a particular way or believe we should not have to put up with frustrating events. We want to feel that we are able to influence what happens in our lives and we get upset when things don’t go our way or are out of our control. We become angry at the unfairness of the cards that life has dealt us, rather than accepting the reality of what is.

A few examples of situations that might trigger suffering or frustration include:

  • Getting stuck in a traffic jam.
  • Having to wait in a long line at the grocery or department store.
  • A flight being delayed or canceled.
  • Finding out your partner had an affair.
  • Being passed up for a promotion you worked hard for.
  • The death of a loved one.
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Kathleen Notes: What is in your control? What is outside of your control? Difficulties are a part of everyone`s life. Change what you can, accept what you must.

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Love and Wealth are Not Enough

What’s the most important ingredient for a happy life?

Philosophers, clergy, psychologists and researchers of all kinds have offered opinions on this question over the last five decades. Some say wealth, some say religion. Still others say family is the most important thing.

But one factor emerges over and over in study after study as a primary ingredient which must be present in childhood to produce a happy, healthy and well-adjusted adult. That factor is emotional attachment, warmth and care. In a word, love.

This factor was recently studied very specifically by Harvard researchers (Vaillant, 2012) who wanted to compare the effects of childhood financial wealth with childhood warmth. By following over 200 men (yes, only men) over an extended period of 70+ years, they were able to identify clear patterns. They saw that childhood financial wealth has little to do with adult success, satisfaction and adjustment. And that parental warmth and care throughout childhood is a much more powerful contributor.

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Kathleen Notes: The power of attachment. Childhood never really goes away, we carry it with us our entire lives.

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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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Attachment as Defense: How Trauma Shapes the Self
The experience of trauma often shapes our beliefs of self, other, and world. In turn, those beliefs shape our relationships, pervade our families, spread to our communities, and stretch across societies. Our attachment styles and strategies, which can be categorized by individual beliefs about dependency and support in the wake of interpersonal trauma, often correspond to early relational traumas....
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They may further impact a wide range of interactions between self and other:

  • The ways we approach mindfulness
  • How we react to stress
  • The manner in which we identify and pursue our goals
  • How we tend to our own basic needs
  • The way we create or withdraw from conflict in any given setting.
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Kathleen Notes: Secure, avoidant and anxious attachments each have unique responses when trauma is experienced and within relationships. Take a look and see if anything seems familiar.

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Self-Discipline Season has Begun

Almost everyone struggles with some aspect of self-discipline, but never more than during the holidays. After all, from Thanksgiving to mid-January, we see-saw back and forth between over-indulging in treats, and making resolutions to exercise in the New Year.

Then, when we fail to carry it all out as pledged, we kick ourselves when we’re down.

I think that most people see self-discipline as far more complicated than it actually is. When you boil it down, self-discipline is actually composed of only two ingredients:

  1. Stopping ourselves from doing things we want to do, but shouldn’t.
  2. Making ourselves do things we don’t want to do, but should.
Notice anything about those two ingredients? That’s right. They’re skills. Skills, and nothing more.   ...more

Kathleen Notes: Since self-discipline is a skill, it can be learned. It also gets easier with practice.

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Reverse Golden Rule: Treat Yourself as You Would Treat Others
“What the heck is wrong with you?
“You are an idiot.”
“How could you make such a stupid mistake?”

 These may sound like nasty, abusive comments that someone might say to his spouse during a major fight.

Actually, they are typical, everyday comments that many people say to themselves on a regular basis. Many of these people would NEVER say anything that hurtful to their spouse or anyone else.  These are thoughtful, caring people who would not want to hurt another person that way, because they feel compassion for others. The problem is that they do not have that same amount of compassion for themselves.

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Kathleen Notes: Self talk is very important to a person`s sense of self. Can you speak to yourself the way you would to a friend, with understanding and compassion?

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Relationships 7 Small But Significant Habits That Can Improve Your Relationship

Elaborate romantic gestures and effusive Instagram posts aren’t necessary ingredients for a strong, happy relationship.

Rather, it’s the small, simple habits ? like getting enough sleep and kissing hello and goodbye, for example ? that have a major, positive effect over time.

Below, marriage therapists reveal what you can do to make a big difference in your relationship.

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Kathleen Notes: Life is made up of many little things....

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Why Partnership is the Key to a Healthy Marriage (and what to do if you don’t have one!)

You see, I was steeped in the view (thank you, Bill Gothard) that husbands are to reign as demi-gods in their homes while their wives exist to cater to their every desire. I remember thinking these two people were rather liberal. Maybe they didn’t know how marriage was supposed to be done according to the Bible? Their partnership seemed to work for them, and I was only a kid with limited life experience, so I shrugged it off as an anomaly.

Several decades later, I understand why partnership was the key to their healthy marriage relationship. Partnership brings three important things to the table in a relationship.

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Kathleen Notes: God gave each spouse their role as equals...not better or worse, just different.

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Boundaries, Routines and Early Bedtimes: 13 Habits That Raise Well-Adjusted Kids
I keep seeing posts about “entitled kids” making the rounds lately. In fact, you don’t have to look hard before you see things written about how “lazy” and “narcissistic” and “downright terrible” kids are these days.

As a parent of younger kids, you read these articles and feel paralyzed by overwhelm and fear and mixed messages. What exactly is the right thing to do? Where am I going wrong? Should I give up and start a savings account for my kids’ future therapy sessions?....

......Change starts with one parent and one child at a time. You have a beautiful window of opportunity to build the foundation that your child desperately needs but also craves.

The foundation for things like generosity, responsibility, appreciation, warmth, kindness, helpfulness and hard-work ethic all starts during the early years.

Here’s the hard part.

It starts with us — the parents. Kids cannot even think at the maturity level needed to break a behavior cycle, let alone do anything about it. So, as the parents, it has to start with us. The foundation for well-adjusted kids always starts with us.

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Kathleen Notes: Parents: you have tremendous power to help your kiddos to become happy, healthy adults. Don`t be afraid to take charge!

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Explore Anxiety with Mindfulness
Anxiety can range from mild to overwhelming. It can be brought on sporadically by various work or relationship issues or other life experiences. Or it may be a chronic state. You may already have sought assistance from a physician, psychiatrist, or other mental health professional, and you may be taking medications to help manage symptoms. You may have been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, such as generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) or social anxiety disorder (SAD). In general, these diagnoses are made when symptoms become excessive, when anxiety arises with little or no provocation, or when anxiety reactions seem exaggerated in relation to the situations that bring them on.
Anyone who struggles with anxiety can reap benefits from mindfulness and the practices offered here, regardless of diagnosis. If you struggle with anxious thoughts, worry, fearful anticipation of the future, or a sense of dread, mindfulness will be useful for you.
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Kathleen Notes: Mindfulness helps us to stay in the present moment. This in turn enables us to deal only with whatever emotions/events are happening at that time.

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Distress Tolerance and DBT: When You Reach Your Tipping Point, Try TIP

It is my job to push you through your comfort zones so you can grow and transform your life. Sometimes that means asking you to sit with painful emotions, thoughts, and experiences. It is also my job to help you develop the tools to be functional in between sessions. After all, there are many more hours spent outside the therapy room than in it.

It can feel a whole lot easier to sit with pain when there is a trained mental health professional around to help contain the overwhelm, someone to help you practice healthy coping skills so you can regroup and ground yourself. However, your brain keeps working and processing after you leave the therapy room, which means it is likely you will experience reminders, or actual discomfort, in between sessions.

This is one of the reasons I focus on coping skills when I start working with people. I need to know you know what to do during and in between sessions when things start getting uncomfortable.

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Kathleen Notes: TIP is an acronym for a set of distress tolerance skills that anyone can use. Read on to learn more...

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Holiday Parties and Kids: Balancing Needs at Christmas Time
The holidays can be a wonderful time of celebration and fun. But for children, our schedules and parties can quickly become times of over-stimulation and exhaustion. Maybe they are overwhelmed. Maybe they go into overdrive. Maybe the Sweets and Treats catch their stomachs off-guard. How can we help them through family gatherings, making the most of the season for ourselves and for them?...
.....God came to earth to claim us as his children. He has heard our needs and drawn us close. I want to teach my children that the parties are fun, but that hope is found in the reason our families gather together. It is hope that I cling to and hope they will need as they learn. May our holiday parties guide our children to know that are loved and seen and comforted in the midst of a raucous world.
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Kathleen Notes: Let the "gauntlet of fun" begin!! Feel free to back away from all of the busyness...you and your kids will benefit.

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Are you just "soldiering" on... doing what needs to be done?

We have all been there. What you’re currently going through is a phase I call soldiering.

Before I dive into this, I want you to know that soldiering is not something negative.  

There’s strength in keeping that steady momentum in order to get necessary things accomplished and/or help others around you. This oftentimes means sacrificing some of the things you want to be doing or putting yourself second for a period of time.

And that’s okay.

It’s okay because as you’re soldiering on, going with the ebb and flow of life, you know that this stage will not last forever. You know that your strength, your perseverance is what will carry you and others around you to a new chapter. You know that there will be a period of time when all of this will be over.

As you’re soldiering, as hard as this may be at times, I want you to keep these 3 thoughts in your back pocket:

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Kathleen Notes: All people have times in their lives when they are just hanging in there and doing what needs to be done, even if it`s hard. Like all seasons, this too shall pass....

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The Difference of 17 Seconds – a quick way to reduce anxiety
I really didn’t want to admit I was an interrupter. Then I read in The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts the that the average person doesn’t go more than seventeen seconds before interrupting the person talking.

Seventeen measly seconds? Really? I certainly wasn’t that bad. . . .

I decided to find out. I started by trying out waiting seventeen seconds during conversations with my husband and my kids, counting silently to seventeen before speaking my thoughts . . . and oh dear. I was shocked at how often I was ready to interrupt during that first seven seconds, let alone seventeen seconds. I discovered that frequently when I think one of my family members is done talking, he or she is actually just taking a breath or needing time to think before answering.

Encouraged by how powerful this pause was in conversations, I began to use seventeen seconds as a waiting time when I saw one of my kids struggle. Resisting the urge to jump in to fix something or give a suggestion, I waited. How could it be that in only seventeen seconds so much could happen?

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Kathleen Notes: Wow...who`d have guessed? I`m going to pay more attention to my own interrupting for sure!!

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Secret financial escape plan for domestic violence victims

If you`re a domestic violence victim, you may still be living with your abuser for a simple reason: money.

It`s common for abusers to keep victims in the dark about household finances and to limit access to bank accounts, victims` advocates say. Your abuser may force you to stay on a strict budget and account for every penny you spend. If you work, the abuser may make you turn over your paycheck immediately.

"Abusers use finances as way to gain and maintain power and control over their partner," says Amanda Stylianou, associate vice president of quality and program development at Safe Horizon, a domestic violence victims` advocacy agency. "We even see situations where the abuser may be doing things to purposely hurt the victim`s credit, like opening credit cards in her name and running them up."

If you can become more financially independent and establish a credit history while you`re still living with your abuser, that can help give you the confidence and security you need to escape, Stylianou says. But it`s important to do it carefully, without raising flags for your abuser or putting your safety at risk.  

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Kathleen Notes: Domestic violence is all about power and control: physical, psychological, emotional and often, financial.

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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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Raising children near their grandparents has scientific benefits (besides the free babysitting!)

There is something incredibly special about the bond between grandparents and grandchildren, and it`s so much deeper than fresh cookies and free babysitting.

It`s not always easy, and it can sometimes make for long road trips, but when we foster a positive relationship with their grandparents, our kids benefit. It`s often said that grandparents are prone to babying the next generation, but all that extra love doesn`t make them soft—it makes them strong.

Here are five reasons why a close bond with one`s grandparents is an amazing gift:

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Kathleen Notes: Grandchildren are truly a blessing and it would appear that being an involved grandparent is too! When a close and loving relationship is formed, everyone benefits.

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The Insidious Connection Between Electronics Use and Childhood Emotional Neglect

Let’s face it, the internet is a marvelous thing. If you aren’t old enough to remember what it was like before we had it, I’m sure you are nevertheless aware of the great advantages the internet has brought to the world.

But, as we all know, the internet has a dark side. In fact, it can become a burden for many families in some very important ways.

Most parents are aware of the risks of child predators and the problems caused by reduced physical activity in children that the internet can cause. But there is one major danger that few parents consider.

The internet is a significant contributor to Childhood Emotional Neglect or CEN.

If left unchecked, the internet can come between you and your children and cause significant problems that the children will take forward into their adult lives.

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Kathleen Notes: Technology can often get in the way of communication and connection between people. For a child that can mean a loss of social and emotional development that will impact them in all aspects of their lives.

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It’s Easier to Raise Entitled Kids—But We All End Up Paying For It

As I buckled that tiny toddler into her carseat, I went on a mom-tirade that would put Tami Taylor to shame. I preached about “saying thank you for one instead of throwing a fit for two” and “do you think that makes me want to do nice things for you” and “I’m still waiting to hear a thank you.” Ask me how well that went.

That freshly-turned-two-year-old cried until we got home. Eventually, she said thank you, but I’m pretty sure she didn’t know what she was saying thank you for.

It was not one of my best parenting moments to date. But I was so hell-bent on not raising an ungrateful child that I saw a “teachable moment” and got a little too enthusiastic.

As a former teacher, I had just seen too much. I was still recovering from the ingratitude and entitlement I had seen in the kids I’d taught and had thus sworn that One day, when I have kids . . .

Then I had kids. Now I see how easy it is to just let entitlement happen. It’s what comes naturally – both to us and to them. Fighting against it is gritty work, while letting it go requires a lot less effort. So we do. We let it go. And we accidentally raise brats.

So here are five ways you might (unwittingly) be raising entitled kids:



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Kathleen Notes: As important as awareness is to solving this problem, it`s not enough. To help kids to handle those big emotions (and they are just as big as ours, make no mistake!) we have to learn how to attune to the feelings. Only then can we help them to learn how to handle their emotions in healthy ways.

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12 Secrets to Teaching Your Child How to Manage Their Emotions
Giving children coping skills for their emotions is one of the most important tasks of parenting. Children lacking these tools may blame others for how they feel or demonstrate how they’re feeling in inappropriate ways. If a child has no words to verbalize their intense emotions, they’re at risk for being emotionally stunted for the rest of their lives. Emotionally arrested adults lack the ability to self-soothe when they’re upset, or to delay lashing out on an impulse.....
.....Be kind to yourself if you don’t make the most of every opportunity to teach your child about emotions. You will have many chances before they grow up and leave the home. If you handled a situation poorly, apologize and then model forgiving yourself. How you handle your emotions will be your child’s most influential guide.
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Kathleen Notes: Parents do the best they can with the tools they have. Learning to attune and validate your own emotions helps you to attune to others (children, spouse, etc.). Children count on their parents to teach them this skill.

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The Enemy of Your Marriage

Take a moment to read it again—as if for the first time, as if newly in love, with wonderment.

Then the LORD God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” . . .

So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man.

Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.”

Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed. (Genesis 2:18–25)...

.....It is all stunningly good, beautiful, pure, and right. And they all lived happily ever after. The End.

Oh, that it were so.

Next verse: Now the serpent … (Genesis 3:1).

That phrase jolted me in my reading. So abrupt. So disruptive, falling as it does in the midst of such ecstasy. I ended up parked in this passage for the next several hours, meditating on the progression, contemplating its implications for my own life and marriage.

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Kathleen Notes: Fortunately for us, the Enemy is no match for our God....

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Attention Deficit Disorders Could Stem from Impaired Brain Coordination

Researchers from Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and colleagues have discovered how two brain regions work together to maintain attention, and how discordance between the regions could lead to attention deficit disorders, including schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and major depression.

People with attention deficits have difficulty focusing and often display compulsive behavior. The new study suggests these symptoms could be due to dysfunction in a gene—ErbB4—that helps different brain regions communicate. The gene is a known risk factor for psychiatric disorders, and is required to maintain healthy neurotransmitter levels in the brain.

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Kathleen Notes: ADHD effects both children and adults. This article details some new research to help explain some of what goes on in the ADHD brain.

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We`re Forgetting About Our Boys & That’s Not Okay
Article after article is about our daughters and how dire it is for us to raise them to be strong, self-sufficient, and capable.
How crucial it is that they are encouraged to use their voice, own and tell their story, and never cower in the face of a man -- one or many....
.....

And when I do come across an essay on raising sons, it’s about how and why we need to raise our boys with particular values for the sake of the females and daughters of the world.

This is something I’m not entirely on board with.

Yes, I’m a happy passenger on the train that drives our children to the destination off being “good” human beings, but I don’t agree with the idea that we should be raising our boys (because in a collective sense, children of the world belong to all of us) a certain way for the benefit of the females of the world.
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Kathleen Notes: As the mother of 3 daughters, a step daughter and daughter-in-law, plus 2 granddaughters I am very invested in their being able to realize their full potentials in life. But...we don`t elevate women by ignoring or debasing men....said the woman with a step-son, 3 sons-in-law and 4 grandsons.

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9 Ways Childhood Emotional Neglect Makes Your Holidays More Difficult

First of all, I apologize for the picture you see above. Why? Because it is emblematic of the pressure society puts on everyone throughout the holiday season. Commercials, ads, and depictions abound which show warm, happy families or beautiful people smiling with gifts.

Be joyous!

Be merry!

We’re a loving, close family!

The pictures call out to us day after day.

As a specialist in Childhood Emotional Neglect (CEN), I see how this affects many people. There is no time of year when folks are under this much pressure to feel.

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Kathleen Notes: I think this is often difficult even if CEN isn`t a big player for you. For people with CEN, the difficulty is often knowing what the feeling is and is that feeling OK? Hint...whatever you feel is always OK, in fact it`s God`s way of helping you to navigate life.

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When Childhood Emotional Neglect is Combined With Abuse: 3 Effects on Your Adult Life

In the 1980s, the true impact of abuse on children was finally recognized and defined. And since that time, the progress in understanding child abuse has been both significant and rapid.

But still, until recently, childhood emotional abuse and emotional neglect were combined in the minds of laypeople and mental health professionals alike. In fact, it was almost a catchphrase in research articles, books and professional writings, “Emotional abuse and neglect.”

Finally, since the publication of the first book that described the unique effects of pure Childhood Emotional Neglect (Running On Empty, in 2012), Emotional Neglect is, at last, being seen and defined separately from abuse.

I have spent the last 6 years working to help people understand the differences between neglect and abuse, and to see neglect as a unique entity that can happen on its own, and has separate effects from abuse. But in this article, I am going to take a step in the other direction, so that we can address another very important question.

Emotional abuse and Emotional Neglect have separate effects on the child throughout his or her adult life. So what are the effects on you if you grow up in a household where both emotional abuse and emotional neglect are happening?

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Kathleen Notes: Both abuse and neglect are forms of trauma, combined they are a more complex form of trauma. As a profession, counselors are beginning to finally understand and address this. More education is needed by everyone in all stations of life if we are to be effective.

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Own the Inner Child: Breaking Free of Anxious Attachment

There’s some part in all of us that yearns to belong. This is our safety, our security. It means we can relax, that others are there to hold us, cherish us, praise us, and keep guard when we cannot. It means we matter.

When we’ve experienced a single relational disconnection, we generally recover. When it becomes a pattern—when someone who is “supposed to be there” for us finds ways to disengage or disappear on a daily basis—recovery feels intangible and unattainable. We make decisions about the self, saying, “I’m not wanted. I must be flawed.”

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Kathleen Notes: This is foundational to Childhood Emotional Neglect (CEN). Fortunately, our Heavenly Father is always there for us.

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Why Afternoon Naps Are A Sign Of Health, Not Laziness

If you’re like most people, you probably find it harder and harder to get through your days without indulging in a short nap. Perhaps you like to take them in the afternoon, or whenever you find the time in between your busy schedule. No matter when you nap, it probably seems like the naps choose you rather than you choosing them.

You might actually feel guilty for needing so much sleep. You probably even call yourself lazy for taking time to rest throughout the day. Perhaps you’ve thought about exercising or changing your diet to try to improve your activity levels. But the truth is that you shouldn’t feel guilty about these naps at all....

.....If you do research on why naps are so essential to our lives, you’ll find a lot of information. Even The National Sleep Foundation recommends that we take 20 to 30-minute naps during the day in order to improve our alertness and reach our peak performance.

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Kathleen Notes: Finally! Validation for one of my favorite indulgences. I`ve always felt like naps were highly civilized...

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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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What Is Your Therapist Listening For?
Advice is cheap.

Advice puts the onus on the listener and not the speaker.

Advice is often a quick fix—a mere Band-Aid on a wound that needs more persistent care.

I can usually detect someone’s frustration when, as their therapist, I pointedly do not offer advice. One of the skills therapists learn early in their training is one of the hardest, for both the therapist and the person in therapy: sitting in silence. But drawing out more information from people is a psychotherapist’s most useful tool. After all, your therapist is a trained listener, not advice-giver.

That does not mean your therapist is merely looking at you and listening while you talk. Any skilled therapist will be listening acutely for specific signals, which they then use to guide the direction of the conversation over time.

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Kathleen Notes: In my opinion (backed up by lots of research!) is that the power of therapy lies in the therapeutic relationship. For many people, counseling is one of the few times in their lives when someone has truly listened and accepted them unconditionally.

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Emotional Connection: The Secret to Lasting Love

Many couples come in for counseling because they have become emotionally disconnected. This doesn’t just happen; it’s typically a gradual process. For many couples, it may take years before they recognize that they have become emotionally disconnected.

Many reasons exist for emotional disconnection. Attachment theory sheds light on how some couples may disconnect. It teaches us that our loved one should be a source of comfort, security, and refuge. When our partner becomes emotionally disconnected or unresponsive, we can be left feeling lonely, sad, hurt, and even helpless.

When we feel emotionally disconnected, our sense of security can feel like it is in jeopardy, causing us to feel fearful. The amygdala, the almond-shaped region in our midbrain, acts as a built-in alarm system. It triggers an automatic response when a threat occurs. When we feel disconnected, alone, and afraid, it can feel threatening. The amygdala responds and a sense of panic can set in.

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Kathleen Notes: Feelings of being emotionally disconnected is what is underneath many arguments that couples have.

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Scientists Have Mapped Where People Feel Emotions in Their Bodies
Feelings are a funny thing. Love and heartache both happen inside your head, but they`re felt in very different places. On the flipside, excitement and fear are two very different emotions, but they feel nearly identical. To make things even more complicated, feelings are subjective — it`s hard to know if other people feel things the same way you do. That`s why this new study from a team of Finnish researchers is so fascinating: They`ve mapped emotions to where most people feel them in their own bodies. It turns out that most of us feel our emotions in similar places.....
.....Some of the locations were unsurprising: hunger was felt in the stomach, thirst in the throat, reasoning and recollection in the head. But others were more surprising, even if they made sense intuitively. The positive emotions of gratefulness and togetherness and the negative emotions of guilt and despair all looked remarkably similar, with feelings mapped primarily in the heart, followed by the head and stomach. Mania and exhaustion, another two opposing emotions, were both felt all over the body. "Self-regulation," which you might not expect to be associated with a sensation, was felt in the head and hands — perhaps because controlling your impulses often comes down to controlling what your hands do.
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Kathleen Notes: Compelling evidence of the mind-body connection and how we experience our emotions in our bodies. Awesome stuff for brain geeks like me....

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Two Lessons on Blame from Brené Brown
Blame releases discomfort and pain: We often try to fault others for our mistakes because it makes us feel like we’re still in control. “I’d rather it be my fault than no one’s fault,” says Brown. But leaning into the discomfort of mistakes is how we can learn from them. “Here’s what we know from the research,” says Brown, “blame is simply the discharging of discomfort and pain. It has an inverse relationship with accountability. Blaming is a way that we discharge anger.”
Blame is faster than accountability: Accountability is a vulnerable process that takes courage and time. “It means me calling you and saying, hey my feelings were really hurt about this, and talking,” says Brown. People who blame a lot seldom have the tenacity and grit needed to hold people accountable. “Blamers spend all of our energy raging for 15 seconds and figuring out whose fault something is,” adds Brown. It’s difficult to maintain relationships when you’re a blamer, because when something goes wrong, we’re too busy making connections as quickly as we can about whose fault it is, instead of slowing down, listening, and leaving enough space for empathy to arise.
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Kathleen Notes: My clients know how I like all things Brene Brown. This article comes with a bonus, check it out.

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5 Mindful Tips for Navigating Holiday Stress

It is officially the holiday season! During this time of year there can be so much pressure that unfortunately the joy, magic, and meaning of the season is lost, often replaced by stress. Especially now that Thanksgiving has come and gone, it is hard to ignore the almost instantaneous rush of frenetic energy that ensues as we near the close of the calendar year.

It is more than possible though to not only survive the holiday season, but to even thrive and connect to your particular observance in a deeper and more profound way. Here are some common stressors that pop up this time this year, and mindful antidotes to help you through the discomfort.

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Kathleen Notes: Many things can cause stress this time of the year. Check out this article for ideas to better manage it.

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Why Vulnerability is Your Superpower
When in truth, they’re the exact same thing, like caring what everyone thinks and not carrying what anyone thinks are both super problematic. I mean when you care about what everyone thinks, you lose the willingness to be vulnerable and to put yourself out there. When you stop caring about what anyone thinks at all, you lose your capacity for connection because we’re hardwired neurobiologically to care about what people think. Our job becomes to get specific on whose opinions matter and find the people who love you, not despite your vulnerability, not despite your imperfection, but because of it.

Find the people who will say, “You know what, you’re right, the way you showed up and that meeting sucked, it was inappropriate, out of your integrity, you got to clean it up and I’ll be here supporting you while you do that and I’ll be supporting you again when you’re brave again, but right now …” Not yes people, but real people whose opinions of you matter and carry it with you, so when you’re trying to hack into the back end of Amazon to see who left a shitty comment about your book, you think to yourself, “You know what, you’re not on my list, think what you want, I’ve got my list of people whose opinions matter.”
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Kathleen Notes: ....love this...

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Most people are bad at arguing. These 2 techniques will make you better.

Anyone who has argued with an opinionated relative or friend about immigration or gun control knows it is often impossible to sway someone with strong views.

That’s in part because our brains work hard to ensure the integrity of our worldview: We seek out information to confirm what we already know, and are dismissive or avoidant of facts that are hostile to our core beliefs.

But it’s not impossible to make your argument stick. And there’s been some good scientific work on this. Here are two strategies that, based on the evidence, seem promising.

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Kathleen Notes: Part of being effective in getting your point across is realizing that the other person has an equally valid opinion and showing your respect for them. Only then can you make your facts relevant.

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The First 10 Years: How Two Broken People Kept Their Marriage from Breaking

We honeymooned in Mexico at an all-inclusive resort that some would call a perfect vacation destination. We giggled as the electronically piped-in sounds of “nature” accompanied us along resort trails and decided over a game of 500 Rummy that we’d stick to freshwater lakes and mosquitoes. We returned to the US and settled into our first home in the Northwoods of Michigan.

That winter, we found out who we’d actually married.

I, the neat freak, germ phobic, private, independent woman did not exactly mesh with you, the relaxed, messy, forgetful boy whose mama cooked and laundered and cleaned up after him until the day we married.

Are you going to help me fold these towels?

You had been under the impression that a wife was a maid, and marriage a lifelong sex-fest.

I had been under the impression that a husband was someone who unclogged drains, and marriage meant someone else would help pay the bills for the clothes I wanted to buy and trips I wanted to take.

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Kathleen Notes: Great article about expectations in marriage and how to find the realistic ones.

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Establishing Your Family’s Own Christmas Traditions

The thought expressed by the song “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” is as likely to give someone a knot in the stomach as a longing in the heart. The issue of how to handle family expectations for holiday gatherings probably came up early in your marriage, if not before. Where and how you celebrate may cause culture shock.

Barbara and I had to deal with this because both families have wonderful holiday traditions. We adopted a common solution; one year we celebrated Christmas with Barbara’s family, then went later to my folks. Next year, the schedule reversed.

But during my first Christmas visit to Barbara’s family, I was shocked that they did not open presents in the “correct” way! To me, the orthodox approach was for one person at a time to open a gift. Everyone focused on the person receiving the present and smiled when the gift was opened; the recipient dutifully looked surprised and pleased, and then came the next person’s turn. At Barbara’s house, they distributed all the presents, and then chaos erupted. The race was on to see who could open presents first. I thought, This isn’t right!

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Kathleen Notes: When you marry, you form a completely new family. While loving and honoring the families that you both came from, it`s time to focus on your own family. The adjustment can be tough at first, but necessary and worth it!

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How Self-Care Can Turn a Good Marriage to a Great One

Jesus, the Good Shepherd, offers an enriching life that He wants you to experience: "I came that they may have life and have it abundantly" (John 10:10, emphasis added). An abundant life isn`t a bonus: It`s an essential part of the Christian life.

If we as Christians are neglecting ourselves, it`s like driving a car but never doing repairs on the vehicle. Cars need regular maintenance. Similarly, God designed people to need care emotionally, physically, mentally and spiritually.

Many of us don`t understand how to care for ourselves. Instead we cling to behaviors and patterns that wear us down.

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Kathleen Notes: As always, you cannot give what you don`t have. Self-care is vital in relationships of all kinds.

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Delaying School May Protect Against Developmental Disorders

I was my son’s age when I started school, which at four and a half years old, made me one of the youngest kids in my class.

Luckily, I was a child of the ‘80’s when kindergarten wasn’t the new first grade and the academic pressures on kids were dwarfed by modern standards.

But, times have changed. We’ve moved on and become more sophisticated. Modern kids, it seems, are more advanced. They can read and write and add and subtract at younger ages than ever before, with one friend telling me recently that second graders are mastering computer coding. Seriously?....

...A 2015 study titled, The Gift of Time? Starting School Age and Mental Health found strong evidence that delaying kindergarten by one year provides mental health benefits to children, allowing them to better self-regulate their attention and hyperactivity levels when they do start school. The effect was long-lasting, virtually eliminating the probability that an average eleven-year-old child would have an ‘abnormal’, or higher-than-normal rating for inattentive-hyperactive behavioral measures.

This is powerful information, yet public education policies in western nations fail to evolve.

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Kathleen Notes: Amen! Children need time to develop on their schedule, not according to the schedule of whatever school they might attend.

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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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What Everyone Should Know About Emotional Affairs

As a couple’s therapist, I’ve worked with many people whose marriages are threatened by an affair. When it comes to affairs, there are two types: sexual and emotional. In my experience, these two types of affairs are different, and happen in different kinds of relationships.

While sexual affairs are often born of anger, emotional affairs are frequently a result of loneliness.

Before we go on to talk about emotional affairs, one large caveat: none of the reasons I’ll talk about in this article are meant to excuse or justify affairs in any way.

Always, without exception, the healthiest way to deal with marriage problems of any kind is directly with one’s spouse, not going outside the relationship.   ...more

Kathleen Notes: When a marriage struggles, an emotional affair is frighteningly easy to fall into. God created us to be relational. When our most important relationship doesn`t provide the connectiveness we seek it`s a danger to be aware of. Counseling can help a couple to reconnect.

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Challenging the Myths of Talking to Your Kids About Sex

If Christian parents are not talking about God`s design for sex, where will our children learn God`s truth? There are a number of myths or excuses out there that we accept as true that keep parents from talking honestly to their kids about sex.

We don`t talk about sex. 

Our culture talks about sex all the time and just not from a Christian point of view. Traditionally, sex talk has been taboo within our Christian circles. We don`t talk about it much at church or at home. But, if Christians are not talking about sex, we are giving the world the opportunity to fill in the gaps and to educate our children for us. Our schools may offer a onetime lecture, but the majority of the education our children receive should come from their parents. But parents are often shy about discussing sexuality. We may be unsure about how to broach the topic, so we need to see the need and develop some confidence in sharing God`s story about sexuality.

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Kathleen Notes: If we don`t teach our children, the world will. I`d rather they learn from someone who loves them and loves the Lord.

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You Can’t Change Others, but You Can Change Your Seat

Many of us have relatives who make us feel really bad, who don’t respect us, who we wouldn’t even talk to if they weren’t our cousins or sisters or whatever. Of course, you’ll meet one another at various family affairs, and you have to be polite, but how do you stand it? An afternoon with some people can make you ready to hide under your bed and never come out, you feel so terrible about yourself.

Notice I said, “You feel so terrible about yourself.” You feel terrible because of the nasty way they have treated you. They, the aggressors, are the ones who should feel terrible. Why take their nastiness inside? It doesn’t belong to you, after all; it belongs to the person giving it to you. Don’t pick it up. Don’t own it.

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Kathleen Notes: My clients hear this all of the time..."you can`t change anyone else, just yourself." But....how you respond can certainly influence others and in the meanwhile you are taking care of a very important person...you.

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4 Things You Should Never Ever Do in Marriage

That quote has relevance to marriage as well. In marriage, there will be times when you “step on each other’s toes,” so to speak. But the really hurtful moments happen when you “step on each other’s hearts” and wound your spouse on an emotional level. There are times when one spouse might intentionally try to hurt the other, but I’m convinced that many of the most damaging wounds in marriage are inflicted unintentionally.

I’m convinced that there are times when we step on our spouses’ hearts and hurt their feelings or damage their trust without even realizing that we’re doing it. Most of us have blind spots that lead to unnecessary pain and conflict in the marriage.

If you want to protect your spouse’s heart, prevent unnecessary conflict and keep a solid foundation of trust in your marriage, then please DON’T do the following four things. You’ll unintentionally hurt your spouse every time you…

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Kathleen Notes: An eye opening list...I confess that I`m guilty of each of these from time to time......

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One of the Most Important Things Our Teens Need From Us – What, Why, and How to Give it To Them

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Kathleen Notes: Love and support coupled with responsibility and the freedom to fail.....a delicate balance but do-able!

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5 Fundamental Relationship Rules From an Expert Marriage Counselor
Don’t judge or criticize your partner. These negative relationship behaviors are some of the most destructive. When you criticize your partner, they feel a sense of disapproval which puts them on the defense. They take in the message, “I’m flawed and need fixing” or “my partner doesn’t accept me.” No spouse wants to feel inadequate or not good enough and constant judgment or criticism portray that. Stay away from blanket statements like “you always” or “you never” or the instinct to scoff at your significant other’s new idea. Instead, state your needs using “I” statements (“I feel like you’ve been neglecting me when you don’t come home as promised”) and show support (“I love that idea! You can do it. I’m behind you.”) We all want to feel like our partner has our back and is on our side....
.....Listen to Understand. We often approach conflict right out of the gate with guns blazing. Unfortunately, this tactic leaves us feeling more at odds and hopeless as ever, especially if our partners fire back. Understanding must precede advice. Seek to listen first with empathy. See where they’re coming from even if you don’t agree. Common ground can’t be obtained without first seeing the situation from your spouse’s perspective. As you listen, refrain from building more ammunition for your difference of opinion. You end up hearing less of what they are feeling and instead, counter attack.
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Kathleen Notes:...and many more! Check out the article!

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Dear Dad: “You Need to Love Your Wife as You Want Your Daughter to Be Loved”

Besides the one with our Heavenly Father himself, there’s hardly a relationship that can compare with that of a father and daughter. For so many, the way a father interacts with his daughter is the representation that a young lady holds of her relationship with God for the duration of her life.

Even more important to note, little eyes are always watching and soaking up more than most of us as busy adults can imagine.

She watches the way you hold her mom’s hand, the way you kiss her good night, and the way you speak to her with words of love, respect, and adoration.
Daddies are often protective of who their daughters will date and how they will be treated — but with a world spewing all sorts of distortions of love at them, there’s no way to better represent the way she deserves to be treated than by serving your wife well.
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Kathleen Notes: Never say/do anything to your daughter that you wouldn`t like to hear/see her husband do to her someday.

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Uncomfortable Truths About the ADHD Nervous System

Most people with ADHD have always known they are different. They were told by parents, teachers, employers, spouses, and friends that they did not fit the common mold and that they had better shape up in a hurry if they wanted to make something of themselves.

As if they were immigrants, they were told to assimilate into the dominant culture and become like everyone else. Unfortunately, no one told them how to do this. No one revealed the bigger secret: It couldn’t be done, no matter how hard they tried. The only outcome would be failure, made worse by the accusation that they will never succeed because ADHD in adults means they don’t try hard enough or long enough.

It seems odd to call a condition a disorder when the condition comes with so many positive features. People with an ADHD-style nervous system tend to be great problem-solvers. They wade into problems that have stumped everyone else and jump to the answer. They are affable, likable people with a sense of humor. They have what Paul Wender called “relentless determination.” When they get hooked on a challenge, they tackle it with one approach after another until they master the problem — and they may lose interest entirely when it is no longer a challenge.

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Kathleen Notes: I don`t see ADHD as a disorder but a different way of thinking and experiencing the world. However, it often runs afoul of how the rest of the world works. Learning more is really helpful in figuring out how to thrive.

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Stress and Emotional Eating: Exploring Our Relationship with Food
For many of us, stress is a fundamental part of life. Perhaps we tend to overextend ourselves with work, social commitments, and our personal lives. Or maybe we never turn off our many devices, which can prevent us from being able to simply relax and enjoy each moment. As a result of this overstimulation, we often end up seeking out ways to self-soothe.

Food can be a source of comfort for many people. And while emotional eating can help us feel good in the moment, it can often have negative effects over time.

How can we know if we have an unhealthy relationship with food? Signs that indicate emotional eating may be having a negative impact can include:

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Kathleen Notes: Holidays + stress and busyness = emotional eating.

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The First Step to Getting Out of Survival Mode – I Had to Let Go of the Fantasy

I kept looking for the perfect solution to things like sleep, tantrums, eating . . . Each time I thought I had it figured out though, things would change, my kids would hit a new stage, and I’d be back to searching for another solution.

One day, I realized I was spending most of my time in survival mode, not enjoying the moment, enduring my kids rather than noticing them, and anxious the whole time that I was screwing it all up. I was worried I’d be filled with regret later if I couldn’t stop feeling so frantic and exhausted.

I needed a starting place to change how I was feeling. I didn’t want to spend their entire childhood in survival mode.

I thought about the brightest moments in my own childhood—they were often simple, like my mom teaching me to shuffle cards, or my dad teaching me to whistle with a blade of grass. I thought about the most treasured moments in our family life. Many of them were just as simple, and yet nothing like I thought they would be.

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Kathleen Notes: Oh goodness...I think almost all parents start out with a fantasy of who they will be as parents and with "fantasy children." The real ones are so much more interesting!

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Want Your Children to Be Great Adults? Don’t Teach Them Self-Esteem—Teach Them This

Since the 1980s, parents have been told by child psychologists, doctors, and other parenting experts that self-esteem is KEY to raising a successful child. But after about 30 years of everyone thinking they’re the best at everything because mom said so (and because they got a trophy for showing up), professionals are changing their tune. Desperate to raise kids who would become responsible, functional adults, and not liking what she was seeing in her four kids at home, mom Heidi Landes went on a search to find out what she was missing.

“How am I going to get them to college, when I can’t even get them out the door with two shoes on?” she asked herself....

.....So what should our kids be taught instead? Not self-ESTEEM, but self-CONTROL.

Why? Well, because studies have shown that kids who are taught to have self-control will grow up to be adults who are less likely to have drug and alcohol problems, commit a crime, or struggle financially. They go on to become adults who are more likely to be in good health, earn more and save more money, volunteer and give to charity, and be satisfied with their lives.

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Kathleen Notes: So happy to share this article, I`ve been "preaching" this point for decades! The foundation of good self-esteem is self-efficacy. Knowing that you have the ability to handle life`s struggles (because you have been able to previously) lends "waypower" to willpower.

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Continuing the Date

I remember fondly the period of dating my wife. I remember going to pick her up and stopping at the store to pick up flowers. I would swing by the coffee shop and buy her a gift card because she loved their drinks. One day she came down with a nasty cold that put a stop to our plans for the day. But it did not stop me from seeing her or spending time with her. I stopped by the store and picked up chicken soup, soda, crackers, and tissue, and I hung out with her at her house. 

It is not unusual to show affection and appreciation towards someone we care about during those dating years of getting to know one another. The relationship is new and interesting and we are eager to spend time and get to know one another. We desire to show the other person that we sincerely care for them. We desire to help when they are in need, show love when we can, and make them feel good throughout it all. So what happens when we get married and the newness of the relationship wears off? Why do some of those loving dating behaviors seem to fall to the wayside?

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Kathleen Notes: Date night doesn`t have to be pricey...embrace cheap fun!

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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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Seven Steps to Speak Your Uncomfortable Truth
From time to time, we all find ourselves in a tough spot. Something looks wrong or feels wrong, and we need to say something difficult. Something painful that may hurt someone we care about, but which nevertheless must be said....
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Many people in these situations choose the last option. Sometimes it feels easier and kinder. Unfortunately, that is typically the worst choice. Uncomfortable truths seldom disappear on their own. And they have far more power to hurt when they remain unspoken.

If you grew up in a family that discouraged frank discussion, emotional expression, or honest discourse (this is Childhood Emotional Neglect, or CEN), having a conversation like this may feel simply wrong to you. And even if you do decide to speak your truth, you may not have been able to learn the emotion skills you need to do it right.

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Kathleen Notes: Difficult emotions become easier to handle when spoken about. It`s when we wall them off that they get bigger...and uglier.

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Here’s Why ‘Repair Attempts’ Are Even More Powerful Than Saying ‘I’m Sorry’

In romantic relationships, "I`m sorry" is often a dramatic event that takes place at the end of a long and painful journey—after a fight where we can`t take back the hurtful things we said, after weeks or even months of withdrawing from our partner emotionally, or after just one snide comment. But it`s doesn`t have to be that way. This is where "repair attempts" come in. A way to mediate regret and hurt, this might be your best strategy for healthy conflict.

By the time you say ‘I’m sorry,’ the damage is already done.

Happy couples have to say "I`m sorry," and they say it a lot. But instead of saying it after the damage has been done, happy couples say it to prevent the relationship disaster in the first place.

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Kathleen Notes: It`s worth the effort to show your spouse that you really mean that apology and are willing to put some effort into making things better.

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Life Skills: Teaching Children Empathy

“Love one another, as I have loved you”

Parents spend much time and energy teaching children social skills for living. We teach them manners, to say “please” and “thank you.” We teach them hygiene, to brush their teeth and wash their hands. We teach them diligence, to do their homework, to do their chores. We teach them skills, to tie their shoes, to drive a car, to dress for a job interview. Throughout their lives, we are modeling and teaching countless techniques as building blocks of life. 

A skill everyone needs

Yet there is one skill that is necessary in every phase and every situation in human life, yet parents often overlook it or are unsure of how to teach it. That skill is EMPATHY, or the ability to perceive, understand, and share the feelings of others. It is simply wondering and caring about another`s experience. As 1 Corinthians 12:26 describes this skill, if one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. Teaching children empathy results in their increased capacity to see the face of Christ in others. Children who cultivate the skill of empathy are more respectful, thoughtful, and kind. Empathetic children are less likely to bully, and less likely to tolerate bullying behavior in others.

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Kathleen Notes: Brene Brown says "sympathy is `poor baby` while empathy is `me too`." What a gift to teach to your children!

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Relationships 12 Little Ways You Can Support A Loved One Who Has Anxiety

Anxiety disorders affect an estimated 40 million adults in the U.S. in a given year, making them the most common mental health condition.

If you don’t struggle with anxiety yourself, chances are that someone in your circle, a partner, co-worker, friend or relative does. So how do you support a loved one who may be dealing with this condition?

It can be hard to figure out what’s truly helpful when certain comments ? even well-intentioned ones ? sometimes do more harm than good. That’s why we’ve asked people living with anxiety to share the words, gestures or other forms of support that mean the most to them.

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Kathleen Notes: Anxiety is very common. Here`s some ideas to help.

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How To Change Your Child`s Behavior -- Without Punishment

That doesn’t mean we renege on our responsibility to guide our children by setting limits. No running into the street, no hitting the baby, no peeing on the carpet, no picking the neighbor’s tulips, no hurting the dog. But we don`t need to punish to set or hold such limits.

Are you wondering how your child will learn not to do these things next time, if you don’t “discipline” him when he does them? Then you’re assuming that we need to punish children to "teach a lesson."....

.....That`s not really surprising. If your boss criticizes, yells, humiliates, or docks your pay, does that make you want to follow his lead?

Being punished erodes the parent-child relationship so kids don`t want to follow our lead. It makes the child angry and defensive. It floods them with adrenaline and the other fight, flight or freeze hormones, and turns off the reasoning, cooperative parts of the brain. Kids quickly forget the “bad” behavior that led to their being punished; they just go on the defensive. If they learn anything, it’s to lie so they can avoid getting caught. Punishment disconnects us from our kids so we have less influence with them. Quite simply, punishment teaches all the wrong lessons.

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Kathleen Notes: Yes!!! There is a HUGE difference between discipline (to teach)and punishment (making people pay for having a problem). No one is EVER motivated to change through criticism and kids are people just like adults.

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How To Prevent Emotional Neglect In Marriage

How do you prevent Emotional Neglect in your marriage? Fortunately, it’s quite easy.

But unfortunately, it’s also easy for Emotional Neglect to take over your marriage, leaving one or both partners feeling empty and alone. All it takes is for one or both of you to grow up with it in your family.

When Emotional Neglect happens in a marriage, it doesn’t look the same as other relationship problems, like conflict or fighting. Instead, it’s more likely to look like nothing.

Failing to notice when your partner is upset.

Failing to ask, “What’s wrong?”

Refusing to answer when your partner asks, “What’s wrong?”

Ignoring the problems between you in hopes they will go away on their own.

Avoiding conflict.

Keeping your festering anger to yourself.

Failing to notice or respond to your partner’s emotional needs.

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Kathleen Notes: Often emotional neglect starts with the child in their family of origin. As people, we tend to "do" relationships as we experience and see them in childhood. Later this manifests itself in marriage.

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11 Things That Will Help You Hold Space for Someone
Holding space for someone in emotional pain is a concept many people are not familiar with but have nonetheless felt it, on some level, at some point. Holding space, or creating a container, can be especially helpful when someone is in deep grief, struggling with unresolved trauma, or in the throes of depression. We’ve all had the opportunity to feel the clear and pure attention of unconditional positive regard or the emptiness of its absence in a time of profound need.

So, what does it mean to “hold space” for someone? If needed, how does a person actually do this? The answers to these questions are quite simple in theory but complex in practice.

At one time or another, someone in our lives will need a space held that is loving, nonjudgmental, and empathetic. When that time comes, the relationship you already have will provide a foundation for building this so-called “container” in which you hold space for the other person. If you accept the challenge, your desire to be of service to the other person will be the first building block for holding that sacred space.

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Kathleen Notes: Being with someone in their pain while giving unconditional support and regard....

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Recess Is Not A Luxury: Here’s What Happens When Kids Sit Too Long At School
After years of schools reducing recess time and teachers using the threat of taking away recess as a disciplinary tool, experts are tsk-tsking them for doing so – and it’s about time. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention recently issued a comprehensive set of strategies for recess that highlights the benefits of recess and reminds parents and educators that recess shouldn’t be optional, nor should it be taken away as a punishment.
Not only is recess fun, but it serves a critical function in the learning process. Unfortunately, in recent years, many schools have been cutting recess time to keep up with stricter academic demands – with disastrous results. Angela Hanscom, a pediatric occupational therapist who first wrote about the recess deficiency problem in the Washington Post in 2014, warned that when children are constantly in the upright position – as they are these days – they have an underdeveloped vestibular system (which is really just a fancy way of saying “balance”).
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Kathleen Notes: Long time readers know that this is a major issue in my opinion. Schools need to function for the benefit of the children, not the other way around. Sitting in a desk for 7 hours a day is unnatural and harmful for the developing mind, body and emotions.

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Fixes For a Foggy Brain

Deb of Canton, South Dakota, has grappled with memory problems for a long time. Names, appointments, even special events like her children’s birthdays—they all drift off to some Never-Never Land.

Of course, plenty of people have trouble finding their keys, keeping ahead of things at work, and remembering to pick up the dry cleaning. Yet researchers now know that glitches in recall, planning, and staying on task can be part and parcel of bipolar disorder. A growing body of evidence identifies what are known as “cognitive deficits” that predate diagnosis and persist through all mood states.

Luckily, there are ways to exploit modern technology and old-fashioned techniques—programming alerts into your smartphone, organizing your work space, choosing a spot to always keep your keys and wallet—to compensate for brain fog. For especially severe symptoms, it may be worth exploring rehabilitative training.

Deb’s mood swings have been well-controlled for the past eight years, but she still relies on workarounds for her forgetfulness and lack of focus.

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Kathleen Notes: Some good stuff here...

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Curb Your Yelling with 3 Steps

“You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry.” —Dr. Bruce Banner

Remember the story of The Incredible Hulk? Scientist Bruce Banner accidentally exposes himself to lethal doses of gamma rays, and his DNA is restructured. Afterward, in times of anger or extreme stress, the otherwise mild-mannered doctor morphs into a raging green monster known as The Incredible Hulk.

Dr. Banner desperately tries to control his rage and prevent the transformations so he won’t harm others; unfortunately, he fails. In the 82 episodes of the original television series, Dr. Banner transforms into the Hulk in every single one. As a parent, you may relate to the struggle to contain your anger… I know I have....

.....You may recognize that once the anger seeps in and the yell creeps up to your throat, it’s a battle to keep the scream from exploding out. And after you yell? Of course, you feel awful, maybe even ashamed; you vow it will never happen again; however, somehow, much sooner than anticipated, your inner Hulk rears its ugly head again.

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Kathleen Notes: I don`t know who said it first, but I like the expression, "Raise your words, not your voice."

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New research helps to instill persistence in children

Encouraging children “to help,” rather than asking them to “be helpers,” can instill persistence as they work to fulfill daily tasks that are difficult to complete, finds a new psychology study.

The research, conducted by a team of New York University scientists, suggests that using verbs to talk about actions with children, such as encouraging them to help, read, and paint, may help lead to more resilience following the setbacks that they inevitably experience rather than using nouns to talk about identities—for example, asking them to be helpers, readers, or artists.

The results run somewhat counter to those of a 2014 study that showed asking children to “be helpers” instead of “to help” subsequently led them to help more.

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Kathleen Notes: Makes sense that using verbs in place of nouns would encourage action. I wonder if there is a similar study with adults? Hmmmmm.

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10 Strategies For Coping With Childhood Emotional Neglect

With your emotions walled off, you go through your adolescence and adulthood lacking full access to a potent, vital ingredient from within: your emotions, which should be motivating, directing, connecting, stimulating, and empowering you.

When you are living this way, it’s hard to see the problem, or even that there is a problem. Most children in emotionally neglectful homes have no idea that anyone should be noticing their feelings, validating them, or responding to them. Then, when they grow into adults, they continue to have no idea.

Yet as an adult who grew up with Emotional Neglect, you surely may sense that something is not right with you, but you do not know what it is.

Once you understand that you missed out on a key element of childhood, you are finally freed up to fix the problem. You can give yourself what you never got — emotional attention and validation — and learn how to connect with your feelings and how to use them.

Childhood Emotional Neglect may leave you feeling somewhat empty and disconnected, lost or alone. But good news! There are powerful things you can do to cope.


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Kathleen Notes: Recovery from CEN involves attuning to your emotions and needs, helping to finish the parenting you didn`t recieve.

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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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Be a Strength-Based Parent

Blame it on our brains. Our “negativity bias,” an ancient survival mechanism, hardwires us to spot problems in our environment more quickly than we spot the things that are going well. I call it the Dirty Window Syndrome: A clean window doesn’t attract your attention; you look straight through it. But a dirty window is something you notice. What’s more, your focus on one specific part of the window—the dirt—means you’ll often fail to see that the rest of the window is still clean and showing you a beautiful view.

It’s the same with our kids. When things are going well, we take it for granted; but when things are going badly, that spot of dirt on the window snaps our attention into sharp focus. The dirt, in my case Nick’s gaming, grows from a small spot to a big stain. It gets magnified, overshadowing our kids’ positive qualities, thus creating the perfect storm for conflict and for feeling anxious about their future. A useful evolutionary feature that keeps you and your kids safe from danger can be counterproductive to fostering a positive relationship.

The good news is that by learning how to shift your attention to your child’s strengths (the clean part of the window), you can override the negativity bias, clean the dirt, and prevent the problems from getting blown out of proportion—all while building up resilience and optimism in your children.

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Kathleen Notes: No one is ever motivated by criticism to change their behaviors. However, when heartfelt appreciation is applied to positive behaviors, stand back and watch them grow!

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Ten Steps to Learn Self-Discipline

Here’s a brief recap of last week’s article, Self-Discipline Season Has Begun: 

  • Struggling with self-discipline is not a sign of weakness or a character flaw
  • Self-discipline is made up of two parts: making yourself do things you don’t want to do, and stopping yourself from doing things that you want to do.
  • Each of these two parts is a skill, nothing more and nothing less.
  • Since self-discipline is a skill, it can be learned!
  • In the best-case scenario, we learn these skills from our parents, when they discipline us throughout childhood.
  • Many parents, even those with the best intentions, fail to teach their children this skill well enough (an aspect of Childhood Emotional Neglect).
  • If you did not internalize the Two Skills of Self-Discipline in childhood, you can teach them to yourself as an adult.
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Kathleen Notes: The follow up article to this week`s first article. Here`s where you can learn how to gain those skills.

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The 3 Most Tragic Childhood Emotional Neglect Symptoms In Adults

Just as the cause of all of these struggles seems simple — your parents didn’t respond enough to your emotions as they raised you — so also seems the solution.

You grew up with your feelings ignored, and now you must do the exact opposite. You can start right away simply paying attention to your feelings.

Take the time to notice when you are feeling something, learn how to name what you are feeling, and begin to learn how to use your feelings to inform, direct, motivate and guide you.

When you do the work, you get to reap the rewards. You will gradually start to know yourself, get what you want, and let your light shine.

And all that’s actually happening is that you are becoming more authentically your true self, and that is everything.

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Kathleen Notes: Awareness and attunement to your emotions is the answer. People with CEN are often unaware or avoid their true feelings as something bad or wrong.

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Kids are sleep deprived and it`s affecting their development

Late bedtimes, nighttime awakenings and early wake ups all reduce a child’s chance of getting a full night’s sleep. And while some kids have sleep disorders, like sleep apnea or restless leg syndrome, they’re the minority, says Shelly Weiss, a pediatric neurologist who directs the Sleep/Neurology Clinic at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children. “It’s definitely more related to lifestyle,” she says.

Wendy Hall, a registered nurse and sleep expert at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, says more often than not, something in the kid’s environment or routine is getting in the way of them sleeping enough. “Things like not having regular household routines, not reinforcing bedtimes and screen use—not just in the evening but during the day—all affect sleep,” says Hall.....
.......
What’s more, our busy modern lives aren’t designed with sleep in mind. Parents’ workdays are getting longer, which means dinner is pushed later into the evening, as is bedtime. Homework and activities eat up those precious post-dinner hours. One-year-olds entering daycare are often forced into a one-nap-a-day schedule before they’re ready; in some provinces, three- and four-year-olds are in full-day kindergarten programs when they really still need an afternoon nap. Some kids are up early to catch bus rides to school, and you know the coach who schedules a 7 a.m. hockey practice isn’t thinking about whether your kid is getting their recommend nine to 12 hours of sleep. “As a society, we’ve come to the conclusion that, for some reason, sleep is discretionary,” says Hall.
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Kathleen Notes: As a society we`re short on sleep so of course our children are too. Overcoming this problem is worth the effort as it effects a child`s mental, emotional, social, and physical development crucial for a healthy life and adulthood. Let`s take this seriously.

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Stay-At-Home Moms Are Still Equal Partners
My husband would agree that I am every bit an equal contributor to our family. Maybe I don’t offer much in the way of finances, but there is more to running a household than providing money. In fact, the contribution of money is really not the most important thing when you factor in all the other things it takes to raise a family....
.....If we truly want equality, then we need to recognize the value in unpaid work and the important contributions of that unpaid work. I may not get paid to stay home with my kids, but in doing so I have contributed to our family as a whole, and my children will grow up knowing how important it is to look at contributions not in terms of how much money they make from it, but in how much it benefits their family and their community.
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Kathleen Notes: Respect...the hand that rocks the cradle rocks the world...

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The Anatomy of an Emotion

Emotions are tricky things. They come in a variety of sharpnesses and intensities, but there are no instructions on what to do with them or how to make sense of them. Emotions such as fear, anger, shame, or guilt can be like un-invited dinner guests that won’t leave even after you started turning out the lights! Emotions such as love, joy, and peace can be like an unexpected bouquet of flowers, showing up on a day when you thought all was lost. 

Emotions are messengers. They have something to say to our body, soul, and spirit about how we`re doing as a person. Before you can really hear the voice of the emotion and discern its message, it helps to understand the origin of the emotion.

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Kathleen Notes: I often use the analogy of a broken leg...what do you notice? Pain, swelling, bruising, etc. all tell the person that there is something going on that they should pay attention to. Emotions are like that.

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You Know What Will Ruin My Kids?
Toddlers need order. They crave it.  You might be ruining her brain with this mess.

You should get rid of more toys.

You should be telling her a story.

You should get the boys on a better schedule.

You should have made them clean up before bed.

You should have brushed her teeth, not let her do it on her own.

You should teach them better money sense.

You should make them write thank you notes more quickly.

You should eat dinner at the table every night.

You should.

You should.

You should.

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Kathleen Notes: Yeah....don`t be so focused on the "shoulds" that it makes you feel stuck.

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How to Stop Misophonia From Ruining Your Relationship
Misophonia, sometimes called selective sound sensitivity syndrome, is sensitivity to specific sounds. Some common triggers include eating sounds such as chewing, throat sounds, nasal sounds such as a person blowing their nose, and repetitive noises such as tapping or clicking a pen.

While it is a potentially challenging symptom, misophonia is not a mental health diagnosis. A 2015 study of more than 300 people with misophonia found that only 2.2% had a mental health condition.

Misophonia can be extremely distressing both to the person with misophobia and their loved ones. It can cause conflict in relationships and make it difficult for couples to go to certain public places. In addition, sensitivity to the sounds a romantic partner makes may be hurtful and feel overbearing or critical.

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Kathleen Notes: Is this you or someone you love?

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The Right Brain Develops First ~ Why Play is the Foundation for Academic Learning

Did you know that the right brain develops first? It does so by the time children are 3-4 years of age. The left brain, on the other hand, doesn’t fully come online until children are approximately seven years old; hence the first seven years being recognized as such a critical period in child development.

“Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.” ~ Albert Einstein

The left brain’s functionality is one of language, numeracy, literacy, analysis and time. It is the logical, calculating, planning, busy-bee part of us that keeps us anchored in the pragmatic world, and in past and future. The right brain, on the other hand, is responsible for empathy, intuition, imagination and creativity. It is where we wonder, dream, connect and come alive. Through the right brain we dwell in the space of no-time, in being absolutely present. While the left brain is more interested in outcomes or product, the right brain cares much more about process—the journey is what matters, not the destination.

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Kathleen Notes: Another reason why play therapy is so effective with children. The author make s a great point: "Being is primary; hence the right brain developing first; hence, human being, not human doing."

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Bruce Springsteen opens up about his battles with depression: `I know I am not completely well`
Springsteen also spoke about his late father, Doug Springsteen, who wrestled with his own demons and was diagnosed with schizophrenia later in his life.
"All I do know is as we age, the weight of our unsorted baggage becomes heavier ... much heavier," Springsteen went on to say. "With each passing year, the price of our refusal to do that sorting rises higher and higher. ... Long ago, the defenses I built to withstand the stress of my childhood, to save what I had of myself, outlived their usefulness, and I`ve become an abuser of their once lifesaving powers. I relied on them wrongly to isolate myself, seal my alienation, cut me off from life, control others, and contain my emotions to a damaging degree. Now the bill collector is knocking, and his payment will be in tears."
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Kathleen Notes: I applaud the courage it takes to be open about mental health struggles from "the Boss". The above quote is not only powerful, but accurate.

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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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How to Tell Emotional Neglect From Emotional Abuse in a Relationship

Let’s face it, relationships are complicated. I wish I had a dollar for every time someone has asked me, “Is this normal?” about their relationship.

One of the most confusing gray areas is the difference between emotional abuse and Emotional Neglect. Since neither is physical, both are difficult to perceive at all. Even more difficult is telling them apart. Even mental health professionals sometimes struggle to define the difference. And sometimes Emotional Neglect can be so severe that it crosses over the line, and becomes abuse.

How good are you at differentiating between them? Read about this interaction between Marcy and Jeremy below. Identify each option as emotional abuse, Emotional Neglect, or neither. Then read on to see if you got them right.

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Kathleen Notes: As usual the answer is attunement.

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Build on your strengths: What`s great about your parenting?

"By taking the time to stop and appreciate who you are and what you`ve achieved - and perhaps learned through a few mistakes, stumbles and losses - you actually can enhance everything about you. Self-acknowledgment and appreciation are what give you the insights and awareness to move forward... - Jack Canfield

What are your biggest strengths as a parent? Don’t worry about humility; just be honest. What would an impartial observer admire if she could watch your best moments with your child or children?

Now, let`s build on those strengths.

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Kathleen Notes: My mother used to say that it isn`t bragging if it`s true. Give this strengths-based approach a try.

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Love Is Good Therapy: The Gift of Being Loved by Your Therapist

Just as people can be hurt in their relationships, they can also heal in them. Therapy is not just a set of techniques, it is a special type of relationship that is oriented toward helping people to heal from past experiences.

An internalized sense of being loved by one’s therapist can vastly change how a person experiences the world. In addition to symptoms diminishing, other people who once seemed threatening may become sources of connection and the future may seem more hopeful. Generosity and compassion flourish in those who have felt loved, leading them to touch the lives of others. Fittingly, many therapists have been touched by another person’s love in their own therapy and find it to be a deep privilege to be trusted and to pass on the gift.

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Kathleen Notes: Counselors and therapists are to avoid personal relationships with their clients in order to protect the client. But the therapeutic relationship is vital to the growth and increased health of the client. For many people, it`s the first time in their lives that someone has simply listened to them and valued them for who their authentic selves. Powerful stuff.

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Emotional Neglect and Emotional Deprivation are Not the Same

Most people, even mental health professionals, do not think about emotional deprivation and emotional neglect as two separate things. And I understand why. In some ways, these two childhood experiences are very much the same. But in some very important ways they are very, very different.

And I’m on a mission to make sure everyone knows just that.

Childhood Emotional Deprivation: Happens when there is an extreme absence of emotional attention and/or response given to an infant or child by her primary caretakers. Has been documented in orphanages, and in families where there are extreme physical absence of caretakers, abuse and trauma.

Childhood Emotional Neglect (CEN): Happens when a child’s primary caretakers (usually his parents) fail to respond enough to the child’s emotional needs. Happens often in normal homes all over the world, even when the parents are physically present, and all the child’s material needs are met.

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Kathleen Notes: It`s my hope that as awareness increases about the topic of CEN we can see changes in how we understand and respond in both children and adults.

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Why Some Adopted Kids Reject Mom

When the bond between a child and biological mother is broken, some children try to protect their hearts from further trauma; they resolve to never have another mom. They still need a cook and chauffeur, but fear emotional intimacy. The thought of losing another mother is simply too much to bear. Thus Mom becomes the target of her child`s rejection because she`s the greatest emotional threat.

Countless adoptive parents experience this, yet there is hope!   ...more

Kathleen Notes: A short but encouraging article. Adopted children (as well as those who have been in foster care) have endured many loses: family of origin, sometimes a home, a culture, friends, personal belongings, etc.

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Why Is It So Hard to Be Vulnerable?

We all know the experience of vulnerability, even if we don’t call it by that name. It’s that feeling you get when you’re about to tell someone “I love you,” try out a new skill, or ask for forgiveness. When the risk of getting rejected, laughed at, or criticized is real.

In her research, University of Houston professor and author Brené Brown has explored some of the reasons why we shy away from vulnerability. While we often celebrate it as a strength in other people, she discovered, we tend to see it as a weakness in ourselves.

“We love seeing raw truth and openness in other people, but we are afraid to let them see it in us,” she writes. “Vulnerability is courage in you and inadequacy in me.”

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Kathleen Notes: To be vulnerable means being authentic. To be authentic means risking being rejected or criticized for who you really are. It`s also the only way to be fully present with who you are and the rest of your world. Scary stuff but sooo good!

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Why Trust Matters — and How to Build More of It

A measure of the quality of a relationship — between individuals, between groups, and between governments — trust makes life more predictable and working with others easier. “I started to see their conflicts like a fan opening up, and every region of the fan was a different area of trust,” he explains. “Can I trust you to be there and listen to me when I’m upset? Can I trust you to choose me over your mother, over your friends? To not take drugs? Can I trust you to not cheat on me and be sexually faithful? Can I trust you to respect me?” 

Many of these are subtle questions of betrayal, but trust can be eroded by minor acts of betrayal over time. 

“Trust is built in very small mo­ments,” says University of Houston social scientist and best-selling author Brené Brown, PhD, LMSW. Research shows that people trust folks who attend funerals, those who ask for help, and bosses who ask how their employees’ family members are doing.

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Kathleen Notes: Trust is built over the little things that we often think don`t matter or are overlooked. Check out the rest of the article to learn more.

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Self-Care Is Not An Indulgence. It`s A Discipline.

Self-care is not an indulgence. Self-care is a discipline. It requires tough-mindedness, a deep and personal understanding of your priorities, and a respect for both yourself and the people you choose to spend your life with.

For example, self care is:

  • Turning off the TV instead of watching another episode of “The Crown” because the alarm is going off at 5am so you can get to the gym.
  • Declining the second drink at the office holiday party. It might even be declining the first drink.
  • Saying “no” to the thing you don’t want to do even if someone is going to be angry at you.
  • Maintaining financial independence.
  • Doing work that matters.
  • Letting other people take care of themselves.

  • If we are being honest, self-care is actually kind of boring. Which is why self-care is a discipline. It takes discipline to do the things that are good for us instead of what feels good in the moment. It’s takes even more discipline to refuse to take responsibility for other people’s emotional well-being. And it takes discipline to take full and complete responsibility for our own well-being.
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Kathleen Notes: My clients (past and present) will tell you that I preach good self care as a method of emotional regulation. NOT optional !!

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11 Superpowers of Anxious Children

Let’s not sugarcoat it: Life can be hard for anxious kids. Even simple, everyday tasks can seem big and scary when they come with sweaty palms, a pounding heart, and the feeling that something — anything, maybe even everything — is about to go horribly wrong. Anxious kids may feel like it’s their job to stop a disaster from happening, or even like they’ve done something wrong and need to fix it. That’s a lot to shoulder at any age.

But they’ve done nothing wrong; in fact, those anxious feelings have some hidden advantages. It’s kind of like having a secret superpower. Here are 11 interesting ways that anxiety can actually be a good thing:

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Kathleen Notes: Anxiety can come with increased ability for empathy and compassion, plus many others. Read on...

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Dear Dad: “You Need to Love Your Wife as You Want Your Daughter to Be Loved”

Besides the one with our Heavenly Father himself, there’s hardly a relationship that can compare with that of a father and daughter. For so many, the way a father interacts with his daughter is the representation that a young lady holds of her relationship with God for the duration of her life.

Even more important to note, little eyes are always watching and soaking up more than most of us as busy adults can imagine.

She watches the way you hold her mom’s hand, the way you kiss her good night, and the way you speak to her with words of love, respect, and adoration.

Daddies are often protective of who their daughters will date and how they will be treated — but with a world spewing all sorts of distortions of love at them, there’s no way to better represent the way she deserves to be treated than by serving your wife well.

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Kathleen Notes: In addition, talk to your daughter as you would like to hear her husband talk to her someday...

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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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A Meditation on Anxious Emotions

This practice involves deep investigation into the causes of anxious feelings. Through this practice, you can discover the story lines that tend to trigger and drive your emotions. Although it may sometimes feel as though your anxiety comes out of nowhere, it usually has a source—typically some combination of conditioning, self-stories, memories, thoughts, and buried emotions.

That said, when you practice this meditation, don’t try to force yourself to find the source or meaning of your anxiety. The crucial aspect of this meditation is forwarding your journey of discovery into yourself. Whatever you may find inside, simply acknowledging it will help you live with more ease. Then, rather than putting so much energy into fighting your anxiety, you can begin to change your relationship to it.

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Kathleen Notes: A good article on using mindfulness meditation to work on feelings of anxiety. Bonus: it contains a 20 minutes audio version to walk you through it!

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How Parents Can Help Teens Redeem Their Use of Technology
As parents, we have an opportunity to foster technology use in our teens that honors God and furthers his kingdom. It turns out, teens are typically drawn to social media because of the social connection, community, independence, learning, and leisure needed for their development. Although social media is notorious for being fertile ground for bullying, sexual behavior, and magnifying stresses, social media is also where teens can go to do what teens must do: connect with one another, challenge one another, and grow together. Parents can help their children to connect in healthy ways and engage in fruitful discussion online and offline through fostering a spirit of discernment and kindness.....
........Fear keeps many parents from allowing their teens to engage in social media use. It is up to individual parents to decide what is right for their children. However, social media use presents a unique opportunity to engage teens in development of the discernment and empathy that will be required of them lifelong. As Romans 12:2 instructs, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect” (NRSV). If our teens are going to use social media, let us equip them to use social media in ways that look radically different--radically loving, kind, and pure.
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Kathleen Notes: Instead of seeing a problem, thy to re-frame the situation into an opportunity to teach and for your child to grow in wisdom and self-discipline.

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What to do with the Wintertime Blues

“Why art thou cast down, O my soul?” Psalm 43:5

Many recognize the Wintertime Blues’ name as “Seasonal Affective Disorder,” or “SAD.” This Major Depressive Disorder recurs regularly, according to the seasons, usually correlating to the amount of sunshine and cold. The inability to function and number of depression symptoms identifies each individual’s severity level.

Those with SAD suffer some specific symptoms: sleeping too much, eating too much, craving carbohydrates, and gaining weight. Many experience a desire to stay home and isolate.

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Kathleen Notes: Here it comes...finding strategies to cope can make SAD easier to deal with while you wait for Spring.

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How To Validate Someone’s Feelings

For the realtor, the world revolves around Location Location Location. But psychologists, psychiatrists, and social scientists everywhere know that what really matters is validation.

And the absence of it....

.....Imagine this little child trying to understand himself, his world, and all the other people in it. Imagine that he doesn’t feel he can ask questions when he needs help. No one notices his feelings or emotional needs. No one says, “Let me explain this to you.” No one says, “Your feelings are normal.” No one says, “I’m here for you,” or “I see your emotions,” either by words or actions. 

This child is being sentenced to an entire life of seeking answers. An entire life of feeling like a non-person. An entire life of feeling less-than. An entire life of feeling angry or baffled or untethered, or all three.

An entire lifetime of feeling invalid.

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Kathleen Notes: Validation equals spoken attunement...I see, hear and understand you. And that makes all the difference....

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What Every Parent Needs to Know About Praise

You may have heard that children who receive rewards are likely to stop taking joy in a job well done, because the extrinsic reward overshadows the intrinsic reward of internal satisfaction and pride. So kids who are given money for good grades lose their curiosity and desire to learn, instead focusing on pursuing the monetary reward, even to the point of being more likely to cheat.

The important insight from the Praise research is that praise has similar potency as a reward, so verbal praise has similar effects to tangible rewards. For instance:

  • Children who are praised for reading conclude that reading isn`t inherently rewarding, so they become less likely to read independently. 
  • Children who are praised for eating vegetables conclude that vegetables aren`t inherently delicious -- after all, you don`t praise them when they eat up their chocolate! The result is that they`re less likely to eat vegetables if no one is watching.
  • Children who are praised for sharing begin to share less when they think adults aren`t watching, because they have apparently learned from the praise that no one in their right mind would share out of the goodness of their heart.

Upsetting, right? Of course parents want to comment positively on reading, eating vegetables, sharing and other wholesome behavior!

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Kathleen Notes: For 30+ years we`ve been told about how important our child`s self-esteem is. Finally we are hearing about the importance of self-efficacy and the correlation between it and a healthy sense of self.

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The Major Thing

In the eulogy George W didn’t mention once that his parents made sure he had organic food his whole life, or had Pinterest worthy birthday parties, or the perfect monogrammed matching outfits with his siblings. He didn’t mention that his parents made sure their week was planned with playdates and millions of extracurricular activities.  He reflected over and over again about how much his dad loved and was dedicated to his mother. 

I worry that we get so caught up in the minor things that we forget the major thing which is teaching our kids what unconditional love and loyalty looks like.  

As a counselor, I see so many marriages falling apart and so much strife and discontentment in life occurring because so much time and attention is spent on the minor things.  The results of this are broken marriages, discontentment, lack of self-esteem, anger, addiction, depression, anxiety, and in some cases suicide.  All of the resources given to the minor things in turn cause the major things to fall apart. 

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Kathleen Notes:One of the best things you can do for your children is to love your spouse...and let them see it.

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Why Kids Need to Be Able to Tolerate Uncomfortable Feelings

From childhood through adulthood, the ability to tolerate uncomfortable and unwanted feelings is essential for negotiating every kind of relationship. If we learn early on that we have the wherewithal to get through situations that make us uneasy, anxious, unhappy, angry, etc., we are in a good position to manage our lives. This is learned through repeated encounters with these feelings, the successes and failures of dealing with them, and finally the experience of oneself as competent to manage.

By running interference for uncomfortable feelings, Isabel has been depriving Molly of developing her capacity to regulate her own emotions by feeling them and developing comfort with them. This constricts Molly’s ability to relate and leaves her without the necessary experiences that promote resilience and competence with her anxieties. Instead, she must find ways to defend against these unwanted feeling states and/or remain dependent on others to make them tolerable.

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Kathleen Notes: Trust that your children are smarter and more resilient than you know! My mother used to say: "we teach our children to walk and ten we teach them to walk away"

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The Blameless Burden: Scapegoating in Dysfunctional Families

Now about that goat. It was selected from the herd and sent forth into the wilderness for reasons having to do with the sins of others. The goat had done nothing to merit banishment. But once the ashes were cold on the rituals of dispatching it, the goat found itself alone in the wilderness, isolated from its herd, in unknown territory, suddenly forced to fend for itself. It faced dangers from predators; difficulty finding food, sustenance, and shelter; and it lived the constantly woeful insecurity of a herd animal without a herd.

This is the story of the scapegoat.

In dysfunctional families, for reasons similar to those Aaron devised, there can also be a designated person selected for the role of scapegoat. In a family system, the selection process is less overt than Aaron’s. It is done more by consensual and habitual shunning that becomes an unspoken code of behavior: one person is chosen to bear the brunt of any psychological discomfort experienced by the family as a whole. It is justified by repeating the stories that create and then reinforce the image of the scapegoat as being a person who is worthy of disdain and disparagement.

Like the strong goat Aaron selected, the target of family scapegoating is also often the strongest and healthiest member of the family. At first blush, this may sound counterintuitive. But think about it a little more.


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Kathleen Notes: The family scapegoat must be the strongest emotionally in the family in order to carry the tremendous weight. But it`s no fun...

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5 Proven Benefits Of Play

A new paper in the journal Pediatrics summarizes the evidence for letting kids let loose. "Play is not frivolous," the paper insists, twice. "It is brain building." The authors — Michael Yogman, Andrew Garner, Jeffrey Hutchinson, Kathy Hirsh-Pasek and Roberta Michnick Golinkoff — ask pediatricians to take an active role by writing a "prescription for play" for their young patients in the first two years of life.

"Play is disappearing," says Hirsh-Pasek, a developmental psychologist who is a professor at Temple University and a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. By targeting doctors, she explains, the paper hopes to build on the success of a literacy initiative called Reach Out and Read. That program reaches nearly 5 million children annually by giving out children`s books at doctor visits. "You have an opportunity there" to change behavior, she says.

Prescribing play for kids? Really?...

.....Play is, by definition, intrinsically motivated. People and many animals do it just because. But apparently parents and teachers these days need more of a nudge than that to make the space for play. So here are some of the research findings that appear in the paper.

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Kathleen Notes: Play is a child`s work. It encourages mental, physical, emotional and social development. Part of the struggle is to get kids off video games/TV and outside to play. Parents can help by going out to play with them.

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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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12 Tips to Be a Brilliant Listener with Your Child
"What did you do in school today?"

"Nothing."

Parents often ask what they can say to get their child talking. The secret isn`t about what you say. It`s about how you listen.

The most important skill in talking with anyone, including children, is listening. Not answering, not teaching, not lecturing, not fixing things or offering solutions. Not only do your kids not want that from you, but it would get in the way of them coming up with their own solutions. What your child needs from you is your full attention and empathy. That’s what deep listening is. Here`s how to become a brilliant listener.

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Kathleen Notes: Listening is a vital component of attunement. You can`t imagine how powerful a good listener is....

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When Should I Meditate and When Should I Relax

Trying too hard is just that: trying. It pays to take it easy, particularly if we’re not taking it easy most of the time. Meditation is not a pill, with automatic results. How well it works depends on a lot of factors, one of which is our wellness to begin with.

Let’s face it. Our daily life may not be providing us with the most psychologically healthy environment. The fevered pitch that so many of us are asked to operate at—by employers, loved ones, our own inner critic and taskmaster—can truly exhaust us and deplete our physical and emotional resources. When I asked several mood disorder specialists who also teach mindfulness if they thought a meditation intensive was a good idea if you’re deeply stressed and burned out, their answer was emphatically no: When you’re that depleted, you need rest, pleasure, companionship, ease. Take time off, and leave the retreat for a time when you’re rested and ready to go exploring in your inner jungle.

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Kathleen Notes: Sometimes, you just need to shut down for a while and rest....

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Are you “Phubbing” your spouse?
According to the article, “‘Phubbing’ is ruining American relationships,” phubbing your partner is the act of being on your cellphone instead of giving them your full attention when the two of you are together.  As my husband, Dave,and I have discussed in many of our blogs–including, “6 Subtle Ways You Cheat on your Spouse Every Day”–excessive cell phone usage is extremely detrimental to marriages.

According to the Fusion.net article, partners who felt “phubbed” were not only dissatisfied with their relationship, but many eventually experienced depression over time.  This is very concerning.

As a married couple, we must prioritize our spouse over our cell phone.  This probably seems like a given to most of you, but Reader, believing this and doing it are two different things.  I know, because I struggle with this issue too.

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Kathleen Notes: Not just cell phones but computers, pads, televisions all contribute.

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Four Ways to Hack Your Screen Addiction

As a psychologist, I’m all too aware of the emerging and sobering body of psychological literature showing the serious and quantifiable emotional downsides to all this screen time, video gaming, Netflix-bingeing, and social media scrolling. When I read that higher levels of self-reported unhappiness and depressive symptoms are not merely correlated with more hours in front of the screen but are actually caused by more time in front of a screen it gives me pause...... 

......A report this year from the Pew Research Center found that a quarter (26%) of US adults are online ‘almost constantly.’ Interestingly, the number goes up when you look at what kind of device people are using. Among mobile phone users 89% go online daily and 31% go online almost constantly, compared to non-mobile users where 54% go online daily and just 5% say they go online almost constantly.
Clearly, our phones have ahold of us. So, what can we do to loosen their grip and create healthier mobile habits?
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Kathleen Notes: It`s OK to use technology, but not when technology uses us...

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5 Daily Habits That Can Help You Stay Out of ‘Autopilot Mode’
Do the sluggish days of winter have you feeling like you’re in “autopilot mode”? Perhaps you catch yourself living for the weekends, keeping them jam-packed and exciting—something to look forward to on the calendar. In contrast, on weekdays you may come home from work feeling uninspired and flattened, having barely seen daylight.

Here are five small changes that can impact your happiness and contentment on a day-to-day level, no matter the season.

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Kathleen Notes: Looking forward to the upcoming winter solstice...and the longer days that follow.

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Therapy Homework Has Its Place, but the Therapy Room Is Where It’s At

What I ask of the people I work with in therapy, and what I have found to be the most helpful in moving toward sustainable change, is to “rehearse” while in the room. It can be scary and difficult, certainly. But once there is some trust built up within the therapeutic relationship, I strongly encourage the person in therapy to let out, then and there, what they are thinking and feeling rather than “holding on to” or “taking in” a new revelation or introspective reflection.

It doesn’t need to be a fully formed thought. The emotion or feeling doesn’t even need to “make sense.” But processing it in the room gets us to some amazing places we might not otherwise arrive at, no matter how much home study gets done.

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Kathleen Notes: "Rehearsing" while receiving unconditional positive regard from the counselor provides a safe place to process difficult feelings and thoughts.

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What ‘Go to Your Room’ Teaches Kids About Dealing With Emotions

“What do we think is going to happen when they go to their room?” asks Laura Markham, a psychologist who founded the site Aha! Parenting (ahaparenting.com) and promotes a model she calls “peaceful parenting.” Children may emerge from their rooms calmer, but, Markham says, they have missed out on an opportunity for development. “Under anger”—an emotion that often leads kids to act out—“there’s always fear or hurt or powerlessness,” she says. And one of the messages usually coded into “Go to your room” is Suppress those underlying emotions until you’re ready to interact with the world again.

A constructive alternative is for parents to talk things through with their kids—why did the child do what he did? “When the child feels heard by us,” Markham says, “then they will begin to take a deep breath and get under control.” A conversation—an acknowledgment of the child’s feelings, perhaps an explanation of why the world can’t be as the child would prefer—allows more vulnerable feelings to emerge. “If he was sent to his room, you wouldn’t have that breakthrough emotionally,” Markham says.

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Kathleen Notes: Yes, this! "Go to your room" isn`t an attempt to help a child to calm down but often a way for parents to shield themselves from their child`s emotions. This teaches the child that their emotions are "bad" or inconvenient. This is how CEN is born.

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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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