Welcome to In the Moment Notes

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A Praying Mother

For this child I prayed, and the Lord has granted me my petition which I asked of Him. Therefore I also have lent him to the Lord; as long as he lives he shall be lent to the Lord. So they worshiped the Lord there (1 Samuel 1:27-28).

A faithful Christian mother will seek to carry her children in at least three places:

1.  In her womb

2.  In her heart

3.  In her prayers - faithfully

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Kathleen Notes: A happy and blessed Mother`s Day!

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Don`t Believe Everything You Think

"More often than not, fear doesn’t emerge as nail-biting, cold-feet terror. It surfaces instead as anger, perfectionism, pessimism, low-level anxiety, depression, and feelings of isolation. It poisons each moment it touches." -- Dan Baker, Ph.D.

You may think your moods just come out of nowhere. But scientists now believe that moods are usually a response to what we think, often without even noticing. 

Here`s how it works.

  1. A thought flits through your mind:"My child should be more like that other child." 
  2. That thought makes you feel a little anxious or sad. 
  3. Those feelings make you more likely to think another negative thought, like: "Is there something wrong with him?"
  4. Before you know it, you`re plunged into a cascade of negativity: "It must be my fault...  If only I were a better parent." 
  5. These thoughts create or reinforce a negative story in your unconscious about yourself, your child, the world. They make it likely that more negative thoughts will follow.
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Kathleen Notes: This article is about parenting but the "just because you think it doesn`t make it true" mantra is valid if you happen to be human. We are experts at cognitive distortions.

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Emotional Neglect and Self-Discipline

Here is Mr. Gray’s discovery of “the common denominator of success,” in his own words:

“The common denominator of success–the secret of success of every man who has ever been successful–lies in the fact that he formed the habit of doing things that failures don’t like to do.”

In my role as psychologist and therapist, I have had the honor of working with many very bright, capable people who struggle with self-discipline. It is painful when a person who has tremendous potential is held back by their own ability to realize it. I have found that the very thing that gets in many such people’s way in fulfilling the potential that they clearly know they have, is an inability to make themselves do what they don’t want to do. Often these folks call themselves lazy. They get angry at themselves for not carrying through the promises they make themselves to do important things. The anger at themselves drains them and eats away at their self-esteem. Gradually, slowly, they start to give up because they are being taken down by a negative cycle of anger at themselves, frustration, and feelings of failure.

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Kathleen Notes: For some people with CEN, their parents didn`t help them to develop the ability to work through tough stuff. For others, they take on everything to be "worth it." Amazing how the brain takes in and makes sense of the unspoken.

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Teaching Kids To Share
All parents want to raise children who are generous, good people. We find kids` frequent fights over toys wearing and a bit ridiculous. After all, your son hasn`t looked at that toy in over a year, but as soon as his little brother (or visiting friend) unearths it, he has to assert immediate ownership. 

And if we`re honest, there`s another reason we get annoyed when kids fight over toys. When our children seem to be failing at generosity, we feel like we`re failing at our job of civilizing those grabby childish instincts into a good person. 

So in most families, the unwritten policy is that children are expected to share, or at least take turns, with most toys. The parent decides when one child has had a toy long enough, usually based on how loud the protest is from the sibling or friend. While that seems expedient, it reinforces competition between siblings, dis-empowers both children, and teaches children that if they fuss, they get their way. And it certainly isn`t pleasant for the parent to constantly have to step in.

You`ll be relieved to learn that there are other ways to handle the whole concept of sharing, that teach more constructive lessons, and that get you out of the role of judge, jury and police officer.

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Kathleen Notes: As a society we like to believe that we`re born inherently good, but we have to teach children to share not how to be selfish. We are sinners who are raising sinners. Fortunately we can foster empathy and demonstrate Grace as teaching tools.

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When Writings on Marriage and Spiritual Formation Collide
The tension I face is that the ancients teach sacrifice and idealism in virtue as necessary elements of spiritual formation, reminiscent of the teachings of the apostle Paul. But when addressing contemporary marriage, it’s irresponsible not to include caveats about abuse.

The line between patience, service, and forgiveness as a Christian discipline, and enabling abuse, isn’t always clear cut. Physical violence is clear cut—there should be a zero-tolerance policy in the church for domestic violence. But where do verbal attacks, selfishness, and narcissism fall? (I’m not speaking about the clinical kind of narcissism, but rather the way the word is used more popularly to describe the sinful self-absorption that many of us fall into.) There is certainly a point where emotional abuse is equally untenable...

......Both things can be true: high, idealistic marriage books can be appropriately convicting for many marriages, hopefully the vast majority of marriages, but shouldn’t be recommended to those who are in abusive or even near-abusive marriages. I don’t take offense at this: I applaud it and commend it.
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Kathleen Notes: Many Christian spouses (both men and women) believe they must stay in abusive (physically/emotionally) marriages in order to be God pleasing. However, that belief isn`t necessarily Biblical. If the purpose of marriage is to Glorify God, then we must not condone sinful behaviors. Only God can convict and change a heart, as people of God we are called to protect the vulnerable.

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10 Year old Can`t Relax and Sleep - Meltdowns from Noise, Lights - Sensory Issues?

Since he doesn`t have a hard time every night, that means that some nights he can tolerate the stimuli because he is more relaxed. It is also possible that he may have other sensitivities, like food issues, that only occur sometimes and are keeping him awake. Or maybe on those nights when he has a hard time sleeping, he`s been exposed to screens too late in the day, and his body hasn`t made the melatonin he needs to fall asleep. Or, he may have some pent up feelings -- what I call a full emotional backpack -- that he needs your help to empty. Some days are just more stressful than others, so it`s harder to fall asleep. And of course, there are those bigger stresses that you say he`s been feeling. Those include a baby in the family and the beginning of his body and brain changing as he enters the preteen years.

The fact that he has a meltdown means that he has a lot of feelings stored up that he needs your help to let out. After he has a chance to cry deeply, those feelings evaporate. So I am betting that after he cries, he can fall asleep pretty easily, right? But until he cries, he feels tense and wound up, and anything sets him off and keeps him awake. Since he`s very sensitive to sensory stimuli, naturally sound and light will bother him more acutely when he`s already tense.

So the first thing for you and your husband to remember is that if you get tense, your son`s tension will escalate and it will be even harder for him to relax and sleep. Try to see it from his point of view -- he`s all wound up and can`t relax but he`s exhausted! -- and try to keep yourself calm. 

And, it`s fine for him to have that meltdown. In fact, it`s probably good for him to have a chance to show those tears and fears to a compassionate witness, so he can experience them and let them go. So if you can just stay very compassionate, he will hopefully feel safe enough to have the meltdown and show you all that stress. He will relax in general, be happier and more cooperative-- and he will start falling asleep more easily, not just the night he cries but every night.

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Kathleen Notes: The brain is designed to weed out sensory stimulation but some people struggle with that. They need someone to help find solutions who will respond with empathy and non-judgement.

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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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