Sunday, January 01, 2017

New Year Optimism


January 1st has arrived and you have probably been contemplating what resolution you might want to attempt this year. Some of the more popular goals people make are to lose weight, stop smoking, find a better job, exercise, or make time to eat better. Whatever resolution you choose, seeing yourself as you want to be is the key to personal growth in 2017.

Commitment

A study by the American Medical Association found that one in five people will turn their New Year commitment into action. The rest will have good intentions but stop working on their resolution in a few weeks. “Though no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending.” Carl Bard

First, reflect on this year’s experiences. What did you learn from them? How did you apply this knowledge to create a better life for yourself? Then contemplate what you envision for yourself in the New Year and what steps you need to take to get there.

Persevere

This year give yourself the gift of love and acceptance. Believe in yourself. You are not a quitter. You are a strong, capable and resilient person. Persevere and you will attain your goal. The first step is to write your goals and intentions down. Then read them aloud daily and to visualize your success.  You should talk to your family and friends about the positive accomplishments that have occurred in your life and be grateful for them. Take small steps to improve yourself by enrolling in a class, read a book, or save money to take the trip that is on your bucket list. Try to prioritize your family first this year and spend quality time together. This will help you to understand each other more and forgive the things that keep peace from entering your life. Being kind to one another is more important than being right as you listen to the other person’s perspective or idea. Finally, have more fun together and enjoy the journey of possibilities that the New Year can bring to your life.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Blending Holiday Traditions


The United States is referred to as the “melting pot” nation where all immigrants and their traditions have blended over the centuries.  Traditions that your family looks forward to each holiday are originally from different cultures around the world.  The Christmas carols we sing are from England.  The tradition of decorating the tree is from Germany and St. Nicholas originated in Scandinavia.  The Netherlands expanded on the myth to have St. Nicolas or Santa Claus fill the stockings hanging over the fireplace.  The United States extended the story adding the sleigh and eight tiny reindeer.

Be open to change

Determining how to celebrate the holidays for divorced or blended families can become difficult with schedule conflicts and trying to combine the traditions that were important to their nuclear family.  There are many solutions to the problem if everyone is willing to compromise and experience new traditions.  Communicate with non-custodial parents to make sure the children are present for the festivities that are important to them.  Try to be flexible and alternate the schedules when possible.  Discuss how change can be a positive event when blending your favorite traditions. 

Blending family traditions can be a challenging but rewarding experience.  When all the changes become overwhelming, try to focus on the reason for the Christmas season.  You are not competing with each other but explaining the importance of how your family customs are celebrated.  Traditions are about building special memories so that one day your family rituals will be passed on to future generations.  Acceptance and acknowledging what is really important to the special people in your life will create the holiday you will all want to remember.  

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Boundaries to Have in Extended Relationships



A happy marriage doesn’t keep you safe from infidelity. Good people in good relationships are still vulnerable to being betrayed by their partner. The current statistics for partners who have been sexually unfaithful in their relationship are approximately 25% for women and 50% for men. These statistics increase 10% to 15% more if you include emotional infidelity. Platonic friendships, co-workers, neighbors and old flames run the risk of evolving into a romantic love affair. Here are seven tips that can help maintain safe boundaries in your extended relationships.

1.       Maintain appropriate boundaries in your relationships with those outside your committed partnership by remaining open with your partner and not sharing intimate details of your relationship with others.

2.       Beware of co-worker relationships pushing the boundaries. Don’t dine alone with the same co-worker. You should alternate your time with other co-workers or dine in groups. When traveling, keep meetings in public places and avoid meetings in a room with beds or the hotel bar.

3.       Avoid emotional intimacy with attractive alternatives.

4.       Protect your partnership by spending time with positive couples and make supportive statements about the relationship.

5.       Keep old flames from reigniting. Couples who rekindled romances from first love romances have a 78% rate of staying together.

6.       Create a united front on social media, text messages, snap chat, etc. Allow your partner access to your social media pages and private message discussions to create unity.

7.       Don’t get stuck in comparing possible alternatives when times are difficult. Recognize that attraction to another person is completely normal but fantasizing about that person is not normal and the spiral from thinking about an attractive alternative is detrimental to the relationship. Affairs begin in the mind.

If your relationship is struggling don’t give up. You can rebuild the connection by spending time together and setting future goals you would like to accomplish. This will help you to do small things together that will make deposits into your emotional bank account.  It is important to seek the help of your pastor or counselor when you need a neutral perspective and feel stuck on the same issues.

Sunday, October 09, 2016

Money and Relationships


It’s not uncommon for couples to encounter marital stress over their finances. Money related issues have the potential to drive many committed relationships to the edge of divorce. The most obvious concern is the conflict of not having enough money for the current financial responsibilities that must be met. In today’s culture most people equate their financial security to status and success. Many people will attach their self-worth to the number of possessions that they have.

Love of money

Researcher Jason Carroll a professor of family life at Brigham Young University reported in their new research that materialists have more dissatisfaction with their marriage than couples who don’t care about possessions. This held true among all socioeconomic levels. The least satisfying marriages were those where both spouses cared strongly about material goods. “We thought it would be the incongruent or unmatched pattern that would be most problematic, where one’s a saver and one’s a spender,” Carroll told Live Science. “Our study found that it’s the couple where both spouses have high levels of materialism that struggle the most.” Previous research has also confirmed that people who are materialistic are also more anxious, depressed and insecure than others who are not materialistic. Individuals who valued money more also had trouble at home since there was no balance between their work and personal life.

Balance the budget

One out of five couples have admitted to a strong love of money. Human being’s desire connection and material items can create distance in a relationship. Couples that have been married for 20 years or more have made time for each other and really care about their relationship. If you have concerns about your finances, talk to your partner about your future as a family. Then together set responsible financial steps to attain that vision together. Realize that this will be a long term commitment and not a goal that will be instantly gratified.

It will be important to listen to each other, compromise and put a plan into action. If you have any credit card debt or payday loans they should be a priority to pay off. The short and long term goals of savings, retirement, college funds, and vacation can all be obtained with collaborative planning. If you hit an impasse consult with a marriage counselor, coach or mediator. Your marriage is also an investment to your future.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Steps to Open Communication


When your relationship is struggling it’s important to be a participant to resolve the problem and not expect it to fix itself. Robert Sternberg (1990) created the Triangular Theory of Love that discusses the three important building blocks to a relationship. He states that every relationship must have passion, intimacy and commitment.  Intimacy is the feeling of closeness that exists between two people. Passion will produce the romance, physical attraction and intercourse for the relationship. Commitment is defined as the conscious decision a couple makes to take the loving relationship further.

Honest dialogue

After being a couple for awhile the passion can disappear. This can create more of a "roommate"  interaction which can lead to dissolution of the relationship because the commitment is no longer there.  If you are feeling an emotional distance from your partner try not to assume or jump to a conclusion of what may be wrong. Pick a time when both of you are relaxed and won’t be distracted or interrupted to discuss the concern.  When processing the issue try to be an attentive listener and respond without attacking your partner or engaging in the “blame game”. This can be done by opening the conversation with the positive aspects of the relationship. Then state the concern that you have with the relationship and openly process this information from both perspectives. When discussing your concerns restate what you heard to make sure you understood the information correctly. If the conversation becomes heated take a break as more anger will create more distance between each individual involved. Try to end the conversation with the positive steps that were discussed on how to progress forward from the situation.

Moving forward

Repairing a relationship takes time. Once the problem has been identified it is important to create a plan on how to resolve the concern and move forward. A partner should take responsibility for their choices and look for opportunities to help without being asked. This displays a commitment to the relationship and states that you are dependable and supportive.  A couple should encourage each other when facing trials. Just listening to their perspective and being emotionally supportive can make a big difference.  This will communicate that you respect your partner and are not trying to change who they are. Finally, acknowledge and accept that there will be times in your relationship to “agree to disagree.”


Sunday, August 21, 2016

Parenting Children with ADHD


Parenting can be stressful at times for everyone. Parents of children with ADHD may experience greater stress because of the additional challenges they face. Children with ADHD are known to disregard parental requests, commands and rules. They fight with their siblings, disturb neighbors and have frequent negative encounters with school authority. These challenges can often make parents feel less competent. It can also increase marital discord. Research has indicated that parents of children with ADHD are almost twice as likely to divorce by the time their child is eight years old.

Parents of children with ADHD

Parents of children with ADHD face higher divorce rates, stress level and feel less competent as a parent. With state budget cuts that have decreased services for children needing additional school resources this has increased the stress levels for the child, parents and school staff. During the school year these stressors increase as parents are faced with the challenge of getting homework completed, turned in on time and maintaining their other responsibilities in the home on a daily basis.

A recent study published in the Journal of Family Psychology states parents of children with ADHD are especially sensitive to the behaviors of their child which takes a personal emotional toll on their own well-being. Candice Odgers a study researcher and psychologist at the University of California said, “If you think about what it’s like to parent a child with ADHD, it requires a constant vigilance, and a high level of energy. This is important because we know that stress and the burden of caregiving in general are associated with a whole host of problems, mental health and physical problems.”

Family environment

Up to 5% of children and adults in the United States have ADHD, a behavioral disorder marked by impulsiveness, hyperactivity and inattention. Children with untreated ADHD are a risk for injury, substance abuse, poor school performance and emotional or social problems. Parents that have to be in a hyper vigilant state to keep their children safe feel the stress affecting the family environment.

Our children need us. They depend on us to take care of them, teach them, support them and love them. No child with or without a diagnosis can succeed to their full potential if their parents are so drained they are unable to be there for them. By not taking care of yourself, your child could be at a higher risk for more problems. Create a lifestyle for yourself and your family that prioritizes self-care with exercise, appropriate nutrition, and 8 hours of sleep.  Always seek professional advice if your stress affects the quality of life you desire.


Sunday, July 31, 2016

Kindergarten Readiness


The concept of kindergarten derived in the 1830’s from a German teacher who believed the children needed a way to transition from home into the school environment. Kindergarten was established as a way to interact and socialize. Children today are socialized at daycare or in pre-school so kindergarten has been restructured to meet the demands of academic readiness in the cognitive and social areas of development.

Readiness to learn

School readiness means that the child has the ability to learn and cope in the school environment without experiencing undue stress. Children should be able to separate from their family and trust the adults in the school environment. They need to understand the concept of sharing and how to take turns when playing with other children. Children should also display some level of social skills in how to resolve problems and work cooperatively with their peers. They must be able to adapt to the structure of the school day and follow the instructions from their teacher.

A real assessment of readiness isn’t based on the chronological age alone. Many schools will do an assessment several weeks before school begins that involve cognitive, linguistic, motor skills and social skills. Children that enter kindergarten with limited baseline skills of reading and math are unlikely to catch up with their peers. Many will need support services that require remedial learning with the help of an aide or tutor.  Children that don’t test well will have a re-evaluation three to six months later to assess if a developmental specialist or neurologist should be consulted.

Other considerations

There are many different academic settings to consider when choosing a school for your children. There are public, private, religion based, and Montessori schools. Other determining factors are class size, use of aides in the classroom, and if kindergarten is a full or half-day program. Structural considerations would be the locations of the bathroom, playground and lunchroom where interaction with older students should be limited.

There are many different developmental levels and skills found in the classroom. Teachers are working to meet the diversity, developmental needs and abilities of all children. Children learn best by doing. It allows them to learn through exploration and observation. It can also help them to follow their interests while building cognitive and creative talents. As you determine the kindergarten readiness for your children also seek an environment where they can be engaged and interested in learning for their optimal growth and development.