Jia Jiang adventures boldly into a territory so many of us fear: rejection. By seeking out rejection for 100 days — from asking a stranger to borrow $100 to requesting a “burger refill” at a restaurant — Jiang desensitized himself to the pain and shame that rejection often brings and, in the process, discovered that simply asking for what you want can open up possibilities where you expect to find dead ends.
When parents discipline their children with yelling or spanking, it’s often a result of emotional venting and is not particularly useful because of the negative side effects. Learn how to discipline children with guidance-based strategies with help from a licensed clinical psychologist in this free video on children and discipline.
Expert: Dr. Craig Childress
A child exhibiting constant anger should be approached with the intent to understand. Develop the understanding between you and your child with the assistance of a licensed psychologist in this free video.
Expert: Dr. Craig Childress
There are many affects of divorce on a family – emotional, economic and personal, and children are often the collateral damage. Parents are in so much pain and distress that they are unable to care for the emotional and physical needs of their children. As a result, children are caught in the crossfire, between two emotionally wounded people, who once said, “I do” and for whatever reason now, don’t.
Children, however, have had nothing to say about this decision, and the only place where they feel safe – their home with mother and father – has now been destroyed. All the structures, by which they identified and labeled themselves and their family, no longer exist and, regardless of their age, children can’t really get their minds around the idea that something they considered “forever”, no longer exists. Furthermore, we know today that the impact of divorce on children can be long lasting.
Longitudinal research on children from divorce informs us that trust, commitment and intimacy are more difficult to develop in relationships later in life when they are violated at an early age. Therefore, children of divorce, tend to marry later in life and often have problems choosing a life partner. Also, other delays are evident, as these children can be paralyzed or frozen in their emotions at the very stage of development that existed at the time of divorce – or they can be seen to regress to earlier developmental stages that existed before the divorce. However, this rather bleak scenario does not have to exist.
Out of 100% of the people in our country that have children, only 20% are traditionally married. There are all types of family structures in which children are raised. The important thing to remember is that children need to have their needs met; they need to be nurtured; and they need to be able to count on their parents to be reliable and be there for them. Consequently, parents must step into their adult mode; override their own feelings of incapacity and be there for their children – now. Though marriage fails to survive, the family can still prosper if divorce is a success.
What Parents Should Know About Divorce
Keep Children in the Loop – It is much easier to deal with things we know about. Parents must be open and honest and give age-appropriate information to their children. If you do this, then you can actually lower your children’s anxiety rather than have it be free-floating, looking for a place to reside. Tell your children together and try to promote a united front. This will signal to your children that though the marriage breaks – the family survives, and that parents from henceforth, will become co-parents – loving their children unconditionally no matter what. Keep it simple. Don’t exaggerate or over-react. Children take their cue from their parents. If you show them confidence, they will feel secure in a potentially out-of-control situation. The course is set – steer them through it, with competence.
Have a Plan – Structure and consistency offer stability. Children feel secure if they feel that you, their parents, will protect them and have a construct for their future. Restore a normal routine as quickly as possible, including a calendar for visitation and holidays. Practice and rehearse your children in their new living arrangements, including school. This will give your children the confirmation that their parents have put serious thought into what happens to them.
Reassure Your Children – Don’t burden your children with adult decisions and responsibilities. Let them have their childhood.
Do Not Split Your Children in Relation to Your Former Mate – Children bear the genetic inheritance of both parents and consciously or unconsciously, feel their identity wrapped up in mother and father. If you attack their parent, you are in essence attacking your child’s identity – who he or she is, as a person. Children are very loyal and empathetic to their parents. As a result, if you put them in the middle of your divorce, they will bear both, some of the responsibility and guilt for the outcome – successful or not. Don’t ask children to be responsible for things over which they have no control. It can damage them for life.
Be Authentic – Tell the truth to your children – but never speak against their other parent. Children have had their trust shattered, and it is the parent’s role to rebuild that trust for them through positive regard and experience – little by little, day by day. Reconstruct a secure familial model for your children, letting them feel that you can care for them and be counted on to tell the truth – no matter what. Answer questions honestly, keeping in mind age-appropriate information. Parents are required to parent and maintain a sense of self-control.
Put Your Children First – Don’t make them your ally or your agent. Don’t ask them questions about your ex-partner, their living arrangements or dating arrangements. This puts children in a double bind and makes them feel very uncomfortable, as they feel they may be betraying one parent or the other.
Create A Safe Family Environment – The family structure is now different and unfamiliar. Children see their parents fragile, for what may be the first time. Their safe haven – the family as they knew it – is gone. To protect their family – their parents, children often repress their own feelings. Grief is the natural response to loss as well as guilt, anger, and fear. Children blame themselves as they are very egocentric and have the feeling of omnipotence. It is the parent’s role to help their children deal with these feelings so that they don’t have either short-term or long-term injury. Unresolved grief, fear, guilt, and anger, when repressed, can lead to both childhood and adult depression and in the worst case scenario suicide. Children must be encouraged to express their feelings and parents must give them the space in which to do that.
The Empathic Process – The best way to reconnect to your children is to communicate with them often. The best way to communicate with them is to listen to them with empathy. Set a regular time as a family tradition, a ritual, to restore faith in the family’s ability to function securely and be protective. Find a neutral space – the kitchen table, which is the heart of the house and serves very well for family meetings. Make eye contact; listen attentively; touch hands; hold confidences; and never defend positions. This is a place for each child to tell their feelings freely. There are rules for the empathic process – each person gets equal time to talk without interruption; and each child is invested in ideas and solutions. As a result, problem solving can happen because everyone’s feelings are considered. Never discount feelings. Divorce is devastating to the emotional make-up of children and adults. Of course, there will be the expression of injury – including anger, hurt, and blame. The family can take it, because love in a family is unconditional. This is where the parent must rise to the occasion to stay in the adult mode and support by listening, not just hearing, the pain in their family. The consistent family meeting, gives children a chance to reveal their feelings and express them. It also gives parents a chance to check in with their children to see how they feel; see how they are doing.
Never Give False Hope To Children That The Marriage Will Reunite – This only encourages fantasy or magical thinking and delays healing. In a certain way, clear and straight talk with your children gives them an opportunity to transition from one family structure to another by reaching down into their own resource and finding out that they can survive.
Seek Professional Help – Parents must never use their children for friends or counselors. If parents can’t handle their suffering, they should go to either a meaningful person; a person in the clergy; or a counselor or therapist.
Children Who Can’t Move Successfully Through Divorce, Need Therapy – Group therapy; counseling and support groups of children in similar situation are very successful in helping children connect to their feelings. Sometimes dance therapy, art, journaling, help children communicate in ways that are often too difficult to verbalize. A good counselor can guide them through the process.
Create New Family Traditions – Sometimes families reorganize in a way that includes step-parents and step-siblings. Therefore, parents must take the lead and invite children into the process of creating new family rules and new holiday experiences. Remember once again – to parent – to shape the new model by giving freedom within limits. If you invest your children in these decisions, they will be more likely to adapt comfortably. These children may have inherited new parents and new siblings, and no one asked them their opinions – no one gave them a choice. The trauma of divorce is deconstructing and parents can lead the way toward healthy reconstruction.
Creating A New Family Model With New House Rules, Rewards And Consequences Is Very Important To The Success Of This Transformation – Children become very territorial once they have experienced the dissolution of their family and face the establishment of something new. In essence, they are fighting for a place for themselves. This takes love, patience and time. Remember – children need their needs met; they need to be nurtured; and they need to be able to count on their parents to be there for them now.
Recognizing Signs Of Distress – Divorce is a trauma for the emotional well-being of your child. It is important to know your child; to pay attention and see signs of change such as eating, sleeping, activity, school work, social behavior, anxiety, agitation, depression and in the extreme, giving away precious possessions. Children look to their families as a way to define themselves. It is a part of who they are – their identity. It is unthinkable that no matter how bad the family system is, it will actually dissolve. Divorce is so critical to the way that children feel about themselves, think and act, that if not handled well by the adults involved, can lead to a whole host of negative outcomes – not the least of which is childhood suicide. Parents can make all of the difference, but first, it is essential that they stay in their adult and parent. This means they should not burden their children with their problems; don’t take away their children’s childhood by making them responsible for themselves; and don’t make your children your friends and allies.
In the final analysis, children have two parents and their very identity is wrapped up in both. Seek professional help if you need support, but do not use your children as counselors; don’t make your children your agents; don’t ask them uncomfortable questions about their other parent; and don’t put them on the spot in a double bind. This kind of splitting can only lead to feelings of disloyalty and guilt.
Create a safe space for your children where you can communicate with empathy and listen. Check in with them on a regular basis; find out how they are doing; how they feel. It is important to know that your children want to be normal and the same as everyone else. Therefore, honor their feelings; confirm their feelings of hurt and pain and invest them in the discovery of options to help them find their own resource for survival. Return your children to a normal routine as quickly as possible, and remember to participate in the solution – don’t be the problem.
Find the original article here.
Do you find your child lashing out? Are you having trouble communicating with your child during moments of extreme frustration or aggression? While children are growing and still learning how to cope with anger, they tend to instinctively use anger as a defense against physical and emotional pain. As the parent, there are many ways you can help your child through these emotional moments.
Here are some helpful tips to teach your children how to cope with anger:
1. DO recognize and acknowledge your child’s feelings. If you validate your child’s feelings, then your child doesn’t need to defend those feelings and is less likely to respond in anger. Acknowledging feelings causes your child’s anger to soften and leaves a safe space in which he or she can learn empathy and coping skills. On the other hand, if you discount your children’s feelings and experience, their anger will intensify as they fight to establish and validate their own sense of self.
2. DO practice empathy. By listening to your child’s feelings without interruption or defense, you create space for your child’s anger to dissipate, as they no longer need to use up energy defending the fairness of their position. By empathizing with your child’s feelings, you are helping them regulate the cortisol — the fight-or-flight chemical — that emerges through emotional stress. The consistency of your open reception to your child’s anger teaches him or her to react less emotionally and more critically. Ultimately, this is how nature and nurture come into balance, as a child’s behavior affects body chemistry and therefore, their emotional control.
3. DO teach your children problem-solving skills. Neurological tracking occurs when children creatively problem-solve. The more children practice and rehearse problem-solving rather than emotional reacting, the more their neurological pathways assist them in controlling their impulses. Parents can teach their children how to recognize, acknowledge and appropriately cope with their feelings by asking questions that prompt children to think up their own solutions, such as “What do you think would happen if you did Choice A instead of Choice B?” or, “What sort of options do you think are available to you and what do you need to do to find a resolution?”
4. DO establish clear standards for acceptable and unacceptable behavior. This means that though we want to validate all our child is feeling, allowing those emotions does not translate into the acceptance of bad behavior. There are common rules of engagement which include: no hitting, throwing, breaking objects or disrespect. By involving children in establishing the consequences for their behavior, you will find that your children are more likely to respect the rules. By limiting your children’s aggressive behavior, you are in a sense establishing a safety container for their feelings.
5. DO teach your child relaxation methods. By teaching children progressive relaxation, breathing techniques and other self-managing tools for stress, they can calm themselves down when confronted with anger. These techniques not only change the neural pathways, but also affect impulse control. Like every habit, the more your do it, the better you become at it. For example, if a child learns to breath in before giving in to the impulsive act of hitting, it gives that child a sense of control and lessens the need to establish control by acting out.
6. DO try a “time in” instead of a “time out.” As the parent, you are your child’s main guide in life, and as their guide, they rely on you to be there with them through their emotional experience, whatever that may be. Therefore, no time out, no isolation. Instead, try a “time in” — sit with your child and incorporate other methods mentioned in this post: work on breathing with them, ask them questions about their feelings. The important thing is to be fully present with them to help them through their emotions. Remember, you are teaching your child social cues and skills to be in relationships with others, rather than acting out alone. When children are isolated, they often ruminate and feel guilty for their behavior. This only serves to create concrete reasons for low self-esteem, which often cycles back to creating bad behavior.
7. DON’T attempt to orchestrate your child’s feelings. It is important to value what your child is experiencing. For example, if your child is hurt or crying, never say to them: “Stop crying.” But rather, validate your child’s experience, saying, “I know that hurts; that would make me cry also.” This makes an ally out of you, rather than a target for free floating anxiety and anger.
As an ally, your child learns to trust you, realizing you are there for them — no matter what, right or wrong, and that they can count on that. If your child can trust you, they can learn to trust themselves and the outer world. If, for example, your child tells you they hate you, or wants you to leave them alone, it is important to assure them that you will be nearby and that you will always be there for them — no matter what.
8. DON’T go down to your child’s level of behavior. Consciously and deliberately step into your role as the adult and remain there for the entire stressful episode. Little children can really work themselves up emotionally, especially while defending their position. Your job as a parent is to stay composed. Your state of calm allows your child to feel safe in the midst of chaos. A parent is always a child’s touchstone, the one they look toward, for security and safety. Children become afraid when their parents display anger. By staying in your adult role, you are teaching your child that it is okay to feel angry, and that when the feeling passes, you are still there, holding a secure space for them.
9. DO teach your children to recognize anger cues. If children can self-monitor, they can self-manage. By recognizing the feelings that accompany anger, children can recognize the onset of those emotions. This gives them time in which to self-manage before they are caught in the chaos of emotion. If you see that your child is over-tired or cranky, you have the opportunity as a parent to teach them to recognize their oncoming emotions by resting with your child, reading to your child, or spending some cozy time together.
10. DO teach your children how to bring their feelings to consciousness. By recognizing the emotions that drive their behavior, children can learn to skillfully manage that behavior. Writing, drawing and painting are wonderful ways to express the issues that are bothering children, especially if they have trouble verbalizing their emotions. When my children were little and reached the point of no return in their emotional intensity, I bought a Shmoo, which is balloon that can be punched and pops back up. I gave permission for my children to use the pillows on their bed or the Shmoo to release some of the pent-up feelings of emotions. Once those feelings are out in the open, you can collaborate with your child to find ways of coping with these feelings empathically.
11. Invest your child in the process of managing their anger. Ask your children to give you some tips on how they could positively manage their emotions. Make a list of five actions they can take — such as breathing deeply for one minute or drawing a picture — and leave the list somewhere your child can see it, such as his or her bedroom door or on your refrigerator door.
12. DO bond with your child. A well-bonded child can learn to cope and manage his or her emotions, to problem-solve, to process and to stick with a problem until it is resolved. They are also more adventuresome and will creatively explore different options as solutions to problems. The well-bonded child feels like he or she can depend on parents.
In the end, remember that you, as the parent, make all the difference. By following these tips, you can help strengthen your relationship with your child and give them the tools they need to cope with their anger. If you notice that your child has relationship problems, is a bully, or tries to hurt themselves, others or animals, do consider seeking professional help for both you and your child.
If you would like to learn more about how children process anger, please visit my website www.DrGailGross.com
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Anger can be a difficult emotion to understand, especially for children. This story walks through the process of moving from outbursts and repression to conscious, healthy methods of expressing anger. This is a condensed version of the book, “The Mad Family Gets Their Mads Out” by Lynne Namka, Ed. D., psychologist and president of “Talk, Trust and Feel Therapeutics.”
by Signe Whitson L.S.W.
As a school counselor, one of the most frequently asked category of questions I receive centers around ‘how do I handle my child’s anger?’ The question is almost always spoken by parents in a voice burdened with shame and embarrassment—as if anger in childhoodwas a bad thing or that any ‘good’ parent would know how to keep their kids perpetually happy. Neither could be further from the reality of human nature and no adult need berate themselves for the fact that their children act like human beings.
To reassure caregivers that their questions about how to handle anger in children are valid and that they are not alone (by a long shot) in feeling weighed down by the challenge, here are my responses to a few of the most frequently asked questions about helping kids handle anger:
IS ANGER BAD OR HARMFUL TO A CHILD?
Anger is a basic, primal, spontaneous, but temporary neurophysiological feeling. It is usually triggered by some sort of frustration and often perceived as an unpleasant state. Anger is real and it is powerful—but it needn’t be feared, denied, or considered bad in and of itself. Bearing in mind that all living creatures experience frustration, it follows that the feeling of anger is completely normal and natural. It’s what we do with our anger that counts. When anger is dealt with in healthy, constructive ways, there’s nothing bad or harmful about it. However, too often we find that young people express anger in destructive ways that are harmful to friendships, parent-child interactions, student-teacher relationships, and even to long-term health.
DO ADULT ANGER PROBLEMS ALWAYS START FROM CHILDHOOD?
Problems expressing anger in healthy ways often trace their roots to childhood. Some young people learn from the adults in their lives that aggression—whether it be yelling, name-calling, shaming, or actual violence—is the go-to strategy for expressing anger. They may be taught that their momentary feelings are more important than the rights of others and that they are free to act out their feelings on others, no matter what the impact.
Then, there are other very different childhood experiences that are marked by impossible standards of perfection. In these homes, kids often get the message that “anger is bad” and that “good kids don’t let anyone know that they are angry.” Young people growing up in this kind of emotionally-restricted environment learn from an early age to hide or deny their natural feelings. Even though suppressing anger may appear far more civil than outright name-calling or aggression, kids who are forced to mask their anger can suffer a great deal as adults, as they turn their anger inward and experience depression, or engage in passive aggressive behaviors to hurt others in hidden ways.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A HEALTHY SPELL OF ANGER AND SOMETHING THAT’S A PROBLEM?
Healthy anger is marked by assertive communication. In a healthy spell of anger, a young person can (and will!) honestly, directly and clearly tell someone else what happened that bothered them and make a specific request for that behavior to change or for amends to be made. In some situations, this kind of communication is not an option and so a young person may make a conscious decision to distance themselves from the anger source or to “let go” of their angry feelings. For example, in a school setting, students often don’t have the social power to be able to be 100% honest and assertive with a teacher they believe has treated them unfairly. Making a choice to pick their battles and let a minor injustice go is a mature, emotionally-measured, and solution-focused way to make a bad situation bearable.
Problematic anger happens when an angry young person violates the rights of others through some sort of physical aggression, verbal outburst, or backhanded means of revenge. Problematic anger is all about getting back at someone else and hurting them, while constructive anger is about solving a problem.
HOW CAN I HELP A CHILD WHO HAS ANGER ISSUES?
Any person at any age can learn that they have choices when it comes to how to express anger. The good news is that just as aggression is a learned behavioral choice for expressing anger, so is assertiveness. This knowledge is power. When young people realize that their choices are bringing them results that they don’t want—scoldings, time outs, loss of privileges, restrictions on free time—they are often eager to learn better choices and strategies for expressing their angry feelings.
Physical strategies such as engaging in sports, exercise, mindfulness, and yoga are proven effective in helping young people learn to calm their brains and gain greater control over their choices in healthy behaviors.
As a mental health professional and school counselor, I encourage all schools to incorporate emotion management skills as part of the regular curriculum. Since we know that emotional well-being is a pre-requisite for academic success, it only makes sense that schools make so-called “soft” skills such as problem-solving, conflict resolution, and assertive communication a part of their regular skills curriculum. Prevention is our very best bet for helping young people solve their anger issues before they become lifelong patterns.
And finally, timing is everything when it comes to helping a young person who expresses their anger in destructive ways. Telling a person that they have “anger issues” during a fit of rage is pretty much guaranteed to worsen the problem. The child’s emotional brain is dominating their actions and they are not able to effectively access the logical, thinking part of their brain that allows them to make good choices. For a young person to truly understand that their way of expressing anger is a problem for them (and for those around them!), they have to be calm enough to be able to clearly comprehend the costs of their destructive anger expression. Helping a child learn how to thoroughly calm down from a bout of anger is one of the most valuable skills an adult can teach. Listening (read: not talking) while a young person puts their feelings into words after (and only after) they have calmed down is a lasting way to help kids learn to understand and manage their angry feelings.
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I was at a friend’s house for dinner one evening when, out of the blue, their son turned to his parents and said, “Oh, I forgot to tell you. I got suspended from work for a week.”
“What happened?” his dad inquired. There was concern in his tone. It had been difficult for their son to secure this job.
“I was late twice within the same week.”
“That’s too bad,” his mother said. “You needed the money.” She continued eating, and we chatted for a minute before the subject changed.
I was so proud of his mother, I wanted to scream, “Way to go!” She didn’t get hooked into taking care of him or hooked by her own anxiety into lecturing, trying to ensure that he would never be late again so he wouldn’t lose his job. She just empathized and listened, allowing him to shoulder the problem. She also did not offer money, talk about how unfair “they” were to do such a thing, or enter into any other codependent behavior. Her son was learning that the real world has limits for his behavior. Fortunately, his mother refused to shield him from that lesson.
If parents can stay out of the way of the outside world’s limits, the child learns an important reality: Parents are not the only ones with rules. This realization helps the child see rules not as parental but as part of the real world. If allowed to suffer, he learns that the world has requirements from which parents cannot shield him. This realization does wonders to stop his regressive slide back to the parents’ protection; the child learns to deal with the consequences of reality in a way other than just the parents’ discipline.
Unfortunately, some parents cannot let their children suffer. When their teenager runs into trouble with school, or the law, or on the job, she will do something to bail him out. When she runs to his aid, she often attacks or undermines the limit he should have experienced at the hands of the outside world. She storms the principal’s office, for example, protesting a grade or lack of promotion or recognition. Certainly it can’t be her child’s first fault; it must be the teacher or the school. And if someone doesn’t do something, there will be hell to pay, or some other version of parental threat. This type of parent just cannot accept the fact that her child is not making it and needs to suffer the consequences.
Sometimes a parent will not interfere so blatantly as storming the principal’s office. She may just join her child in blaming the limit setter. “Well, you know how those teachers are,” she might say. “They just teach by the book. Wait until you get to college where they actually know what they’re talking about.” The reaction undermines the effect of what could have served as a wake-up call that the child needed to help him grow up.
The chief parenting task in this area is to not get in the way. The parent’s job is the resist not only undermining but also joining the limits her child experiences in the real world – using them to say, “I told you so.” Using the outside to limit to her advantage diminishes its power. She might say something like, “I told you if you didn’t start to be more responsible that this would happen. Now look at the mess you’ve gotten yourself into.” This kind of reaction nullifies any positive effect the outside limits might have had on the child; the outside limits and parents’ nagging become the same in the mind of the child who is trying to separate from the parent. What started as an outside limit has now become the parent’s, and the child must separate from them and thus, from the limit. As a life lesson, it is canceled out, as if it never happened. This does not negate valid coaching and interaction but only joining.
A parent would do best to just step out of the way and allow her child to have his own experience and relationship with the outside world. Like my friend’s remark: “Sounds tough. What are you going to do now? Pass the casserole.”
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When we think about setting boundaries in relationships, we have to consider the fact that you may encounter someone who may lie to you, which raises the question – why do people lie, and what can you do about it?
There are really two categories of liars. First, there are liars who lie out of shame, guilt, fear of conflict or loss of love, and other fears. They are the ones who lie when it would be a lot easier to tell the truth. They want to be honest, but for one reason or another, cannot quite pull it off. They fear the other person’s anger or loss of love.
The second categories are liars who lie as a ways of operating and deceive others for their own selfish ends. There is no fear or defensiveness involved, just lying for the love of self.
You will have to ask yourself if you want to take the risk and do the work if you are with the first type. There are people in the first category who have never had a relationship where they felt safe enough to be honest, and they tend to still be hiding. So they lie to preserve love, or preserve the relationship, or avoid being caught in something because of guilt and shame. They are not really dangerous or evil, and sometimes when they find someone safe, they learn to tell the truth. This is a risk that some people want to take after finding out that deception has occurred. They hope that the person will be redeemed by the grace and love that they offer and will shoot straight with them from then on.
The thing is, dating is not a place for rehabilitating someone. It should occur in that person’s counseling, recovery or some other context. Just because someone lies out of fear, that doesn’t mean it’s acceptable, and serious devastation can occur even with fearful liars.
The second kind of liar is a definite no-go. Tell him or her good-bye, and save yourself a lot of heartache. Perpetual liars are not ready for a relationship, no matter how much you’re attracted to him or her. Run, run, run!
So, what do you do if you catch someone lying to you?
1. Confront it.
2. Hear the response and see how much ownership and remorse there is for the lying.
3. Try to figure out what the lying means in the relationship. If the person is afraid, guilty or fears loss of love by you, then work on that dynamic and try to determine if the character issue is changing with more safety. But be careful.
4. Look at the level of repentance and change. How internally motivated is he or she to get better?
5. Is the change being sustained? Make sure you give it enough time. Hearing “I’m sorry” isn’t good enough.
6. Look at the kind of lying that took place. Was it to protect him or herself, or just to serve selfish ends? If it is the latter, face reality squarely that you are a person who loves themselves more than the truth and face what that means. If the former, think long and hard and have a good reason to continue.
You don’t have to tolerate deception or lying when it happens. If your significant other is not being transparent, don’t let it go. Set a boundary and tell yourself, “I have to be with someone who is honest with me.” Many times lying is a sign of a serious character problem that doesn’t change without major hurt for many people.
Find the original post here.
“I know I’m supposed to forgive,” a woman said to me at a recent seminar. “But, I just can’t open myself up to that kind of hurt anymore. I know I should forgive him and trust him, but if I let him back in, the same thing will happen, and I can’t go through that again.”
“Who said anything about ‘trusting’ him?” I asked. “I don’t think you should trust him either.”
“But you said I was supposed to forgive him, and if I do that, doesn’t that mean giving him another chance? Don’t I have to open up to him again?”
“No, you don’t,” I replied. “Forgiveness and trust are two totally different things. In fact, that’s part of your problem. Every time he’s done this, he’s come back and apologized, and you have just accepted him right back into your life, and nothing has changed. You trusted him, nothing was different, and he did it again. I don’t think that’s wise.”
“Well,” she asked, “How can I forgive him without opening myself up to being hurt again?”
Good question. We hear this problem over and over again. People have been hurt, and they do one of two things. Either they confront the other person about something that has happened, the other person says he’s sorry, and they forgive, open themselves up again, and blindly trust. Or, in fear of opening themselves up again, they avoid the conversation altogether and hold onto the hurt, fearing that forgiveness will make them vulnerable once again.
How do you resolve this dilemma?
The simplest way to help you to organize your thoughts as you confront this problem is to remember three points:
1. Forgiveness has to do with the past. Forgiveness is not holding something someone has done against you. It is letting it go. It only takes one to offer forgiveness.
2. Reconciliation has to do with the present. It occurs when the other person apologizes and accepts forgiveness. It takes two to reconcile.
3. Trust has to do with the future. It deals with both what you will risk happening again and what you will open yourself up to. A person must show through his actions that he is trustworthy before you trust him again.
You could have a conversation that deals with two of these issues, or all three. In some good boundary conversations, you forgive the other person for the past, reconcile in the present, and then discuss what the limits of trust will be in the future. The main point is this: Keep the future clearly differentiated from the past.
As you discuss the future, you clearly delineate what your expectations are, what limits you will set, what the conditions will be, or what the consequences (good or bad) of various actions will be.
Differentiating between forgiveness and trust does a number of things:
First, you prevent the other person from being able to say that not opening up again means you are “holding it against me.”
Second, you draw a clear line from the past to the possibility of a good future with a new beginning point of today, with a new plan and new expectations. If you have had flimsy boundaries in the past, you are sending a clear message that you are going to do things differently in the future.
Third, you give the relationship a new opportunity to go forward. You can make a new plan, with the other person potentially feeling cleansed and feeling as though the past will not be used to shame or hurt him. As a forgiven person, he can become an enthusiastic partner in the future of the relationship instead of a guilty convict trying to work his way out of relational purgatory. And you can feel free, not burdened, by bitterness and punitive feelings, while at the same time being wise about the future.
Find the original article here.
by Sam Eaton
I want to send global, sky-writing airplanes telling the life-change that happens beneath a steeple. I want to install a police microphone on top of my car and cruise the streets screaming to the masses about the magical Utopian community of believers waiting for them just down the street.
I desperately want to feel this way about church, but I don’t. Not even a little bit. In fact, like much of my generation, I feel the complete opposite.
Turns out I identify more with Maria from The Sound of Music staring out the abbey window, longing to be free.
It seems all-too-often our churches are actually causing more damage than good, and the statistics are showing a staggering number of millennials have taken note.
According to this study (and many others like it) church attendance and impressions of the church are the lowest in recent history, and most drastic among millennials described as 22- to 35-year-olds.
- Only 2 in 10 Americans under 30 believe attending a church is important or worthwhile (an all-time low).
- 59 percent of millennials raised in a church have dropped out.
- 35 percent of millennials have an anti-church stance, believing the church does more harm than good.
- Millennials are the least likely age group of anyone to attend church (by far).
As I sat in our large church’s annual meeting last month, I looked around for anyone in my age bracket. It was a little like a Titanic search party…
IS ANYONE ALIVE OUT THERE? CAN ANYBODY HEAR ME?
Tuning in and out of the 90-minute state-of-the-church address, I kept wondering to myself, where are my people? And then the scarier question, why I am still here?
A deep-seated dissatisfaction has been growing in me and, despite my greatest attempts to whack-a-mole it back down, no matter what I do it continues to rise out of my wirey frame.
Despite the steep drop-off in millennials, most churches seem to be continuing on with business as usual. Sure, maybe they add a food truck here or a bowling night there, but no one seems to be reacting with any level of concern that matches these STAGGERING statistics.
Where is the task-force searching for the lost generation? Where is the introspective reflection necessary when 1/3 of a generation is ANTI-CHURCH?
The truth is no one has asked me why millennials don’t like church. Luckily, as a public school teacher, I am highly skilled at answering questions before they’re asked. It’s a gift really.
So, at the risk of being excommunicated, here is the metaphorical nailing of my own 12 theses to the wooden door of the American, Millennial-less Church.
1. Nobody’s Listening to Us
Millennials value voice and receptivity above all else. When a church forges ahead without ever asking for our input we get the message loud and clear: Nobody cares what we think. Why then, should we blindly serve an institution that we cannot change or shape?
- Create regular outlets (forums, surveys, meetings) to discover the needs of young adults both inside AND outside the church.
- Invite millennials to serve on leadership teams or advisory boards where they can make a difference.
- Hire a young adults pastor who has the desire and skill-set to connect with millennials.
2. We’re Sick of Hearing About Values & Mission Statements
Sweet Moses people, give it a rest.
Of course as an organization it’s important to be moving in the same direction, but that should easier for Christians than anyone because we already have a leader to follow. Jesus was insanely clear about our purpose on earth:
“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:30-31)
“Love God. Love Others.” Task completed.
Why does every church need its own mission statement anyway? Aren’t we all one body of Christ, serving one God? What would happen if the entire American Church came together in our commonalities and used the same, concise mission statement?
- Stop wasting time on the religious mambo jambo and get back to the heart of the gospel. If you have to explain your mission and values to the church, it’s overly-religious and much too complicated.
- We’re not impressed with the hours you brag about spending behind closed doors wrestling with Christianese words on a paper. We’re impressed with actions and service.
3. Helping the Poor Isn’t a Priority
My heart is broken for how radically self-centered and utterly American our institution has become.
Let’s clock the number of hours the average church attender spends in “church-type” activities. Bible studies, meetings, groups, social functions, book clubs, planning meetings, talking about building community, discussing a new mission statement…
Now let’s clock the number of hours spent serving the least of these. Oooooo, awkward.
If the numbers are not equal please check your Bible for better comprehension (or revisit the universal church mission statement stated above).
“If our lives do not reflect radical compassion for the poor, there is reason to wonder if Christ is in us at all.” –Radical, David Platt
- Stop creating more Bible studies and Christian activity. Community happens best in service with a shared purpose.
- Survey your members asking them what injustice or cause God has placed on their hearts. Then connect people who share similar passions. Create space for them to meet and brainstorm and then sit back and watch what God brings to life.
- Create group serve dates once a month where anyone can show up and make a difference (and, oh yeah, they’ll also meet new people).
4. We’re Tired of You Blaming the Culture
From Elvis’ hips to rap music, from Footloose to “twerking,” every older generation comes to the same conclusion: The world is going to pot faster than the state of Colorado. We’re aware of the down-falls of the culture—believe it or not we are actually living in it too.
Perhaps it’s easier to focus on how terrible the world is out there than actually address the mess within.
- Put the end times rhetoric to rest and focus on real solutions and real impact in our immediate community.
- Explicitly teach us how our lives should differ from the culture. (If this teaching isn’t happening in your life, check out the book Weird: Because Normal Isn’t Working by Craig Groeschel)
5. The “You Can’t Sit With Us” Affect
There is this life-changing movie all humans must see, regardless of gender. The film is of course the 2004 classic Mean Girls.
In the film, the most popular girl in school forgets to wear pink on a Wednesday (a cardinal sin), to which Gretchen Weiners screams, “YOU CAN’T SIT WITH US!”
Today, my mom said to me, “Church has always felt exclusive and ‘cliquey,’ like high school.” With sadness in her voice she continued, “and I’ve never been good at that game so I stopped playing.”
The truth is, I share her experience. As do thousands of others.
Until the church finds a way to be radically kinder and more compassionate than the world at large, we tell outsiders they’re better off on their own. And the truth is, many times they are.
- Create authentic communities with a shared purpose centered around service.
- Create and train a team of CONNECT people whose purpose is to seek out the outliers on Sunday mornings or during other events. Explicitly teach people these skills as they do not come naturally to most of the population.
- Stop placing blame on individuals who struggle to get connected. For some people, especially those that are shy or struggle with anxiety, putting yourself out there even just once might be an overwhelming task. We have to find ways to bridge that gap.
6. Distrust & Misallocation of Resources
Over and over we’ve been told to “tithe” and give 10 percent of our incomes to the church, but where does that money actually go? Millennials, more than any other generation, don’t trust institutions, for we have witnessed over and over how corrupt and self-serving they can be.
We want pain-staking transparency. We want to see on the church homepage a document where we can track every dollar.
Why should thousands of our hard-earned dollars go toward a mortgage on a multi-million dollar building that isn’t being utilized to serve the community, or to pay for another celebratory bouncy castle when that same cash-money could provide food, clean water and shelter for someone in need?
- Go out of your way to make all financial records readily accessible. Earn our trust so we can give with confidence.
- Create an environment of frugality.
- Move to zero-based budgeting where departments aren’t allocated certain dollar amounts but are asked to justify each purchase.
- Challenge church staff to think about the opportunity cost. Could these dollars be used to better serve the kingdom?
7. We Want to Be Mentored, Not Preached At
Preaching just doesn’t reach our generation like our parents and grandparents. See: millennial church attendance. We have millions of podcasts and Youtube videos of pastors the world over at our fingertips.
For that reason, the currency of good preaching is at its lowest value in history.
Millennials crave relationship, to have someone walking beside them through the muck. We are the generation with the highest ever percentage of fatherless homes.
We’re looking for mentors who are authentically invested in our lives and our future. If we don’t have real people who actually care about us, why not just listen to a sermon from the couch (with the ecstasy of donuts and sweatpants)?
- Create a database of adult mentors and young adults looking for someone to walk with them.
- Ask the older generation to be intentional with the millennials in your church.
8. We Want to Feel Valued
Churches tend to rely heavily on their young adults to serve. You’re single, what else do you have to do? In fact, we’re tapped incessantly to help out. And, at its worst extreme, spiritually manipulated with the cringe-worthy words “you’re letting your church down.”
Millennials are told by this world from the second we wake up to the second we take a sleeping pill that we aren’t good enough.
We desperately need the church to tell us we are enough, exactly the way we are. No conditions or expectations.
We need a church that sees us and believes in us, that cheers us on and encourages us to chase our big crazy dreams.
- Return to point #1: listening.
- Go out of your way to thank the people who are giving so much of their life to the church.
9. We Want You to Talk to Us About Controversial Issues (Because No One Is)
People in their 20s and 30s are making the biggest decisions of their entire lives: career, education, relationships, marriage, sex, finances, children, purpose, chemicals, body image.
We need someone consistently speaking truth into every single one of those areas.
No, I don’t think a sermon-series on sex is appropriate for a sanctuary full of families, but we have to create a place where someone older is showing us a better way because these topics are the teaching millennials are starving for. We don’t like how the world is telling us to live, but we never hear from our church either.
- Create real and relevant space for young adults to learn, grow and be vulnerable.
- Create an opportunity for young adults to find and connect with mentors.
- Create a young adults program that transitions high school youth through late adulthood rather than abandoning them in their time of greatest need.
- Intentionally train young adults in how to live a godly life instead of leaving them to fend for themselves.
10. The Public Perception
It’s time to focus on changing the public perception of the church within the community. The neighbors, the city and the people around our church buildings should be audibly thankful the congregation is part of their neighborhood. We should be serving the crap out of them.
We desperately need to be calling the schools and the city, knocking on doors, asking everyone around us how we can make their world better. When the public opinion shows 1/3 millennials are ANTI-CHURCH, we are outright failing at being the aroma of Christ.
- Call the local government and schools to ask what their needs are. (See: Service Day from #3)
- Find ways to connect with neighbors within the community.
- Make your presence known and felt at city events.
11. Stop Talking About Us (Unless You’re Actually Going to Do Something)
Words without follow-up are far worse than ignoring us completely. Despite the stereotypes about us, we are listening to phrases being spoken in our general direction. Lip service, however, doesn’t cut it. We are scrutinizing every action that follows what you say (because we’re sick of being ignored and listening to broken promises).
- Stop speaking in abstract sound bites and make a tangible plan for how to reach millennials.
- If you want the respect of our generation, under-promise and over-deliver.
12. You’re Failing to Adapt
Here’s the bottom line, church—you aren’t reaching millennials. Enough with the excuses and the blame; we need to accept reality and intentionally move toward this generation that is terrifyingly anti-church.
“The price of doing the same old thing is far higher than the price of change.” —Bill Clinton
“The art of life is a constant readjustment to our surroundings.” —Kakuzo Okakaura
“Adapt or perish, now as ever, is nature’s inexorable imperative.” – H.G. Wells
- Look at the data and take a risk for goodness sake. We can’t keep trying the same things and just wish that millennials magically wander through the door.
- Admit that you’re out of your element with this generation and talk to the millennials you already have before they ask themselves, what I am still doing here.
You see, church leaders, our generation just isn’t interested in playing church anymore, and there are real, possible solutions to filling our congregations with young adults. It’s obvious you’re not understanding the gravity of the problem at hand and aren’t nearly as alarmed as you should be about the crossroads we’re at.
You’re complacent, irrelevant and approaching extinction. A smattering of mostly older people, doing mostly the same things they’ve always done, isn’t going to turn to the tide.
Feel free to write to me off as just another angry, selfy-addicted millennial. Believe me, at this point I’m beyond used to being abandoned and ignored.
The truth is, church, it’s your move.
Decide if millennials actually matter to you and let us know. In the meantime, we’ll be over here in our sweatpants listening to podcasts, serving the poor and agreeing with public opinion that perhaps church isn’t as important or worthwhile as our parents have lead us to believe.
About the Author: Sam Eaton is a writer, speaker, and in-progress author who’s in love with all things Jesus, laughter, adventure, hilarious dance parties and vulnerability. Sam is also the founder of Recklessly Alive Ministries, a mental health and suicide-prevention ministry sprinting towards a world with zero deaths from suicide. Come hang out with him atRecklesslyAlive.com.
Find the original article here.
I remember Elisa Morgan once describing a mom as one of those juice boxes with multiple straws coming out of it, with little ones sucking energy out all day long. Not a bad description of the kind of demands that moms find themselves under each and every day. Add to that being a working mom, or a single mom, and the straws just multiply, because there is a second set of straws as well: time.
In the lives of moms, those are the two great commodities: time and energy. And the reality is that there is usually less of each than there are those who want to take them. So, the trick is to make sure of one thing before everything else: mom must be in control of both.
In all kinds of coaching, one of the most important first steps is to help the person regain a realization that they are “ridiculously in charge.” That is a phrase I wrote about in, “Boundaries For Leaders” for CEO’s to wake up to in their leadership: the fact that they are ridiculously in charge of what occurs in their organizations. But, moms need to realize the same thing. While they are not in charge of many of the demands upon them, they are in charge of which ones they invest themselves in, i.e. what they say “yes” to and what they say “no” to. And to get to that agreement is a tough tug of war in many instances. They often feel more out of control of the demands than “in control.” To help them, I suggest a few strategies.
First, prune to a specific budget. The first step is to help them realize that their time and energy is not unlimited. It is finite. There is only so much of them. So many hours in a day, and so much of themselves to give. Therefore, by definition, they must begin to treat time and energy just as they do money: a finite amount that must be budgeted.
What this does is to force them to prune their activities. Pruning occurs in three instances:
1.) The rose bush produces more buds than it can feed, so the gardener has to differentiate the best from the good, and cut the good ones, leaving only the best to get the resources of the bush.
2.) There are some branches and buds that are sick and not going to get well. The gardener has tried all he can do, and no amount of fertilizer, minerals or medicine is going to help. It is time to let it go.
3.) There are some branches that have long since been dead and are just taking up space. Other branches need this space to have room to stretch their limbs. So, the gardener must clip the dead ones. (For a full diagnostic paradigm for pruning, see my book “Necessary Endings.”)
Sit with your client and go through a pruning exercise in each of these categories of all of their activities:
Which meetings, friends, groups, activities, sports, clubs, social groups, etc. are “good, but not best?” Be ready to continue to drill further into her with questions, “And why is that the best way to spend your time, given your stated mission?”
Which activities, or even relationships, are “sick and not going to get well?” Maybe an extended family member, or friend, who is in denial and taking much time and energy, but is not using the help that is being offered? Maybe helping has turned into enabling, and that activity should be pruned, as it is not going to help the sick to get well.
And which ones have really not been contributing anything to her mission for a long time? They have been “dead” for a long time and should be cut.
So, what pruning leaves you with is the things that actually matter for her stated mission and objectives, whatever those are: the health of her children, her marriage, her work, her spiritual life, her well-being, etc.
Then, look at the budget and see how much time there is to spend, and spend it. Specifically in a calendar. Put in the “big rocks first,” meaning that the most important activities get a time and a place in the calendar. The most important, the vital ones, get put in first. Period. If not, the urgent will always get in the way. Then, she is left with the discretionary time and energy blocks to spend on what comes next in priorities. Remember, hone in on priorities, not on desire. Priorities are what drives activities, not desire.
At that point, she is realizing what reality truly is: there is only so much time and energy that any of us have, and we must be in charge of making the choices of how we are going to invest them. This exercise will drive those hard decisions.
Your job then becomes helping her to work through the conflicts and difficulties saying “no” to everything that there is not time left to do. Those are the choices that drive success in every area of life. What are we going to say “yes” to, and what are we going to say “no” to? When we realize that, and get our “yes’s” on the side of the things that really matter, we are truly back in control, the kind that we were meant to have: “self-control,” the “fruit of the spirit.” Then we are focusing on the things that are truly vital.
find the original article here.
Ben was 30 years old when I met him. He came into my office burdened by the opinions of what his parents thought of his life choices. It sounds crass on the surface, but one of the first things I told him to do was to “grow up and get a life.” But the problem with this common phrase is that there is great difficulty in the process, so let’s look at both sides: growing up and getting a life.
Your symptom, feeling like you give too much weight to your parents’ opinion, is a sign that some growing up has not happened. And while you feel like you always have to honor your parents, you don’t always have to obey them. If you’re still in the child position, then that is getting in the way of how you were meant to live your life. So, we have to look at two reasons for still remaining in the child position: not growing up, and not having a life.
Some people stay in the child position with parents because they are either unable to “grow up,” or they are unwilling. Inability to get out of the child role and still want parental approval involves the process of needing something from your parents that you did not get. When there is something you are still looking for like love, acceptance, approval, validation or other ingredients that parents are supposed to give children to prepare them to be adults; you can be stuck waiting for them to finally grant you what you never had. You never really leave and become an adult because you are still waiting for “something.”
The truth is if it hasn’t happened by now, they are probably not able to give you what you want anyway. You have to get those things from the people you surrounded yourself with. If you are still waiting for your parents to give you something they cannot give, then it is time to grieve that and get on with growing up.
The next part, “to get a life,” involves taking control of your actions and your feelings, because you were created to have a fulfilling life that belongs to you and only you. If your parents still have that much power, then you are in the child position, still dreaming of one day having a life instead of getting one. Children dream of what they will one day be or do, and adults go for it.
The hard work is this – stepping out of the security of the child position, (where the biggest risk one ever faces is the disapproval of other mere mortals) – and into the risk of living life as it has been given you (where bigger things are at stake than someone’s approval). At stake is the ultimate wager – will what you do with your talents, abilities, opportunities and resources mean more to you than what your parents think?
find the original post here.
Sadness is our next basic emotion, for it tells us about hurt and loss. We live in a world where we get hurt and lose things. We need it to help us grieve and let go. If we repress and deny sadness, there is inevitable depression. Unresolved sadness always leads to depression and often other symptoms.
Sadness is always the way to joy, because sadness says that there is a hurt of some kind that needs to be processed, and usually it involves a loss.
When people deny their sad feelings, they “harden” the heart, and that is to lose touch with tender grace-giving aspects of who they are. They become unable to love and be tender, and to feel grief over their wrongdoings. This state leads then to become insensitive persons. In addition, it leads to all sort of symptoms – depressions, physiological problems, substance abuse, eating disorders, and the inability to get close to others.
Here’s a story:
Susan was in her mid-twenties when she began to have panic attacks. She would wake up in the middle of the night fearing that she was dying. If she saw anything on television about death or heard about death in any way, she ceased to function. The panic and dread of death overwhelmed her. She was referred to me when the panic rendered her unable to work.
“I feel ashamed that I am so afraid to die,” she said in the first meeting. I will never forget the confusion and hopelessness that she showed over the problem, she didn’t know what to do.
She had grown up very isolated in her family, with the exception of feeling some love from her sister, who was a few years older than she was. Her parents were non-relational people. When Susan was fifteen, she got up one morning and tried to get her sister out of bed, to no avail. Her sister had died during the night.
Understandably, her grief was enormous. But her father told the family that day, “There will be no more discussion of this. We must all be strong. Let’s forget the past and move on.” That was the way the death was handled.
As it turned out, Susan had many unresolved grief feelings about her sister. She was very sad that she was gone, and because she didn’t work through the grief, she still had a very deep wish to be with her sister, her only source of love. The wish was registering in her conscious mind as a fear; in reality, it was what she wanted, to be with her sister.
We began to talk about that loss, and she went into the long-awaited sadness and grief. She was able to talk out all of the feeling she had been denying for so many years. Over a period of months, she went through a normal grief cycle, letting go of her sister. That should have happened when she was fifteen, but because the family had a rule against sadness and weakness, it was delayed.
She lost her fear of dying as well as the vague depression she had experienced off and on for years. She also regained some loving parts of herself. The loving part that was sad and buried, away from time, was again available to get to grow and nurture. In addition, her sexual feelings returned, which she had not been able to feel either.
Whenever trauma is not worked through, the development stage present at that age gets affected. In her teens, it was love and sexuality. By processing her pain, she regained herself. There was joy after sadness.
When we lose our ability to feel sad, we lose our tenderness. It is a major aspect of the ourselves that must be protected at all costs. If we can’t feel sad, we get coldhearted.
Sadness does not equal weakness. Rather, processing sadness leads to strength.
find the original article here.
So the used car shopping is quite the experience. Thankfully we were not rushed to make a decision. We waited for the right car and after the first two months of car ownership, Jamie still loves it. God came through and I am very thankful.
I wanted to document our resources in case we ever have to do this again:
My brother pointed us to kkb.com which is the Kelly Blue Book site. That was very helpful and also carcomplaints.com which also took a lot of the guess work out of knowing one bad model or year from another. A friend also gave us Edmunds.com which is a site the used car salesman use to find internet deals from other dealerships. I contacted AAA because they have a car buying service for their customers but they didn’t deal with car in the price range we were looking. I may use them if I ever need a different car.
Congratulations to Jamie for another giant step into adulthood!