Parenting Answers

What should I do regarding stepkids

Hi Juls,  I'm glad you reached out - you ARE in a tough spot.  Blended family dynamics are challenging more often than not.    It's a little hard for me to give much specific response or direction as I am not aware of if your SS wants to be in the home with you and your husband or if living with biomom would be his preference.  The relationship your husband had with his son prior to you coming into the picture, whether or not your SS was an "only child" due to his sibling being older or if biomom has any other children is another dynamic that can often times create conflict between homes, you say "it has been hell since day one" so that suggests that your SS had some learned behaviors already in place before you entered the picture that helped him to get what he wanted and all of these are factors that affect the adjustment of kids in blended families.  In families, it's not uncommon to have parents display different parenting styles so if the step parent is doing more of the active parenting than the bio parent is doing then it can throw the home/relational balance off.    Keep in mind that your husbands parenting style is what your SS is familiar with.  Right or wrong/healthy or not.  For now, in this limited space, I would encourage you to remember that your role with your SS is going to change (possibly many times) between now and when he arrives into full adulthood.  One thing to remember in all situations is that we can only control ourselves.  It could help you to consider what it might look like for you to take a step back, let his father lead in how he will, or will not, handle the actions and choices of his son, and ultimately keep your eyes focused on your long term relationship/marital goal with your husband.  This can help you avoid getting too caught up in something that was already in motion before you came along (SS's ODD) and keep perspective on the long game.
(LISW, LCSW)
Answered on 07/29/2021

How do I get my daughter to do this with me?

Hello Stroke Victim, I am glad you reached out for support at this time.  I am sorry you are struggling in this moment.  I would encourage you to start to work with a therapist to help you learn skills to help you overcome your struggles.  If we were to meet I would first talk to you about the counseling process through our site and how together we could help you obtain your goals going forward, how I work as a counselor and how I would try to help you through the counseling process.  I would also take the first session to get to know you by asking you a few questions to get a better understanding of your struggles, so that I am able to focus on a plan and goals to work on going forward. I want you to know that you are not alone during this time even through you may feel like you are alone at this time.  During the therapy process you can have support 100% of the time as you are able to reach out and talk to a therapist 24 hours a day 7 days a week.   A few of the questions I would ask would include the following:Can you tell me more about your past history?How long has she been living with you?I am going to send you some skills and tools to help you during this time of struggle you are having.  If we were to work together we would be going over these and more tools to help you through our struggles and be able to ask for support from others. Learn How to Identify and Express your FeelingsIt has been known that feelings are important aspect of our lives but the trouble is many of us have been brought up to ignore and override feelings. Childhood messages have a great role in contributing to this state of mind. We feel guilty if we express our feelings of anger, shame, guilt and annoyance. We are afraid that we will hurt the feelings of others due to being people pleaser. The result of this kind of suppression is often anxiety, phobias, depression and restlessness. People adopt a negative and pessimistic outlook of life. Feelings are often complex and it is hard to identify them. Sometimes, even if we identify them, it becomes hard to express them. It is important to identify feelings and then be able to express them appropriately to avoid the dangers of becoming prone to anxiety and phobias.Before we learn to identify feelings it is important to understand some facts about feelings.1.      Feelings involve a total body reaction. They are mediated by a part of brain called limbic system and the involuntary, autonomic nervous system. During moments of emotional stress, you experience bodily reactions such as increased heart rate, respiration, perspiration, trembling and even shaking. These symptoms also occur when you experience panic attacks.2.      Feelings are influenced by our thoughts and perceptions. The way you perceive an event or interpret a situation gives rise to corresponding feelings. Feelings are also affected by stress. Automatic thoughts determine our state of mind. If you perceive a person as totally unreasonable, and selfish, you might feel anger towards this person. If you are jealous or envious of the other person, it will give rise to feelings of jealousy and envy and you will be inclined to react accordingly towards this person when you interact.3.      Feelings can be simple and complex. Complex feelings may be a combination of more basic emotions and also shaped by thoughts and images. Simple feelings could be anger, grief, sadness, fear, love, excitement, or joy. Complex feelings last longer and are also linked to our thought process. Simple feelings tend to be short lived, more reactive, and tied to involuntary physical reactions mediated by the autonomic nervous system. Fear and panic can be basic emotions while free floating anxiety is an example of a more complex feeling.4.      Feelings give you energy. If you are in touch with your feelings and can express them, you will feel more energetic. However, when you are unaware of your feelings, you may feel lethargic, numb, tired, or depressed. Suppressed feelings lead to anxiety.5.      It is possible to feel several feelings at the same time. For example it is possible to feel anger and fear at the same time in response to a threat in the environment. It is possible to feel anger, love, and guilt all at the same time.6.      Feelings are contagious. If you spend time with a depressed person, you may start to feel sad and even cry. Similarly, you can catch other person’s enthusiasm and excitement. You can be inspired by living and interacting with positive people. When you withhold your feelings of anger and sadness, they can overpower you and make you depressed therefore it is very important to be in touch with your feelings.7.      Feelings are never right or wrong. They simply exist. The perception and judgment can be wrong or right, valid or invalid but feelings are simply there. Once you learn how to express them, you will feel better. It is not good to evaluate others or yourself on the basis of feelings because we are all entitled to have feelings. All human beings experience emotions like anger, envy, jealousy, sadness, frustration, and irritation.8.      We tend to suppress our feelings. Suppression can be conscious or subtle. As children we are sometimes taught to suppress our feelings and then it becomes a habit. The result is that as adults you tend to be out of touch of your feelings. You begin to ignore and withhold them. You may experience a global feeling of unhappiness but you are not able to pinpoint what is making you unhappy.Therefore it is very important to learn to identify your feelings.Identification of FeelingsWithheld feelings get manifested through several types of bodily and psychological symptoms. For example, free floating anxiety could be caused by uncertainty or due to anticipation of a negative outcome. Worrier type people are always insecure and worry about bad things happening to them. Their self talk is always, “what If?” type and this gives rise to anxiety. Feelings carry a charge of energy but often times we try to hold in that energy and do not express our feelings. Consequently we feel tension and vague anxiety. Likewise we can hold in enthusiasm and excitement and this can also make you anxious. Sometimes when we hang on to our feelings of sadness for a long time without venting it, we get depressed. When we vent our feelings by crying and talking about it, we feel relieved. It has been found that if we hold on to anger too long without expressing it, it can cause depression. We also feel psychosomatic symptoms when we suppress our feelings for a long time. Symptoms such as headaches, ulcers, blood pressure, asthma, cardiac problems could be due to withheld feelings too. When you learn to identify your feelings, you can reduce the symptoms of psychosomatic illnesses.Additionally, it has been found that when we withhold our feelings, it can also lead to tension in our muscle groups, neck, back, shoulder, and jaws. Anger can be held in by tightening many different muscle groups from the eyes to pelvis. In this way we see that tight muscle groups in any region of the body could be caused by bottled up and withheld feelings and it is important to identify your feelings so that you are not holding these feelings by tightening your muscle groups. Fear can be held in by tightening up of muscle group in the stomach and diaphragm area. Anger can be suppressed by tightening the back of your neck and shoulders. In order to relieve the tension in these muscle groups, it is important to use the progressive muscle relaxation technique. This technique has been elaborated in the blog written by the author about Panic disorder. There are sixteen muscle groups in our body and all you have to do is tense each muscle group for 7-10 seconds then relax it for 15-20 seconds. When you systematically do this procedure, it generates the relaxation response and also creates alpha wave activity in the brain.  How to Tune In To your Body:As mentioned earlier, we tend to hold on to our feelings in different body parts. It is important to tune in to your body to identify your feelings. Eugine Gendlin has talked about a process called “experiential focusing” to illustrate the process of tuning in to your body. Following are the steps that you need to take in order to do this:1.      Physically relax your body for five to ten minutes doing progressive muscle relaxation, meditation, to slow down your mind.2.       Ask yourself, “What am I feeling right now?”3.      Tune in to that place in your body where you feel emotional sensations such as anger, fear, or sadness. This is your inner place of feelings.4.      Wait and listen to whatever you can sense in your place of feelings. Do not analyze or judge but become just an observer. If you begin to evaluate then you may not be able to get a sense of your real feeling.5.      Once you have obtained a general sense of what you are feeling, and then ask the following questions: where is this feeling in my body? What is the shape of this feeling? If I have to give a color to this feeling, what would it be? In this way, we see that it is important to give a concrete form to feelings then it becomes easier to identify them. Once you have identified your feeling, it is important to express them appropriately in good communication.Expression of Feelings:1.      Talk it Out: It is very therapeutic to share your feelings with a trustworthy person, like a friend, counselor, or a support person. They should be the person who are willing to listen to your feelings without evaluating you and who encourage you to let you express feelings and not just share them. By getting an outlet to your feelings, you might feel relieved and lighter. Agencies like Compeer and Big Brothers and Big Sisters serve this purpose. Depressed person, who does not have a family member to talk to, gets linked with a friend and they do activities together and establish friendly relationship by developing trust and this helps the person to open up eventually and share what is bothering them.  2.      Write it out: Sometimes it is helpful to make a feeling journal and vent your feelings in a written manner.  It is good to periodically review this journal and see if there is a pattern emerging. This is a very healthy outlet of your feelings. Creative art work, writing poems, and songs also allow you to be able to express your feelings in a healthy manner. These are healthy outlets to feelings and that is why children suffering from depression receive play therapy which gives them an outlet to express their feelings through symbolic play. Story writing, storytelling are also very healthy and useful therapeutic tools which facilitate expression of feelings in an indirect and subtle manner.3.      Discharging Sadness: When you are withholding your sadness, it can cause a heavy load on your body and mind. It is relevant to ask questions such as :Do I ever cry?, Underwhat circumstances do I cry?, Do I cry because someone hurt me, or I am lonely or scared?, Do I cry for no apparent reason? Do I cry alone or do I allow others to see me crying? Sometimes, we feel sad but we have trouble shedding tears. It is advisable to listen to some evocative music, watch an emotional movie or read literature to surface the feelings of sadness and be able to shed tears. It is important to vent your sadness and not hold it in because the result will be more sadness and anger towards who has hurt you.4.      Discharging Anger: Anger is the most pervasive emotion that leads to anxiety. Anger has a range from mild irritation on one end to extreme rage, on the other side of the continuum. Withheld anger can cause a person to become anxiety prone and also cause symptoms of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. When you are frustrated and angry, you become more preoccupied with your obsessions and phobias but often you are unaware of these angry feelings. Those who are, by nature, people pleaser, are prone to having anxiety disorders. They always want to present themselves as pleasant and nice. They are also dependent on relationships with significant others. Outward expression of feelings can risk the relationship of phobic people so they tend to suppress their anger. Also, it is important to note that people who are prone to anxiety have a strong need to control so when they feel threatened by a sense of loss of  control, they give in to their anger and it frightens them. In addition, self defeating behaviors, such as excessive criticism, discounting the positives and focusing on the negative aspects of the situation, passive aggressive behaviors , blaming others, and worries about the future instead of enjoying life could also be signs of withholding anger.Dealing with Anger in a Constructive MannerIt is very important to stop being controlled by a desire to be a people pleaser. When you remain passive in the face of other people exploiting you, after a while, it becomes unbearable and you end up getting hurt. It is important to become more assertive in your interpersonal style. Using a feeling script like: “ I feel——(angry, sad, frustrated), when you——-(behavior: like put me down) because—–( reason: it hurts my feelings). I would appreciate it if you —-( treat me with respect), is a good idea to be able to express your feelings versus withholding them altogether. This way the other person will be hear you out and hopefully make a change in how he deals with you. Most of the time we expect people to read our minds and behave according to our expectations. However, they are not able to read our minds and end up letting us down by showing insensitivity to our needs and wants. However, when you are able to assert yourself and express your needs, you are more likely to get desired results.It is also important to get rid of the “what if” thinking because it stops you from being rational and you begin to hide and mask your feelings. Anger, withheld for a long time can become very intense, when you begin to express it first, but the intensity will reduce with time. Sometimes it is constructive to express your anger on inanimate objects before you confront the person who makes you angry. There is a lot of research on the value of this practice and there is some controversy also that too much expression of anger can lead to aggressive behaviors therefore, it is important to exercise caution.It is also important to note that people are afraid to express their feelings for the fear of becoming alienated from the people. Think about expressing your angry feelings to significant others because you care about them. If you did not care about them, you would probably withdraw and withhold your true feelings. By communicating, you open the door for good communication and chances for change.When you are angry, you are likely to express your feelings aggressively. However, if you become assertive in your style, you are more likely to get desired results. If you become aggressive and demand a change, you are likely to put the other person on defensive because he will feel attacked.  When you respect the dignity of others in your expression of anger, it gives a feeling that you care and you are not degrading them. They do not feel attacked and are more likely to show sensitivity to your needs and wants.Sometimes, it is healthy to engage in vigorous work out to vent some of the stress you feel when you are withholding anger. Pounding on the pillow, screaming into a pillow can also help if your anger is really intense and you need to let go of the energy before you confront the person who is making you angry.Deep breathing and meditation techniques also help reduce the intensity of your anger. Meditation has a calming effect and it reduces your agitation.Cognitive restructuring of dysfunctional thought patterns also helps. We have already discussed how our cognitive errors influence our feelings and mood in other blogs written by the author. I would recommend the readers to refer to the blog written on automatic self talk to learn more about cognitive distortions and how to dispute them with Socratic questions, which put the irrational self talk to rational scrutiny. Try to find the errors in your thinking before you draw conclusions about others. When you hang on to mistaken beliefs and negative self talk, they seem to color your attitude, behavior, and your reactions to these events and persons. When you become aware of your errors, try to challenge and dispute them with rational counterstatements and this will reduce the intensity of your anger. People resort to sarcasm, and belittling statements when they are angry. Instead, try to be honest with your feelings and express them assertively with openness and willingness. This will ensure better results.It is also crucial to identify the needs behind your feelings. For example you could be anxious because you are afraid that people will notice your anxiety when you speak and they will judge you. Here the need for acceptance is behind your fear. When you have experienced a loss, you feel sad because you will be lonely after the departure of your loved one. The need behind your grief is for love, affection and companionship. When you are angry with your spouse because he broke his promise, the need behind this anger is respect and consideration. When you are able to identify the need behind your feelings, you give a new meaning to your feelings and can do something about meeting these needs in a better way. In this way when you uncover the unmet need, you will be able to address these needs in a healthier manner. If you fail to address these needs, they are more likely to come and grip you over and over. For example, an unmet need for anger could persist and make you angry all the time. This is a sure sign that you need to do something about your anger.In summary, it is important to pay attention to your needs and wants. Do not try to hold your feelings but identify and express them in the manner discussed above. Withheld feelings are not healthy and they can cause serious health related problems.   I am also going to send you a reading and skills to share with you daughter as well  Creating Positive habits for yourself in your daily life:I started to think about personal habits we set up for ourselves on a daily basis. I have found that some of my personal habits are not what I would like them to be and that had me thinking about how there are so many of us that have habits that we would like to change in our lives.  This reading today will be long and please take some time to read it over and even download and print out for your review later, as personal habits affect each and everyone of us in different ways.  Some of us may have personal habits we Love and want to keep and some of us may have personal habits that we do not like and want to change.  The good news is that each of you have the power to make that change for yourself.  We make choices each day to either keep or change a habit.  I hope this will help you to identify habits you not only want to change but also habits you would like to keep.So the first question that I will ask is, What personal habits would you like to change? Be they home, work or health related, I’ll bet you would see value in instilling some automatic practices that help you reach your goals.The key to creating positive habits is to reduce your personal choices—the little excuses you make to allow yourself to wiggle out of exercise, for example, or ignore that gratitude journal you’ve been meaning to keep, going to your phone instead of a book you have been wanting to read.  The simple workaround is to set rules for yourself, taking your own capacity to make bad decisions out of your hands. You already do this all the time, probably without realizing it. Maybe your rule is that, if you’ve had two drinks, you don’t drive. Or that you don’t even look at your emails before 11 a.m. The results speak for themselves: In the former, you avoid making yourself a danger on the road. In the latter, you’re more productive in the mornings.If we don’t learn good habits, life becomes more difficult. We have a choice: Get hard on ourselves so life becomes easier, or get easy on ourselves resulting in life getting harder.Successful people choose good habits over a stagnant life. At first it might not seem like you are accomplishing much, but don’t be fooled. “Small hinges open big doors.”Not all good habits are created equal. Some are more powerful than others. Here are four powerful habits that will strengthen your confidence, help you get what you want and result in a satisfying journey.Habits are everywhere“Your beliefs become your thoughts,Your thoughts become your words,Your words become your actions,Your actions become your habits,Your habits become your values,Your values become your destiny.”― Mahatma GandhiHabits can be your thoughts.What are you saying to yourself on a daily basis? Are you talking nicely to yourself or are you constantly berating and being tough on yourself (I did this for years)?Do you use positive affirmations to build up your self-esteem and confidence or do you use words and phrases to belittle yourself?Are you asking yourself the right empowering questions to help you find the answers you truly want? Or do you ask questions that are presupposed with negative answers?What we think about and focus on determines how we feel, our behaviors and actions, and our results in life.Habits can be your emotions.One can choose to live in a state of happiness, joy, abundance or one can choose to live in a state of anger, stress, and worry. Living in a certain state daily is a habit that can be conditioned over time.Most people don’t grow up as young children living a negative state. Most are joyful, playful, and happy. But through conditioning and certain circumstances, one may start to live in negativity, fear, or sadness as they learn to interpret their experiences in certain ways.Our states and emotions are often learned from the people closest to us. Have parents that are constantly pissed off or stressed out about everything? Chances are pretty good that you’ll pick up on that during childhood and be the same as an adult.The good news is that this conditioning can be altered and isn’t permanent. You don’t have to stay angry or stressed for the rest of your life. You can change for the better.Habits can be what you eat on a daily basis.Are you consistently and routinely consuming unhealthy, processed foods that have little or no nutritional value? Or are you choosing whole natural foods that will help fuel, heal, and nourish your body?It becomes apparent what one’s habits are because your physical state is a result of the foods you are consuming. Consume healthy foods and you will feel vital and energetic. Consume unhealthy foods all the time and you’ll feel tired and lethargic.Habits are also choosing to exercise or skipping a workout on a consistent basis. Do you have a habit of going to the gym even when you don’t want to? Or do you routinely skip workouts and justify not going with a made-up excuse?Habits are what you do when you wake up in the morning. Do you have a powerful morning ritual that stimulates you to be happier, more productive, and less stressful? Or are you waking up stressed, reactive, and frustrated before you even walk out of the door or had your morning coffee? 1. Embrace life, don’t resist it.When things aren’t working, our first action is often resistance. Instead of resisting, take a moment to consider what isn’t working and why. This kind of information is valuable.Tough times can be used to disrupt stagnant patterns in thinking. If we embrace the disruption, it can have a purifying effect that knocks off the rust and barnacles we naturally collect on our daily voyage. Embracing life is resisting stagnation.Life might wreck your plans when your plans are about to wreck you. So pay close attention.2. Affirm yourself, don’t degrade yourself.One of the most common ways to degrade ourselves is to ask the wrong questions. Wrong questions are disempowering. They immediately change our subconscious thought patterns from positive to negative, or vice versa. They are powerful.Question: Why can’t I lose weight? Answer: Because you’re a pig! Question: Why can’t I do things right? Answer: Because you’re not smart! Question: Why am I so broke? Answer: Because you’re a loser!Ask a bad question and you’ll get a bad answer. This is how our subconscious mind works. Because the conscious mind programs the subconscious, take charge. Good questions lead to productive answers.What are the top two things I can do to lose weight? What is a better way to do this? What are three things I can do to increase my cash flow?Asking the right question is empowering.3. Brainstorm, don’t blame-storm.Blame-storming is using our creative abilities to come up with reasons why something is not our fault. This creates an emotional roadblock to healthy living called resentment. It comes from the Latin words “re” and “sentire,” which means “to feel over and over again.” It’s almost exclusively internalized, which makes it different from anger even though it can accompany the emotion.It’s tempting to wallow in resentment because it provides a feeling of control. But that is an illusion. The past is no more. There is no control. How can we disempower the past from stealing the present? Through brainstorming, you come to the realization that your past deepens you but does not define you, deter you or defeat you.It is a part of your maturity but not your identity. Your past has made you stronger for today. You are not a prisoner of your past. You are a pioneer of your future. And you have power in the present.4. Do something, not everything.It’s good to be resilient—to a point. Sometimes quitting is the smartest thing to do. There are times when I look at my to-do list and complete one or two of the items quickly, just by eliminating them. The secret of concentration is elimination. This leads to productive living and has health benefits as well—a needed message for a society of high achievers.It’s a matter of control. You can do anything when you quit trying to do everything.I just went over habits that you can do, now I am going to go over how to put those habits in place in your life. Our daily decisions and habits have a huge impact upon both our levels of happiness and success.List your current habitsMake a list of all of your daily habits which include your thoughts, your behaviors, your emotions, how you wake up in the morning, what you eat, how you treat others, what you do when you drive, how you interact with your spouse/partner, what you do before bed, etc.The first part and arguably the most vital part in changing your life is awareness. You need to know where you are and assess what isn’t working for you before you can start making the necessary changes.Create a list of goalsDetermine what you want to achieve or what outcomes you’d like to experience. This can be in areas of happiness, relationships, school, your career, your health and wellness, etc.Once you know where you currently are and where you want to go, the next task if to fill in the gap and find the best route to get there.Assess your habitsGo through your daily habits to see if what you are thinking, feeling, and doing are in line with the goals or desires that you have set for yourself. Often times, there is a disconnect between what we want and what we actually do.For example, someone may constantly think or talk about how they want to eat healthier foods and have a certain physique so they can feel and look great. But their daily habits involve junk food and skipping workouts consistently — that‘s a major disconnect.Go through each of your habits and assess whether or not they are moving you towards your goals or away from your goals.Replace bad habitsOnce you have recognized the bad habits that are actually moving you away from your goals, it’s time to determine what you need to start doing to replace those habits with positive ones.For each negative habit, write a positive one that you can replace it with. Using the previous example, that person may want to replace the junk food they eat every day with a healthy salad or fruits. They may also want to avoid buying any junk food to avoid the temptation.Eliminating habits is much more difficult so replacing them will increase the likelihood that you won’t revert back to old patterns. Start with small changes and gradually add in new habits with time as you progress.Trying to implement 10 new habits at the same time can be overwhelming to handle and may even be discouraging — it takes a lot of conscious effort and energy in the beginning. But over time, it’ll become second nature.So, start with a handful of habits that would make the biggest impact in your overall quality of life.Create your why’sWith your list of new habits to implement, come up with compelling reasons why you MUST replace your old habits with new ones. You have to associate pain with how you’ll feel in the next 1, 3, 5 years down the road if you continue with those non-productive or negative habits.But you must also associate pleasure with how you’ll feel when you replace the negative habit with positive ones and stay consistent with it.Execute and take actionTake action and be consistent. Now that you have a blueprint, it’s time to execute. This is the key ingredient because without it, all the work that has been done up until this point will have been for nothing.Action in itself is not enough. Consistent action over a long period of time is what is needed to really anchor in a new positive habit and rid yourself of the old, negative habit.Be easy and understanding with yourselfIf you happen to revert back to an old habit, the last thing you’d want to do is be hard on yourself and get discouraged. Habits are hard to break because we’ve been performing them subconsciously for weeks, months and even years.But it won’t take the same amount of time to replace it. As mentioned before, a study showed that the average time needed to replace a habit was about 2 months.Time to implement new habits varies from person to person and also depends on the habit itself, the action taken, and the mindset of the individual.But the point is that replacing habits can be done in a fairly short amount of time given a strong enough reason and consistent action.That’s why it’s important to associate powerful emotions of both pain and pleasure.Think long-termOften, when we are changing habits, it’s because we’re looking for a different result than what we’ve experienced in the past. Results typically don’t occur quickly and may even take weeks or months to see any noticeable change in your thoughts, attitudes, business, health, etc.Focus on the process and understand that if you continue to perform the correct steps over time, the results will show.We all live by our habits which involve our daily thoughts, beliefs, and actions. They ultimately affect the results in our lives and whether or not we are fulfilling what it is we desire.  We all have our share of good habits and bad habits but what we really need to focus on is replacing bad habits with better ones that will actually move us closer to achieving what we want. Whether that be better health, happiness, wealth, or fulfillment. I hope this reading has been helpful for you and will allow for you to start to think and maybe even implement new habits for yourself going forward.   I hope that these skills have been helpful for you in your struggles you have been facing at this time. I am going to give you my information if you are wanting to start to process through and work on your struggles going forward, please reach out to Betterhelp and ask to be matched with Crystal Westman. If we were to work together we would work on more skills and tools to help you when you are struggling and get back to a positive space.  I encourage you to reach out for support at this time to help you get to the best version of yourself.
Answered on 07/29/2021

How to heal from unresolved childhood truma ?

Thank you for reaching out for help.   It seems like you are insightful and understand how your emotional trauma developed during childhood.   First you need to recognize that you must set healthy boundaries with your family.   Boundaries are a healthy way for you to let your family know that you are not going to continue their enabling or co-dependent patterns in your life.  You must realize that you and your time are valuable in order to begin the boundary process.   Identify your triggers for family events or being around a certain family member. If the family member crosses a line, then it is okay to tell them "I am not discussing this anymore" or to walk away.  Knowing your limits is essential to setting boundaries.   I suggest you read "Codependent No More" By Melody Beattie in order to gain more insight on your childhood traumas and your need for setting healthy boundaries.  Learning to say "no" appropriately can help you set boundaries.  Saying "no" can be difficult and it can feel like you are offending the other person. However, for individuals who struggle with co-dependency in their families, saying "no" can boast confidence and stop the enabling behavior.  Remember when you say "no" to say it firmly but not in a mean tone.  For instance "No, I cannot meet you for lunch, I have other plans but thank you for the invitation."   You need to balance your own life with time with your family.    Moving past childhood trauma can seem overwhelming and recognizing your emotional triggers for thinking about the past is essential.  When thoughts flood your mind about your past, do not fight against them.  Recognize them and develop a positive coping statement such as "I am loved and I value myself as a person" whenever the thoughts arise.    Forgiveness for your family and yourself may seem difficult but it is attainable. Forgiveness involves actions, not words.   Forgiving someone does not mean that you are condoning what happened to you or agreeing that it was okay. Forgiveness means that you are extending compassion or empathy towards your family for the issues from your childhood.  This does not mean you have to agree with their parenting styles, this means you understand how they developed.   Unforgiveness simply means that we are holding on to something because someone owes us something. This is toxic.   Forgiveness means talking to your family but knowing your limits.   If you are in need of more assistance, please reach out for more help.    
(MS, LPC)
Answered on 07/29/2021

How do I avoid a negative impact on my kids, while going through life changes?

This question is about what to tell your children about the life changes a parent is going through.  Many parents wonder what to say that is helpful vs. what could be hurtful.  A general rule of thumb for talking with children about difficult circumstances is to, first and foremost, remind them that they are loved by you and that you want them to feel free to ask any questions they have.  For children to feel safe and secure, they need age appropriate answers to their curious questions.  For example, if a parent finds themselves tearful, and the children are present, it is important to acknowledge that tears are OK and that all feelings are OK.  A child might ask, "Why are you crying?"  (2 year olds ask the "why" question frequently)  An age appropriate response could be, "I'm crying because I feel sad."  This models for children that it is OK for a person to cry when they feel sad.  The details behind the parent's sadness may be too much information.  Older children may pick up on the details of the circumstances by overhearing adult conversations.  To address that, it is OK to tell a child that you, the parent, are having to make some difficult decisions.  If your child asks a specific question, it is best to acknowledge their curiosity and offer a brief and truthful answer.  For example, an older child might ask, "What is going on?"  or "Why did you stop going to work?"  or "If you aren't working, will we have enough to eat?"  Regardless of the circumstances, a child's basic need is for safety and security.  A helpful response could be something like this, "I am so glad you asked that question.  I can tell that you've noticed things are different around here.  I'm wondering what you are thinking?"  Then the child's curiosity is addressed and they will most likely answer with what is on their mind.  Their answer will lead the parent to address their concern, rather than "over-sharing."  Mostly, children want to be seen, heard, and believed.  Emotionally resilient children are grown by observing their caregivers take responsibility for their own feelings and actions.  
(LPC-S, CSC, MEd)
Answered on 07/29/2021

How do I overcome childhood issues caused by a narcissistic mother so my own children do not suffer?

I am so sorry to hear that you are struggling with issues from having had a narcissistic mother.  It will be important to recognize when your feelings have a purpose versus when they do not.  We of course want positive feelings in our lives, but sometimes negative feelings are there for a reason and we need to live out that purpose in order for it to get better.  If we do not live out the purpose of our feelings, it likely leads us to feel worse.  For example, something as simple as having anxiety about needing to get the chores done has the purpose of getting us motivated to get the chores done.  Therefore, if we do not live out that purpose and the chores remain undone, that can lead to more bad feelings, such as, “I am lazy” or “I am worthless.”  This is a simple example of how if we do not pay attention to our feelings and live out the purpose, they can become much, much worse.  So, I would encourage you to try and separate out the thoughts that have a purpose from the thoughts that do not have a purpose and are more intrusive.    For the ones that do have a purpose, it can be helpful to allow yourself to think through the anxious thoughts because anxiety has a nasty way of going to the worst possible scenario.  If you can wrap your head around that scenario, it can make it less scary.  For example, I had a client that was very anxious daily about being single for the rest of his life.  Thinking to that extreme is clearly anxiety and it just lingers there.  So, then he was able to think through that scenario and come up with a plan to make it less scary.  He then came up with that if he really is going to be single the rest of his life, which is highly unlikely, he is going to work towards being able to live close to the ocean since that is a dream of his.  Thinking about it now does not make him as scared because he recognizes he could be happy with that. So, try to think through specific things you are anxious about that have a purpose and make sure you have a specific plan on how to improve those things. For example, having a specific plan for how to address specific issues you tie to what you went through with your mother.      Intrusive thoughts tend to not have a purpose and it can be really helpful to try and overpower those before they are accepted as truths.   We can have power over our thoughts and I want to help you not engage in these thoughts that make you so upset.  The easiest example of this that I can think of is if I went skydiving.  If I went skydiving I would have some obvious, rational, anxious thoughts.  If I really have a desire to skydive though I will need to not engage in those thoughts.  I might have thoughts such as, "My parachute could fail, I will hit the ground, I am going to pass out, etc."  However, since I really want to follow through with skydiving, I would want to stop those thoughts in their tracks with, "I know this is going to be really fun, they inspect the parachutes ahead of time, people hardly ever get hurt doing this, etc."  By focusing on those thoughts and not engaging in the others, I would be able to follow through with skydiving. Try to sort through any thoughts that get you down about yourself and that you can’t handle all of this and try to overpower those.  These types of thoughts are very common when dealing with the kind of past you went through.    As you do those processes it can be helpful to validate yourself as someone of worth to your kids.  Something that could be helpful for you is what I like to call centering thoughts.  These are thoughts that are predetermined and unique to you for you to turn to in low moments.  They need to be powerful enough to bring you back to your center.  It is important that these thoughts are accessible for you to look at when you need to.  Some clients prefer to read and re-read them and some prefer to write and re-write them until they feel better.  I have clients that write these somewhere they will see daily such as their bathroom mirror or phone background, while others simply have them in their phone to pull out when they need to.  An example of a centering thought would be from a client I had that related to nautical themed things and her thought was, "I will not let this sink me."  Another example is from an Olympic skier that actually had difficulties with negative thinking getting in the way of her performance so she went to therapy.  She mentioned that she learned about centering thoughts to battle all of the people telling her she “should be” or “should do.”  To battle those thoughts, she uses the simple centering thought of, “I am.”  She can then remind herself that she is good enough, that she is confident, and that she does want to still compete, which really affirms her own feelings and not others.  Hopefully you can come up with something that helps validate your worth as a parent and as a survivor of having a narcissistic parent.    I hope that some of this is helpful and that you can apply it to your circumstances.  I hope that you can lean on some family and/or friends through this.  Doing so can help take weight off of your shoulders as well as hopefully get some valuable advice from them. Try to take the healing one day at a time and adding one positive thing back into your life each day. I wish you all the best and I hope that you are staying safe.
(MA, LPC, NCC)
Answered on 07/29/2021

How do i deal with a family that will not support me no matter how much i ask them to

Hello Sasha, I am glad you reached out for support at this time.  I am sorry you are struggling in this moment.  I would encourage you to start to work with a therapist to help you learn skills to help you overcome your struggles.  If we were to meet I would first talk to you about the counseling process through our site and how together we could help you obtain your goals going forward, how I work as a counselor and how I would try to help you through the counseling process.  I would also take the first session to get to know you by asking you a few questions to get a better understanding of your struggles, so that I am able to focus on a plan and goals to work on going forward. I want you to know that you are not alone during this time even through you may feel like you are alone at this time.  During the therapy process you can have support 100% of the time as you are able to reach out and talk to a therapist 24 hours a day 7 days a week.   A few of the questions I would ask would include the following:Can you tell me more about your past history?How long have you been struggling with the guilt you are feeling from your mom?Do you have any connection with any other family members?I am going to send you some skills and tools to help you learn skills to interact with negative people like what it sounds like your mom is doing with you.  If we were to work together we would be going over these and more tools to help you through our struggles and be able to ask for support from others. Please find some steps to help you with dealing with and interacting with people who are negative in your life, try to put these steps in place to help you manage the negativity that you have been experiencing. Step 1. Identify negative people. It is important to learn how to identify people who frequently show a variety of negative personality traits. Here are some signs that may tell you someone is a negative person: They are always complaining. Negative people whine a lot, and are often convinced that the world is working against them. They can always find something to complain about, whether it be nasty weather, responsibilities at work, or just mere bad luck.They aren't able to step back and take a look at other factors, like having a lack of energy or having to do hard work. They have a negative view of the world. They never look for the good in the world. Albert Einstein reportedly once said, "There are two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle." People who are negative can never see miracles in the world.They likely figure that, if they expect the worst, they will not be disappointed when they get it. They are always victims. Everyone may whine for a minute if something goes wrong, but after a bit of grief time, most of us can pull ourselves together and renegotiate what we want in ways that are more in line with reality. This temporary state of self-pity is nothing compared to how negative people tend to feel. Negative people often seem familiar with crises, traumas, or illnesses because they are used to assuming that life is a fight that you always lose. If you have the mentality of a perpetual victim, you avoid having any hopes become crushed. They have thin skin and are easily insulted. Negative people are likely to be overly sensitive to criticism, and can even turn a compliment into an insult. They often interpret innocent remarks as being rude, when, in the same situation, a positive person would not overanalyze the comment.They are never upbeat or positive. A negative person misses out on the positive things in life. They hardly recognize joy, passion, or excitement because they rarely experience these emotions or sensations. When they are fixated on their unsatisfying lives, jobs, and relationships, it is hard to be upbeat or positive. They are a source of constant complaints. A complaint refers to a circumstance in one's life that they wish were different. This could be something small, like a misplaced set of keys, or something bigger, like being mistreated by a boss. Even if a complaint is justified, it still means that we are not getting our way. Negative people often feel like they are never getting their way, so they have a lot of things to complain about. They cannot see that their complaining is adding to their dissatisfaction with life. They think everyone else is wrong. They are the only people who are ever right.Seriously, how can everyone else be so stupid all the time? Between co-workers, clients, and even friends, negative people often feel like the only intelligent people on earth. What they don't see is that if everyone around them is always wrong and they can hardly handle it, the problem likely lies within them. People are smart-not everyone, but a good amount of them. Negative people don't realize that they are not the smartest people in the world.Other people begin to pick up on the attitudes of negative people. Usually, it isn't too hard to realize that someone never has anything positive to say. This can quickly develop a reputation, which can have adverse consequences for the negative person. They are rarely loving. Why would they be? They struggle to see the good in other people, so it is probably difficult to be loving and supportive of anyone. They love to dwell on bad news. Negative people love approaching others and mentioning the most recent terrible news. The problem here is that overexposure to negative news affects a person more deeply than was previously thought. Research has shown that media exposure to violence and tragedy contributes to depression, anxiety, and PTSD. It can strongly influence a negative person's outlook on life. They use the word "but" a lot.A negative person may slip out a positive comment now and then, giving you hope that they are happy living in the moment for once. But before you take a sigh of relief, you will likely hear them say, "But"-which will quickly turn their positive comment into a negative one. You may hear something like "It was a good restaurant, but it was way too noisy." They achieve little in life. Not every low-achieving person is negative, but negativity can certainly lead to low achievement. Negative people see themselves as being not smart enough, not strong enough, or just not good enough overall. But it is often their emotional intelligence that is hindered by their critical attitude. Also, they will be quick to tell you stories about how difficult other people were, and how they simply could not work with them. They can suck the energy and optimism out of you. In addition to their constant demands, negative people can drain you of your energy. They are unable to create positive energy, and will take up all of your attention, time, and energy while they drag you down with them. Even when presented with good news, negative people find some way to look at it negatively.Perhaps you are excited to share the news that you landed your dream job, which includes a huge raise. Their reaction? "That's good, but your taxes will be higher." Negative people can always find a way to make positive events sound negative. They will warn you to be careful, caution you of any possible obstacles, and tell you to think about it before acting on anything. Can you think of some of the negative people in your life? Why do you think they are so negative? Is it their job, relationship, or schooling? Think about this, and be aware of their emotions and behavior when you are around them. Then, think about your own emotions when you are with them. Do you feel tired or drained? Do you start feeling a bit negative yourself? If so, it is important to remember that it is not you, it is them.RELATED: How to Build a New Habit That Actually Sticks Want to build success habits that will improve your life? Step 2. Set boundaries to minimize contact with negative people. It is important to realize what you are willing or able to tolerate when it comes to negativity. You are not required to listen to everything a negative person has to say. You certainly have the right to get up and walk away or focus your attention elsewhere. Remember that their negativity will impact your thoughts and feelings, and affect your attitude. For example, say you are doing a project at work that you are enjoying. Unfortunately, a co-worker who is also working on the project continues to complain about it. This could alter your experience with the project, and you could start to dislike it as well. This is why it is important to limit your exposure to negativity. Instead, surround yourself with people who share your positive feelings. If you have a friend who tends to be negative, you don't have to necessarily never see them again but it is best to be aware of yourself and your feelings so you can pick and choose when to interact with that person.For example, if you are going through a tough time, you likely don't want to add to that by being around someone who is negative. But, if you are feeling pretty confident in your life at the moment, it may be a good time to visit with that person.Just be aware that you will want to limit your exposure so you're positive attitude does not become negatively impacted. You have the right to set boundaries and limit your exposure to toxicity. If your negative friend is demanding of your time, or if you have a negative co-worker that you can't avoid, tell them your boundaries. This may feel awkward, or even sound hurtful to the other person, but you deserve happiness, and it will be worth it in the long run. Step 3. Help some people deal with their negativity. There may be some people in your life who are very important to you, and therefore you want to help them deal with their negative thoughts. This probably won't be true for someone who is temporarily passing through your life, but if you have a family member or a close friend who seems like they could use some help, you have options. Someone may even ask you for help. So it is best to be equipped with some strategies. First, you can show them kindness. Do something nice for them that they really can't put a negative spin on. Maybe buy them their favorite candy, or surprise them one day with a nice card. Give them a hug when you see them. Do anything to make them feel like you care.It is also helpful to lend them a smile when you see them. Smiles can be as contagious as negativity, and you can pass on your compassion by showing you are happy when you are with a negative person. You never know-your positivity could rub off on them. Give your negative friend compliments and positive reinforcement so they feel validated. This may help them look on the brighter side of things instead of continuing to focus on things that have gone wrong. Try to give a compliment that isn't really common or superficial. For example, rather than saying "I like your shirt," say something like, "I was really impressed with how you handled XYZ this week. Your communication skills are really something to be proud of." If you show respect and encouragement, you will be more likely to receive it in return. Additionally, if you can think of a solution to their problems, go ahead and suggest it. Put yourself in their shoes, and think about what you would do if you were in their situation, no matter how insignificant the problem may seem to you.Use your active listening skills to allow your friend to tell you exactly what is going on, and make a suggestion about how the issue can be resolved, or even how they can try to move on.Doing this can help them overcome their negativity, which would be beneficial to them in so many aspects of their life. If you are successful in this, then you can be proud that you have had a positive influence on someone else's life.But remember that in the end, their attitude isn't your responsibility, so if you are unable to change it, you have to accept that and move on with your own life. Step 4. Don't make their problems your problems. It will most certainly bring you down if you focus too much of your time on your negative friend's problems. Practice self-awareness so you can gauge when your thoughts are beginning to decline and your life is starting to be affected. You don't have a responsibility for other people's feelings or actions, but you are responsible for you. For this reason, at some point, you need to put your own well-being ahead of others, and focus on your own life rather than theirs. This is not something that you should feel guilty about doing. You likely want to feel like you are an empathetic healer, and the truth is, empathy is a great thing to have. But don't let your empathy for other people become so much of a burden that you are no longer able to feel empathetic towards other people in your life. Don't guilt yourself for putting yourself first.You have to recognize and understand that everyone is on their own unique journey in life. If you have a friend who always has some kind of drama going on, let that be their journey. Don't make it your own. Don't allow yourself to get pulled into their drama and have it impact your own positive journey through life.Step 5. Create a positive environment in your personal life. The environment you surround yourself with will influence your mood. Whether you are at home or at work, creating a positive environment and having positive energies can make your life much better and healthier. To do this, start by surrounding yourself with people who share your attitude of positivity. You will feed off of each other, and contribute even more to each other's positive attitudes. You have to put forth the work to create the environment that you want in your life. You can do this by spreading your happiness and going out of your way to lift up those around you. Also, practice gratitude-not only outwardly, but also internally. Be conscious of the things in your life that you are thankful for, and be sure to tell someone if you are grateful for something they did. You can also encourage positive thinking from others by showing off your positivity. When you are at home, create a happy environment that is free from unnecessary clutter or stress. What you set your focus on at home will grow with you once you are out in the world. Make sure that you are living in a positive environment, and that you are offering other people a positive environment to enter when they come to your house. When you are interacting with other people, don't underestimate the power of active listening. Listen to what people are saying, and respond in a way that they know you were listening.One way of doing this is to repeat back what they said in your own words, such as saying, "What I am hearing you say is that…." This will make people feel validated, and feel that you care about what they are saying. This can also lead to giving people positive reinforcement so they can feel like they are on the right track. You can do this by being sincere when you are talking to them, and being specific about the things that they are doing right. It is also important to trust what other people are saying. Negative people are constantly skeptical of others, which is always putting them on the defense. Trust what other people are saying to you, and always assume people have good intentions. This will help you enjoy life a bit more because you won't have that constant nagging thought in the back of your mind that something is a bit off. Additionally, go out of your way to motivate other people. Help people get excited about what they are doing, and the opportunities in their lives. This will help lift everyone's spirits. As long as you continue to think positively and pass that onto others, you will be spreading joy and supportive vibes. I hope that these skills have been helpful for you in your struggles you have been facing at this time. I am going to give you my information if you are wanting to start to process through and work on your struggles going forward, please reach out to Betterhelp and ask to be matched with Crystal Westman. If we were to work together we would work on more skills and tools to help you when you are struggling and get back to a positive space.  I encourage you to reach out for support at this time to help you get to the best version of yourself.
Answered on 07/29/2021

My son is addicted to pot

Hi! My name is Christina Gilkey and I am a licensed clinical social worker specializing in couples and family therapy.  I'm glad you reached out and hope the suggestions I am making will be helpful to you.  First, I want to praise you for recognizing your son's strengths such as passing all his Uni courses.  That fact alone shows promise in that he is still able to take interest in something and do it well.  I am also encouraged by him having the social support of a girlfriend and her providing an alternative lifestyle to him that does not include smoking marijuana.     I want to validate your concerns about him smoking especially every hour as that does indicate a possible problem.  In clinical terms, the question of addiction is "Does the marijuana smoking directly impact his level of functioning at home, work or school?"  It sounds as though you feel his level of functioning at home is impacted because of the conflict it causes between the two of you, his deterioration in maintaining hygiene and also not cooking for himself.  A deterioration in hygiene and change in appetite are often associated with marijuana use because the THC in the plant is a depressant.  Depressants do often cause a reduction in our concern about self-care and also impact desire to eat. Those things are certainly concerning as a parent who wants their child to be healthy and happy.    The underlying questions are WHY is he smoking and why did it start in early 2018?  His acknowledgment of something having happened to him indicates he may be utilizing the marijuana to self-medicate as an escape from a trauma and it also could be he is smoking as a relief from anxiety as this is a common coping mechanism for people who battle with anxiety disorders.  In terms of trauma, he may have been "hazed" while at school.  He may have failed a test or assignment and been harshly ridiculed by someone.  He also may have been robbed or assaulted.  In terms of anxiety, he may feel he isn't fitting in with his peers, he may feel immense pressure to succeed at Uni, he may feel overwhelmed by having to manage classes, projects and studying. There are a number of things that could be causing him to use marijuana as a coping tool.     Since he is an adult, there is very little you can do to "force" him to go to counseling or rehab for help to deal with his issue in healthier ways.  What you can do and what I highly recommend is to continue expressing to him in a loving way that you care very much about him and his success.  Continue telling him you want him to be happier and healthier.  Continue letting him know you love him, support him (although maybe not his decisions), are proud of him (for his good decisions and his successes) and that you will love him unconditionally.  You could also let him know that you heard him when he shared that you don't know what happened to him and you are there to provide him a listening ear in a safe space if he ever wants to get what happened out of his head (thoughts) and "off his chest".  Kids (even adult kids) truly desire to feel heard.  Sometimes as parents, we have to recognize when our kids just need us to be there for them and to love them through whatever hurt they are experiencing.  Kids often want/need to tell us about their problems but they just want us to HEAR them.  We often want to "fix it" for them but that is why they don't tell us their situation.  The fear burdening us with their issue or get upset thinking we will tell them what to do when they really just need us to listen.  Let him know you are there, always!
(MSSW, MSCFT, LCSW)
Answered on 07/29/2021

I don’t know where to start with setting boundaries with a toxic parents.

Hello Alanna, Setting boundaries with parents can be extremely difficult and scary.   First, it might help to identify how boundaries effect you in your life - are you able to set boundaries with others? You may notice you have a tendency to people-please as being raised with a parent who may be harsh and critical teaches us ways to bend to someone else in order to please them, so this may be represented throughout your other relationships.    Second, identify ways in which you are able to set boundaries. What areas in your life are you able to say no?    Third, identify the ways in which you would feel safe within your relationship with your mother. What do you need from her? This is a good place to start identifying your boundaries. What topics are off limits? Keep in mind, your mother may not react in a healthy way. Which is why boundaries are important - they keep you safe.   Boundary setting is hard because we fear how the other will react. It is important to realize that that is their journey and their responsibility. Actions have consequences and if she critiques you and it hurts you and she can be harsh and you allow it, that is showing her that her actions don't negatively affect you and/or that it is acceptable to do. By beginning to set up boundaries, she will see that acting in those ways will push you away and not give her whatever it is she is looking for.    If you feel you are able to, having a conversation with her (once you identify what it is you need) may be helpful to set the tone. For example, "Hey mom, I just want to let you know that I need to do what is best for my mental health right now. As a result, some things will be changing as I figure out what I need. For now, our contact may be limited, and I will step away or stop responding to a conversation if I feel you are being hurtful or criticizing me. I love you and want to have a relationship with you, so I ask that you respect my boundaries."    Also, note, while boundary setting, your mom may agree or disagree and she will likely try to push the boundaries. Why? Because it is a new rule and it is new and uncomfortable. Think about a substitute teacher who comes in to teach a class. What do the children do? See how much they can get away with and a teacher who has strong boundaries will get respect from the students. It is the same. If you allow her to push just a little bit, she will try to push more. So it will be on you to make sure your boundaries are respected and you are honoring them yourself. Remember, this is for you and what you need, which can feel selfish and uncomfortable. But, it is not selfish.    During this time, it may be helpful to seek counsel from a therapist, have and use healthy support in your life (like from friends or family), and to be extra kind to yourself and give yourself plenty of rest, self-care, and compassion. You are doing the best you can and the more you do this, the less uncomfortable it will become in the long run.   I will end with a quote by Brene Brown I like: "Compassionate people ask for what they need. They say no when they need to, and when they say yes, they mean it. They're compassionate because their boundaries keep them out of resentment."
(MA, LCPC)
Answered on 07/29/2021

How do I feel fulfilled after leaving a high power job to stay home with children?

It can be a strange experience giving up power and control for a life that is filled with uncertainty and a feeling of feeling out of control. There is, at times, a motivation or drive that is deeply ingrained in individuals who have been at the top as the boss. There is a certain feeling of fulfillment. This can also happen with having children and building a family however, it is a different type of fulfillment. You as an individual person with successes and journey walked only by you, may disappear because the focus has shifted to your children. It is now their successes and failures that define you along with potentially household responsibilities.  Changing your attitude towards life means finding a new way to define your individuality. Children are everything to us however, they still need to see what it means to be an individual with a passion, goals, creativity, zest for life, and to know that we hold a title other than "mom" and "dad" because they will use us as a role model. We will show them that it is okay to self-care, how to develop coping skills, what it means to pick ourselves up when we are down, and how to protect ourselves mentally & emotionally. The way we communicate the majority of these lessons to our children is by making sure that we do not lose ourselves along the way to raising a family. Take time to ask yourself these questions:  What time can I create for me?  What is something that I can do while raising my kids that still gives me space to be an adult?  What time can I carve out to have my adult or alone time?  Who will be my support system when I am feeling like I need peer interactions?  What can be my new purpose in addition to my family?  How can I protect myself from losing my identity to my family?  What do I need in the moments where life is most stressful?  Who am I?  Who do I want to be?  These are just a few basic questions to get you on the road to really thinking about how to be a parent and a person. Think about how to be intentional in your day to day life now that your duties have changed. Remember that we are all human and that it is okay to need something for you too. 
(MA, LPC, NCC)
Answered on 07/29/2021

How can I get rid of the destructive habits of yelling at my kids when I feel under pressure ?

Thank you for reaching out, it's courage to ask for help when we feel like something is getting to a point that we are not happy with.  It seems like you are aware that you want to break the cycle of yelling in anger, so good for you for realizing that first step!     One thing that can be so helpful is to look very specifically at the things that you want to shift.  If it's the yelling, pay attention to what is triggering those instances of yelling.  What behaviors do you see in yourself as well as your children that trigger that frustration that leads to yelling?  What ways do you feel like you have handled it in the past in a more positive way?  In what ways have you dealt with this discipline issues in a good way now and/or in the past??  Parenting is such a hard job, probably the hardest one we ever get and every child is different, which causes them to all react differently to all things.  You may have to try different things with each different child.  In the frustrating moments this is so hard to do, but look at it as an opportunity to teach them something different maybe more so than disciplining them for the negative behavior.  The positive shift may work wonders for the entire family.  Positive reinforcement is also something that may be a game changer.  Instead of "if you don't, you don't get to (xyz)" frame it as "if you do, you get to (xyz)".  Children thrive in those situations and can develop a sense of pride in doing something that they feel is good, instead of always feeling like they only get attention that is negative.  Kids are sponges, they pick up everything we do.  In a sense, it's what happened to you...and again you want to break that cycle so they aren't having these same conversations in 30 years.  You also want to remember that when it comes to parenting, you want to present to your children that you and your husband are a united front even if there are moments that you don't feel like you are on the same page.  Kids will try to crash right through that if there is a little crack in it, so try to at least have some of these conversations where you both feel like you are making decisions.  That can be a much bigger job than it might feel like it is!     I don't know the specifics of your situation, but when you say you feel burned out that may be a factor in all of these concerns with the yelling and family dynamics that you aren't too happy with.  What, if anything, do you do to take care of yourself? How do you practice self care?  That term can be overused, but I think it's an important piece for anyone.  You have to take care of you too.  Being a mom is hard, but you can't pour from an empty cup.  Talk to a friend or a counselor if you can, take a walk, get connected in a church or community group, take a bath, read a book....really whatever it is for you that can help you get back to your own center.  A lot of people have a hard time focusing on themselves even for a few minutes a day, but simply put...it is vital for you to do so when you are raising a family.  Try to carve out a little time each day, even if only for a few moments to do something to recharge your own battery.  Not only is there nothing wrong with that, in fact, it is necessary.  Tap in to something you enjoy and do it as much as you can.     Without knowing a lot of detail, this may be something too that has to be looked at through the lens of just knowing that you want better than you had.  I don't know your feelings about your upbringing or your relationship with your parents now, but this may also be something that is worth exploring for you to see if that may be one thing that you feel like you are "hanging on to".     Lastly, tap in to the knowledge of someone that you feel is doing a good job of whatever your goals are.  Educate yourself on how they do it, ask questions if you can and learn from good examples.     I hope this has been helpful for you!  There is so much that I don't know, but it may be helpful for you to find someone you can process this with further as well.  Thanks again for reaching out.  Remember, your kids don't need a perfect mother, they need a present mother.  The fact that you want to make things better for yourself and them is a good sign!      
Answered on 07/29/2021

How do I deal with a parent who lashes out at me?

Future Dr. Davis, I'd like to open your mind a bit to new possibilities. Lets use this alcoholic household as an example.  A little girl living with an alcoholic father who treated their wife as a punching bag. As the little girl grew up and got married and began to learn how abused her father was as a child, her eyes were opened to the fact he had major issues from his childhood.  Issues that were never addressed, or even spoken about. So she took all this into consideration and began to think differently, not just focusing on the trauma from her history, but everyone's trauma involved.  You see when all you see is their wrong towards you and don’t entertain that they are just carrying issues from their childhood it’s easy to judge someone into purgatory without giving them a chance to reveal why they are the way they are.  Now saying all that, you should never allow anyone to criticize, berate or humiliate you. You at 36 should feel loved, excepted, and respected by your mother. It’s apparent she has not excepted the fact your a grown young lady and not a child anymore. She needs to respect you as the woman you are. You need to teach your mom boundaries and how you will not accept this kind of behavior from her or anyone! The power is in you. If that means you have to separate yourself from her for a while until your able to relay this message then so be it. Refuse to walk on eggshells. This is a miserable feeling to live through. It’s just a mechanism to control you and people around them. I believe it’s also a way to keep people at a distance so they don’t they get hurt.  (Mother is saying….It’s worked in the past so I can keep doing this and maybe my daughter will never find out that in reality I’m afraid of losing her!) not realizing she’s pushing you away.!  I would say, separate for a time and when you are ready or she comes to you and your ready make your feelings known to her. She will probably throw a fit and say things she really doesn’t mean but she will feel she’s losing control of you, and for her that’s a scary thought. But that’s not your problem it’s hers.  If she doesn’t comply with your wishes then in love, let her know when she’s ready to comply you will let her in your life again. There’s no need to be angry or combative because it will just draw you into her control again. She could be unconscious that she’s even doing this. But you have to take control of your life and be the happiest person you know. Anger pulls you into a place you don’t want to go and takes your joy away.  If she never complies then it is okay to love from a distance. I hope this is helpful for you. Acceptance is understanding that peace might not look the way we planned for it to look, but accepting peace in a different way. Good luck to you!
Answered on 07/29/2021

How can I be less reactive towards my kids in a moment where I’m being triggered?

Hi, This is a great question. Give yourself a pat on the back for asking this because it's a sign of good parenting, noticing your behaviors being passed along to your child and realizing you need to model the behavior you want displayed by your child.  At the point when things have escalated to the level where you feel you will yell to get the children to pay attention to you, try to stop yourself, take a few deep breaths and tell your children in a quiet voice so they have to quiet down to hear you speak, "Mom feels.....when you.....I need you to....". For example" "Mom feels frustrated when you don't put you shoes on after I asked you to, I need you to put your shoes on so we can get to the playdate on time." This is when I recommend to incentivize things if possible and appeal to the child's emotion "We don't want to miss out on the....right?" For example: "We don't want to miss out on the snack I heard Joey's mom is bringing to the playdate right?!" You could also, depending on the child's age, make it into a game, "Let's see who will be the first one to get their shoes on and in the car!"  Another suggestion is trying to have everything laid out by the door/as much packed into the car so you are as prepared as possible that way your anxiety isn't increased thinking about all you have to do to get out of the house.  When you notice your son is yelling you can say "Take a deep breath, then tell me what you'd like me to hear." Instead of "be quiet", you can say "Can you use a softer voice?". We all lose our cool sometimes, we are human, so please do not berate yourself for it. It's actually healthy for our children to understand that no one is perfect and we all make mistakes but can admit to them. If you do lose your cool and yell, you can say "I'm sorry for yelling at you. I lost my cool and it wasn't ok for me to take it out on you." Be kind to yourself. Make sure you are practicing self care and taking some time away from the children for your own mental health. Parents can become burnt out. Remind yourself you are a human who is learning alongside your child. You can make a mistake, reflect on it with compassion for yourself and see what you can do different next time.  Hope this is helpful. 
(LMHC)
Answered on 07/29/2021

I'm not sure um what to ask, um where do I start?

Hi!  I'm Brent Crowson, LPC, NCC.  Thanks for reaching out and exploring therapy.  I'm sorry that you're in a toxic household.  My first concern is for your safety.  If you are experiencing any physical abuse please call 911 or go to a place where you will be safe.  Next, let's explore therapy as an option.  Therapy can be very helpful in giving you a therapeutic space to openly and honestly talk about your thoughts and feelings.  That space and time with your therapist must be a place you feel safe to express yourself and be honest with yourself.  Your therapist should be someone you've grown to trust and feel safe with so that you don't feel judged or criticized.  But, therapy has its limitations.  You might not feel comfortable with your therapist and that's fine...you can talk it out with him or her or find one that suits you better.  Another limitation with therapy is that it does not fix problems...it's not that easy.  Rather, therapy helps you explore solutions that you decide whether to use or not to use.  In your example, therapy might provide a space for you to process how your parent's actions make you feel and offer insight into ways you can heal yourself even as you set personal boundaries for yourself. At first, therapy can seem intimidating and overwhelming.  It can be hard to know if it's "safe" to open up to a stranger (even if he or she is a therapist) and it can be hard to even know where to begin.  I know, I've been on the therapist's couch before too.  The way I do therapy is that you're in charge.  We talk about what you want to talk about and for as long as you want to talk about it.  I serve you, so I might ask you questions about your thoughts or feelings and may offer suggestions to help you gain deeper insight.  There is no pressure on you to accept any of my suggestions and no judgment either.  Where you being our journey is up to you.   If you've read my bio and you feel comfortable talking with me, I would be honored to journey with you.  We can work together to find strategies to get you to your mental health goals.
(MA, LPC, NCC)
Answered on 07/29/2021

I need to heal a relationship with an adult child who believes that I favor their sibling

Thanks so much for your question and I hope that my answer can help bring some answers to what you are looking for. I am sorry to hear you feel estranged from your child, that is truly heartbreaking. I do think there can be healing and restoration in a relationship if both parties want to be a part of the healing. Respecting and maintaining boundaries is a healthy place to start in the restoration process with your child. To start the healing process it will probably take going back to where you feel the estrangement began and look to see if there are parts where forgiveness is needed. Are your twins estranged from each other or only from you? It seems you had a relationship with both until recently when one became upset with you. Working through the situation that prompted your child to get angry could be a good starting place. It seems that part of your hurt and longing is for your individual relationship with your twins to improve and also their relationship with each other. You can definitely work to better your relationship with them individually yet unless they want to find healing and restoration with each other you can not able to heal their relationship with them. I know as a mom it is hard to see your children not get along and have an estranged relationship. As you work on your own healing it is helpful to remember your own emotional boundaries on how you cannot fix or do the work for your twins. As you start on your journey of healing, I hope that through your own growth your twins will see the benefit of working through past hurts and family dynamics and prompt them towards starting their own journey towards healing. It sounds like you have done your best to support your twins in their own personal ways while also them being the same age or similar. I bet that tension of being a twin mom has been hard to hold them being separate humans with individual needs while also being similar and the same age.  
Answered on 07/29/2021

How can I heal from narcissist parents?

Dear Hippiedoctor,   Thank you for your message.   Through your words I understand that in the past (maybe even in present) on one hand you care about others around you and you are constantly giving / helping, on the other hand through this process you might have been compromising or even sacrificing a lot on how you feel in order to keep this relationship going / please others. I can understand how tired you are with this pattern and how you would want things to change so that you can also feel more comfortable in your relationships.   Sometimes perhaps setting a healthy boundary would be helpful in managing your relationship with others in the terms that you feel comfortable, so that hopefully your relationships will continue in a way that is mutually comfortable. Otherwise, as your counselor I would support you to do what is best for yourself, even if that is walking away temporarily. This in itself, is also self-compassion.   In my coaching practice, many of the women and men I work with struggle with one common theme: setting healthy boundaries. I witness this challenge pop up in all relationships, whether it's with a family, business partner, a friend, or in a romantic relationship. We experience this uncomfortable pattern until we heal the root cause of the behavior.   In my experience, the root of all struggle is fear. Relationships become unhealthy when we act from a place of fear, rather than love. More often than not, we aren't even aware of the fears that have been driving our choices, blocking us from doing what's best for ourselves, and damaging our relationships. But learning to set healthy boundaries offers a perfect opportunity to strengthen our capacity to love ourselves and release the ego's fearful perceptions.   When you find yourself having difficulty saying "no" to others, doing things out of feelings of guilt or obligation, attempting to please others even at the expense of what's best for you, or not expressing your thoughts and feelings when someone upsets you, you are putting yourself last and putting others first-which doesn't serve any of the parties involved.   If we say "yes" to others asking of our time and energy and we've not filled ourselves up first, we are giving from a place of lack-which is a fear-based choice that sours the energy in a relationship and doesn't serve either party. It also breeds codependency, and prompts us to attract people and situations that drain us because we aren't honoring our own needs and boundaries.   Many times, this way of being can create anger or resentment in the person who is putting her or his own needs behind others'. This might manifest as complaining, feeling taken advantage of, or feeling powerless. These feelings are messages to us that we've chosen to perceive ourselves as the victim of a circumstance rather than stepping up and making choices for ourselves based on love.   The truth is, we're never a victim of our circumstances. We can choose how we would like to perceive something in any given situation-we can choose to perceive fear or we can choose love. And when we act from a place of love, rather than a place of fear, we experience a radical shift that transforms our struggles and breaks old patterns that are no longer serving us.   There are three main steps to changing the patterns that keep us in unhealthy relationships: Identifying our fears, choosing to adopt a loving perception of a situation, and taking action from a place of self-love.   Step 1: Identify Your Fears   Awareness is the first step to creating change. The moment we witness our ego's fearful perceptions and the stories it's been telling us, we can begin to shift them.   Common fears that show up in the context of boundaries include fear of not being good enough, fear of rejection, or fear of being alone or abandoned. Many times, we adopt these fears as children (or at other points in our lives), and then drag these past experiences into our present and maybe even project them onto the future. This can result in us feeling like we don't want to upset others or lose their approval or acceptance, and valuing that acceptance over our own needs. Another result of letting these fears run the show is that as a consequence we may have trouble accessing how we want to be feeling and what we want to be doing-which prevents us from standing in our power.   Step 2: Choose Love   After we've created awareness around our fears, it's important to recognize that from a spiritual perspective, the fear isn't "real"-it's something we've learned through social conditioning, and not something we're born with. Instead of believing in these fears, we can choose to put our faith in loving perceptions, release our fearful illusions, and begin to experience beautiful changes in our lives.   This is more than a one-time choice; rather, it's an ongoing, moment-to-moment practice that involves witnessing fearful perceptions as they arise and actively choosing loving perceptions instead. To view the world through a lens of love, I recommend that people begin each day with a powerful intention: "I choose to release my fear and see love instead". Repeat this intention whenever fearful thoughts arise throughout the day.   Step 3: Act   Every time we choose love over fear, we commit an act of self-love. It is only when we are secure in our own worth that we can give and receive from a place of abundance, thereby creating relationships that serve us.   Saying "no" or speaking our truth when someone upsets us might feel scary at first. But as we begin to act in spite of our fears, we come to understand that when we act from a place of love, everyone wins. Contrary to what we may believe, there is never a situation in which what's best for us is not best for all. When we face our fears and express our thoughts and feelings openly to the person who upsets us or pushes our boundaries, internal healing occurs. We learn that it is safe to speak our truth and that those who best serve us will listen with love. Best of all, when we show up for ourselves, we provide an opportunity for those around us to show up as well.   Of course, we cannot control how other people respond to our feelings or choices. How others react is their personal spiritual assignment and how we react is ours. As we release our attachment to others' opinions and practice acceptance around however they choose to respond, we free ourselves from the bondage of fear, knowing that we are self-approved.   When You Need to Walk Away   Sometimes, walking away from a job or relationship that's no longer serving us is the most loving choice we can make. If we choose to leave a person or situation, it's important to trust and know that the universe has our back. The work is to call on our inner guiding system-the loving voice within-and to hear an answer, trust it, and act on it. This internal GPS never leads us astray, no matter how surprising or scary the answer may seem.   Saying "No"-The Takeaway   The most valuable thing that happens when we show up for ourselves with love is that we gain a sense of empowerment and a higher level of self-worth. When we give ourselves the love and acceptance that we desire, we no longer have to look for it outside of ourselves, which gives us the freedom to be who we want to be. This will reflect back to us with beautiful relationships that nourish and support us. As we approach our relationships more consciously and release fearful patterns, we break the cycles of guilt and obligation and begin to create new relationships and experiences that reflect our internal space of self-love.   Please let me know if this is helpful, looking forward to hear your thoughts. Jono
(MSW, LICSW, LMHC)
Answered on 07/29/2021

I've been having trouble coping with the fact that I will be leaving for college soon.

You have some tough decisions to make. I wonder if going to school in Tennessee is the only option? So many schools now have online options, that may be a way for you to continue your education without having to make such a big decision in such a short period of time.    If you give yourself a little more time to think through all the possible options you may be able to figure out what is best for your family as a whole. One thing to keep in mind is we all have our own path and just because your family situation or educational experience doesn't look like everyone else's, doesn't make it any better or worse than what others are doing. The important thing is that your choice be the best option your you and your family.   Another thing to consider is the trauma and relationship strain you mentioned. School and an international move can be extremely stressful! Do you feel like you are in a good place personally? I'm not sure what your experience with college has been up to this point but sometimes the added stress of school, not just the learning aspect but also the financial piece, being away from friends & loved ones, time demands of work - class - study- grocery shopping - relaxation - and even just the daily activities of life can be a lot to juggle. Especially when you are dealing with previous trauma and your infant living in another country with your fiance. In no way am I saying it's not possible, I just want to make sure you are considering all of these aspects.    The financial aspect is something to consider too. If you are in a place financially where you can travel between Tennessee and Puerto Rico during breaks and between semesters that make things easier. Even though being a parent can be EXTREMELY rewarding it can also be extremely difficult. Unfortunately, you are already very well aware of this.    At the end of the day, especially with the limited information I have, the best advice I have for you is to gather all the information you can and make the best decision you can for you and your family.   Best of luck with whatever you choose to do!   
(M.Ed., LPC)
Answered on 07/29/2021

Do my son and I have a disorganized attachment?

Dear Aish20, I'm writing in response to your questions regarding your relationship with your son and being a parent. It is clear from your writing that you care deeply about being a mother, about your children and in doing the best you can for them. Parenting is not an easy job and there is no specific blue print that works for all. The conditions that exist in our adult lives at the time of the birth of a child, the personality and temperament of the child, and so many other conditions or challenges that might exist. Its actually quite amazing and a demonstration of your internal strength and capacity that in the midst of experiencing the postnatal depression along with the anxiety, you pushed through to a place of great import when you in your words, " it took me a few months to truly fall in love with him". What a beautiful thing! Its also unfortunate that the courage you took to seek help and support did not in your view turn out to be very helpful.  Whether it is for children or adults, we are finding more and more out about the "plasticity of the brain" and the ability of our brains to develop new neural pathways to change. This notion along with the resiliency of children can maybe provide you with additional comfort and hope going forward. You also demonstrate in your question that you have a good radar for awareness and noticing your thoughts and feelings. I would encourage you to consider strengthening and cultivating these qualities through meditation and mindfulness practices. You indicated you "do believe I'm on the right path" and from your writing I would agree. I see that you also now have another child in your family life which will bring both joys and strains and opportunities for you as a mother a parent to help and support your son and his new sibling in their developing relationship. One of the mindfulness statements you made were " I think my own negative feelings are making the situation worse". When we learn to better notice the "movement of our minds" and be aware of our minds "having a thought" , we have more of an opportunity to make space to discern and choose how to best respond rather than simply reacting to the thought.  Being able to see our thoughts and feelings rather than be our thoughts and feelings can really help us through. I would encourage you to consider thinking less about the "damage done" and focus more on the present moment. Doing the things you indicated as in providing love, kindness, care, physically and emotionally, being present , setting limits to ensure safety the rest will take care of itself. You are also continuing to reahc out for help and support which is a strength. There are good helping therapists out here.  One last thought for now is to also cultivate the practice of self compassion and self kindness.   The love and caring starts with you and then extend to others.  Take good care  warm regards,  Dave  
Answered on 07/29/2021

How do I reconcile with my somewhat abusive parents after outdoing them?

Dear Nick,   Thank you for your message and sharing with me how you are feeling regarding your family, given what you have been through and what your mother is going through. I can hear the struggles within you and it seems like on one hand you are still processing wounds suffered from your past, meanwhile on the other hand you're hoping to bring closures that would not lead you to regret?   We do have the right to be angry at how the lack of courage from the ones who have hurt us and have left us feeling unresolved and unfairly treated. It could be true that because of how much shame and guilt the other person is feeling, they might not ever have the courage to come to us, acknowledge what they have done and apologize.   They have hurt us once in the past, yet by allowing this resentment to build, I am afraid that it means we are giving them the license to continue hurting us.   It is unfortunate that this is a situation where it doesn't seem to be fair, the ones who have wounded us continue to live their lives while we are still sitting in the wounds. I can understand how frustrated and angry that feels, I would be feeling the same way given in this situation.   Meanwhile I am also thinking about our future, your future and what is best for your interest. On that note if you would like, I would like to propose forgiveness. Not to agree / accept the person's wrong doing or letting them go from being hold accountable, rather this forgiveness is all about setting ourselves free from continue being hurt / controlled by this person's action / inaction.   As you have been practicing kindness, I am sure you have noticed that we have much control over how we want to feel and we can make choices to promote kindness within ourselves, regardless of how others treat us or what life brings us.   “Forgiveness is the most powerful thing that you can do for your physiology and your spirituality.  Yet, it remains one of the least attractive things to us, largely because our egos rule so unequivocally. To forgive is somehow associated with saying that it is all right, that we accept the evil deed. But this is not forgiveness. Forgiveness means that you fill yourself with love and you radiate that love outward and refuse to hang onto the venom or hatred that was engendered by the behaviors that caused the wounds.” ~ Wayne Dyer   Here are some thoughts that I have when it comes to forgiveness, perhaps some benefits when we practice letting go of resentments and allow forgiveness to bring peace and healing back into our heart:   1. Forgiveness is a gift we give to ourselves   “It’s one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself, to forgive. Forgive everybody.” ~ Maya Angelou   Your mind might try to convince you that forgiveness is “letting someone off the hook,” and that you are in fact doing those who mistreated you a favor by forgiving them, but the truth of the matter is that you are doing yourself a favor.   Forgiveness is a gift you give to yourself, to be at peace, to be happy and to be able to sleep at night. You’re not doing this for them, you’re doing it for yourself, to set yourself free from the feelings of hurt, anger and helplessness that kept both of you attached for so long, and to be at peace.   2. Forgiveness is an act of strength   “The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute if the strong.” ~ Gandhi    Contrary to what you have been led to believe, forgiveness is an act of strength. You don’t forgive because you are weak, but because you are strong enough to realize that only by letting go of resentments you will be happy and at peace.   3. Forgiveness is a sign of self-love   “We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies.” ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.    Love yourself enough to let go of all the toxicity from your life and free yourself from all the anger, bitterness and resentments.  If you’re mad, be mad. Don’t hide and suppress your feelings. Let it all out, but once you’re done with being mad, allow forgiveness to enter your heart. Let go and love!    4. When you forgive, you find peace   “If you let go a little you will have a little peace; if you let go a lot you will have a lot of peace; if you let go completely you will have complete peace.” ~ Ajahn Chah   Peace of mind is what you find the moment you let go of any grudges and any resentments you might be holding on to. The moment you say to yourself: “It is time to let go, it is time to forgive”, that will be the moment you will find peace.    5. If you forgive, you will be forgiven   “In this world, you are given as you give. And you are forgiven as you forgive. While you go your way through each lovely day, you create your future as you live.” ~ Peace Pilgrim   In life, we get what we give, and we reap what we sow. And since we’re all humans, and we all make mistakes, the more we forgive others for the past, present and future mistakes, the more others will forgive us when we will make mistakes. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. That also means forgiving ourselves. The more we practice forgiveness, we will find ourselves having more grace and compassion for others, and for ourselves, which would result in peace, comfort and calmness.   Please let me know if this is helpful, looking forward to learn your thoughts, Jono
(MSW, LICSW, LMHC)
Answered on 07/29/2021

Any counselor specialize for motherhood?

Hello Reg, I realize how hard it must be for you to be so far away from your daughter. Parenting is always difficult task when you're close but becomes very hard while apart. Communication is key in maintaining good relationships. You have the added challenge of being apart and I can only imagine that being faced with situation like these can be anxiety producing. Firstly, I would've set some very strong boundaries around electronics. I understand that in your case, your conduit to your daughter is the phone however I would strongly caution you about giving too much access to the Internet to your daughter. Does your daughter have her own phone or does she use the one that belongs to your mother? Has your daughter come out and asked questions regarding mating or do you just have the information via your mom's observations? I tend to discourage providing responses to questions that have not been raised. Your daughter is very young and curious which is natural and appropriate. Do you feel that your relationship with your daughter is impacted by this situation? If yes, then I would address it but at first ask more questions than responses. I would try to find out what she wants to know and then explore with her the reasons. Based on her motivations, I would then provide answers using age appropriate vocabulary. I would also tell my child to come to me if she has questions and dissuade her from seeking answers on her own. There are several programs that one can load on the phone to monitor and control what sites children visit to ensure that they go to age appropriate sites. In the USA, there is an organization that provide education to parents about setting some limits around technology in regards to educating children. Common Sense Media is available in English and Spanish. The site offers access to many relevant topics: bullying, web browsing, age appropriate content, cyber monitoring etc... Here is the link: https://www.commonsensemedia.org/   I hope that my answer will help you in improving your communication with your daughter. I wish you a great rest of your day.
Answered on 07/29/2021

How do I have a relationship with my dad who wasn't around much growing up?

Hello, I'm so glad you decided to reach out to the question section to find some advice. It can't be easy to be so vulnerable about such a sensitive topic. Hopefully my answer will shed some light and also guide you towards some things that you can explore in individual therapy.  First, I would like to be clear that you are in no way obligated to repair the relationship just because he is your father and wants to make amends. You get to decide that for yourself and I would encourage you to think thoroughly regarding the decision. Ultimately though, I do believe that at least have a conversation in order to share your feelings would do you a lot of good towards your own personal healing journey.  Next, have you thought about what are some of your feelings towards the situation? I think before you decide how to address his feelings towards the situation, it might be helpful for you to explore what you are thinking and feeling so that you can also express yourself when you see fit. Similarly, it's helpful that you have already identified that you feel resentful towards him and it's going to be important for you to express that to him. If he is interested in healing the relationship, he is going to have to be cognizant of the hurt that has been caused, and address the resentment as a part of the healing journey. To take it a step further, it would be helpful for him to also know the specific reasons that you are resentful. Its going to be important for you to also set clear boundaries if you decide to move forward in establishing a relationship- having time to review some of his thoughts and feelings, the amount of contact initially, etc. But also be prepared for the ups and downs. There may be days for both of you that negative thoughts creep in and you guys have to be aware that that is a pet of the process.  If you are really interested in moving forward with building a relationship, I would also encourage you to consider doing family therapy with him in order to have the support of a professional to guide you guys through. Hopefully you find some guidance through this posts. I wish you all the best in the new journey, whatever you decide. All the best, Shaquala Fields, LCSW 
Answered on 07/29/2021