You’re Not Alone in This… There Are Others Out There!

Today we hear from a young teen who admittedly struggles with being an only child. This is useful for others as well as for parents who are seeking a deeper understanding and ways to help their child grow and develop well.

Hello there!!!  Tell me, have any of you had recent fights with your siblings? Are you really struggling to fit in with your siblings, to try and prove you can be better than they are? If any of you have these problems or any other problems related to siblings, don’t come to me, or read this.

I’m an only child, as most of you probably guessed judging by the title, and here are some things that I deal with every day. This is to all those only children out there; you aren’t the only ones who feel like this.

First thing is, well we’re mostly alone. I personally have got nobody to hang out with at home.  I had to teach myself how to keep busy. With no siblings to turn to, what are you going to do?

After the loneliness comes the extreme boredom. What are you going to do? Ask your parents……. YEAH RIGHT, no siblings……. Face it!!!!

The only things we can do are read, watch TV, computer games, electronic devices, and these are the FUN topics. Yeah, I said the fun topics.

What about your personality? Are you shy, quiet, and unsociable like me? Or are you the carefree social butterfly with a confident attitude and yet desperately needs to hang out with friends? My guess, you’re probably like me.

It’s not your fault and it never will be. It’s because of the way you grew up; you adapted to a one-child lifestyle. I was anyways. You might’ve been too and if not, then you are very VERY lucky. I know I always wonder if I had siblings would I be different. Would I’ve been raised into a different person with a different personality and talents? I also don’t want that. What if I didn’t have the talents I have, what would I do? I just want to say you’re not alone in this; there are others out there with the same problems.

I know some of you read this because you want to know how to deal with it, the truth is that I don’t know. I’m not going to lie to you. I’ve never gotten over the fact that my childhood memories are about me playing alone; asking for people to play with me but always getting the answer no. I don’t know how to deal with it, but I’m trying, and all of you should try too.

 

When we hold our newborns in our arms, we are overwhelmed with feelings, emotions and thoughts. In fact, the term overwhelmed is an understatement of the first time this miracle appears in our arms. Yes, we had nine months to ponder what these tiny creations will look like, or how their personalities will develop and grow. We may sometimes even stress about all the dos and dont’s to keep our babies safe and as healthy as possible.

When they finally arrive, we whisper to ourselves (because no one can know that we’d ever ask such a question) “How on earth am I going to raise this child? How can I prevent her from being teased, or bullied? How can I get her to go to university and become successful? How do I get her to NOT have sex before marriage?”

If all these questions are screaming at you (even still today), know that you are not alone. You are not the first parent to doubt your capabilities. Not the first parent to want to keep any negativity and danger away from your child.

So now she’s 11 and growing into a beautiful young lady. She is beginning the steps of… “puberty” displaying hints of physical and emotional maturity. She does, however, not know it all yet (although she may portray that she does). She knows every song on the radio by heart, every new fashion trend, and all the celebrity gossip information. But she doesn’t know how to spell every word she speaks, still needs help comprehending math problems and is not yet equipped to conquer the world.

She dances beautifully, is confident in her own skin (so far), and shows love, respect and loyalty to her family (although she still needs gentle reminders to give kisses to her grandparents). So for the most part, she’s perfect! So what’s the problem? Why do parents feel like their babies are slipping away? ……they are not babies anymore.

All those questions we asked when we first held our babies in our arms and have stuck with us through their childhood; but now it is time to switch gears and throw those expectations away. Your child, now a preteen is growing, developing, forming moral opinions and has hopefully adopted a positive and healthy belief system. Pat yourself on the back for the work you’ve done (so far).

Our job as parents is to stay consistent with our love and support while providing increased flexibility alongside clear structure and boundaries. It’s okay not to have all the answers. It’s okay to grow and develop as a parent as your child is growing and developing as well. Reading parenting books may not be high on our piorities or something we have much time for. Find time anyway… yes you too fathers! Get books, audio books for the commute, find videos to learn from and even seek wise counsel as you’ll be rewarded with a refreshing and enhanced parenting approach.

Staying consistent with love means that the foundation of support and meeting your child’s needs is solid. It helps if we as parents attain patience. Santosha, a Sanskrit word meaning contentment and satisfaction, is a great way to allow ourselves to be patient in good times and in not so good times. We have shared many blogs about family relationships, conflict-resolution and sexuality that can help parents with those “not so good” times. Embracing Santosha helps parents when stages in our child’s development arise and may be difficult to cope with.

Flexibility involves awareness. Awareness that the time we were 11 is much different than the times for 11 year olds now. So things may seem to be happening too fast and our kids may know way more than we did when we were that age; but it’s okay!

Flexibility also involves honesty and open communication. The ability of a parent and child to speak openly and honestly, hear each other’s point of view and share opinions is truly powerful. More powerful than trying to control environments, set strict and unrealistic rules and refrain from the child’s input.

Being a parent is a life-long job and we can support you through the most challenging parts of what may be the most rewarding experience of your life. Call us today!

Where are the instructions?

Our previous post “Am I the Ugly Duckling” came from a son describing the trouble he is having in his family.  Today we bring you the father’s point of view.

“Growing up on a small island, I became accustomed to very structured roles of what it meant to be a man, and a father. So having two boys of my own, I was thrilled at the opportunity that my life learnings may be shared and transferred onto my children.

Somewhere I did something wrong. From the time they were toddlers, I tried to spend as much time as possible with them. Then, when I got the opportunity to introduce them to sports, I thought, ‘This is the best life.’ What became hard for me was accepting that my boys had in different interests. I think I tried my best to support my son’s magic card acts, which eventually got him into playing poker.

But disconnect from my son has become almost unbearable, and I feel a bit hopeless. Wanting to see both my sons happy and also not being okay with some of their decisions is difficult to express. All I am seeing now is a son who is smoking pot and not making any attempt to find a proper job or look into furthering his education. So needless to say that the conflicts in our home are increasing; my sons are no longer talking; I just don’t know what to do.

A part of me feels like I have failed as a father, and I do not handle failure very well. My sons are young adults and my wife and I are in our early fifties, so we can either endure this broken home for another 30 years or we can get some help. But where do we start?”

Often times, the trouble in families is built up from years and years of difficult behaviours, troubling thoughts, and increased conflict. With this amount of pressure on a family, it becomes even more difficult to find solutions to cope, mend broken relationships, and improve each other’s lives.

It is never too late to improve family!  The first step to getting help is reaching out. Contact us today and take that first step to helping your family.

* Tune into the next post as we provide information on family conflict and a few tools and strategies that help families cope better.

Sometimes being the ugly duckling is not just looking different from what is familiar. It also involves acting different, choosing different paths, and making choices that others may not agree with. This can create tension with the people close to us and it can be difficult to cope with and handle when we don’t have the right tools to deal with it. The next two posts will be reflections from a son and father’s point of view. The third post to follow will provide some information on family conflict and strategies and tools that families may apply to their relationships.

“I began to feel like an outsider, partly because I would sleep in the day and play poker games at night until sunrise. Somewhere along graduating high school and poker games I felt like an outsider to my own family. Conflicts got more heated and became a daily routine. I felt like no one in my family understood me. I still feel like this, four years later…and I have nowhere to turn.”

Many teen and parents struggle to find common ground, to discuss tough subjects in a respectful and effective manner and to communicate in ways that build bridges rather than walls. When distance sets in it is quite common for teens to turn to hurtful behaviours to cope, begin failing at school and even resort to cutting, drug misuse and running.

Call us today for more information on how our Oshawa counsellors can help.

Tomorrow, in the post Am I a Bad Parent?, we hear dad’s point of view. It is hoped that these posts help families, who share similar challenges, not feel so alone and learn new strategies for positive growth.

What About God?

For some of us, we are raised in a family that follows a specific religious denomination. The practices, followings, and teachings are supposedly instilled in us so that we too may follow the exact same practices, the exact same teachings. We, at times, felt that our parents’ or grandparents’ way of reaching their Higher Power was too strict to follow. Or, we had no parental influences that a Higher Power may exist. As a result, we may tell ourselves that this isn’t for us and religion isn’t real, isn’t needed or isn’t even useful. For many of us, this thought pattern marks the beginning of neglecting our spiritual development and putting road blocks in our spiritual journey.

As we slowly adopt this stinkin’ thinkin’, we become less open to the possibility that a Higher Power exists. How could He exist, when we face so many difficult obstacles? How can some “Being” watch us suffer, feel depressed, go through numerous failed relationships, or have communities deprived of food and shelter?

These questions run through our minds, especially when we are faced with life challenges. However, deep inside us, we still talk to this “Being.” We still have some spec of hope that a Higher Power will see us out of our troubles. This is what we call FAITH. If we were able to change our thoughts based on our faith in a Higher Power, imagine the possibilities that can open up for us.

“I asked for strength, and

God gave me difficulties to make me strong.

I asked for wisdom, and

God gave me brawn and brain to work.

I asked for courage, and

God gave me dangers to overcome.

I asked for love, and

God gave me troubled people to help.

I asked for favors, and

God gave me opportunities.

I received nothing I wanted.
I received everything I needed.

My prayers were answered.”

[from Rabbi Irwin Katsof’s How to Get Your Prayers Answered]

We know very well, at least usually, the parts of ourselves needing work. All too often, however, the physical aspects of living take priority over our spiritual development. Being guided to restore and build up our spiritual strengths can help us restore our relationship with our Higher Power. Spiritual strength enhances our relationships with ourselves and others. It helps us cope more effectively with life’s challenges. Prayer has been clinically proven to improve our health and well being.

To get assistance with your spiritual journey, reach out for counselling contact us today

“My Kids are Driving Me Crazy”

Wait one minute. Who’s the parent? Who’s in charge here? It is very important to first take three or four deeeeep breaths and then, second, answer these two questions calmly. Of course you are the parent and you are in charge, however, there are certainly times you don’t feel like it.

Many people have heard about using time-out with children, usually when there is some misbehaving going on. Children will often struggle because they are, just like us parents, learning how to get along, navigate relationships, problem-solve etc.. The times when our little adorable ones are finding it difficult to behave quite often seems to coincide with the times we are busy and less able to attend to and respond to them.

Before automatically giving the child a time-out, it is important to give a few cautions, redirections or requests for better behaviour. These do not always result in the behaviour change desired which can then be an opportunity to use effective time-out and time-in. Yes “time-in”.  Imagine a sports team taking a time-out without a time-in?

Think of a time-out like a sports coach.  He sees something in the game that requires a bit of coaching and re-directing and calls a time-out, offering the players a chance to 1) relax and take a breather, 2) think about what happened and, 3) think about what can be done instead to improve the game. There is then a “time-in”. This is usually where the players are reminded “we’re all on the same team”, “you can do it” and and encouragement of some sort, like “go get ’em”.

For parents, the end of the time-in chat may be like a Robert Munch book that makes many mothers cry… “I’ll Love You Forever”… no matter your behaviour. That’s good coaching. The time-out in sports is short and so too is an effective one for family teams. Maximum time-out is between five and ten minutes, preferably the shorter time. Also, this technique is not usually used until the child is fairly verbal and aware of, and able to complete, behavioural expectations (age 2 or 3 and up).

Effective use of the time-out/time-in teaching or discipline tool does involve attending to the manner or non-verbal way in which it is given.  A positive parenting approach to time-out means parents display a relaxed, light face and tone that is delivered at the child’s eye level. A kind, loving and encouraging face and tone go a long way to help children (even spouses) feel more relaxed and willing during time-outs.  This also helps family see it as coaching and training rather than as punishment and this style of delivery affirms “we are all on the same team here”.

Sounds easy yet there are many variables such as different parenting styles, family situations and personality traits to consider. If you find you’re struggling more than being helpful, reach out and get an assessment and even some parent-coaching. You can even apply the time-out and time-in process to yourself.  Co-parents and couples can also benefit from the process.

For assistance or more information contact us today !

Probably the single most challenging issue we face as humans, compared to other mammals, is the length of time it takes us to raise our young. Depending on the area of the globe you live in, this can range anywhere from sixteen to twenty years. In most families, ongoing support of various kinds is still being provided for years or decades afterward.

Rapid changes in the pre-teen and teen years challenge and push parents to acquire new information and develop new skills.  Teens are merely doing what comes naturally, changing socially, emotionally, physically, intellectually, ethically, spiritually and psychologically and stressing parents as part of this magnificent metamorphosis. Enjoying this stage of life can be hard, especially if we listen to all the negativity out there about teens.

Don’t buy into the negative story. Children and parents struggle as part of normal family growth and development. Keeping upbeat and positive about child rearing is a monumental task rarely done very well without help. There are many books… so change the age old negative phrase to say, they do come with a manual, in fact, many!”.  Further, mentors, coaches or counsellors are available who are equipped to teach new strategies and provide you with the tools necessary for raising confident, healthy and highly effective teens.

If you find you are struggling too much, are stressed and worried about your young person and unsure what to do then … contact us today !