Photo credit: Darnok from morguefile.com

Addiction to Sex Hurts

Perhaps one of the less understood and less talked about addictions, the addiction to sexual activities can, just like drug and alcohol addictions, leave a path of destruction in the lives of those connected to the “one addicted”.

The following is submitted by a brave young woman who tells of her healing process and the importance of family and forgiveness.

“I was in a relationship for three years.  In the latter part, I got pregnant.  Needless to say, the relationship ended.  I was overwhelmed with feelings of hurt, anger, and sadness.  I could express the ups and downs of being in a relationship with a sex addict, however why bother? Why go back to those times?

One thing I could mention is the support I had from my family and friends. They saw my efforts to fight for that relationship and even his efforts to try to overcome his addiction.  Although there were subtle (and obvious) hints for me to get out, my family provided me with unconditional love.

So as the pregnancy progressed, I began to realize continuing to dwell in hurt and pain was not a healthy option.  To cope with the break-up, I kept busy, read books, wrote in my journal, and had my support system to lean on.  As the sad feelings subsided, I knew I was ready to start the forgiving process.

Many counselling professionals may suggest that the process of forgiveness is to benefit you and not necessarily the other person.  In addition to this, I knew that for the sake of my child’s growth and development, forgiving her father was non-negotiable.  My family and friends, on the other hand, have not been able to reach the point of offering forgiveness to him.  So how do I help them get there?

People may initially assume that a love relationship consists of just two people. It is true that it may start out like this, however, as the relationship evolves, we expose our significant others to our families and other friendships.  Years of involvement makes it more difficult for everyone to witness the loss of that person when the relationship ends. In the case above, her family and friends were probably exposed to more of the relationship than the average.  Setting healthy boundaries in relationships protects and provides clarity for how much to involve others in personal matters.

Involvement of family and friends in the couple’s personal struggles can actually serve to destroy family supports and eat away at the relationship as well.  While loved ones may have observed happy times, they likely find it easier to recall the stories of bad behaviours and not-so-good times before and when the relationship ends.  While focus on negatives is quite common, all it does is reinforce pain and foster feelings of anger.  Staying stuck in blame and judgmentalism blocks movement toward forgiveness. Unfortunately, this can stand in the way of a healthy relationship with the person about to become a co-parent.

In this particular case, the mother’s modelling forgiveness can be a powerful and influential message for her friends and family.  Most adults and children can pick up on the energy in a room and the emotional states of others from nonverbal communication (face and tone).

Given this, we are all responsible for the quality of relationships by our actions and choices… to forgive and extend grace or not. 

Individual, co-parenting and family counselling can help to overcome addictions, improve relationship skills and heal woundedness as well…  Contact us today!

 

I come home from school every day and cry.

I don’t think I’m bossy.

I am a little shy.

The kids at school won’t play with me.

I think I’m nice and caring.

I don’t feel comfortable around the kids at my school.

I like going to the playground, but I don’t play with anyone there.

Kids do not talk to me very much.

I hate my life.

I am 8 years old… “my life sucks!”

It is very difficult for any parent to find out that their young child is not happy with his or her life. Our hearts are broken when we hear comments like those above. We just want our kids to be happy. We also understand the importance of developing healthy relationships, so how can we help our children grow and establish healthy and appropriate social skills?

It is important to identify what may be contributing to or fueling your child’s discontent. There are numerous reasons why children may have difficulty developing friendships. Let’s first remember that friendship skills are acquired, learned over time. These can be taught, practiced and fine tuned. Of course, each child is different. Some children’s personalities are highly introspective and even somewhat introverted. It may seem easy for some to make friends, however, for this personality type, it can often be a daunting task to reach out to and communicate with their peers.

Teen TroublesOthers may be more outgoing or extroverted, yet still may struggle with relationships for a variety of reasons. Studies suggest that a child without siblings may have a more difficult time making friends than a child who has siblings. Social relationships are pretty much developed from birth and can be fostered when siblings are involved.  These children may, yet not always, have an easier time meeting, playing and getting along with other children.

Even different parenting styles can contribute to how children develop social relationships. The level of parent cooperation, flexibility, structure and discipline all play an important role. How parents themselves get along with each other and socially interact strongly influences how their children approach others. In addition, stressors in the family such as health concerns, death and loss, moving, employment issues, family conflict and separation can significantly interrupt social development.

There is hope! Fortunately many resources, materials and yes… manuals are available. We often hear; “These kids don’t come with a manual”, yet this is simply not true. Most bookstores and libraries carry thousands.

Many parents seeking help will come across many “easy-to-do” steps from these books and internet sources yet find the advice difficult to put into practice. For instance, some “experts” suggest the following:

  • Be yourself
  • Relax – “Don’t sweat the small stuff”
  • Be a good listener
  • Give compliments and encouragement
  • Join a team/social club

Seeking help from therapists, school counsellors, pastoral counsellors and books are effective ways to help both parents and children learn about social relationships. In counselling, parents and children can explore current relationships, understand themselves and others better (in the social context), and develop a plan to reach the goals they wish to accomplish (e.g. improving confidence, learning communication, problem-solving and assertiveness skills).

Parents can also receive coaching to help them develop strategies to increase self esteem, competence and confidence at home.

If you find your child struggling to get along with others and are uncertain how to help, remember this is common as we tend to get very little formal training in parenting. While many find books and other media resources helpful, these may not be sufficient for the specific issues you have. Don’t wait. Get proactive and find the right solutions that work for you and your child.

Research counsellors experience, expertise and qualifications.  Then find one that you and your child feel comfortable with. To book a consultation and assessment with professional relationship coach call us today .

 

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!

Managing a nuclear family (most often composed of mom and dad and their offspring), is hard enough given the responsibilities and challenges of every day life. We are all aware of how our world has evolved in culture and diversity and the ever changing variety of family types as well. The balancing act required when new family members are introduced (additional “parent” figures, aunts, uncles and grandparents too) can become quite overwhelming

Being in a relationship with just one person is almost impossible. Our focus on developing a bond may at first be towards the person of interest; however as time goes by, we share the holidays with each other’s families, we celebrate birthdays, and attend family and friends’ weddings. We are no longer in a relationship with just one person—our love extends outward to the people that our new partner loves as well.

Imagine the complexity when our partner has a child. Even if the relationship between our partner and their co-parent is cooperative and working well, a lot of work is still required to keep parenting unified and consistent. This is even more of a balancing act when the parents decide to develop a romantic relationship with someone else.

As parents, we may be subtle in our pursuit to find a partner. However, when we feel we’ve found a suitable sidekick, it takes strategic planning to introduce this new person to our children. We may start to ask ourselves and others: “Do we say this is just a friend? Do we slowly start to include this new person into family occasions? When is the right time and best way to go about this? How long does or should courting take place before we introduce them to our children?”

In addition to these questions, parents’ negativity or stinkin’ thinkin’ can also get in the way. “What if we break up and this person has created a great bond with my child?” “If I couldn’t make it work with my last spouse, how do I know how to get along this time? My partner doesn’t have children, how can I ever trust that he/she knows what to do?

Let’s also consider the new partner’s stinkin’ thinkin’. How can I really be a parent to a child when there are two healthy parents already? What if my relationship ends; does my relationship with this child end too? How can I provide input into the well-being of this child, without stepping on the parents’ toes? I’ve never had a child before, how do I know I can be a parent to this one now?

Associated with these thoughts are feelings of fear, anxiety, and self-doubt. Cognitive behaviour therapy suggests that with the rise of our negative thoughts and feelings, negative behaviours won’t be too far behind.  The related negative behaviours (e.g. grumpy, impatient, withdrawn, blaming) can severely disrupt parental unity, making it almost impossible to establish effective co-parenting plans (with ALL adults involved). Family systems approaches also guide family decision-making, structure and day-to-day adjustments using a non-blaming and teamwork perspective.

Seeking help in co-parenting assists parents with significant life adjustments and transitions such as finding healthier ways to introduce new members to the family. Counselling also is beneficial with helping family members create individual and group rules, expectations and goals as part of forming a new family configuration.

Our registered, professional counsellors , here in Durham Region, provide parenting coaching and family counselling that incorporates the children’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviours as well as parents’. When the entire family attends, (all adults whenever possible), this models for the children the importance of forgiveness, acceptance, love and thoughtfulness. 

To receive supportive assistance with your “balancing act” and to receive helpful tools to manage your family relations more effectively, call 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 !