How Do I Know If My Teen Is Rebelling?

Teenage rebellion is not just about skipping class, staying out past curfew, or smoking anymore, now the rebellion has taken on new forms and looks considerable different from the past.  Understanding the early warning signs of teenage rebellion as opposed to normal development can make the different not only in your relationship with the teen but in their lives as well.  As a mother, former teacher and counselor of teens, I have observed three main areas of rebellion in teens.  Each of these areas is as important as the next and should be addressed.

Authority.  As part of the normal developmental process of a teenager growing into adulthood, teens become increasing aware of the numerous authority figures in their lives.  For a teen, the number of authority figures seems to multiply from parents to coaches to teachers to police officers to store managers to even older teens.  While during childhood the authority figures were for the most part respected, for some teens they all of a sudden seem to become disrespected as the child ages.

Rebelling against authority is open defiance of the rules established whether it is at home, school, athletic field or work.  This rebellion maybe obvious or it maybe secretive, either way it is rebellion against an authority figure.  The teen maybe staying out all night, not going to school, drag racing, sneaking out of the house, running away, drinking and driving, stealing from an employer, school or home, or destruction of property to name a few of the big ones.  Also look for the not so obvious rebellion symptoms such as rolling of the eyes, not making eye contact, intentionally dragging out an instruction, sleeping instead of working, and name calling.

Peers.  It may seem strange that this category would be included as a type of rebellion; however some teens do not have issues with the authority figures in their lives but rather with their peers.  It is normal for teens to experiment becoming friends with different peer groups especially as their interests and activities change.  Some teens do well with multiple peer groups while other teens struggle to fit into one peer group.

The rebellion begins at teens struggle to fit into a peer group that is not accepting of them so they act out against that group.  This can look like bullying on the surface and can resulting in fighting, backstabbing, and name calling.  Some teens switch peer groups repeatedly as a way to prevent anyone from coming too close to them.  In the end, they may experience isolation and lose of friends.  Other teens identify so strongly with one group, a gang, to the point that they are antagonistic to others who are not a part of their group.  All of this is rebellion towards their peers.

Self.  As teens struggle with forming their identity separate and apart from their parents, often times they do not like what they see.  Instead they began a self-loathing process that can rapidly become harmful behavior.  Their rebellion against themselves displays as hatred for how they appear, how they think, how they act and what they have become.  In order to feel better about themselves, they often engage in dangerous behavior to bring relief to the pain they feel.  This self-harming behavior can be cutting, excessive piercings, bingeing/purging, drugs (illegal and prescription abuse), gambling, alcohol use, and excessive risk taking.

If any of these areas sounds familiar, don’t lose hope.  The good news is that when rebellion is handled correctly, the impact on the teen’s life can be long-lasting.  Look for the article titled, “What to Do If Your Teen Rebels” for ideas on how to properly handle the rebellion.

For more information, watch this YouTube video:

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

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Have You Lost That Loving Feeling in Your Marriage?

In every marriage there are moments when the feeling of love and romance seems lost to the busyness of everyday. The intense and exciting love you once strongly felt is now replaced with feelings of comfort and security. While this is important, you still desire the intense excitement of your earlier years.

The mistake some make is looking for that loving feeling in someone else rather than in their spouse. They might contact old flings trying desperately to find that intensity and excitement again. Or they believe that their marriage is beyond that point and instead settle for the mundane. But neither option needs to be the case. Instead, try these options.

Remember.  Grab an old photo album, turn on your song, eat at your favorite restaurant, or relive your first date. Do anything that reminds you of when you first met. Then remember what you first loved about your spouse and speak it to each another. This is not the time to rehash old arguments or frustrations; rather it is a time to reflect on the good times and what did work well between the two of you.

Repent.  Anytime you visit the past, there will be moments when you realize that you hurt one another. Take a few moments to acknowledge the past hurts, ask for forgiveness, and let it go. Holding onto past hurts is like erecting a wall around your heart to protect yourself from any more harm. When you ask for forgiveness and intentionally work at not repeating the same mistake, you allow your spouse to remove the wall around their heart and the love will flow more freely.

Rediscover.  You have grown in your marriage and so has your spouse. You are not the same person that first got married. Spend some time getting to know the person your spouse has become instead of the person you have decided they have become. Give grace to each other and you will discover a love that is far deeper than the intense and exciting love that you once felt.

It is never too late to turn your marriage around. By remembering, repenting and rediscovering your spouse you can turn your hearts towards one another and your bond will become stronger than when you first began.

 

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

How to Explain Death to a Child

One of the hardest realities to explain to a child is death. Especially when it is the death of a parent, sibling, beloved grandparent, close friend or even a favorite pet.  As a parent, you try to protect your child from things that might harm them or from things that are too difficult to understand for their age but unfortunately sometimes this is not possible.  When you are faced with the reality that you need to have a conversation with your child about death, keep the following ideas in mind.

Don’t lie.  Whatever you do say, make sure that you are completely honest with your child.  Telling them that a person went to sleep for a long time does not help them and can confuse them later when they do find out the truth.  Don’t say anything that would cause your relationship with your child to be in jeopardy later because of a lie, even if it is just a little white lie.

Keep it simple.  Long winded explanations may make you feel better but a child will only hear the first couple of sentences.  Remember the teacher on Charlie Brown and how the kids just tuned her out?  You don’t want your child to turn you out during a difficult conversation so be clear and simple when you start.

Answer only the question they ask.  As a parent, you may be tempted to reinterpret your child’s question or answer more than they ask.  Resist the urge and instead repeat the question they ask for clarity by saying, “You want to know…” followed by their question.  If they say yes, then answer it simply; if they say no than ask them to ask a different question.

Don’t expect an emotional response.  Children need more time than adults to process what has happened because this is a new experience for them.  So if your child seems unemotional at first, don’t worry, just give them time to process what has happened.  Your child may also have inappropriate emotional responses such as laughing instead of crying; allow them the freedom to respond as they know how.  They may be laughing because that is the only way they know of releasing the stress and tension they feel.

Explain as often as requested.  You may find that your child comes back to you several hours or days later with the exact same set of questions they asked at first.  They are doing this to process what has happened and refusing to answer a question because you have already answered it is not helpful.  Rather, be consistent with your responses and answer the same question in the same manner.  Again resist the temptation to over explain, they are not asking the same question because they need more clarity, they are just trying to understand.

Invite them to ask more questions in the future.  As your child ages and has more experience to draw from, they may have additional harder questions later.  While they may have seemed like they are processing the grief well shortly after the death, problems may surface several years later as they learn more about life.  Look out for disruptive behavior at school, defiant behavior at home, or destructive behavior with friends as warning signs that your child may have more grief to process.

Get help not only for your child but for you as well.  Grief of close family members can take well over a year to process for adults.  For children, they seem to postpone aspects of their grief for later and sometimes it is not fully processed until they are adults.  As a parent, you need to get help so that you can better help your child first by example and next by experience.  Your child will be far more likely to ask for help in a productive rather than destructive manner if they have witnessed you asking for help.  The idea of being strong for your child and not getting help may be counterproductive for your child who may feel weak compared to you.

It is a tough to have a conversation with your child about death.  Before you begin, think about the right words to say then review the above suggestions rehearsing answers to some of the anticipated questions.  But if your child is resistant to the conversation, don’t force it on your time-table but rather be patient and sensitive to their time-table.  This will go a long way in strengthening your relationship with your child.

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

The Value of a Working Mom

Sometimes meaningful parental moments come in the middle of another conversation. It usually has nothing to do with the topic at hand and is uncharacteristically transparent.  Looking back, you wish there was a bright shining light demanding your attention so you could savor every second.

I had such a moment with my fourteen year old son just this past week.  The filter in his ADHD brain telling him not to comment on certain things is underdeveloped even for his age while his critical thinking skills far exceed.  This combination makes for very interesting and frequently frustrating conversations. Since he loves to talk, there is no shortage of either.  This week he shocked me with, “I’m glad that you are a working mom.” Suprised, I asked for further clarification because he often complains how difficult his life is. Here are his responses.

“You don’t schedule your life around me.”  Talk about a shocking statement coming from a boy who frequently complains of having no ride to the activity of the week!  He explained that his friend’s mom chooses to rearrange her schedule to meet her son’s wants and desires. As a result, his friend has a skewed view that life is all about him. My son was astonished that his friends got whatever they wanted with no regard for how it impacted the rest of the family.  By setting the standard that life is not about my son, he has learned to be less selfish.

“You work hard.”  It is both frightening and encouraging to understand that children learn more from what is done rather than what is said.  My son recounted a conversation he overheard from two mothers who were commenting on how difficult it must be to work and go to school at the same time.  Having experienced this first hand with his mother, he was shocked to discover that not every mother did this.  He then explained that by demonstrating what can be accomplished he had the motivation to work hard as well.  By setting an example of hard work (it is important to note it is the example that is significant, not the words), he has learned self motivation.

“You and Dad don’t waste time.”  By far this was the most confusing statement from my son especially since he seems to have little regard for his own time management.  He then admitted to spending quite a bit of time listening in on adult conversations and made this observation.  When time is a rare commodity, there is less gossip (his words) and more engaging discussions.  Apparently, the conversations he overhears between his parents are deeper and more meaningful because there is less time to talk.  By placing value on quality time and conversation, he has learned not to gossip.

Probably the hardest part of knowing that my son has learned these valuable lessons is understanding that he will frequently forget these lessons and become selfish, unmotivated and a gossip.  However by continuing to set standards, living by example and placing value on the important things of life, the lessons can be continually reinforced making a positive difference in his life.  As an added bonus, these lessons in turn encouraged me to keep going and greatly reduced the guilt often felt as a working mom.

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

The Stress of Anxiety

The Exhausted Woman's Handbook(Excerpt taken from The Exhausted Woman’s Handbook)

Ziana struggled with worry, anxiety, and panic attacks ever since the accidental car death of her twin brother 7 years ago. Her mind often raced with imagined future accidents, her response, and the ensuing added sadness. Driving on highways was still not possible for her and she was unable to remain silent when others were driving.

Her panic attacks were debilitating. Her heart would start pounding and racing, her stomach felt like it was in her throat, her palms became sweaty, she got lightheaded and dizzy, her breath became shallow and her thoughts were out of control leaving her completely exhausted. Since medical conditions were ruled out, it was diagnosed as a panic attack. Worse yet, the fear that the attack could happen again (as it frequently did) had a lasting exhausting effect.

Perhaps you’ve had a panic attack recently. Maybe you encountered someone unexpectedly, witnessed something on TV, were in the middle of a presentation or simply were eating out. All of a sudden, your heart started pounding and you were filled with anxiety. It seemed to come out of nowhere when in reality it was triggered by something. The anxiety attack could indicate a major unresolved event still causing problems in your everyday life. Fortunately, there are things you can do:

Mental Solution. Look for an unusual distraction around the room to minimize the intensity. Just focusing your thoughts on something else other than the attack is helpful. The odder the distraction, the better, but it usually isn’t enough to stop it completely. For instance, you might notice a picture that is not straight or a child laughing.

Physical Solution. Next, focus on your breathing. Breathe in for a count of five, hold it for another count of five and let it out for a count of seven. Try this for at least four times in a row. Be aware of the tension in your face, shoulders, hands and even toes and use the breaths to bring relaxation. Don’t beat yourself up when your breaths are short. Do the best you can and try practicing this exercise when you are not in the middle of an attack.

Emotional Solution. Close your eyes and remember a place of serenity and calm. Try going deep into your memory, remembering colors around you, peaceful weather, gentle sounds, the feel of something soft or an enticing smell. Smells are particularly calming as they are easily remembered and can bring about almost instant relaxation. Strangely enough, drinking a very cold glass of ice water (or my personal favorites: an Icee, a Slurpee or a Frappuccino) in an attempt to get a brain freeze can also be very effective. Your brain must wake up first before dealing with the anxiety.

Spiritual Solution. Say a prayer or recall a verse to help ease your emotions. You can also make a mental list of the many things you are thankful for or the numerous blessings in your life. Keep a card in your wallet or a note in your phone to aid your recall when under stress.

Psychological Solution. After the intensity of the attack is over, ponder the cause. There is usually a reason the anxiety was triggered and resolving the underlying issue will lessen future attacks. Triggers like strong emotions of fear or anger, the pressure created by certain people, or perceived potential danger can contribute to an attack. Identify the trigger, and then allow it to point you to a life-altering moment in your history. You may need assistance to process the root cause of your anxiety.

Ziana knew the source of her anxiety, but she had not fully grieved the loss of her brother. Though it was hard at first, she confronted her fears through therapy and her panic attacks eventually disappeared. You can experience the same success; it takes courage to tackle the anxiety caused by a tree ring moment. While it may be difficult at first, the new lasting impression is worth the effort.

 

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

 

You may purchase The Exhausted Woman’s Handbook at Xulon Press, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and iBooks. Or just click on the picture on the right.

Has your Sex Drive Decreased

It happens to almost everyone.  You are not interested in having sex as frequently as before. Or the thought of having sex at all is completely unappealing.  Your sex drive seems to be decreasing and you not sure as to why.  At first, there may not be any logical explanation but looking to some underlying issues may reveal the problem.

Be honest.  This is not a time to be silent with your spouse.  They need to know that you are experiencing a decrease in your sex drive and perhaps not achieving an organism as frequently.  Most likely they have already noticed and is wondering what is wrong.  Check for any relational problems such as difficulty with in-laws, finances, communication, or the kids.  Getting help with these problems and dealing with them can improve your sex drive.

Talk to your doctor.  Sometimes there are physiological reasons for a decrease in sex drive.  Age, discomfort during sex, painful sex or change in hormonal levels can all be contributing factors.  By discussing your concerns with your doctor and running a few simple tests, the physiological reasons can be identified and in some cases resolved, improving your sex drive.

Heal from the past.  Oftentimes when you are in a stable relationship and things are going well, sexual images of your past or unresolved sexual issues surface.  Your ability to put aside these images or issues is no longer working.  However, dealing with them again is not what you want to do.  Yet, this is precisely what is needed.  A past experience of abortion, rape, molestation, sexual abuse, multiple partners, pornography, sexually transmitted disease or infection can all be contributing factors to your decreased sex drive now.  Take some time to work with a professional counselor to help heal from these past hurts.

Reduce stress.  The stress of maintaining a household, managing the competing schedules, and working to improve finances can be overwhelming.  Knowing what needs to be done and realizing that it cannot be accomplished increases your stress level.  Usually the things you choose not to complete are the very things that help you to relax and unwind.  Like proper amounts of sleep, eating right, exercising, reading a favorite book, taking a relaxing bath, going on a date with your husband, or just playing with your kids.  Add these activities back into your schedule and take time out for yourself.  Sex will be far more desirable.

Not addressing your diminished sex drive could result in an increase in marriage problems or/and increase in lack of self-confidence; neither of which is desirable.  This is a problem that will not go away with time or get better without being addressed, rather it is something you can confront and manage.

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

How to Stop Being Overwhelmed When Dating

Marriage

Marriage (Photo credit: Lel4nd)

Dating can be overwhelming.  There is quite a bit of advice about it but not much about preparing yourself to date.  Deciding in advance why to date and what type of person to date, makes decisions easier.

Why date.  For some, the purpose of dating is to discover if the person has the potential for becoming a long-term partner.   This is not about getting a marriage proposal on the first date; rather it is an acknowledgement that there is a desire for something more.  For others, dating has one purpose, to have fun.  For the fun seekers, the idea of any commitment longer than one date is too much for them.  Generally speaking, this is why those interested in just having fun are not good matches for those interested in long-term commitments.

Don’t waste your time.  If you are dating to find a partner, than wasting your time with those just having fun can be frustrating.  Once you discover that your date is not interested in the same outcome, parting ways on friendly terms is better than stringing out a relationship that will eventually end with resentment.  Most likely the person desiring the long-term commitment will resent the fun seeker because they won’t change their mind.

 Decide what matters.  If you are interested in a long-term commitment, than deciding what matters to you in a partner is better done before you meet them.  This is not a time to decide that your future partner should have blue eyes or black hair because you want kids with that combination; rather this is a time to be selective about what really matters.  Fifteen years later appearances change.  If you fall in love with the appearance of a person and not their intellect, character, or heart, then you will have built the foundation of your marriage on a sink-hole.

Make a list.  This is the hardest part of the process, making a list of the qualities that are really important and compliment you in some way.  For instance, if you know that you are a spender when it comes to money, then you are better off marrying a saver.  If you are coming into the marriage with kids from a previous marriage, then it is essential to have a spouse that loves kids.  If you like to watch weird Sci-Fi movies, then it is good to have someone who can enjoy them with you.  The list should be long and as specific as possible without too much detail.  Writing down a general statement such as “good sense of humor” is not specific enough; rather “enjoys a dry sense of humor” is a better statement.  On the other hand, too specific statements limit your prospects.  This is about finding a balance.

Prioritize.  Once you have your list, put your list in the order of priority in your life.  A person who is active in the ministry of their church might have at the top of the list a person with similar characteristics.  Items such as moral beliefs, value systems, desire for future children, good reputation and employability should be close to the top of the list.  The bottom of the list may include appearance preferences, location, or family background.  However, you may decide differently then suggested, remember this is about your desires for a mate not about someone else.

Use the list.  Please do not bring the list on the first date and begin questioning the other person about the items that are important to you.  This is a bit on the crazy side and is more likely to scare someone away rather than draw them closer to you.  Instead, pick one or two and investigate if your date has the qualities you are looking for in a partner.  Then work your list a bit at a time.

Dating with a purpose in mind and with an understanding of the type of person you are looking for in a partner, makes the process more enjoyable and less frustrating.  It also saves you the heartache of spending too much time and investing too much emotional energy with Mr. Wrong or Mrs. Wrong.

 

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org or visit my website at www.growwithchristine.com.