What to Do If Your Teen Rebels

Rebellion in teens can be secretive or obvious depending on the personality of the teenager and the circumstances.  It can show itself as rebellion against authority, against their peers, or against themselves.  The article titled, “Symptoms of Teenage Rebellion” identifies some of the symptoms and breaks down each category of rebellion separating out normal behavior from abnormal behavior.  Once you have come to the realization that your teen is rebelling, than it is time to take action to help them overcome the destructive behavior.

Think.  The first step in helping you teen is to differentiate between normal teenage behavior and abnormal teenage behavior and address only the abnormal teenage behavior.  Leave the normal teenage behavior for another day.  Also, if your teen is in trouble for stealing from school and sneaking out of the house, then address one of the issues because the issues are not related.  If however, your teen is in trouble for stealing from school and destruction of property at school, then address the issues together.  Having a plan before you begin the conversation knowing in advance the range of discipline that will be given will give you confidence and help you to remain calm during the discussion.

Confront.  The second step is direct confrontation of the issue at hand.  Pay attention to the environment and the people around when beginning the confrontation.  While their friends are over, while their siblings are in the room, and without your spouse is not a good time for confrontation.   Rather choose a time that works for everyone and if needed, set a date.  Select a neutral ground in the home to have the discussion, neither their room nor your room are appropriate as these should be places of comfort.  As difficult as this may be, it is best to remain calm and unemotional during the discussion.  Tears and bursts of anger can be interpreted as manipulation and increase the tension and emotions of the conversation.  Keep the conversation on the one point you decided at the beginning resisting the urge to repeat yourself.

Listen.  During the conversation, remember that this is not a time for lecturing; rather this is a time for gaining insight as to the real reason behind the rebellion.  The type of rebellion should provide you with a clue as to what they are rebelling against but that it does not explain the why.  To discover the why of rebellion, you need to listen past the words to the heart of the matter while paying special attention to the emotion shown.  Look for body language to help you discover what is going on: do they look away when a topic is addressed, do they become angry at a comment made, do they shut down when you respond, or do they cry over what seems like a small issue.  Don’t be afraid to identify and inquire about the emotion: fear, anxiety, sadness, excitement, guilt, or surprise.

Remember.  At some point it may be useful to identify with the emotion your teen is feeling by remembering a time when you felt the same way.  Use this as an opportunity to bond with your teen by sharing an experience with them.  Oftentimes teens feel as though they are the only ones to feel a certain way and no one could ever understand them.  Just sharing a similar moment and becoming venerable in front of your teen demonstrates a heart of understanding beyond the disciplining.

Counsel.  Giving teens counsel is a tricky task because if they don’t feel like you really understand them, they won’t respond well to your counsel.  Instead of giving counsel to unwelcoming ears, postpone the conversation until another time and give your teen a chance to absorb the conversation.  This action alone demonstrates that you are more interested in helping them to grow than in blind obedience.  If they are willing to receive the counsel, then keep it short.  Better to get a small message across well then a long message out poorly.

Seek help.  If during the process it becomes apparent that your teen is not responding positively, seek help from a professional.  Choose a professional who has personal experience with teenagers, perhaps works with them in a coaching or teaching environment or has teenagers of their own.   The best help includes some parenting advice as well as counsel for the teen because it is better for everyone to be on the same page going forward.

Rebellion does not have to overwhelming and can actually improve and deepen the communication between the parents and the teen.  Use these moments to strengthen your relationship instead of creating a greater divide.

For more information watch this 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.

How to be Unloving to Your Wife

Just as a wife needs to read what it feels like to be disrespectful to her husband, a man needs to read what it feels like to be unloving to his wife.  So if you are a wife reading this, please don’t email this article to your husband and demand he reads it.  If you are a husband reading this, please take it as it was written, tongue-in-cheek.  Sometimes you can see things more clearly by identifying what it looks to be unloving rather than loving.

These can be done nearly anywhere as your wife is sure to take offense at each and every one.  Just be careful not to do all of them at the same time or you might overload her with feelings of resentment.  Rather, spread them out over a period of time to make sure she knows just how much you don’t love her.

  • Her home – Whenever possible, point out all of the things that are wrong in the house and how it never looks like she contributes to the care of it.  This is especially effective when she has gone out of her way to make the house look nice and you ignore it with your silence instead of recognizing it.  If she has done something that you don’t like such as rearranging the furniture or painting a wall, take the time to rearrange it back or complain that the color is your least favorite.  The more she prides herself on how her house looks, the more effective this tactic will be.
  • Her relationships – Since most women gain value from their relationships, criticize her friends regularly and demand she be friends only with the people you like.  Throw in a couple of sarcastic remarks about her friends in front of her friends and watch the tension mount.  If she seems to side with the friends, don’t be compassionate instead demand her undying loyalty to you in front of her friends.
  • Her religion – Don’t forget about the power in reminding your wife that she needs to submit to you because God says so.  By mixing a dose of religious guilt along with your statements, most women become confused and frustrated because love and guilt don’t mix well.  That is your opportunity to strike the next blow just to make sure she knows who is boss.
  • Her family – Many wives are attached to their mothers and have a bond that is difficult to break so do your best to target her mother at every opportunity with cutting remarks.  When you are done with her mother, attack her father especially if she was a “daddy’s girl”.  Even if he is the nicest person, you can still find fault.  Make sure there is a dose of truth mixed with plenty of exaggeration to alienate any allies she might have now or in the future.
  • Her work – This is one of the best categories as any way you go you can still win.  For instance, if she makes less money than you, tell her that she is not pulling her own financial weight.  This is best done to stay-at-home moms who don’t earn any income, make sure you remind her at every turn just how much she has to depend on you for financial support.  If she makes more money than you and you work, be as unsupportive of her job as possible so she knows just how frustrated you are that she is earning more.  If she makes more money than you and you don’t work, drop the mommy guilt card as often as possible by insisting that she spend more time at home and how much the kids miss her every day.
  • Her appearance – Most women take some pride in their appearance so if she gets some new make-up complain about the cost or if she buys a new dress tell her that it doesn’t fit.  This is a tactic that yields results quickly as the more subtle the remark, the more she internalizes your comments and plays them over and over in her head.  She never really escapes obsessing over her appearance even when she doesn’t look good, she’ll just say that she doesn’t care or doesn’t have time.  So one of the best ways to discourage her is to tell her that those few pounds she lost really don’t make a difference in how she looks and she still shouldn’t wear that dress.  Take the opportunity when she gets a hair cut not to notice the difference, better yet ask her what the hairdresser did for all of that money.
  • Her hobbies – Just walk into any craft store and you will find a host of hobbies that most women love to do.  If your wife is one of these women, tell her she is wasting her money on such enjoyment and her money would be better spent on something that you or the kids need.  Adding the mommy guilt touch is especially effective when your wife is spending her time doing something she enjoys.  After all, she had the children, she needs to raise them.
  • Her sexuality – The internet has wonderful pictures of perfect female bodies doing crazy sexual things that are great for comparing your wife and her performance.  If you are bold enough, leave a screen up or show her one of the sites so that she can get a good idea of just what you want and need because it is all about you.  If she has a period of disinterest in sex, don’t justify her behavior by saying it’s hormonal, instead demand that she perform for you sexually.
  • Her dreams – Every now and then remind her of a dream that she never fulfilled or one that she tried and failed.  This is very powerful if you had to rescue her from whatever the situation was and by reminding her of that you are telling her just how dependant she is on you.  There should be no promotion of independence as that is showing love.
  • Her moods – It is no secret that some women get moody a couple of days during the month so if your wife is in this category show no mercy.  Remind her that no matter how she feels, she still needs to take care of you and all your needs.  Never mind that you have been grumpy on occasion, her moodiness is no excuse not to do everything you expect her to do.  You can also use her moods against her by saying that she has no need to cry and that crying is for babies.
  • Her decisions – No doubt she has made a few bad decisions in the time you have known her so keep a tally of all of her mistakes.  You may need to write them down so you don’t forget the next time you have an argument.  Bring up all of her poor choices and then treat her like a child even talking or yelling at her as you would a child.  If she protests, remind her that she acts like more like a child then an adult.
  • Her morality – Last by not least, if your wife has done anything immoral such as drunkenness, adultery, slept with someone before you, pornography, or drug use just to name a few, remind her of her previous behavior and suggest that she return to it whenever things get too tough.  Don’t let your wife get away with the idea that people can change, remind her that she will never change and she will always be the ___ you once knew.

By mastering all of the above suggestions, your marriage will be well on its way to join half of all marriages that end in divorce.  So now that you know what your wife needs to feel unloved, go and conquer.

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.

Conquering a move and the excess baggage of life

There is nothing quite like moving to remind you just how much stuff you have in the hidden corners of your home.  Things seem to procreate over time and that one small pile of papers to review on your desk now has another pile on the dining room table and yet another in the kitchen.   The task of sorting, organizing and purging can be overwhelming and might even provoke a disagreement or two with your spouse.

While moving is frustrating and is listed amongst the top life stressors, it can also be a time of purging your life from all of the excess stuff that has gathered.  The benefit of purging is a feeling of freedom from the responsibility to care for the stuff.  Oddly enough, our lives can become just as cluttered with excess activities, friendships, responsibilities or commitments and it too can use a good cleansing every now and then.  However, you must have a plan to attack either the stuff or the excess in your life.

Essential items.  The first items to identify in your move or your life are the essentials.  These are the things you need daily and cannot live without.  In a move it may be your toiletries, a favorite pot, a book you are reading or your computer.  In life it may be a hug from your kids, spending time in God’s word, exercise or a favorite hobby.  Whatever it is put these items aside knowing that they are the most essential items you have.

Keepsake items.  Next comes the items that you love and want to keep but are not essential.  These are the things that you would miss if they were lost, would like to pass on to a family member, or deeply regret not having in the future.  In a move it may be your photo albums, a wedding dress, books, china, or a collection of baseball cards.  In life it may be an annual family reunion, a date with your children or spouse, a convention, or a commitment to work with the homeless.  The trick is keeping your keepsake items to a minimum as not to be adding too much to your plate after the essential items are established.  If you are not sure it is a keepsake, move on.

Throw-away items.  Now you are ready for the throw-away items which should be easier to identify once the essential and keepsake items are already sorted.  These are the items that you can really do without and drain your energy.  In a move it may be old tablecloths that you have not used in a while, old clothes that have not been worn in years, or old newspapers that are collecting dust.  In life it may be a charity that you are no longer passionate about, a hobby that you have lost interest in, or a friend that is more draining than helpful.  Don’t think too hard about these items, if your first instinct is to get rid of it than do it.

Repeat again and again.  Finally you are ready for the last step which is to repeat the first three steps over and over until everything is sorted.  Nothing should be left without a final decision as to which category it belongs.  In a move as in life it is important to analyze the things you are holding onto and examine them to see if your interests have changed.  As you get older, it is natural to have changing interests and your house as your life should reflect the change.

A move is time-consuming but it is helpful to sort through all of the stuff that you have accumulated over the years.  Your life likewise accumulates responsibilities and commitments that may no longer reflect your interests.  Taking the time to purge your home and life of the excess items will free you to spend more time with the things that really matter and ultimately decrease your stress.

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 Build a Neighborhood Play Group

Once the initial shock of motherhood is over and you and your baby are finally sleeping through the night, settling into a routine that allows you to enjoy your time with your child becomes a priority.  One of the best additions to your new routine is a mom’s group or neighborhood play group.  Meeting other moms and other children is good for both you and your child, especially in your neighborhood.  These relationships can last a lifetime and provide an avenue for discussing mutual concerns or questions.  They decrease loneliness, normalize your experiences, and increase the possibility of shared help.

But how do you go about it if you don’t know anyone in your neighborhood?  Try these suggestions:

  • Go to your neighborhood playground or one nearby at about the same time every day.  This will enable you to become familiar with other moms and begin a conversation with them.
  • Take regular walks or bike rides around the neighborhood stopping to talk to other moms who are outside with their children.
  • Get involved in your homeowner’s association and volunteer to put together an activity which involves kids.  This further increases your chance of making new friendships.
  • If you have a community pool or a nearby YMCA, visit it to meet some other moms and children.  The morning times are the best times for children as by the afternoon they are usually taking naps.
  • Your local library usually has special reading times for small children.  This is another great opportunity to meet other moms and children.
  • Some local businesses have specials for children such as kids eat free one day during the week.  By attending, you can meet others while you eat.
  • Local churches sometimes have programs for moms and kids such as Mom’s Day Out.  These usually cost a nominal fee but it is a chance for you to connect with other moms and your kids to meet other kids.
  • Some malls have indoor playgrounds which is a great place to make new friends and get a little shopping in.
  • As strange as it sounds, you can even meet other moms at your doctor’s office.  The first year is spent visiting your doctor quite a bit so make the most of the visits by talking to other moms in the waiting room.
  • Facebook your friends and ask to be introduced to other people on their friend list that may live close to you or have kids the same age.  This is another safe way of meeting other moms.

Once you have met a group of moms, suggest a regular meeting place such as a playground, the library, the pool, or even alternating houses.  Establish the group with regular meeting times such as every other week at 10am, this way everyone knows when and where they are meeting.  After you have begun the group, continue to invite new moms as others disappear to maintain the group over a long period of time.  These friendships can be the beginning of meaningful long-term relationships not only for your but for your child as well.

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 parent a difficult child

You have read the parenting books, implemented the ideas, and tried new techniques but nothing seems to work.  While your other children seem to be responding and benefiting from intentional parenting, one of your children is still not thriving.  In fact, they are getting worse.  Maybe they have been diagnosed with ADD, ADHD, SPD, OCD, ODD, CD or Asperser’s.  Such diagnoses can help to explain your child’s behavior but it does not help in understanding how to effectively parent them.   So you read more books and try to be more compassionate only to find that your child’s behavior is still not improving.

All is not lost and your efforts are not in vain.  For the most part you are likely to be on the right track with firm boundaries, negative consequences and positive rewards for behavior combined with a look at the heart of your child.  These elements are essential to intentional parenting yet it is not enough for your child.  Instead, sometimes it is the small changes that you can implement that make the biggest impact.  By adding these three rules to the techniques you are already doing, you may see better results.

No questions.  Questions like, “Why is your room still messy”, “Why did you do that”, and “What were you thinking” are unproductive.  If your child answers these questions honestly with “I forgot”, “I don’t know”, and “I wasn’t thinking”, this is likely to frustrate you even more.  Interrogating your child is almost never productive in the positive sense as it fosters rebellion in the heart of your child.  While it may give you some answers, the negative consequence of a strained relationship is more damaging.  Instead of questioning them, make statements like, “Your room is messy”, “Your behavior is not acceptable”, and “Think about this”.  Statements rather than questions reinforce your boundaries and provide security to your child.

No explanations.  Long winded explanations border on lecturing.  Remember when you were a kid; did you enjoy the lectures from your parents?  Didn’t you just tune them out after a period of time or talk to yourself in your head when it went on and on?  So, don’t repeat the same mistake with your child.  Instead be short, sweet and to the point.  Long winded explanations invite opportunities for your child to argue back as they discover potential loop holes in your explanation.  Keep your explanations to one or two sentence at the maximum.

No emotions.  Getting angry, becoming emotional, crying, laying on a guilt trip, or nervously laughing are all inappropriate emotions during discipline.  Feeling these emotions is normal and you should express them privately, but doing so in front of your child while disciplining will add to the tension of the moment.  Instead deal with the moment as needed and then go back to your child later when you are no so angry, emotional, teary, guilty or laughing and explain to your child the emotion you were feeling in one or two sentences.  This small change will teach your child not to react when emotional, but rather to reflect and then respond.

Small changes can make a big difference in handling a difficult child.  They are likely to be more demanding, more time-consuming, need more attention, and use more of your energy.  But by implementing these three simple rules, you will find that you will feel less drained and more prepared to handle the next challenge that comes your way.

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.

A Letter from a Child to Her Parents during Divorce

Dear Mommy and Daddy,

Yesterday I just stood there as you fought over my baby sister.  Mommy had both her arms and Daddy had both her legs.  I thought my baby sister would break in half but she just cried cause she is only one years old.  I felt so bad that I didn’t stop you from fighting over her, it is all my fault.  Maybe if I was better than you won’t fight so much.

Daddy, you say mean things to me and Mommy.  You say my mommy tells lies about you.  But she is nice to me and takes care of me and my sister.  She listens to me when I cry and tries to make me feel better.  She tells me that you are mean and if you were nice then she would not have to be mean.  Daddy, please be nice to Mommy so she can be nice to you.

Daddy, I have fun when we are together doing stuff.  You take me places I like to go.  But Mommy tells me I don’t have to go with you if I don’t want.  She told me that we can do something special if I don’t go with you.  I like her treats too so I get confused about where to go.

I don’t like to go without my baby sister because she needs me to take care of her.  I am away from her at school and I wish I didn’t have to go to school so I could stay at home and help Mommy out with her.  Mommy gets tired easily and besides only I know how she feels and she needs me.  One day she fell asleep and I tried to wake her up but she won’t get up.  My baby sister was crying so I talked to her until Mommy got up.  It was dark then.

I love my school but you keep fighting over money and how much it costs.  All my friends go there but I don’t want you to fight.  Can I go to a school you won’t fight over?  I don’t care where I go.  I’ll be good wherever you send me.  I promise.

I don’t want to lie.  I learned in school that you shouldn’t tell a lie but Mommy you asked me to lie about Daddy.  You told me to tell my teacher that Daddy hit me.  He did not hit me.  I told her that he did but then she asked me questions and you weren’t there so I didn’t know how to answer them.  Can you come to school with me and tell my teacher what you want me to say to her?  I don’t want to lie to her.  She is nice to me and she looks sad when other kids lie to her.  I don’t want to be like them.

Daddy you scared me when you get angry.  I don’t like your angry voice.  Mommy told me that you hurt people when you get like that.  You have not hurt me but I am afraid that if I am not good enough you will.  I also don’t want my baby sister to get hurt so please stop getting angry.  I will do whatever you want if you just stop yelling.  Please don’t hurt me like Mommy said you would.

It made me sad that you were fighting over my baby sister.  I know that you have not fought over me like that cause I am bad and she is good.  It is ok.  I know that I am bad cause if I were good, you would not have left Daddy.  I tell my baby sister to stay good so that Mommy won’t leave too cause that is what parents do when their kid is bad.

I have an idea.  Since I am bad, break me in half so my baby sister doesn’t have to be broken.  I am afraid that you will break her one day and then I will be sad.  I don’t want to live without her.  Then maybe you will not fight anymore.  This is all I want, for you to stop fighting.  Please stop.

Love,

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.

Do You Need A Mistress?

Lovers under umbrella

Lovers under umbrella (Photo credit: Grey Rocker)

What?  How could you ask such a question?  Are you kidding me?  Don’t you know that mistresses are evil?  While this may be true in some circumstances, I rather prefer the title of “Mistress” and often use it in my communications.

The word originates from the French word “Maistresse” which is the feminine version of the word “Master”.  In addition, the “Mrs.” front of so many female names is actually short for “Mistress”.  The definition is of a woman who is in a position of authority, who in control over something or someone.  The term later came to mean a kept woman by a married man, but I rather prefer the original meaning and abbreviation.

So what does the original question have to do with the definition of the word “Mistress”?  Quite simply put everything.  I imagine that “Mistress” is exactly what God intended when He created Eve.  She was created to be a helpmate to Adam, to bear children, to work the land, and to rule over creation alongside her husband.  Proverbs 31 describes such a woman who helped her husband, worked outside of the home, raised kids, managed a household, and managed servants.  Talk about busy and confident!

In order to accomplish so much, a woman or shall I say mistress needs confidence with a strong sense of who she is and what she is able to do.  She knows her limitations and does not let them stop her from accomplishing her goals.  She is focused, directed, and strong.  Her actions give a hint as to her thoughts which would have to be truthful, positive, and encouraging in order to accomplish so much.

Do you want to be a mistress?  Too often however women place their value in what they look like instead of who they are.  But looks can be deceiving and unfortunately they can also change over time (even with plastic surgeries).  Negative self-talk about body image is pervasive in our culture at any age and while there is value in taking care of you physically, that should not be primary goal or focus of your time and energy.  In order to be a mistress, focus your attention instead on your character aspects rather than your physical aspects.

Do you want the mind of a mistress?  To develop the mind of a mistress, begin by listing all of the roles you play in life such as mother, wife, daughter, sister, friend, Christian, and co-worker.  Then list your positive attributes for each role.  For instance, as a mother I am loving, generous, and kind.  Sort through all of the attributes and focus on three which really define your uniqueness.  Then write the three down and carry them with you as a reminder of who you are, replacing the negative self-talk with more positive self-talk.  However, all of the positive self-talk discussed will not help a mend a broken heart or relationship.  Rather than cover up these hurts with positive self-talk, it is far better to deal with them directly guided by a professional.

Do you want the security of a mistress?  There is no substitute for realizing who you are as a part of God’s creation, how your being is part of a larger plan and how you were created with a purpose.  A mistress is secure in her position of authority and in her role in life.  She does not waste time on being something that she was not designed to be rather she is focused on being the best she can be.  There is great security is striving to excel at what God created you to do.

So, I’ll ask again, do you need a mistress in your life?  Instead of looking for someone else to be the mistress, you can be that mistress.  You can adopt the mind of that mistress and you can claim the security of that mistress.  And the next time you add “Mrs.” to your name, you will be doing it with intention and not just out of tradition.

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.