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.

What to do When Mother’s Day is the Hardest Day of the Year

The Mother’s Dream

The Mother’s Dream (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For many women, Mother’s Day is the hardest day of the year.  Perhaps you are one of these women who have little to no contact with your child, outlived your child, tried unsuccessfully to conceive a child, or lost your child through a miscarriage or abortion.  Just the mention of Mother’s Day brings to the surface the emotions you have long tucked away of disappointment, deep sadness, distress, dejection, and despair.

Yet you are torn because in many ways you have learned to move forward.  You avoid the crowded churches, shops, and restaurants on Mother’s Day, spend time with other mothers or your mother, or even remind yourself how grateful you are to have had a child.  But the heaviness in your heart is still there and despite the good moments of the day, you really can’t wait for the day to end.

Will it always be this way?  Yes and no.  Much like other holidays which exist for the purpose of remembering the lives that have been lost such as Memorial Day or Veterans Day, Mother’s Day will be for you a memorial of sorts.  It is a day to remember what was lost or never even gained in the first place.  But just as the anniversary of a person you lost brings back memories and feeling, over time, the emotions won’t be so intense.

How can I survive this day?  Reserve a portion of your day for the purpose of being alone with your thoughts and feelings.  Don’t take the entire day to do this or pretend that you don’t need to do it at all, instead take care of yourself and give yourself a gift of remembrance.  This is a good time to journal your thoughts, allow the tears to flow, and pray.  Then choose to spend your day surrounded with people who love you and are sensitive to your feelings.

What do I say to others?  Be honest.  If you really want to go somewhere on Mother’s Day, speak up; if you don’t, say so.   If you are sad, don’t pretend that you are not.  Set reasonable expectations for yourself and for others instead of assuming they already know what you are thinking or feeling.  Then communicate those expectations kindly to minimize the hurt feelings later.

Why am I having anxiety over this now?  Even if your loss occurred many years ago, you might find a sudden resurgence in your emotions this year compared to previous years.  While the intensity may be less than the initial Mother’s Day, for some reason, this year is hitting you harder.  This is perfectly normal.  Take a moment to reflect on your life and see if there is any new circumstance lately in a relationship or your environment.  Your increased anxiety may actually be misplaced anxiety over new things that you are not properly addressing.  By addressing the new things, the old issues will subside again.

Everyone has hard days during the year that are more difficult than others to get through.  Mother’s Day seems a bit crueller because everyone else appears so happy.  Just remember that you are not alone in your thoughts and feelings, many other women feel the exact same way and sometimes it takes the courage of one person to say this is a hard day to make a difference in the lives of others.

 

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.

Are You Making Your Kid Angry?

Technically, no one can “make” you angry unless you give them that right.  While it may seem as though the actions of another person are “making you angry”, in actuality it is your set of experiences, emotions, beliefs, and ideals that cause you to get angry.  For instance, one person may become angry at being cut off while driving while another person may not even notice the action.  The difference between the two people is one person took the action as a personal offense while the other person did not.  The person cutting you off did not “make” you angry; rather you became angry because of how you perceived their action.

So while another person can’t “make” you angry, you can “make” your kid angry.  Why the double standard?  Because your kid is a child and you are an adult.  With maturity comes the ability to temper or control your responses which is the idea of having “self-control”.  But for a child, they have not reached this level of maturity and are unable to demonstrate self-control so they display immature behavior which is characterized by a lack of control over their responses.  Literally, you can “make” a kid feel a certain way because they are not fully in control of their responses.  Therefore, as the adult, you are responsible for “making” your kid angry.  Ephesians 6:4a warns, “Fathers (and mothers), do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them.”  But just how are you “making” them angry?

Not listening.  Easily hands down the number one complaint kids have about their parents is that they don’t listen to what they are saying.  Too often as a parent, you are trying to get your point across and don’t stop long enough to make sure you understand your child’s point of view.  Then, because they are a child, often they really don’t know what they are really thinking or how they are feeling, so they default to anger.  No, they are not able to speak clearly, they are a child.  No, they are not able to counteract you point by point, they are a child.  But give them some time and soon as teenagers they will become more and more like you, not listening and counteracting you point by point.

Assuming the worst.  Just to make things more complicated, kids don’t always say what they mean or mean what they say.  While this is a nice lesson to teach them, assuming the worst motive or attitude about your child sends a subtle message that they are not valued or their opinion is not valued.  This brings on anger in your child just as you get angry when someone assumes the worst about you.  When you assume the worst about your child, they interprets this as “I am no good”, “I can never do anything right”, or “I am to blame for everything”.  The negative consequences of a child learning this at a young age is that it will not leave them as an adult.  For the rest of their lives, they will struggle with a positive self-image which you helped to foster.

Seeing yourself in them.  When you see your child behaving and speaking just like you while making all the same mistakes you made, there is almost an immediate angry response on your part.  It seems to come out of nowhere, one moment you are able to speak calmly and the next you are flying off the handle.  There is no rhyme or reason except that you were triggered by a past event or mistake and watching your child suffer through the same mistakes you made is more than you can handle.  The problem is that your child doesn’t understand your anger and they instead internalize it.  They become angry with themselves for “making” you angry.  In the moment, you child is not likely to respond badly but give them a couple of years and the resentment will build and turn to intense anger.

Ok, so you have made a few mistakes or more likely, made more than a few mistakes in “making” your child angry but it is not too late.  You can stop “making” them angry by simply doing the opposite of what “made” them angry.  You could listen to what they are really saying, you could assume the best about your child, and you could divorce your behavior from your child’s behavior.  After all, they have their own journey to make based on their own decisions and it is not necessarily the same journey you have made in life.  The decisions they will need to make in the future are made best when not heavily influenced by anger from their parents.

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.

What Freud Got Right: Oedipus Complex

Sigmund Freud, founder of psychoanalysis, smok...

Sigmund Freud, founder of psychoanalysis, smoking cigar. Español: Sigmund Freud, fundador del psicoanálisis, fumando. Česky: Zakladatel psychoanalýzy Sigmund Freud kouří doutník. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There he was at six years old running to welcome me home with open arms.  His warm embrace and excitement over greeting me filled my heart with overwhelming joy.  Our son dominated my greeting making sure that my husband did not get close and when he did, he immediately jumped in-between our embrace.  He spoke of all the things he did desperately seeking my approval and interrupted any conversation my husband and I attempted to have.  It was adorable and I loved every minute of it but was not right.

Sigmund Freud, the founder of psychoanalysis and psychosexual development, coined the phrase Oedipus Complex to describe the sexual attraction a child has for their parent.  He believed that every child wants to have sex with their parent, usually the parent of the opposite sex, and this is why they naturally desire to please or get the attention of said parent.  While I do not agree with the sexual component, there is some truth in a child seeking the attention of one parent to the detriment of the other.  It is almost as if there is some sort of unspoken competition between the child and the same-sex parent where the child uses whatever means necessary to win the competition.  This unfortunately can include using both good and bad behavior to draw attention.

So what can you do?  Well the first step is to realize what is happening which means that you need to observe your child’s behavior as an outsider looking in on the family.  Step back and see if your child is physically getting in-between you and your spouse, if they are interrupting, if they demand attention, and if they play on the deficiencies of the same-sex spouse.  For instance, if you and your spouse are not physical with hugs and kisses, is your child excessively hugging and kissing the opposite sex parent?  Or if you and your spouse don’t talk very much, is your child excessively trying to engage you in conversation?

So what do you think?  Now that you realize what is going on, please understand that this is normal childhood behavior.  A daughter will do this with her father and a son will do this with his mother; there is nothing unnatural about it except for your reaction.  It is naturally pleasing to have such unconditional love and admiration from your child and more than likely you will encourage it with your reaction.  But if you allow your child to come in-between you and your spouse, they will only learn even better how to manipulate others and in the end, this is not a good character trait.  The opposite is also true for if you reject your child’s behavior, they will transfer that rejection onto future relationships in a never-ending desire to seek love and approval from wherever they can find it.

So what can you say?  Discuss this issue with your spouse and agree together on how to handle it with your child.  The first step is to acknowledge your spouse first and then your child each and every time you enter a room.  This subtle message is not a rejection of the child but rather a placement of importance on your marriage.  Your marriage should come first before your child as eventually your child will grow up and leave one day and you will be left with your spouse.  Two individuals cannot become one in a marriage if a child is in the middle.  The second step is to be more physically affectionate with your spouse than your child, reserving only certain types of kissing and hugging for your spouse.  This teaches your child that there is a difference between the two.  The last step is to make decisions together as a couple regarding your child, the words, “I need to talk to your mother or father first” should become a standard in your household.

Too often a parent’s response to negative behavior from their child is to think there is something wrong with them.  If your child is suffering from an Oedipus Complex, their negative behavior is an attempt to get the attention of the opposite sex parent.  By giving your child attention after your spouse, they will learn to trust in receiving the attention and be less likely to repeat the negative behavior.  Freud got this concept right as it is repeated over and over in households and is the unnecessary cause of much frustration and tension.  By realizing that what your child is experiencing is normal and modifying your behavior, your child will naturally adjust theirs.

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.

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.

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.