Should You Cyberstalk Your Teenager?

By Holly Brown, LMFT

This was a question that came up on my Facebook author page among some mothers who’d read my book, “Don’t Try to Find Me.”  Yes, my novel represents a very particular case but the desire to protect your kids is pretty universal.

Do all teens require online monitoring?  How do you monitor?  And what do you do with what you find out?

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Your Teenager: A Narcissist in Training?

By Holly Brown, LMFT

There are numerous studies showing narcissism is on the rise, and altruism and empathy are declining.  When that’s the greater social context in which we live, what’s a parent to do?

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5 Tips for Breaking Up

By Holly Brown, LMFT

shutterstock_101362756This post was inspired by a client of mine who was talking for years (literally) about ending a relationship, and she finally pulled the  trigger.  (Go, you! and you know who you are!)   If you’re having trouble breaking up with someone, here’s how to get it done.

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The Power of Negative Thinking

By Holly Brown, LMFT

shutterstock_141901189Sometimes a little Eeyore can save you a whole lotta heartache.  Here’s how you can turn that frown into a force for good.

Just a little personal anecdote: My daughter’s had some significant delays, particularly in speech (at age 2, she was already a year behind in terms of producing language.)  As a highly verbal person myself, this was a blow.  Sometimes I felt scared, sometimes I just plain felt down.

Recently, at age 2 1/2, she had an incredible language surge and I’m optimistic she’ll actually catch up to her peers fairly soon.  But it was after having intensive interventions.  If I had been engaging only in positive thinking, I might not have been as tenacious about getting her services; I might have just said, “It’ll all turn out okay, she’ll catch up.”

My point is, negativity–when properly channeled–spurs action.  Positivity alone can often lull us into complacency and inaction.

Now, how do you use your negativity to its best advantage?

1)  Acknowledge that your negativity has a basis in your present reality.  But realize that it is present, and not necessarily future.

As in, “Right now, things are not as I want them to be.”  It might even be, “At this moment, things really suck.”  Acknowledging that is the first step, rather than pretending otherwise.

Negativity can keep us out of denial, if used properly.

2)  Allow yourself a time-limited wallow.

It might be 15 minutes; it might be a day or two.  It depends on your circumstances, and your own internal processes.

The point is, you’re giving yourself permission; that keeps things within your control, instead of letting the negativity overrun your life.

It also respects your negative emotions themselves.  They’re happening for a reason, after all: Sometimes lousy stuff happens to us, and in order to move forward, we get to admit that.  Otherwise, we’re merely papering over what we know to be true.  Long-term, that’s not particularly healthy coping.

3)  Take stock of what you can do.

In the case I described above, I could research developmental delays and ensure that my daughter received proper services.  The sense that I was doing all I could, that I was not powerless, was very helpful for me.

Sometimes reading about people in similar circumstances lets you choose the right course of action.  Who’s got time to reinvent the wheel?  Plus, you might find some support that makes you feel authentically positive (as opposed to fake-positive.)  Sometimes what’s positive is the community you find around a negative experience.

But there are times where there’s nothing to be done.  You simply have to wait and hope.  To arrive at a place of acceptance, though, I believe you have to be real with yourself.  You have to embrace your negative emotions until they teach you what you need to learn.

There’s also something to the fact that if you accept that things might not turn out as you want, in the time frame you want, then you can be pleasantly surprised.  I had prepared myself for the idea that my daughter likely had apraxia (she was showing all the signs of a severe speech disorder  that requires many years of intensive therapy), so when it turned out that she was only delayed, I was over the moon.  For me, it’s better to anticipate a lot of work and then find out you don’t have to do it, rather than expecting things to be smooth and easy and having to reorient to the opposite.

But you have to see what works for you.  Starting from a place of honesty is a great way to gain self-knowledge.  Forcing yourself into positivity is not.

Frowning face image available from Shutterstock.

What Does Your Teen Really Think About You?

By Holly Brown, LMFT

fingerIn my novel, “Don’t Try to Find Me” (out today!), Rachel’s 14-year-old daughter Marley runs away, and during the social media campaign to bring her home, many secrets are revealed.  Among them: What Marley thinks about her mom is radically different from what Rachel believes she’s communicating.

While my novel presents a high stakes fictional situation, many parents can relate to the idea that we don’t necessarily know what our teens are thinking about us as parents and as individuals, and that can really cost us in terms of our relationships.  So what’s a parent to do?

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How to Spot a Narcissist

By Holly Brown, LMFT

tableA lot of people assume narcissists are easy to spot, that they talk obsessively about themselves, for example, or never seem to care what you have to say.  Those are the obvious narcissists.  This post is about the charming narcissists who can fly under the radar until you feel like you’re in too deep to get out.

I’ve written before about how to know you’re involved with a narcissist, and on strategies for handling the narcissist in your life.  This post, hopefully, will help you avoid entanglements with people who could cause you a lot of pain down the line.

It’s the kind of post my characters Rachel and Marley might have benefited from, in my novel “Don’t Try to Find Me” (due out next Tuesday!) And it might be particularly useful for those of you who are currently dating and trying to find a partner.  Maybe you’re on the fence about someone, and this could help you make a decision one way or the other.

When it comes to narcissists, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.  Getting out early might be your best move.  Okay, on to the tips:

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Teaming Up With Your Spouse

By Holly Brown, LMFT

workingYou love your spouse, but do you work well together?  Unfortunately, many people find that the answer is no.  This can become painfully evident once we become parents, and suddenly we have to rely on one another in a different way than ever before.

Here are some strategies on how to reduce tension and conflict, and improve teamwork.

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Finding Time for Yourself

By Holly Brown, LMFT

violinMy husband and I were talking yesterday and remembering a quote from the movie “Parenthood.”  Steve Martin, father of three, tells his wife, “My whole life is have to!”  I said I feel that way sometimes, and my husband does, too–like everything we do is something we have to do.  Not a good feeling.

So in the grand tradition of those who can’t do, write blogs–here are my thoughts:

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Protecting Your Teen From Online Predators

By Holly Brown, LMFT

txtingParents a generation ago didn’t have to worry about online predators, but today’s parents need to be aware.  What are the signs your teen is getting in over her (or his) head in social media?  How do we keep our kids safe?

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Finding the Right Couples Therapist

By Holly Brown, LMFT

curlsThis is not the same as finding a “good” couples therapist.  I used to believe in the myth that therapists are either good or bad; now I think that there are some good therapists who are just a mismatch for certain clients.

So how to find the right one?

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