If you’re one of the many people who goes into a downward spiral during the holiday season (or if you love someone who does), this one’s for you.
I think most parents have had this experience: You’re out somewhere and your child (toddler, teenager, anywhere in between) is behaving in a way that you find embarrassing, and that you hope is not reflective of your parenting. But you feel the shame anyway, and the judgment of others, and you wonder: Is this my fault? Is my child my reflection?
As a couples therapist, I sometimes work with couples recovering from infidelity. But I also work with individuals who are heading down the slippery slope to having an affair and maybe becoming one of those couples.
There’s a moment (well, a bunch of moments) before that decision is made. If you’re in a state of indecision, read on.
If you’re the parent of a teen girl, you’ve probably experienced one (or maybe both) of the following two scenarios: watching helplessly as your daughter is hurt by the meanness of other girls; watching helplessly as your daughter inflicted meanness on others.
I have some thoughts about the emotional brutality of female adolescence, and what you, as a parent, can do about it.
Wikipedia had a great definition of psychological manipulation. Here it is: “Psychological manipulation is a type of social influence that aims to change the perception or behavior of others through underhanded, deceptive, or even abusive tactics.” (Thanks, Wikipedia!) I’d add that manipulation always benefits the manipulator, though he or she might be adept at making you believe otherwise.
Everyone twists things to their own advantage sometimes. But if you’re chronically manipulated by someone in your life, I’ve got some suggestions for you.
In a word: self-evaluate. Taking an honest inventory of your problems is the first step to finding a meaningful solution. But that can be a lot harder than it sounds. Here’s how to start.
People do self-destructive acts all the time. Sometimes it’s because they don’t realize they’re doing it (self-sabotage, where your unconscious is driving the car) or because they don’t see an alternative (cutting, for example, releases endorphins and offers immediate relief from pain.) Here are some questions to ask yourself, in order to recognize your patterns and begin healing.
In a healthy relationship, fights are going to happen. (Often, a complete absence of fights is a sign partners have become irrevocably disconnected.) So the goal isn’t to eradicate all fights; it’s to make sure you’re fighting well.
What I mean is, a good fight is one that’s productive: grievances are aired, resentments are released, both parties ultimately feel understood, and the least possible emotional damage was inflicted. A bad fight is–well, the opposite of that.
If you’ve been having bad fights, this is a great post to read with your partner. If you can agree to the ground rules in here (and maybe even put them on the fridge or somewhere you can reference them), that can start turn things around. So here goes!
Social media and the parent-child bond are among the themes in my novel, “Don’t Try to Find Me.” They were also among the topics of a recent radio interview I gave (thanks to Answers for the Family for a great talk! you can listen to it here.) While there are the obvious ways that social media can harm a teenager (for example, cyber bullying) there are some more insidious ones as well.
What are they, and what’s a parent to do?
My recent post Are You Being Emotionally Abused? seemed to strike a nerve with a lot of people. That means that many of you are experiencing emotional abuse in their relationships. This is (sadly) not surprising to me, in my line of work. But hopefully, it’s a comfort to realize that you’re not alone in this. It’s not your fault, and it’s not okay.
So now that you’ve acknowledged the abuse, what should you do? Here are the first steps.