Archives for June, 2012
When a parent gazes at a beautiful sleeping infant, the possibilities of how he or she will grow up are endless and wonderful. No one imagines that their sweet fuzzy-haired infant will morph into a toddler who bites and terrorizes other children, or who refuses to eat anything other than chicken nuggets for days at a time. Parents often imagine that if they just do everything right and provide the best toys and intellectual stimulation for their children, their kids will meet all of their developmental milestones and behave in socially appropriate ways. If only this were true. And while most parents expect to deal with tantrums and coloring on the walls, there are some things that people tend not to talk about when parenting young children.
When someone becomes a parent, everything changes. Men who used to pride themselves in their stoicism find themselves crying when they greet their new daughter. Women who would gag at the thought of vomit share advice on cleaning meconium stains from cloth diapers. Priorities shift. Love takes on a new meaning. Life is wonderful, right? New life, new meaning, new love....new stress, new challenges, new fights, new problems. There are some things parenting books don't prepare you for. Unexpected challenges appear, and it can be quite disconcerting to a new mom or dad.
Recently, while in the locker room at a pool, I saw a young girl finish weighing herself. As she walked away, I heard her congratulating herself: “YES! I lost weight! I lost weight!” The girl (who was quite thin) couldn’t have been more than nine years old. She hadn’t even hit puberty yet. As an eavesdropper on her private musings, I was saddened. A nine year old who is constantly weighing herself is at war with her own body. Rather than enjoying physical activity, feeling strong, and taking care of herself, she is thinking about what she can't eat, the calories she needs to burn, and the pounds that she believes need to come off. There are young children in our communities who are trying to lose weight at a time in their lives when they are growing the fastest. They need the fat, the calories, the carbohydrates. When children withhold food and calories from themselves, it can lead to severe physical and emotional problems. Yet they are pressured, even at a young age, to focus on the scale, count calories, and measure up to what society determines is attractive.
Think back to the most inspiring people of your life; the ones who encouraged you think, and who helped you achieve incredible things. Think about the great people of history; who have made the world a better place to be, whose lives are recorded in books and monuments, who changed things. Would you describe them as “normal”? Probably not. The words you would use might be: extraordinary, brilliant, strong, unique, amazing. There are some things in life where normal is wonderful. Test results are one. Weird car noises are another. But is normal a word that you want to be used to describe yourself?
One of the most common problems in relationships is communication. And while some people struggle with being able to talk about their problem, often the main issue is ineffective listening. When you have a problem that you want to bring up with someone else, or if they bring up an issue to you, there are ways to make the conversation go smoothly. Learning how to listen is a skill that can be used in every relationship, be it your child, spouse, best friend, or even your neighbor. Using these skills may feel artificial or fake at first, but as you practice them more, and see them working, it will soon become second nature.
Weddings are stressful: there’s the cake, the location, the dress and the guest list to figure out. A great deal of time and money is spent on this major life event. And although your wedding is something that you will remember forever, far too often couples pay more attention to the celebration of their new life together than to the nuts and bolts of their new life as a couple. When two people make a commitment to each other, there are some important things that need to be discussed.
In an abusive relationship, there is often more than one victim. Family and friends of abuse victims often struggle with feelings of sadness, helplessness and even anger. You may want to rescue the person you love. You may be furious at them for staying in an abusive relationship and not listening to you. You may feel frustrated. You may be confused and hurt. It's hard to understand the power that an abuser has, and the strong forces that compel victims to remain in harmful situations. All of the things you’re feeling are normal. And difficult as it may be to live in the day to day uncertainty that your life entails right now, there are some things that you can do to help the person you love remain strong, and hopefully find the power to get away from the abuse.
Being nice is a great quality to have. The world could definitely use more kindness and generosity. But there are times when you can have too much of a good thing. There is such a thing as being too nice. People who are too nice end up agreeing to do things they really don't want to do. They sacrifice independence for a false sense of safety and belonging. Here are three characteristics of people who take niceness to the extreme.
Grief is a natural, common occurrence to loss. Here are 8 things that are important to recognize about grief. Everyone experiences it in different ways, and no way is better than the other. Some people are vocal and express their grief through cries or screams. Some people grieve quietly. Some people need outside comfort and seek to be around others, while other people need solitude and time to work out their sorrow alone. When an abuser dies, the person he or she hurt can experience complicated and distressing feelings. There may be guilt, or relief, or even joy. Often sadness is felt in the midst of a storm of other emotions. Flashbacks or memories may come up. If this happens, going to therapy can be helpful.