Doing Life Together

Doing Life Together

Telling Kids You Are Divorcing

posted by Linda Mintle

Reader Question:

My husband and I are separating and will most likely divorce. We have two young children. I am wondering how to tell them about the divorce. I am really dreading this because I know how upsetting it will be.

Without trying to put extra guilt on you, divorce is tough on children. If there is any way you and your husband can go to therapy and work things out, please try or try again. Most marital problems can be solved and fixed if both partners are willing, submitted to God and work with a marital therapist.

If this isn’t the case, then this is what I recommend. Be prepared for your children to be sad, angry and anxious. Because they are so young, they will probably act out these feelings rather than talk about them. Thus, you will need to be firm but loving.  Draw out their feelings by asking questions. Then validate their feelings. When they misbehave, don’t ignore it because you feel guilty. Do what you would normally do to correct the behavior.

In terms of telling them about the separation, it is best if both parents tell the children. Give them as much detail as they need and no more. As soon as you know, tell them of your plans to live apart. Don’t blame, be angry or get into conflict in front of the children. Be civil and ready to answer tough questions. Most important, assure them that this decision is not their fault. You will have to keep doing this because kids believe divorce is their fault no matter what parents say.

When told, some children become immediately upset and others will show little emotion at first. Keep communication open so they can talk later when reality hits. This is a major loss and they will need to grieve. If they don’t, they can develop emotional problems later. So help them sort out their emotional feelings of loss. Encourage them to be honest and not say things just to please you.

Your children will want to know how this will immediately change their lives. So outline specific upcoming changes, e.g., daddy won’t be in this house to tuck you into bed; he will have another bed for you to sleep in when you are at his new house, etc. Keep it simple and factual.

Keep their lives as consistent as possible during the time of separation and divorce. Routine is important. Make sure they have one on one time with each parent. And don’t talk about divorce until you are certain it will happen. Many people continue to work on their problems during separation and reconsider divorce.

Is It Wrong to Take Anti-Anxiety Medications?

posted by Linda Mintle

I just received another email from someone who is a Christian and struggling with anxiety. The panic has become so severe that the person isn’t functioning well. The question he asked was, “Is it wrong, a lack of faith, to take medication to help this condition?”

My answer, an emphatic NO–it is not wrong to use medication to help free you from something that is impairing your life.

Some people are prone to anxiety because of their genetics and must work on their coping skills in general. In others, anxiety can be triggered by loss, trauma and other life experiences that create a feeling of loss of control. Even if anxiety is not predisposed genetically, life experiences can create this reaction and people must learn how to release it and let it go. Part of that treatment sometimes includes medications to help calm the person enough to begin working on his/her thoughts and physical relaxation. Medications can be used as part of a treatment strategy for those needing more than therapy. Medications are not typically used long term unless you are dealing with a biological-based anxiety like Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

Medicine can be a path of healing. God is not limited to healing people one way. Spiritually, one of the issues in letting go of anxiety is to fully trust God in terms of His promises and character. That is part of the spiritual work that can begin once a person is calm enough to work on that part of doubt. Other areas relate to anxious thoughts, knowing how to calm the body and more. Anxiety is very treatable and usually employs a Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Approach.

Taming Your Temper In Any Relationship

posted by Linda Mintle

Temper outbursts don’t help relationships. Staying cool and calm and thinking before you speak is the desired behavior. Well, researchers at the University of Michigan and Ohio State may have come up with a way to help tame your temper.

Here’s how it works: Your partner does something to irritate you and you are about to lose control. Instead of ruminating on what the person did (thinking about it over and over -this makes it more likely you will lose your temper), you try another approach. You step back from the situation and view it from a distance. Believe it or not, this small shift, called self-distancing, brings down the anger and irritability.

So next time you find yourself about to blow up at your partner, become a fly on the wall. Step back and take a little distance. This keeps aggressive thoughts and angry feelings at bay and makes you less likely to lose your temper.

If You Have Friggatriskaidekaphobia, Today Could Be Tough!

posted by Linda Mintle

If you have Friggatriskaidekaphobia, you and 17 to 21 million other people may have an anxious day today.

Today is Friday the 13th. Friggatriskaidekaphobia is the fear of Friday the 13th!

And while there is no causal evidence that links Friday the 13th to any bad event or luck, this day can actually paralyze people with fear. We joke about the day, but it is no joke to those filled with anxiety. Some refuse to fly, get out of bed, do business and feel paralyzed on this dreaded day.

Why the fear?

According to the Department of Psychology Chair at Cornell University, people tend to link unpleasant things or events in their lives to this perceived unlucky day. Because of the superstition associated with the day, if anything bad or negative happened to you, you could link the negative events to the date. Basically, the fear develops by association and believing superstition.

Interestingly, some people link religious events to Friday the 13th–the 13th guest at the Last Supper betrayed Jesus! But don’t go there because Christianity is not about luck or superstition.

The fear or anxiety produced is clearly an issue of the mind that has been reinforced in the culture.

Think–no 13th floors in buildings, Alfred Hitchcock was born on Friday the 13th,  airports often omit gate 13, jokes about Friday the 13th, etc. And apparently this day can be a down day in the economy because people are more hesitant to do business.

So, if you know someone who truly suffers from this fear, don’t make fun of the person. Let him or her know there is help. The Stress Management Center and Phobia Institute in Asheville, N.C.,  offers therapy to help people overcome their fear of Friday the 13th. And because the day continues to make the calendar, it would be worth getting over the fear.

 

For more help with worry and anxiety, click on my book cover, Letting Go of Worry.

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