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Doing Life Together

Today is always a sobering day. It’s one of those days that will forever be in our memories.

There have been other moments like 911 in my life:

The Shooting of President Kennedy. I was very young, in a grade school classroom, but I vividly remember hearing the news over a loud speaker and people crying. We were dismissed to go home. It was an age when we didn’t lock our car or house doors, we knew our neighbors and violence wasn’t seen on TV. The shock of a shooting was not a daily thing, especially when it involved our President.

Then there was high school. The day they announced draft numbers in our state. We were sitting in the band room and listening to the assignment of draft numbers to birth  dates. I remember watching the faces of the older guys in my high school. Some looked frightened, praying their number would be high. My middle brother was #323. Such a relief. My older brother was drafted.

Then came a day in June. It was summer break and a beautiful day in my small town in Michigan. But it became a day no family ever wants to experience. When I came home from being out and about, an army officer was sitting in our kitchen. My brother had been killed.

Years later, I was working on an inpatient psychiatric unit. We had just finished rounds. I was at the nurses station when the images of the Challenger blowing up in the air with those astronauts on board stunned us all.

911 was one of those days.

Surreal in many ways as I was at the Jeep dealership getting my car serviced that a.m. The TV was on in the waiting area but I wasn’t paying much attention.  I was glancing through magazines until I heard an announcer talk about the first plane hitting the first tower. At first, I assumed it was an accident. I called my husband and told him to turn on the news in his office. And then, the second plane, people running, ash falling, and I thought of friends and family in NYC and wondered who was safe. It only got worse and those pictures of fear were all over the television.

Where were you on this day that we remember?

Take a moment.

Trauma has a way of staying with us. Our strongest memories are usually associated with strong emotional events that produce fear, love or rage. It’s like we take mental snapshots during those highly emotional times and those snapshots stay with us. So today, as you review those snapshots in your memory, remember to pray for the families who lost loved ones, for the first responders and all those affected by the ash and smoke. It was a day of tremendous suffering with moments of incredible bravery and survival.

Where were you on 911?

Let’s never forget!

BFS_Anger_LGJohn and Mary are at it again. Arguing escalates to anger and John has a hard time calming down. As they sit in my therapy office, they ask what needs to happen. Basically, here is a summary:

1) John needs to admit that his anger is out of control. While anger is a normal emotion and not a sin, anger expression can be sinful. When you curse, yell, scream and disrespect your partner, this is a problem.

2) John insists that he has to get out his anger by yelling to feel better. This is absolutely going to hurt the relationship. John needs to deal with his anger, but not by yelling. Getting anger out aggressively only leads to more aggression.

3) John needs to get at the root of his anger. John is being triggered by issues from his past. He will be asked to keep an anger log to see what triggers his explosions. Below the surface, John is feeling hurt and vulnerable, a position that makes him uncomfortable. Anger makes him feel powerful. He didn’t feel powerful as a child. But John is an adult and not a victim of his past. He can react differently. His wife is not his critical father!

4) John practices ways to calm down and commits to using them. We rehearse several strategies–deep breathing, time-out, counting to 10, distraction, etc.

5) John studies the biblical passages on anger–be slow to vent, deal with anger when it comes up, no name calling, get to the source, etc.

5) Knowing his triggers, working through issues of his past, and armed with new ways to calm himself, John is able to stay calm in the next argument.

6) The couple discusses what went right. John identified the anger trigger, employed the calming strategy, stuck to the guidelines, and waiting to talk more until he was calm.

John had to unlearn an immediate response to anger. The reason he was successful was because he was committed to seeing how his anger negatively impacted his wife and was willing to work on issues from his past that were affecting his present. With no good role models as to how to deal with his anger, John developed his own strategy for calming down and gave his wife a cue to remind him. With practice, John’s anger response is no longer a problem.

 

For more help with anger, Breaking Free from Anger and Unforgiveness by Dr. Linda Mintle–over 101,000 copies sold.

mom teenWe’ve all done it. Many of us grew up with it. But should we?

Your teen walks in 30 minutes past curfew. You’ve been worried sick and have worked yourself up. The minute she comes through the door, you yell, “Where were you? It’s 30 minutes past curfew and we thought something terrible happened to you. You are in trouble now!”

The above example isn’t harsh , but is could be depending on the tone. And that is what you want to be careful to avoid–harsh, verbal discipline that involves yelling, screaming, insulting or name calling. Had the parent added, “You are an idiot” or something along that line, that would have been worse.

Why is this a big deal? Haven’t parents been yelling at kids for years? Yes, but yelling at anyone isn’t terribly effective as a discipline method. Now and then, yelling isn’t a problem, but when it becomes your discipline method, it is. Even when yelling is done “in love” to help the teen, it backfires.

Harsh verbal discipline can cause depression and will increase the risk of the teen misbehaving. So the very thing you are yelling and screaming about  could increase! Harsh verbal discipline does not work as an effective discipline tool.

A study published in the journal, Child development, found that over a two year period of study, parents who used harsh, verbal discipline had teens who were more depressed by age 14. They also showed problems like vandalism, misconduct , anger and aggression. Exposing kids to ongoing harsh discipline can fuel relationship difficulties and rebellion.  And physical discipline of teens is really problematic. It tears at the respect you need to develop for each other.

The better option?

Educate, don’t humiliate with constructive consequences. For example, curfew violation could require a grounding for a few weeks. Late homework could equal the removal of a tech device for a short period until the homework is in on-time again. The idea is to teach responsible behavior, not scream at the problems.

So stay on them, but also praise often. You have to build up the positives in the relationship in times of non conflict. When you do encounter a problem, use “I” statements, explain your concerns, problem-solve and negotiate and set consequences. Think about keeping the relationship positive so you can work on problems together, not humiliate the person. This is good advice for any relationship!

 

 

Source: “Longitudinal Links Between Fathers’ and Mothers’ Harsh Verbal Discipline and Adolescents’ Conduct Problems and Depressive Symptoms” Child Development is scheduled to appear in the March/April 2014 print issue of the journal

stressed teensAs Dana was grabbing her purse to fly out the door, she couldn’t remember where she put her car keys. She was already late for class! “Mom, where are my keys.” “Your asking me,” Mom yells back. “I can’t find my glasses.”

Most of us who are older chalk these moments up to aging. We jokingly say we are having a senior moment.

But a national poll by Trending Machine found millennials (ages 18-34) to have those senior moments as well. You don’t have to be aging to be forgetful. In fact, 39% of Americans have forgotten or misplaced something in the past week.

What do we think is behind all this forgetting and misplacing?

Stress!

All that multitasking and lack of sleep may be doing a number on the younger generation.

The poll also found that women are more likely to misplace an item or forget than men. And that there is more forgetfulness in the Northeast than the more relaxed country of the West.

So if your a young woman, living in the Northeast, with a lot on your plate, get out the sticky notes to remind yourself of your TO DO list!

Or maybe slow down a bit, take a deep breath, carefully place your car keys on a hook by the door and enjoy the moment!

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