Beliefnet
Doing Life Together

marital separation2It’s tragic whenever a marriage comes to a point where two people are struggling to coexist. When a relationship becomes toxic, dangerous, emotionally exhausting or so contentious that two people can’t have a civil conversation, separation can function like a time-out. It gives a couple time to think, pray and sort out what needs to change for things to get better.

It can also be used to work on serious martial problems like addiction, abuse, and high conflict if a couple is committed to the process of doing what is necessary to correct problems. Other times it is used to begin the process of divorce.

Telling the children that you have decided to separate is never easy, but a few guidelines can help the process:

1) Timing is important. If you tell them too far out of the separation, they become anxious. Time to a very young child can seem like forever. If you wait until right before it happens, they won’t have enough time to adjust to all the changes and process what is happening. So think through the timing of the conversation–not too far out to make it feel like an eternity, but enough time to deal with the changes that will come.

2) Both spouses should tell the children together. It is important for your children to see that you will work together when it comes to them. Offer comfort and be unified in your approach and message. It helps to rehearse what you will say ahead of time.

3) Focus on telling the news and control the way you behave. This is not the time to re-engage in blame and upsetting behavior. Stay civil.

4) Don’t give too much detail. The younger, the less detail is needed. Older children will ask questions that you will need to answer, but answer with the fact that you have not been getting along and have tried to work things out, but more has to change. If you have been in high conflict, this will not surprise your children even though they will be upset.

5) Don’t lie but don’t throw each other under the bus. They don’t need to be involved in the sordid details of your problems. Again, avoid blame and intimate details of your problems.

6) Reassure them that you married for love and they were born in love. Add that you are sad about the break up because marriage is supposed to be a life commitment.

7) Reinforce as many times as possible that this is not their fault. Tell them the adults are having problems that the kids didn’t create or can fix. Even with assurance, children still feel they may be at fault so this will be a repeated message.

8) Let them know that loving children doesn’t stop or end. While adults may split up, parents and children love each other for life.

9) Give some details of immediate plans. Who is moving out? When they will see that person? What does this mean for the near future?

10) Be age-specific in your approach. Preschoolers need assurance of love, seeing both parents, and as much consistency as possible; School age children have better cognitive understanding  and may be more afraid of what happens when people don’t get along. You will see more emotion–sadness, anger, upset that needs lots of support and comfort; Teens will feel the unsettling of this and feel a lack of security during a changing time in their development; Older teens may have opinions and express their anger more directly and wonder how it will impact their lives with peers, money, etc. Let the child direct questions and answer honestly without disparaging the other, giving reassurance that you will try your best to work out issues that are troublesome to them. No matter your marital status, you will work hard at co-parenting.

soccerIt’s Spring soccer for the kids. We take the field, watch our kids run in a herd towards the goal and come back to the sideline for a short pep talk. Then, it is halftime. The mom in charge of snacks rolls her big cooler to the sideline and pulls out the energy drinks. I used to think, “Is this necessary? These kids have hardly exerted themselves. How about water bottles?”

Energy drinks are found everywhere someone is playing a sport. Our teens are consuming these drinks at the rate of 38%, and 15% say they have an energy drink at least one a week. From what I have seen, downing those drinks is not usually related to vigorous sports play.

So should our young kids and teens be consuming these drinks?  Are there side effects?

A  study from the University of Minnesota’s School of Public Health and Duke University would probably support my cry for water bottles.  Here are the problems:

1) Energy drinks are high in sugar and other calories which makes them a factor in weight gain and tooth decay. We know what a problem childhood obesity is and most parents know the cost of dental care!

2) Boys who drink energy drinks at least weekly spend at least 4 more hours playing video games a week compared to those who drink less than one a week. The more drinks, the more energy to play games it appears. But again, we are seeing more sedentary behavior linked to childhood obesity.

3) Both boys and girls energy and sports drink consumption was related to smoking.

4) Sports drinks are recommended only for vigorous, prolonged activity. Consuming them as a snack puts a child at risk for overstimulation of the nervous system.

It takes a high level of play to warrant the need for energy drinks. So soccer, baseball, T-ball and other league moms, go for the cases of water, oranges and other fruit as snacks. The kids may not like to lose the energy drinks and candy bars, but sometimes you have to be the grown up!

 

Source: Nicole Larson, Jessica DeWolfe, Mary Story, and Diane Neumark-Sztainer, Adolescent Consumption of Sports and Energy Drinks: Linkage to Higher Physical Activity, Unhealthy Beverage Patterns, Cigarette Smoking, and Screen Media Use. Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, 46, May-JUne 2014, 181-187

Even though my mom is no longer with me, I will miss her this Mother’s Day! This is a picture of us celebrating years ago. And while my mother-daughter relationship was not perfect, there was so much she gave me that has helped me become the person I am today.

I thought it would be great if we could acknowledge the good things we got from our moms this Mother’s Day. Sometimes, we  focus on the negatives and problems in the mother-child relationship and fail to acknowledge the good things passed on to us.

Mothers teach us how to be intimate, to deal with conflict, how to feel about our bodies, how to cope, walk out our faith, and so much more.

As a tribute to mom, name one positive thing your mom gave you that you appreciate.

I’ll begin. My mom gave me…

A sense of independence

A model of equal partnership with my father

Faith and a Christian upbringing

Common sense

A role model for balancing business and family

People skills

Those are just a few of the things I can quickly recall.

What are you grateful for when it comes to your mom? Let’s start posting!

 

For help with Mother-Daughter relationships, check out my book, I Love My Mother But…

“This book is not just for women who have broken or damaged relationships with their mothers. I am fortunate to be able to say “I love my mother.” No but! And still this book is a great resource on how to improve this intimate, foundational relationship in every person’s life. Every relationship can be improved by conscious effort to understand and honor the other person. Dr. Mintle tells great stories and gives concrete ideas on just how to do that with your mother.”

 

social media 2The Barna Group surveyed American moms in their FRAMES project and discovered both positive and negative influences of social media on how moms feel about themselves. We all know that  social media can certainly make someone look better than perhaps she is, but that knowledge doesn’t stop us from comparing ourselves to others. And even though we should focus on our unique  lives and unique circumstances, we do compare.

Here is what the survey of practicing Christian moms found:

The Negative— Comparing themselves to friends on social media (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest):

1) Feel their friends have more status and privilege (11 to 1)

2) Say friends are more creative (10 to 1)

3) Believe others have a more superior career (3 to 1)

4) Believe others have a superior ability to accomplish tasks (2 to 1)

The Positives:

1) Feel they are better than their friends at parenting skills  (13 to 1)

2) Feel superior in their physical appearance (2 to 1)

3) Feel they have a superior overall quality of life that (2 to 1)

2 Corinthians 10:12-17  tells us not to compare or classify ourselves to others. But to let her who boasts, boast in the Lord. As moms, we focus on things that have eternal value in our own lives and in the lives of our children. This Mother’s Day, boast in the Lord. He is the One who gives you worth and guides you through your unique life circumstances.