Each stage of life brings changes to relationships, routines, roles, and reflections on Self and the World. Transitions are events or changes that significantly impact a person’s life. Some changes are planned, such as marriage, having a child, or moving. Some changes are not planned, such as losing a job, divorce, severe injuries or illness. Some are “non-events,” or planned changes that do not come about, such as infertility, getting passed over for promotions, etc. Your ability to cope with your transition determines its overall impact on your life. In therapy, the overall impact of a life change is assessed, and resources are created and gathered to aid in adjustment.

Should I Let My Child Have Social Media?

Here’s my answer. Growing up in the digital age is something most parents today know nothing about.  We have no direct experience of what going through middle school in the era of social media is really like.  We can, however, observe the impact of social media on our children.   I want to emphasize that we must not underestimate its impact on our children.  I believe that our middle schoolers are the most vulnerable to social media’s influence.   The reason I say this is based on child development theory.  Erik Erickson developed the “Psychosocial” stages of development.  He believed
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Categories: Children, Faith issues, Family, Managing Media, Mental Health, Parenting, Relationships, School, and Transitions / Change.

Are you a Helicopter Parent?

Parenting has been in the news recently.  New studies indicate that that a growing trend in college, and even graduate school, is parents being involved in managing their child’s (now a young adult) coursework, social life activities, conflicts with professors, and even calling schools to convince them to accept their child as a student!  This shouldn’t come as a surprise, really.  This is the logical outcome of “helicopter moms” and the “hovering” parenting style that has become increasingly common.  Parents didn’t suddenly start micro-managing their child’s life when they left for college, its the way its been all along for
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Categories: Children, Family, Parenting, School, and Transitions / Change.

Resolution #1: Dream Big and Courageously!

Abraham Lincoln is quoted to say “That some achieve great success, is proof to all that others can achieve it as well.”   Benjamin Franklin writes “Be always at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let each New Year find you a better man.”  If these great men of history believe in making resolutions, shouldn’t we consider doing so?  Some people believe that making New Year’s resolutions is an exercise in futility.  In fact, Mark Twain is quoted to say “New Year’s Day… now is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions.  Next week
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Categories: Holidays, Mental Health, Personal Growth, and Transitions / Change.

Blending Families #2

I recently worked with a couple that is a good example of the challenges faced in blended families.  This couple, married about 2 years now, each brought two children into the marriage.  His two children (ages 8 and 10) were only there every other weekend and one evening during the week.  Her children of about the same age were always with them as their father was “out of the picture.”  The wife in this marriage accuses her husband of lacking commitment to her and her kids, explaining that every time his children were there “he virtually ignores me and my
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Categories: Children, Divorce, Family, Marriage, Parenting, and Transitions / Change.

Blending Families #1

A reader has asked me to write an article about “blending families.”  In all the years that I’ve written this column I was surprised that I haven’t covered this topic before.  This is an important topic, because currently the U.S. Census indicates that approximately one third of children today are living in blended families. Studies of family structures children in the U.S. are currently living in suggests that a little less than half of all children are growing up in nuclear families.  About 30% of children are living in blended families, and that leaves about 20% of children living in
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Categories: Children, Divorce, Family, Marriage, Parenting, and Transitions / Change.

Problem Behavior: Reaction to a Situation or a Disorder?

Imagine this scenario: A 9 year old boy we’ll call “David” is brought in for counseling.  His parents are concerned about his angry outbursts.  They describe him as usually a mild-mannered and well-behaved child until this last year.  The parents have been getting reports from his 3rd grade teacher that David often fidgets, blurts out answers impulsively, “seems to be in his own world” too much and such things.  They became alarmed when the teacher suggested they have David tested for ADHD. At home, the mother reports that David has been having trouble sleeping. Most nights David climbs into bed
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Categories: Childhood Disorders, Family, Mental Health, Parenting, Stress, and Transitions / Change.

Effective Co-Parenting

I’ve worked with several families that bring in their child because he or she is not adjusting well to the parents’ divorce.  Most often, the child is doing fine in reality and the parents are the ones who aren’t adjusting well!  Just because the parents have divorced doesn’t mean they don’t have to get along.  They actually have to get along better now than they ever have before – for the sake of the children!  Here is a simple guideline for parents who are having a difficult time talking to each other about their co-parenting relationship.  This is a practical
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Categories: Children, Divorce, Parenting, and Transitions / Change.

Teenagers: Some Parenting Tips

Teens have a developmental stage all their own.  Its called “Identity vs. Role Confusion.”  The main challenge at this stage of life is developing their sense of self, and therefore they are asking the question “who am I?” At the same time, the parents will find themselves asking “who is this kid?”  As a teen, or the parent of a teen, if you find yourself asking these questions – its NORMAL.  In this normal stage, teens will try on behaviors and attitudes like they try on pants and shirts.  Some of the behaviors and attitudes can be quite alarming, and
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Categories: Children, Family, Parenting, and Transitions / Change.

Developing a Roadmap for your Life

The New Year is a time for new starts and re-evaluating our goals.  It’s a time for reflection on how well our lifestyle and life decisions are matching up with what we want out of life.  We only have one lifespan given to us.  We can easily fall into the idea that we have plenty of time to make the necessary changes, but there are no guarantees.  With that thought in mind, take this opportunity to reflect and refocus.  The Roadmap Exercise is a writing activity to identify and clarify your values and goals.  These concepts are the desired destination
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Categories: Personal Growth and Transitions / Change.