Monday, December 29, 2014

New Year Resolutions 

     I hope everyone has had a wonderful holiday filled with friends, family, and good food to eat.  If your holiday was not wonderful this year, think about how you can change it for next year.  If you have lost someone, for example, you may want to make some new traditions.  However, this blog is not about the holidays, but about the upcoming year.  So many people make a New Year resolution without any identifiable idea or plan of action about how they will accomplish their goals.  I suggest you contemplate the past year and think about what you would have liked to change about how you live your life.  Make a list and then prioritize the list according to what is most important to you to change.  Try and limit your list to about three behaviors so that you do not overwhelm yourself.  If you accomplish everything on your list you can always add to it.  The goal is to accomplish the list of changes and not have to take something off.  As you make your list and rate it, also think about your life style and whether or not your list would even be doable given the demands on your time.
  Once you have decided on what you want to change, make a list of the realistic ways you might be able to achieve success.  For example, if you want to make your home less cluttered, think about what that means to you, how your home became cluttered to begin with, and what you can realistically do that is different.   Maybe you might have an initial goal of not adding to the clutter and going through and organizing your mail on a daily basis or not throwing anymore clothes on the floor of your bedroom or closet.  Maybe you want to add exercise to your life.  Think about how in shape or out of shape you are, what kind of exercise you might like, and what type of commitment you can really make given your lifestyle and budget.  You might decide to walk at first until you build yourself up in terms of increased stamina before you start a boot camp program.  Rather than join a health club, maybe a 6-week commitment to take an exercise class at the local rec center or YMCA might make more sense.  First find out what exercise you really like, then how to fit it into your budget and your life style.  Losing weight seems to be a very common New Year resolution.  How much do you want to lose and what are you willing to do to lose the weight in a healthy way?  Most of us need some guidance in this area and you may want to start with talking with your Dr.  Read about healthy eating and decide how you will manage this.  How will you change your cooking style, where and when you eat out and what you order when you eat out.  Whatever you decide, do not starve yourself and make yourself feel deprived.  The key to weight loss is healthy eating as part of a life style change that you can maintain and embrace.  Whatever you decide to change, you are in charge of how you do this and what you accomplish.  If you have any questions, visit our web site and ask Dr. Flora.

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Monday, October 20, 2014

When Couple Communication  


            For some couples, there can be a full and permanent breakdown in communication and for other couples the breakdown is symptomatic of other stresses.  If you generally communicate well but lately feel you have lost those skills, there is some straightforward remediation available.  It is important that the two of you do these exercises together for them to have the full impact. 

1.      Pick a small issue that you both feel could be easily resolved or has already been resolved. 
Example Topic: Division of household chores.
2.      Spouse 1 describe the problem.
Poor Communication- “You sit around all day and do nothing to help me clean up!”
Healthy Communication- “I feel like I’m left to do more than my fair share of housework.”
3.      Spouse 2 repeat back what you think you heard.
Poor Communication- “So, you think I sit here and do nothing?”
Healthy Communication- “So, you feel like I’m not doing my part to keep up the house?”
4.      Spouse 1 validate partner or gently correct until you both agree on Spouse 1’s description.
Poor Communication- “Yeah, I think you are lazy and inconsiderate!”
Healthy Communication- “Yes, I would like it if you did more around the house to make things less difficult for me.”
5.      Spouse 2 describe the problem.
Poor Communication- “Don’t you realize that I work all day and have no time for myself, let alone to help you clean?”
Healthy Communication- “I understand that you would like more help but, I’m very tired after working all day.”
6.      Spouse 1 repeat back what you think you heard.
Poor Communication- “So, you don’t care and I have to do it all on my own?”
Healthy Communication- “I understand that you are tired at the end of the day but, I wonder if we can find a solution.”
7.      Spouse 2 validate partner or gently correct until you both agree on Spouse 2’s description.
Poor Communication- “You clearly don’t care about how I’m feeling.”
Healthy Communication- “Yes, I’m tired but, I am sure that we can find a solution.”

8.      Both Spouse’s independently write down a list of possible solutions.
Example Solutions:
·         Spouse 2 picks specific daily and/or weekly responsibilities of their choosing that they feel would help alleviate stress for Spouse 1 . However, Spouse 2 has an hour of rest and relaxation when first arriving home from work before opting to help around the house.
·         Spouse 1 selects the specific chores that Spouse 2 will be daily/weekly responsible for. However, Spouse 1 gives a timeline for completion. Spouse 2 may rest as long as they feel is needed as long as their responsibilities are completed within the requested time frame.
9.      Share the two lists and see if there is any overlap or agreed upon solutions.
10.  If there is an agreed upon solution, start with that.
11.  If there is no agreed upon solution, look at the pros and cons of each suggestion and begin to eliminate suggestions that are not feasible. 
12.  If you can narrow down your choice and still can’t agree, toss a coin.  Tossing a coin is unbiased and fair. 

     If you need to communicate some thoughts and feelings and don’t really need to problem solve, you might want to use a written journal and write back and forth to each other.  When we put things in writing, we tend to be more careful in how we communicate and it also gives the other person time to think about how they want to respond.
     If you are interested in this type of approach, check out our Booklet entitled:  Marital Communication Made Easy.  You can find it on our web site in the book store.

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*Examples provided by Brittany Redding, office manager.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014


     My apologies for not having written in a long time.  In the past several weeks I have been asked by many patients and friends about suicide, stemming, of course, by the shock and sadness so many feel regarding the recent suicide of Robin Williams.  There are, of course, many books written about suicide and there are just as many theories.  Bottom line, people commit suicide for many different reasons, and typically when they reach a point where the emotional pain is unbearable and suicide seems like the only answer.  Most suicides are not about anyone but the person feeling the pain.  It is not about being selfish or punishing.  I have met some wonderful people who have struggled with suicidal thoughts and desires for many years and have fought against those desires, only to succumb later in life.  Some people make several attempts before they are successful, and this is just not a good prognostic sign.
  For many of these hurting people, it is only a matter of time.  Other people make only one attempt and it is successful.  If you love someone who has committed suicide, it is not your fault.  Don’t let the survival guilt ruin the rest of your life.  I have learned over the past 30 years that is someone is determined to kill themselves, there is not anything you can really do to stop them.  That being said, there are some people who do use the threat of suicide to both punish and control in a relationship.  Most of us have probably heard a story of a boyfriend or girlfriend or even a spouse who threatens to kill themselves if their partner leaves.  This is the ultimate manipulation and not a reason to stay in a toxic relationship.  Those few people who kill themselves in order to hurt someone else are experiencing extremely dysfunctional thinking, and no one is responsible for what another person does or does not do. If someone you know or love threatens suicide, call 911 and report it no matter what they threaten.  If it is a manipulative bluff, call the bluff and after a few days in the psychiatric hospital, they will be much less likely to bluff with suicide threats again.  If they do mean to make a gesture, gestures can go wrong and they need to be in a safe place, cared for by professional.  So once again, call 911.  And if they are truly suicidal, do not hesitate to call 911 and get them some professional help.  For many truly suicidal individuals, it is the loss and lack of hope that finally pushes them over the emotional cliff.  This may surprise some of you, but there are also a lot of people who engage in suicidal ideation but will not kill themselves as they have enough strength left to know they will hurt someone they love and they just do not want to do that.  Sometimes a loved pet is enough to help someone hold on.  But even with deterrents, if the pain becomes too overwhelming, the person you love may feel it is their only way out of that pain.  You can’t stop them, but you can forgive them for hurting you and forgive yourself for not saving them.

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Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Empty Nest Syndrome

The kids are either packed away to college or have moved out to start their own lives.  You have cleaned the house from end to end and top to bottom and there really is nothing left to clean.  You have caught up on your projects and now you have nothing to do.  Actually, you have a lot to do.  You have to reinvent yourself and this can be a very exciting time in your life.  List out what you used to like to do, what you have wanted to do but never had the time to explore, and what you think you might want to try. 
While you are reconnecting with friends, it is very helpful to join groups that focus on areas of interest, allowing you the possibility of making new friends with similar interests.  Get involved in some volunteer work that allows you to meet people versus volunteer work that keeps you isolated.  Join a group, such as a book club or a bicycle club.  There are as many groups and clubs as there are interests and usually your local library is a good place to start your research.  If you do not want to commit to a long-term group or club, look for single events.  Your local paper should have a listing of what is happening in your community.  Some people enjoy going back to work and others enjoy a period of semi-retirement or even early retirement.  There are no right or wrong answers as long as you enjoy your new chapter.  Remember, once a parent, always a parent as you transition from mom/dad to mentor.  Now, however, you are a parent with more freedom and less laundry.

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Thursday, May 29, 2014

Stress Busters

Let’s face it.  We live in a stressful culture with an emphasis on being able to do everything all the time and making it look easy.  Work full time, take care of the house, spend time with your spouse, your children, your friends, your family, and yourself.  Unless you have a day stretcher and find a way to get more than the allotted 24 hours, it is just not possible to be all things to all people all the time.  Here is a list of some general guidelines and suggestions that may help you achieve more balance in your life with the result that you feel less stress and pressure.
1.      Every morning, take 5 minutes to breathe deeply and stretch your body.
2.      Eat a healthy breakfast that includes non-processed foods and drink some water.
3.   Whether at work or at home, take a 10-minute break and stretch, drink some water, and smile.  Smiling makes us feel happier.
4.    Take time to eat a healthy lunch.  If you can’t buy a lunch, bring a healthy lunch with you.  If the weather is nice, sit outside to eat your lunch.  At the end of your lunch, stretch and drink some water.
5.   Don’t watch the clock and wish your work day over, which is the equivalent of wishing your life away.  Instead, focus on what you are doing and enjoy that moment.  If you hate your job, give yourself permission to find a new job. 
6.    Find something in your day that makes you smile and share it with someone else.  Smiling can be contagious. 
7.      Have dinner together as a family.  It is the best time of the day when everyone can share their day and have that bonding time.  If your children are old enough, invite them to help you prepare dinner.  Many children enjoy this activity and you can have wonderful conversations with you child, learning more about them and their views on life.
8.      Take some time every evening after the children are in bed to have a conversation with your spouse that does not involve sitting in front of the TV.  It is a good time to share your day and any ideas you have about family and/or fun things to do.
9.      Go to bed early and allow yourself to get 8 to 9 solid hours of sleep.  A good sleep is one of the best stress busters you will ever experience.  Most of us tend to be very sleep deprived, which can lead to depression, irritability, decreased concentration and attention, lack of motivation, and even feelings of withdrawal.  Sleep also enhances our physical health which contributes to our overall sense of well-being.

10.  Get out of the house every weekend and don’t just get caught up in chores and things you feel you have to do.  A few hours out of the house can reduce your stress level immeasurably, especially if you are doing something fun or relaxing. 

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Tuesday, May 6, 2014

My Relationship is Comfortable, But Stale

I love my wife/husband, but…… I hear this on a weekly basis.  Sometimes relationships become stale due to predictability and sometimes due to the focus being on children and not on the couple.  If you have been together long enough to become predictable, first, congratulations.  Second, talk with your partner about stirring things up.  What did you used to like to do together and what would you like to do now?  Many times couples will tell me that they just do not have the money to do the things they would like to do.  If that applies to you, look for the free and the inexpensive things to do in your community.  For example, many communities have free or inexpensive concerts, plays and shows put on through cultural centers, monthly main street events and food tastings, etc.  Some libraries show old movies for free and you can always rent a movie and invite some friends to share the movie and some popcorn in your family room.  Parks and beaches are free and you usually only have to pay for parking.  It can be fun to sit at a marina and look at the boats.  Go to a local lake and feed the ducks.  Get a cup of coffee or tea after dinner rather than at home.  Play miniature golf or play a round of bowling.  Talk about when and how to initiate sex now that the kids are older and maybe out of the house.  If your children are young, co-opt babysitting with a friend and watch each other’s’ children once a month so you do not have to pay a babysitter.  You might decide to not even leave the house but have a nice, uninterrupted dinner plus whatever follows that. If money is not the issue, but you are in a rut, make a list with your partner of all the things you would like to check out that are both local and maybe involve some travel.
Check in to a hotel for a weekend close to home if you do not want to travel.  Play strip poker with each other and see where that leads.  It is up to you to be creative and invite your partner to be creative with you.
Try a restaurant you have never tried or anything else you have not tried.  You may decide to go kayaking or go to a local museum.  Maybe you will join a walking or bicycle club together or possibly work with a personal trainer together.  Maybe you can take a class together and work on a project together.   Whatever it is that you decide to do, shake it up and make a concerted effort to do the things on your couples bucket list.

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Tuesday, April 1, 2014


     Cutting yourself is never good.  It is a dangerous and dysfunctional way of coping with stress and emotional pain.  Why do people cut themselves?  Some claim that the physical pain replaces the emotional pain and makes them feel better. Others report that it is self-punishment for real and perceived faults and “crimes”.  Whatever your reason, you will have a very difficult time stopping if you do not develop more effective coping skills to replace the cutting.  Try to intervene before you reach for the knife or razor.  Make a list of your safe people and reach out to one of them and talk about what is hurting you.  Sometimes just the act of sharing can help so you do not feel so alone.  Also think about activities you can do to distract yourself from the urge to cut until the urge passes.  Journaling, music (upbeat only), art, and physical activity can often be positive diversions. 

Seek out therapy and work through the issues that are causing you so much pain.  Therapy is also helpful to make you feel less alone and isolated.  Make a contract with a trusted person that you will call them rather than cut and the person you call will listen and not criticize.  Remember, cutting leads to physical and emotional pain, not pain resolution.  Whatever your issues, you do not deserve to be punished by cutting and you will not relieve your pain by cutting.  Learning to accept yourself and building confidence is your greatest defense against emotional pain. 

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Friday, March 28, 2014

Being Single is not a Crime

 Some people embrace being single and others find it scary and lonely.  Which category you fit into depends on your outlook and interpretation of what single means.  If you interpret single as meaning alone, lonely, and unwanted, just waiting for life to start, then you will most likely experience a host of negative emotions.  However, if you look at single as just where your life is right now and accept and embrace it, you will most likely live richly.  Whether single or in a relationship, it is your responsibility to make your life have meaning.   You have to be the proactive person in guiding your life.  Reach out to people by doing the things you like and exploring activities you think you might be interested in.  Join a club or an organization, take up a sport, and go to events in your community. 

You are more likely to meet someone with similar interests if you do the things you like.  Also, as you gain in confidence you are more likely to meet someone else who is healthy and confident.  Whatever you do, don’t settle.  Selecting a life partner is one of the most important decisions you will ever make in your life.  Do you really want to spend your life with someone you don’t really love or respect?  That would be so unfair to both of you.  Patients often ask me, “What if I never meet anyone?”  If you never meet anyone you want to spend your life with, accept it and go on and make your life amazing.  When you work on expanding and enjoying your life and bringing meaning to your life, so may opportunities will open up to you that you probably can’t even imagine right now. If you are embarrassed or ashamed about being single, challenge those negative thoughts.  The best way to challenge those thoughts is to look for evidence in your own life to support the meaning your life has.  Make a list of things you want to experience and places you want to visit.  You have to be the one to make your life worth living, not someone else.

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Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Dating Rules For Success

1.      Do not pretend to be someone other than who you are.  If you don’t like heights, don’t agree to go bungee jumping just because you told your date that you won an award for bungee jumping.  Pretending can get you into all sorts of trouble.
2.      Do not pretend to like something that you do not like.  If you don’t like brussel sprouts, don’t pretend as you could spend the rest of your life trying to feed them to your dog or hiding them in nearby house plants.
3.      Do not complain about your current or past dates or your life. Nobody likes a whiner.
4.      Do not talk badly about other people.  If you do talk badly about others, your date that you like so much, may be wondering what you will say about him/her and there may not be a second date.
5.      Be kind.  Kindness is under rated and people of all backgrounds respond positively to kindness.
6.      Be interested.  Everyone has a story.  Really.  Any story can be interesting if you listen.  And if it is not interesting, than share your interesting stories.  At least you will get practice talking about yourself.  When their eyes glaze over, it is probably time to move on to another topic.
7.      Be patient, as your date may be nervous.  Nervousness is cute and tells you that the date is important to the other person.
8.      If asked what you would like to do, make a couple of suggestions.  Have a couple of ideas for later in the date that don’t involve a lot of money.  That shows consideration on your part.
9.      Ladies, eat something.  Everyone knows that females do eat. Guys, don’t comment on what she is eating.  This is self-explanatory and if you don’t get it you may not deserve a second date.
10.  Thank your date for the date and let them know if you are interested in seeing them again.   If you don’t drop a hint, like “I look forward to seeing you again” or “It is ok for you to call me again”, your date may not realize you enjoyed yourself.
11.  Do not have unrealistic expectations of this date.  It is just a date.  For those of you with some co-dependency issues, a date is just a date and not a lifelong commitment.
12.  Follow your instincts about another date.  If your instincts say yes, go out again.  If your instincts say no, do not go out again.  It is important to trust yourself.
13.  Ask questions, don’t just talk about yourself.  If you monopolize the conversation, you may come across as boring and narcissistic and you miss the opportunity to get to know more about the other person. 
14.  Be on time.  This is a pet peeve for many people and can kill a second date.
15.  Be courteous.  Old fashioned though it may be, “thank you” and “excuse me” still go a long way in impressing other people that you have some social consideration.
16.  It is reasonable to date multiple people, but don’t discuss other dates with your current date and once monogamous, outside dating is discouraged.  This is self-explanatory.
17.  Expect the man to pay, but offer to contribute.  If he takes your money, he may not merit a second date.  This is an individual decision, but I think the guy should show you that he is really interested and also generous. 
18.  Let the man make the initial date.  Hints are fine. “We should get together some time” is a good old standby.
19.  Don’t have sex on the first date.  You don’t really know who you are with yet and what are you telling the other person?  You are telling them that you don’t really respect yourself.

20.  If you have children, don’t keep it a secret.  Children are part of a package and some people are just not interested in a package.  

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Friday, February 7, 2014

How do I find a therapist?

     There are many different therapists out there to choose from.  Some are wonderful and some are not so wonderful.  The first step is to make an attempt at clarifying for yourself what you want to accomplish in therapy.  For example, do you want help with depression or anxiety, or do you really need a diagnostic workup because you suspect the problem but are not really sure?  Do you need help and guidance dealing with an external issue, such as a work struggle or friendship issue?  Do you lack the confidence or self-esteem you feel you should have?  Are there past childhood issues that need to be resolved or are you experiencing marital conflicts?  The second step is to decide if you want individual, couple, or family therapy?  The third step is to do some research on the different types of therapy that are being offered from psychoanalysis to cognitive behavioral therapy, with many options in-between.  Next, be open and honest with your Primary Care Physician (PCP) as that is the first place to obtain a referral to a psychologist or psychiatrist.  Your Dr. probably knows a few mental health professional that he/she can recommend, which is better than just picking out a name from an insurance list.  If your Dr. can’t make a recommendation for you, than call your insurance company and get a list.  Try and look up the professionals on the list and get a feel for their specialty.  It does not make sense to want couples counseling and find out in the first session that the therapist you chose does not do couples counseling.  

When you call to make your first appointment, be clear with the office staff about what you are looking for.  It is also reasonable to have a preference for either a male or female psychologist.  If you know a family member or friend who is seeing someone, that is sometimes the best recommendation because your family and friends will be honest with you about whether or not the therapy seems professional and helpful.  All that being said, therapy is like dating.  If you don’t click with the first psychologist or psychiatrist, meet with another one.  You can be a wonderful person and the therapist can be a wonderful therapist, but the chemistry just may not click and much of the therapy is intertwined with the personality of the therapist.  Also, for those of you who are not sure, a psychiatrist is a medical doctor and treats with medication (also called the biological approach) and the psychologist treats with talk therapy. Therapy is a safe place to work on resolving whatever issues you want to address, and don’t worry, the therapist has heard it all before and you will not shock them.   

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Thursday, January 30, 2014

No Children, No Carbohydrates, Not Retired

    Many people call this the empty nest syndrome and it can hit a person at many different stages in life.  In some ways, it may be more difficult for the individual who had their children later in life.  This is very common among professional women.  You may have spent your twenties and early thirties developing your career and then you decided to have children.  Now you are in your fifties and your last child is leaving for college and you have to decide what to do with the rest of your life.  Unlike your younger counterpart, you do not have twenty to thirty working years ahead of you, but maybe only ten or fifteen.  Have you stayed in your career all along and do you want to ramp it up or slow it down?  Did you stop working and now feel you need a sense of productivity and meaning in your life and if so, how and where to start?  There really are no right or wrong answers.  Everyone has to find the answer that works best for them.  Whatever direction you go, realize that life is not over.  Your children still need you, just in a different way.  You need to play with ideas of what you might want to do.  The career you had before children may no longer seem attractive to you or you may need to be retrained and just not feel that is what you want to do. Do you want a career or a fun job?  If you really want a career, begin to do your research and weigh all your options.  I have met people who have gone to graduate school after children have left and I have met people who left careers and taken on part time, low stress jobs that they loved. 
I have also met people that enjoyed volunteering and people who embraced an early retirement.  Just don’t sit home and wallow.  Think about the things you did not have time to do while raising children.  Get healthy, eat better, find exercise you actually like, and take a class or pursue a hobby.  Your post children life can go in so many different directions.  If you don’t like the one you are in, pursue another one.  Life is not over.  You are at the beginning of   a new chapter.

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Monday, January 27, 2014

Coping with Procrastination 

     “I’ll do it later.” How often have we heard this or said it ourselves when we just really didn't want to do something. Why do people procrastinate and what can we do about it? People procrastinate for many reasons.  If something seems too hard or overwhelming, we have a tendency to put it off.  Maybe you don’t have enough information or guidance and are not sure where to start.  Maybe what you have to do is outside of your comfort zone and you feel insecure and concerned you will do the task incorrectly.  Maybe you would just rather be doing something else and maybe you just don’t like the task at hand.  Whatever your reason, think about what you have to do, whether or not you need help, guidance or training, the stress you will eliminate if it is not hanging over your head, the feelings of accomplishment that accompany completion of a task, and how you will create balance  in your life by rewarding yourself with something that you do enjoy.  Many patients have looked for guidance on how to get themselves to complete paper work such as bills and taxes (for those of you who love paperwork and numbers, we will come up with other examples).  If your project seems complicated and you are not that organized, enlist someone to help you organize so it is not so overwhelming.  If you just don’t know where to start and you are not sure what to do, obtain some training that will allow you to feel more comfortable.  
Break the project or task down into smaller chunks that do not seem so huge and overwhelming.  Making a schedule to keep a project flowing is often very helpful.  If you don’t like the task, reward yourself with something you really enjoy after completing the task (this is what I do with housework).  Give yourself praise for completing something that you were either afraid to do or just didn't want to do.  You know when you are making excuses.  It is so important that you be honest with yourself and not lie to yourself.  It would be healthier to acknowledge to yourself that you don’t want to do something and you are going to do it anyway so it might as well be now.  If you do it now you can have fun later but if you have fun now, it won’t be as much fun because you know what is waiting for you.

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Thursday, January 16, 2014

Married  and Unexpected Pregnancy 

    I was recently asked how to cope with an unexpected pregnancy when you have your life situated and you have the number of children you want.  People can have many different reactions to this ranging from excited, depressed, anxious, and scared to a combination of all of the above.  If you are keeping this baby, than the main goal is acceptance.  First, take care of your health as denial will not help you.  Second, think about all the positives to having another child.  Another person to love and nurture and to love and nurture you in return.  Remember how you keep falling in love with your children when they tell you that they love you, draw a picture for you, make a mother’s day gift for you, overcome a challenge and succeed.  Yes, they are loud, noisy, and at times defiant and difficult.  But they are funny, loyal, and you get to re-experience the world through fresh new eyes.  For most people, there is never really a perfect time to get pregnant.  And yet, each pregnancy is at the perfect time if we allow it to be.  It is often the last “oops” baby that can bring us the most joy.  We are usually experienced and seasoned by the time we have our last child, which frees us up emotionally to enjoy them in a much more relaxed way.  We are not as focused on what every step is supposed to be about because we have already been there and we generally know what to expect.  If finances are one of your biggest concerns and you already gave away all your baby furniture and items, reach out to family and friends for help.  Most of our family and friends are happy to help prepare for a new baby.  If you are worried about the change in life style, the neat thing about a baby is that you really can bring them almost anywhere.  If you need a baby sitter and can’t really afford it, maybe you and another mother can co-opt some babysitting time.   If you have children who are not happy or receptive about the idea of a new baby in the house, let them know that this is the family’s baby and they will be great at teaching the new little one all kinds of things.  They get to be the big brother or sister, which will have certain privileges associated with it (such as being able to do something first).  If the new baby has to share a room, have that sibling help decorate and set up the baby’s area, and even help pick out some blankets and baby toys.  The more involved they are, the more acceptance you are likely to see.  I was asked how to accomplish this type of acceptance if you are already mentally and physically exhausted by caring for the children you already have. This is a good time to look what is currently not working and consider some changes.  If you have no idea how to start re-structuring your life, maybe consult with a professional for some guidance. 

 It is possible you are working too hard and not enjoying enough of your life.  If your current children are a handful, maybe reach out for some guidance on how to tighten your family system and parenting so your children behave in a more cooperative way.  For example, are you being consistent with your children or have they learned that you don’t really mean what you say (or threaten).  By the way, never threaten anything you are not willing to follow through on. If your fears are more personal, such as changes in your body, you need to address that with your Doctor and yourself.  Ask your Dr. for a healthy food plan and exercise plan during the months of your pregnancy.  If you take care of yourself, the body you became pregnant with should be the body you end up with post pregnancy (with a few months of special attention).  If your hesitation involves marital issues, you and your spouse need to communicate and resolve the issues prior to the new baby and you can certainly streamline this process with professional intervention.  Most importantly, every baby deserves to be wanted and loved, especially your baby. Remember, this baby may someday be the person in your life who gives you the greatest joy.

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Thursday, January 9, 2014

Acting Out Teenagers  

            There are so many different variables that go in to a teenager’s behavior.  Their personality, mental health, family history, and personal experiences.  Today we are referring to a teen that does not have a mental illness, but has not had a conventional family.  Typically I am asked by single moms how to help their teen regulate their impulsive behavior.  Some teens are able to do great at school but make very poor decisions in their personal life, and other teens seem to sabotage school as well as their personal lives.  Let’s look at the teenager who is impressed with themselves and their advanced age of 15 through 18.  Have you met the teenager who wants to be treated as an adult, but wants none of the responsibilities of an adult? If yes, than this blog is for you.  Did you buy your teen a car or do they have access to a car?  A car is a privilege that most teens do not have.  If your teen cannot drive responsibly, than they are not yet mature enough for a car and you need to take it away for at least 6 months.  If they are drinking and/or smoking marijuana in the car, then take it away permanently.  They may hurt themselves or someone else.  If they feel they can stay out as late as they want, not call home or answer your calls, or come and go as they please, than maybe you need to give them exactly what they are asking for.  In other words, if they want the privileges of being an adult, hand over the responsibilities.  Do not pay for anything extra.  

As an adult, you are being very generous to allow them to live with you rent free and board free.  The rest is up to them.  They will need to pay for and arrange their own transportation, do their own laundry and cook their own meals, clean their own room, and pay for their own extras (such as a cell phone).  If that seems too extreme or hands off for you, than you can take the opposite approach and the more they act out, the more controlling you become.  For example, pick them up from school, do not let them ride with friends, do not let them out on a school night, let them out on a weekend only after you have talked to the other parents and you have arranged a time to pick them up.  If they blow you off (as they probably will), try my original approach.  Sit down with them and let them know that since they are not letting you parent them, you will not parent them, but because you love them, they can live at home and have free food.  Everything else is on their dime and their time.  Teach them how to do laundry, show them how to get a bus schedule or show them where you have stored their bicycle.  Do not give them a phone (they will find a phone to borrow if they really want or need one), money, or a car.  Let’s see if they would like to go back to being a teen without adult responsibilities, as long as they follow the teen rules you have set up.  Also, when (not if) they threaten to move out, let them know that you love them and they are welcome to live with you and your rules, but if they want to live on their own, you understand.  Then sit down and help them make a budget and explain why you will not be co-signing any contracts for them).  Let them see how much it costs to live independently and then they can decide if they want to move out.  I often explain to teens that following the rules is like paying rent, only it costs them time and respect versus money.  As you do all this, do it with love and not anger.  

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