Posted in Parenting, Personal

Focus on Your Dreams

 

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’m back today after a snow storm this weekend. It started Friday night and hasn’t really stopped snowing or raining since then. We’ve gotten close to nine inches of snow. Perfect time to write and I’ve been doing just that. I’ve finally arrived at the big scene where everything comes together. Finally!!

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But enough about that. Today I want to talk about the meaning of success. Success is different for everyone. Everyone has a different definition based on the goals they have set for themselves. Achieving our goals is an element to achieving our happiness. The problem we run into is when we compare ourselves to others who are on a different path.

Sometimes we get caught up in chasing the competition instead of our dreams. We try to copy or compete with a person instead of focusing on our journey and the steps we need to achieve our goals. I’ve seen this many times and it results in unhappiness. Why? Because we’re trying to be like someone else and who can be better than the original? Right?

So, we need to remember everyone’s journey is different, and not to fall into the trap of comparing our journey to someone else’s. We need to focus on the milestones in our own journey and celebrate them. We need to celebrate each one because they are important. We also need to teach this to our children. It will help them build their resilience when they run into the pot holes of life.

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By focusing on our own journey, we allow others to focus on theirs, and when they achieve their goals, we can be happy for them. This leads to stronger relationships and more happiness, just because we chased our own dreams.

Is it selfish to chase our own dreams? No. We all have a purpose in life and it’s our responsibility to pursue it. We all are responsible for our own happiness and when we take that responsibility seriously, we let our loved ones be responsible for theirs, and we’re all happy chasing our dreams.

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I know what you’re thinking. How simplistic. But it really is that simple, isn’t it?

What are your dreams and aspirations? Leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you!

Posted in Family, mental-health, Parenting

Focus on the Journey

 

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. Today, I’m back after the holidays, Christmas break, and sickness. Yes, the flu-bug hit our home and got to me and the kids. My youngest had it the worst, but he recovered, finally. Then I got hit with it. (A nasty cough and congestion, but no fever.) Now, my oldest has it. Sigh. When it rains, it pours.

I had a blog post all written for today, when another idea hit me. Yes, I’ll save that blog post for another day, or maybe I won’t. I wasn’t too attached to it, but I digress. Back to the topic at hand. Today, I’d like to talk about focus.

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What I mean is this. I want to talk about how society tends to focus on the results of our actions. We talk about being “results oriented” and how this is something to be proud of. This focus negates all the efforts it took to reach the result and what happens when we don’t get the results we expected?

We feel like a failure. Our young people are engaging in self-destructive behavior and committing suicide because they’re so focused on the results, if they miss their mark? Well that’s when depression and anxiety set in. We need to change our focus from the results to focusing on the journey.

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Focusing on the journey, allows us to celebrate our smaller wins. For example, if you’re writing a book and you’re focused on the result of getting the book published, you miss out on celebrating hitting your word goals for the day. You miss out on celebrating that amazing description you’ve just written. You see focusing on the journey allows you to enjoy those moments and they are worthy of being celebrated. Don’t let society dictate whether you’re a success or a failure. You decide.

I remember my second born. He was a striver when he was young. He still is, but I digress. Anyway, he was a Transformers fan and one Christmas we got him these big Transformers. They were these robots that could be changes into cars and vice-versa. Well, when he first got them, they were hard to transform. I mean he would be so frustrated, he’d be crying, and I’d tell him, “It’s time to take a break.”

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He’d shake his head and wipe his tears and he’d tell me no. He was determined to get it right. He didn’t give up. I admire this resilience in my son. He’d fail and fail again, but each time he learned something that brought him closer to his goal. He was getting closer, so he knew he could get there. I admire this “stick-to-itivness” in my son.

His focus wasn’t on the result, but on achieving the next step.  This is what we need to teach our kids to focus on the journey and the results will take care of themselves.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my post! I appreciate it! How about you, what’s your focus for the New Year? Leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you!

 

Posted in mental-health, Parenting, Teen

Could Gaming be the Reason Teen Depression is on the Rise?

 

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’ve had a busy week with working and Christmas shopping and writing. So, it has been productive. I had lunch today with a couple of friends from my writer’s group. I haven’t seen either one of them in a long time and it was good to see them.

Oddly enough we didn’t talk about writing. We talked about personal struggles and dealing with life. It was good to talk with them and open up about our fears for our kids and the trials we’re dealing with in our daily lives.

 

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It made me think about how different my childhood was compared to my own children’s. With the advances in technology, I find my kids spend more time in front of a computer screen than they do running around outside playing games like Kick the Can or Capture the Flag. This got me thinking about how teen depression is on the rise and it wasn’t a huge leap for me to think the advances in technology are to blame. Is that a fair conclusion for me to draw? Click here to see a study regarding this question.

The answer isn’t quite as simple as a definitive yes or no. Because there are some positive aspects to video games. Gaming is a great coping mechanism and it improves hand eye coordination and teaches teamwork when teens must work with another player to accomplish a goal. However, there are some negatives. Gaming can become addictive and it is isolating. It doesn’t provide the physical activity a young person needs to develop a strong body and physical activity, or exercise is a great way to combat depression.

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Especially in the Midwest, where it’s winter for nine months of the year, it’s important for kids to get outside and get that Vitamin D from the sun, and it’s equally important that they get outside and move their bodies.

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Statistics show that teen depression is on the rise. Exercise and getting out into nature are excellent ways to combat depression. Gaming doesn’t have the positive physical effects that exercise does. Exercise and getting out into nature are not only good for your soul they’re good for your body as well.

So, what is the answer? The answer is two-fold. I believe moderation is the key when it comes to gaming. Limiting the amount of time kids are on the computer is a key component to combating depression, but we need to also teach teens other coping mechanisms as well. We need to teach them to value nature and to respect our connection to it, and to get them into the habit of exercising at least one hour a day.

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This summer, I’m planning on taking my kids for a hike at least once a week. It will be a great way to stay connected to them and hopefully will develop some excellent ways for them to cope with the turbulent teen years they are about to start. They’ll be getting out into nature and exercising at the same time. I’m also going to insist they get outside for at least one hour during the day. We are fortunate that we have neighbor kids near us, and they do get together and play football or basketball when the weather permits.

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What about you? How do you feel about gaming? Do you think it’s the cause for the rise in depression? Leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you!

 

 

 

Posted in Family, Parenting, Personal

Parenting: It’s not for Sissies

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I hope you had a Happy Thanksgiving. I know I did. Although, it seems like the holidays fly by faster and faster every year. I love the holidays and it’s always great to get together with the family and catch up.

I was also productive with my writing. I got a couple of scenes done and I’m getting closer to the end. I’m hoping I’ll get this done by the end of the year or maybe even January. Cross your fingers for me. It’s getting close. 😊

 

But enough about that. Today, I’d like to talk about the sadness of watching your children grow and become more independent. I know they’re supposed to grow up and move away, but I get so much joy just hanging out with them and hearing their stories that it makes me sad to think about the time when they won’t be there. I’m sure every parent experiences this, but for some reason, I’m becoming more acutely aware of it every year that passes.

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I enjoyed all of it, watching them grow and watching their personalities develop. That’s why when I hear statistics saying that the suicide rate for teens has doubled. It scares me. I don’t want to lose my kids to something like that. So, I talk to them about depression and anxiety. I tell them that anxiety runs in our family and if they’re feeling anxious, they can talk to me or the hubster. But I worry. I worry that talking about it isn’t enough.

So, I try to tell them about coping mechanisms they can use to relieve their anxiety or stress. I tell them how exercise is a great way to calm your mind. I’m hoping to get them into the habit of exercising at least three or four times a week. Right now, they have gym class so it’s not a big deal, but later in life exercising a couple times a week will help them manage their stress.

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I’m trying to prepare them for every situation that comes down the pike, but this is an impossible task. Some things we can only learn through experiencing them first hand.  I hope I’ve given them enough so they’re resilient when adversity strikes. I hope. I hope. I hope.

I know every parent has these thoughts and feelings and I’ll get through them, but I miss those years when they were younger, and they came to me with all their problems. Those years went by so fast. In the blink of an eye they became teenagers with smart mouths and sassy attitudes. I love to hear them stand up for themselves though. It does my heart good to know they’re not afraid to voice their opinion even if they’re different from mine.

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Parenting is a tough gig. No one prepares you for when the kids start to leave the nest. Sigh. They’re not there yet, but it’s coming, and I can tell when it happens, I’m going to be a mess. Thanks for reading my rambling post today. Do you have any ideas on how to handle your kids’ growing independence? If you’ve got some advice, leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you!

 

 

Posted in Family, mental-health, Parenting

Why it’s imperative to Communicate with Your Teen about Mental Illness in your Family

 

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’m back today after a weekend of picking out countertops, (yes, hubby and I have a home project) and fun stuff like laundry and housework.

I’m transitioning from running outside to running inside on the treadmill and I must say, it has been hard because running on the treadmill can be rather boring to say the least, but enough about that. I don’t want to talk about the treadmill today. LOL.

I was able to get some writing time in, but not as much as I would’ve liked. Sigh. There just aren’t enough minutes in the day sometimes, but enough about that, too. Today, I’d like to talk about the book I’ve been reading. “The Stressed Years of their Lives.”

 

It’s an excellent book and I recommend it for any parent whose kids are approaching high school or college age. It talks about how teen depression and anxiety is on the rise and how a mental illness can develop during this stressful period.

If you have a history of depression or anxiety in your family, it’s imperative that you communicate this to your children, so if they experience this type of reaction to stress, they’ll know what they’re dealing with. Sweeping it under the rug does not help them in any way shape or form. It only adds to their confusion and their shame.

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Sadly, when kids are experiencing anxiety or depression, they tend to lean toward self-medication or drinking and partying. When kids party too much, they can develop alcohol poisoning or even worse, OD. It’s because they aren’t experienced enough with drinking or drugs to know what their limits are. This leaves them vulnerable. When they pass out, they can be victimized by other intoxicated students who have impaired judgement.

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So, start talking to your kids now and tell them that anxiety runs in the family and it has many forms, like obsessive worrying, irrational fears, and perfectionism. These can all lead to an anxiety attack. Give them the information they need to identify what they’re dealing with, then give them the tools to help them handle the situation.

Unfortunately, we can’t prepare them for every stressor in life, but if we can help them develop their critical thinking, maybe they’ll have the tools to apply what they’ve learned from one situation to another.

In the book, it talks about how teens’ executive functioning skills aren’t fully developed yet, so that adds another dimension to the situation, because there’s no way to speed that process up. At least, not one that I’m aware of yet.

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So, what it all boils down to is communicate with your kids, tell them if anxiety or mental illness runs in the family, so if they start developing symptoms, they’ll know to come to you for help or to seek out a mental health professional.

This book is pure gold for parents. I can’t recommend it enough. There is a lot to this book, so I’m going to be writing about it in a couple of different blog posts. So, stay tuned and let me know what you think! Leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you!

 

 

Posted in Family, Parenting, raising kids, Teen

Mentors are Gold for your Kids

 

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’m back today after a long week of work and writing. I’m seeing a light at the end of the tunnel, let’s home it’s not an optical illusion. 😉

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But enough about that, today I’d like to talk about being or finding mentors for our kids. I can make suggestions to them until I’m blue in the face and they won’t be motivated to try my suggestion, but if another adult whom they respect makes the same suggestion. Bingo. They’re all for it. I don’t feel bad about this. The reason this happens is because I’m their mom and I love them no matter what, so I’m always going to see the good in them, but another adult who notices a spark… well then it must be true, right?

I stumbled on this concept last year when the tennis coach asked my youngest to join the team. He had never expressed an interest in tennis, but just the fact the coach asked him to join was a huge factor. His father and I had been trying to get him to join a team because he’s very athletic, but every sport we suggested he didn’t want to participate in it. He joined the tennis team and enjoyed it so much that he’s planning on doing it again this year.

 

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So, when a friend complained to me about how her son was nominated for the National Honors Society at his school and he didn’t want to do it because he had to do thirty hours of community service, I decided to test my theory. I suggested to her  she have one of his teachers encourage him to join. She did and now her son is taking the steps necessary to join the National Honors Society.

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Teachers your kids respect are gold. If you can have them help you with your child, do it. The teens years are tumultuous to say the least and I’m not ashamed to say that our teens need all the help they can get. So, don’t underestimate the influence teachers have over your kids. It doesn’t take much. Just a suggestion or a request from one of them is all it takes. Teachers do make a lasting impression on our kids. There’s no doubt about that.

 

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However, it doesn’t have to be a teacher, it could be a coach, a scout leader, or a favorite uncle or aunt. It takes a village to raise your kids and finding them a mentor who believes in them is a great place to start.

How about you? Do you have any ideas that will help parents through the teen years? Leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you! I need all the help I can get! 😉

 

 

Posted in Parenting, Personal, Teen

The Book Every Parent Needs to Read

 

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’m back today after a busy weekend of writing, family time, running, and cleaning. Yes. I was able to get all of that in in one weekend. LOL! Plus, a date night with my hubby! 😉

I also picked up a book recommended to me by one of my friends, so I thought I’d pass the information on to you. It’s called “The Stressed Years of their Lives.” It’s about helping kids handle the college years and beyond.

 

From two leading child and adolescent mental health experts comes a guide for the parents of every college and college-bound student who want to know what’s normal mental health and behavior, what’s not, and how to intervene before it’s too late.

“The title says it all…Chock full of practical tools, resources and the wisdom that comes with years of experience, The Stressed Years of their Lives is destined to become a well-thumbed handbook to help families cope with this modern age of anxiety.”
― Brigid Schulte, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, author of Overwhelmed and director of the Better Life Lab at New America

All parenting is in preparation for letting go. However, the paradox of parenting is that the more we learn about late adolescent development and risk, the more frightened we become for our children, and the more we want to stay involved in their lives. This becomes particularly necessary, and also particularly challenging, in mid- to late adolescence, the years just before and after students head off to college. These years coincide with the emergence of many mood disorders and other mental health issues.

When family psychologist Dr. B. Janet Hibbs’s own son came home from college mired in a dangerous depressive spiral, she turned to Dr. Anthony Rostain. Dr. Rostain has a secret superpower: he understands the arcane rules governing privacy and parental involvement in students’ mental health care on college campuses, the same rules that sometimes hold parents back from getting good care for their kids. Now, these two doctors have combined their expertise to corral the crucial emotional skills and lessons that every parent and student can learn for a successful launch from home to college.

 

 

In our society, suicide is the second largest killer of our young people today. Let that sink in. It’s the second largest, know what the first is? Accidental overdoses and alcohol poisoning. I don’t know about you, but these statistics scare me. What is happening to our young people today?

I compare my teen years to my kids’ teen years, and it is a totally different era. I know it was a long time ago, but still. 😉

I was so much more active than kids are these days. We used to play kick the can and capture the flag with our neighborhood friends until dark. Summer was a magical time. I was outside all day. Kids these days are not. We have become the indoor generation. I try to get them outside for at least an hour a day, but when the weather’s bad or it’s too hot. It isn’t always possible. Parents are caught between providing for their kids, meaning both work or making sacrifices, where one spouse stays home, and maybe having their kids apply for student loans to get through school. Then the kids are strapped with thirty thousand dollars or more in debt when they get out of school. No wonder our kids are stressed.

 

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According to the authors of the book, we are in a constant state of striving. Striving toward our goals, striving to be the best we can be, and striving to live our best life. So, our kids lack the skills of self-care and behavior management that they so desperately need, and they are woefully unprepared for college life and beyond. I agree with this statement. I remember the high anxiety I felt during those early years. Fear of making a mistake and becoming a failure before the age of twenty-five.

As parents, we need to teach our kids reasonable expectations. They aren’t going to have it all by the time they’re twenty-five. They just aren’t. It might take them a few years to find that perfect job or the right spouse, and we have to teach them there are going to be bumps in the road. For example, room-mate issues, nasty break-ups, and sometimes getting fired from a job. We have to teach them to manage dealing with a bad boss, because sometimes you have to put up with that because you need the job. They must learn the world is an imperfect place and life just isn’t fair. We must teach them strength of character, grit, and resilience. They must learn how to overcome obstacles, deal with rejection, and learn to keep moving forward.

 

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This book is going to give me insight on how to do just that. I’m hoping it’ll give me tools to help my kids manage their fears and anxiety, so they don’t become paralyzed when dealing with some of the issues I’ve mentioned. And lastly, and most importantly, it will help me convey to them that when life does become too much to bear, like a nasty break-up or getting fired from a job, that they can reach out for help. Help from parents, grandparents, and even professional counselors. So, I will keep you all posted on the golden nuggets I get from this book and I urge you to pick up a copy yourself.

Do you have any tried and true methods of helping your teens deal with anxiety and depression? What are they? Leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you!