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.

Photo credit: Daniela Hartmann (alles-schlumpf) on Visualhunt / CC BY-NC-SA

 

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!

Posted in Family, Parenting, raising kids

Stay at Home versus a Working Mom

 

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. Sorry, I haven’t blogged in a while. Life sure has been busy. 😊  Next week is back to school for my kiddos and I’m just as bummed about it as they are. Summer was way too short this year. At the end of July, we had a great vacation up north. I love that area and it was awesome to get away and relax, and I got a lot of vacation writing done. I love that!

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However, enough about that. Today, I’d like to reflect on the difference between being a stay at home mom and a working mom. Both are hard work and stressful, but I believe being a stay at home mom is harder. Why? There are many reasons.

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I’ve found that since I’ve been back to work, I feel better about myself. Delving deeper, I realize I’m getting many more positive affirmations from my co-workers and my boss than I did when I was a stay at home mom, but it’s not only that. It’s nice to have co-workers to chat with. Being a stay at home mom is isolating and it’s rare to get any acknowledgement of the hard work you do. I loved being home with my kids, but there were times when it would’ve been nice to have another adult to talk to.

Another reason being a stay at home mom is harder is because you’re not bringing home a pay check. There’s the guilt of not helping provide for the family, but I feel I made the right choice even if it was sometimes a struggle. I have a great relationship with my kids, and I wanted them to learn the value of relationships and how they’re more important than money or possessions. I hope I accomplished that. That being said, I do enjoy bringing home a paycheck again. I’d forgotten what that little piece of independence felt like and boy is it sweet.

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Also, I get a break from my job. I get to go home after eight hours and hang with my family. A stay at home mom never gets a vacation. Even when she goes on vacation, she’s usually taking her family with her. She is on twenty-four/seven for at least the first five years of her child’s life.  Once they start school, she gets a little bit of a break and believe me she deserves it.

There are usually no positive affirmations either. No one says thanks Mom for cleaning the kitchen three times a day, or for picking up the toys in the living room three times a day. Stay at home moms tend to forget to take care of themselves. They put their needs last. So, it’s no wonder that sometimes they get a little depressed.

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I remember those years. I was exhausted the entire time, but oh the memories…it was definitely worth it.  So, when I look back would I do it all again, even though there were days of loneliness and major exhaustion? Absolutely.

I miss my kids every day when I’m at work. I want to hear about their day the moment they get home from school, but I also want to send them to college, so they don’t have debts to pay off when they’re done. A compromise must be made, and this is the time to do it. They’re enjoying their independence and pulling away from Mom. This is to be expected, however, I want them to stay my little boys just a little longer.

They still tell me things and when I’m late coming home, they wonder where I’m at and that’s nice, but I miss those baby hugs and the way my oldest used to play with my hair when I fed him his bottle or read him a story. I miss how my youngest was so rambunctious and quick to learn. I remember that moment when he started reading by himself and how we would sit and read an entire book (chapter book) in one sitting, because he wanted to impress me. I remember how proud he was of himself and how proud of him I was.

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I was there for all of it. I’m so excited to see the men they will become. They are such great kids. I know life is going to throw them some curve balls. I hope I’ve taught them to be resilient and strong during those times, and I hope I’ve given them enough good memories so when tough times come, they’ll remember those hardships are temporary and good times will be back once they weather the storm.

In conclusion, staying home is the harder of the two. So, if you are a stay at home mom, it’s important for you to take care of yourself and make sure your spouse understands your needs. He needs to give you some accolades and support when you’re having one of those days. Also, you need to take time away from the kids and get adult time. It’s essential to your mental health, but you probably already know that. 😉

Thanks for stopping by and reading my post, do you agree with me? Leave a comment, I’d love to hear from you!

Posted in Family, Parenting, Teen

Developing Emotional Intelligence

 

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I have to apologize, I’ve been neglecting my blog because I’ve been focusing on getting my story together. It’s getting there and I’m loving it. So, sorry, but I’m not sorry. 😊

 

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Today, I’d like to talk about family time. It’s so important in today’s busy world. When did we become such a busy society? We’re always doing instead of taking moments to enjoy each other and our family members. My kids are growing up way too fast. It’s driving me crazy how fast they’re growing up. I’m trying to slow it down, but I can’t. It’s like a runaway freight train. So, I try to plan family nights and we try to eat our evening meals together. We also try to have one evening of family time where we watch a movie together or play cards.

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We were playing hearts last night and the boys were laughing because they were making sure I got all the hearts and the Queen of Spades. All the hearts except for a couple, so I couldn’t shoot the moon, but I digress. Anyway they were ganging up on me because that’s their way of saying they love me. 😉

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Out of the blue, my oldest says, “Look at her face. She’s getting mad.”

I wasn’t mad, but I wasn’t happy either and he picked up on that and the boys stopped teasing me. I still lost, but that’s beside the point.

I was happy to hear my son pick up on my frustration. I don’t like being ganged up on, and he could tell. This is an important lesson, and I’m glad my kids are learning it. They are developing their emotional intelligent.

Emotional intelligence is so important in life. Our teens need to be able to gauge when their spouse, or boss, or a co-worker are upset with them. All the screen time kids get takes away from their ability to pick up on social cues. So, we as parents have to provide them emotional intelligence lessons and I feel that last night was a good one. Even if I did lose. 😉

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I’m trying to give them as many teachable moments as I can because they are going to run into adversity and unfairness in the world. I hope I’m giving them the tools they’ll need to persevere and overcome it. Thanks for stopping by and reading my post. How about you? How are you helping your kids develop their emotional intelligence? Leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you!

Posted in Parenting

Parenting, it’s not for Sissies

 

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. Christmas is almost here. I’m excited for the holidays and I hope you are, too. It seems like each year they go by faster and faster. I want it all to slow down so I can savor it. My boys are growing up too fast, I want to rewind back to when they were smaller and still believed in Santa. Those years were definitely magical years, don’t you think?

I’m so thankful for them. I was so worried about being a good mother before they were born. I read all kinds of books because I wanted to do the best job I could. I stayed home with them instead of working. I made them my top priority and I still feel I could’ve done a better job.

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Parenting is hard because you can’t erase your mistake and try again. There are no do-overs in parenting, unfortunately. So, you do your best to get it right the first time and ask for forgiveness from your kids when you mess up. Let’s face it we’re all human and your kids know that, too. They’ll forgive you if you own up to your mistakes.

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The best we can do is to make sure they know they’re loved unconditionally. If we succeed at that one thing, we’ll have set a solid foundation for their future. When our kids are dealing with behavioral issues in school, or anxiety, or they’re withdrawing from friends and family that’s a sign they need more attention and love. Something that seems to be in short supply in our frazzled world today.

 

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It seems like we’re so busy trying to give them everything we forget they really need our time and attention the most. Something I have to remind myself of daily especially when I’m worried that I’m not giving them enough things. It’s a fine line between providing for them and being available to them. I’m sure every parent struggles with this. Especially when they’re growing and testing their independence during the teen years.

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The best we can do is keep the lines of communication open and help them navigate the choppy waters of adolescence. It’s so hard during the teen years when they need space to test their wings, but they also need to know you’re there, and you support them.

Parenting. It’s a tough job. It’s not for sissies.

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Thanks for stopping by and reading my post. Do you have any insight on navigating the teen years? Leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you!