Tips for managing divorce or separation with children.
One of the hardest aspects of counseling children is watching parents engage in long, bitter custody battles. These battles are expensive and exhausting for both parties and are always hard, or downright damaging, for children. Below are some ideas about ways to minimize stress.
1. Avoid speaking badly of your ex.
It’s hard. It feels impossible, especially when your ex is not abiding by this same principle. The reality is that talking badly of your child’s other parent is not helpful to your child. You will only confuse and hurt them by putting down the person from whom they received 50% of their dna and with whom they are likely spending at least some of their time. Follow the old rule of, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” Simply smile and nod as you allow your child to talk about their other parent. Go outside and scream later.
I cleaned off some shelves this weekend and I came across an article that reminded me of these effective techniques for combating depression and anxiety. I teach these principles every day in session and, when practiced, they can make a big difference in people’s lives.
Notice that phrase, “when practiced.” Everyone says they want to feel less stressed, less anxious, or less sad, but so few people follow through. I get it; everyone is busy or distracted. I also know when we are fighting serious stress, anxiety, or depression it can be hard to do things that are good for us instead of relying on old coping skills like drinking, sleeping too much, or reaching for the remote and a box of cookies. I promise you, however, consistent baby steps toward these new skills will reap a big payoff in terms of feeling better.
We continue to feel the pain of “Mom loves you best,” and “It isn’t fair,” decades after our first fight over the new toy.
One day last year I had a conversation with a co-worker that got me thinking about our relationships with our siblings. My coworker (who is over 50-years old) said she was quarreling with her younger sister and feeling pulled by the need to give in and the need to stand up for herself and was very torn by this. Then she said, “I feel silly that it upsets me so much at my age.”
Many women carry around great shame about their bodies and the belief that if they were thinner or had more willpower, everything in their lives would be better.
Lately, I have been fortunate enough to be counseling several adolescent girls. Of course all of them spend a lot of time thinking about how they look (they are teenagers), but listening to the way these girls talk about their bodies has me thinking a lot about shame and how critical many women are about their own bodies.
When I listen to the conversations of women around me I hear a lot of complaining; their butts are too big or too small, their arms sag, or their waists aren’t small enough. They complain about wrinkles and freckles, and hair that is too curly or straight or not the right color. Then there is the big one: almost every woman believes she is too fat.
Recently I was introduced to the “thinspiration” websites. I really got sucked in by some of these blogs and manifestos. I was horrified and fascinated. “Thin is more important than healthy.” “Without food I am perfect.” “I want to be light as a feather, barely there.”