Sometimes the problems we experience in our family relationships can feel so large that we simple stare transfixed at them. It can overwhelm us and cause us to give up hope. We may resign ourselves to the idea that we cannot over come them and this is the way our family will always be…
The unfortunately result of this immobilization is that we often believe the lie that other people (or ourselves) are the problem. I am fond of quoting a line from Narrative Therapy that goes: “The person is not the problem. The problem is the problem.”
It is only when we partner together, against the problem, externalizing it from our person that we are able to overcome that problem. Blaming one another as bad, damaged, or toxic only intensifies shame and keeps us stuck. I am not saying that people don’t make bad choices. We all say things and do things we wish we hadn’t done that can have destructive consequences on our families. The point here is that if we are to have the dream family we deserve to have, we have to work together against the problem.
Instead of staring at the problem, try “gazing” at your loved one and only “glancing” at the problem. It is still there but it is not where your attention needs to be glued to. Reconnect with your family, work together against the problem and start making changes, however small that will restore relationships and rebuild connections.
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To provide solutions for this social chaos, family therapist Ron Huxley enters the fray with his phenomenal system called the Parenting Toolbox. By utilizing the vast array of services and educational tools available with a subscription to www.parentingtoolbox.com, struggling parents can find the information and resources that will equip them to face the challenges associated with raising their children in today’s world. The Parenting Toolbox offers an array of tools that will enable you to become a better parent:
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Can you teen handle responsibility? -
1. Whenever possible, communicate indirectly — using a note or text message. The idea is to create distance between you and your teen, so that the cue can work without both of you being in the same place at the same time.
2. Send notes, don’t nag. A voicemail, note, or text message reminding your son to empty the dishwasher before he goes to the dance may get him to do it. Nagging won’t. In the case of regular chores or routines, try reminders for a few weeks. Then stop prompting him and see if he does the chore on his own. If not, return to the reminders.
3. Ask your teen to develop his own cues. This is a way to hand off the skill to the teen, so she can remind herself in her own way.
4. Edit your words. When it comes to reminders, parents talk too much, include lessons and lectures, and use an irritated voice. This frequently leads to conflict.
5. Use an outside expert to teach your child a skill. If teens are going to be independent problem solvers, they need to use people and information, not their parents, to help them. While we all feel good when our teen asks us for help from time to time, this does not increase their independence, unless they internalize the information and stop coming to us.
6. Let your teen choose which challenge to work on first, and how to address it. It could be moving too slowly in the morning or driving carelessly. Anything that increases your teen’s interest in the problem increases her investment in solving it.
7. If your teen is open to help, choose a goal for which implementation is shared. By letting your teen decide in what way you can help, you decrease the burden the task places on you. The objective is to fade out your help over time, but not so quickly that your teen fails at a task.
8. Start with a problem that is small and easily tackled. This will build your teen’s confidence and will increase the likelihood that he will be willing to work on other problems. In the morning routine, you can move from waking your teen to having him wake himself.
9. Address a problem that puts your teen at immediate risk. This is when parental judgment and decision-making must override teen choice. If your teen has trouble controlling emotions or sustaining attention, which you fear may pose a risk of unsafe driving or substance abuse, closely monitor his behavior. This will strike your teen as intrusive, but a parent’s job is to keep the teen “in the game.” This does not mean that parents should lock up their teen during his adolescence, but it does mean that parents find ways to balance choice and risk management.
10. Be open to negotiation. If you have approached a problem as a “have to” or a “do it or else,” consider offering an exchange. You’ll give up something you want if the teen will give up something she wants (or do something you want). If you want chores done in exchange for using the car, change the chores to errands you need done and offer the car if she’ll run a couple of errands for you before she goes off with friends.
11. Use your teen’s personal goals to teach executive skills. Virtually any goal requires planning, time management, sustained attention, task initiation, and goal-directed persistence. Focus on personal goals that are a high priority for your teen — saving to buy a car or going to Europe next summer. These are ideal vehicles for learning executive skills, and have the advantage of built-in motivation if they come from your teen.
12. Consider more rewards. Parents are often cheap in terms of what they will offer their teen, because they are annoyed at having to offer anything at all. If you accept that these are difficult skills for your teen to learn, understand what is needed for her to make the effort.
Excerpted from Smart but Scattered Teens: The “Executive Skills” Program for Helping Teens Reach Their Potential, by Richard Guare, Ph.D., Peg Dawson, Ed.D., and Colin Guare. Copyright © 2013. Reprinted with permission of The Guilford Press, New York.
As you re-structure your relationship start by listing 5 things you are thankful for with each person in your life. It will help you address their strengths and it will open you up to more possibilities for hope.
Consider “thankful” to be your new password to your new dreams for your family.
It is unfortunate how people make a mistake and then believe that they are a mistake. Our behaviors are not our identity. Making mistakes simply means that you are human. There is no such thing as a perfect parent or a perfect child. You are a professional mistake maker.
The challenge comes from learning from our mistakes so we can minimize them in our lives and possibly, grow stronger from that process.
Parenting Action Thought: What mistakes have your made lately? What can you learn from this mistake? What can you do differently next time to avoid it from happening in that same way?
If you don’t know the answer to the last question, who can you contact for extra support?
Try our Micro-Education for more quick and convenient help to your challenging parenting issues.
My wife and I were recently listening to some parenting workshops on audio and the speaker was talking about parenting one-liners used by the Love and Logic organization. I forgot how amazingly simple and powerful these one-liners are for parents who want to stay calm and regulated during potential power struggles with their children.
Some examples of one-liners include:
Instead of getting hooked into an argument or fixing a problem for child, use the parenting one-liners to facilitate more independent problem-solving skills by the child. Genuineness, on the part of the parent, is important when using them.
Get a free pdf here: http://www.loveandlogic.com/documents/one-liners.pdf
Do you have any other one-liners you use that disrupt power struggles? Share them here or on Facebook at http://on.fb.me/1703QiT
Parenting Toolbox Thought: If you think about today as having thousands of small choices, you can begin to believe that change in your family is possible. If you only look at the day as one way or the other, you limit yourself and make life continue to feel impossible. Be aware of the choices that present themselves every few minutes and take a thoughtful step in a different direction toward a better destination for your family relationships.
Parenting Toolbox Sweepstakes!
Win a free 1/2 coaching session with Ron Huxley, founder of the ParentingToolbox.com and get help with your parenting challenges. Winners may pick a friend to get a free 1/2 session as well so enter now. Winner announced 6/19/13.
Click here or cut and paste this into your browser: http://on.fb.me/1703QiT
Eager to Adopt, Evangelicals Find Children, and Pitfalls, Abroad - NYTimes.com -