Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Good Parenting and Mental Health: Nature vs. Nurture!

At the Carlsbad Counseling Center  Nature vs. Nurture is taking on a whole new meaning and debate. The holidays (with their stress and challenges) can increase our awareness of the troubles that often we can work around or explain away...
Good well meaning parents are struggling with their adolescent and adult children. Many of these children are over using Alcohol and Marijuana.. But more clearly are the mental health issues that are propelling these young adults away from independence and success. The open letter by Liza Long titled I am Adam Lanza's Mother spoke openly of what so many parents kept secret... The Suicide of Pastor Rick Warren's son and the drug and suicide deaths amongst middle class families has pushed the realities of mental health into the public spot light. A new push by NAMI and churches to open the dialogue and educate the public about Mental Health has helped families find support while dealing with their loved ones...

But in every family and parents hearts there is the painful belief that it was something I did or didn't do.. If I would have seen the signs.. Made then do something... Seeing our loved ones struggle, refuse our help, rebel against our directions causes the greatest of agony, anger and frustration... You begin to see the homeless in a different way.. knowing that one day your son or daughter could be them... You hear about tough love but this needs to be tempered with appreciation for your child's limited tolerance of anxiety, stress and frustration...

Families need, Moms and Dads need counsel, support and guidance.. not only in how to support and deal with their challenged love ones.. But also to deal with the grief, frustration and lost dreams that they themselves have had to grieve...

Mental Health is not only nurture.. that would make it easy to judge.. But it very much is predominately Nature...
If you are a parent of a teen or adult struggling with Mental Health Issues... find friends you can confide in, seek out a therapist or counselor to process your loss and frustrations and KNOW... you love your child and you did not cause your child's (bio-physiological) diagnosis...

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Appetizers and the Main Course... Why have the Main Course when the Appetizers were horrible?

The other day I was talking to a client about her struggles of being with family over Thanksgiving... It is a very unhealthy situation and although she prepared she could not control the poor behavior of others.... She called as she wanted to learn how to prepare for round 2: Christmas (you can read Hanukkah also if you like)!

Holidays are always bittersweet, whether you come from a wonderful family and are far from home, a loved one has passed away, your first year married (this creates all sorts of stress which I can cover at a latter time) or your family has never been a positive source of support and love.

I feel for many, attending holiday functions and family events are a right of passage, You have the opportunity to show how you have matured, glean insight into your own history and create a legacy for the generations to come... For you I say, the appetizers may not have been to your liking and you may not be looking forward to the main course... But you will come away with positive memories and saying it wasn't so bad.... Remember, children have to have Christmas and Holiday memories that are positive.. What irritates you may go un-noticed to your children. And you are teaching them tolerance for other cultures, even within your own family tree.

This is for those that have a level of pain and dysfunction in their families that the Appetizers ( Thanksgiving) caused so much heart burn and internal distress that going back for the Main Course is not the smart or wise choice. For you I challenge you to step away from the table and make another plan. You do not have to explain in detail to family why you are not there.. You can be polite and let them know that you cannot make it as you have other plans. Keep it short and polite.
If you are single, married or with a partner, start your own family traditions that are unique to you... Celebrate the best parts of the holidays: Loved ones and those that love you, Friends , Great Food and a time to recenter your spiritual focus for the coming year!

Happy Dining!