Tag Archives: Family




In Uncategorized on March 9, 2014 at 9:06 am

I woke up this morning to this lovely short film in my inbox. A sweet friend, who has devoted her professional life to therapeutic foster care issues, sent it along with the words, “Shelley: for those days you wonder ‘why’.”

I’m unsure of how the makers of this film so completely understand the path of a foster child, but I suspect at least one of them has shared the path of this little girl. This film is especially poignant for me, because my children came to me one at a time, which will resonate once you’ve seen the film. Please view and share. My heart is full of tears and love for these artists.


Languages of love


language(s) of love

26DEC20132 Comments

by kajoemanis in random thoughts Tags: 

When you love someone, in terms of romantic relationship, you tend to focus everything on him. You learn what he likes and dislikes, his hobbies, strengths and weaknesses, moods, insecurities, and… verbal and non-verbal languages. You push and pull, adapt, have breakdowns, but you refuse to give up because you want to have a deep meaningful connection. Why? For a deep meaningful connection provides us security and safety, both physically and mentally.

Basically, it doesn’t only apply to your beloved one. This also applies to those we deal with in our lives on daily basis. They can be your co-workers, acquaintances, neighbors, good friends, siblings, parents and/or children. We do this because we tend to seek a deeper connection with others, albeit it gives us complexities of life. We like to make something meaningful because then it will make us have meaning to others. And on the top of all, it’s simply because we’re humans.

And language is the bridge to connect all relations humans can possibly create and it’s more than something that has linguistic features with structure and sound conveying ideas, meaning and emotion. I’m referring to the non-verbal language that can make others feel loved and secured and later confident about themselves: the language of love.

There’s a good reference about this particular language. It’s entitled The Five Love Languages and written by Dr. Gary Chapman. To sum up, everyone has their own love languages. He divides the love languages into 5 types:

–          Words affirmation: they need to hear that they’re wonderful, awesome, beautiful. And if they make something for you, say cooking, they need to hear from you that their cooking is delicious. A simply comment such as ‘yummy!’ can make them happy. And of course a thank you. It will build their self-image and confidence.

–          Quality time: they need to spend some intimate moments by doing things together with their loved ones. If they like gardening, they need you to be there doing it with you happily. If they like hiking, they wish you to participate actively in it. Doing things together and focusing on one another in given special time even though it’s only short but consistently is what they see as a way to show their love.

–          Giving presents: they believe that giving presents to their loved ones is a language of love. They will remember your birthday, anniversary and other special dates because they think these dates are important to you. If you forget theirs or you do remember but you don’t give presents, they will feel neglected and unloved.

–          Acts of service: doing little things in house for your loved ones, such as helping them with dishes, cleaning and dusting are viewed as acts of love. Imagine if they’re busy doing the house chores alone but you’re just sitting there reading or watching TV. They will feel so much unloved and you’re being indifferent.

–          Physical touch: They like holding hands, touching your hair, cuddling and even dancing with you. When their partner can be reciprocal speaking this language, they will feel loved and special.


Everyone may speak the same language(s) with their partners or totally different, mostly due to their own background such how they’re raised. Yes, we can’t ignore this important issue because that’s when they learnt their first love languages (a bit of it or not at all). Further, things will collide when people use different language(s) but refuse to learn their partner’s language(s). Imagine if you have the physical touch language but your partner didn’t learn it when s/he was little and so s/he never realizes that it is important to you. On the other hand, picture if your partner ‘speaks’ quality time language, but you’re too busy with your gadgets and works even when you’re at home rather than spending some hours together after a long day. Analogously, when one wants to communicate with someone who speaks a different native language, s/he will do any efforts to use a language that the other can understands, instead of insisting to use his or her own language, or s/he won’t get there. When the connection gets deeper, s/he will learn to speak the other’s native language to understand him or her more for the more you understand, the more things will get easier, the connection gets deeper and the bonding gets tighter. It will make us secure the insecurities and feel safe physically and mentally. For the sake of it, we will do that in any level of relations: business, friendship and even romance.


As for me, apparently I speak at least four languages. The one language that has less importance –  not that I don’t think it’s necessary – to me is acts of service simply because of the way I was raised. I never saw my dad there to help my mom with house chores and my mom would whining whole days 24/7 because of tiresome (well, 5 children and doing the house chores alone, it’s automatically understandable). But this language can be replaced with another one: quality time. And I think it’s more valuable and powerful when doing house chores together because you want to have quality time with your partner, than simply as an act of service.

I personally think it is nice to have someone who understands your language(s). I believe, it feels wonderful and comfortable. You will also feel so much loved and understood without having to be mentally exhausted when relating to others – despite of all possible breakdowns. It will weigh you down when your partner enjoys your company and feels comfortable with you because you understand his or her languages but they don’t strive to use your languages in return. No matter what, we have to admit that everything tends to be reciprocal in general. And when loving someone becomes a noble idea (you give more than take), we must question ourselves how far we are willing to learn and ‘speak’ our loved ones’ language(s) for it will take a lot of efforts, energy and time. Yet, before coming down to the answer, you must love yourself and find the clues of this followingquestion for yourself:

What is your love language(s)?


Complex States At Being


Emotions can be incredibly complex states of being/mind.

I just want to be happyPeople (particularly in this western culture) are afraid to experience emotion due to heavy amounts of socialization and conditioning, especially in school. You know, we’re taught to sit still, to be quiet, to “use our inside voices”, to line up, to avoid disorder and be orderly, to obey, to submit, to share. To share, but not to cooperate. There is a difference. Sharing does not necessarily imply or guarantee cooperation. In school, sharing is a behavioral technique; used as a means to control the behavior of a room full of pinging (that is, naturally rambunctious and curious-minded) short beings.

Let me tell you a story: a sad story about a little girl who cried.

cry, baby, cryTo get to City Island one can walk across a 2,800 foot long truss bridge, which was exactly what I was doing when I spotted a brief exchange between a little girl and her father. The little girl’s father, pushing another child in a stroller, told the little girl to look around as well as look at all the fish visible in the River below. The little girl was throwing bread over the side of the bridge to the fish, and seemed very happy.

Later, having crossed the bridge, I was sat under a pavilion and saw the little girl and her family again as they were passing by. The little girl tripped over a rise in the structure of the sidewalk and fell very hard. So hard that I winced when I heard the sound. She immediately bawled, as I’m sure that hurt her terribly. Probably terrified at the pain, you know, she ran to her father for solace. . . and he admonished her. He yelled at her as he brushed the dirt from her clothes, “You gotta watch where you’re walking. You can’t be looking around while you’re walking!” He seemed actually angry with her that she tripped, an accident on her part, no intent to spoil his day whatsoever. She only cried harder asking then for her mommy. At this, her father really became angry and shouted, “That’s it! You’re going back to the car you can’t act right!”

Did you see the contradiction?

Just moments ago, on the bridge he was telling her to LOOK around, then minutes later punished her for doing exactly that. These are the kinds of happenings that disturb me in the world. What did that do to the mind of that little girl? How could she possible understand that kind of contradicting information from such a trusted and authoritative figure as her father? What was the impact upon her consciousness? What did she just unconsciously learn? How did that affect her ego? Her sense of self in the world she knows and how will that affect her sense of self in subsequent years?

Which brings me back to emotions and the horrors some humans have undergone. That suffering. What I think not many humans grok is that suffering can be soft, horror is not always large, it can be very subtle. . . like entropy, changing and developing small vibrations over time that then result in the current personality/identity of that child in the form of an adult.

The Girl Who Cried WolfWhat happened to that little girl is a subtle terror, an event that will accompany who knows how many more and will shape her as a human being. It’s systematic, to get children all to sit still or to behave as one being so it could be easier (or more efficient) for the teacher to educate them. A good idea, sure, but in actuality what happens is that the children become standardized. The spark, the inspiration for creativity and innovation and imagination breaks down because the channels created have no room for them, no means to categorize something as unpredictable as a room full of children all having ideas simultaneously.

This is one way that fear of emotion is installed in the collective consciousness. That fear to really let go and be fully in the space. . .

“. . . and I’m free, free falling.” ~Tom Petty, ‘Free Falling’

*Image credits (used with permission through CC license)–
“I just want to be happy” by bravelittlebird
“cry, baby, cry” by Barbara Pellizzon
“The Girl Who Cried Wolf” by GaelForce Photography

Abuse lurking in the shadows


It`s Sunday again, and I hope that people have slept well, and are ready for a new day. We will share different posts today, and will start with a well-written piece about trauma in different families. It will look on how trauma often continues in the next generations, and explain why. It is important to underline: Trauma can always be stopped, it is just important to realize that we can`t close our eyes, we must stare abuse in the eye and show that we won`t let it continue its hunt.

For people who have experienced trauma, this post might be triggering, so if you are in a bad place right now, feel free to read it at another time. For others: What shall we do to end trauma? I think one way is to show how common it is, so that people will be motivated to help. Every little thing we do, matter.

Nina, clinical psychologist


Healing generational pain and trauma (that special stuff we get from our families)

mitochondrialeveI’m sharing a favorite passage from Adyashanti’s book Falling into Grace again. I think understanding this deeply at some point is key to the process of healing.

What he shares makes it clear why it makes no sense to blame parents for the ills of their children. It’s also why in becoming conscious, families can help heal one another. If the family does not become conscious, the individual still can.

We can really extend this idea to the whole human race (human family) and how we harm one another. And through understanding we can begin to heal not only ourselves but one another.

A passage from page 45 – 49 of Falling into Grace:

Now I want to introduce a different type of suffering, one that can be particularly difficult to unravel. Over my years of teaching, I’ve noticed that there’s a particular type of suffering that is sticky, pervasive, and often very hard to find your way out of. I’ve come to call this “generational suffering.” The notion of generational suffering is based on the fact that each of us comes from a generational line, which goes as far back in time as we can imagine, back even to the original human beings, our original ancestors themselves. We’re actually the outcome of a long chain of many, many generations. Each of our family systems is imbued with a tremendous amount of beauty and goodness, and also carried within these systems, as we all know, is what we might call “generational pain,” or “generational suffering.” This is an actual energy that is unconsciously passed down from one generation to the next.

If you look closely at a particular family system, you’ll see the pain that tends to be passed down through a family lineage. For example, parents who have a particular tendency to suffer with anger or depression tend to produce children who suffer from the same afflictions, and then these children produce children who suffer with the same, and so on. Generational suffering is very insidious. It becomes deeper and deeper ingrained in a family as time wears on, and it forms the core of much of the suffering that people experience.

One of the interesting things to note about generational suffering is that it’s not personal. In other words, it’s more like a virus that infects the people within a family. It’s a way of suffering that infects a family and then gets passed on, almost like the flu or a cold, through future generations. When you’re born, without even knowing it, you’re actually being handed this generational pain. In response, you will complain about it, think it’s terrible, or otherwise resist it. But by doing so, you will come to see that denial or complaints about this pain only makes it sink more deeply into your being.

When you start to identify how this generational suffering operates in your life, when you see how your particular way of suffering is similar to the way others in your family suffer, it can open your heart and mind. From this wider perspective, you can actually start to let go of blame and see that those who passed down suffering to you through this generational chain were themselves experiencing the pain and quite unconscious of what was happening. This pain just came to them, and they manifested it in whatever way they did, and then they unknowingly passed it down to the next generation…

…Eventually, this energy comes to you, and you become the forefront of this generational pain. It’s easy to get resentful and blame this pain on someone else, but when you really see the nature of it, you see that it’s not personal, even though the implications for you feel very personal, and maybe the way it was acted out was also very personal. But the pain itself, the suffering itself, is really not you. It was handed down unconsciously from one person to the next, from one generation to the next. Of course the way it gets handed down is often extraordinarily painful, sometimes violent, because it seems that you are the target of this suffering as it manifests in you and in the family members around you. But if you can avoid getting completely lost in the anger or the resentment – even though, from a relative perspective, it’s understandable – if you can withhold your judgment for just a moment, you will start to see that the pain that you feel was in large part suffering from others in your family-and it does not have to be your own.

When you feel and can identify this deep pain within you, see that blaming others in your family is not the solution. When you feel the urge to blame, keep in mind that your generational line has lived with the same pain, too. It is highly likely that they never even imagined that it was generational. They probably took it very personally, and therefore their only option was to act it out. When you start to see this in terms of a long chain of suffering handed down from generation to generation, and you realize that you’re the one, here and now, who can become conscious of how this works, then you have the opportunity to put an end to it.

If you’d like to read the ways Adyashanti talks about resolving generational pain you might enjoy his book Falling into Grace

More posts  on Beyond Meds that feature Adyashanti:

  A conversation about suicide

  The Cause of Suffering

●  Meditative Self-Inquiry: What is our true nature?

●  Looking at things honestly, sincerely and truthfully may not be an easy thing to do

●  Wake up! On awakening

●  Everyone says they want to discover the truth…

Other books by Adyashanti:

● The End of Your World: Uncensored Straight Talk on the Nature of Enlightenment

● Emptiness Dancing

● True Meditation: Discover the Freedom of Pure Awareness

The invisible child


The Invisible Child

I’ve always struggled with the term attachment, used in my profession to denote the relationship that is supposed to develop between mother and infant during the earliest months of life. I may be too concrete, but it makes me think of those poor monkeys in Harlow’s experiment, clinging to that cloth-covered metal skeleton; it seems to imply a kind of behind the mirrorphysical connection when in fact, it’s all about the emotional relationship. In his video on attachment theory, Allan Schore brings that relationship to life when he speaks about the complex interactions between mother and baby — the role of eye contact, physical interaction and facial expresions in creating secure “attachment” — but it still seems to me to be the wrong word.

I’ve had a similar problem with Kohut’s word, mirroring, because to my concrete mind, it suggests that what the mother does is behave like a physical object (a mirror), though lately, I’ve been feeling better about it. In my work with several different clients, I’ve been struck anew with the role of our parents’ attention in creating our sense of self, how important it is that we feel that we are seen. In a fundamental way, we come to know who we are by witnessing our parents’ responses to us; in particular, the joy and love we see in our mother’s face convey to us that we are beautiful and important. Allan Schore has shown how the infant comes with a set of inbuilt expectations and behaviors geared to elicit those parental responses; when the reality of an engaged and loving mother meets those expectations, the result is a secure “attachment” (ugh).

It also results in a secure sense of self, the basis for later self-confidence and self-esteem. But when those expectations are disappointed, as I have explained elsewhere, it leaves the infant with a sense of intrinsic defect and basic shame. This is particularly true when the environment is highly traumatic or abusive. Lately, I’ve also been thinking about a parenting style that isn’t overtly abusive but vacant or largely withdrawn instead. In such a case, though basic shame is an invariable result, the person also develops a sense of unreality, as if he were invisible. It’s as if she looked into the mirror of her mother’s face and found no reflection whatsoever.

In a recent session, my client Alexis was speaking about her boss, with whom she has had an intense and problematic working relationship for many years. Lately, she has “woken up” to the rather nasty ways he sometimes treats her; in this particular session, she told me that she felt as if her boss wanted nothing to do with her or her actual emotional experience. As a result, she had come to feel like a “ghost” at work; this made her want to retreat from their relationship in turn, becoming an impersonal function and discharging her duties in an efficient, detached way. I linked this to her relationship with her father, a college professor who had largely ignored her and her sister, warning them to be silent as he retreated into his study with the graduate students who came for their tutorials. She had felt invisible to her father, and desperate to be noticed by him.

1e6f0c21138bf6ebac99cb1538aa4dd7Alexis also linked this feeling to her mother, a woman who had felt over-burdened by her children and very much wanted to be left alone. Alexis recounted a story recently told to her by her sister Adrienne. Around the age of 8, Adrienne had begun suffering panic attacks in the evenings. Their mother’s response was to give her an over-the-counter sleeping pill and put her to bed with Alexis (age 10), who was then responsible for moving Adrienne to her own bed whenever she felt able to sleep. This “hands off” approach to mothering was typical. Whenever the girls were fighting (as they often did) she would tell them she preferred not to get involved or play referee.

I suggested to Alexis that she felt her mother had wished her to go away, which left Alexis feeling like a ghost, scarcely real. Rather than discovering her sense of self in her mother’s joyful expression, when she looked for a reflection in that mirror, she found it a blank. This discussion helped me understand yet another reason why she has resisted the idea that she’d ever finish treatment and go it alone. Over the long years of our relationship, my bearing witness to her experience and taking a deep interest in her as a person has felt precious to her, an important source of the sense of self she has developed through our work together. On some level, she’s afraid that without me and my attention, she would cease to exist. As a child, she must have felt that way in the absence of parental involvement: as if she were invisible, a ghost child without physical substance.

We ended the session by talking about the importance of being seen and known by others, how at the end of the day, it’s a very small universe of people who “get” you, who are capable of actually seeing you for who you are. It seemed important to acknowledge that I have felt seen and known by her, as well, and that our long relationship has been important to me. How many people understand the work that I do and the psychological issues I consider most important as deeply as Alexis? In a weird way, you’d have to say she knows me better than many of my friends. I also derive a sense of who I am through the mirroring Alexis and my other clients provide to me, just as there’s a kind of reciprocal mirroring that goes on between mother and child.

I wonder if this is why therapists sometimes find it hard to let go of their clients. Maybe they can’t bear to lose that mirroring; they might feel that when a client of long-standing terminates, they lose a little bit of themselves, too.

Joe is the author and the owner of AfterPsychotherapy.com, one of the leading online mental health resources on the internet. Be sure to connect with him on Google+ and Linkedin.

Sometimes the best people leave us first


Loss. Heart-wrenching pain lurching in every corner. Memories that haunt us, tears that fill oceans. Such is the pain of loosing someone you love, and there is no other way than let them come: The feelings, the memories and the pain. The pain is just a proof of our ability to love, a proof that we can do everything for anyone, if we decide to. The hurt has meaning, and no-one can take that away from us.


The following post is from tersia burger: Vic’s final journey.  Vic was the precious daughter of the author of the post, and the blog is about the lifelong battle she had. Read the rest of this entry

The ghosts of superstition





By Jean Friedman-Rudovsky


8 poeng on reddit

All photos by Noah Friedman-Rudovsky. Noah Friedman-Rudovsky also contributed reporting to this article.

For a while, the residents of Manitoba Colony thought demons were raping the town’s women. There was no other explanation. No way of explaining how a woman could wake up with blood and semen stains smeared across her sheets and no memory of the previous night. No way of explaining how another went to sleep clothed, only to wake up naked and covered by dirty fingerprints all over her body. No way to understand how another could dream of a man forcing himself onto her in a field—and then wake up the next morning with grass in her hair.

For Sara Guenter, the mystery was the rope. She would sometimes wake up in her bed with small pieces of it tied tightly to her wrists or ankles, the skin beneath an aching blue. Earlier this year, I visited Sara at her home, simple concrete painted to look like brick, in Manitoba Colony, Bolivia. Mennonites are similar to the Amish in their rejection of modernity and technology, and Manitoba Colony, like all ultraconservative Mennonite communities, is a collective attempt to retreat as far as possible from the nonbelieving world. A slight breeze of soy and sorghum came off the nearby fields as Sara told me how, in addition to the eerie rope, on those mornings after she’d been raped she would also wake to stained sheets, thunderous headaches, and paralyzing lethargy.

Her two daughters, 17 and 18 years old, squatted silently along a wall behind her and shot me fierce blue-eyed stares. The evil had penetrated the household, Sara said. Five years ago, her daughters also began waking up with dirty sheets and complaints of pain “down below.”

The family tried locking the door; some nights, Sara did everything she could to keep herself awake. On a few occasions, a loyal Bolivian worker from the neighboring city of Santa Cruz would stay the night to stand guard. But inevitably, when their one-story home—set back and isolated from the dirt road—was not being watched, the rapes continued. (Manitobans aren’t connected to the power grid, so at night the community is submerged in total darkness.) “It happened so many times, I lost count,” Sara said in her native Low German, the only language she speaks, like most women in the community.

Mennonite children attend school in Manitoba Colony, Bolivia.

In the beginning, the family had no idea that they weren’t the only ones being attacked, and so they kept it to themselves. Then Sara started telling her sisters. When rumors spread, “no one believed her,” said Peter Fehr, Sara’s neighbor at the time of the incidents. “We thought she was making it up to hide an affair.” The family’s pleas for help to the council of church ministers, the group of men who govern the 2,500-member colony, were fruitless—even as the tales multiplied. Throughout the community, people were waking to the same telltale morning signs: ripped pajamas, blood and semen on the bed, head-thumping stupor. Some women remembered brief moments of terror: for an instant they would wake to a man or men on top of them but couldn’t summon the strength to yell or fight back. Then, fade to black

Some called it “wild female imagination.” Others said it was a plague from God. “We only knew that something strange was happening in the night,” Abraham Wall Enns, Manitoba Colony’s civic leader at the time, said. “But we didn’t know who was doing it, so how could we stop it?”

No one knew what to do, and so no one did anything at all. After a while, Sara just accepted those nights as a horrific fact of life. On the following mornings, her family would rise despite the head pain, strip the beds, and get on with their days.

Then, one night in June 2009, two men were caught trying to enter a neighbor’s home. The two ratted out a few friends and, falling like a house of cards, a group of nine Manitoba men, ages 19 to 43, eventually confessed that they had been raping Colony families since 2005. To incapacitate their victims and any possible witnesses, the men used a spray created by a veterinarian from a neighboring Mennonite community that he had adapted from a chemical used to anesthetize cows. According to their initial confessions (which they later recanted), the rapists admitted to—sometimes in groups, sometimes alone—hiding outside bedroom windows at night, spraying the substance through the screens to drug entire families, and then crawling inside.

But it wasn’t until their trial, which took place almost two years later, in 2011, that the full scope of their crimes came to light. The transcripts read like a horror movie script: Victims ranged in age from three to 65 (the youngest had a broken hymen, purportedly from finger penetration). The girls and women were married, single, residents, visitors, the mentally infirm. Though it’s never discussed and was not part of the legal case, residents privately told me that men and boys were raped, too.

In August 2011, the veterinarian who’d supplied the anesthetic spray was sentenced to 12 years in prison, and the rapists were each sentenced to 25 years (five years shy of Bolivia’s maximum penalty). Officially, there were 130 victims—at least one person from more than half of all Manitoba Colony households. But not all those raped were included in the legal case, and it’s believed the true number of victims is much, much higher.

Mennonite children playing soccer in Manitoba, Colony, Bolivia.

In the wake of the crimes, women were not offered therapy or counseling. There was little attempt to dig deeper into the incidents beyond the confessions. And in the years since the men were nabbed, there has never been a colony-wide discussion about the events. Rather, a code of silence descended following the guilty verdict.

“That’s all behind us now,” Civic Leader Wall told me on my recent trip there. “We’d rather forget than have it be at the forefront of our minds.” Aside from interactions with the occasional visiting journalist, no one talks about it anymore.

But over the course of a nine-month investigation, including an 11-day stay in Manitoba, I discovered that the crimes are far from over. In addition to lingering psychological trauma, there’s evidence of widespread and ongoing sexual abuse, including rampant molestation and incest. There’s also evidence that—despite the fact that the initial perpetrators are in jail—the rapes by drugging continue to happen.

The demons, it turns out, are still out there.

How to avoid bedtime struggles


How to Avoid Bedtime Struggles



How to Avoid Bedtime StrugglesMother of two young kids, Molly Skyar, interviews her mother, Dr. Susan Rutherford, a clinical psychologist, about best strategies for enforcing bedtime with young kids and how your parenting decisions today may affect your child as an adult.

Molly: I received this question from another mom who was wondering if I knew of any good strategies to help her enforce bedtimes. She feels that no matter what time she starts, something always comes up and her kids go to bed too late. They’re hungry, or they have to go the bathroom… She knows she has to be more structured or have a better routine, but she’s a self-described “softie” so it’s hard for her to do.

Dr. Rutherford: I think this mom’s idea about having a firmer, stricter routine is a really good starting point. Those children are obviously manipulating their mom and she, for whatever reason, is not able to set limits.

Suppose the children’s bedtime is 7:30pm. And they bathe before they go to sleep. They are going to have dinner first, so shortly after dinner I would start bath time (if this is part of the routine – or whatever else is part of the routine) and then read a story.

Molly: Or maybe she could do the bath before dinner if it’s making the process stretch out too long.

Dr. Rutherford: That’s right. That’s a good idea. And then she’s going to read her children a story and make sure they go to the bathroom, et cetera. She’s right that she needs to have a routine.

Children actually love routines. They brush their teeth, go to the potty, read a book, maybe talk about their day a little bit with mommy… and then it’s night-night time. Having a routine helps them transition over to this stage of the day.

Children who leave their bedrooms at night saying they’re “hungry”… Well, most of the time it’s a manipulation tactic. Most of the time when kids get up at night, I think that the kid is having trouble with that transition from wakefulness to sleep and is wanting attention from the parent. If a child emerges after being put to bed, you can escort him or her back to bed saying, “You know that we don’t get out of bed after we’ve read stories.” You shouldn’t do this with anger, but we should be firm in our resolve.

A parent can reinforce this resolve by assuring the child that the next time they will talk together will be in the morning when everyone wakes up and we have breakfast. Remind the child that if we don’t go to bed now, everyone is going to be cranky and tired tomorrow, and we don’t want that.

If the child is one of the kids that is always coming out asking for water, think about that ahead of time and prepare to leave a cup of water or a water bottle next to the bed.

As a parent, your life will run more smoothly if you can think ahead and anticipate what the child might need or want at bedtime. It’s reasonable for a child to want their transitional object like a blanket or stuffed animal, for example, so make sure that is in the room before you say goodnight.

Molly: One thing that we do at my house is that, as we leave the kitchen to go upstairs to bed, we say, “That’s it, the kitchen is closed. If there’s anything else you want, now is the time because we’re not getting up after you brush your teeth and go to bed. There’s no more eating tonight.”

Dr. Rutherford: Perfect. That’s a perfect way to do it.

Molly: But we’ve had to be really strict about it. The first three nights, my five-year-old daughter really tested us; she even went so far as to claim she was “starving” after she had eaten a large dinner. And then we had to say, “We already put you to bed tonight. If you get up again, you’re going to lose your privilege for watching your television show tomorrow.”

Dr. Rutherford: You really had to do some behavioral modification intervention.

Molly: We also did a chart. Every night that she didn’t get up, she got to put a sticker on the chart in the morning. I think this is the thing that actually worked the best.

Dr. Rutherford: You offered a reward for staying in bed. That’s employing positive reinforcement as a motivation for behavioral change. Positive reinforcement is a good way to set patterns for a child. Behavior is all about patterns. If a child gets up once, saying he’s not feeling well, that’s not a big deal. When he or she starts doing it regularly, as a pattern, that’s when you absolutely must intervene. The sooner, the better.

Molly: Are there any possible long-term effects of not dealing with this?

Dr. Rutherford: There can be short-term effects and long-term effects. The short-term effects become long-term effects. For instance, if this isn’t dealt with when it first starts, it can go on for years and the child may have real difficulty in moving from the awake state to a sleep state. An example of this might be when the kid is old enough and goes on an overnight to a friend’s house, she might have a lot of trouble falling asleep and will keep her friend up because she hasn’t really learned how to transition from wakefulness to sleep.

As the child becomes an adult, these kinds of issues can easily continue. They often take the form of having trouble falling asleep and may manifest in eating at bedtime, needing the television to fall asleep, or maybe even alcohol or pills — all because that adult never learned how to move from wakefulness to sleep in a timely manner as a child.

Molly Skyar and Dr. Rutherford are behind the blog “Conversations With My Mother”, a blog about raising kids and how our parenting decisions now can have long term effects. Dr. Rutherford is a Clinical Psychologist in practice for over 30 years. She has her undergraduate degree from Duke University, a Masters from New York University (NYU), and a Doctorate in Psychology from the University of Denver.

Giften Children: I won`t try to fix you


I Won’t Try to Fix You

Posted on 04/30/2013 | 1 Comment

By Lisa Hartwig

Lisa is the mother of 3 gifted children and lives outside of San Francisco.

Four years ago, I sat in the library of my children’s school and said a small prayer.

“Please don’t let that happen to us,” I thought.

I was listening to a psychiatrist talk about anxiety. He said that during adolescence a child’s hormones can amplify stress and anxiety, causing depression. As predicted, the hormones came, my son’s anxiety got worse and he became depressed.

Maybe I should have been more proactive and made choices for my son that would have reduced his stress and anxiety. Instead, we let him make choices that satisfied some of his personal ambitions but exacerbated his anxiety. We let him leave his support system and travel across the country to go to boarding school. The move fulfilled his desire to explore new interests, have new experiences and challenge himself. It also made his undiagnosed depression worse.

As a parent, what do you do when you think trouble is coming? Do you make decisions for your child, knowing that you have the experience to anticipate the consequences? Or do you let your child make decisions that will help him to discover who he is, even though it might come at a substantial price? The child who elicited my silent prayer has a big personality. As a child, he was loud, independent and adventurous. Unlike our oldest son, who did not want to leave our arms, our middle child cried until we put him down. A lover of novelty and adventure, he wrote a high school admissions essay about a holiday celebrating rollercoasters. The day would “remind people to enjoy the journey.” You would never know that he is also highly sensitive.

Anxiety, sensitivity, independence and an adventurous spirit; all of these characteristics seemed to be baked into our son at birth. They also fight against one another, as adventure creates anxiety and sensitivity requires support. The qualities that led my son to his depressed state are not going to go away. So, what can I do to ease his journey? I asked him.

He didn’t know how to respond until he found himself on the other end of the conversation. A friend came to him to confess that he was depressed. As my son thought about what to do, he went quickly through a list of don’ts. Don’t say that you understand what the other person is going through because you don’t. Don’t say that things will get better because when you are hurting, you believe that it will never get better. Instead, my son said something that I think about every day. He told his friend:

“If you never get better, if you are always sad, nothing will change between us. I care for you as much today in your sadness as I did when you were happy. You don’t have to change. We will always be good.”

His expression of unconditional love and acceptance stunned me. I thought he would share strategies that worked or connections that sustained him. Instead, my son accepted his friend as he found him. He not only refused to offer advice but also absolved his friend of the responsibility to “get better” for his sake.

I am not suggesting that parents just sit back and watch their child get depressed. My son needed a professional to help him find a way out of the dark. But, I also learned that every well-meaning comment intended to help him imposed a burden of its own. He told me as much a year ago when I held him in my arms as he cried. Desperate to find something to make him feel better, I reminded him that he was home and I was with him.

“Does that make you feel a little bit better?” I asked.

“No,” he said. “I know that I am making you sad, and that makes me feel worse.”

Our children know what we want for them. We want them to be happy. Yet, we know their gifts may come with anxiety, emotional intensityperfectionism or social isolation, all of which make reaching this goal difficult. We think we know how to help them cope with a potentially cruel world; if they would just modify their behavior in one way or another, we are sure that things will be better. In the process, we are sometimes communicating to them our dissatisfaction with who they are. Maybe we could just put aside our goals for them and help them understand themselves and be themselves. Maybe every challenge doesn’t need a strategy, a pep talk or a class. Maybe they need to know that we don’t need them to change. Maybe the most important thing for them to know is that together, we will always be good.

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The benefits of touch


Touch is good for us, we feel it on ourselves when getting a hug or a caress from someone we love. But did you also know that:

Institute of Touch of the University of Maiami shows that human touch has multiple natural and emotional benefits for people of every age or group.

  • Reduces pain
  • Improves the functionality of the lungs
  • Increases the development of babies
  • Reduces glucose in blood
  • Improves the functionality of the immune system
  • Human touch is important for every age but studies show that children that reach to the age of 18 receive at this age only the half of touching that they received in the previews years of their development.
  • Adults touch each other even less.
  • Babies who are nurtured with touching, gain weight much quicker and have high levels of intellectual and funtional development.
  • Adults as well need to touch each other but many times there are limits and fears related to our society.
  • Many times human touch is related to sexuality and this prevents people to continue touching out of fear.
  • Scientists have discovered that touch energizes cranial nevres and neurons and calm down the tachycardia and stress.
  • Also pressure and anger due to psycological reasons can be reduced dramatically through human touching.
  • The elders are touching each other even less and this is a characteristic of the older people.

Sources: Adoption.com: The Importance of Touch
The Importance of Touch in  Parent-   Infant Bonding
The New York Times: The Experience of Touch: Research Points to a Critical Role
Univeristy of Miami Touch Research Institute: General Information About TRI Research
Karger Gazette: The Importance of Touch