Normalizing Trauma

Photo by  Tammy Gann  on  Unsplash

Photo by Tammy Gann on Unsplash

We’ve seen some recent high-profile suicides of people affected by the Parkland, Columbine and Newtown tragedies, including the father of a Sandy Hook victim, Jeremy Richman.

These deaths have happened amidst a health crisis: The CDC reports that the suicide rate for males and females has increased since 1975. The rates for females has doubled from 2007 to 2015.

In the most recent episode of Parenting Beyond the Headlines, Sarah Cody and I talked with Alicia Farrell, Cognitive Psychologist Specializing in family issues. She helped us better understand trauma and think through the idea of normalizing trauma to help us support loved ones and ourselves.


Stop Should-ing On Yourself!

Photo by  DANNY G  on  Unsplash

Photo by DANNY G on Unsplash

Do you find yourself regretting the small stuff, harping on the details of the day, or justifying your decisions? I know I do. I think it helps to know you are not alone. Just the other day, while on a walk with my friend, I realized I was chastising myself for not getting more work done before heading out on a walk - as if I hadn’t been working all day. As if I didn’t deserve to go for a walk because my whole to-do list wasn’t complete. Moms can be harsh on themselves and we tend to expect more of ourselves than is reasonably acceptable. This is one of the reasons I wrote my first book - I was sick of people saying, “I’m such a bad mother,” or “I’m the worst parent ever.” I guess that could be uttered in jest, but it’s telling - we often leap to the negative. And I was one of those people labeling myself without true cause. I mean come on, forgetting to pack a snack really isn’t the worst thing ever.

I tend to see what I have left to do more often than celebrate what I have done. My friend turned to me as we walked and she told me to stop should-ing on myself. It really resonated with me. I should on myself all the time - I shouldn’t eat that, I should’ve run that errand while I was already out, I should be working…. and the list goes on.

Photo by  Dawid Zawiła  on  Unsplash

Stop Should-ing On Yourself - I have embraced this as my motto for the summer. So this past weekend when all of Sunday had gone by and I had “only” done this and that, instead of announcing (as I often do on Sunday evenings) everything I should have done, I turned on the television with my kids and enjoyed some down time. When I hear myself use the word should, I am attempting to reflect on if it really is a should moment. It’s silly the amount of things I regret in a day. I welcome you to join me (and correct me when you hear me doing it).

Let’s enjoy a summer of cans, wills, oh wells, and maybe laters and stop should-ing on ourselves!

Dealing With Grief and Supporting Others Dealing with Grief

We all experience loss in many ways and when we are processing such deep emotions it can be hard to even make it through the day. Often we feel the pressure to act what others would deem appropriately and in fact, sobbing or anger might actually be appropriate but not accepted as such. And when someone close to us is going through the stages of loss, it can be hard to support them and often we find ourselves at a loss for words..

Sarah Cody and I recently had the pleasure of talking about dealing with grief and supporting others who are dealing with grief with Christa Doran, Founder of Tuff Girl Fitness. Christa bravely shared her own journey and how she works to help others build strength physically and emotionally.

One major take-away: sometimes we have to be comfortable with the uncomfortable and simply endure the experience. Please listen to the newest episode of Parenting Beyond the Headlines. And if you like what you hear, share it with others!

Supporting the College Transition

Photo by  Nathan Dumlao  on  Unsplash

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

The college admissions scandal has certainly peaked the nation’s interest and it has definitely peaked mine, as my son just recently went through the entire search, application, and response process. It’s a huge challenge and we all want to support our kids through it. The very fact that some parents feel the need to cheat their kids out of the application process leads us to conclude that we are not putting our full faith in our kids.

And then, once we are through the process - whatever it was like, it seems we assume our kids are simply ready for college. But there is a missing piece to that puzzle. We are seeing record numbers of kids dropping out and an increase in anxiety and depression in college students.

Photo by  Alexis Brown  on  Unsplash

Photo by Alexis Brown on Unsplash

In addition to the idea of sending them off to live on their own and worrying about the big decisions like whether or not they will be safe, if they will be homesick, if they will make the most of the opportunity, we also need to consider if they are ready to manage their own time, get their work done, and figure out the social scene.

Sarah Cody and I were lucky enough to sit down with Marc Lehman, a marriage and family therapist and Co-Founder of Dorm Room Counseling. Marc he talked to us about preparing kids and supporting them through this huge transition.

Supporting LGBTQ Youth

Photo by  Steve Johnson  on  Unsplash

In 2016 we saw the introduction of a law that mandated people to use bathrooms that matched their birth gender. Since then we’ve seen lawsuits on both sides of the issue. Recently the US military stated that you must identify with your biological sex to serve. Connecticut banned conversion therapy a year ago and Puerto Rico did the same just this spring.

Research suggests that LGBTQ youth are at a higher risk for depression, anxiety, suicide ideation and attempts, substance abuse, and sexual health risks - not because of their innate identity but because of how we message and support them as a society. So what does this mean to our youth who are still figuring out who they are and how they fit in the world? And how do we support them?

My colleague, Sarah Cody, and I had the pleasure of sitting down with Dr. Laura M. I. Saunders, Licensed Psychologist, Assistant Director of Psychology and Clinical Coordinator of The Right Track/LGBTQ Young Adult Services at the Institute of Living, Hartford Hospital. She walked us first through some of the terminology to help us have conversations with our families about these and other related issues. And she leaves us with practical strategies to help support all of our youth.

Please subscribe to our podcast to hear more topics. And, if you know of someone who might enjoy, feel free to forward us along.

Talking About Specializing and Parent Involvement in Sports

Photo by  rawpixel  on  Unsplash

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

We are seeing kids’ sports taken to a new level. We often sign our kids up for sports to teach them some new physical and social skills, and I know I assume it’s good for them to be moving. Kids have a lot of pressure on them and this is one more thing - and perhaps not a healthy thing to add into the mix. An article in Hartford Courant questions when a child should - and if a child should - specialize in sports? And, a in a recent article, Science Daily suggests that “Rushing kids to specialize in one sport may not be best path to success.”

And while we’re on the subject, I have recently been shocked by the parent conversations and engagement during kids’ games. What do you do when you hear something inappropriate? Are you guilty of getting a little too excited?

In our podcast, Parenting Beyond the Headlines, Sarah Cody and I talked with Peter Vint, an internationally recognized expert in sport science, performance technology, and sport analytics about the topic. He offers great advice on how to think about our approach to sports as parents and how to encourage kids to think about their own goals.

Managing Stress and Anxiety in Kids and Teens

We are seeing a major increase in depression and anxiety in kids relative to even just ten years ago. We know technology changes how we interact with one another to some degree. But news articles are also citing pressure about grades, getting into college, parents, romantic relationships, body image, family finances. On top of this there is stigma around getting help for mental healthcare.

“The APA’s Stress in America survey found that 30 percent of teens reported feeling sad or depressed because of stress and 31 percent felt overwhelmed. Another 35 percent of teens reported that stress caused them to lie awake at night and 26 percent said that they are overeating or eating unhealthy foods in the past month.”

In our podcast, Parenting Beyond the Headlines, Sarah Cody and I talked with Dr. Kristine Schlichting (my co-author of The Parenting Project) about What she is seeing in her practice as some of the main stressors for tweens and teens these days? She also offers some good advice on modeling and teaching coping strategies.