Even the most confident of parents often feel uncomfortable with the prospect of talking to their children about sex. Most understand that if we fail to talk about it, they will learn about it from media and peers, and that it is our responsibility to do so to ensure that they have accurate information.But still, it’s not an easy conversation to have! And even for those who are brave enough to do so, how can we best help our kids not only know the facts, but also have a healthy attitude toward their bodies and understand sex in a way that will benefit them? Here are 5 ways to be a sex-positive parent:
1) Realize It Begins At Birth
Many parents wonder what is the appropriate age to begin talking about sex. But the truth is that positive attitudes about bodies and sexuality begin from the very beginning. When children are young, don’t be afraid to verbally celebrate and affirm the importance of their bodies. Even during toilet training, take the opportunity to help them notice how wonderful and useful their bodies can be. Kids absorb the messages you send in your tone of your voice and by how you respond to their actions.
Specific forms of therapy have proven to be very effective for those who struggle with any extreme eating patterns. You know the drill: the holidays hit, we overeat or eat all the nutritionally weak foods, then resolve, usually in January, to stop all sugar intake or eliminate total food groups like “carbs”. We’re disciplined for 2 or 3 weeks then our body feels deprived and we do a complete 180. Does this feel like banging your head against a wall? It does to me!
Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) offers 4 techniques to find balance in eating.:
1) Sequence NOT Elimintation. The order in which we eat foods does make a difference. Try to eat nutritionally dense foods FIRST, but don’t eliminate food groups altogether. Eliminating ALL SUGAR or ALL CARBS leave us feeling deprived and the psychology behind that process increases our desire for something. Often nutritionists recommend eating lean protein first because as it is more filling, then vegetables/fruits, then grains, then desert. One client I worked with 5 years ago lost 50 pounds just be adopting this technique. She lost her strong desire for sugary deserts over time because she didn’t feel deprived of them (she could have them if she wanted them….just after the healthy stuff). She set herself up to succeed not fail. It took 6 months, and by then it was a lifestyle for her,. Today, 5 years later, she still wears the same jeans.
2) Measure progress with Feelings not Numbers. Rather than weighing yourself everyday, try tapping into how you feel at the beginning of each day. Do you feel bloated? Do you feel fatigue? My guess is over time, after eating healthier, you will wake up feeling energized, more relaxed about food having a sense of control over your health. Scales increase anxiety whether you have lost or gained weight. If you are down, you become more anxious increasing worry about maintaining that weight; more rigid in food choices, and ultimately set yourself up to buckle under pressure.
3) Start and end your day with Breathing Techniques. Ideally, a trained therapist can teach you these skills, called “mindfulness skills”. DBT offers one skill called 4 Square Breathing which leads to balanced food choices throughout the day and relaxation at night.
4) Stay in thePresent Moment. When you make unhealthy choices, don’t dwell on it day after day or even hour after hour. Stay present and start making heathier decisions now. Beating ourselves up about poor eating habits only lead to extreme cycles once again. Stop the head banging once and for all! Personally, I eat chocolate cake to prevent binging! To learn more about mindful eating contact our office about enrolling in a 6 week DBT course.
Schools today operate with high academic standards. As early as kindergarten, teachers, administrators and parents want to measure students’ performance in order to monitor the rate of learning and make changes as early as possible. Current research supports that this practice, when practiced with fidelity, can lead to creating the most effective learning environment for the majority of students involved. For students participating in this system who fall below the average academically, or who may exhibit problem behaviors or social immaturity, grade retention – also known as ‘failing, holding back, not promoting, or having the student repeat the same grade in the next school year’ – continues to be a practice in our public schools. The logic goes something along the lines of: Sally didn’t do well in the 3rd grade this year, so let’s send through another time, and maybe this time she’ll get it right.
Being a good parent requires a tremendous amount of time, love, and energy, but what happens when a well-meaning mom or dad becomes too enmeshed in their children’s lives? Over-involvement can unknowingly do damage to kids, who then become responsible for their parents’ well-being and happiness. On the other hand, parents who can draw a separation between themselves and their children are emotionally healthier and are actually able to give more to their families.
LCSW Julie Hanks recently discussed this topic on KSL’s Studio 5. Below are some questions she suggested to ask yourself to determine whether or not your kids define you (along with some strategies to help you reclaim yourself if you find that you’ve taken on a little too much):
I have noticed that most parents try their best to teach their children to succeed. Of course we do! All parents want their children to grow into successful happy adults. No parent wants his or her child to suffer or be unhappy. Fortunately, life will always bring struggles and hardship no matter how much we love or prepare our children. Yes, I said fortunately.
When we don’t allow ourselves as parents to struggle, our kids never watch it or learn how to do it themselves. Children can develop the belief that everything has to be okay all the time. “Mom and Dad always have it together, so I should too.” That is an expectation that will surely be met with disappointment and failure. Here are some ways you can help your children expect struggles and embrace them.
Let’s face it: young children lie. They make up stories and often exaggerate what really happened. So how can we encourage honesty in our kids?
LCSW Holly Willard gives us some insight on this topic. She says the age of the child matters. A 3-year-old doesn’t developmentally understand what it means to lie, so this is innocence and we don’t really have to worry about it. When a child is 5-6, his/her mind goes back and forth between fantasy and reality, so we can try to help him/her understand what is real and what is not. By 7-8, it’s time to hold our kids accountable for telling the truth.
Have you ever gotten bad vibes from one of your children’s friends? Maybe you felt like he/she was a negative influence or was causing your son or daughter to be unhappy. It can be hard to know when you as a parent should get involved and when it’s better to just let things be.
I have the pleasure to speak at the Uplift Families Parenting Conference on September 13th. Hosted by Utah First Lady Jeanette Herbert, this exciting event will feature several prominent presenters who will help us learn to develop and celebrate meaningful child-parent relationships. Come and be inspired as we discuss ways to uplift Utah families! Dinner is included.
My presentation will be focused on an area that parents (especially mothers) often neglect…yep, you guessed it! I’ll be tackling the topic of self-care for parents.
Next month, Julie Hanks will be presenting at Affirmation, a conference dedicated to fostering a loving discussion among LGBT Mormons, their friends and family, and the LDS community. The conference is non-political, but is instead focused on providing healing, love, and support for our LGBT brothers and sisters.
The Deseret News asked Julie a few questions about Affirmation. Here is a bit of the interview:
Q:How did you get involved with Affirmation? How long have you been associated with the group?
A:While I am not officially affiliated with the group, I am a huge supporter of Affirmation’s mission of inclusiveness, love, and support for Mormon LGBT individuals.
Q: What do you hope to communicate with those attending?
A:I hope to communicate a message that every life is valuable and important. No matter where we are on our life’s journey, God’s love for us is infinite, and Jesus Christ’s Atonement is always available as a source of strength and healing. Too often, we think that we have to do something different or be someone different to be worthy of God’s love, but nothing can separate us from the love of God.
As an LDS performing songwriter and a licensed therapist, I plan to share some of my best-loved songs and words of encouragement based on my experiences working with LGBT individuals and their families.
Q:What misconceptions do you think people have about LGBT Mormons and Affirmation?
A: There are so many misconceptions about LGBT Mormons that it’s difficult to know where to start. Here are a few: that being LGBT is a choice, that you can’t be LGBT and participate in the church, that LGBT Mormons want to leave the church, that many LGBT Mormon who have left the church are bitter and want nothing to do with it. None of those things are necessarily true, and we want to help eradicate these myths.
Many people assume that Affirmation is an activist group that is in opposition to the LDS church’s teaching. Affirmation is about creating and maintaining a respectful and healthy dialogue between LGBT Mormons and the broader LDS community that encourages inclusive attitudes and practices.
The Affirmation conference is on September 12-14. Click here for more details and to buy tickets.
It’s that time of year- time for the kids to head back to school. It can be exciting for kids to see their friends and get back into the school routine again, but it can difficult, too. Some children may even experience “the back-to-school blues.”
Clair Mellenthin, LSCW, recently sat down for a KUTV segment to talk about how parents can help their kids make this transition. Here are a few ideas from her discussion:
Nightly check-ins are a great way to understand how your child feels about going back to school. Every night, ask about he/she feels about the change. If your child is excited, then celebrate! If not, you can help address some of his/her concerns. Make sure to keep the lines of communication open, especially for children who are prone to worry.
Another strategy Clair suggested is to ease your kids into school mode. Parents can have their kids start to go to bed earlier and read a little more every day in the weeks leading up to the first day back. Getting ready for school little by little will help manage the transition.
Once school does begin, parents should check in to see how things are going. If a child still seems to be experiencing the blues, work to identify and solve problems he/she may be having with friends, the teacher, or understanding the school work.
How are YOU helping your kids with the back-to-school blues?
Watch the full video to hear more of Clair’s suggestions.