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Do your children run your life? Learn something from the French…

Do you find yourself:

  1. Constantly obsessing over your children? (i.e. their activities, whereabouts, are you parenting well, are they learning, are they in the right school, are they involved in enough activities)
  2. Wondering if your discipline is effective?
  3. Pondering if your child or children could make it five minutes without you?
  4. Drained thinking you have to do it all or they may not amount to anything?

Many parents, including myself have pondered in some degree all of the above. But what if there was an easier way to parent, to create healthy and secure children and to… miraculously, have time and energy to spare!

I recently came across a fun article in the Wall Street journal by Pamela Druckerman titled “Why French Parents Are Superior”. I learned a few great values that the French adopt as a culture that could relieve much of the stress, pressure and responsibility we as American culture place on ourselves.

A few things the French do:

  • Teach and practice delayed gratification
  • Expect common respect for others and parents
  • Allow parent time, where children may be present but it is not all about them
  • Education rather than discipline
  • Set and enforce boundaries that are firm but delivered with love and deliberateness
  • Practiced patience
  • Create a presence as parents and leaders/authorities
  • Designate meal and snack times AND remain consistent
  • They are not afraid to say “no.”

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No, That’s Not How the Pillows Go! Learn the Art of Compromise

six stackHow learning how to compromise can lead to greater satisfaction in life and in marriage!

It all came to me the other day as I walked into my bedroom and noticed that the ten plus decorative pillows that we have displayed on our bed were not arranged exactly as I would have done it myself. My initial thought was, “Ughh, he knows the brown ruffle pillow goes in front of the chartreuse pillow”.  I immediately stopped my thought in its tracks and asked myself a few crucial questions. Couldn’t the pillows essentially be displayed in any way and be just fine? Who comes in our bedroom anyway? I highly doubt our 8 month old daughter will mind this discrepancy.  Then I asked myself, had I completely over looked the gratitude I could have for my husband’s effort in making the bed and graciously putting the pillows he finds to be so ridiculous and unnecessary on the bed so nicely?

We have all been there… you have your ideal way of doing things and so does your partner. It’s just too bad that those ideal ways of doing things are not always the same. Where does this leave you? You might consider that you have two roads to choose from . . . the road to peace or the road to endless dissatisfaction and continuous arguments. If there was a magic pill for more peace in your home, fewer arguments with your loved ones, and less nagging (yes, LESS of the big N word) would you take it? Well consider mastering the art of compromise as that magic pill.

Ask yourself the following questions and determine if you are facing an issue that you could possibly compromise on:

  • Pick your battles, is this one worth fighting? What’s really important to you? Does this really impact your overall happiness and life satisfaction? If your answer is no, should you really be giving it the energy needed to battle the matter?
  • How important is this to my partner? While you may prefer something a certain way but your partner is desiring to have it another way, consider why this issue may be important to your partner? Even better, ASK them! If it becomes known that it is very important to your partner, consider backing down and indulging in doing it their way.
  • Am I looking at the big picture? In life many of us have lofty life goals.  For some it may be a happy marriage, for others a successful career or running a marathon.  However, to this day I have yet to put on my life goals list the following: “Ensure proper displaying of decorative pillows on a daily basis”.  This issue is not going to impact my overall life goals, nor will it stand in the way of me meeting them if it is not done. Consider your big picture.
Creative Commons License photo credit: various brennemans

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Shrek’s Midlife Crisis

Shrek can help us all prevent a neutral stall from becoming a tragic fall!

by Melanie Davis, Mental Health Student and WFT Volunteer

Have you ever had a time when you felt a little stuck? Life may have felt mundane, uneventful and somehow the same scenario of events seemed to present itself daily. You may begin to realize that there was one point in time where all the routine and daily tasks made you happy. All of a sudden you wonder who’s life you are really living because it no longer feels exciting enough to be yours.

It appears from the latest release of Shrek that mid-life crisis do not discriminate by gender, or even human form. In the most recent release of Shrek Forever After (2010 Release), I couldn’t help but notice the screaming mid-life crisis that almost cost Shrek his life partner, three little ogre cubs, and his peaceful and happy life.

Are we all susceptible to this type of mid-life crisis? Have you ever felt the uneasiness of wondering if your life is stuck in neutral, or just for a moment found yourself pondering the great unknown? Playing out daydream scenarios that sound something like… how would it be, if? If I could go back to when I was in my 20’s with no body fat, if… If could get my so called “ogre roar back again”! In modern day society, many refer to this life stall, or stuck in neutral phase as a “mid-life crisis”.

Many times this mid-life crisis phase of life is stereotypically awarded to men alone. Despite what you may have heard, hitting a neutral spot can happen to men and women alike. It can also happen at various stages and points in life. Even possibly occurring on more than one occasion in one person’s life. Many times this neutral state in life drives people to take risks and gamble fortunes they can never regain, only to realize that they could have processed the situation differently and taken a different path to dealing with the feelings associated with feeling stuck.

Could it be that we could all possibly learn from Shrek’s adventure into exploring the perceived ‘greener grass’ on the other side of the village? Could we possibly find ways to embrace a possible mid-life crisis as an opportunity to open a new door into something that could improve our lives, without losing those we love and our sanity all in the same leap to a solution? There is!

Tips for getting out of neutral…. Examine
Communicate, Add/Take-Away and Reassess…

Examine.

Examine what is really getting to you. You may initially feel like all of life is boring and everything must change in order to recover your satisfaction and enthusiasm for life. When in reality it may just be one aspect of your life that is causing this dissatisfaction. Examine the different areas of your life, work, family, personal endeavors and see which might need your attention.

Communicate.

Communicate with the loved ones around you, especially your immediate family. They may sense that you are not “yourself” and feel concerned or to blame. Share what is going on, and that you are working through identifying some new ways to improve yourself and your personal well being. Communicating with children and partners can allow them to understand and not personalize your mid-life crisis.
Add or take away. After you examine what might be the source of this life stall, you may identify some things or activities that could be added or taken away from your life to improve your satisfaction. Are you over booked or accepting responsibilities that overwhelm you? Or is it time to try to learn something new in life, try a new hobby, learn how to play an instrument or learn a new language. Creating an inventory of your life goals and aspirations can support you in determining what might be useful to add or take away.

Reassess.

Reassessing your level of satisfaction and progress out of your mid-life crisis is crucial. As you add new things to your life that may contribute to more life satisfaction. Or in the same light remove responsibilities from your life that may be holding you back. Reassess the emotional results of that change. Are you feeling better? Are you still feeling stuck, or are things improving? Equally assess the potentially negative impact of removing or adding this new thing to your life.

Tips for the Supporter!

Finally, tips for the person supporting the individual facing a mid-life crisis. If you have noticed that someone in your life may be stuck, or feeling like their life is in neutral, do your best to be supportive and not to take it personal. Be a cheerleader for your partner in supporting the adoption of the steps above to possibly help in alleviating some of the monotony in their life. A supportive and understanding partner can aid in reducing withdrawal, opening up communication channels and being a part of the change, rather than a bystander. This positive support may lead to improvements in both of your lives and your relationship.

In all situations the severity of the situation can only be assessed by the people involved. If you find that there are more serious or deeper rooted issues, consider seeking mental health support as an individual, couple or family.

What’s your take on mid-life crisis?

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