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What You DON’T Know About Good Parenting: Studio 5

Studio 5 contributor and therapist Julie Hanks, LCSW, shares important parenting skills you might be overlooking.

Good Parenting is not just about you treat your child. I recently stumbled across a recent blog on PsychologyToday.com highlighting surprising research — two out of the three most effective parenting skills don’t directly involve interacting with your kids. In the recent issue of Scientific American Mind (Nov./Dec. 2010)“What Makes A Good Parent?” psychologist and researcher by Robert Epstein, PhD found that while showing love and affection to your child is the most important parenting skills, how you treat yourself and how your interact with your spouse or co-parent rank second and third. While real parents are quite good at love and affection, they report poorer scores on areas stress management and adult relationship skills.

These results aren’t surprising to me and coincide with my professional journey. Interestingly, all of my early training was in play therapy working directly with children, but within a few years I realized that the best thing I could do for children was to help support their mother’s emotional well-being and to support their parent’s in developing healthy relationships. In my practice I frequently see well-meaning parents who don’t take good care of themselves and their adult relationships and their children suffer. A common dynamic I often see in my practice working with divorced families is parents speaking poorly of their child’s other parent or putting the child in the middle of conflict between co-parents, with devastating impact on their child

Improve your parenting by developing skill these 2 areas:

Stress Management

  • Have realistic expectations for yourself
  • Take a “time out” when you’re overwhelmed
  • Practice optimism

Healthy Adult Relationships

  • Talk positively about other parent
  • Model affection & communication
  • Keep child out of middle

The Parents’ 10 Competencies

1-Love and affection – respect & support, physical affection, quality time together

2-Stress management – reduce stress, practice relaxation, positive outlook

3-Relationships skills – model good relationship with spouse/significant other, co-parent

4-Autonomy & Independence – treat child with respect and encourage self-sufficiency

5-Education & learning – promote learning and provide opportunities

6-Life skills – provide financially, plan for future

7-Beahvior management – use positive reinforcement and punish as last resort

8-Health – model healthy lifestyle

9-Religion – support child’s spiritual and religious development

10-Safety – protect child & have awareness of child’s activities

Free Parenting Test

Test your competency in the “Parents 10” skill areas. Take this free online test :
myparentingskills.com

Pat yourself on the back for your strengths and then make a plan to improve in the areas with lower scores. According to Dr. Epstien, good parenting skills can be learned and parenting classes can be an effective way to improve your parenting and help raise a happier, healthier child.

How did you do on the “Parent 10” test?

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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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Handling Narcissistic Mother: Studio 5

Studio 5 Contributor & therapist Julie Hanks, LCSW of Wasatch Family Therapy answers a viewer email on how to begin healing…

Have you ever dealt with a narcissistic family member? Do you have any recommended books or resources to share?

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