All posts in Resources

Put Your Mask on First…

My friend and colleague Melanie Rogers posted this very insightful and helpful perspective on the needs of adolescents, which would certainly include our soon-to-be college freshman.  I’m grateful for her vast experience and calm perspective in her words here.  I hope that you find this helpful and another guiding voice in this new journey.  Thank you Melanie!

Written by Melanie Rogers, MMFT, LPC-MHSP

When I tell people I work with teenagers, I usually get some version of this response:
“Wow, that’s a tough age. You must be really patient, brave, or crazy.”

I may be a little bit of all three.

The changes that occur in the teenage years make working with (and parenting) teenagers both scary and (potentially) really fun.

Whether the “issue” that brings an adolescent into therapy is anxiety, self- harm, sexual acting out, depression, or relational struggles, a parent’s biggest question is some version of: “How do I make my child’s pain and suffering go away?” or “What does my child need?”

My answer to this heart-wrenching question is: “They need you.” My response is normally met with a mixture of confusion and fear. Your teenager’s biggest need is not for their pain to be fixed.

If their need isn’t to be fixed by their parents, then what on earth do they need? Here are three things every adolescent needs from their parents.

1. Teenagers need their parents to help hold their pain by being emotionally present.
Being emotionally present means giving them permission to feel their own feelings without being shamed, judged, or abandoned.

2. Adolescents need to know that they are enjoyed just for being who they are, not based on how well they can perform certain activities.

3. Finally, teenagers need consistent boundaries. Consistent boundaries help teenagers feel safe, giving them the freedom to explore and develop their own internal boundaries (wisdom and discernment) within the safety net that external boundaries provide.

That sounds simple enough, right? So, what makes it so hard?

Teenagers are amazingly adept at stumbling upon and bringing to the surface their parent’s own need for healing and restoration. Teenagers are like soldiers stumbling through a mine field with clown shoes on, never missing an opportunity to trigger their parents own “unfinished business.” A parent’s emotional reactivity, impulsive behaviors, and distorted perceptions of their child may all be indicators that point to the parent’s unresolved trauma and leftover “issues.” Sadly, this reactive and inflexible state of mind impairs a parent’s ability to think clearly, and remain flexible in their responses, ultimately preventing parents from being able to give their children what they most need.

Adolescents need parents to have access to their own feelings. Having access to their own stories and the the feelings that go with them allows parents to not be as reactive to getting triggered by their children. Simply, the clumsy teenage minesweeper won’t be able to trip the alarms as easily, because the parents will know where they end and their children begin.

Put on your own oxygen mask first.

In short, the most loving thing you can do for your teenager is to put on your own oxygen mask first, so you can see and think clearly to help your teenager navigate the stormy seas of adolescenc

Melanie Rogers is a therapist at Sage Hill Counseling in Nashville, Tennessee. She loves inviting people to explore their own interior landscapes, challenging them to be intrigued with the bigger story being told in and through their lives. Melanie loves nothing more than to see her clients discovering, recovering, and living from their truest self.

Financing Sense – A Syllabus…

As the price of higher education becomes more expensive year after year, it becomes incumbent for both parents and students to be more informed and savvy about finding ways to make this dream more accessible and less costly over time.  It’s a daunting task for most families; especially for those students who will absorb the primary responsibility of financing their own education.

I’m grateful to one of our readers (thank you Brandi) for the link to the following graphic from CompareCards.com.  It is a comprehensive and thoughtful treatment of a long-term relationship with finance and debt of college expenses, and ways for students to begin a life of negotiating the intricacies of the financial marketplace.

I might suggest that you sit down with your student to walk and talk your way through this step-by-step process of considering the ways your family’s unique financial situation will come to play as your student begins the college experience.

http://blog.comparecards.com/infographics/financeu-syllabus/

.

What I wish someone had told me….

I recognize that at this point in the college transition process, there are questions that parents have, and there are questions that students have.  Some of those questions overlap and some are inherently different.

While I typically address the questions parents may be asking, I sensed it might be helpful for parents to hear with their students about the questions that some rising freshman may not yet know how to articulate. Many of these questions are around core identity issues, such as; will I make friends, will I do OK academically, will I miss home, and Continue reading →

The Core of the “Family Blessing”

 As I again enter into the Orientation season, I am reminded of the power inherent in the core of what I call the “Family Blessing.”  The core of this message is focusing on building self-competency for your daughter/son: that she/he can do this, and that she/he is not alone!

Each student has “landmarks” in his journey, often people, who helped guide him to this pivotal point.  Each landmark – a family member, friend, neighbor, or mentor — took a sincere interest in helping guide his journey, and as such, each person has a vested interest in his success.

I believe it is essential to Continue reading →

Scared to Fail!

In the course of writing the entries for CP101, the most “re-posted” or shared piece I have ever done here was on the topic of failure: Learning to Fail.  I sense that underneath much of our fear for the choices and decisions our daughters and sons make is that the decision will lead to failure.

When it comes down to it, its not really the failure we’re afraid of, but what comes after that: the fear of the unknown, we commonly call it.  The irony of it is, we can’t be afraid of what we don’t know!  So here is a great article addressing the fears as much as the failure and how we get tripped up around both.

Enjoy!

http://www.fastcodesign.com/3027404/scared-of-failing-ask-yourself-these-6-fear-killing-questions?partner=newsletter

.

Hovering…

The term “helicopter parents” has become so familiar in our culture that it is now commonplace.  Visual imagery brings to mind the overly protective, hovering parent or parents who, with (they would certainly say) all the best intentions, go beyond historic norms of their parental role to make sure that their child has the optimum life experience.

This is a growing dynamic for university administrators and faculty as the hovering has, in recent years, become not only more evident, but more aggressive.  I read recently of the newest version of the phenomenon: “Apache helicopter parents,” describing the growing aggressiveness of many parents to make the reality THEY want come true.

I suspect many of you would be startled by some of the Continue reading →

Seasonal shifts —

With the arrival of both cold weather and/or the passing of the holiday season’s activities, we all have some reaction to the changing seasons.  Whether it is dark when we wake or dark when we leave school or work, the shift in seasons brings any number of reactions.

For some, the shift can also be associated with other issues.  I’d like to thank Dr. Jesse Viner from the Yellowbrick Treatment Center for the chart you’ll find below explaining one of the more recent phenomena in the world of mental health issues. Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, is a form of depression associated with late autumn and winter and thought to be caused by Continue reading →

How to Raise an Adult

A cadre of new publications is coming to market based on growing research evidence of the long-term effects of what we’ve come to know as “helicopter parenting”.  There has been anecdotal evidence for some time; be it comments from teachers or the railing of cultural commentators, that this “hovering” style of parenting teaches kids reliance that minimizes resiliency, or an inability to trust decision-making abilities.

The piece below is an excerpt from a new text which gleans some of the current statistics from academic institutions themselves as to the day-to-day effects of this dynamic.  I have been talking about this from one angle for a number of years: my own experience as both an administrator and faculty member in the ways I see this present in the lives of those students I interact with daily.  It is another thing, and at another level, to recognize the gravity of what this is doing to and in our rising generation of leaders, AND, I sense the weight of responsibility we (parents) bear for the context we have created.

So, I leave you with this piece; to wrestle with the issue on a large scale, and to engage with your individual contribution (as I’m doing) in the life of your daughter or son. Continue reading →

Overparenting…

A friend sent this article recently, knowing that I am waist-deep in this conversation, especially this time of year; mid-summer in the heart of New Student & Parent Orientation season.

I’ve not read the book (yet), though I sense I will as I hear the author’s premise ringing true to the one I’ve recognized in my own work as a parent, and as I continually speak to the necessity of an intentional and thoughtful relationship transition in the myriad ways that I do here.

I’d be interested to hear from you about how you engage in your own family and life with the perspective that the author poses in this excerpt.

http://ww2.kqed.org/mindshift/2015/06/09/what-overparenting-looks-like-from-a-stanford-deans-perspective/

As always…Peace for the Journey, Dane.

Spring Break is around the corner…

With the advancing calendar, spring is right around the corner.  With that comes the decision about what to do for Spring Break – go home, look for a summer job, or with the new-found freedom of college take the first college spring break trip.

There are more than enough tales of famous and infamous spring break experiences, some of which you may be able to recite yourself.  We even have access to television shows documenting the escapades of raucous students tossing logic, good sense, and sometimes their very selves to the wind for a few days of “letting off some steam” to cope with the demands and pressure of the daily grind.

Surveys of current college students tell us that more than 60% will Continue reading →