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Archive for the ‘Families’ Category

Adolescence isn’t all fun and games.

When we adults see teenagers goofing off at the mall or jumping around in a car to the latest beat, we often think they don’t have anything to worry about. It’s one carefree, fun-filled adventure after another.

Once a woman told me about a prayer service that took place at St. Pius X High School. The theme of the service was a time of remembrance. At church the adolescents were invited to ask the Lord to remember a person dear to them who had died.

Here are some of the remembrances offered by teenagers.

Matt: My mother died when I was a freshman. I wish she was still alive.

Neil: My sister died when I was an infant. I wish I could have known her.

Chrissy: My brother would have celebrated his twelfth birthday. I would have enjoyed celebrating it with him.

Pete: My brother died when I was thirteen. I wish I would have had more time to get to know him better.

Regina: My father passed away five years ago. I wish he was here to share special moments in my life. I miss him very much.

Ellen: My grandma was a wonderful person. She has many who loved her and miss her.

Mark: Last spring my friend’s father died in a car accident. I had gotten to become good friends with him.

Alisyn: My grandmother died the day after my fourteenth birthday. I am told I am just like her at this age, but how do I know? I wish her well.

Jeff: My uncle died last year. I miss playing sports with him.

Libbi: My dad died when I was two. I should have been a Daddy’s girl. I miss him.

Jason: My brother died on May 12th two years ago. I am thankful for the time I spent with him. It was the most memorable six years of my life.

Tommy: A friend of mine, Allen, died last April. I miss him a lot and wish he was still here.

Erin: My grandmothers died six months apart during my sophomore year. I miss the good times with them.

Josh: My brother was killed when he was seven. I wish he was here so we could talk. I miss him.

Ann: My brother died 5 months ago. He was a good brother and a good person. I miss him.

Ana: A close friend, Sharna, died on December 28th from a drunk driver. Please pray for her and her family.

Andy: My grandfather died before I was born. I wish I could have met him just once. 

When you see teenagers messing around at the mall and yelling louder than they should, soften your gaze a little. And remember, their lives are not as carefree as you might think.

Check out Doris’ latest books, “The Boy Whose Idea Could Feed the World” as well as, “The Parent Teacher Discussion Guide.” and “Thin Becomes You”. Doris’ web page: www.doriswildhelmering.com

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All my life I have been a dog person. My first recollection of having a dog was when I was a small child. The dog’s name was Bum. He came by that name honestly because he was always on the run. He would jump the fence and away he would go. The only other thing I remember about that dog was that my mom loved him dearly. So I did too. Following Bum, my family had a succession of dogs…Candy, Lady, Boots.

When I was 5 or 6 years old, a stray cat appeared at the door. It was winter, so my parents broke down and took him in. He managed to outstay his welcome in less that 48 hours. I still remember my mom saying, “I hate cats. They are everywhere. They get in your pots and pans. They get on the kitchen table. Out with the cat.” My mom hated cats. So I did too.

When I grew up and had my own family, we got a dog, Fluffy. Then we got Barker. Across town my parents also had two dogs and my sister had two dogs. You might say we were confirmed dog lovers.

Then something happened. Our daughter requested a cat. She was a mere three years old. “Now how could a little girl who is surrounded by dogs and dog lovers want a cat?” I thought. Every birthday and holiday thereafter she pressed for a cat. Every birthday and holiday I resisted until one day my love for my daughter overcame me and I said, “Oh alright. We’ll get a cat.”

That was some years ago. We then got two cats, Cornbread and Emily. When I walked in the door, Cornbread was there waiting. Then along would come Emily for some attention. I loved to watch them play. Cornbread swished his tail back and forth, back and forth, while Emily tried to catch it. They would also chase each other around the house at breakneck speed. As I watched them, I frequently would feel a smile on my face. You might say, I fell in love with cats.

Which leads me to a question I’m often asked. Can people really change?
The answer – YES.

Check out Doris’ latest books, “The Boy Whose Idea Could Feed the World” as well as, “The Parent Teacher Discussion Guide.” and “Thin Becomes You”.

Doris’ web page: www.doriswildhelmering.com

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I walked into the kitchen the other morning and there was my husband’s dirty cereal bowl, a few toast crumbs, and a half cup of leftover coffee sitting on the table. “No big deal,” I thought.

I picked up the coffee cup and bowl, carried them to the sink, rinsed them out, and put them in the dishwasher. I also wiped off the table and wiped up some coffee grounds that my husband had obviously spilled while making coffee.

When I saw the milk sitting on the counter, I felt a slight twinge of annoyance. I hate it when people leave milk unrefrigerated. But when I found that the milk was still cold, I thought, “no big deal,” and put it in the refrigerator.

I prepared breakfast for our daughter, packed her lunch, grabbed a cup of coffee for myself, and went upstairs and got dressed for work. As we were about ready to leave the house, I did a final check. I turned off the light in my daughter’s room, “no big deal,” I unplugged her curling iron, which she had forgotten to turn off, “no big deal.”

We jumped in the car and I remembered it was Tuesday. My husband had forgotten to put out the trash. I jumped out of the car and instructed my daughter to do the same. The two of us lugged the trash cans out of the garage and to the street. The one I was carrying spilled and I got something icky on my hand. No big deal.

I went to the car, got the keys, unlocked the house, washed off my hands, remembered that I hadn’t defrosted anything for dinner, pulled out a package of hamburger, got back in the car, closed the garage door, and we were off.

Half way to school my daughter told me she had to have four dollars. I looked in my wallet and all I had was a twenty. I needed the twenty because I was going out for lunch. “Oh well,” I said, “Take the twenty. I’ll work it out, no big deal, I’ll stop by the bank.”

That night I found the cat didn’t have food in his bowl, poor kitty, so I got out the bag and filled his bowl. The cat is not my responsibility, but no big deal. While I was at it, I washed out his water bowl, gave him fresh water, and cleaned his litter box.

The week rolled by with a lot of “no big deals.”

On Friday I went to the garage to get my car and there sat the trash. That day I was running very late so I let the trash sit.

That night as I drove in the garage, I saw the trash. I walked in the house and gave everyone a loud lecture on what being responsible means…turning out lights, putting your dishes in the dishwasher, making sure the cat has food, putting out the trash.

My family looked at me like I’d lost my mind. My husband said quizzically, “What’s the big deal?”

Check out Doris’ latest books, “The Boy Whose Idea Could Feed the World” as well as, “The Parent Teacher Discussion Guide.” and “Thin Becomes You”.
Doris’ web page: www.doriswildhelmering.com

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The following story is Zen. Of all stories, this one has helped me keep troubles and disappointments in my life in perspective. I hope the story will serve you as well.

A very wealthy man visited a prophet and commissioned him to write something special about riches and prosperity for his family. What the man was looking for was words of wisdom or insight that he could pass down from generation to generation.

After taking the man’s money the prophet pulled out a large piece of paper and wrote:

Father dies

Son dies

Grandson dies

He then handed the paper to the man.

“What is this?” asked the rich man. “Is this some sort of a joke? I asked you to write me something regarding prosperity and riches for my family to treasure and you write me this?”

The prophet then explained.

“If your son dies before you, you will be sad for the rest of your days.

“If your grandson should die before you, you and your son will be heartbroken.

“If your family dies, generation after generation, in the order I have written, your family is truly prosperous.”

Check out Doris’ latest books, “The Boy Whose Idea Could Feed the World” as well as, “The Parent Teacher Discussion Guide.” and “Thin Becomes You”. Doris’ web page: www.doriswildhelmering.com

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Shockingly, half of all kids are bullied. And at least half of all kids should bear the name “Bully.” We know that bullying goes on all the time among students, thanks to the media, but what’s happening on the home front? A far bigger story is to be told.

For example, the child who refuses to get ready in the morning and constantly makes her siblings anxious and late for school is involved in bullying behavior. Likewise is the child who goes into her sister’s room and simply helps herself to whatever article of clothing she chooses, despite the fact that she’s been told repeatedly to stop.

Then there’s 11-year-old Dan, who hides his sister’s hair dryer and toothbrush to get a reaction out of her. And whenever he walks by his younger brother, he gives him a punch in the arm. And he forever is grabbing the remote and switching channels on his siblings.

Parents may be annoyed regarding these behaviors because of the ruckus they create in the family. Rarely however do parents think of these behaviors as bullying. But they are!

What I tell parents: if one child constantly reacts negatively to another child’s actions, instead of focusing your attention on the child who is reacting, take a look at what she’s reacting to. She may be prey to a bully as opposed to falling into the category of, “kids will be kids” or “he’s just kidding” or “he’s younger than you.” These statements rescue the bully and are excuses for bad behavior. Worse, such excuses contribute to encouraging one of your children to bully another.

Parents also fall prey to children who bully. A child who simply can’t accept the answer “No” and keeps pushing and nagging, twenty, thirty, forty times until the parent caves is a bully.

If 14-year-old Jessica is reprimanded for anything, she punishes her parents by refusing to talk with them. She’s been known to carry on this behavior for several days. She also decides when she’s ready for bed. No amount of telling her to go to bed has an effect. You might say, “This kid does what she damn well pleases.” Once when told she couldn’t go out with friends, she jumped out of the second story window and joined them.

Anytime a child repeatedly intimidates, threatens, scares, frightens, browbeats, coerces, terrorizes, or tries to lord their power over another family member, be it a parent or a younger or older sibling, they are bullying. Or calling like it is, that child is a bully. Other bullying behaviors in families: name-calling, hitting, pushing, refusing to let another pass, purposely embarrassing, making faces, and taking and breaking other family members’ things.

So how do you get a bullying child to stop?

The first step is to name it. Call it like it is. Most kids do not think of themselves or their behavior as bullying. Example, “You are being a bully. Stop.” (Don’t tell him he is acting like a bully. This sugar coats his behavior. He is a bully).

The second step is to isolate the bully from the rest of the family. For example, if at a restaurant and your 9-year old keeps kicking his sister under the table after you’ve told him to cease, tell him he is a bully and take him to the car. No offering dinner afterward. Bummer for a parent but it’s imperative that parents protect all of their children. You protect the child who is being kicked and you help the bully to stop this behavior.

If you have a child that constantly badgers you, never ever give in because if you do you reinforce this behavior. You as a parent have to show more grit than your child. I once had one of our boys stand in the corner. I think he was about 9 at the time. He told me he was going to stand all night. In my head I thought, Well, I will sit at the table all night knowing that he would get more tired standing than me sitting. In the end he caved and apologized. Translated: we were both winners.

Do keep in mind. Bullies are not born. Bullies are made because their behavior is not checked. Some kids are more difficult than others (heaven help those parents) but no child should be permitted to intimidate or be allowed to grow into a bully.

Doris Wild Helmering is a clinical social worker, nationally known author, television and radio personality, has appeared on Oprah three times, and has written eight self-help books, numerous booklets, and a weekly syndicated newspaper column for twenty-four years. Her most recent books are The Boy Whose Idea Could Feed the World and The Parent Teacher Discussion Guide. (http://www.prweb.com/releases/2017/07/prweb14530687.htm).  She is in private practice where she does marriage and family therapy as well as counseling parents and kids. She has served as a consultant to a number of Fortune 500 companies as well as several school districts.  See: http://www.doriswildhelmering.com.

 

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One mother confessed that when she looks at her overweight daughter, she sees her as a failure. And then she translates her daughter’s failure into her own failure.

“I try to hide my disappointment and discontent with the way she looks,” said the mother, “but it’s always there. I make subtle comments, which really aren’t so subtle. In the past I’ve said, “I heard about a great diet book. Should I buy it for you? “I’ve also said, ‘It’s a great day; let’s go for a walk.’ What I’m really saying is, “You need some exercise.’ The worst comment was when I said, “‘Why, you have a double chin just like me.’ “When I look at her, I think she’s lazy. She has no pride. I wonder where I went wrong.”

Another woman confided that it makes her sick to watch her daughter eat. “I want to say, ‘Stop eating that roll and butter. Don’t you have any respect for yourself?’ I don’t dare say anything because in the past I have and it just makes her mad and not want to be with me.” “I never stop bugging my daughter,” said one mom. “I’m always coming up with a plan. I take her articles and books on weight loss. Last year I enrolled her in a weight-loss program and she lost 50 pounds. Then she gained it all back. My next plan was humiliation. I told her I loved her, but the world hated fat people. This month I’ve offered to pay for her to enroll at a gym. Does all this do her any good? It doesn’t seem to help her, but it helps me feel as though I’m doing something.”

“My daughter is 70 pounds overweight and seems to be on her way up,” moaned another mom. “She eats all the time. Her room is full of candy wrappers. I’m thin, and I just don’t get it. Nothing I say to her has an impact. She’s sweet and a successful high school student. She plays in the band and has lots of friends. I know she’s unhappy with her weight, but she can’t seem to get control of it.”

Yet another mother said, “The worst time for me is when I have to introduce my daughter, who is at least 90 pounds overweight, to someone she’s never met. I cringe. I think that the person must be thinking how ugly she is. I smile and am chatty and act like everything is fine, but on the inside I feel terrible and know it’s not fine. I feel bad for my daughter and bad for me.”

“What am I to do?”
If you are a mother having bad feelings about an overweight daughter, you know that your daughter also is struggling with feelings about her weight. The best course of action is to ask her directly, “Is there anything I can do to help you with your weight? Or would you rather I said nothing?”

Some daughters want their mothers to bring them diet programs and suggestions. This keeps the problem out in the open as opposed to pretending there isn’t a problem. Other daughters will ask that their mother not push food or tempt them with homemade cakes and cookies. Some don’t want their mothers to say anything about their weight problem. They already know they have one, and they’ve tried any number of diets and exercise programs.
If you truly want to be helpful to your overweight daughter, be a good model by following a healthy diet and exercise regimen yourself. Ask your daughter what she wants from you regarding her weight. And then have the strength and courage to give her what she asks for.

To take care of your own feelings about her weight, confide in one of your close friends from time to time. And then perhaps become a bit philosophical and ask yourself, “Why did I bring this child into the world?” I bet your answer has nothing to do with her weight.

Check out Doris’ latest books, “The Boy Whose Idea Could Feed the World” as well as, “The Parent Teacher Discussion Guide.” and “Thin Becomes You”. Doris’ web page: www.doriswildhelmering.com

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Teenage Blues? Find out how this father re-connected with his teenage son.

Recently I spoke with one father who confessed to having difficulty liking his son. Clearly his son was rebellious and had some behaviors that most parents would find offensive. The son rarely did what he had promised. He blew off chores. He had trouble backing down and he thought he never made a mistake.

When I pushed the father to tell me something he liked about his son, he reluctantly admitted that the boy was a pretty good student, didn’t get in trouble at school, had a great sense of humor and a rather endearing smile. The trick for me was to get the father to focus on his son’s attributes at least some of the time. This would allow the father to feel good about his son as opposed to always feeling negative.

The first thing I did was to ask the father to bring me a list of fifty things he liked about his son even if he had to go back in history and remember some of the incidences from his son’s childhood. Although the father dutifully made his list he couldn’t wait to tell me how his son had messed up that week.

The father’s next assignment was to only comment on the positive things his son did. The idea was to get the father to change his focus from looking at the negative to looking at the positive. This assignment did not work either.

I then came up with the idea that every time the son messed up the father would say in his head, “At least he’s alive.” When I told the father this he said, “You do have a point.”

The following week when I saw this man he said that the assignment had worked. For the first time in almost three years he felt some genuine closeness toward his son. He no longer saw his son as an incompetent. What he saw was a boy struggling, sometimes inappropriately, for his own identity. As this father left my office that day, he grinned a little and said, “You know, I really do love that kid.”

If you’re having trouble loving your kid because of his hard-to-deal with behaviors, why not experiment with one on the previous homework assignments?

Check out Doris’ latest books, “The Boy Whose Idea Could Feed the World” as well as, “The Parent Teacher Discussion Guide.” and “Thin Becomes You”. Doris’ web page: www.doriswildhelmering.com

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