Archive of ‘Family’ category

Surviving the Holidays as a Perfectionist

This time of year is a brutal one for perfectionists. I like to think of myself as a recovering perfectionist. The holidays are a time when expectations and “shoulds” are extra high, making it a stressful season for those of us that like need things “just so.” Perfectionism isn’t just about wanting to do things well or be successful, it’s about performing with the ever-present worry, “What will people think?”.

By: Jennifer Alley, LPC

By: Jennifer Alley, LPC

I find that particularly as a woman, there is both a desire and expectation to not only do things really well, but to also make it look effortless. As a full-time mom who has a part-time private practice, a husband and a house, I can tell you, it is never effortless. I feel especially grateful for my messy, adorable 16-month old who reminds me all of the time that not only are spotless floors hard work, they are actually impossible. She (along with my husband and my sanity) is probably the main reason that I am striving to keep better perspective of healthy striving instead of perfectionism this holiday season.

As we prepare for parties, guests and travel, it is my hope and goal this year to stay calm, remembering that the truth is, it won’t be perfect (and that’s okay). My daughter will drag tupperware out of the cabinets moments before guests appear, toilet paper will be strung out from it’s holder, milk will be spilled on the floor, and I may or may not have makeup on and my hair done. We will likely forget at least three things we need when we go to our families’ homes, and we will also forget at least as many things at their houses when we return. And that is real life right now at the Alley household.

My previous self would spend the last half hour before guests arrived tense, getting upset with my husband for wearing his shoes across my spotless floor, and creating a rather not fun environment with my perfectionistic ways. This year, I want the picture at my house to be one where we are laughing, preparing food, enjoying each other’s company and laughing at mishaps like eating two hours late because the turkey was still a little frozen when it was supposed to be served (yes, this actually happened to me this year). With a family, there are plenty of opportunities to practice having self-compassion, grace, and laughter as it generally lends itself to anything but perfect. And I’m finding that this is exactly what makes the holidays memorable and “perfect”.


Myths About Domestic Violence: Part 4

If you have watched the news lately in Travis County, it was reported that a woman was killed by her boyfriend earlier this week, and that over the weekend a teen male held a shotgun to the neck of his girlfriend and threatened to kill her if she tried to break up with him again. It is clear that the epidemic of domestic violence is still on the rise, and with that truth I bring you the final part of my blog pertaining to myths about domestic violence. Stay tuned for future blogs on the subject – the discussion will not stop as long as the problem persists!

By: Susanna Wetherington, LPC-Intern Supervised by Lora Ferguson, LPC-S

By: Susanna Wetherington, LPC-Intern
Supervised by Lora Ferguson, LPC-S

Myth #12: He is afraid of intimacy and abandonment.

Jealousy and possessiveness are common traits of abusive men, and their destructive and coercive behaviors often escalate when their partners attempt to break up with them. This supports the statistic that the victim is 75% more likely to be seriously injured or killed after trying to leave or just after leaving or ending the relationship.

Myth #13: He hates women.

Many believe that abusive men are abusive toward women because they have had largely negative experiences with women in the past, such as having an abusive or overbearing mother. The truth is most abusers don’t hate women – the issue is they do not respect women. Their attitudes toward women fall on a spectrum from being able to interact fairly well with most women (as long as they are not intimately involved with them) to being staunch misogynists who treat most women they come across with superiority and contempt. These attitudes of disrespect tend to come from their culture of values and conditioning, rather than previous negative experiences with women. Research has actually shown that men with abusive mothers do not tend to develop negative attitudes towards women, but men with abusive fathers do – the disrespect shown by abusive men toward their female partners and their daughters is often absorbed and mimicked by their sons.

Myth #14: There are as many abusive women as abusive men.

It is true that there are women who treat their partners badly, from berating them to attempting to control them. However these instances are much less frequent and the instances of physical abuse, including physical intimidation and violence, and sexual abuse are even more rare. According to a report published by the National Institute of Justice, “women experience more intimate partner violence than do men,” with 22.1% of women surveyed reported they were physically assaulted by a current or former spouse, cohabitating partner, boyfriend or date, as opposed to 7.4% of surveyed reporting the same.[1] The same report shows that the majority (64%) of women who were physically assaulted, raped and/or stalked since the age of 18 were victimized by men, specifically a current or former husband, co-habitating partner, boyfriend or date. It is important to note that men can be abused by other men and women can be abused by other women. The key aspects of verbal and emotional abuse, specifically using sarcasm, put-downs, twisting everything around on the other partner, and using other tactics of control, are seen in all abusive relationships, whether heterosexual or homosexual.

Myth #15: His abusiveness is as bad for him as for his partner.

The perpetrators of abuse get over the pain of abusive incidents far faster than those they abuse. In fact, abusers often tend to benefit in many ways from their controlling behaviors. Abusers often outperform their victims on psychological tests, such as those given for custody disputes, because they have not been traumatized by the long-term psychological or physical assault they inflict on their victims. Thus, if his abusiveness were truly as bad for him as it is for his partner, you would see him display the same reactions of trauma.

Resources:

[1] Tjaden, P. & Thoennes, N., (2000) Full Report of the Prevalence, Incidence, and Consequences of Violence Against Women: Findings From the National Violence Against Women Survey, National Institute of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice. http://www.ncjrs.gov.


Parenting Your Preschooler

Jane Nelsen and Lynn Lott’s Positive Discipline views children’s behavior that looks and feels like misbehavior as discouragement, or the feeling that they don’t belong. This paradigm shift can help parents respond in a different way, ultimately changing the child’s behavior and the parents’ feelings of frustration, anger and helplessness. In this article, we will focus on parenting the preschool-age child, but most of the concepts can be applied loosely to all age groups.

By: Jennifer Alley, LPC

By: Jennifer Alley, LPC

Part of successfully responding to your child’s “misbehavior” is to understand the meaning behind the behavior. Children generally want to behave well and when they aren’t, it’s usually with good reason. For example, they may be acting out to get more attention (which means they want to be noticed and involved), to gain power or control (they want to help or be given choices), to get even or have revenge (they are hurting and need their feelings recognized and validated), or they have given up (they need to be believed in and shown in smalls steps how to be successful).

Another important tip for parenting your preschooler is to be consistent with your expectations. Respond kindly and firmly to negative behavior. Children don’t understand when you are inconsistent or when something is sometimes okay and sometimes not because you are too tired to enforce a rule. Let your love for them be evident in the way you interact with them (be explicit about your love and care for them).

Redirect instead of using “no when possible. Instead of telling your child what not to do, share your expectations or what they can be doing. You might ask for their help or turn tedious tasks fun by making up a competition.

Encouragement and recognition motivates children to continue behaving in positive ways and will get much better results than scolding or only paying attention when your child does something “bad.” Praise your children for positive behavior, and build on their strengths.

Because children are emulating the behavior they experience at home and with important adults, focus on your own responses and behaviors. If your goal is to raise a respectful, caring, responsible adult, you must model these behaviors when with your children (toward them and others). Instead of punishing your child in the heat of the moment, it can be helpful to take a time out yourself to collect your thoughts, calm down, and then thoughtfully respond to your child.

Developmental Considerations for Preschoolers:

  •  Until age five children are much more interested in what/how they are doing something rather than the goal or outcome. Be patient and give children time to be process-oriented when possible. When you are running short on time, set clear (but kind) expectations ahead of time to improve cooperation.
  • Recognize your child’s physical perspective and limitations to increase feelings of competence and to decrease frustration. For example, buy a footstool to allow your child to wash his/her hands independently. Or, get down on their level when you are having a conversation with them instead of talking down to them.
  • Children have a difficult time understanding the difference between what is real and what is not. Instead of disciplining children for what might be perceived as lying or for developmental difficulty in understanding reality versus fantasy, try to accept your child’s fears and listen to his/her feelings.
  • Mistakes are inevitable- strive to recognize your child’s mistakes as an opportunity to learn.
  • When your child does lie (which they may do at this age), listen and avoid shaming or punishing. Fear of punishment or shame often encourages children to lie! Instead, work with him/her to understand the truth as well as the value of honesty. And remember to model honesty yourself.
  • The preschool years often bring questions about anatomy and defining who they are. When asked, try to remain calm and approachable. Use accurate terms when describing anatomy, but avoid giving a great deal of detailed information about sexuality to small children as they don’t need it at this point.

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