caregiver teamTed watched his father care for his frail mother for over 11 years as the one and only caregiver. Though friends and family members occasionally offered to help, Ted’s father felt that it was his spousal duty to serve her in this way, and do it alone. But when Ted’s father died suddenly of a massive heart attack, it left Ted’s mother with no one to care for her needs. As the oldest adult child, Ted now feels a responsibility to follow his father’s example of sacrificial love and assume the role of sole caregiver for his mother. This entails stopping by her house before and after work each day to check on her and help with unfinished chores. But it doesn’t stop there. On weekends he runs errands for her, does home projects that need attention and transports her to doctor’s appointments. After only a month of this routine Ted has begun to feel burned out. The physical and emotional strain of adding caregiving to his already busy life makes him feel like he is headed for a breakdown if something doesn’t change soon.

It’s obvious to everyone that Ted needs help with his caregiving responsibilities; obvious, that is, to everyone except Ted. He knows he is stressed to capacity, but surprisingly, it never occurs to him to ask other family members or friends for help because he has a fixed belief that he must do this and do it alone. Like his father, he feels no one could care for his mother as well as he can. It is almost like his repayment plan to his mother and father for all they have sacrificed for him these many years. So, he labors on; perhaps to the detriment of everyone involved.

What Ted doesn’t realize is that there is a better caregiving option available that would help preserve his health, give him time and energy to attend to his own family’s needs and still provide quality care for his mother.   [click to continue…]

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substance abuseIt’s not terribly surprising to anyone that when a child is exposed to negative influences that it tends to promote negative behavior in that child. For example, if a young person becomes involved in a gang, that participation is likely to repel them away from their biological family and cause them to spiral deeper into the gang culture and all that entails.

A recent study validated this assumption of negative exposure leading to negative outcomes but measured its effect on a young person’s susceptibility toward substance abuse. The findings showed that the three most potent negative influences on later substance abuse were [click to continue…]

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video-game-2_2362669bThe modern day popularity of video games is undeniable. It is estimated that about 150 million people in American alone regularly play video games. And, if you think the majority of gamers are kids, think again. The average gamer is 31 years of age. Only about a third of gamers are under the age of 18. So, video games are not just for kids. But, regardless of whether it is an adolescent or an adult that is playing, the fun of gaming can easily evolve into an immersion that some might call an addiction. What are the signs? [click to continue…]

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teen-with-attitudeI was recently talking with a mom of a 17-year old son who posed this question: My son is a good kid at heart, but he shuts me and my husband out of his life most of the time. I have tried countless times to engage him but he puts up a wall around himself when he is home. I know he doesn’t do this with his friends. But I don’t know how to connect with him.

This situation is not unique to parents with boys so I’ll address it for both males and females because the principles are mostly the same. [click to continue…]

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Powder-Alcohol_PalcoholAs if we didn’t already have enough alcohol options available to us, the U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau recently approved a new, but controversial product called Palcohol. It’s a dried form of alcohol that can be mixed with water to create liquid alcohol. Packaged in easy-to-carry pouches, powdered alcohol will be available in five flavors: vodka, rum, cosmopolitan, powderita (which is like a margarita) and lemon drop.  One packet of powdered alcohol mixed with five ounces of liquid creates an instant cocktail equivalent to one standard mixed drink or one shot of vodka. The product was approved in March of 2015 and could show up in retail stores as soon as this summer or fall.

Parental concerns

As you might imagine, many parents have expressed a concern that this type of product has great potential for misuse among underage youth. [click to continue…]

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Parent and child talking_Fotolia_78463948_XSTalking with your child is a daily event. But, let’s face it, as parents we are busy and it is easier to keep the conversation with our children light so we can move on to the next thing on our “to-do” list. There’s a place for light conversation in daily life but there are also those times when your child needs for you to tune in and listen more deeply.

Your child won’t tell you this but he or she needs for you to probe into their inner life on occasion to find out what they are thinking and feeling. Not only will this help them and you make more sense of their emotions but it will also strengthen your relationship with them. They will intuitively sense that you understand them better because you took the time and energy to really care.

Here are seven tips to help you skillfully tune-in during those times when you child needs your full attention. [click to continue…]

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couple fighting over moneyHere’s something you may already know: many couples struggle with money issues in their marriage. In fact, you and your spouse may be experiencing problems of your own around the issue of money. If you’re like the average couple, the struggle usually centers on the different approaches you both have about spending and saving money.

Here’s something you may not know: although money gets much credit for breaking marital harmony, it’s rarely the core issue between partners. This may be hard for you to believe. Yet, imagine your money as a symptom of something larger. This may help to explain why constant bickering about money rarely resolves anything. The more you focus on correcting the symptom instead of the root problem, the greater your frustration and possible damage to your relationship.

So what is the root problem? [click to continue…]

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Family-Playing-Board-Game-At-HomeIn a recent conversation with a married mom of three young children she was wrestling with a very common dilemma: how to create a relationally healthy home environment for her children when she did not have one herself growing up. Here’s how she put it:

I grew up in a family that was very unhealthy and it didn’t give me a very good model of what I’m supposed to do as a parent. Now that I have my own family (husband and three children) I find that I am often at a loss to know how to create a warm, close family environment. I don’t really know what a healthy family is supposed to look like.  

As I told her, it takes a lot of honesty to admit that you lack the emotional or relational skills to build the type of family you ideally want. But, the good news is that those emotional and relational skills can be learned, even in adulthood. They might not come easily as they would have were they taught to you as a child, but with practice they can become a regular part of your family life.

Here are four essential traits of a healthy family dynamic. [click to continue…]

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teens texting_390x220The popularity of electronic media among young people is undeniable. And the primary means of staying connected is the mobile phone. Just watch any group of teens and you will see many of them compulsively texting, checking for messages or tapping into the Internet for information.

Always Connected

A recent survey by Pew Research Center found that nearly three-quarters of teens have access to a smartphone and 92% use their smartphone to go online daily. Of those that go online, 24% of teens are online “almost constantly.” What are they doing on their phones? Texting is a major activity. Ninety percent of teens with smartphones exchange texts and send and receive an average of 30 texts per day; some text far more. They are also using their phones to watch videos and movies, listen to music and surf the Internet.

In particular, social media and gaming are two huge attractions for adolescents. Teenage girls are more likely to visit social media sites for sharing, while boys are more likely to play video games. However, gaming is an ever-increasing attraction for both genders. About one-third of the 150 million people in the U.S. who engage in gaming activities are under 18. About half of all adolescents who participate in gaming do so for two or more hours a day.

How Much Media Is Too Much?

One thing is certain: The trend toward obsessive use of electronic media is here to stay. Our lives will continue to be inundated with new, must-have gadgets. While we can’t stop the flow of new technology, we can limit our child’s exposure to these media and the possible consequences. The questions many parents are asking include, how much engagement with these gadgets is too much? And, what are the possible consequences of media overload? [click to continue…]

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gift box with glow coming outGiving gifts is a wonderful way to tell someone you value them or are thinking of them. But, most of the gifts we give to each other, especially our children, tend to be material in nature. Clothing, meals, movies, vacations and phones are the “things” of daily life that we need to some extent and that give us pleasure. But, perhaps the best gifts are those that come from your heart; the ones that strengthen the relationship between you and your child in a way that no tangible gift can match. Here are 5 such gifts that your child will never forget if you are deliberate and consistent about giving them. [click to continue…]

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