Mental health, Parenting, Relationships

Ugly Truth 50: 4 Ways to Forgive an Abusive Parent

“I also believe that parents, if they love you, will hold you up safely, above their swirling waters, and sometimes that means you’ll never know what they endured, and you may treat them unkindly, in a way you otherwise wouldn’t.”
― Mitch Albom, For One More Day

Dear Readers,

I wrote about my parents in a previous post titled, Ugly Truth 45: Life Will Break You. In it, I unveil all of the heartfelt hurt and truth we share, and how I learned to move forward. I used to think parenting was simple. As I grew into my motherhood, however, I learned nothing is more complex than parenting and family dynamics. In general, most of us need to feel we’re loved, we’re accepted as we are, and our parents are proud of us to grow into resilient productive beings. We generalize our own sense of self worth as a result of the treatment we’re given. Furthermore, we are asked simultaneously to discover just who we are apart from that.

In my first year of college I learned about “tabula rasa,” better known as the “Blank Slate Theory” brought forth by an English philosopher named John Locke who expanded on an idea suggested by Aristotle in the fourth century B.C.. Essentially, this theory suggests all children are born as white boards and their parents hold the markers. That is, we are shaped by our environment. While the Blank Slate Theory is half true, I take issue with the fact that it fails to take our autonomy into account. Certainly we are all born with predispositions and temperaments, regardless of our environment. Surly we inherit personality traits, our quickness to anger, and shared interests genetically. Therefore, the answer to the Nature versus Nurture debate is yes. With that being said, it stands to reason why some people cope better as adults while others fall into addiction. Likewise, it explains why some believe abuse and suicide are acceptable while others would never behave in such a manner.

As children, we hope to emulate our caregivers. In adolescence, we’re more likely to judge them when faced with the fact that our belief system may be different from theirs. As adults, we seek to understand and are quicker to offer up compassion, primarily when faced with our own independence and the humbling experience of our own parenthood.

How then does that translate when abuse takes place? Is there something to be gained other than mistrust and resentment by hearing them out? What happens when the confrontation fails to yield accountability or even acknowledgement on their part? Apology remains the most promising way to rebuild a damaged relationship, but more often than not that doesn’t happen. While immensely helpful, the truth is we don’t need an apology to heal because sincere forgiveness remains an equally powerful alternative.

Maya Khamala at Goal Cast offers 4 solutions on how to forgive your abusers when they’re not sorry.

1.) Accept and acknowledge all the reason’s you’re angry – Make peace with what happened, how you feel, and their response to your confrontation should you choose to go that route.

2.) Write a letter – Get it down in writing. You may decide to share it or keep it to yourself.

3.) Get Physical – Exercise helps us better manage emotional distress.

4.) Seek Therapy – Every person on planet earth can benefit from some well spun therapy, especially during experiences that bring trauma to the surface. Don’t be afraid to seek extra support.

If you or someone you love is in a dangerous situation, please see below to contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline, available 24/7.

**If you’re a mental health survivor or mental health provider and want to tell your story – please email me at contact@deskraven.com!**

For more excellent insight and entertainment through a collaborative approach to all things mental health, including a guest post from yours truly, visit the Blunt Therapy Blog by Randy Withers, LPC! For additional perspectives on suicide prevention from master level mental health providers visit, 20 Professional Therapists Share Their Thoughts on Suicide!

In collaboration with Luis Posso, an Outreach Specialist from DrugRehab.com, Deskraven is now offering guides on depression and suicide prevention to its readers. For more information on understanding the perils of addiction visit, Substance Abuse and Suicide: A Guide to Understanding the Connection and Reducing Risk! In addition, for a comprehensive depression resource guide from their sister project at Columbus Recovery Center visit, Dealing with Depression!

Mental health, Parenting

Ugly Truth 30: Today My Son Was Diagnosed

Dear Readers, Today, I fell to tears on my way home from work after a losing sleep battle at 5am, chronic pain, and the challenge of another trying day for my son. Today, Zachary was diagnosed with Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and Oppositional Defiant Disorder. Today, I grieve for my son; for the way things will always be harder for him, for the way he can not yet apply insight toward his behavior, for the friends and caregivers who will misunderstand him and unwittingly make things worse, for the way he covers his ears when noises are too loud, for the way his IQ soars but his social life suffers, for the way I fiercely attempt to guard his self-esteem, for the way I fear I wont be vigilant enough, for those who will and do pressure us into difficult decisions, for the way he severely grapples to regulate his emotions, for the songs he sings that so many will mishear, for the constant redirection of a conformist society, for the way his intelligence will always lend itself to his awareness that he is different. If you don’t believe in these diagnoses, do me a favor and keep your opinion to yourself. I can assure you our pain as a family is very real, but it is not unattended. Zachary has received hundreds of hours of counseling, various therapies, behavior intervention plans, the benefits of countless round table committee meetings by his cheerleaders, and accommodations as his progression and challenges fluctuate. For now, I will have to rest in the years of education and instinct I have invested in. I will have to rest in the competence of the team, physicians, teachers and loving family that surround him. For now, I will have to rest in the knowledge that even when I am imperfect, I am enough. Final Summation: The ability to comfort yourself is invaluable. **If you’re a mental health survivor or mental health provider and want to tell your story – please email me at contact@deskraven.com!** For more excellent insight and entertainment through a collaborative approach to all things mental health, including a guest post from yours truly, visit the Blunt Therapy Blog by Randy Withers, LPC! For additional perspectives on suicide prevention from master level mental health providers visit, 20 Professional Therapists Share Their Thoughts on Suicide! In collaboration with Luis Posso, an Outreach Specialist from DrugRehab.com, Deskraven is now offering guides on depression and suicide prevention to its readers. For more information on understanding the perils of addiction visit, Substance Abuse and Suicide: A Guide to Understanding the Connection and Reducing Risk! In addition, for a comprehensive depression resource guide from their sister project at Columbus Recovery Center visit, Dealing with Depression!
Mental health, Parenting

Ugly Truth 026: Being Different in a Regular World

“A mother need not be perfect, she only need be good enough.”

Dear Readers,

Welcome back to Deskraven, your mental health forum! Today we are talking about the tricky moments of being a meaningful guardian. As we enter into the weekend, let us reconsider our children as individuals rather than lord over them.

In my nearly nine years as a parent, nothing could have prepared me for yesterday morning. There is no rule book for children, but I’d like to think a common sense approach is somewhat universal. Sure, most of us know the basic needs of children: warmth, shelter, proper nutrition, cognitive development, affection, guidance and well fitting shoes – but the mind can seldom conceive of the tough clever quips of our children’s harder inquiries.

I do not support the tabula rasa (blank slate) theory that some Early Childhood Educators adhere to. Likewise, I find it plainly unethical to impose religious views on impressionable young minds. Instead, I believe our children are born with inherent temperaments and tendencies, and it is our job to nurture and direct their self development. For example, you may notice that your first child is naturally stubborn and sensitive while noting that your third child is laid back and inquisitive. Loving them equally, these two children maintain very different social-emotional needs.

My son is named Zachary, and he is seven years old with a temperament much like the stubborn sensitive child described above. My son faces challenges associated with an exceptional IQ and neurological differences. As such, supporting his personal truth while protecting and strengthening his self-esteem has always been my foremost priority.

Zachary has always been an exceptional communicator. In order to gauge his self confidence, I will casually check in with him by saying something like, “Hey buddy, how ya feelin’?” Usually his response is an honest reassurance, or a dilemma he is trying to navigate in school. However, on this day, among my words of affirmation, my sweet insightful son shed light on the fact that he feels loved, valued, and cherished by his family – but less so by the outside world.

In an instant my chest tightened and my eyes filled to the brim with tears as I carefully explained that life often includes a great deal of suffering, and that the magic can be found in the many good things that come along when we always seek to do our best and make good choices as good human beings.

While I countinued to hearten my son, I suddenly found myself overwhelmed and discouraged by the harsh reality of the truth. The truth is you will not find every person that you meet agreeable, and not everyone will think highly of you. Some may even mistreat, abuse or abandon you, but this intolerance is a reflection of personal perception often having nothing to do with the outward circumstances. The task then is to shake it off while keeping your self worth intact.

My boy has always marched to the beat of his own drum. We have battled social norms and school district regulations to give him this right, while also expecting reasonable adaptive skills. As a result he spends a lot of time listening to negative feedback, redirection, and constructive criticism. The fact that he is different poses a challenge, but it is also a brilliant opportunity to teach him the value of self-love, and offer him positive balance at home where the world so often stops short. The fact that he is gifted and talented simply means he learns differently, not that he is better or worse. The fact that I am a compassionate parent serves not only his best interest, but also affords me more patience and grace with my own irksome personality traits. Likewise, my own battle and professional training with all things mental health has uniquely equipped me to advocate for and counsel my son.

As our time together came to a close, I built him up as fast as I could in the time allotted by our morning commute. As we pulled into the carpool lane the right rear passenger door flung open, and he was greeted by a smiling face. I kissed him smack on the lips and poured all of my hope into that one tiny moment, watching closely as he held himself a little straighter. I wiped my tears and took a deep breath while he went on to conduct himself beautifully in his classroom that day. “Raising boys is hard,” I thought to myself.

Perhaps on this day I said something that stuck. Perhaps on this day I was good enough.

**If you’re a mental health survivor or mental health provider and want to tell your story – please email me at contact@deskraven.com!**

For more excellent insight and entertainment through a collaborative approach to all things mental health, including a guest post from yours truly, visit the Blunt Therapy Blog by Randy Withers, LPC! For additional perspectives on suicide prevention from master level mental health providers visit, 20 Professional Therapists Share Their Thoughts on Suicide!

In collaboration with Luis Posso, an Outreach Specialist from DrugRehab.com, Deskraven is now offering guides on depression and suicide prevention to its readers. For more information on understanding the perils of addiction visit, Substance Abuse and Suicide: A Guide to Understanding the Connection and Reducing Risk! In addition, for a comprehensive depression resource guide from their sister project at Columbus Recovery Center visit, Dealing with Depression!

Lifestyle, Mental health, Parenting

Ugly Truth 012: Comparison Kills

“I looked through others’ windows On an enchanted earth But out of my own window– solitude and dearth. And yet there is a mystery I cannot understand– That others through my window See an enchanted land.”
Jessie B. Rittenhouse
Good Afternoon and Happy Weekend Readers, Welcome back to Deskraven’s 100 Ugly Truths about mental health! In my last post I talked about the social perceptions, comparisons and partial truths we tell each other. From that sprung an endless well of my own woulda, coulda, shoulda’s – and it wasn’t long before I was feeling guilty. You see, we all want what we don’t have. People with straight hair want curls, people with light skin want tans, people who stay home wish they could work more, and people who work wish they could stay home. It all depends on the needs of yourself and your family dynamic. Many women find their identities in motherhood while others thrive in career environments. Still more, some women – and men – juggle both. Personally, I have always had a heart for being a stay at home mom for many reasons – but I have never been fortunate enough to do it. My first and only son was not planned, nor were the circumstances that soon followed, so I found myself in a young age of adaptation more so than any heartfelt sense of romance or family planning. It got me wondering about how different life might be had I been mature enough to carve the path for myself. There is much research that indicates the value of a stay at home mom. To start, full time stay at home parents offer children a rooted homebase rich in resources. They are free to attend the social-emotional needs of their children, accompany school and sporting events, run last minute errands, make doctor’s appointments and maintain the home while loved ones are away. I find endless value in this! Likewise, the stay at home mom offers balance to a sole provider by running the home and all that it entails. Families with a stay at home parent sometimes make less, but they also spend less in my opinion. Having worked in childcare for ten years, I can tell you that it is grossly expensive and leaves much to be desired depending on your parenting style. Many families find that at least one of their salaries goes almost solely to childcare which easily begs the question, What is the point of that? Children in centers are more resilient and socialized, yes, but they also tend to be more anxious, uncertain, and ill. On the flip side, career mothers offer glowing demonstrations of provision and multi-skilled strength for their children. They teach the importance of education and contribution in a different way, although that lesson may come at an unspoken cost both culturally and personally if not balanced carefully. The sad reality is growing your family well is extremely expensive no matter how you do it, and many women never have the luxury of choice to begin with. That said, our choices, environments, and maternal roles definitely push and pull on our mental health. The decision to have a child is a momentous one, at least it should be. The truth is, I have always dreamed of a big family – but I can not afford one in more way than one. The truth is I worry about my physical, emotional, and psychological capacity – but I can also hear my biological clock ticking as my only son grows closer to eight years old. The truth is I had severe Post-Partum Depression the first go around. The truth is my finances are mine alone and I rely on no one – on purpose – for fear of losing it all again. I put great pressure on myself as a maternal human being and endure the pros and cons of my choices. In my ideal world I would be a full-time stay at home mother and student. This would allow me to nurture my children at my preference while still growing myself. My children would have access to me, the bills would be paid by a supportive partnership, and by the time they reached an age of less need I would be equipped to re-enter the workforce. I deeply envy women cut from this cloth, so I assign value to the things I successfully do manage to demonstrate for my son, as well as give myself grace when I catch myself in a moment of wishful thinking. What many people forget to remember is that the stay at home mom is only a temporary animal, and we must not lose our identities when faced with difficult decisions. What’s more, being a stay at home parent comes with a different type of stress and responsibility, but it is one that allows you to practice self care through labors of love. This is an opportunity the working woman must carve out for herself, meaning it may take a greater toll on her mental health. When reversed however, the stay at home mom may become more susceptible to mental health conditions due to a lack of purposeful exertion, genetics or meaningful socialization. The truth is, working women and stay at home women have different needs, obstacles and priorities – and one may not necessarily be better than the other. All I know for sure is unplanned pregnancy and family planning have entirely two different outcomes, and it breaks my heart. Maybe the most important thing familial relationships can teach us is tolerance, love and forgiveness. The truth is, different doesn’t mean better. Are you a stay at home parent or working parent? What brought you to your decision and how do you feel about it? How has it impacted your mental health? **If you’re a mental health survivor or mental health provider and want to tell your story – please email me at contact@deskraven.com!** For more excellent insight and entertainment through a collaborative approach to all things mental health, including a guest post from yours truly, visit the Blunt Therapy Blog by Randy Withers, LPC! For additional perspectives on suicide prevention from master level mental health providers visit, 20 Professional Therapists Share Their Thoughts on Suicide! In collaboration with Luis Posso, an Outreach Specialist from DrugRehab.com, Deskraven is now offering guides on depression and suicide prevention to its readers. For more information on understanding the perils of addiction visit, Substance Abuse and Suicide: A Guide to Understanding the Connection and Reducing Risk! In addition, for a comprehensive depression resource guide from their sister project at Columbus Recovery Center visit, Dealing with Depression!
Mental health, Parenting

9 Ways to Promote a Culture of Respect and Common-Sense Mental Health at Home

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A person’s a person, no matter how small.” Dr. Seuss

Dear Readers,

The reason I write about parenting is by no means because I am an expert even half of the time. I write about parenting because I believe it has an intrinsic link to mental health. Our psychological fitness certainly plays a role in the ability and quality of our parenting. Likewise, our sense of self worth as parents regarding ability and quality directly contributes to our overall wellness.

Empowering Parents has forever been my favorite online parenting resource for the tough stuff in life. In particular, I enjoy that their content is direct and specific. Often times I find myself googling parenting methods, and I am left with more questions than answers. Empowering Parents eliminates a lot of the guess-work, thus providing a more meaningful outcome supported by measurable practice and change. So, since the way we treat and are treated by others will always influence our mental health (and we could all use more tools as parents), I thought I would share one with you today.

From Do Your Kids Respect You? 9 Ways to Change Their Attitude”

By Janet Lehman, MSW

1. Remember, Your Child Is Not Your Friend

It’s not about your child liking you or even thanking you for what you do. It’s important to remember that your child is not your friend—he’s your child. Your job is to coach him to be able to function in the world. This means teaching him to behave respectfully to others, not just you. When you think your child might be crossing the line, a good rule of thumb is to ask yourself, “Would I let the neighbor say these things to me? Would I let a stranger?” If the answer is no, don’t let your child do it, either. Someday when your child becomes an adult, your relationship may become more of a friendship, but for now, it’s your job to be his parent: his teacher, coach and limit setter—not the buddy who lets him get away with things.

2. Catch Disrespect Early and Plan Ahead If You Can

It’s good to catch disrespectful behavior early if possible. If your child is rude or disrespectful, don’t turn a blind eye. Intervene and say, “We don’t talk to each other that way in this family.” Giving consequences when your kids are younger is going to pay off in the long run. It’s really important as a parent if you see your child being disrespectful to admit it and then try to nip it in the bud. Also, if your child is about to enter the teen years (or another potentially difficult phase) think about the future. Some parents I know are already planning how they will address behavior as their ADD daughter (who is now 11) becomes a teenager. They’re learning skills to prepare for their interactions with her at a later time. This can only help them as they move forward together as a family.

3. Get in Alignment with Your Mate

It’s so important for you and your mate to be on the same page when it comes to your child’s behavior. Make sure one of you isn’t allowing the disrespectful behavior while the other is trying to intercede. Sit down together and talk about what your bottom lines are, and then come up with a plan of action—and a list of consequences you might give—if your child breaks the rules.

4. Teach Your Child Basic Social Interaction Skills

It may sound old fashioned, but it’s very important to teach your child basic manners like saying “please” and “thank you.” When your child deals with her teachers in school or gets her first job and has these skills to fall back on, it will really go a long way. Understand that using manners—just a simple “excuse me” or “thank you”—is also a form of empathy. It teaches your kids to respect others and acknowledge their impact on other people. When you think about it, disrespectful behavior is the opposite, negative side of being empathetic and having good manners.

5. Be Respectful When You Correct Your Child

When your child is being disrespectful, you as a parent need to correct them in a respectful manner. Yelling and getting upset and having your own attitude in response to theirs is not helpful and often only escalates behavior. The truth is, if you allow their disrespectful behavior to affect you, it’s difficult to be an effective teacher in that moment. You can pull your child aside and give them a clear message, for example. You don’t need to shout at them or embarrass them. One of our friends was excellent at this particular parenting skill. He would pull his kids aside, say something quietly (I usually had no idea what it was), and it usually changed their behavior immediately. Use these incidents as teachable moments by pulling your kids aside calmly, making your expectations firm and clear, and following through with consequences if necessary.

6. Try to Set Realistic Expectations for Your Kids Around Their Behavior

This may actually mean that you need to lower your expectations. Don’t plan a huge road trip with your kids, for example, if they don’t like to ride in the car. If your child has trouble in large groups and you plan an event for 30 people, you’re likely to set everyone up for disappointment and probably an argument!
If you are setting realistic expectations and you still think there might be some acting-out behaviors that crop up, set limits beforehand. For example, if you’re going to go out to dinner, be clear with your kids about what you expect of them. This will not only help the behavior but in some ways will help them feel safer. They will understand what is expected of them and will know what the consequences will be if they don’t meet those expectations. If they meet your goals, certainly give them credit, but also if they don’t, follow through on whatever consequences you’ve set up for them.

7. Clarify the Limits When Things Are Calm

When you’re in a situation where your child is disrespectful, that’s not the ideal time to do a lot of talking about limits or consequences. At a later time, you can talk with your child about his behavior and what your expectations are.

8. Talk About What Happened Afterward

If your child is disrespectful or rude, talk about what happened (later, when things are calm) and how it could have been dealt with differently. That’s a chance for you, as a parent, to listen to your child and hear what was going on with her when that behavior happened. Try to stay objective. You can say, “Pretend a video camera recorded the whole thing. What would I see?” This is also a perfect time to have your child describe what she could have done differently.

9. Don’t Take It Personally

One of the biggest mistakes parents can make is to take their child’s behavior personally. The truth is, you should never fall into that trap because the teenager next door is doing the same thing to his parents, and your cousin’s daughter is doing the same thing to her parents. Your role is to just deal with your child’s behavior as objectively as possible.

After reading this list, I took two things away: 1.) Get in alignment with your mate! Hello people, I don’t know about you but this is one where the talk and the walk are two very different things. Consistency is key for kiddos, specifically when it comes to boundaries and consequences. If junior has different expectations across multiple environments with different people – each with individual styles of teaching – two things are likely to happen. The child(ren) will learn to adapt accordingly and/or the message you really want to send home may take longer to stick with unwarranted stress and confusion along the way. Get on the same page with your partner and caregivers about expectations and consequences. Then, follow-through. This way you’re as consistent as possible while ensuring the good health of your relationships through communication, and the opportunity to lead by example.

Planning ahead keeps you calm in the heat of the moment because you never have to give away your authority, which brings me to my second take away: Don’t take it personally! When it comes to our children’s behavior, especially disrespect, we are often quilty of snapping nastily back at the afront that left our sense of self so severely accosted. When this happens we are tempted into anger, threats or embarrassment rather than capitalizing on the teachable moment.

I hope this resource has been helpful to you! What recommendation resonated with you the most?

Parenting is a skill that takes practice, not at all dissimilar from the task of growing up. Give each other grace, forgiveness, and the opportunity to do better.

**If you’re a mental health survivor or mental health provider and want to tell your story – please email me at contact@deskraven.com!**

For more excellent insight and entertainment through a collaborative approach to all things mental health, including a guest post from yours truly, visit the Blunt Therapy Blog by Randy Withers, LPC! For additional perspectives on suicide prevention from master level mental health providers visit, 20 Professional Therapists Share Their Thoughts on Suicide!

In collaboration with Luis Posso, an Outreach Specialist from DrugRehab.com, Deskraven is now offering guides on depression and suicide prevention to its readers. For more information on understanding the perils of addiction visit, Substance Abuse and Suicide: A Guide to Understanding the Connection and Reducing Risk! In addition, for a comprehensive depression resource guide from their sister project at Columbus Recovery Center visit, Dealing with Depression!