A good role model for a father

 


This weekend my husband and I went to the Tim McGraw and Faith Hill concert. One of my favorite songs they sing is “It's your love”.

It's your love, it just does something to me, it sends a shock right through me, I can’t get enough. If you wonder about the spell, I am under. It's your love.

My entire family is under this spell from this man I call my husband and my children call dad. He loves us all fiercely. There is not a day that goes by that I am not overwhelmed with gratitude for him. He is determined and fights for good. As a therapist, I often see that being a good dad or husband is not modeled but one can always learn. My husband is a great one to learn from if you don’t know him then find someone you respect and model your life after them. Here are observations from watching my husband that will make anyone a good dad if they follow these tips.

1.Make sure your child knows your love in unconditional. My husband told me before my children were born that he would go out of his way to make sure they knew there was nothing they could do to cause him to love them more or less. He has drilled this in their heads! His love is unwavering and will not change, regardless of what they do. IMG_6001

  1. Work hard. When my husband and I met we barely had two nickels to rub together but no matter what, my husband fought hard to provide a good life for our children. He has always modeled “Hard work pays off”. He has waited tables, sold life insurance, answered calls in a call center, coached, taught, pastored and even worked in a nursing home because not providing for our children has never been an option. IMG_6986
  2. Be Patient. Children can try our patients right? They start exploring their world and asking questions from the moment they start talking. Enjoy these moments. My husband has more patience than anyone I know. He often reminds himself that they are just little, they’re learning, and mostly he never forgets that words and actions matter, so he shows grace more than anything else. IMG_6118
  3. Be gentle. My husband has never used his hands to hurt my children. His hands are gentle, loving, soft and nurturing. He realizes that soft words and actions lead to safety, He is a safe haven of protection.

    IMG_5944

  4. Pursue their hearts. What are your children passionate about? What do they love? What is their biggest fears, strengths, and weaknesses? My husband knows my girls inside and out. He encourages their strengths, teaches them to be the best they can be and would move mountains to make their dreams comes true. IMG_8382
  5. Invite conversation. I personally grew up in an environment of “What I say goes.”, “You do it because I am the parent”. Joe, from the beginning, wanted our children to be able to argue with us, defend what they believe, and engage wisdom, knowledge,  and research. He has pulled this off well. I will never forget when our daughter Kendra came to us wanting a bedtime extension in 4th grade. Joe listened to her argument, told her to go research bedtimes for children her age and come back with reasons why and he should extend the bedtime. She did and he changed her bedtime. He always invites our children to think and pursue wisdom. Super shot
  6. Date your children. From the time my girls have been two, Joe has taken them on dates. He wants them to know he is the most important man in their life. He has set the bar high. I know one day they will date and find love but hopefully, the standard of excellence is high because their dad has been a model to them on how they should be treated.  Joe and Kaidance
  1. Model how they should be treated. This is one I see all the time. Parents, the chances your children will model the relationship you have with your spouse is very high so do it well while you have the chance. It is never too late to change. My husband kisses me, pursues me, puts me first, laughs with me, dreams with me, fights with me, and intentionally grosses our children out so he can model to them what a healthy relationship looks like. IMG_6736
  2. Laugh with them. My family loves to laugh. My husband wrestles with them, teases them and invites them to a good time and they accept the invitation. We never, ever want to lose our sense of wonder. Life is too short. Joe and Kyra laughing
  3. Engage in the fun. We work hard and play hard. Another one of my husband’s ideas through the years has been family fun night. Essentially one day a week we engage in family fun together. It can be a walk on the beach, video games, dinner out, the zoo, a road-trip or simply a fun night in that the park. The point is, no matter what we do, we choose to be engaged, laugh together and talk about life. IMG_5986 Joe and Kendra

My husband is a wise man and I am so thankful he is the father of my children. He is very selfless, loving, patient and giving and we are lucky to have his love because it just does something to usJ.


What is guided imagery and how does it reduce stress?

I currently have a 30 days of mindful meditation group going that you can join by clicking on this link https://www.facebook.com/groups/286899935052609/

What is Guided Imagery?

    Guided Imagery is great for the visual learner. It invites participants to use their imagination to visit the most relaxing place they can imagine! It is just like daydreaming. Perhaps your “happy” place is on a sandy beach, feeling the sun beating down you, listening to the waves crash into the sand. Maybe it is sitting on a river bank listening to the trickling water hit the rocks. Wherever it is you find peace, relaxation, and comfort is where you should let your mind go while doing Guided Imagery.

    While you are immersed in your scene try to let your fives senses do the work, do you hear the waves crashing against the beach? Do you smell the fresh air and feel the sand on your skin? Do you taste the salty water? Stay here, in your happy place as long as you need to, when you're ready, leave your happy place and tell yourself you're going to enjoy the rest of your day. It's like returning from a mini vacation only, you never left the room.

    Guided Imagery helps reduce stress by calming your body so you can enjoy a few minutes of relaxation!! Did you also know it also helps create resiliency, reduces your chance of getting sick and aids in sleep? You should try it and tell me how it goes.
(Don’t forget to breathe deeply and sit comfortably while you enjoy the mini vacation in your mind.)


10 signs you may struggle with depression

Did you know that according to the National Institute of Mental Health (2015) that 350 million people across the globe struggle with depression? Depression is often viewed as a deliberating feeling that often leaves you in bed. Here are 10 ways to recognize if you or someone you love is depressed.

1. You are in chronic pain. Pain can be unbearable and hard to deal with especially if the cause has not been discovered or a cure, treatment option or pain management is not available. Untreated, prolonged pain can cause depression because the pain is sent through the spinal cord to the Cerebral Cortex. The Cerebral Cortex then assigns meaning to the pain based on current or previous social and personal experiences.

2. You have an eating disorder. Individuals who eat too little or too much could suffer from depression. Often times the feelings of guilt, shame and fear take over when a person eats, leading to a vicious cycle of over or under eating. When an individual feels they cannot win, they feel defeated and often fall into what seems like a hopeless battle.

 3. You are having trouble in a relationship. Prolonged conflict in a relationship can lead to feeling helpless, stuck, overwhelmed and sad. Relationship issues can cause the brain to release unhealthy amounts of the stress hormone cortisol into the brain causing your situation to feel out of control.

4. You feel numb. Individuals often become depressed without even realizing it because they go through life like a robot with no emotion or feeling. Often numbness is a result of emotions and feelings being suppressed out of fear of being rejected or hurt.

5. You want to sleep all the time. Did you know that a healthy person only needs 7-8 hours of sleep per day? If you find yourself tired all the time and sleeping your day away, then there is a good chance you are depressed.

6. You are drinking too much alcohol. A lot of research suggests that certain alcoholic beverages are good for you. However, if you cannot wait to get home from work to open a can of beer, whiskey, or vodka and one turns into 3 or 4, chances are, you’re depressed.

7. You lack a desire to be around people. If you would rather be playing video games, engrossed in a book or spend most days avoiding people, chances are, you’re depressed. Depressed people often want to be alone.

8. You cry a lot. If you find yourself crying a lot, feeling sad and alone, chances are your depressed. Often this is the result of feeling like no one cares, alone or stuck.

9. You use drugs casually. If you use Marijuana on a regular basis to cope with life, chances are, you are struggling with depression. Street drugs often help individuals feel relaxed and carefree, however, what many do not realize, is they’re actually causing you to sink further into depression.

10. You have stopped caring about your appearance. Often when we become depressed we simply stop caring about how we look or what others might think of us. If you find yourself staying in your comfy clothes, not caring if your teeth are brushed or hair is combed, there is a good chance you can be depressed.

The good news is depression is treatable. It takes time, but if you're committed to getting better, a counselor can help you discover the root of your depression and teach you skills to overcome it. You are not a hopeless case.


The Truth About Mother’s Day

 

Mothers-Day-Pictures

            Mother’s Day is a ponderous day for me. I love being a mom and feel so proud to be the mother to our four children. They bring joy to our lives daily, however, I often think about the people who cannot have children, the children who have lost their moms, the mom who has lost her child, the mom who lost her husband and the mom whose children no longer speak to her. My heart goes out to them. I imagine the day is filled with many emotions.  

 To the women who cannot have children

            My heart goes out to you. The emptiness you feel is real and I know it sucks. It is hard when you want something so bad and for whatever reason, it will not happen. Please know it is not your fault. I know that is not always easy to accept. I hope you find joy in the day celebrating a mother in your life and never forget that a mom is not just a woman who gives birth but a woman who cares and nurtures for others, if you pour your life in a child, you’re a mother so Happy Mother’s Day to you.

To the child who has lost their mother

            I am sorry. I imagine this day brings sadness. Losing a mom sucks. Moms fill our life with joy, love, and laughter and when they are gone, it hurts. I imagine that no matter how long it has been, the pain of not being able to pick up the phone to call them never goes away.

 I would love to hear about your mom. Would you share your favorite memory of her with me? I hope that as you mourn the loss of your mom that there is another mother in your life to celebrate today.

To the mother who has lost her child

            This is the most difficult one for me to write. I cannot imagine your pain and the longing you must feel to hold your child once more, to see them, to touch them, or simply tell them you love them. To me, you are a hero because you got to love them and let them go. That pain is indescribable I am sure.  I hope that you do not skip this day. Celebrate the mom you were, are and want to be. You never stop being a mom. Pull out pictures of your child, letters they wrote you or videos you might have. I know this can be hard and you don’t want to experience those emotions and feelings again but I invite you to cry, laugh, feel anger and mourn if that is what it takes. Feeling will bring healing. Most of all, I hope that those memories bring you joy and remind you of the life you invested in for so long. Celebrate you today because you are worth celebrating!

To the mom who lost her husband

            I cannot imagine what pain you feel on a day like today. I am so sorry for your loss. I hope that if your children are young, that someone in your life celebrates you. You deserved to be noticed, pampered and cared for today. I hope that you see your husband in your children’s eyes and that his memory never dies. I hope that your day is filled with love, laughter. and hope.

To the mom whose children won’t speak to her

            As a counselor, this is the most difficult one for me to understand. Life is so short. I am sure there is a story of pain and hurt and that has caused this separation but I hope one day the pain, wounds, and hurt can be healed. Never give up hope. I hope, that even in the silence, that you celebrate you today. You’re a still mother regardless of how you are treated. 

To all the mom’s out there

            You’re not a mom just because who gave a birth, a mom is a woman who nurtures, cares for and loves children unconditionally. I know that today can be hard for many of you but I hope that even in your pain that you chose to celebrate you today because you deserve it!

Take a day to relax, catch a movie, have a spa treatment or just hang around those you love. I hope whatever you choice to do, that your day will remind you of just how special you are.

Happy Mother’s Day everyone!

Leave a comment and tell me what makes the mom in your life special


A journey to private practice

    As a child, even though I had low-esteem and little belief in myself, it never stopped me from dreaming. I remember fantasizing about being preaching or working in a hospital one day. As I matured, and after many days and hours in the school library, I decided I wanted to be a counselor. You can check out my story here http://www.ericamartino.com/2016/12/i-had-to-prove-i-was-not-the-dumb-girl-from-high-school-.html.

At a young age, I enjoyed hearing people’s stories and helping them move toward change. When I graduated high school I enrolled in a college and was planning to get my degree in counseling. Instead of getting my counseling degree at that time I chose to get married. 

                  After I got married, I begin working with my husband first at a church, then at couple different schools. We have always done well working together. One day an opportunity presented itself for me to open a fitness center for an investor in the town where we lived. After much contemplation, I decided to give it a try. The fitness center grew rapidly and soon I was running 7 different centers in 3 different states. My favorite part about my job was listening to all the members tell me their stories of pain, hope, and perseverance. After several years of running fitness centers, I decide to become a stay at home mom and take care of my sweet children but even while being at home, my passion for personal development never left me.

                  During my years at home, my husband was working hard providing for our family while attending graduate school. Since he was gone a lot, I decided to go back to school and get a degree in business. This worked out great because when he graduated he wanted to open a private practice and I knew just how to do it.  

                  We spent many hours planning, writing business plans and developing a social media plan before opening our doors in 2010. While Joe was busy seeing clients, I took care of the day to day operations of the business while I continued to finish my education and care for my children. Our practice started in a little two room suite on the East Beltline in Grand Rapids but our long term dream was never to stay small but to reach one person at time so we could change a community and eventually change the world which led us to expansion.

          In 2013, we moved our small, two-roomed office to East Paris Ave and rented an 11 room office. This was a big move for us that came with a lot of fear.

What if we could not afford the rent?

What if clients stopped coming?

What if, what if, what if……

                   We did not let our fears stop us, our mission was always bigger then our fears therefore in 2014 we opened an additional location in Lowell, MI and in 2015 we expanded to Grandville, MI. In addition to running 3 offices, Joe and I own Hopes and Dreams marriage conferences. For 7 years now, we have been traveling all around the state holding marriage conferences because we believe healthy marriages create healthy families. In addition to the marriage conferences, Joe is invited often to speak on the new stations, for the local hospitals and even the schools. Our dreams have not stopped with expanding our practices or hosting conferences. In addition to these things Joe is also working on writing a book and creating curriculum.

               It is our desire that couples all over the country can learn what it takes to make a marriage not just survive but thrive. While Joe invests his free time in writing and public speaking I work with businesses to help them grow.

                  I have been offering business consulting now for many years. I have a passion for helping small business because I believe small business help America be stronger while providing more jobs. Plus, I love showing others how they can take a dream and turn into a reality. It simply starts with a good road map.

    Are you wondering how Joe and I have time to run a private practice and do all this? The truth we have an amazing team of therapist and support staff.  Together we all strive to be the best in Grand Rapids. In order to the be the best we have learned a lot the hard way which has involved making a lot of mistakes but without mistakes it is impossible to learn.  The process to become the best has involved weeding out, adding, learning, growing and developing but it has all been necessary to achieve excellence.

    While I have been working beside my husband throughout this journey as his business developer, I have recently added more responsible and am now a therapist. I love being a therapist. There is no greater joy occupationally then journeying with someone toward healing. My journey started with a childhood dream that exploded into something bigger and I would not change any of it because this journey has brought me where I am today.


A journey to private practice

    As a child, even though I had low-esteem and little belief in myself, it never stopped me from dreaming. I remember fantasizing about being preaching or working in a hospital one day. As I matured, and after many days and hours in the school library, I decided I wanted to be a counselor. You can check out my story here http://www.ericamartino.com/2016/12/i-had-to-prove-i-was-not-the-dumb-girl-from-high-school-.html.

At a young age, I enjoyed hearing people’s stories and helping them move toward change. When I graduated high school I enrolled in a college and was planning to get my degree in counseling. Instead of getting my counseling degree at that time I chose to get married. 

                  After I got married, I begin working with my husband first at a church, then at couple different schools. We have always done well working together. One day an opportunity presented itself for me to open a fitness center for an investor in the town where we lived. After much contemplation, I decided to give it a try. The fitness center grew rapidly and soon I was running 7 different centers in 3 different states. My favorite part about my job was listening to all the members tell me their stories of pain, hope, and perseverance. After several years of running fitness centers, I decide to become a stay at home mom and take care of my sweet children but even while being at home, my passion for personal development never left me.

                  During my years at home, my husband was working hard providing for our family while attending graduate school. Since he was gone a lot, I decided to go back to school and get a degree in business. This worked out great because when he graduated he wanted to open a private practice and I knew just how to do it.  

                  We spent many hours planning, writing business plans and developing a social media plan before opening our doors in 2010. While Joe was busy seeing clients, I took care of the day to day operations of the business while I continued to finish my education and care for my children. Our practice started in a little two room suite on the East Beltline in Grand Rapids but our long term dream was never to stay small but to reach one person at time so we could change a community and eventually change the world which led us to expansion.

          In 2013, we moved our small, two-roomed office to East Paris Ave and rented an 11 room office. This was a big move for us that came with a lot of fear.

What if we could not afford the rent?

What if clients stopped coming?

What if, what if, what if……

                   We did not let our fears stop us, our mission was always bigger then our fears therefore in 2014 we opened an additional location in Lowell, MI and in 2015 we expanded to Grandville, MI. In addition to running 3 offices, Joe and I own Hopes and Dreams marriage conferences. For 7 years now, we have been traveling all around the state holding marriage conferences because we believe healthy marriages create healthy families. In addition to the marriage conferences, Joe is invited often to speak on the new stations, for the local hospitals and even the schools. Our dreams have not stopped with expanding our practices or hosting conferences. In addition to these things Joe is also working on writing a book and creating curriculum.

               It is our desire that couples all over the country can learn what it takes to make a marriage not just survive but thrive. While Joe invests his free time in writing and public speaking I work with businesses to help them grow.

                  I have been offering business consulting now for many years. I have a passion for helping small business because I believe small business help America be stronger while providing more jobs. Plus, I love showing others how they can take a dream and turn into a reality. It simply starts with a good road map.

    Are you wondering how Joe and I have time to run a private practice and do all this? The truth we have an amazing team of therapist and support staff.  Together we all strive to be the best in Grand Rapids. In order to the be the best we have learned a lot the hard way which has involved making a lot of mistakes but without mistakes it is impossible to learn.  The process to become the best has involved weeding out, adding, learning, growing and developing but it has all been necessary to achieve excellence.

    While I have been working beside my husband throughout this journey as his business developer, I have recently added more responsible and am now a therapist. I love being a therapist. There is no greater joy occupationally then journeying with someone toward healing. My journey started with a childhood dream that exploded into something bigger and I would not change any of it because this journey has brought me where I am today.


Why someone can’t make you do anything, leaving you one choice, your 100% responsible for you all the time.

Phrases  I often hear is:

“He made me yell at him.”

“We got into a fight because she made me mad."

My children will often say “I only hit her because she gave me a dirty look, if she would have been straight face then I would not have gotten so mad.”

“It's my teacher's fault I failed, if she would’ve told me about my missing assignments then I would not have failed.”

“It's America’s fault I am so angry and burning cars if they would’ve elected Hillary instead of Trump this would not be happening.”

“It's my employer's fault I am late to work; they should not expect me to be there so early.”

“It's my child’s fault he got his mouth smacked, with language like that he deserves it.”

Here is the truth, no one makes you do or say anything. I am going to say that again

No one makes you say or doing anything.

                  You are 100% responsible for yourself all the time. This is something I repeat to clients over and over again. Why do I pound this in people’s heads? Because change cannot happen as long as we believe someone is responsible for our happiness or actions.  We are all created with Will Power.

                                                    Will Power

                  What is Will Power? Will Power is the ability to resist temptation and control oneself. This is important because when a person realizes they possess the ability to control themselves it changes everything. Will Power empower you to make immediate decisions and control the consequences, this means that you have control of your actions all the time. What if you don’t have Will Power? The good news is it is a learned behavior. When you develop the ability to control your own actions it actually increases your self-esteem.

                                                Self Esteem

                  Who wants to think someone else has control over them? I certainly do not. Will Power means that you can stop:

Yelling

You can stop being mean.

You can stop eating the food you don’t want to eat.

You can stop hurting other people.

You can stop smoking.

You can stop taking drugs.

You can stop being treated like a second class citizen.

You can stop blaming the Devil for your choices.

You can decide to….

To walk away.

To make a different choice.

To live a healthier lifestyle.

To be the bigger person in an argument.

To be a better person.

To love your spouse more than you love yourself.

To love your children more than you love your job or addiction.

To choice the higher road every time.

And when you realize no one can make you do anything, your self-esteem grows! A person has a healthy self-esteem when they feel good about themselves. People feel good about themselves when they realize others cannot make them say, feel or do anything. When you realize you control you, your marriage, life, and world will become more tolerable because even when you are invited to a fight, you have the power to walk away.


How to deal with emotional pain

It has been 16 years since I experienced some of the worst physical and emotional pain I have ever experienced. My husband Joe and I were newly married and lived 10 hours from family. Joe had accepted a job at a Christian school. During our time there I became pregnant which was not planned nor expected. None the less, Joe and I were very excited! We were new to this whole pregnancy stuff and was not sure what to expect. We found a doctor and arrived at our first sonogram, only to hear the most dreaded words “We cannot find a heartbeat.” They told me not to worry; I could be early, and the heartbeat could still come. Week after week I went back to the doctor hoping to hear a heartbeat. Soon I had to come to terms with the fact the baby was gone. I refused a DNC and lost the baby at home. That night was horrible; I lost so much blood I passed out, I was fatigued and suffering from a broken heart. The physical pain was bad but nothing in comparison to the emotional pain. I felt alone and broken. Over the next several months, I did everything I could to distract myself from the pain. I was tired of feeling those disturbing emotions that kept me a prisoner to my bed.

A couple of years went by, and I moved to a new town and new doctor and life continued. I felt so much hope because I was getting a new doctor and hoping she could finally give me some answers. I was excited to ask the doctor what I did wrong to have a miscarriage. When I asked the doctor what I did wrong, she replied

“I think you need to accept you did nothing wrong that sometimes bad things happen to good people.”

This was not the answer I wanted to hear but the answer I need to hear to start healing. We begin to heal from emotional pain when we do these things:

Choose to live in a relationship with others because we are not meant to suffer alone

To deal with grief, we must realize we cannot suffer alone. It is important to surround ourselves with others, rely on them and allow them to help carry your burden. Do not be a silent griever. Your friends are not mind readers; it is important that you share with others your needs so they can help you through your grief.

Acknowledge your emotions

Most people get tired of feeling, yet it is through feeling you find healing. If you are angry, sad, feeling lonely, hating life, depressed, whatever your emotion might be, you need to name it. “Today I am feeling angry because…….” Give yourself permission to grieve.

Visit your pain and name it

Regardless of when it was it is important to revisit the pain, experience the emotions, and be honest about what happened and how you felt. Set grieving goals Grief has no time limit however what you do with your grief does. If you have been struggling to get out of bed, sleeping all the time or unable to find purpose in life then you need to set goals. These goals can be simple and involve something like:

• Today I am going to get out of bed.

• Today I am going to call a friend.

• Today I am going to socialize.

• Today I am going to do something for myself.

Setting grieving goals helps us to realize we must go on.

Pour your life into someone else

Sometimes, to move past trauma, it is necessary to pour your time into someone else. This allows you to see others pain and often brings a new outlook to life.

Try viewing your situation through a different lens

When life is hard, often you become stuck. After I had lost my first baby, a couple of years later I lost two more. It sucked, and the losses continued to feed the narrative in my head that I must have done something to deserve this. It is when I looked at my situation from a different lens that I began to heal. Here is the different lens I looked through:

• What if I lost my babies because we live in a broken world and it was nothing that I did but instead the result of a fallen humanity?

• What if I lost my babies because even though my pain was unimaginable, it was meant to be used to help others one day.

• What if I lost my babies because I had to learn that life is hard.

Accepting life is hard because its suppose to be

Life is hard because it is meant to be. We were never promised an easy life however we were promised the tools to help us endure. When we realize we are strong, we can overcome, we can fight for a new day, and that are worst circumstances, if we allow them to, can bring healing for ourselves and others, life begins to be beautiful again because we have chosen to accept what is.

Accept your pain

When we realize, we cannot change our circumstances. We cannot make our pain go away. We cannot avoid it, it leaves us one choice and that is to sit in it. It has been 16 years, and I do not know why I lost my babies, but I have learned to accept it. I have learned to accept that pain is a part of my story however it does not have to define who I am. Through my hardship, I learned I am a fighter. I did not give up, and continue to be the best me I can be. I hope those babies know that their mom never gave up but instead fought to make life beautiful, that I chose to endure and provide a good life for their father and siblings. If you have experienced pain or currently experiencing pain, do not give up, acknowledge your pain, sit in your pain, surround yourself with people you love and keep going. Do not give up.


Parenting is not about quantity time but about quality time

         During my time in school, my mother would worry that I did not spend enough time with my children. She would note that I worked 56 hours a week at the office, attended school 8 to 12 hours a week and did homework 20 hours a weekend. How in the world did I get time with my children?

Parenting is not about quantity but about quality

 

One researcher suggests that small children only need 15 minutes of one on one time per day and another author suggests the more time a teen spends engaged with their mother, the fewer instances of delinquent behavior. And the more time teens spend with both their parents together in family time, such as during meals, the less likely they are to abuse drugs and alcohol and engage in other risky or illegal behavior. They also achieve higher math scores.

If you are like me and wonder if your children are getting enough of time and attention from you, don’t worry anymore. Here are 5 things you can do to spend quality time with them.

 

  1. Engage in an activity with them they enjoy

This maybe reading a book, playing with Legos, kicking a soccer ball around, wrestling, painting your fingernails, playing barbie dolls, shooting guns, I think you get the hint, whatever your child enjoys, find 15 minutes out of your day and engage in the activity with them.

  1. Sit down and converse

I am lucky, all my children love conversation so this is the easiest one for me to do and it usually happens while we are riding in the car. I let them talk to me about whatever they want and I engage and listen. They get undivided attention. I get my ear talked off and everyone is happy.

  1. Have meals together

I know life is extremely busy but family meal time should be the last activity dropped off your calendar. Plan at least 3 to 4 times a week to eat together and during this time put your devices away and enjoy each others company.

  1. Plan family date nights

This is the one night a week my husband and I valued while we both were in school. No matter what, Friday night was family- fun night. We took the kids to the park, Dave and Busters, bowling, to fairs, carnivals, out to eat, to the mall, wherever we could think to go we went.

  1. Do a project with them

Invite your child do help you do something. Make this time fun, engaging and full of conversation. You can paint the porch together, build a hunting blind (My husband did this with my children), put a pool in together (the girls and I did this). Oh, and my favorite memory, the girls and raked the driveway gravel together. Children enjoy stress-free, family time that is engaging even if it involves work.

Next time you start feeling guilty about the amount of time you don’t spend with your children, put away your guilt and engage in one of these simple activities. All it takes is about 15 minutes!


When a family member is hurting you do these things

I spent 2016 learning how to be a therapist. I sat with many people who were hurting. Most of them had something in common, they have been hurt by family. Someone somewhere caused pain that left them feeling hopeless, depressed, scared or alone. The holidays are over and a New Year is here. Here are some tips to dealing with the family members that are causing conflict or pain in your life.

  1. Be a good listener.

Find out what the person you are in conflict with wants and how they expect you to meet those expectations.

  1. Repeat back what you hear them saying to make sure the message you hear is accurate.

It is so easy to have a rebuttal in our heads going the whole time someone is talking instead of listening

  1. Decide if you can meet the expectations.

Sometimes you can and sometimes you cannot. Only you can decide.

  1. Express the feelings you experience as a result of the way you are being treated.

This is not easy and takes vulnerability. Vulnerability is difficult because it means you can get hurt. Call them on the phone and ask them to listen, write an email, letter, however, if you can get your feelings across, do it!

  1. Try to compromise. Compromising is a part of life. There is always a happy medium if two people are willing to find it.
  1. Draw boundaries when necessary.

Until I became a therapist I use to believe that no matter what it took family was family and you worked it out no matter. I have learned this last year that it takes two. Relationships are never one sided. It takes two people who want a better relationship to make it work. If you are the only one fighting for your relationship, then it is time to draw boundaries.

  1. Do not allow yourself to be treated poorly no matter how much you love the person.

Here are the ways to recognize if you are being poorly treated:

  • The person calls you names.
  • They blame you for the relationship break- down.
  • They manipulate you by withholding love from you. I see this lot. It is often done through silence. The person refuses to talk to you, answer calls or engage in an adult to adult conversation with you.
  • They punish you for not doing what they want.
  • The create unrealistic rules to follow.
  1. Be intentional without being controlled.

You can open the door for a better relationship to happen without being controlled or at someone else’s beckon call. Being intentional means I will not allow the person to control me or manipulate me but will be available when they want to talk.

  1. Have self-respect.

Self-respect says I will not allow someone to belittle me, blame me for problems or treat me poorly.

  1. Do not sweep problems under the rug.

Problems that are left undealt with only get worse. If you have a family member that ignores you for long periods of time and then pretends everything is ok is manipulating you. The only way to not keep repeating the same patterns over and over again is to talk about them. Do not allow anyone to treat you poorly and then pretend something never happened. Being an adult means you hold people accountable, help them grow and invite them to take ownership of their actions.

  1. Forgive over and over again.

Someone cannot keep paying for the same mistake. Offer forgiveness whether they ask for it or not. Forgiveness sets you free. The only person held captive by not forgiving is you. Forgiveness does not mean you invite someone back into your life to be hurt, it just means you are letting go of the hurt they have inflicted on you.

  1. Don’t be afraid to say goodbye

This is the hardest one for me to write but I truly believe, if someone is manipulating you, hurting you, abusing you or continuing to inflict emotional pain on you then you need to let this person go. It doesn’t have to be forever but you cannot allow yourself to be treated this way.

  1. Realize that life is short

Do not give up easy. Fight hard. Try to get along. Seek help from professionals. But if someone doesn’t want to change realize that life is too short to be treated “this way”. Do not succumb to emotional or physical abuse to mend a relationship. The opposite is also true, do not hold on to anger, pain, and hurt when you could just get along. Life is too short.