Fielding the Crushing Blows of Adolescence

Watching your kids suffer any kind of loss, humiliation, rejection, and loneliness is awful!  Sometimes you wonder if it’s worse for them or for you.

Even though you understand the need for them to learn from life’s ups and downs, you wish you could take it on your own shoulders and spare them the pain.

However, being prepared with what you can do to help your child in these tender moments deepens your relationship and helps your child prepare for the future.

Besides your loving support, these occasions call for a very sophisticated skill – one that without your help, your kids may NEVER learn.

I’m talking about RESILIENCE – the ability to bounce back from upsets of all kinds.   We know from our own experience how hard it is to bear up under even the mildest of setbacks.

Being resilient calls for grit, character, confidence, courage, and perseverance – all prerequisites for college and beyond!

There is NOTHING easy about building this skill and here’s why:

  • Living surrounded by affluence robs us of the natural experience of deprivation, the most fertile learning ground for this skill.  It’s tough to get good at bouncing back when you’re never truly down and out.
  • No one consciously seeks out opportunities to master this skill since it’s about hardship.
  • Parents can and do get in the way!  The urge to save their kids from any kind of upset is so strong, they often inadvertently block their child from building that muscle.

When kids are allowed to feel the pain, they learn how to dig deep (GRIT) to come up with strategies that will help them feel better – strategies they’ll use over and over.

In a world where kids have easy access to a whole array of illegal substances, learning to be resilient becomes critical.   Kids who are fortified with strategies that get them back on their feet and on their way are at a great advantage.  They give themselves permission to feel miserable, and then fight to press ahead with a solution.

As a parent, you know your kids see everything!  Therefore, modeling your own coping skills becomes a very powerful tool.  How well do you cope with a tough day?  Parents who openly verbalize their ‘need for a drink’ at the end of the day know how difficult it truly can be to manage emotions … and should therefore consider modeling healthier, more appropriate ways of calming and reseting their mood.  That is exactly what kids need to see!

What can you do? The key is to support your kids without rescuing them!

Here’s how to SUPPORT your kids:

  • LISTEN – Stay calm, composed and be all ears as they describe their problems and upsets to you, from THEIR POINT OF VIEW.  Keep your foot on the break resisting the desire to speed up the process or offer advice.
  • BRAINSTORM ‘COME BACK’ STRATEGIES – Ask them if they’d like to work together to come up with good strategies and solutions.  Allow them to lead this discussion.
  • FOLLOW THROUGH on the natural consequences of what happened and / or the consequences you both previously agreed to.  Clear the way for them to experience natural cause and effect even when it causes them discomfort, embarrassment etc.
  • Talk about HOW YOU COPE when you feel rejected, when you’re lonely, when you’ve failed in some way, when you can’t have what you want, when you’ve had a tough day at work, and on and on.

As you know all too well, parenting isn’t for the faint of heart! In your loving presence, they’ll feel safe to fail, learn, and grow and will get plenty of practice at bouncing back in a healthy way.

Your comments are always welcome. Please contact me!

How To Choose a Soul Mate! Will You Recognize Him or Her?

IF YOU ARE SINGLE, WIDOWED or DIVORCED and are interested in reading smart tips, talk, and research on dating and the Single life, I’m glad you’re here!

When I ask people if they’re dating, I get an interesting mix of reactions. I hear, “It’s hopeless!” followed up with the ‘obvious’ reasons – their age, their town, the kids, the available choices – and of course the ubiquitous, “All the good ones are taken!”

I consider being Single a gift.  At what other time do you have before you this kind of opportunity to build the life of your dreams … regardless of your age!   Your only thought needs to be that nothing spoils that dream!

If you’ve ever been to one of my Singles events, you know I subscribe to living life with eyes wide open – being present, positive, and authentic!   And when it comes to dating to meet Mr. or Ms. Right, I will tell you there is nothing more important than being fully present.  Your future happiness depends on it.

Statistics confirm that Couples are in trouble. Divorce is splitting families apart and always leaves the kids to share a large part of the painful aftermath.  The ripple effect on society is far-reaching and destructive.

How did this happen and what can be done?  I think we should start at the beginning … with how we go about choosing our partners.

Can you remember the last time you felt that wonderful romantic flutter in your gut and found yourself floating through your day?  That’s what we all want!  We feel loved and special!  Please!

As wonderful as it is, there’s one little hitch that we have to pay attention to.  I feel like such a kill-joy right now!  I’m sorry, but this is important!

“Good Chemistry’ is at the top of everyone’s list for love, seemingly the very barometer for a life of bliss and happiness, BUT allowing this feeling to overwhelm your choice of partner could cause you a lifetime of pain and heartache.  Did I get your attention?

The fact is, ‘good chemistry’ is actually a natural but very potent cocktail of hormones that can wreak havoc with your rational mind.  I won’t list all the hormones involved here, but suffice it to say, when Cupid picks up his bow and lets the arrow fly, you won’t see it coming and you won’t know what happened to you!

We’re hard-wired to meet and marry based on superficial attractions. It worked for the early Cavemen whose immediate needs were easily met by procreation, but as you can imagine, this surge of hormones no longer comes even close to satisfying our long-term needs of happiness and fulfillment.

Under the spell of new romance, we react to many different kinds of subliminal attractions ranging from strong physical and sexual to monetary and status attractions.  Without understanding why, we unwittingly slide into relationships that have no staying power.

Whew!  Having said all that, attraction is a precious elixir to life and love!   So how do we make conscious choices without ending up with potluck???

 We have to consciously balance our heads with our hearts!

To make this very clear and memorable, let me ask you this …

What are the TWO skills a pilot MUST have?  ANSWER:  A Pilot must be able to both take off AND land the plane.

Applying that metaphor to love and romance, good Chemistry gives you lift off. Are you with me?

But to land this plane, you need more.  You need to have a crystal clear vision of who you are and what you want your life to look like in the future.

BEFORE you begin your search for THE ONE, take stock and make these preparations so that you don’t crash land:

  • Make sure you’re at your best when you begin your search for lasting love with your ideal partner because you will attract someone who is at the same degree of ‘ready’ or ‘complete’ as you are.  That’s the Law of Attraction at work.  If you’re not ‘ready’, it can actually work against you.
  • Create a map of YOU including what makes you tick, what’s important to you, what you can and can’t tolerate, what personal gifts and talents you want someone to appreciate about you.  The more grounded you are in your own needs, the less overwhelmed you’ll be by the presence of someone else’s.

Once you have completed your 360, you can date with abandon, more or less, because you won’t be searching for the list of credentials you made up for the ‘perfect’ man or woman.

You won’t be tempted to fall for the first guy or girl who says, “I love you”.  And they won’t look like your favorite movie star or act like your favorite superhero.

 The usual strategy, to date casually until you meet THE ONE, sounds perfectly reasonable to most people.  However, this is exactly how relationships wind up in divorce.  Big leap, I know.

Why?  Because people get stuck in incompatible relationships from which they can’t disengage.

They press on regardless of their incompatibility because they don’t know what to say to extricate themselves …until one day they blow up and leave in a storm of anger and hurt.

Over time they realize the relationship isn’t right for them, but they rationalize it because it’s just too hard to end it.  This happens all the time!

People marry people they hardly know and certainly don’t love because it’s too hard to turn back.

The antidote to blindly succumbing to this highly seductive hormonal brew is to keep the metaphor of the plane in mind.

YOU CAN COME IN FOR A SMOOTH LANDING WITH YOUR IDEAL PARTNER WHEN YOU …

  • Create your plan BEFORE you start dating seriously. Until you’re ready, just date Mr./Ms. RIGHT NOW. If you find it’s difficult to do this on your own, I’ll help you.
  • Know that without a plan, hormonally charged “Chemistry” will take over your rational mind and blind you of the bigger picture.  Enjoy the ride!
  • Look for someone who aligns with your desired life plan so that you don’t slip into a ‘test-drive relationship’, which will steal years of your life.

Of course there are MANY pieces to a successful committed relationship, but we can talk more about those later.  For now this is a VERY sound place to start.

Need help creating your Relationship Plan?

Struggling with the question, Should I stay or should I go?  That’s a tough one that haunts people for years if they don’t get help.

Are you dating to find your Soul Mate?   Let’s talk!  Please contact me at CandaceBrindley@gmail.com.

Election Reflection

It’s not news that our country is undergoing a stressful transition with people more polarized in their convictions than I’ve ever seen before.  Many individuals are downright depressed as they experience divisions within their families and with their friends as well. Ruminating over things that we can’t control will cause that kind of despair.

arguing-parents610px 2
I know that whenever change occurs, regardless of whether it’s perceived as desirable or not, there will always be a period of adjustment.

To offset the disruption, healthy minds look forward and ask questions such as, “What happened, what do I want, what are my choices, what can I do next?”  They stay informed, flexible, and alert, which is helpful when planning next steps.

As a parent, knowing that your child is observing and learning from your every move, I think it’s an especially important time to define and re-enforce your family values, which may include respect for other’s opinions, learning, and honesty.  Identify what your family stands for and model it consistently.

The Women’s March was a powerful expression for many.  Think about what you can do.  To alleviate stress and make a difference, think forward constructively and positively.

Apropos positive involvement, I was reminded of an amazing program that has been going on for years at the White House where they receive about 10,000 letters/day! Every day a group of dedicated people made up of professionals, interns, and volunteers actually pour through each piece of mail from which they select 10 to forward to the President.  Apparently President Obama was in the habit of reading his 10 letters at the end of each day.
Obama Ltr
In 2012 I sent The First Lady, Michele Obama a letter concerning the job of raising her two daughters because I knew it was on her mind. Lo and behold I received a reply from President Obama.  My letter was read, considered, and responded to!

 

This was one way of contributing in a positive way.  I’m grateful for a country where I can participate.  I hope you too enjoy the fruits of being a free US citizen and give consideration to what you want, what your options are, and what is and is not possible. It’s a liberating feeling.

Building Loving Relationships

Hors d’oeuvres, drinks and spirited networking!

Sponsored by Over 40 Females, I’ll be sharing the cornerstones of finding and sustaining loving relationships with tips for Singles and Couples.

Divorce mediator, Deborah Noonan, will co-present with me to underscore the importance of relationship skills based on her experience helping Couples whose marriages are in trouble.

Thursday, February 25, 2016 at Arezzo Ristorante, 5 Riverside Drive in Westport, CT.

Free for Over 40 Female members and $25 for everyone else.

Please email Christine Oleynick at coleynick@over40females.com to register.

And please call me to talk Relationships!  203 247-4613 / CandaceBrindley@gmail.com

I hope to see you there!

Candace

 

Teen Parenting

teen parenting6 Easy Steps to Establish a Lasting Connection with Your Teen

Our kids make dramatic changes as they approach and enter their teen years.  As their needs begin to change, our teen parenting skills need to adapt and keep up.  You might think this transition should move along naturally, but the truth is that many people struggle with these changes.  Adolescence signals, in a BIG way, the time to consider your attitude and update your approach.  Your relationship with your teenager is the #1 most important factor in their future success.

STEP 1:  If you have any left over desire to control your kids, it will surely begin to backfire as they reach adolescence.  Now is the time to make sure your communication is free of coercion, manipulation, and hidden agendas.  The winning attitude to adopt and consistently model for your budding teens is honesty and respect.

STEP 2:  The teen parenting skill that most powerfully supports a respectful attitude is LISTENING, which will be a game changer to your relationship if you can succeed at it at least part of the time.  As difficult as it is to transition from telling to listening, it’s critical to consciously make that shift.  When your kids say such wild and unexpected things, I get it.   It’s EXTREMELY difficult to zip it and listen.

STEP 3:  In place of telling, ASK QUESTIONS – powerful questions that invite them to think further about how they feel, what they actually need or want in that moment, some thoughts about how they might get it, and questions that explore the possible consequences of those strategies and actions.

STEP 4:  Practice gently bouncing the ball back in their court inviting them to continue. They don’t need answers from their parents UNLESS they ask for them.  If they do, it’s helpful to be concise with comments that begin with phrases such as, “In my opinion” or “In my experience”.  Allow them the freedom to feel around for the right solution.  Asking questions that invite them to probe deeper is the most helpful.

STEP 5:  What if you were able to listen so deeply that you were able to GET what they needed at that moment and then respond accordingly? Sometimes the words they’re saying don’t at all reveal what they really need at that moment.  It’s possible that they just need to verbalize what’s going through their head to get clarity on something.  Or they may need to get through a humiliating day or a something that upset them.  Maybe they want validation for something they did earlier in the day.  Your job is to listen for that underlying need and try to help them satisfy it.

STEP 6:  When coercion and control are out the window, THE ART OF NEGOTIATION becomes your new friend.  Instead of telling them what to feel or what action to take, you can share with them a time when you faced a similar dilemma or felt how they’re now feeling.  Just keep yourself from hijacking their story.  It’s THEIR moment.  Effective negotiation is best achieved through respectful communication where each party understands the real needs of the other thereby opening the conversation to possible agreeable positions and action steps.

On those special occasions when your teens do open up and talk, set things aside, zip your lips, and listen with an attitude and corresponding body language of committed interest and curiosity. No matter what you are hearing, resist the temptation to interrupt with your answers and solutions, unless, OF COURSE, you believe their physical safety is threatened.

Your teen is in the process of sorting out how he/she feels about everything, and their brains are flexing new muscles, so to speak.  When you are able to put your own agenda on the back burner, they have an opportunity to try things on, make safe mistakes, and discover their own best answers and solutions, guiding them toward a life they love.

 

 

PARENTING TEENS: How to Raise Happy, Balanced, and High-Achieving Teens

The article “Profile of a Super Teen”, in the “New Canaan, Darien, & Rowayton Magazine” (Sept./Oct. 2013), really caught my eye! I began to ponder who the parents behind these teens might be because, in my experience, ‘switched on kids’ begins with the parents.

[click to read more…]