Communication Can Make or Break Families

image1

It has been laid on my heart to move from blogging a third person academic blog to speaking of communication in families from first hand experience with the knowledge I have gained academically and spiritually.  Family is one of the most important support systems that a person can have.  A family member can also be the most important thing the family has.

The pillar of my family was my grandfather.  He was a self made man.  Back in his day, a person could still do that without having certificates from a university saying that they are worthy of opportunity.  I was raised by my grandparents who valued integrity above all else but led by the faith of our higher power in which I choose to call God.  My grandparents believed in hard work and nothing was free.  They also believed in family.  We all knew that they valued family.  This belief was not conveyed in words but actions of support.  I now know that I needed to hear the words of love and see actions of love, not just morals and values on how to treat others outside of the home.  Lack of communication is generational in my family.

Six years ago my grandfather, at the age of 62, passed with pancreatic cancer.  It was a sudden and quick demise to death.  I was angry at God for taking the greatest person I had ever known and the one person I knew loved me unconditionally.  I would have given any of his monetary means up to have him back.  The lack of communication in my family caused huge gaps in-between each family subsystem under our patriarch.  Without his unspoken leadership, we began deteriorating as a family unit.  Thought processes were assumed by other members that where not factual but no one called the other and spoke of it.  This was steady fueling something that would soon explode.  The lack of communication allowed negativity to split our family unknowingly at the time.

On Thursday my brother called.  I have not spoken to him in a year.  Not due to any fractures between us but the fractures in our family.  He had the same question for me that I have had for all of my family.  What happened here and why?  Assumptions are dangerous and very misleading but can be doctored at the root and killed off with communication.  There is power in admitting wrongs and misgivings.  It demonstrates being humble but most importantly, that you are not putting yourself above the fracture that has occurred and you are not blaming anyone.  Lack of communication is to blame.  We often let pride and life get in our way of reaching out to those we feel wronged by.  Communicating with others allows some of the wrongs to be seen in their perspective and that wrong may not feel as wrong anymore.  My brother and I both left the conversation with a peace we had not felt in a very long time.

As I finish my education through one of the top universities in this nation, one of the greatest learning lessons I have gotten was this morning in a service by Bishop TD Jakes.  This message was about you.  It was about me.  It was about individuals taking on the power to change their life and surrounding themselves with good people.  Believing in yourself gives you power to reach out and communicate.  In his ministry, he is honoring and recognizing how important mental health is.  Jakes has made this his mental health awareness month.  He also spoke of having a team of counselors on staff because they are given the power to help with situations in your life.  My supervisor at Family First Counseling, Ms Megan Lee, told me that she is a Christian that counsels. Professional counselors can help with communication.  It is not a weakness to seek out help for you and your family.  This allows for healing and understanding to start.  We are in this field because it brings joy to our hearts to see families prosper.  Communicate with others and if that feels to intimidating, seek help to learn how to communicate.

 

Christy Ragle

 

The Good Ole Days!!!

scale

Who remembers “the good ole days?” I admit that I am not old enough to have lived during the good ole days era. One of the current presidential candidates keeps referring to “the good ole days.” How he would like for things to be as they were during the good ole days. Who is the candidate? I am quite sure you all already know but for those of you not up to date on current events….it is none other the republican hopeful Donald Trump.  Now, there are several things that Trump says and does that give me pause and great concern but his rallying for the good ole days is over the top in my opinion. First, he accepts funding from a former red dragon of the white supremacists group the KKK, David Duke. And then he goes on the record supporting returning to the good ole days. Although, I am unsure if Trump thinks about things before he speaks….you have to wonder why would a presidential candidate go on record supporting racism? Is it for the extra publicity time or does he just not know any better? He is a P.R. person’s worst nightmare.   I do not think there is one minority that considers the good ole days….good! During the 1950’s and 1960’s (the good ole days era) minorities had little to no rights. Basically, the majority were satisfied because minorities “knew their place”……and if they forgot, there was a tree close enough for the hanging.  During this time African Americans had to fight for the right to vote, to sit in a restaurant with white people….. and let’s not forget education or drinking out of a public water fountain. None of things suggest good ole days to me and I most definitely do not wish to return to the way things were during this time. It was not just African Americans, that were negatively impacted by this era but the lgbt community as well.  By all means vote for who you think is the best candidate for president….not for the person in the limelight. I personally have no desire to vote for someone who has shown me they are a racist.

Can The Death of a Celebrity Cause Sincere Mourning?

Can The Death of a Celebrity Cause Sincere Mourning?

Short answer: Yes! A death of a celebrity can really cause a sincere mourning process!

This blog post was promoted from this post by Huffington Post.  Give it a read; it has a few tips for grieving the loss of a celebrity.

We’ve lost a ton of celebrities this year and it’s only April!  Most of these celebrities I didn’t know their work.  I have a friend whose young daughter was very infatuated with David Bowie.   My friend could attest, I’m sure, that her daughter has mourned his loss!  All of the mother’s friends knew of her daughter’s dream to one day marry Bowie.   There was a serious outpouring of condolences for this child when we heard that Mr. Bowie had passed away.   I was sad for Bowie’s loss but his music was not as much a part of my childhood and teen years as was Prince’s music.

So for the first time in my life I’m sincerely grieving the death of a celebrity and I know many of my friends are.   I’m not racked with grief as though I’ve lost a close friend but I do feel the loss.   Several times in my life I longed to attend one of his concerts but due to time or limiting resources it never happens for me and this is a loss for me.  I will never have that experience I had planned to one day have.

Music has always been very important to me throughout my life.   I spent my first two years of college as a music major on a full-ride scholarship for my vocal talents.   I only have a few artists that I love enough to grieve their death probably because I attempt to keep a close grip on idol worship in my life.

I realize a large part of my grieving process is because Prince’s music provided a sound track to my younger years and his death brings home the realization that I’m not a teenager anymore.  Yes I’m over 40 and although I know I’m a full-fledged adult feeling it is a different matter all together.   I know I’m not alone in this feeling of not realizing I’m an adult some days.   When we have enjoyed the talents of celebrities for decades of our lives it drives home the realization of our own impending death, especially when didn’t expect the death.   Robin William’s death was upsetting to me as well since I know I will no longer enjoy his acting talents in a new movie.  I think since Prince was a musician his passing hits me a bit harder because music can touch the soul.

Grieving the death of a celebrity you never met is not silly or a waste of time, it’s part of the process of realizing that nothing lasts forever and  everyone’s time here on earth is short.  So be sure to not waste a day of this life!

“Dearly beloved
We are gathered here today
To get through this thing called LIFE
Electric word, life.”

Parenting in the Age of Entitlement

parenting

The self-efficacy beliefs of parents and collective efficacy of teachers transcends to adolescents and their belief systems. The need for attention and recognition is a rising problem in the US culture. Adults modeling good behaviors and attitudes produce more productive results in the mimicked behaviors from the children without expectation of praise and rewards. The social environment that adolescent’s respond more correctively to are ones that are active in life activities. This cultivates in the child an interest for productivity and enabling the self-beliefs of being competent. These are seen as personal resources that allow the child to make the most of unexpected situations.

Teaching a child the value of money is important to fight the entitlement in this affluent society. Children used to have to work for what they wanted to purchase. Those children are now the parents of children. Parents have over compensated for the lack of privileges they had in their youth and have given without thought that their children are not learning how hard it is to make money needed to buy the material goods. Material goods have risen in cost and the affluent families have set standards for all socioeconomic groups. Showing adolescents how money is distributed to financial obligations that are required to pay to keep the family going and how much is left afterwards is important. Many parents have been found to hide money problems from their children so that the children do not feel less than others in their peer groups.

Children that are worried about what they want to purchase and personal gain for their selves are found to lack self-control and manners needed to maintain a healthy environment. Teaching a child manners, how to be patient, and considerate of other peoples feelings are less likely to show constant selfish behaviors. Parents from all socioeconomic groups are finding that their children can be harsh and even bullies in their peer groups. This leads to isolation for the adolescents due to losing friends and peer groups. These children are likely to be manipulative and covert instead being overtly healthy in behaviors.

Kids have been found to develop healthier schemas if they have responsibilities and limits placed on them. Parents are working long hours and gone on business trips. This partnered with the high number of extracurricular activities takes away all available family time. Contributing to the success of family in ways such as chores or taking care of siblings provides the child a sense of contribution to the family. Less activities outside of the family unit and more time spent as a cohesive productive member of a family has provided positive outcomes in research in treatment for anxiety and depression in adolescents in the US culture.

Turning off the television has been another strategy used to help fight the entitled beliefs. Commercials and reality television have set a standard above even the more affluent families. Commercials that imply a person is better with consumption of a certain product lead a child to feel they are at a disadvantage if they do not have it. Electronic devices such as phones are one of the biggest markets targeting younger populations. Reality television shows display the elite socioeconomic class or a group that is fortunate to be interesting enough to broadcast and be instantly famous.

Allowing a child to find his or her own autonomy is important. When children are ready to go off to college, it is ideal for them to be able to manage and organize their own daily lives, have the ability to prioritize, and manage social relationships. It has been found that the more affluent the family is, the more involved the parent is in planning the child’s days. Affluent parents seem to want to protect their children from failure more than other groups of parents.   This is a problem because some of the best learning and character building comes from failing and learning from the experiences.   Staying consistent in discipline teaches the child that autonomy does not mean they can do what they desire at all times. It teaches the child that there are boundaries and repercussions if those boundaries are not adhered too.

High structure parenting practices is an important strategy to help facilitate healthy developmental growth during adolescence.   Besides having regular chores and responsibilities, an adolescent should be required to sit down with the family several times a week for a meal or activity that does not require money to do. There should be limited privacy allowed instead of kids thinking that they have the same rights as adults do for privacy. This is due to the adolescents desire to be an adult but not having developed the skills to produce adult decisions. Serving the public is something the family can do together as an activity to demonstrate being humble and caring for those less fortunate.

High warmth parenting practices for adolescents has shown significant changes in a child’s belief system and self esteem. A child needs to feel that they are loved unconditionally. This needs to be demonstrated not only by words but actions. A parent being available to listen to the children without judging the experience is key for future communication and less isolation from the parents. Having opportunities to have fun together relates to the developing child that they are as important as responsibilities and pulls from outside the family structure. There are so many critical and negative voices a child will hear at this age. It is important for parents to express faith and confidence more often than the children hear the negative feedback from peers.

Christy Ragle

From Reacting to Responding

from reacting to responding

 

Being able to move from reacting to responding can be a challenging feat. Honestly, both seem pretty comparable because we often use the words interchangeably; but when using in practice, they are quite different.

Reacting is usually an impulsive, emotional action.  For example, your husband cheats on you. You are angry and hurt. You (react) retaliate by having an affair of your own. You are out on a date with the Mrs. Someone approaches her and is flirting. You are angry and feel disrespected. You (react) punch the dude in the face.

Responding involves simmering your emotional action with logical, critical thinking. Your husband cheats on you. You are angry and hurt. You (respond) take some time to yourself to figure out and explore what you need for resolution. Then you communicate this to your husband. You are out on a date with the Mrs.  Someone approaches her and is flirting. You are angry; you feel disrespected. You (respond) by letting him know she is with you.

Moving from reacting to responding is much easier said than done. But we are all accountable for what comes out of our mouth and how we treat others. The more you practice responding in little every day stressors, you are training your brain to be able to respond instead of react to greater stressors.

Some things that have been helpful to me:

1) Be aware of my body and thoughts.

Are your palms sweaty?  Are your teeth clenching?  Do you have balled up fists?  Are your thoughts racing? Or you can’t think at all? These are all precursors that whatever comes next is probably a reaction and not a response. Resist doing anything when you notice these signs. Take deep breaths.

2) Take a “time-out”

Walking away or ending a conversation is not weak or giving up control.  In fact, reacting often leads to being out of control and living with regrets. Taking a time-out allows for you to explore options and decide what is going to be best. Then you can respond accordingly.

3) Ask yourself, “what do I want the end goal to be?”

After reacting, we often reflect , have regrets and say “hindsight is 20/20.”  In the moment, if we take time to transport to the future, we can determine the best response.

 

What else may be helpful?

Who’s The Parent?

5 ways to provoke your children

Recent events have caused me to question who is the parent in certain situations. A week ago I encountered a mother and her son at the grocery store. The son could not have been more than 8 years old if that.  He wanted his mother to buy him something and I am assuming she said no. As I turned onto the isle, the little boy began to throw a fit. Yelling things like “I want it…..I want it!” The little boy was so frustrated he laid out in the floor on his side and screamed as he twirled his body around in a circle (sort of like something you would see on a sitcom). The mother tried reasoning with her son. The more she tried the louder he got. Clearly, embarrassed by the situation she tried to lift her son off the floor and he resisted with every attempt. So then the mother begins to slowly walk off. Her son quietly sits up and watches her. When she left the cart to go get something off a shelf, the little boy runs to the shopping cart and uses the shopping cart to charge his mother. Wham! He rams the shopping cart into his mother. The mother yells for him to stop. The son backs up and rams his mother with the shopping cart once again. The son gears up to ram his mother a third time but the mother grabs the cart. She goes back down the isle where her son’s tantrum began grabbed something off the shelf and yells “happy now!”  I on the other hand was having a WTH moment. I sooooo wanted to say something but instead I just watched the scene play out.  If you know me this was an extremely difficult task for me. In what alternate universe is it okay to ram your mother with a shopping cart, not once but twice? The even bigger question, what realm do you live in that you cave to the demands of an eight year old. At some point kids are going to be disappointed. We as parents are not able to cater to their every whim. Well, some of us may be able to. But monetary gifts do not make for a productive citizen. Reinforcing negative behavior reinforces negative behavior.