Abuse Is Not Love

Teen Dating Violence Awareness

Teen Dating Violence Awareness

February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention month. According to loveisrespect.org 1 in 3 teens has experienced physical, sexual, emotional or verbal abuse from a dating partner. If you are a parent of a teen or you’re a teenager yourself follow my blog posts this month as I share important information about dating violence.

When we think of abuse the first things that come to mind are black eyes and bruises. However physical violence is not the only form of abuse that occurs in relationships. Emotional and verbal abuse is often equally damaging to a person and occurs more frequently. The victim in the situation will often question, “Is this really abuse?” because there are no scars. Check this list to see if you or someone you know may be experiencing emotional or verbal abuse.

Some behaviors that qualify as emotional or verbal abuse by a partner:

  • -Name calling and put downs
  • -Screaming and yelling at you
  • -Isolation, keeping you from family and friends
  • -Controlling your behavior  ( i.e. what you wear, where you can go)
  • -Requiring constant check ins through phone call, texts, or other means
  • -Blaming you for their abusive behavior or words (“you made me do this”)
  • -Threatening to commit suicide or harm themselves if you break up with them
  • -Monitoring and controlling your use of the phone, computer, etc..
  • -Using threats to expose your personal secrets in an attempt to control you
  • -Starting rumors about you, including on social media

If you think you or someone you know is experiencing emotional/verbal abuse please reach out for help. The counselors here at Family First Counseling are ready to help.

For more information on teen dating violence or to find help in your local area check out www.loveisrespect.org

God, Family THEN Church?

FFC image for God Family then Church

Can we talk about church?  Do we have to be there all the time?  When I was a child I can remember going to church quite often.  My parents practically lived at the church.  Every Sunday it was church. Two or three times a week it was church.  I felt like I never had any time for myself.  My friends would always be having fun at the mall, the gym, the movies, etc. Where was I?  I was in the church!  Does this sound like your family?  Maybe you are married to someone who is a Pastor and he or she has made “church” the number one priority in your life.  If this relates to you, I have good news for you.  When we become Christians, we must realize that it is then at that moment that we become “the church.”  We do not have to be in a physical building that is called a church to express our love for Christ.  We can express His love everywhere we go; starting in our homes.  God is for families.  He honors marriages.  And yes, He also encourages church… but there is a priority.  The priority should be God, family, THEN church. Take the pressure off yourself.  Ease the tension within your marriage.  It is okay to take a Sunday or two off and relax with your family.  If most people would put as much energy into their relationships and families as they do their church or ministry, we would probably have less divorces and or broken families. This is not an attack on church. It is just correction for those in the church.  Remember the priority and save your family from the tradition of “church.”

Top 5 Questions to Ask BEFORE You Say I Do

After what was hopefully at least a 2-year courtship, you now find yourself engaged. You’re excited and nervous as the big day approaches. You think you’ve got all the important questions asked and answered. Are the guests seated properly? Did we give the florist a deposit? Are all the relatives travel and lodging arrangements finalized? Has everything been done that needs to be done? While these are all important questions, many people fail to take the time to ask themselves key questions about how their life will change after they say “I do.”

Here are five key questions to ask yourself before you say those two life-altering words.

1) How do I expect my life to change once I’m married? (Think it won’t?).
Everyone enters into a marriage with expectations about how the marriage will satisfy his or her needs. Problems arise when these expectations go unmet and feelings of disappointment start to seep into the emotional connection between the couple. At lot of times, this is due to one partner expecting the emotional connection to intensify and the other expecting things to stay as they have been. Therefore, it is very important that you openly talk with your partner about what you expect from the relationship, emotionally, financially, physically, and how you view your future together playing out. Failure to do so may lead the two of you down a bitter path culminating in divorce.

2) How happy am I with our dealings with the good, the bad and the ugly?

Well functioning relationships are able to survive difficult times and grow as the environment around them changes. Just as one needs to prepare for a harsh winter, a couple needs to devise a blueprint for how they are going to get through tough times. All couples experience situations that test their commitment to each other and their compatibility. This is why I wrote “at least a 2-year courtship” in the opening paragraph. When you first are dating, it’s like summer—peaceful, calm, exciting, and warm. Then winter comes and things often get harder. No longer is one focusing on being on his or her best behavior and ones “baggage” surfaces. If you haven’t experienced all four seasons of your partner to be, maybe you should push back the wedding date. If you have, what did you learn about yourself and your partner? Is your relationship going to be like living in Los Angeles where the change of seasons are hardly noticeable, or is it going to be like living in the Colorado Rockies? If the two of you are having wild emotional swings getting married isn’t the answer.

3) Why am I getting married?
Most of us know the fairy tale where the prince rescues the damsel in distress and they ride off into the sunset to a place called “Happily Ever After.” Many of us think, in some way, that there is truth to this insipid tale. It has been my experience that rescue missions usually end up with the rescuer getting his or her butt kicked as the damsel is in distress, due to her own choices, which can’t be fixed by the rescuer. In our modern world, both men and women attempt to rescue, just as both men and women can be a “damsel” in distress. Happily Ever After has a little known subtitle, “Just as long as you work your butt off and are not trying to save anybody or hope to be rescued from yourself.” Thus, make sure to answer this question as honestly as possible. And, ask your partner this question as well. If getting married has anything to do with living out a fairy tale, you may want to reevaluate the situation.

4) Have you fallen in love?

When asked why one is getting married, a common answer is “because I’ve fallen in love.” To me, the word “falling” is associated with painful things. I fell down, I fell off the chair, or I fell off a cliff, to name a few. Whoever first coined the phrase “falling in love” knew what s/he was talking about. This wise person knew that with love comes pain. Within every successful relationship there exists a healthy level of emotional pain that a couple uses to further grow their relationship. Part of making a relationship stand the test of time is to agree to work together to solve problems. Learning how to avoid hurting each other will lessen the chances that someone will tumble and fall, causing both to suffer. Never put ANYONE before them.  Don’t fall in love. Rather, build it together and leave all others behind.

5) Who do I want to model my marriage after? (Why Did I Get Married or Why Did I Get Married Too?).

Are your parents still married (if they ever married)? The relationship that our parents had affects us more than most of us want to admit. It is from their teachings and behaviors that we learned about how, or how not, partners are supposed to treat each other. If they were, and still are, great role models, ask them to tell you everything that they have learned about marriage. If they weren’t, still ask, but also seek out advice from someone whose marriage appears to be running smoothly (I say appear, as people are great on putting a positive face on what is really a relationship in trouble). Try attending some premarital counseling. Working with a therapist prior to getting married may prevent you from having to go to therapy to try and save the relationship in the future.

Do you have a goal for your pending marriage?  A vision of where you want to be in the future?  If you don’t, start on one today.

How well do you know yourself?

AsianGirlLyingInGrassJournaling-850x400I recently read an article on PsychCentral titled ‘5 Ways to Get to Know Yourself Better,’ by Margarita Tartakovsky. After reading the title, I thought that the article would list simple rituals and activities people can practice to stay mentally and physically healthy and happy, such as exercising everyday or meditating. However, the article is about journaling and its ability to bring us closer to our authentic inner selves. I have heard and read many ways to achieve this, from intense meditation to diligent fasting, but I never would have expected journaling to be on a channel to our ‘true’ selves. This was unexpected but exciting to discover. Can writing about my feelings in a book really bring me more awareness about who I truly am?

The truth about journaling is simple: it allows the yelling negative voices to be expressed and then released so that our quiet inner voice can be heard. Tartakovsky references a book by Sandy Grason called, Journalution: Journaling to Awaken Your Inner Voice, Heal Your Life and Manifest Your Dreams’ to support this claim and give prompts for journaling which will help quiet the inner critic. Each prompt is designed to help you explore and reflect on different aspects of yourself. They include:

-Writing about everything you don’t want to write about

-Writing about what and who you love

-Writing about who you are and what you have been at different times in your life

-Affirming how wonderful you are

-Having a conversation with your 99 year old self

Even though writing about our feelings can be painful, I agree with Sandy Grason that we have to be willing to let those feelings be found and heard in order to become quiet so that we can that still small voice of wisdom.

Christina Peterson

A No Regrets Life Principle 3: Learn Humbly

No Regrets

No Regrets

If you have not been following along with my posts regarding taking the One Month to Live challenge I encourage you to go back and read them.  The authors of this text identified 4 principles needed to live a no regrets life.  This week focuses on the third principle, learn humbly.

 In life we are constantly learning.  Life is a series of circumstances; teachable moments which help to shape us as individuals. If you want to live a no regrets life the attitude we take when dealing with the ups and downs of life determines our outcome.  While I do not believe that God causes all of the situations we face in life, He definitely can use them on our continuous journey of spiritual growth.  It is often those most difficult trials that we deal with in life that enable us to be a voice to someone else when they go through.

 In the book One Month to Live, author Kerry Shook states, “It’s not too late to become who God created you to be.”  God had a plan for us before we were born, however a key word here is become.  We become who He has created us to be; it is an ongoing process.  It is easy in our society to get caught up in comparing our successes and accolades to that of the next person.  What is truly important however is that we seek to know and become the person the Creator has designed and this requires time in His presence.

 To learn humbly is to live life.  We should always be actively engaged in learning.  We are made in the image of God and the greatest learning we can achieve will be learned by seeking Him.  Time spent and a relationship built with Him will lead us to live the no regrets life we desire.


Can I Protect My Child From Pornography???

FFC image for Can I Protect my Child from Pornography

The internet is a widely used tool today worldwide.  The primary use of the internet is simple. It is used for communication, knowledge and information. Without the use of the internet we as a society would be lost.  As powerful and amazing as this tool is, the internet still has a darker side to it. One of the darker sides to the internet is the exposure of inappropriate material to our children. Statistics show that most children that are exposed to pornographic material are exposed by way of the internet.  One exposure to this material can lead to a lifetime of sexual addictions, premature and violent sexual activities, early pregnancies, rape, and even murder.  What can we do to protect our youth?  Although we cannot full-proof our youth from this venomous killer, we can implement certain precautionary measures that will help protect them while on the internet. Some of the precautions are:

1.      Communication: we must be honest with our children about this subject and keep the lines of communication open.

2.      Education: teach them the truth about the dangers of pornography. Don’t just tell them, show them.

3.      Use of Filters and Monitoring Tools: let them know it is for their safety and protection.

4.      Location of Computers: try to keep the use of computers in an open area and not behind closed doors.

5.      Set Rules: give general times and time frames to be on the internet

6.      Passwords: have access to children’s passwords and social media sites

7.      Respect: balance your concern with a reasonable amount of respect to their privacy in that they will understand your concern as a parent with their involvement on the internet

These are just a few things that you as a parent can do to help protect your child from inappropriate material on the internet. Remember, that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. A little protection now could very well save your child’s life later.