Influence of the Father

Influence of the Father

I had the privilege of attending a seminar about the influence of the Father.  The speaker was talking about the influence of our Earthly and Heavenly Father.  The speaker encouraged the attendees to write a list describing our earthly father (i.e. dad); then the speaker asked us to write another list describing our relationship with our heavenly father (i.e. God).  He encouraged us to really take time to think about each and resist the temptation to write what we know others expect to hear from us.

I was amazed at the similarities in my list.  I certainly used different words to describe the relationships of each; however there was a common theme among these lists.  It made me begin to think about how much influence does our relationship with our fathers and men on earth influence our perception of God.

If our earthly father tended to be gentle, caring and loving, are we more readily able to accept and believe in God’s gift of love, forgiveness, mercy, and grace?

If our earthly father tended to be critical, harsh, and strict, do we see God as our accuser ready to send us to Hell?

If our earthly father is absent, do we readily believe God loves us and will never leave us?

Much of the literature will say that our relationships and attachment with our parental figures does impact our sense of self and relationships with others so it doesn’t seem like a large leap that it would also influence our relationship with The Father, Our God.

My hope and belief is that if we have a negative perception of God and can change our perception of God, this would significantly impact all our other relationships, including our relationship with our self.  I would encourage you to create the same list as I created at the seminar; notice if there are any themes. Then search the Bible to find evidence of how God truly is.  Write those verses down and use them as a daily reminder.

Should Our Daughters Have A Best Friend?

Think Twice Before Encouraging BFFs

When I was a child I had a BF (best friend). In grade school this term of Best Friend went one step further and BFF (Best Friend Forever) was thrown around a lot. Talk about a lot of pressure! As adults, most people have a hard time staying married to one person for the rest of their life, but in GRADE school somehow girls think it’s reasonable to stay close to one person FOREVER!

Like most kids, I had a best friend in childhood. When I was in first grade I moved from one state to another and she was the first friend I made in my new school. I was the awkward new girl with a strong southern accent moving to a mid-west town full of kids with absolutely no southern accent. I’m sure I was desperate for a friend and since we were the same age, had many of the same interest, and she responded, we instantly became good friends. Our close friendship continued until high school when we began to grow apart. At the time I didn’t understand why this occurred, there was no argument or fight, we just slowly stopped calling and hanging out with each other. Near the end of high school, like most kids, I had a lot of things going on, most of which felt very emotionally overwhelming. When I lost that friendship I asked myself what I did wrong. It wasn’t until years past and I looked back on that friendship that I realized it wasn’t anything I did, she simply outgrew the need for a BFF and moved on, but unfortunately I wasn’t ready to.

Losing my BFF during my formative years, when I was trying to figure out who I was, had a very deep impact on me. I questioned my actions, motives and even my self-worth. Losing my BFF probably played a small part in me having an emotional break down and attempting suicide. I didn’t have anyone to talk to when I felt hopeless and worthless because I put all my deep friendship eggs in one basket, and when it came to an end it left me feeling very alone and vulnerable. Please don’t get me wrong, I’m not blaming her in the very least for my emotional break down and resulting suicide attempt, that was my fault! I bought into the myth of having a single “BEST FRIEND FOREVER.” I realize now it would have been healthier for me to have 3 or 4 solid, reliable friends that way we could help each other navigate the emotional horror that was high school.

I have not thought about the impact of that friendship for many years until I read a post entitled “Do Our Daughters Really Need A Best Friend?” by Emily Gaines Buchler.

The blog cites a new PBS show called “A Girl’s Life.” It vividly shows how best friends both empower and undermine a girl’s development.

BFF: a modern myth
In a number of ways, BFF-ism is a full-on myth, right up there with Prince Charming and life in the castle. And just as our girls are inundated with Disney princesses from toddlerhood on, they’re surrounded by messages that subtly (and not so subtly) tell them they need a best friend.
“When it comes to the BFF, girls are sold a bill of goods about friendship that looks a lot like the rubbish we’re told about romance,” writes Rachel Simmons, author of The Curse of the Good Girl: Raising Authentic Girls with Courage and Confidence, in an article for PBS. “There’s one person out there who is our match, and we’ll live happily ever after. The relationship with The One is supposed to be blissful, conflict-free, and permanent.”
But what really happens, Simmons explains, is that “girls wind up with wildly unrealistic expectations about themselves and their relationships, [and ultimately] blame themselves when reality bites, and the relationships shift or end.”

What if you grow up having to move from town to town every few years like many military kids? The girls that buy into the BFF myth often end up feeling that something is wrong with them because they can’t maintain that friendship over many years. Even if girls don’t move and this best friendship thing is possible, is it really healthy?

“Psychologists across the board agree that relying on one person to fulfill all of your emotional needs is unhealthy,” writes journalist Alice Robb in an article for New Republic. “Because these relationships are very intense, they are also very fragile,” says Robin Dunbar, an experimental psychologist at Oxford University, as quoted in that same article. “When they bust, they bust forever and acrimoniously.”
I fully believe God had a strong hand in me writing this blog post today. I was in the middle of writing and my girls were in the next room listening to songs they found via their tablet and I heard one, the lyrics went;
“You are my best friend, forever, and we won’t ever let that end, no never!”

I instantly stopped writing and went to my girls. I asked what they were listening to, listened to it again with them and then read them some of what I wrote here. I challenged the myth of having a single BFF and explained the importance of having a group of close friends to lean on. Talk about timing!
I get it, most of us have that “one special friend,” I know I do. However, when it gets to the point that they are the only support you have and your world would crumble if something were to happen to that friendship, that is when it crosses into the unhealthy. I don’t believe God intended for us to do that. Instead, I believe He intended for us, and even our children, to surround ourselves with like-minded Christians in order to support each other during this journey called life.

And so my challenge is this, not only for you but myself as well, to break the BFF myth and encourage our daughters (and sons too) to instead seek strong, meaningful relationships with a group of close friends.

Are You Addicted to Gaming Apps?

Are You Addicted to Gaming?

“Download app trivia crack.”

That is the text message I received from a co-worker/friend the other day.  At first, I ignored the text message and thought I don’t need to be sucked into a time-wasting game.  After all, I have avoided downloading any addictive games thus far, so why start?  Until I got bored waiting at the Doctor’s office…

I downloaded Trivia Crack and instantly became drawn in to a never-ending play of Trivial Pursuit.  I admit that I never won a game in Trivial Pursuit, but I am one that enjoys gaining useless knowledge.  So, here I write this article between trivia games.  Am I addicted?  Are you possibly addicted to a game app?

According to www.Video-Game-Addiction.org’s website, these are the top 5 signs showing that you are in need of help with gaming or internet addiction:

1. You are happy when gaming, but immediately your mood shifts to being upset or angry when you have to stop.

2. Your thoughts are distracted with gaming instead of focusing on here-and-now (such as school work, job, family time).

3. You spend more time online or on your phone game app than physically spending time with your friends.

4. When confronted about your excessive amount of time spent on games, you lie or laugh it off.

5. You view your phone, e-mails, game requests in the middle of the night when you find it hard to sleep.

If you find yourself showing any of the following signs, you’re not alone.  There is roughly 10% of individuals that are addicted to some form of gaming.  If you notice yourself doing any of these signs, tell someone who you trust.  Admitting to an addiction is the first step towards recovery and overcoming the addiction.  Seeking professional counseling can assist in freeing yourself from the bond of addiction.  Are you ready to take that first step?  If so, contact Family First Counseling!

The Root of Hoarding

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Does watching “Hoarding: Buried Alive” intrigue you?  Do you ever wonder why someone would live in uninhabitable conditions?  What causes hoarding?

As an LPC-Intern, I continue to learn about diagnoses to extend my clinical knowledge.  One of the specialty areas that I have chosen to improve upon is: compulsive hoarding.  I have watched numerous episodes of “Hoarders” and imagined how I would counsel someone in that situation.

I did not know much about hoarding, except for what was shown on TV.  The conclusions I came to, based off of the TV show, was two things: 1. Children of parents that experienced the Great Depression era are easily susceptible to hoarding and/or 2. Individuals that experienced a great loss and used hoarding as a way to preserve.  So, to expand my knowledge, I decided to dig up a few more interesting facts regarding this topic.

Below are 10 interesting points that Psychcentral.com has listed regarding compulsive hoarding habits:

1. Roughly 700,000 to 1.4 million individuals are affected by compulsive hoarding.

2. Compulsive hoarding is a variation of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD); 18-42% of individuals with OCD experience some compulsive hoarding.

3. A region on Chromosome 14 has been suggested to be linked to compulsive hoarding behavior.  That means, compulsive hoarding may run in families.

4. Compulsive hoarding may start as early as childhood-teen years.  However, the hoarding usually does not get identified until adulthood.

5. Contrary to popular belief, hoarding is not about saving or collecting.  Hoarding is more connected to the fear of throwing something away.

6. Hoarders = Perfectionists.  Not all, but many, fear making the wrong decisions.

7. Compulsive hoarding may be accompanied by another mental health diagnosis: depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, etc.

8. Me?  I have a problem?  Usually the individual that hoards does not recognize a problem until family/friends address the issue.

9. Controlling compulsive hoarding may be difficult.  Many times hoarding is treated like OCD, but the response is not always successful.

10. A therapy technique, known as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) may be more effective in treating hoarding than medications.  A consistent behavioral program can assist the individual in his/her beliefs regarding the clutter.

Now that we have discussed hoarding factoids, it is time for some deep cleaning…

Oxytocin: The Key to Love and Happiness?

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If you have ever read my blog before, you know I am a full-on nerd. Today’s post is the nerdiest yet. This information can be found, like the last few weeks, in Love Sense by Sue Johnson, but it has also become common knowledge and can be found many other places as well. (But buy Love Sense: it will change your life!)

You may not have heard of oxytocin before, or you may not be familiar with its important role in the brain. Oxytocin is a hormone and a nuerotransmitter.

Your brain gets a rush of oxytocin when you look at a loved one, remember a happy event with a loved one, hold hands, hug, breast feed, hold a baby, or even play with a pet. Snuggling on the couch, rocking a child to sleep, or cuddling with your cat or dog will all produce that warm fuzzy feeling that comes from oxytocin. The biggest rush of oxytocin comes from orgasm, which is why we like to cuddle after sex. It is also the hormone that sends a pregnant woman into labor (pitocin, the drug they may have given you to induce labor, is the synthetic form of oxytocin), but that is in a whole different quantity than what we usually have in our body.

Oxytocin is only found in mammals; the presence of oxytocin is part of what causes a mother to care for her babies after they are born, often at great cost to herself. (I know birds take care of their babies too, but I haven’t read what causes that behavior in non-mammals.) Oxytocin increases our tendancy to trust, to have empathy, and can actually reduce the perception of physical pain. With the presence of oxytocin, the amgdala (the fight/flight/freeze/f–k part of the brain) calms down, allowing the person to feel calmer and safer.

So what does this mean for you and your relationships? It means that when you feel sad, angry, hurt, lonely, depressed, or anxious, getting a hug or petting your cat really does make you feel better. It means that your romantic relationship can be improved by holding hands and having sex. It means your kids will be calmer and happier after a bedtime snuggle. All of this has been folk wisdom for centuries…but now you know the science behind it.

The Concept of Attachment

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The Susan Johnson discussion continues!

During the first half of the 20th century, the need for connection between mothers and babies was not understood. In fact, mothers were discouraged from picking up a crying baby, because it was thought that reinforcing the crying behavior would spoil the baby. It was not until John Bowlby performed research on orphans, and then children and mothers, that western society came to understand and accept that babies NEED to attach to their caregiver in order to develop properly.

Here are some of Bowlby’s findings, many of which may seem normal and intuitive to you. But remember, this was revolutionary 60 years ago:

*The drive to bond is innate, not learned.
*We are designed to love, emotionally attach, and depend on a few precious others who will be there to protect and attend to our needs. This desire for connection lasts “from cradle to grave”.
*One’s emotional tie is wired before birth and automatic
*Forming a deep mutual bond with another is the first imperative task of the human species.
*We seek out, monitor, and try to maintain emotional and physical connection with our loved one.
*We reach out for our loved ones particularly when we are uncertain, threatened, anxious, or upset.
*We miss our loved ones and become extremely upset when they are physically or emotionally remote; this separation anxiety can become intense and incapacitating.
*We depend on our loved one to support us emotionally and be a secure base as we venture into the world and learn and explore.

Next week we will discuss how attachment applies to adult romantic relationships.