All ‘Family’ Posts

08 jul

Young Adults and Addiction: The Benefits of Inpatient Care

For many young people, drug use and experimentation is a rite of passage of sorts. However, experimenting with drugs and alcohol is far from harmless, and can often result in lifelong problems with substance abuse and addiction. In turn, addiction can lead to difficulties in virtually every aspect of well-being, including physical health, relationships, education, careers, finances and more.

Due to the devastating effects of prolonged substance use, effective treatment is necessary in helping young people break the ties of addiction, improve physical and psychological health, and learn to live without the crutches of drugs and alcohol.

So, which type of treatment is most effective? The answer to that question often lies in inpatient, or residential care. Keep reading to learn more about inpatient addiction treatment, including its advantages, common practices and more.

What is Inpatient Treatment?

Unlike outpatient facilities, inpatient care involves residential treatment for substance abuse and addiction. Patients will spend their days and nights in the facility, and will receive intensive, ’round-the-clock care. And while facilities differ according to methods and practices, most offer services like the following:

  • Supervised detox. During this stage of treatment, drug use is discontinued and the body to rids itself of addictive substances. Since detoxification can lead to the onset of painful withdrawal symptoms, inpatient therapy can provide patients with the adequate care and support during this stage of recovery.
  • One-on-one counseling. Talk therapy plays an extremely important role in effective rehabilitation. During one-on-one sessions, patients can discuss their problems with addictive substances, as well as formulate coping strategies in the interest of sustained sobriety. Also, counseling allows mental health professionals to diagnose and treat underlying psychological illnesses that may contribute to substance abuse.
  • Group therapy. Like one-on-one counseling, group therapy provides patients with a platform on which to discuss their thoughts and feelings. Plus, group sessions provide the added benefits of support and accountability from peers, which has been shown to promote a healthy, more effective recovery.
  • Family counseling. Some facilities offer counseling for patients and their families. This can help addicts and their loved ones open the lines of communication, as well as learn about factors such as codependency, guilt and more. For young people, this can help open the doors for better familial relationships, as well as effective communication and continued support.
  • Aftercare. Followup treatment is often included in inpatient care. Aftercare methods typically include continued counseling and support, as well as assistance with housing, employment, continuing education and more.

Choosing an Inpatient Facility

While different facilities offer similar rehabilitation services, they often vary according to atmosphere, location, price, etc. For example, many treatment centers cater to only men or only women, while others incorporate religious teachings into their rehabilitation methods.

Further, some facilities are designed for young people, specifically. Treatment programs that cater to young adults aim to enrich the lives of young people by addressing their unique needs regarding health and rehabilitation. For example, young adult rehabilitation programs often include classes and seminars relating to life skills, decision making, family communication and more.

Combined, the efforts of these inpatient facilities significantly enhance the chances of recovery, as well reduce the risk of relapse with addictive substances.

Although addiction can have devastating effects on young people and their loved ones, the proper treatment can promote sobriety, prevent relapse and enhance both physical and psychological health. With the intensive care provided by inpatient therapy, young adults can beat addiction, improve wellness and enjoy a better, healthier life.

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Jenna Smith on July 8th, 2014 in Family, Health, New Directions, Teens | No comments

30 may

Compassion at Work: Helping Grieving Colleagues Cope

Kerrigan2No one likes to talk about death. It makes people feel uncomfortable and awkward. It’s the ultimate change—the one thing that cannot be fixed or undone. Even the word “death” creates anxiety because it’s mysterious and emotional.

Death shakes our confidence. We are vulnerable in its presence. It’s the one thing we cannot control. We can only control how we think about it and react to it. There is no magic formula in the grieving process.

So, the suggestions I offer are from my own experiences in helping co-workers and clients cope. Hopefully, they provide some guidance and comfort.

Offer support to meet your colleague’s needs, not your own. Often, they need someone to listen. Sometimes, they need advice, or help with errands. Sometimes, they need the rest of the team to carry their load for a while. Sometimes, they need privacy. And, sometimes, they just need a place or a time to cry. If they haven’t expressed what they need, then ask. The best gift you can give is you: the comfort of your presence and the help from your attention.

Try not to judge or teach. Don’t feel as though you have to have the answer to death—no one does. Now is also not the time to pull out the “5 Stages of the Grieving Process” or to tell them what they “should” be doing. Your job is to be there for support.

Be genuine. Avoid sympathy-card sayings such as, “Your loved one is in a better place,” or “Everything happens for a reason.” It’s fake, forced and annoying. You can do better than that. Just be yourself. This is your teammate after all. Think: What would you want to hear?

Be patient. Mourning takes time. If a colleague needs to cry, let her. Don’t push her and think you can shortcut the process—you can’t. Know that each person grieves differently and at their own pace.

Assume nothing. You really don’t know how they feel. And, if you’re anxious about what to say or do, it’s easy to project your own anxiety onto the very person you wish to comfort. Never assume anyone feels the same way you do. This can be very dangerous if you’re wrong, so don’t go there.

Know that work is often a wonderful respite from grief. So, don’t be surprised if a grieving colleague returns to work sooner than expected. Activity is one of the greatest antidotes to depression. It grounds us, especially when we’re caught in a whirlwind of painful emotions. Work provides focus and meaning, and teamwork diminishes the sense of alone-ness.

In the end, grieving is about loss, change, acceptance, and moving forward. Your role is to support your colleague through their journey.

Copyright 2014 Michelle Kerrigan

Michelle Kerrigan is an expert in workplace confidence and performance who has been helping businesses and professionals grow stronger and more successful for over three decades. More at and

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Michelle Kerrigan on May 30th, 2014 in Career, Family, General, Global/Social Change | No comments Read related posts in , , , , , , , , ,

15 may

Adult Kids at Home: A Failure in Society’s Eye

JennaSmithFrom dozens of online columns to Dr. Phil, the debate over adult children living at home remains a topical issue, especially given the economic recovery that never seems to be forever moving at a snail’s pace.

From Dr. Phil, a recent estimate says 14 million adult children are living with their parents. From reporter Katie Couric, there are 22 million “boomerang kids,” which refers to kids returning to their parents domicile after an attempt to make it on their own.

After all, this is by evolutionary design: When humans reach adulthood, we are evidently programed to reach the boiling point on general cleanliness and sleeping habits, so that children are forced to find their own living arrangements. Eighteen years is roughly the tolerance level for Moms to play indentured servant or for Dad’s to play chief, cook and bottle washer. At about this children have had it up to their briskets with being woken up on Saturday morning by Dad running that infernal lawn mower.

For some time, however, the economy been forcing us to reconsider the expectation of a young adult finding living quarters separate from his or her family of origin. In 1980, 32 percent of adults under 25 were living with their parents. That had reached 43 percent by 2007-2009, when the Great Recession turned the economic tide.

There is one refreshing article in British newspaper “The Guardian,” that addresses the rise in adult children living with their parents, noting that one mother was happy her 21-year old daughter had returned home. The parade of guests coming and going and the extra cleaning kept the house “vibrant,” she said. You, go, Mom!

While some grouse about the financial strain of having adult children hanging around indefinitely, there are advantages to having an extra breadwinner in the house, even if there is only part time work available.

The wages an adult child working at a part time job while living in the parents’ home can be considered extra income. That same wage, when the child is on his or her own, is entirely drained by necessary expenses such as rent, utilities and food. That’s no way to get ahead.

Living at home with that in mind opens the door for part time work that was not a favorable option when the offspring was trying to make it on his or her own.

The first step is to accept the inevitable. Get over your disappointment of having to share the television remote with your adult child and look at the bright side. Some adult kids can work off room and board by cutting the lawn – then you can be the one trying to sleep in on Saturday mornings. Adult children can also do the laundry or the shopping. This beats allowing some inner rage to develop while you imagine the child’s life is a perpetual vacation while yours is stuck in endless servitude.

Poor families suffer the most strain from having an adult child remain at home. In traditional agrarian societies, people have large families, so that offspring can take over the farm or the family business and take care of their aging parents. When there is no work in a modern scenario, this safety net backfires. Extra mouths to feed become a liability rather than a retirement investment.

Immigrant families present even more difficulties. Often family members arriving from abroad join with established family members who have settled in to their new country. An adult child living at home might be an adult brother or sister moving to the United States and looking for help from a sibling who has already moved here. There could be language barriers. An adult brother or sister might require help applying for a green card, which is required for an immigrant to work in the United States.

Instead of looking at an adult child living at home as a burden or a source of friction, families can return to an old mindset, considering the child part of a safety net, albeit one that has yet to realize their earning potential. For some, children living on their own is mot a given; it’s a luxury that a slow economy cannot support.

In turn, this suggests that an adult child living away from the home is an option based on culture, but it is not an emotional necessity. When Dr. Phil and others point to the statistics of adult children living at home, under the assumption that something has gone wrong, they are talking about a modern luxury that is backsliding.

“When we talk about loving our children, loving them means preparing them [for the real world],” Dr. Phil said in an article titled, “Steps to Independence: How to Get Your Adult Children Living on Their Own.”

That only applies if you want the kids to leave. That is the norm. But it isn’t mandatory.

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Jenna Smith on May 15th, 2014 in Family, Global/Social Change, House and Home | No comments

26 apr

Three Common Types of Addiction: Spotting the Signs and Getting Help

JennaSmithAddiction is a touchy subject; even though most people have been affected by it in some form, open communication about this disease is rare. And while discussing substance abuse and addiction can be uncomfortable, an honest approach can help in both the treatment and prevention of this all-encompassing illness. As someone who has suffered the secondhand effects of addiction, I think communication, honesty and awareness are key in addressing the issue. Below, I’ve outlined three common types of addiction in the United States. With the information provided, you can spot the signs of addiction, and encourage your friend or loved one to seek the help they so desperately need and deserve.

Addiction to Prescription Drugs

Sadly, many drugs deemed safe are associated with dependence and addiction. Of these medications, the most commonly abused include prescription pain-relievers like Vicodin and OxyContin, and anti-anxiety drugs like Valium and Xanax. And while symptoms of abuse and addiction may vary, they usually include the following signs:

  • Constricted pupils.
  • Slurred speech.
  • Falling asleep or “nodding” at odd times.
  • Depression, anxiety and aggression.
  • Obtaining multiple prescriptions from different doctors, also known as “doctor shopping.”
  • Using illegal or immoral methods to obtain prescription drugs, e.g., lying about pain or other symptoms, theft, forgery, etc.
  • The onset of withdrawal symptoms when use is discontinued. These typically include nausea, vomiting, chills, aches and other flu-like symptoms.

If you or someone you love is addicted to prescription drugs, failure to seek immediate treatment can result in complications like prolonged addiction, overdose, organ damage, an increased risk of hepatitis and other diseases, relationship problems, legal and financial difficulties and other harmful effects. Treatment for prescription drug abuse usually entails intensive psychological counseling, as well as supervised detox, aftercare and more.

Sex Addiction

Sex addiction, also known as hypersexuality or compulsive sexual behavior, is associated with obsessive sexual thoughts or behaviors, to the extent that it affects one’s relationships, professional life and more. In individuals with compulsive sexual behaviors, multiple partners are common, as is the habitual use of pornography and an inability to feel satisfied from normal sexual encounters. What’s more, these individuals often engage in risky sex acts, as well as fantasies and behaviors that may be considered inappropriate, immoral or even illegal.

Even given the extreme nature of sex addiction, spotting the symptoms isn’t always easy. If you suspect a loved one of compulsive sexual behavior, approaching the subject is crucial to their health and well-being. Without treatment, individuals with this disease are prone to complications like the transmission of disease, relationship difficulties, problems at work, unwanted pregnancies and more. Treating sex addiction typically involves psychotherapy, couples counseling, behavior modification and other psychological approaches. What’s more, sex addiction therapy for men and women is typically the same, and is designed to promote healthy sexual behaviors and improved quality of life.


Alcoholism may not be a new problem, but it’s one that still permeates our society and affects individuals of all ages. What’s more, in addition to prolonged alcoholism, binge-drinking among teens and young adults is also an important issue. Indeed, binge-drinking can lead to effects like organ failure and death, as well as risky sexual behaviors and an increased risk of physical injury.

Like other addictions, spotting the signs of alcohol abuse can be tricky. If you notice that a friend or loved one is drinking too frequently or too heavily, uses alcohol as a means to deal with other problems, drinks alone, or allows alcohol to affect other areas of his or life, suggesting treatment is recommended. And while treatment measures can vary, they usually include a detox from alcohol and other addictive substances, intensive counseling, behavior modification techniques and more.

Having close friends and family members who have suffered the from substance abuse and addiction, I know how hard it can be to cope with the effects and complications of this disease. Hopefully, with the information provided here, you’re better equipped to seek help, recover from addiction, and lead a healthy life, free from the terrible effects of substance abuse.

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Jenna Smith on April 26th, 2014 in Family, Health, New Directions, Personal Stories | 1 comment

19 mar

Frugal Is to Smart as Cheap Is to Dumb: Intelligent Financial Decisions for Families

JennaSmithI think we can all agree that the price of living in the United States seems to be a bit of a puzzle to which many pieces have gone missing.

We’ve seen a rising cost in just about everything and we get a twinge of envy whenever we hear about what it used to cost in the past.

A lot of individuals would like to bring politics into the situation (and rightly so) but I believe a lot has to do with our lifestyle and the changes we’ve adopted over years of consumption.

Frugal vs Cheap

I believe Ramit Sethi (of IWTYTBR fame) said it quite well when it comes to cheap vs frugal:

· Cheap people care about the cost of something.

· Frugal people care about the value of something.

For me it really seems that people get lazy when it comes to their consumer habits. They seek convenience. They want it product or service to be cheap and readily available because it satisfies their emotional urge to possess (or experience) the item.

Then there are those that are willing to bide their time and conduct research before making a purchase.

These are the people that can handle the ups and downs of our economy. They’re the ones’ whom develop lifestyles which sustains stable, reliable growth in finances.

The Science of Smart Financial Living

It’s not just the concept of frugal living that guides people toward smart buying decisions. It’s really about a shift in ones’ mindset. It’s why I had mentioned the whole value vs cost. You can spend big bucks on a product or service and not feel ashamed if it truly provides you with real value.

There are options, all around us, for making smarter financial decisions and fulfilling our basic needs:

Nourishment. Follow the routine of your grandma and start clipping coupons (or use the Web and seek out online coupon sites and directories). Don’t shop when hungry. Avoid the middle area on the shelves. Try to cook fresh. Remember that it’s not just about tasting good … it’s about eating healthy so you are healthy (meaning infrequent visits to the doctors). Learning to cook, even on a basic level, will help your family save thousands from not having to rely on pre-packaged items or going out to eat.

Health. Ditch the gym and seek exercise routines which do not require equipment. Use this opportunity when improving your health to seek new friends such as during team activities or while out for a walk. A healthy body and mind will also inadvertently help you save when shopping around for insurance and health care providers. Again, use the Web to your advantage by reading reviews, cross-comparison shopping, and tapping into the knowledge of experts.

Entertainment. Make every part of your day worth remembering. Find great deals on travel by using comparison booking engines and opening up to staying at hostels and eating street food versus the normal touristy routine. Get into crafting like as scrapbooking or photography. Use event websites to find free events in your area or deals that keep the price low (but fun high) by bundling the events.

Family & Life. Spend more time with the family, friends, and loved ones. Capture those slice moments in time (and save while you’re at it) by using up photo coupons for professional photography services. You’ll have something, framed, that will let you remember the good times and have plenty to work with to kick up conversations when others come over.

Education. Get real about what you (or your children) really want to do with their time. Consider seeking apprenticeship or interning in place of taking a class to see if it’s something you (or they) would truthfully enjoy before paying for tuition. Try out new areas using online courses and educational resources that could give you an edge in your current field (or direction). Weigh the risk/reward of starting a business versus obtaining a degree.

Think of it all like going back to school.

You are retraining your mind. You are flushing away the conditioning you’ve picked up after years and years of bombardment from advertising. You’re gaining patience and with it comes the ability to remove the emotional equation and manage purchasing decisions with logical thinking.

Change your lifestyle. Embrace frugality. Take the time to research. These are the elements that help you never pay full price but always receive full value.

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Jenna Smith on March 19th, 2014 in Family, Finances | No comments

27 feb

3 Ways Families Are Like Conveyor Belts

RobertCordrayConveyor belts are a great asset to businesses, whether they’re used in warehouses, assembly lines, or other applications. In the same way, families are a great asset when each member supports the others, pitches in, and works for the good of the whole.

There are 3 ways that families are like conveyor belts:

1. Like conveyor belts, families are always on the move.

Life, like business, is always moving, and it seems that something is always happening to upset the apple cart. Unexpected events, like illnesses or accidents, call for changes. Family members are ready to roll with these changes, and help out wherever they can. A family in Dallas had a mom, a dad, and three college-aged kids. When Dad was struck with multiple sclerosis and confined to a wheelchair, Mom took over the driving until Dad was able to purchase a modified car. The kids also helped out with driving and assisting Dad with physical therapy, and cheered him up when he felt down.

Even when no major problems arise, family members often arrive at new milestones in life. A family in Maine had two at once. John graduated from college and entered the military as an officer, and Dad got a big promotion at work. The other family members were supportive and encouraging, congratulating them both and wishing them well. When the conveyor belt of life rushes into new situations, families are ready for both the joy and the challenge.

2. Families work as a team, like an assembly line.

Conveyor belts are often used as assembly lines, and families work as a team on an assembly line, producing happy and productive members. A family in Ohio had 2 kids who loved sports. Their parents attended every game, and their dad coached baseball and track. When the kids wanted to try a new sport, their parents encouraged them, and when the kids didn’t do so well, Mom and Dad told them, “That’s ok, as long as you do your best.” Mom and Dad emphasized that team spirit, fair play, and sportsmanship were as important as winning, and the kids repaid their support by being good team members and good sports.

Another family in Tennessee was not into sports, but they had a favorite project they did together. All good singers and musicians, they sang and played Christmas carols at the retirement home in their community every Christmas. Dad played the guitar, Mom was lead singer, Jeff played the violin, and Sara the clarinet. Just like conveyor belts are used in an automated material handling system, this family work together as a system to making the world a happier and more loving place.

3. Like assembly line workers, everyone plays a different role.

When a conveyor belt acts as an auto plant assembly line, each worker on it has a different job; one worker installs the motor, another puts on the fenders, and another does the painting. In the same way, each person in a family has a role to play, the role he or she is best suited for. In the Smith family, Dad was a model of strength, and taught the others responsibility by going to a difficult job. He was also an example of love, a sentiment President Howard W. Hunter past prophet of the LDS church, expressed in his inspirational quote, “One of the greatest things a father can do for his children is to love their mother.” Mom taught love and patience by being an example. When 4-year-old Bobby colored on the wall, Mom understood that the wall was very tempting, but explained that paper is for drawing.

Each child was encouraged to discover a sense of self, and to develop his or her best attributes. Sally was very motherly, and helped with the baby. Tom was good at repairs, and put a new cord on the vacuum cleaner. Rob helped Mom learn computer skills. Each person in the family felt that he or she belonged, and had an important part to play.

Like conveyor belts, families are team-oriented, but with a place for individuality. And like conveyor belts, they’re adaptable, but there for the purpose of a greater good.

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Robert Cordray on February 27th, 2014 in Family, Relationships, Teens | No comments Read related posts in , , ,

11 sep

Staying True to Yourself after a Cancer Diagnosis

JennaSmithWhen you are diagnosed with cancer, much of your life seems out of your control. Instead of managing your own schedule, you are now subject to chemotherapy appointments and long hours spent in the hospital. Instead of maintaining your usual energy levels, you often find yourself overwhelmed with fatigue and unable to participate in favorite activities. It’s difficult to feel like yourself when everything seems to be out of your control – from your physical appearance to the way your body processes food.

However, it doesn’t have to be that way. Whether you have recently been diagnosed with cancer or are well into the fight, here are some tips to spend the next 30 days getting back to YOU.

Talk to a support group

If you haven’t already joined a cancer support group, it’s time to find one. Use this place as a safe space to be yourself: you don’t have to stay positive for the sake of the kids or pretend to feel great to impress an employer. Feel free to share all of your emotions with the support group – your fear, your anger, your frustration, and even the humorous aspects of your situation (chemo farts, anyone?).

Then, ask your support group for suggestions. If you feel isolated, for example, how do other group members plan trips outside of the house? If you feel overworked, how have other people handled talking to supervisors about reduced workloads? Your support group is there for you, so utilize them. Often, the members of your cancer support group will become lifelong friends.

Talk to a counselor

If you have emotions that feel too big for your support group, talk to a counselor or therapist with specific training in cancer issues. Your health insurance is likely to include therapy as part of your treatment plan, so take advantage of it. Here’s where you go to talk about the big fears and angers that are overwhelming your life. A cancer therapist also has positive, specific suggestions about staying true to yourself during your cancer treatment, such as how to keep up with outside interests and how to cope when you are too ill to participate in favorite activities.

Surround yourself with positivity

Although it’s important to feel your own feelings, whether you are angry, grieving, irritated, or sad, it is also important to invite as many positive sources as possible into your life. This can be as simple as using a smartphone app to read your favorite comic strips every morning, or signing up to receive tweets from cancer support organizations like the Burzynski Clinic.

It also means changing out negative or depressing situations for positive ones. If you can’t keep your house as clean as you used to, hire a housecleaner. If you can’t stand the hospital waiting room, buy an iPad or a Kindle Fire and churn through books and TV series online as you wait. Even a cheap bouquet of flowers from the supermarket helps to brighten up a room – and your mood.

Don’t let your personality disappear

Did you know you can choose to wear your own clothes instead of hospital gowns? That’s just one of the ways you can stay true to yourself even when it seems like your body is working against you. Your cancer team is perfectly happy to let you listen to your favorite music during treatment, add family photos to your hospital room, or even wear a Sponge Bob Square Pants Band-Aid instead of a regular one. Don’t feel like you have to subdue yourself during cancer treatment. Get the wig you’ve always dreamed of, introduce your cancer team to your favorite band, and go ahead and wear your favorite soft pajamas instead of those itchy hospital gowns.

Stay true to your relationships

One of the worst parts about a cancer diagnosis is suddenly feeling like everyone is treating you differently. The truth is that you may be sick, but you’re still the same spouse, parent, and friend you always were. Don’t let your treatment get in the way of your relationships – ask your partner, children, and friends about their days, talk to them about their struggles, and make time for a date night, family board game night, or girls’ night out.

If you feel like people are treating you differently, talk to them directly. Explain that yes, you can no longer do certain things, but that doesn’t mean they should avoid you or treat you like an invalid. As with all relationships, good communication is key.

What about you? What have you done during cancer treatment to stay true to you? Do you have any advice for other people fighting cancer? Let us know in the comments.

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Jenna Smith on September 11th, 2013 in Family, Health | No comments Read related posts in ,

01 sep

3 Steps to Avoid Power Struggles

MaricleWhy Do We Power Struggle with Our Kids?

Do you find yourself caught in power struggles with your kids? Most of us do, and sometimes, just making a few small changes can have a big impact. At every stage of development, having a sense of power is critical to a positive self-image. Whether your child is on the Autism spectrum and needs to feel a high level of control, or he is just feeling the usual growing pains of adolescence, all kids need to have some decision-making power.

Giving choices can help kids feel more independent, capable, and in control.

MaricleImageInterestingly enough, when your child feels this way, you will too! The next time you find yourself in a power struggle, look for a way to offer a choice. Better yet, don’t wait for a power struggle – build your child’s self-esteem and save yourself frustration by proactively looking for opportunities to offer choices. Younger children don’t have the tools to understand many things, but we can empower them with little choices: Peanut butter and jelly, or turkey? Yellow shoes or grey shoes? Would you like to brush your teeth before or after the story? Teenagers can understand more and have more input into more significant decisions.

Building decision making skills is one of our most important jobs as parents.

Making choices builds critical thinking, perspective taking, planning, and other important cognitive skills. Just think how many times a day you use these skills yourself. If you help your children practice decision making when they are with you, they are better equipped and more likely to make good decisions when they are alone.

Choice, Stick to It, Praise
This is an easy three-step approach that I teach parents. It can help empower families to avoid power struggles while teaching decision-making skills.

1. Choice:
Take the example of 3 year-old Maggie, who is at the Please Touch museum. Mommy is ready to move on, but Maggie’s not. She refuses to put down a stick. Instead of getting into a power struggle, her mom might say something like: “Maggie would you like to put the stick back here on the blue ledge, or on the red one?”

It’s amazing how giving even a small choice empowers kids and helps them to feel more in control. In this example, Maggie enjoys age appropriate independence and decision-making power. When she completes the task, she can feel proud of her accomplishment. Secondly, by giving her a choice of where to place the stick, her mom uses distraction to shift her focus away from the transition and onto something else.

Now consider an example with 14 year-old Max. He really wants to play both soccer and baseball this year. Unfortunately, there is only enough money for one sport. What if his parents gave him an appropriate amount of information and then involved him in the decision? They might say something like: “Max, we have $200 for sports for you this season. Soccer costs $150 and baseball costs $190. If you choose soccer, then you would have enough money left over to buy new cleats. If you choose baseball, there’s only $10 left over, so you will have to use your old equipment. What would you like to do?” Max has enough information to understand the rationale, and has power in prioritizing what he wants. Now instead of focusing on how it’s “not fair,” or feeling that you don’t care, he is engaged in problem solving and prioritizing together with you.

2. Stick to it:
You need to be consistent. If you tell your child that you have only $200 for sports, you can’t miraculously produce an extra $150 because he whines or begs.

Consistency and predictability make kids feel safe, let your child know that she can trust your word.

3. Praise:
Let her know she did a good job. Most of us love to get a pat on the back. Most kids do too and you will help build a positive self-concept by reinforcing their positive choices and qualities.
Make praise concrete, earnest, and focused on their innate personal qualities or effort.

Try phrases like:
“Wow, you worked so hard.”
“Great job figuring this out,” or
“You’re such a good cook.”

What’s your experience with power struggles? What are your worst or most typical power struggles with your kids about? Which struggles pull you in every time? What are some strategies that have worked for you? (Or which strategies haven’t worked?)

Amy Johnson Maricle, LMHC, ATR-BC is a psychotherapist and art therapist in Foxboro, MA. She loves helping teens and adults find ways to live happier, healthier, and smarter. You can find out more at:

DISCLAIMER: This information is not a substitute for professional psychological advice, diagnosis, or treatment. All content provided by Maricle Counseling and Amy Maricle, LMHC, ATR-BC is intended for general information purposes only. Never disregard professional medical or psychological advice or delay seeking treatment because of something you read here.

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Amy Maricle on September 1st, 2013 in Family, Teens | 2 comments Read related posts in , , , ,

11 jul

What Comes After a Cancer Diagnosis?

JennaSmithCancer is perhaps now considered one of the most common illnesses in the United States. A large spike in cancer diagnoses suggests that most families in the U.S. have or had a family member battling cancer. However, being diagnosed with cancer doesn’t mean it’s the end of the world. With modern science and technology, doctors have been able to develop new treatments that reduce the risk of cancer metastasizing significantly.

Nevertheless, facing a cancer diagnosis requires a little more than understanding treatments, it’s a psychological and emotional process. If you or a loved one is facing a battle with cancer, you may be wondering, what’s next?

After being diagnosed with cancer, you may want to ask as many questions as possible to your oncologist. Be extremely thorough. First off, you need to understand the details of the cancer diagnoses, which encompasses the kind of cancer, how it spreads, aggression level, size, location and whether it’s hereditary. On your consultations, be sure to bring someone you trust with you for moral support. Oncology appointments can take an emotional toll.

Once you understand your disease, you can begin researching treatment options, including each treatment’s success rates and side effects. This will help you gain a better understanding of what to expect from the treatments.

Depending on the type of cancer, the next step would be to seek out a specialist. With so many kinds of cancer, you may be surprised to find out that not all require an oncologist. For example, if you’re facing thyroid cancer, you may find it best to receive your treatments and further consultations with a thyroid specialist.

Looking for the right doctor or specialist can be difficult. As mentioned, battling cancer takes it’s toll, psychologically, emotionally and physically. There are three characteristics that will help you find the right specialist. Remember to find one that listens to your concerns, explains thoroughly what you have, how it progresses week by week and understands (chemistry) what you’re going through.

The third thing you may want to do is create a cancer program strategic planning guide. By creating a program guide, you can keep track of all finances that deal with your illness. You’ll be able to understand which treatments are most affordable, consolidate expenditures in order to treat your illness and still remain financially stable during remission.

Finally, you may want to ask your friends and family for emotional support. Treatments can be grueling and could take a lot out of a person. Morale fluctuates, and sometimes, you need someone there to help you keep the faith. Your friends and family will probably be the greatest pillar of support, so if you need it, ask for it. You’ll feel a lot better. Support groups are also available for those dealing with cancer. It can be very encouraging and uplifting to be around those who have experiences the disease first-hand. Most physicians recommend patients some form of support. The stronger the morale, the stronger the body and spirit.

Dealing with cancer at first can be a hard pill to swallow, but with a great understanding of your illness, its treatment, looking for the right doctor or specialist, building a financial strategy and with support from your family or friends, you’ll be able to feel a lot stronger while you’re fighting this illness.

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Posted by Jenna Smith on July 11th, 2013 in Family, Health | No comments

30 may

Gifting Responsibly

JennaSmithGifting gives me great pleasure. I like to get everyone something special for their celebrate their day. I’m the kind of gal who comes back from a trip to with a suitcase full of souvenirs to give to my mom, my mentors, and my mailman. I never worried about cost, giving feels so good and generous. Until one day when taking a look at my credit card statement I realized I nearly gifted myself into the poorhouse!

I learned my lesson the hard way: moderation in everything, even generosity. Giving beyond my means stretched my budget thin for a little while. Now I approach gift giving more sensibly. I still aim to please. Now instead of simply swiping a card at the store, I exercise a little more creativity and spending smarts to show people that I care.

Opt For Experience

While I once felt pressure to pile my nieces with the latest in toys, now I focus on giving them an experience they never forget. I give them “Auntie Day Outs,” we’ll hit a nature reserve, fly a kite, and have a picnic. My area is full of low cost and free activities for families and kids and I take full advantage of it.

Spending these days together has truly enriched our relationships. The one on one time gives me a chance to get to know the girls. They both are so creative and so funny! And so different–the youngest loves to go on long hikes or bike rides; the oldest always want to go to the main library or the history museum. The experience and memories we make far outshines the thrill of them tearing paper off something they might get bored with in a week!

Bargain Hunt

I never even used to look at price tags. I guess I thought it made me seem wealthy. Now you can’t stand between me and a good bargain. I keep my eyes open for great deals when I go out, and make sure to check clearance racks and sale piles. I swear I have a talent for making exactly what I want appear at half price. The trick is to stare really hard.

Of course, the internet makes find deals a snap. I find amazing sales all the time online. I recently found great coupon codes for gift baskets to send to my aunt who lives on the other side of the country. I sent her a Breakfast & Bubbles gift set that fit exactly within my spending budget once I applied the code.


I make a lot of gifts at home know. I have to be careful though because making my own gifts can easily get as expensive as buying them. Handmade gifts are especially good for things like holiday gift giving because it is easy to make a lot of little trinkets at once. Lately I hand print sets of coasters.

I also started making my own greeting cards to send for holidays. Part of reducing my gift spending means that certain people on my list only get a card. Hand making each card allows me to personalize and ensure that the recipient still gets something special.

Gift giving still makes me happy, and I still allot space in my budget to make sure I can afford to be generous. I stick to the budget, though. It allows me to give presents responsibly!

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Jenna Smith on May 30th, 2013 in Family, Finances, Personal Stories | No comments