5 Ways Volunteer Work Can Help Heal Depression

5 WAYS VOLUNTEER WORK CAN HELP HEAL DEPRESSION

Team Lovepanky

Getting through depression is one of the toughest things a person can live through. But there is hope! Find out how doing volunteer work can help!

Depression, like most mental health issues, is surrounded by a stigma that makes it nearly impossible for those who suffer from it to discuss the problem openly and get the help they need, when they need it.

In our culture, admitting you have a mood disorder is more or less like acknowledging you are too weak, frail and lazy to handle what life throws at you. Seeking help kind of makes it worse, because now it is as if you’ve added an “incapable of solving own problems” stamp on your forehead.

But that’s not the whole truth, is it?

If you or someone you care about is struggling with depression, you know there is so much more to it.

You’ve seen firsthand the holes this self-feeding fire can burn through a person’s life. You’ve witnessed the person that once was slip through the cracks of what used to be a complete human being and into a puddle of self-loathing and isolation.

How do people battle depression?

Sadly, therapy is not always an option. Medication can fail as well, as it often doesn’t perform as expected, or has side effects that are unbearable.

So how is one supposed to get better? In a society incapable of recognizing the signs of a person who needs help, how can someone find their way to recovery? And it’s also equally important to ask how one can handle it without being judged, being told to suck it up and get a grip, without being shamed into hiding?

How can volunteering be beneficial to those suffering from depression?

An avenue not thoroughly explored, yet one absolutely worthy of the attention is volunteering. Its nature is humble and unassuming, yet combines multiple factors that promise to bring improvement and stability to the mind.

#1 The thrill of the unknown trumps the feeling of worthlessness. Mastering new skills or dusting off old ones does not necessarily cause a revolution the first time around, but it does leave a mark. It marks a place and time of accomplishment- the moment your hands and mind gave birth to something good, something meaningful.

Once this happens, there is no going back. It would be like trying to undo the sunrise. Little by little, or hopefully with full jet power, the feeling of being useful and needed can help keep the depression at bay.

You will recognize your ability to make a difference and that as your efforts grow, so do the results. The value of such a realization is invaluable, as it is one of the first milestones on the road to a depression-free life.

#2 Passion, purpose and direction will stop looking like words from motivational posters. If we lose our way, whether on an actual trip or while going through life, we tend to resolve to these options – going back to a point where we knew where we were, taking chance turns in the hope they will bring us to where we want to be, or reaching out for help. The reality is that these don’t always work out and then we lose ourselves completely.

It’s this feeling of being stuck, this time we spend being stranded, that cripples us mentally and emotionally. We doom ourselves to repeat the same numbing routine until we finally give up and accept it is all there is for us, or worse – it’s all that we deserve.

Breaking the cycle seems pointless, because if you were good for anything else, you would have found out by now and started doing it, right? Wrong. Depression lies. Remember this. Depression lies.

Who knows, maybe you’ll turn out to be an amazing cook, great with animals, really handy and capable of fixing and building things, a researcher with a keen eye for details, an influential public speaker or an organizer able to set up a massive event in the blink of an eye. You really never know until you try, and once you do know – there will be no stopping you.

You will make life fall in line with what you want it to be and continue on a road paved with hard work and fulfillment.

#3 Finding your happiness in the joy of others. Does this sound too cheesy? Too much like a Sunday sermon? Even so, it doesn’t make it any less true.

Humans are hardwired to mimic other humans’ smiles. This, in turn makes our brain send out feel-good signals all over our body, especially the face, which results in, you guessed it, more smiles. Think of it as an eternal loop of positive emotion injections.

You’d be surprised how much smiling goes on while charity happens. And even if you choose a field that does not suggest a lot or any actual human contact, like animal shelters or online databases, this doesn’t mean there won’t be grins involved. Gratitude, appreciation and respect can clearly be detected, despite the method of communication being body language or electronic.

Alleviated stress and reduced anxiety are self-generated doorways to higher confidence and life satisfaction.

In other words, volunteering provides a natural, healthy boost to your mental health, and it has the potential to rekindle your zest for life and help you like who you see in the mirror. The benefits it produces when fighting depression could be compared to those of a long standing meditation habit.

#4 Volunteering builds a solid support group around you. We’ve all heard stories about the bonds formed by soldiers fighting side by side, police officers patrolling in the same car, even wild animals brought together by unusual circumstances.

These bonds are formed from the simple yet concrete-strong foundation of going through the same experience, with the same goal, as part of the same team. Show up and do what you are there to do – this is pretty much all it takes.

Volunteering brings together people from all walks of life, and although these combinations seem random, even chaotic, they work out. The idea that unites them usually tops whatever it is that divides them. This translates to those people being there for each other much more than you’d expect.

#5 It’s the right kind of selfish. It’s commonly accepted that charity work is an act of selflessness, an island of altruism in our otherwise hectic and competitive lives. But reality is never this one-sided.

Don’t get us wrong, all the positive statements people make about it are undeniably true. Dedicating time and efforts to a cause, without expecting any financial or material gain, is as noble as it sounds.

Yet you do gain something, don’t you? Or at least find something you thought you’d lost along the way.

For instance, it gives you a reason to get out there, something constructive to take your mind off whatever it is that is torturing you, self-respect, a feeling of identity, of acceptance and belonging, of being connected, a spark of creativity and thirst for life like you never knew them before.

Bottom line is that volunteering is about rewarding yourself just as much as it is about serving others. Probably even more, because once you start seeing yourself in this new, better light, you will have shrugged off some of the burden depression has you carrying. And this, right there, is what can help you heal.

Volunteering is a two-way street where both, those helping and those being helped, exchange mutually positive feelings. Though you extending your help will be much more obvious, the act of volunteering allows you to receive positive vibes and emotions from those who reward your charity with their gratitude.

Leading Your Children God’s Way

LEADING YOUR CHILDREN GOD’S WAY

LEADING YOUR CHILDREN GOD’S WAY

Intentional Living

One of the principles of Intentional Parenting is to recognize that children will usually give you what you expect. The standards that you set are the ones your children will meet. Neglect to set standards, and your children won’t know what you expect. Sometimes, it’s really that simple.

It’s also important to note that understanding the power of expectation means we also have to be careful that the ones we place on our children are realistic and, most importantly, match up to God’s expectations.

Let’s use school as an example because most parents want their children to excel in scholastics. Remember, you have to know your child. Did his problem-solving ability impress you from an early age? Is he or she a creative thinker? How artistic is your child? While we must always encourage them to do their best, we should not require or expect our children to be able to perform outside of their God-given abilities to meet our parental expectations. Why expect your artistic child to be a math genius when God apparently wired him to be the former?

Many children have been frustrated by parental expectations that don’t match up with God’s. Therefore, your expectations for your child must be defined by God’s expectations. Ephesians 6:4 says Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.

While we train our children, we should be paying attention to their bent and how they’re wired. We are to lead them “in the way he should go.” That way is God’s way—with all their positive, innate traits and characteristics already leaning in that direction.

An important component to understanding your child, especially in adolescence, is to understand the culture he lives in. To parent wisely, we must have knowledge and understanding of the world he experiences every day. When Jesus sent His disciples out to do His works, He understood what they would be facing, according to Matthew 10:16, I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore, be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves. Part of knowing your child is recognizing what he’s up against on a daily basis. Sometimes, in their own best interests, we must work to remove temptations from our children’s paths.

Knowing your child may be just a little more difficult than you think. Recognizing their favorite food as a baby is a lot easier than knowing whom your child sits with at lunch. It only takes a little research, but it’s the kind of knowledge that can be overlooked—and the kind of information that can give you great insight to what’s going on in your child’s life.

It takes time to know your child. Be sure to take the time!

Intentional ONE THING Challenge

If you could do ONE THING and know that it would make a significant, lasting, possibly life-changing difference in your life, would you do it? Dr. Carlson shares the power of ONE THING and why you should get started doing your ONE THING today.

Tell Us

How are you leading your child God’s Way? We’d love to hear your stories. Post your comments below.

Prayers with and for Your Child

PRAYERS WITH AND FOR YOUR CHILD

Experience Hope eDevotional

All your children shall be taught by the Lord, and great shall be the peace of your children.─ Isaiah 54:13

As a parent or grandparent focused on God’s intentions for our lives, it’s vitally important to pray for and with each of our children or grandchildren every day. There is something that happens when we stop and pray with our kids. It should be more than a quick prayer over dinner or a bedtime prayer. We’re talking about really spending time in prayer for them and with them. 

For those of us who grew up in Christian homes, most of us prayed at the table before meals. Many parents tried to be consistent to pray with the kids every night when they’d put the children to bed too, but prayer should go deeper than that.
 
We need to spend more time with them praying that:

  • They would seek to know God through His Word.
  • They would seek God’s will and leading for their lives.
  • They would experience God – not only know Him – but truly experience Him.
  • As they grow up they would make decisions that would honor Him. 

Imagine what kind of difference it could make in the lives of our children and grandchildren if we developed a habit in our lives to pray with and for them. That one, simple, intentional decision could completely transform our families.

Today’s One Thing

Make a commitment to pray with and for each one of your children (or grandchildren) every day for the next 30 days.  

Go Deeper With Intentional Living

Leading Your Children God’s Way


Raising Exceptional Families with Special Needs Children

RAISING EXCEPTIONAL FAMILIES WITH SPECIAL NEEDS CHILDREN

Lisa Pinhorn

It’s a given: parenting is hard work. But when you’re raising a child with special needs, the level of care and stress is not just higher—it shifts the foundations of families and adds unimaginable complexities for everyone involved.

Physical disabilities, learning disabilities, illness, Autism, ADHD, Anxiety, OCD, and Developmental Trauma are parenting game changers. At Feeding Futures, we work in the world of exceptional families, so we know all too well how chaotic things can become when you’re caring for a child with special needs. It sounds stressful because it is, and words don’t even begin to do it justice. I know because I’ve lived it.

When my daughter’s Autism diagnosis came, I was new to being a single parent. My emotional reaction was neither pretty nor graceful. Not long after came the news that she also had extreme anxiety and debilitating OCD. The grief that came with each doctor visit was very real. During the slow process of adjusting to a new normal, I became a warrior. And after six years of fighting, I needed a new way forward.

Nobody can prepare you for the emotions that come with parenting special needs children, especially as a single parent. It is full of questions, self-doubt, and eventual acceptance of your situation—a path that should never be seen as a straight line. Each new challenge for my child can trigger old emotions that send me back into the grief cycle, which is full of negative thoughts and less than ideal coping strategies.

What I eventually learned is that I had to make a plan, because at the end of the day, I had a very special child who needed me.

A New Normal for Special Needs

In my work with families, I see special needs parents scrambling to adjust to their new and unexpected role as a healthcare manager for their child. They are prepared to be the catalyst needed to provide an overall positive quality of life for their family, but many are never told how.

Sadly, families receive little instruction on how to best meet the needs of their children without feeding the already toxic levels of extreme family stress. The stress within special needs households is a topic we can no longer ignore.

Here is what I know to be missing in our special needs world: parental self-care. And not normal self-care. We need deep, even radical, self-compassion practices. We are all so concerned about the deficits of our children that no one is looking at the emotional crisis happening in the lives of the parents and overall family.

As parents of special needs children, we need to add ourselves back to the family care list. We actually need to be number one on the list, but I know that’s not always possible for special needs parents. So, if your self-care needs can’t sit at the head of the family care table, you at least need a seat.

Think back to the day the diagnosis came. Were you told to prepare for the grief, recognize your personal stress levels, and strengthen your family relationships as part of your child’s care? Or did you immediately start driving your child to one specialist after another and line up for pharmaceuticals?

These are two very different approaches on many levels. One is void of parental self-care while the other puts parental self-compassion as a necessary part of family-focused care. Sounds radical, even though it shouldn’t be. At Feeding Futures we want parental self-care to be part of the new normal that comes with the special needs diagnosis, and here’s why.

Caregiver Stress Impacts Children

Dr. Stuart Shanker, child psychologist and Founder of The MEHRIT Centre, explains that we’re parenting in an age of toxic stress levels. We are stressed and our kids are stressed. Our bodies and brains are in overdrive all day, every day, and it all flows down into the lives of our children.

In his book Self-Reg: How to Help Your Child (and You) Break the Stress Cycle and Successfully Engage with Life, Dr. Shanker describes a body of research on emotional co-regulation that shows the prefrontal cortex of a child’s brain is not fully developed, so it co-regulates with the prefrontal cortex of significant adults. When an adult is in a stress cycle, the “inter-brain” connection with the child is also full of that stress. Dr. Shanker describes this brain sync up like a “bluetooth” or wireless connection between children and adults. When the inter-brain connection is calm and regulated, stress behaviors are reduced.

There is also polyvagal research from Dr. Stephen Porges and other neuroscientists that’s found when stress is high, we all tip into fight, flight, and freeze more often. This state has substantial long-term health impacts on kids, both typical and with special needs.  

Here comes the missing piece that will turn your world upside down, but in a good way. Our children are our mirrors. They show us our stress levels. Each stressful adult day seeps into the nervous system of our children, and they reflect it back to us. Whenever we see a rise in anxiety and stress behaviors in our children, we need to take a good look at our day-to-day lives and our own stress levels. It’s hard to see ourselves as contributing to our children’s challenging behaviors, but the good thing is that it’s never too late to make changes and adopt a softer, more compassionate approach.

The 10% Self-Compassion Promise

Parents of children with special needs require more than just run of the mill self-care practice. They need supercharged, exceptional, and radical self-compassion. I tell parents to imagine they won the “self-care lottery” and they have to use the money on taking better care of themselves or they will lose the prize. Everything about our lives is filled with exceptionalities, and this part of our lives needs to be, too.

I ask families to think how their lives would change if they took 10% of the love and energy they donated each day to their child and gave it back to themselves. Many say they can’t, that it would be selfish, that there is no time. It’s natural that special needs parents are super focused on their children. They have to be. But they also need to care for themselves to avoid the downhill flow of anxiety into their already compromised children. When I remind them of how interconnected stress is within families, they begin to think a little more about a yoga class or going for that swim.

Here are a few things special needs parents can try as they step into the world of exceptional self-care and compassion.

Become a Peaceful Warrior
Special need parenting requires us to fight, so we go at it from a position of a warrior. But what if we come at this type of parenting from a different direction? One where instead of burning through our energy supply like an aggressive warrior, we pause each day and fill our tanks with exceptional compassion towards ourselves. Tell yourself each day that you are doing the job of a giant and that you are doing it well. This I know to be true because I have lived it. You can only be a warrior for so long, then you crash, and no one wins.

“Self-Care Light” Just Doesn’t Cut It
I love spas. I love the music, the muted colors on the walls, the water everywhere, and the services are wonderful. It is a delightful experience, but in my opinion, it is “self-care light.” Like all powerful experiences, we have to go deeper to see changes in our thinking, feeling, and behavior. Sadly, it has taken years for me to figure out this basic fact—leaving the spa and going back into the beehive of a stressful house or busy job is not what I call wise. These days I will keep my hundred dollars of spa money and instead opt for meditation. The Headspace app is a great option.

Learn More About Self-Compassion
Recently, I have taken on a more significant and more in-depth practice of self-compassion.  Self-compassion goes deeper than thinking it is nice to buy yourself that expensive thing because you deserve it. It is a deeper daily practice where you learn how necessary it is to cultivate a kind voice in your head. This voice will get you through the dark days, the medical appointments, the IEP meetings, and whatever your exceptional life will toss at you.  Self-compassion lives within a soft spot within yourself. It provides you with much needed kind attention, and it is the balance to all the attention you have to give to others.

Know That Compassion Has Two Necessary Parts
I remind parents of a concept I learned though buddhist meditation teacher and author Sharon Salzberg. Compassion has two equally important parts: the part you give to others and the part you must give back to yourself. Parents have no issue with the first part. It’s the second part they can’t get their head around. They have never been taught how to care for themselves or even think it is necessary. But it is, and this is the foundation of helping our children with special needs feel better, too.

Consciously Invite Positives Into Your Life
A wise yoga teacher once taught me the power of inviting positives and joys into our lives, and the reason to do it is more profound than you think. This practice teaches us that when our lives become more positive and balanced, we can reflect and observe that negatives have drifted away or at least don’t take up as much space in our lives. The work of Barbara Fredericksonsuggests we broaden and build positive states such as gratitude, kindness, compassion, joy, and peace. Try it for a month, see how your life changes, and how the behavior of your children will change, too. Positive begets positive, and joy generates joy, so pause to celebrate the positives, no matter how small they might appear.

So, are you ready? Ready to try something that will benefit your whole family? Start small. Make a list of things you would like to do for yourself, and carve out time to do it. Your family is not ordinary, it’s exceptional. And so are you.

The Termination Letter

THE TERMINATION LETTER

Japheth Prosper

I still remember how my father walked into the house that evening and announced that he had been fired.

“I have just been fired,” he said to my mother miserably and languidly sank into the chair. “I have just received my termination letter. My own is finished. I am finished. We are finished.”

As he cried, my mother came to sit beside him. God bless my mother. She just helped him to unbutton his shirt, remove his jacket and turn the fan to face him.
“You are not finished, my husband. You are not finished.”

She summoned my elder sister.

“Lucy, bring your father food to eat.”

I could see the shock in my father’s eyes. How could she not understand that he had just lost his job? I believed that was what he was thinking. But my mother remained in that manner as if nothing had happened.

Lucy brought my father’s food while my mother called on me to bring her a paper and a pen. I wondered what was on her mind. There were tears already hanging on my cheeks because I didn’t like the mood I saw my father in that evening. I had never found him in such a vulnerable situation before.

When I gave my mother the pen and paper, she began at once to scribble something on it. I wondered what it was. Although I sat in front of the television, my ears were cocked to pick up every sound. I wanted to know what they were going to do with that piece of bad news that my father had brought.

He just ate about ten spoonfuls of the rice that my sister had placed on the dining table for him. The meat, he did not even touch. My father was a very heavy eater. He must really be in a terrible mood for him not to have eaten from the food. I felt for him. I really felt for him.

Soon, his head was cradled in his palms. I knew he was thinking. I quickly remembered my classmate Biodun whose father had died of hypertension and when I asked my sister what could lead to such sickness, Lucy had said it was ‘too much thinking.’

I wanted to tell my father not to think because I did not want him to die but we were taught to keep quiet when our parents were having a heart-to-heart talk. For this reason I simply maintained a dignified silence.

“Chai! Upon all the things I did for these people, they still had the mind to fire me! This world is wicked! This world is crazy,” my father kept on lamenting.

Heaving, my mother said, “Mr. David Kadema, we are not going to discuss the past now. We are going to discuss the present and the future. You have lost your job and it is now in the past. We are not going to talk about it. We are going to talk about what we are going to do from now onwards because, job or no job, this family must feed and carry on with life.”

My father was just staring at my mother as if she was his teacher and he was a very obedient pupil. He was just staring at her as if she had just returned from Jupiter.

“What are we going to do now?”

I was surprised to hear my father ask my mother such a question. What did he mean by that? He had always been the breadwinner and the one who took almost all the decisions in the house.

My mother asked, “How much do you have?”

He looked at my mother as if she had just asked a very difficult question on rocket science.

“Mr. David Kadema, talk to me. How much money do you have in your account?”


Somewhat reluctantly, he mumbled a sum. My mother heaved a long sigh.

“I have double that amount in my account,” she said. “We can start up something with what we both have and live happily.”

From where I sat, I saw the palpable shock in my father’s eyes. “How did you get such money?”

He did not expect that my mother could have such amount of money in her account because my mother sold only soft drinks with ice blocks at home. Most people who always go to work usually look down on people who did petty business. However, I have come to realize that this assertion was completely wrong. Because he was usually not at home, he didn’t realize that my mother was making so much money from her petty business.

Again, my mother was not an impulsive buyer like my father. Every kobo counted whenever she wanted to buy or sell. As far as being prudent was concerned, my mother could score a hundred marks.

“We are going to start selling eggs in crates and we shall be using your Sienna minivan to do supplies.”

“What?” Wild horror lined my father’s face. “What are you talking about? You mean…?”

“Yes,” she replied without waiting for him to conclude. “We are going to be selling eggs and your car will be used to supply them.”

My father sat like a cocked gun. I could sense the irritation in him but he was calm. I think the termination letter with the figure my mother said she had in her account had humbled him.

My mother began to talk about her proposed business and, with rapt attention, he listened. They talked for a very long time.

“We are going to draft a new food roaster,” my mother said. “From today, we are cutting down expenses. Only needs will be taken care of from today. No money will be spent on wants and frivolities. Please let me be the boss for six months and, thereafter, you will take over fully.”

I thought my father was going to object to that but he didn’t. Instead he agreed to all the things that my mother was saying nodding at various intervals.

“And lastly, you will not lament to anyone that you have lost your job. As far as I am concerned, you resigned and got a better one because no job is as good as the one you do for yourself.”

My mother went on talking for a long time and my father kept listening and nodding at everything she was saying.

Finally, she looked at me and said, “Mercy, are your brothers at home?”

“No, Mummy,” I shook my head. “They have gone to play football.”

“Tell your sister to fetch water for your father to bathe with,” she said and turned to my father, “Congratulations, Mr. David Kadema. Take your bath and rest your bones.”

Somehow, I saw the relief in his eyes as he got up from his seat and went to the bathroom.

Later that evening while he was asleep, my mother gathered us all for a meeting. My brothers Jerry and Eugene had both returned from the field. Jerry had just got admission into the university and had only returned after the first semester. He was going to become a civil engineer. Eugene was going to SS3 while Lucy was in JS3. I was going to JS1.

We all gathered at the dining table as she talked. “Your father has just lost his job,” she began rather expressionlessly.

“What!” Jerry and Eugene cried in unison. Lucy’s hands were on her head.

“What happened?” Lucy asked. “Did he fight with someone?”

My mother shook her head. “I don’t care what happened. I am only concerned about now and after. I want you all to assume that nothing happened and we will all get our hands on deck.”

“Will he start looking for a job?” Jerry threw in.

“No,” Mother said shaking her head. “He just got another job.”

Lucy raised her hands to the air, “Praise the Lord!”

“Thank God ooo,” Eugene heaved. “I hope it’s a better job ooo.”

“Yes, it is,” my mother nodded.

“What job is that?” they all chorused with naked curiosity.

That was when I spoke for the very first time. Before my mother would reply, I muttered, “He will be selling eggs.”

“What?”

They all turned to my mother. Eugene’s eyes darted with inquisitiveness. “Mother, is it true?”

“Yes,” she nodded, and I saw the disappointment in their eyes. “Your father is now an egg dealer. He is going to start working for himself now and no more rushing his meals just to go to work on time. He will plan his day from now onwards and his time will be spent in doing his own business not another man’s business.”

She went on to tell us so many things and in the end we were all convinced that the termination letter was a blessing in disguise.

“All hands must be on deck. Your father has been working for this company for over a decade now and we still live in a rented apartment. If the job was that good, we ought to have been living in our own house by now.”

She wrote so many things on a sheet of paper and mapped out duties for all of us. The next day, she made zobo and kunu and bottled them. Lucy and I went from house to house telling people that we now sold cold kunu and zobo.


Mother bought a bigger refrigerator a week after and we began to sell more sachet water along with the kunu and zobo.

Within a month, we had found a shop across the street. My mother set up a laundry shop for my elder brothers there and they were always busy because she announced it at the church. Almost half of the men in our church patronized them. Most evenings, we all joined hands in washing while Eugene and Jerry did the ironing. When they had so much work, they would invite their friends and pay them for the services rendered. Our house became more like a business hub.

The egg business started a month later and my father got very busy. His phone was always buzzing with people calling for supplies. Mother was always counting money. With the interest that came from the business, she bought agro products and kept them in a very big shop which we rented months later.

When it was six months and mother was to hand over to my father, he smiled and said, “Be the boss, my love. Just be the boss and I will forever be at your beck and call.”

By the time Jerry returned to school, he opened another laundry shop there.


We now have three Sienna cars to distribute eggs. We now have people working for us. We now have three shops and own two houses which we gave out for rent. Our own living house will soon be completed. It might seem like magic to some people but we are all proud of my mother. We all saw how it began and she was transparent enough to let us know how every penny was got or spent.


To crown it all, my brother Jerry will be graduating this year while Lucy will be heading for Finland to further her education.

Parents Need to Agree on How to Raise Their Children

PARENTS NEED TO AGREE ON HOW TO RAISE THEIR CHILDREN

Rob Pascale & Lou Primavera

 fizkes/Shutterstock
In an earlier article, “Married with Kids,” we talked about how the introduction of children into the home can wreak havoc on some marriages. These problems often result from work overload—their lives are no longer just about managing the house, or jobs, or making each other happy. The responsibilities that are dumped on new parents can mean that both, but especially wives (since they shoulder most of the burden), are perpetually stressed, exhausted, and pushed to their limits.

For those who are hit particularly hard, their relationship can suffer not just because of less time devoted to each other. When under chronic stress, there’s a strong possibility that partners will at times let their emotions get the better of them and they will then take their frustrations out on each other. There may also be disappointments that derive from unmet expectations. Expectations have a lot to do with adjusting to parenthood, and the more partners are off with regard to how they thought things would be, the greater is the likelihood of resentments and conflicts.

Problems can also result from differences in parenting philosophies. In some marriages, one parent may prefer to take a relaxed attitude while the other may want to institute more structure and rules for the child to follow. When parents bump heads on how to raise their children, not only do they give themselves reasons to argue, but they also work against the interests of the child. Sometimes in these situations one parent may try to gain the child as an ally against the other parent. The child may then feel forced to take sides with one parent or the other, or become confused as to what they’re supposed to do. The parent who loses that power struggle can feel alienated from the family, and may resent their partner or the children.

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Why Insecure People Struggle With Vulnerability

WHY INSECURE PEOPLE STRUGGLE WITH VULNERABILITY

Kyle Benson

As we’ve seen on this site, vulnerable communication is the solution for finding a healthy relationship and happy life. At a glance, most treat vulnerability as if it is something every person can do. Many believe that if the person sets their mind to it, they can get their needs met in a healthy manner. Unfortunately, this is only the case for secure individuals.

Secure individuals are capable of expressing themselves and regulating their emotions because they believe they are worthy of love and affection. They expect their partners to be responsive and caring. It’s easy to see that having such beliefs can lead on to not become overwhelmed as easily. Secure individuals have no issue communicating their needs to their significant other.

The problem is that insecure people -my previous self included- struggle to get in touch with what is really bothering them.  Once the emotional floodgates open, it’s easy to become overwhelmed. These can create irrational thoughts, which can end in a person lashing out.

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How New Parents Keep Their Love Alive and Well

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HOW NEW PARENTS KEEP THEIR LOVE ALIVE AND WELL

Amity Kramer

You know the times in life when things just don’t feel good? When you see one of those uplifting t-shirts that says, “Life is Good,” and you think, “Not mine, today is hard and I don’t like it.”

The Bringing Baby Home Workshop helps parents to prepare for those days. Like it or not, life as a parent is not always baby snuggles and Instagram moments. As a facilitator of this evidence-based workshop, I have the privilege of witnessing couples see each other in a new way, a way that is more clear and authentic than before. When that happens, couples intentionally take in more of that beautiful view, and they savor it.

I want to share some relationship enhancing strategies that parents learn in the Bringing Baby Home Workshop. These ideas are not unique to parents; all relationships thrive with a solid foundation and continued investment.

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Positive Parenting: Accept Feelings, Limit Actions

person and two toddler's playing at the seashore

POSITIVE PARENTING: ACCEPT FEELINGS, LIMIT ACTIONS

Rebecca Eanes

Over the years of moderating a popular parenting page on Facebook, I have had the opportunity to listen to many parents voice their concerns about changing their parenting paradigms to peaceful, positive parenting. One of the major goals of positive parenting is to raise emotionally intelligent children, and this is because research has shown that children with high emotional intelligence are less defiant, mentally healthier, and more successful both academically and in relationships.

Emotional intelligence is the ability to understand, evaluate, and regulate emotions. In our quest to raise emotionally intelligent children, positive parents understand the importance of accepting a child’s feelings. A common misconception is that accepting all feelings means accepting all actions resulting from those feelings, leading to an unruly and disrespectful or spoiled and coddled child.

Feelings are neither right nor wrong. They simply are what they are. We feel what we feel. What we do with those feelings, though, is extremely important, and that is a large part of emotional intelligence. It’s not about just understanding and accepting feelings but also teaching children appropriate actions around those feelings.

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The Great Pretender

Mom Newborn Baby Hospital

THE GREAT PRETENDER

Famifi

Fake it ‘til you make it takes on new meaning when you become a parent.

I first felt it on the day I headed down the hospital’s maternity corridor toward the newborns room: saturation-level imposter syndrome. In the two days prior, someone had always ceremoniously handed me my newborn while I lay below florescent lights on my sanitized throne of paper bed sheets surrounded by family. Members of this extended village were the ones supporting me, helping me feel like this new normal—this new role—was, in fact, real.

But at last I felt up to getting around the hallways on foot, now able to make my way toward this curious creature and claim him myself. So, I wielded a plastic wristband with my name on it, a flimsy passport that somehow convinced the baby warden to hand over this squirrely little person.

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