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How To Manage Shelter In Place With Those You Love?

Now is a time of extreme stress on many families and relationships. The COVID-19 shelter-in-place order has triggered a lot of fears and anxiety in each of us. If you are at home with your family, a friend or spouse then the tension between each of you may be high and that is what I want to address. 

Here are some reasons for the anxiety you or your family member may be experiencing.

  1. The life as we had been living it has changed and many of us do not do well with change. 
  2. There is uncertainty in the future and this uncertainty makes us nervous.
  3. There are financial concerns, will I loose my job or be furloughed or my pay be cut? How will we manage? 
  4. Will I or my loved one get the virus? Will they get sick and I won’t be able to help?
  5. Will I be left alone if I get sick, will it be painful and will the doctors be able to help me?

This list of concerns only touches on many of our deepest fears and we all respond to these triggers differently. On top of all that, you are now living in close quarters with other family members, trying to manage children or learn how to do your job remotely, this is a situation that can get ugly unless we make a conscious effort to manage it in a healthy way. 

We have been told to eat good food, exercise and isolate ourselves and all of these things are good practices and needed but I want to talk about how to communicate your anxiety and how to listen to the others in our home so that the tension will minimize. 

Here are some suggestions for your relationships.

  1. Be patient with each other. This is not a time to push each other to do something that is uncomfortable. Some of us might want to keep busy, others might want to be left alone, some might want to talk about their feeling and we each need support.
  2. Remember that this is not his problem or her problem, it is a problem you both need to share and find a solution that works for each of you. You are a team and need to work together. 
  3. Listen without judgement, do not shame your partner for feeling like they do, do not tell them to get over it or minimize their fears by saying “we will be fine, don’t worry” They want to feel heard and supported. 
  4. After listening, then show understanding. Acknowledge their fears, show that you understand them. Validate how they feel and let them know that their feelings are important.
  5. Ask how you can help and work together to find a strategy that will bring some relief. This might be a new routine, a time to share with each other and just verbally process feelings together, or it could be giving your partner some space. This will be individual to each of you. 

We all can acknowledge the severity of this situation and the extreme challenges that it brings. 

If you need extra support we at Save My Family Today are available to meet with you via Zoom, an online conferencing website, to give guidance, support and knowledge of how to navigate this uncertain time. It is imperative that you stay not only physically healthy but emotionally and relationally healthy as well. Give us a call at 562-537-2947.

Written by Lisa Strong

What is Compassion and Why You Need to Know

I read the newspaper.  Yes, the black and white printed paper that gets delivered to my door.  In every single issue, without fail, there are articles about crime, violence, hate speech, blame, conspiracies, and division.  And almost every morning I find myself wondering if it will ever be possible for us to relate to each other with compassion instead of blame and vengeance.  Then I wonder “what is compassion, exactly?”  So I did some reading.  

By definition, compassion is the sympathetic awareness of others’ distress, coupled with a desire to alleviate suffering. It’s empathy plus prosocial action to improve the condition of others. To be compassionate requires attention, insight, and engagement, says Joan Halifax, Ph.D., a Zen Buddhist nun and researcher. Interestingly, while the practice of compassion is inherently about helping others, emerging science shows that it can also help improve the physical health and psychological well-being of the person doing good.

In my line of work I hear about bullying, depression, anxiety, stress and health challenges starting in grade school.  Parents blame other parents and teachers.  Students blame their peers.  Families are riddled with strife and power struggles.  It’s quite overwhelming and sickening to me if I let it be. That’s when my roaming thoughts come back to compassion.  Let me be clear here… compassion does not excuse bad behavior.  But it does bring a new dynamic to the equation.  A dynamic of trying to understand and doing something to help the person who is hurting and acting out.  Instead of yelling at our kids let’s work to connect with their emotions and discover how we can help them and encourage them.  Instead of blaming your spouse, focus on what is troubling them and join forces to problem solve.  Compassion.

I understand that this sounds simple but it’s not easy.  I am always here to help.  Don’t hesitate to reach out if you have questions!  Give us a call at (562) 537-2947.  

Written by Lisa Smith

How to Teach Your Kids and Teens About Money

A new study published in the Journal of Family Issues asserts that when it comes to teaching your children about money, hands-on experience is key — even if those hands end up empty. In fact, one of the best things you can give your kids is the opportunity to screw up.

“It’s important for parents to give kids age-appropriate financial experiences,” the study’s author, University of Arizona doctoral student Ashley LeBaron, told the UA News. “Let them make mistakes so you can help them learn from them, and help them develop habits before they’re on their own, when the consequences are a lot bigger and they’re dealing with larger amounts of money.”

The study, entitled “Practice Makes Perfect: Experiential Learning as a Method of Financial Socialization,” says that it’s not enough to explain good financial management to your children and set a good example, they need to get their hands dirty. 

“We should be teaching our kids about money,” says Miata Edoga, Founder and President of the Los Angeles-based financial education company Abundance Bound.  “But the answer isn’t simply adding a few hours of a class in school. The answer is actual practice.”
 
What that practice would look like depends on the age of the child and the family’s financial situation, but some possibilities include giving them a regular allowance, rewarding achievements like good grades or paying them for certain chores over and above their regular responsibilities. (Side note: every child and teen should have tasks required of them daily that contribute to the household and family unit that do not get rewarded with money.  This teaches that they are required to contribute to the bigger unit without regards only to themselves.)  What’s important is that there’s a plan in place that both parent and child are clear about.

“I think it’s essential that kids have an agreement with their parents about what they are required to pay for from their own money,” says Edoga, who also recommends that children have a bank account and an ATM card by high school. “With my teenage daughter, she knows what the things are that she’s expected to pay for from money that she has earned so if she runs out and there’s something that she wants, then we discuss ways that she can earn the money that she needs. But to simply give it to her is creating that illusion that there will always be a safety net.”

Because in the real world, of course, there isn’t.  Stop being the safety net!  

In her experience Edoga has observed that millennials are often better savers than Gen-Xers and Boomers because they know that they are entering a work force that is much more transient and uncertain than the one their parents experienced. “Millennials are not likely to finish school and then step into a 40-year job with security and a pension, no matter what field they choose,” she says. “So, because our children are likely going to have to piece together their careers, our responsibility as parents is even greater to help them develop into powerful financial thinkers.”

Without freaking them out, of course. “We don’t want our kids to be afraid of spending, be afraid of managing credit,” she cautions. “We want them to feel confidant in their ability to negotiate successful financial lives, to come at money from a place of power, rather than fear.”

And like most things that are worthwhile in life, that comes down to one simple thing: practice practice practice. “We wouldn’t just give our kids a book and a lecture on driving a car and then expect them to get behind the wheel and actually be safe and know what they’re doing,” Edoga reasons. “It’s the same thing with money.”

I understand that this sounds simple but it’s not easy.  I am always here to help.  Don’t hesitate to reach out if you have questions!  Give us a call at (562) 537-2947.  

Written by Lisa Smith

How We Lose Respect Using Emotional Decision-Making

We want others to take us seriously, to show us respect and to listen to us. How can we make that happen? Why isn’t it happening? I think that when others see that we allow our emotions rather than our logic to make our decisions, this causes them to loose confidence in what we say. There needs to be a balance between emotions and logic.

I heard an example the other day of a husband who said that when his wife, after walking by a pet store window, makes an emotional suggestion like let’s get a puppy, he is not likely to take her seriously. But rather if she comes to him with a thought out plan and shows him she is aware of the changes a puppy will bring and how this will effect their lives together than he is more likely to listen. 

The point is that people are less likely to listen if they think that the emotion will pass and then the decision no longer seems like a good one. 

We have many emotions that can influence our decisions. For example, excitement can cause us to underestimate the risk involved. This can happen in financial decisions. Anxiety, embarrassment and sadness can also direct our choices. We may be anxious or depressed about something in our lives and this feeling causes us to be resistant to taking any risk at all. We may want to avoid embarrassment so we change our behavior to protect against this.

A very powerful emotion that we can all relate to is anger. We have all reacted in anger and then done something that hurts either ourselves or someone else. It would be better to take time to calm down and think things through before deciding on a plan of action.

When you communicate a concern or desire to someone they will respect your view if they think you are going to stick to it and if they know that you have thought it through

This is an important point, are you going to follow through? Can they count on you or are you only talking? When I know that the person making a suggestion is going to support their idea by taking action this also makes me respect them more. I can count on them to follow through, they are not only talk. 

Impulsive or emotional decision can affect our relationships, finances, health, career and how we use our time. 

We make the best decisions when we can achieve a balance between emotions and logic. When your emotions run too high, your logic will be low, which can lead to irrational decisions: and if you have a history of irrational decisions then others will not take you seriously or show you respect.

It is not easy to change patterns of behavior. If you need help and support, give us a call at 562-537-2947.

Written by Lisa Strong

How to Deal With Disappointment

With the new year comes hope for better things to come as well as the reality that disappointments will come our way.  Some disappointments are small and easy to shake off while others shake us to our core.  We know they will come in one form or another.  The question is how do we deal with them when they do?

1.  Feel It
One of the hardest things to do for many of us is to just let ourself experience a feeling… especially a painful and difficult one. Studies have shown that even at the most difficulties times, such as grieving, Americans  only allow themselves 1 to 2 weeks to feel sad or to grieve before expecting to get back into normality again.  This isn’t always reasonable.  Give yourself permission to feel the pain, even lean in to it.  Let it out.  And know that eventually the pain of disappointment will lessen.

2.  Get Perspective
Once you have allowed yourself to experience the emotion of disappointment you can then get some perspective.  Take a few steps back.  Look at what you do have instead of only what you do not have.  This is not denying the loss or the pain you have experienced but it’s acknowledging that there is more to your story than just the heartache right in front of you.

3.  Know Yourself
Disappointment can ripple through to the core of who you are. Sometimes disappointments can catch us so off guard and turn our lives upside down.  If you don’t know what your core values are, you may not have a framework to support you when you experience negative emotions that are inevitable when things go sideways.  

Knowing your own heart and your values gives you the freedom of choice. You can choose to be driven by what happens to you, or you can choose to live in line with your principles.  So I ask you… what are your core values?  What principles do you live by no matter what comes your way?  

4.  Practice Acceptance
As human beings, even though we know that some things are bound to happen, we’re not always willing to accept them.

Every time I am disappointed, I feel overwhelmed by my emotions. I’m inclined to withdraw, wanting to wallow in my disappointment. Each time, I have to accept that I will feel these things again.

I have to accept that I will continue to be disappointed—that it is a part of life, part of being human. I also have to accept that I will probably continue to struggle to accept this fact, at various points throughout the rest of my life!

This is a lifelong challenge and fundamental to dealing with disappointment. I will be disappointed, I will disappoint, you will be disappointed, and you will disappoint. Life will be disappointing—but it will pass.

Practice acceptance and we may suffer less as it is happening and notice the good things in life more.

Disappointment is a part of life and life is often difficult. But we can grow if we can endure.  We can be present and aware even in the midst of negative emotions that come with disappointment and therefore live more fully.

We understand that this sounds simple but it’s not easy.  We are always here to help.  Don’t hesitate to reach out if you have questions for us!  Give us a call at (562) 537-2947.  
 
Written by Lisa Smith

 

Is your relationship experiencing the holiday stress?

Is the holiday stress starting to crowd in on you and your spouse? I know that this time of the year brings some unique challenges. So what is so different about this month of December? Here are a few possibilities of what might be causing stress in your home.

  • You are not in agreement over how much should be spent on the holiday.
  • There are still the usual demands at work but now your schedule is extra busy with holiday festivities at school, church or with friends and family. Shopping takes time too. How do you fit it all in?
  • Pressure from family and friends. How can we make everyone happy including the in-laws, extended family, grandparents, kids and friends. Who do we celebrate with?
  • Different expectations, each of you were raised with unique holiday traditions. What do you do now?

These are just a few challenges that come up at this time. When you see your partner starting to stress out, what can you do? Well being quick to give advice is not the answer. According to Dr. Gottman, author of The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work,

“The cardinal rule when helping your partner de-stress is that understanding must precede advice. You have to let your partner know that you fully understand and empathize with the dilemma before you suggest a solution,”

Usually the responsibility of juggling gift giving and parties falls on the wife. I know this is a stereotype but let’s just go with it for discussion sake. If the husband starts with the advice then it can put the wife on the defense. She needs to know that he understands and agrees with her view before he can tell her what to do. This means being supportive. Give statements that show you get it.

Wives are not the only ones under stress, each of you need to be open to the other when they want to share what is stressing them out. If you see signs of your partners stress then come along side them, show support instead of judgement and let them know that you are a team together. The feeling of being alone in the stress is often what makes it worse.

Also you may need to discuss holiday expectations. Each of you should think about what is important to you. You can write down a few things that are at the top of your list for the holiday season. I don’t mean gifts but what makes the holiday special to you? Do you like to go as a family and pick out a live tree? Do you remember baking cookies or having a special meal? Do you have a family movie night or give gifts to children in need? Once you both share your ideas then work together to decide which you can make happen.

I want you to have the best holiday possible so make your relationship the priority and care for each other. Don’t hesitate to reach out if you need support or have questions for us!  We are always here to help. Give us a call at (562) 537-2947.

Written by Lisa Strong

Tips for Building Resilience in Your Kids

Tips for Building Resilience in Your Kids

After decades of experience working with thousands of kids of a all ages I am astounded and dismayed at the lack of resilience in young people today.  And to be fair, it’s not at all their fault.  It is ours.  As adults we have shielded, buffered and protected them to their own detriment.  Instead of having kids who can say to themselves “It’s ok that I didn’t get what I wanted or that I performed badly, I can still move forward.  I will try again.  I can do this.”  We have teenagers smashing windows because they got a low ACT score, didn’t get in to the college of their choice or they weren’t invited to a birthday party.  Even our younger kids are throwing tantrums and physically assaulting teachers when they have to redo a homework assignment or retake a spelling test.  These kids are lacking resiliency.  Here are a few tips to build this essential life skill in your child.

1. Be present in your kid’s life.  While some parents are over-parenting and hovering, research also shows a swell of parents not making meaningful emotional connections with their kids.  Being present means setting aside what you are doing when they walk in the room and let them see the joy their presence brings to you. Make eye contact.  Take interest in what they are saying.  Show them you care by being empathetic (not to be confused with sympathetic) when they struggle even if they played a role in their own demise.

2. Back off.  I know, I just said be present and now I’m saying back off.  There’s a delicate balance.  Be present but don’t do everything for them.  Don’t check in with them before, during and after an event or important assignment to see if they need you. Let them make choices and decisions about how to do things whenever possible.  For example, when they are young they can choose what to wear, when they are in middle school they can decide whether it’s cold enough outside that they need a jacket and when they are in high school they can determine in what order to do homework assignments.  Let them take risks and make mistakes without  you acting like the world might end.  When they take work hard or take a risk and succeed it will build a tremendous sense of authentic accomplishment.

3.  Model it.  Your kids see you as successful and are often unaware of the twists and turns and setbacks you’ve experienced and continue to experience.  The best way to normalize struggle and build resiliency is to let your kids know when we have, or have had a setbacks such as a failure or disappointment at work or even a falling out with a close friend.  Allow them to see you feeling down for a bit.  Let them hear you say that maybe you could have done somethings differently or better… or that you know you did some things wrong.  After they hear you reflect about the situation let them see you smile then move on.

We are always here to help.  Don’t hesitate to reach out if you have questions for us!  Give us a call at (562) 537-2947.

Written by Lisa Smith

Why Your Kid Needs to Fail

Why Your Kid Needs to Fail

You’ve protected your kid from failure, discomfort, rejection and pain for far too long.  Despite your good intentions you have harmed them.  Yep.  While you meant to help them you have hurt them.  If students are in their late teens or early twenties when they first face their own very normal human trait of imperfection and experience failure, they’ll lack the “brush it off, get back on the horse, try again, persevere through it” mentality they could-should– have cultivated in childhood.  We need to normalize struggle.

Kids need to know that failure, pain, discomfort, hurt and making mistakes are nothing to be ashamed of.  Instead, they need to understand that such experiences can be lessons and even open up new possibilities.  But this starts with the parent backing off enough to let their child experience, well, life.

Colonel Leon Robert, professor at West Point said “With some of our new cadets right out of high school, if you raise your voice they get teary-eyed.  Like no one has corrected them on a behavior before.  You’ve got to be able to have a setback, pick yourself up, dust yourself off and drive on.”

Harriet Rossetto of Beit T’Shuvah rehab facility in Los Angeles said  “A lack of resiliency is common among addicts.  They find that they can’t cope with failure or pain so they self medicate.  In contrast, studies have shown that the best predictor of success is a sense of resiliency, grit, capacity to fail and get back up.  If you’re prevented from feeling discomfort or failure, you have no sense of how to handle those things at all.”  I could not agree more.  So how do we build resiliency?  We will discuss this much more in my next blog but for now the answer is simple: let them fail and let them feel the pain of their failure.  Love them through it but don’t fix the situation for them.

I said it’s simple, not easy.  We are always here to help.  Don’t hesitate to reach out if you have questions for us!  Give us a call at (562) 537-2947.

Written by Lisa Smith

How to Parent an Adult Child

How to Parent an Adult Child

It’s tricky when the human you have cared for, protected, guided, provided for and loved with all your heart becomes a human who doesn’t need so much of that anymore.  Where does that leave you as the parent?  What is your new role?  Here are a few do’s and dont’s to consider.

1.  Only give advice when you’re asked for it.  This is a tough one, I admit.  But don’t let yourself off the hook or make excuses for yourself.  You want to jump in, protect them from making a mistake, be the buffer between your adult chid and heartbreak.  But this becomes counterproductive in two ways.  First, your now adult chid still doesn’t have the ability or permission from you to make their own decisions which is emotionally thwarting. Second, they will stop sharing ideas, dreams, fears and experiences with you because they do not want your advice but you keep giving it anyway. If they want your advice they will ask for it.

2.  Encourage instead of warn or criticize.  As adult children they may live different lives, have different values and need different things than you.  That’s ok!  Unless they want to break the law or want you to break the law then let them live their life fully.  When they say they are taking a trip to a remote island don’t tell them to put on sunblock or to look both ways before they cross the big bad foreign street.  Instead, tell them how exciting it sounds and that you hope they have the time of their life.  When they talk about getting another job or buying a home or riding their bike across the country stop yourself from warning them of all that could go wrong and remind yourself that they will figure it out, they will make a mistake here and there but will learn from it and that you are there to listen, encourage and only give feedback when they ask for it.

3.  Have fun with them.  You’re both adults now!  Isn’t that great?  You can build a new relationship of mutual respect.  You don’t have to look after them when you go out to eat or go on vacation together.  You can relax and learn all about this person who is growing and learning and living an independent life.

4.  Listen and learn about what they are interested in.  I know a mom who has a son in his late twenties who travels the world with a back pack and his bike.  It’s his passion.  His mom, however, won’t exercise even for a million dollars and is happy to stay home and relax on her front porch without ever leaving the country.  But she delights in listening to her son’s stories even when he tells her he had to sleep outside on the beach in Spain because he was too late getting in to the town he hoped to find a room in.  She doesn’t scold him, warn him, tell him how worried she is to hear that.  She just laughs and kindly rolls her eyes.  This invites her son to tell her so much more than if she were to react with judgement or disinterest.  They have a beautiful relationship.

Having a relationship with an adult child can be tricky because it’s all new for both of you.  Instead of fighting to keep control fight to let go and watch what blossoms.

We are always here to help.  Don’t hesitate to reach out if you have questions for us!  Give us a call at (562) 537-2947.

Written by Lisa Smith

How Parents Can Take Care of Themselves and Why It’s Important

You know those safety instructions they give on a plane… the ones which include reminding parents to take oxygen first in the event of an emergency before they give oxygen to their children. It’s a perfect analogy!  A parent who lacks enough oxygen can’t possibly be in the best possible position to take good enough care of their kids.  As we all know, many parents feel guilty taking care of themselves and feel that every drop of their energy should be poured into taking care of their children’s needs.  This is a lie that you need to shed if you want to be healthy, have emotionally healthy kids and healthy relationships with them.  And don’t forget… your kids are watching how you take care of yourself and will likely follow in your steps.  Here’s how to be a great parent while still taking great care of yourself:

1. Take care of your physical self.  Get enough sleep!  There’s not much worse than a chronically exhausted parent.  Eat healthy.  Take walks alone to clear your mind, exercise, do yoga anything to get your blood flowing and your body in good condition.  This builds emotional and physical stamina which you obviously need when raising children.

2. Take care of your emotional self.  Go out without your kids!  And when you’re out don’t talk about your kids and don’t take calls or texts from your kids during this time.  Focus on other important relationships with extended family and friends.  Write in a journal.  Step away from your phone and other screens every day.

3. Fill your emotional tank.  Do something you love!  Aside from your all important children… what makes you laugh?  What feels fun?  What brings you peace?  What brings you joy?  What makes you feel good about yourself?  Do those things at least once or twice a week!

4.  Stop making your kids problem your problem, his roller coaster your roller coaster, his life your life.  Go get your own.  Ouch… did that hurt to hear?  If it did then maybe you are too close to your kids.  Yep… I said it.  As parents, you want to and feel as though you should be so involved in their every drama, every relationship, every emotion, every event.  This is not the case.  Yes, you need to have a good grasp on who their friends are, what they are up to and how they are doing but you don’t have to live it yourself.  Be aware of what’s going on, don’t take it on as your own.

As your kids grow, you need to give them opportunities to experience life and the room to problem solve and cope with hardship, disappointment and sadness.  Disconnect yourself and you will be healthier, happier and much less tired and they will have a chance to grow.  Trust that you have taught them well then allow them to practice the skills you’ve given them.  They will feel good about themselves and you will feel less stressed.  If there’s a crisis, that may be different.  But for the every day scenarios… step away.  It’s counter-intuitive, I know.  But you will all be better for it.  I promise.

We are always here to help.  Don’t hesitate to reach out if you have questions for us!  Give us a call at (562) 537-2947.  Also, visit our Facebook page for ongoing resources.
Written by Lisa Smith