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Monthly Archives: November 2012

Those Questions Children Ask

Birds bees

Birds bees (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Few parents look forward to the day when their children will have a question for which they have no ready answer. Those questions are the ones that probably they have no idea how they will answer. Just because you have no children, you may not be exempt. I was asked one of those questions by my cousin when she was a child and I was a teenager. It may not be about the birds and the bees or the stork. It might be about death or war or poverty. Usually those are questions that we can’t answer for ourselves let alone someone else. We often do not want to think about these things and don’t like to go in search of life’s answers to these questions. The main problem with this is that someone or something else may answer this question for them and it may not be the answer we would like them to have. This doesn’t mean that children that we care for will always adopt our answers to such questions if we had them but I am sure you would at least like to have had some input on the subject.

Such questions have often been the subject of books for parents and children. If you keep your eye open for such books and read them yourself, you may find a book or books which answer some of these questions in a way that you consider appropriate for your child. Some books are written at a level where either by reading them out loud or by letting the child read them themselves that a child can get an explanation of a difficult subject that is suitable for his or her age and contains material of which you would approve. You can always also read such a book and put what you learn from it into your own words.

Last, but not least, we can not always forever avoid facing life’s difficult questions and it is best that at some point we answer them for ourselves before we have to do it when put on the spot by our children’s curiosity and/or by life’s unforeseen events.

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Psychopaths

English: Lansing Correctional Facility

English: Lansing Correctional Facility (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Prison 2
Prison 2 (Photo credit: planetschwa)

Having almost no or almost no conscience, psychopaths can commit violent crimes often without an ounce of guilt.  They have a high recidivism rate.  Committing the same crimes over and over again until he (or she) is permanently locked up and cut off from society.

As far as mental illnesses go, psychopathy is expensive to treat as incarceration is expensive and is mostly useful as a form of  protection for society and really is not a form of treatment.  They may continue to be violent in prison and may acquire a longer prison term because of this.  Also they usually need to be kept in  expensive high security prisons.  Even when taken out of society, they remain dangerous to others, both other inmates and correctional facility staff.

Because psychopaths having no built in governors on their aggressive drives, talk therapy does not seem to work with them.  Also they could care less about the feelings of others.  It would seem that if some form of treatment could be found that would inhibit their aggressive behavior, it would of a great benefit to society and perhaps even hopefully to psychopaths themselves.

Focusing on rewarding good behavior in adolescents who seem to be destined to be psychopaths with privileges seems to be more effective than punishing bad behavior which often causes an increase in bad behavior..  The theory behind this is partly based on the neuroplasticity of the brain.  Please see this article, (Mis)guided Light by Jenny Price in “On Wisconsin” (Vol. 113, No. 3), the alumni magazine of the University of Wisconsin at Madison.

 

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Room to Bloom and Grow

Child

Child (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Children should be allowed to bloom and growth naturally while being given the care and nurturance necessary for it to be optimal.  Most children grow physically at different rates at different times making it hard to predict what size they will be at any given time.  Boys can go from “slim” to “husky” in jeans.   Mine did and then he evened out and wore “regular.”  Don’t prematurely attempt to classify children as “precocious”, “talented”,  “gifted”, “retarded”,  a “behavior problem”, “unattractive”, etc.  Give them a chance to develop in all areas with as much encouragement as possible.  Judging them early in life can stunt their growth.  Also just because a child does exceptionally well in one area does not mean he or she will do as well in other areas.  In other areas, they might be “normal.”  A child who is reading and writing as well as an eight or nine year old at six may emotionally and behaviorally may still be acting like a six year old.  Also for example, it is easy to forget that a three year old who is as tall as a six year old is not six.  Maturity in one area does not guarantee maturity in all other areas.

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Self-Actualization

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

People need their basic needs met before they can focus on what makes them happy in life and when these needs are met, the need for self-actualization becomes active.  Almost everyone has the potential to be or do something in life.  When this potential motivates a person’s behavior, he or she may then feel that he or she has become all he or she can be.

Have you ever wondered is that all there is when you have a job that meets your needs and pays your bills? You have food, clothing, and shelter and the love and respect of others.  You also have self-respect.  Yet you feel something is missing.  For example, one of my friends has been and still is a student of the guitar and also has been determined to give his child a good start in life.  What do you want after the material things in life have been attained?

Every person is as unique as a snowflake.  Most people have special talents and abilities that when developed, they are able to fill a special and unique role in life. Focusing on being the best parent a person can be or on having a fulfilling, meaningful hobby can be the high point of a person’s life.  Getting there can be and (possibly should be) the most fulfilling part of the process.  Such interests can provide you with joy and pleasure in life. You have finally figured out your place in life. Unlike animals, people are aware of their own existence and assume that they have a purpose in life.

 

Basic needs

Basic needs (Photo credit: Luca Violetto)

life.

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Pay Back

Hurtful (song)

Hurtful (song) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Being kind to others, pays.  A commitment to focusing on the good things that others do and the good things that you can do for others works.  (Be reasonable about what you do for others.  If you are constantly giving and the other person is constantly taking, you might have to consider how you are using your resources and whether or not you can continue to do this and take care of yourself or your family.)  You can not predict how it will work, but it works.  What happens can be surprising.  You might hear people saying more good things about you to you yourself or others and you could benefit from this.

For example, when encouraged to talk about bad things a person has done, counter with some of the good things that he or she has done.  If when talking with someone about why someone did something hurtful; if possible, don’t join in and make it worse.  I am encouraging you to be realistic and to not ignore the sometimes painful truth that people aren’t always nice and you shouldn’t perpetuate serious wrongdoing by excusing it.  Often people complain about others when their life is not going well.  Other people’s friendships can be broken this way and I feel it is not my job to do this.  Everybody can be grouchy sometimes and say things that they might regret later.  Don’t always be the bearer of bad news especially when you don’t have to repeat what you have heard.

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Patience for the Next Generation

Funny Grandparents At Play Sign

Funny Grandparents At Play Sign (Photo credits: www.smartsign.com)

Ever lose your patience?  It can easily happen especially when it is someone else’s kids that are causing a disturbance.  Children require a lot of patience.  They are not very quiet nor do they stay very still.  Sometimes the longer it has been since someone has had kids, the less patient they are when they have to put up with someone else’s kids.  Mood changes, screams. crying can all be expected from young children.  The longer it has been since you have had children, sometimes the less tolerant you become.

Children require patience.  When extended families lived together, at least, people knew what to expect from small children.  Now people can live in complexes where children are not allowed except to visit and maybe not even then. For example, these places can be for seniors or singles only.  In this case, absence does not make the heart grow fonder.  What is amazing is that the seniors may have raised children of their own and the singles may have or have had younger brothers and sisters.  It is easy to forget what it was like to live with children.

Raising children is a noisy and frequently disruptive process,  Unless you have a live-in nanny or a daycare setting that will keep your child all hours of the day and night, you sometimes or all the time have to deal with them entirely on your own.  No one is a saint, especially when it comes to raising children, and if they tell you that they had an easy time of it and their children were angels, bring out the lie detector (just kidding).

Patience is the primary ingredient needed to grow a good crop of children for the next generation.  They explore, they learn, and they grow.  Yes, we have to keep them safe and teach them how to get along with others while at the same time letting them do what they need to do to grow up with the most potential. There is always hope as the next grandparents are created with the birth of their children’s children and they discover that their grand children are fascinating and that almost any of their grand children’s behaviors can be accounted for as just their little darlings being upset and that they couldn’t help what they did.

 

 

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I Worked in a Snake Pit!

English: Austin State Hospital entrance Españo...
Rebuilt 1773 Public Hospital for Persons of In...

Mental asylums have been around for a long time.   Now we call them mental hospitals, addiction treatment centers, stress management centers etc.  I experienced the real thing when I was in college and worked as a psychiatric aide one summer at the local state mental hospital.  We were hired to cover for the regular psychiatric aides when they were on vacation.  We were not allowed to work alone so every ward I worked on required that there be two aides instead of just one.  These were the locked wards with problem inmates.  Some were combative; others were escapees, and there were ones that had committed murders.  To justify having two aides, the problems of the inmates (now called patients) had to be severe. Of course at that time, there were none of the modern psychotropic medications.  I received no training and because I was covering for aides who were taking their vacations, I  might not work on the same ward from one day to the next and I also worked swing shifts, the day and evening shifts, but not the night shift.  The state hospital was set up like a small town and I had to check the roster each week at the main building so I knew ahead of time where in the complex I had to report each day so I would not waste time and wind up late for work.   Some of The buildings looked like they had been there since the civil war in the previous century.  They were sometimes as much as three stories tall and of course had no air conditioning.  I was required to wear a  white uniform dress, white stockings, and white nurses shoes.  I remember my main duty was to be sure that we had all the inmates we were supposed to have and I quickly learned to match the name on the roster with each face on the ward that I was working on each day.  There were a large number of patients to keep track of and it was important that I quickly learn what idiosyncrasies each one had because if I didn’t I might get hurt and that did happen to me that summer. Fortunately I only got slapped hard by a patient with a grounds pass whom I didn’t know while I had lunch room duty by myself with a couple of wards besides my own. The only thing that I had that they didn’t have were the keys to the doors.  Conditions were so crowded that cots would be put up in the halls and the day rooms each night for the patients not accommodated in the bedrooms.  Since there were only two aides and lots of patients, a lot of the work was done by “trusty” patients.  For example, there was the clothing lady.  Also inmates helped other inmates bathe, get dressed, and clean up after toileting accidents.

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When Not To Get Pregnant

infant

infant (Photo credit: soupboy)

Grand-babies are wonderful; but don’t let your parents convince you to have a child when you are not ready.  You are usually not ready when you have just gotten married.  Marriage takes some adjustment and you don’t need the added stress of a newborn.  Maybe you have been living together and you think that you know each other.  I am just suggesting that you think over such a decision and not get pregnant when you aren’t ready.  The first year or so of marriage can be rocky as two independent people with their own views of life work on their compatibility issues.

It is better not to get pregnant when other major changes are occurring in your life.  Moving, acquiring a mortgage, starting a new job, going back to school, all of these can cause additional stress in your life.  Having a baby is a major stress-or.  The more stress-ors that you have to deal with, the more likely it is that you might not be able to cope.  Some people even get physically or mentally sick and/or collapse.

Having a baby is sometimes not all rainbows and smooth sailing.  Things can go wrong that you have not planned on happening such as the loss of the baby during the pregnancy or soon after.  Mother’s health can be effected.  Baby’s healthy development can be a problem.   Being pregnant may make a mother very sick and, God forbid, even threaten her life.  Child birth is not always uncomplicated for mother or baby.  After the birth, a mother can develop postpartum depression.  Mother or child may have problems after the birth and need time to recover sometimes requiring a protracted hospital stay.

Last, but not least, when your marriage is in trouble, having a baby won’t solve the problem,  It may make the situation worse.  It will also complicate the situation if you end up getting a divorce.  Sharing child custody is almost always a bone of contention in a divorce or separation. Having a child not only limits the things you can do before but also after a divorce.  For example, you may not be free to move out of state to be with family.

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Therapy, When Is It Over?

Personality and Psychotherapy - John Dollard a...

Personality and Psychotherapy - John Dollard and Neal E. Miller (Photo credit: gwenboul)

Therapy, is it over too soon?  Therapy has been designed to solve problems and once they are solved, therapy is over.  Right?  Medicine has this problem too and once an illness is taken care of, there appears to be no need for further help.

People have come to realize that there is more to life than just not being sick.  If you have been depressed and get over it, wouldn’t you also like to be happy and enjoy life?   When it comes to medicine, many people want to be in the best health they can be. They want to be able to enjoy physical activity, to be successful at sports, and to be in the best physical shape they can be.    A whole new occupation has developed because of this.  It is that of a physical trainer.  This is now becoming true in mental health.  The new occupation is that of a life coach.

A life coach is more active and less passive than most therapists.  They help people define life goals, plan how to achieve them, and help them reach them.  The aim of such goals is to develop a happier, more successful person.  Few people want to just exist.   They want to remove the obstacles that are keeping them from being all they can be. The focus is not so much on weaknesses as on strengths, not so much on being able to do again what one has always done as on being able to do things they never would have attempted before.

Therapists are now beginning to realize that there must be something more to successful counseling than just curing mental illness.  Many are studying to be life coaches.  Some do this and change careers and others find room for both approaches in their work as a therapist.

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Holiday Drama

English: A Nuclear family, Image by FredCamina

English: A Nuclear family, Image by FredCamina (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Most people have great expectations for the holidays.  One thing that can cause problems with this is family drama.  Most people can not pick and choose who they are going to invite when it is a family occasion.  This means that there might be some people present who usually do not get along with each other.  This makes for problems.  Who among the family and extended family members is the most likely to take charge of the arrangements that day even though the celebration is going to take place at your house?  Who dislikes who?  Who can you count on to be civil?.  What topics of conversation probably should be avoided?  Who likes kids and who doesn’t?  This celebratory family dinner can turn into a minefield and could become explosive when least expected.

Lower your expectations for the big family do and have a separate celebration where you concentrate on your nuclear family and their and your desires for a happy day filled with your own traditions.  Wedding celebrations can be like holiday ones and often the couple does not get to have the wedding they want especially if no body else thinks (as I do) is that the wedding is all about the bride and her wishes and what her future husband wants.  Also in holiday parties as in weddings, count on at least one major thing to go wrong possibly even causing a catastrophe. That has been my experience with weddings. Problems can occur at the last minute such as no flowers, no ring, bad weather, etc. You can not anticipate everything that will happen.  If you can focus on just being together and not on the details, you will have a better time.  If someone spoils your dinner. remember he or she the one who decided to cause a problem, not you.  Don’t expect miracles and make adjustments, if you can, in your arrangements based on who is coming and what they might need.  I love little children, especially my grandchildren, but usually they can not be quiet and well behaved for very long.  Not everybody will like your food and some person or persons may have diet restrictions that you may or may not know about. Be prepared, not scared.

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