Thursday, May 26, 2016

Five Things to do Today When in a Relationship with a Narcissist

By: Christine Hammond, LMHC

It’s hard to avoid narcissists. They seem to be everywhere, multiplying in great numbers. It reminds me of the old Star Trek episode with the Tribbles who reproduced at such a rapid rate that the ship was in danger of being overtaken in a matter of days. At first the Tribbles were cute to watch but then they became threatening. And so it is with narcissism.
What can a person do to counteract this perilous environment? Here are five things a person can do today:

1.       Guard self-talk. The innately persistent and persuasive nature of a narcissist allows them to effortlessly influence others. Unfortunately, some of the narcissistic talk is negative attacks designed to intimidate others into an inferior position to their superior one.
a.      Solution: To counteract the effects, a person must guard their self-talk especially if it mirrors anything the narcissist has declared about the person. Of every negative thought, ask: “Where did this come from? Who does this sound like?” Anything that resembles a narcissistic statement must be immediately discarded and replace with positive self-talk. Remember, their perception is not accurate.
2.      Don’t compare. A favorite abusive tactic of narcissists is to compare their accomplishments with others. Of course, they exaggerate their success far beyond what is accurate to demonstrate their superiority. At the same time, they minimize other’s accomplishments to further widen the gap of difference.
a.      Solution: There are two points of advice to handle this situation: don’t point out the inaccuracies and don’t internalize the comparison. First, don’t waste time arguing or refuting the inaccurate perception of the narcissist. This will only result in a heated or volatile situation. A narcissist will not admit they might be wrong even when the evidence is clear. Second, it is not unusual for a person to absorb the comparison and place themselves in the inferior position. Because neither position is accurate, there is no reason to segregate. There are many paths to success beyond what the narcissist declares.
3.      Reset boundaries. Narcissists are famous for setting ridiculous boundaries or limitations on others while refusing to accept any. They believe that the rules are for other people who need such guidance, not them. As a result, they tend to have unrealistic expectations of what others should and should not do.
a.      Solution: A person needs to filter each expectation, limitation or boundary a narcissist places on them to see if it is fair, realistic, or practical. Ask: “Is this a standard that I would place on someone else? How does this rule make me feel?” If the answers are: “No and angry,” then reset the standard to a more reasonable level. The new level does not need to be immediately communicated with the narcissist; again this would just incite an argument. Rather, get comfortable with the standard first and then if needed communicate later after evidence has been gathered to demonstrate that this is a more sensible approach.
4.      Do right. Ethics and morality at the hands of a narcissist are colored by what works for them in the moment. Even religious narcissists tend to have one set of standards for them and another for everyone else. When caught doing something wrong, the narcissist uses blame, justification and minimization to dismiss any concerns.
a.      Solution: Don’t follow their immoral or unethical lead. Instead have a set of standards that are guiding principles for how to live a principled life. Refuse to do what is wrong, indecent, improper, or dishonorable regardless of the consequences the narcissist has imposed. There is always a choice to be made in every difficult circumstance and choosing to do what is virtuous will bring far greater satisfaction then the opposite.
5.      Take responsibility. A narcissist will not take responsibility for their actions, words, behavior, or reactions. Everything is about shifting blame to someone else or dumping their duties onto others so they don’t have to be held accountable. However, narcissists will say that they are the most responsible person they know and that is usually because they have taken credit for things they did not accomplish.
a.      Solution: Be different from the narcissist. When a person makes an error in judgement or behavior, be willing to take responsibility for the mistake and accept the consequences. Do not however, accept responsibility for a narcissist’s mistake no matter how much they try to be convincing that it is not their fault.

Relationships with narcissists require an enormous amount of self-control to keep all of these things in check. At first, this is hard to do but with time, energy and effort, all five of these items become easier. 

Monday, May 23, 2016

Want to be better equipped to help when your organization or community is impacted by Crisis? Gain the valuable next level of Crisis Certification!

Did you know only those trained and certified in crisis response are allowed to work on the scene of a disaster? If a School Shooting, Suicide, Bombing, Hurricane, Tornado, Fire, Flood, Car Fatality, Co-worker Suicide, Terrorist Attack or Airline Crash happened in your community, only those with the right credentials can work at the scene.

Are you equipped to help a group of people in your organization?  If you were at the scene of a community shooting or community disaster would you know what to do with a group of people who were devastated by the crisis?

Would you have the right credential?

ICISF Group Crisis Certification

June 23-24, 2016 (must attend 9am-5pm both days to achieve certification)
Lake County Group Crisis Certification is only $119 (advance registration by June 10th)

This 2-day certification course is required for all ICISF/Critical Incident team members in Law Enforcement, Fire Services, EMT, EAP, School Guidance or Hospital Chaplaincy work to give them the necessary training to get an organization in crisis back to a functioning level. It is being offered right here in Central Florida.

Participants will learn (among other skills):
  • Fundamentals of Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM)
  • Large & small group crisis intervention methods
  • Incident assessment
  • Strategic intervention planning
  • Risk reduction
  • Appropriate follow-up services and referrals after an incident

This rapid crisis stabilization process is taught by Dwight Bain, a certified crisis response trainer who worked at Ground Zero after the terrorist attacks of 9/11 and has equipped thousands with psychological survival skills to use until emergency management teams arrive on the scene. 

Crisis events will come to Florida – will you be prepared to help or will you be a helpless bystander?

Space is limited. Register now!
ICISF Group Crisis Certification
Registration Form
June 23-24, 2016, 9:00 am - 5:00 pm daily
(must attend 9am-5pm both days to achieve certification)

ICISF Certified Instructor Dwight Bain
Training facility: Florida Hospital Waterman, Tavares, FL

PLEASE PRINT your name clearly as you would like it to appear on your National Certification


Address:  _______________________________________________________________

Telephone: _____________________________________________________________

E-mail:  ________________________________________________________________

____ $119.00 - early bird registration (by June 10th)
____$149.00 - late registration (after June 10th if space is still available)
 ____ Group Discount -  5th person free with 4 paid registrations, ($149 value)

Names of 4 registered _____________________________________________________

Payment Options:

*   Make check payable to:
     The LifeWorks Group, 1850 Lee Road, Suite 250, Winter Park, FL32789

*   Email this registration form with your credit card information to:
     Sola Thompson at or

*   Fax directly to:  407-647-8874

Credit card number_______________________________________________________

Expiration date ___________________ CVV code ________________

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Refund and cancellation policy:
Full refund minus $25 processing fee if notice is given two weeks before workshop.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Difference between Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

By: Christine Hammond, LMHC

It is amazing the difference one word can make. Add the word “Personality” to Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and it changes the definition and classification. There are some similarities such as obsessive and compulsive traits, thoughts and actions. However the underlying disorder is extremely different.

Here is the DSM-V definition of both:

Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder (OCPD) is classified as a type of personality disorder:
  • A pervasive pattern of preoccupation with orderliness, perfectionism, and mental and interpersonal control, at the expense of flexibility, openness, and efficiency, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by four (or more) of the following:
    • Is preoccupied with details, rules, lists, order, organization, or schedules to the extent that the major point of the activity is lost
    • Shows perfectionism that interferes with task completion (e.g., is unable to complete a project because his or her own overly strict standards are not met)
    • Is excessively devoted to work and productivity to the exclusion of leisure activities and friendships (not accounted for by obvious economic necessity)
    • Is overconscientious, scrupulous, and inflexible about matters of morality, ethics, or values (not accounted for by cultural or religious identification)
    • Is unable to discard worn-out or worthless objects even when they have no sentimental value
    • Is reluctant to delegate tasks or to work with others unless they submit to exactly his or her way of doing things
    • Adopts a miserly spending style toward both self and others; money is viewed as something to be hoarded for future catastrophes
    • Shows significant rigidity and stubbornness

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is classified as a type of obsessive compulsive related disorder:
  • Presence of obsessions, compulsions, or both:
    • Obsessions are defined by:
      • Recurrent and persistent thoughts, urges, or images that are experienced, at some time during the disturbance, as intrusive and unwanted, and that in most individuals cause marked anxiety or distress.
      • The individual attempts to ignore or suppress such thoughts, urges, or images, or to neutralize them with some other thought or action.
    • Compulsions are defined by:
      • Repetitive behaviors (hand washing) or mental acts (counting) that the individual feels driven to perform in response to an obsession or according to rules that must be applied rigidly.
      • The behaviors or mental acts are aimed at preventing or reducing anxiety or distress, or preventing some dreaded event or situation; however, these behaviors or mental acts are not connected in a realistic way with what they are designed to neutralize or prevent, or are clearly excessive.
  • The obsessions or compulsions are time-consuming or cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.
The similarities are:
  • Both can create significant relational issues and make it difficult to interact with others.
  • Both have intense, obsessive, and racing thoughts that are difficult to manage or prevent.
  • Both develop internal rules to be strictly followed in an effort to reduce stress or anxiety.
  • Both do compulsive behaviors to self-sooth such as hording or excessive cleaning.
  • Both have extremely high expectations of self to the point of requiring perfectionism.
  • Both can have “meltdowns” if a compulsion is not followed or their image is tarnished.
The big differences are:
  • OCPD can be seen in every environment and is pervasive whereas OCD is usually isolated to a few specific things or locations.
  • OCD is a learned behavior usually done as a way of coping with extreme stress whereas OCPD is part biological and part environmental beginning in early childhood and continuing through out adulthood.
  • A person may change OCD behaviors as they age whereas OCPD behaviors cannot be changed without significant effort and therapy.
  • OCD behaviors can cause significant impairment at work whereas OCPD behaviors are usually praised at work because of their strong devotion to it.
  • OCD behaviors are frequently done out of fear to avoid an undesirable outcome whereas OCPD behaviors are done out of fear of not living up to internal perfectionist expectations.
  • By outward appearance alone, it is difficult to identify an OCD person whereas OCPD persons are usually extremely well groomed, dress impeccably, and are very aware of the perfectionist image they portray.
  • OCD people know their behaviors or fears tend to be irrational whereas OCPD people believe their thinking is more correct than others and have a difficult time accepting the idea that their reasoning might be inaccurate.

The good news about both disorders is that they tend to do very well with therapy and the prognosis can be quite good.

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Keeping Your In-Laws Out of Your Marriage

By: Nate Webster, IMH

“So what will you do if you or her gets cancer or something and you have all these medical bills”, was the first question my father in-law asked me when I asked for his daughter’s hand in marriage. It’s no mystery to most people that in-laws can be a downer, complicated bunch. We marry a person we love, but along with it we get a family who is often very different then what we’re use to. They don’t talk around the dinner table like we do, they don’t like the same things we do, and typically our boundaries and rules are usually just seen as suggestions and recommendations. So what do you do with difficult in-laws? Well fortunately the bible has some very timely advise for dealing with such in-laws and hopefully it can help you!

"Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.” Matthew 7:6

The principle of pearls and pigs: How many of us have dogs and swine for in-laws who constantly trample the precious parts of our life? Not that you need to be that harsh, but the powerful point that Jesus makes in Matthew is two fold. First is that you don’t give pearls to pigs, because pigs roll around in the mud and don’t know or care for something so precious as a pearls. If you keep giving dogs what is sacred you’ll only find yourself being “turned on and torn to pieces”. Jesus’ second point is you’re culpable in the treatment you’re receiving. In the case of in-laws, how often are you unnecessarily giving your in-laws ammunition to hurt you?
One of the biggest mistakes that my wife and I made with our in-laws, was intertwining with them financially. They gave us cheap rent on an apartment they owned and wanted to help us with my wife’s tuition when we were newly wed. Only to turn around and hold the cheap rent over our heads when we went on vacation and tried to control what my wife went to school for because they were going to help.
Jesus gives us this powerful message in Matthew to teach us that some people can’t handle the precious details and pieces of our lives and that we need to be diligent in protecting them, more importantly to stop throwing pearls before swine, hoping they’ll snort back how beautiful they are.

The Frustration of Dealing with Narcissistic In-Laws

By: Christine Hammond, LMHC

Hold on tight and get ready for a roller-coaster of a ride when marrying into a narcissistic family. At first the Narcissistic Parent (NP) will seem amazingly charming and the concerns the Adult Child (AC) expresses appear to be exaggerations.  But give it some time and everything will change overnight. Here are some points to keep in mind when dealing with NPs:

It all begins with an engagement. Casual dating is not that threating to the NP because they have established a tell-all philosophy in the home. This gives the NP time to weave their “concerns” about the potential new spouse, spread untruthful rumors, and re-introduce the AC to previously approved (because they are easily manipulated and controlled) partners. But once the engagement is announced, the war begins. Suddenly this new spouse is an inadequate, unsuitable, and unacceptable addition who will destroy their AC.  The NP projects their unhealthy motives, lack of boundaries, and controlling tendencies onto the new spouse. There are even threats of not attending or supporting the wedding unless the NP’s standards are precisely met.  The NP intends for this drama to cause conflict between the AC and the new spouse in hopes that the engagement will end.

The wedding day is not a safe day. Having made it past the rough engagement, the couple erroneously believes the wedding day will be perfect. It will not. The wedding dress will be the wrong color or style, the NP’s family will believe they are being victimized, or the seat assignment will be improper. NPs need to be at the center stage and when they are not they will literally take the stage. They will do this before the ceremony, even during the ceremony, or most especially at the reception. What comes out of the NP’s mouth is likely to be shocking and they want it to be that way because they want to be remembered at this event more than the ceremony itself.  The NP will long be remembered for how they acted and what they said by others who recount the day in amazement.

Marriage will not make a NP go away.  The intense drama that precedes a marriage does not stop once the vows are made, it only becomes more subtle.  The new spouse will be met with private jokes, inappropriate sarcasm, and bigotry towards their socioeconomic class, culture, or religion. They will be isolated from family discussions through the constant recounting of stories and people from long ago. There will be a join family effort to demonstrate to the new spouse that they could never “fit it” with the NP’s family. The AC will go along with the NP seeing such comments as harmless and an overreaction by their new spouse. This is the first wedge the NP successfully injects into the marriage and it can be their most damaging because it is setting the stage for a “my spouse is crazy” argument.

The NP is in this for the long haul. There are two major things that are at stake for the NP: image and control. NPs will oscillate between showing approval and strong disapproval depending on what’s at stake, who is watching, and how they can or cannot benefit. For instance, some NPs privately bash the new spouse while publically expressing their excitement. Other NPs want assurances that they can remain in control of their ACs life. Any indication to the contrary is met with intense rage, verbal assaults, and promises of withholding love, attention or money. The end game is to maintain the image they have erected to the public and maintain control over the AC.

It’s all about strategy. The new spouse needs to be able to safely communicate their concerns to the AC and an outside person for assistance without feeling like they are betraying the NP family. This should not be a family member but rather someone who has an intimate knowledge of narcissism. In turn, the AC must take on the main responsibility for communication with their NP family. This will be well received by the NP as they really just want the AC for themselves and it will reduce the new spouse’s stress.  Strong boundaries need to be communicated in advance of holidays, birthdays, and visits with the AC and new spouse in complete agreement. A united front must be presented at all times regardless of any personal struggles. The AC also needs to be prepared to defend the new spouse even for slights and never join in an insult. The new spouse will need constant protection for many years to come by the AC against the terror the NP will repeatedly inflict despite the setting of boundaries.

Years of not protecting the new spouse will accumulate intense resentment that might be too much to bear for the new spouse. Remember this is the secret dream of the NP: to prove that they were right all along. 

Monday, May 02, 2016

The Narcissistic Family: A Narcissist, an Exhausted Spouse, and an Anxious Child

By: Christine Hammond, LMHC

The level of stress surrounding a narcissistic family is intense from the inside and picture perfect from the outside. As a member of the family (narcissists excluded), there is a constant state of walking on eggshells, questioning what did or did not happen, and minimizing personal feelings while elevating the narcissist’s feelings. From the outside looking in, the family seems to function perfectly in-tune and any hint of issue is immediately discounted. The extreme divide between the two existences is rarely addressed and almost always is denied.
This leaves the family in a continual state of uncertainty, insecurity, depression, and fear. But the narcissist won’t hear of any such negativity and most definitely won’t accept any responsibility for the issues. Any attempt to reach an outsider is quickly met with further alienation from the narcissist, accusations of betrayal, or gaslighting. So what can a person in such a family do? It must begin by taking off the narcissistic colored glasses and seeing things the way they really are.

The Narcissist. A narcissist is narcissistic. They have been that way in the past, are that way now and will most likely be that way in the future. Not that someone cannot change, they can. They just have to believe that they need to, listen to the advice of others, and then do the work to get there.
Real change happens slowly over a period of time. Anyone claiming an instant change in personality without allowing long periods of time to prove the change has not really changed. Stop expecting or hoping the narcissist will change, it is not that likely.

The Exhausted Spouse. Usually the exhausted spouse is a co-dependent or dependent personality disorder. These are the two main types of personalities who will even put up with a quick-sand type of environment. The narcissist needs a regular feeding of attention, affection, admiration and adoration. These two personalities are the ones most likely to give such a high demand with expecting it in return.
Most spouses spend significant chunks of the day cleaning up after the relational mess the narcissist leaves behind. There are friends to apologize to, children to console, neighbors to minimize the overheard outburst, and family to discount the latest narcissist rant. Then there are excuses to be given for insensitivity, employers/employees to mitigate any conflict, and forgiveness on behalf of the narcissist to be sought. After all that is done, the exhausted spouse pulls themselves together to maintain the perfect storybook image the narcissist demands.
Eventually this task becomes too great and the spouse stops cleaning up the messes. This angers the narcissist even more with threats of leaving because the spouse is no longer living up to the narcissistic standard. The spouse must choose a boundary and stick to it. Despite the ranting of the narcissist, they are not that likely to leave unless they can look like the victim.

The Anxious Children. The children of a narcissist are divided into two categories: the golden one and the others. There really is no rhyme or reason the narcissist singles out one child over the other. It can be because of personality similarities, a willingness to admire the parent unconditionally, the same gender or similar interests.
The golden child is perfect and can do no wrong in the narcissist’s eyes. For some reason, the golden child feeds the ego of the narcissist, either consciously or subconsciously. The golden child is often elevated to an unhealthy level than can encourage future narcissistic behavior. Even when the exhausted spouse corrects the golden child for a real error in judgement, the narcissist will come to the child’s rescue and bash the spouse. The child knows they are chosen and becomes anxious at the thought of losing the status and being reduced to the other child.
The other child knows they are not the favorite. Some form their identity around not being chosen and even relish in a change to embarrass the narcissist. For the most part, they are in a constant state of depression, vengefulness, resentment, anger, and anxiety. The more outward they can express it and hopefully humiliate the narcissist as a result, the better they feel. Ironically, by trying to be the anti-narcissist, they can become more like them. They also tend to be hyper protective of the exhausted parent, even beyond the parent’s self-preservation nature. The other child is on constant guard which breeds excessive anxiety.

Understanding the dynamics of a narcissistic family is only the beginning. Next comes identifying the individual roles each member plays and learning how to counteract the negative impact of narcissism.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Free CEU Training Friday, April 22nd

Join me for a Free CEU Training Friday- “How to find new Energy to help others, when you are Exhausted – Strategies for Professionals facing Dysfunctional clients and Stressful circumstances” Compassionate professions like counseling have an exceptionally high burnout rate which hampers their ability to achieve long-term career success. Is it possible for a kind-hearted person to set healthy limits with demanding people to prevent job-burnout? There are multiple hidden factors leading to counselor fatigue and professional self-care is usually never taught, rarely discussed and often not practiced. How can today’s busy therapists learn a proven process to use in protecting themselves emotionally to prolong their career while helping as many people as possible? Learning to create a daily process to recharge energy, while preventing exhaustion is essential for long-term career success in the helping fields. Few professionals have been given any training on how to increase their level of personal restoration in proportion to the clinical psychological needs they are facing. This interactive training session is designed to walk professionals through the dangers of emotional depletion from job stress and secondary trauma; while learning the stages of emotional renewal for psychological professionals. Are you equipped to recharge and renew your energy in high-stress situations? Attend this professional development session to gain new skills for long-term career success. Every participant will receive an interactive workbook with key questions, techniques and methods designed to implement emotional renewal while preventing exhaustion in caring for clients facing highly complex situations. Date: Friday, April 22, 2016, 9am – 11pm Registration and breakfast at 8am Location: 6601 Central Florida Parkway, Orlando FL 32821 Central Florida Behavioral Hospital Email Rich Rodriguez by 3/16/15 to register for this free event. or call 407-370-0111

Monday, April 18, 2016

Parent's Guide to Overcome Childhood Fears

By: Dwight Bain, LMHC

Fear is a normal part of childhood – learning how to manage it is an important part of growing up.

Everyone feels fear. From six years old to sixty people worry and feel afraid. There are classic symptoms all children face, (listed below), which are indicators of the levels of anxiety a child may be facing. And did you know fear is such a common theme that the Bible has over 300 verses dedicated to facing fear and not staying afraid?

Emotional maturity takes place when a child learns to face their fears by managing these negative emotions through talking, praying, writing them out in words, drawings or other expressive arts. The more a child can learn to ‘replace’ their fears with facts or faith, the more confidence she will gain, and when she can learn the power of deep truth, like, Be strong and courageous. Do not fear... for it is the LORD your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you”.(Deuteronomy 31:6)  When anxiety and fear is replaced by greater faith a child begins to grow into the confident adult they were designed to be.  

What does childhood fear look like?

Feeling afraid is a normal part of childhood, and can even be a protective emotion that can be an early alarm to warn of danger. The challenge is when a child feels anxious or nervous for no apparent reason, because those insecurities feed their fears as their confidence diminishes, leading to feeling weak and scared instead of developing greater self-confidence and emotional security. Because so many new experiences for children are tied to their school or sports performance, anxiety becomes a major roadblock for academic or social activities, and for some children will become a major roadblock in their personality development.

Is Childhood Anxiety Normal?

The short answer is yes. Researchers have found that up to 90% of children ages 2-14 feel some degree of being anxious at specific circumstances or experiences. These emotions are a normal part of their expanding world. Children who lack the ability to flow with these fears can become immobilized and unable to function or move forward. This becomes a real problem for more introverted or insecure children who remain silent when scared.  That is why tuned in parents find ways to help their children manage emotions. A simple illustration of this process can be seen in the Disney/Pixar film “Inside Out” ( ) which demonstrates in very simple ways how a child thinks, and more importantly how to take control of negative emotions by replacing fears or sadness with greater joy.

Can my Child’s fears Affect their Health?
Absolutely; when a child is overwhelmed by negative fears and doubts it can affect them in many ways, including physical symptoms like excessive sweating, tummy aches, headaches, bladder or bowel challenges, racing heartbeat or the complete inability to fall asleep at night.  When a child learns how to flow with the normal emotions of childhood, especially new experiences, (remember how scared you were on the first day of school?) they mature and grow into the next stage of their development.  

Common Childhood Fears and Anxieties

Birth to 2 years, (Toddlers) are scared by loud noises, separation from parents, strangers, some large objects or costumed characters can also create fears at this age

3 to 6 years, (Preschoolers) are scared by fearful imaginations like monsters, ghosts, masks, shadows, the dark, sleeping alone, meeting new pets – especially large ones like dogs and extreme weather such as thunder and lightning

7 to 16 years, (School age) have increased fears across many areas like being left home alone, experiencing a parent or teachers anger, illness, shots, dentists, fear of parents divorce, spiders, snakes, bullies, peer rejection, failing at school and the more realistic fears of harm such as automobile accidents, someone in the family on drugs/alcohol, bullies and world events like terrorism.

Manage these fears with Replacement Routines

Birth to Toddlers need security and predictability. Have routines, rituals and similar patterns like bedtime, meals or story time or singing the same lullabies to create a predictable environment. Limiting the number of people who are in very close contact can help avoid a child being over stimulated.

Preschoolers need guidance on controlling their expanding imagination to know there are more than just monsters in the dark. They can learn to use their wonderful imagination to think of what isn’t in the dark, or what isn’t at the bottom of the lake. It’s just as easy to think ahead together about what is good, pure and right as it is things which are negative or hostile. Here is where parental example can shine in modeling and teaching self-control.

School age children are faced with incredible pressures from grades, to peers, to parents to rejection, to body-image to their parent’s marriages to loss of a home in foreclosure to theft or crime or school shooters. It can be an overwhelming time, so it is especially important to manage growing fear with growing faith and positive coping skills. Children in this group may benefit with professional counseling if anxiety symptoms become unmanageable.

Managing Fear with Maturity and Faith

At any age you can help a child understand the source of their fears, and when possible to use the phrase, “If you can talk through it you can get through it” so they can let their parents know what is going on inside. Here are some other techniques to guide your child out of fear by managing feelings with facts so they can grow past their fear with greater faith.

A simple way for younger children is to have them draw two pictures. One of them in the fearful situation, then to replace that fear in a second drawing showing them in a picture overcoming their fear. Some children respond better through writing, so helping them craft journals, prayer lists or even a happiness list of where they replace their fearful thoughts with happy and peaceful ones. Simple steps can take emotions bottled up inside in a new direction, which helps the child feel stronger and the parent feel more connected  to their son or daughter.

Sharing stories of how you managed childhood fears are a good conversation starter, but it’s just to create a connection that you are human too. The goal is for the child to express what’s inside and to know her parents understand how she feels. Keep it short and ask the question, “what else” to allow her to express as many negative emotions as possible so they don’t stay inside where they can hurt her.

Telling a child they have nothing to fear doesn’t actually make their fears go away – it makes things worse s0 learn to validate his emotions as ‘normal’ to help him move through the anxiety since all other kids his age are facing some of the same fears, (remember oral reports in English class – terrifying!)

Be creative with stories, films, songs, books or even stories of how your parents or grandparents faced major fears. Courage isn’t the absence of fear – it’s feeling the fear and moving forward. A girl who knows how strong her grandmother was in similar circumstances will find greater strength for a lifetime when she knows that strength runs in her family tree.

Drawing, prayer, music, scriptures, expressive arts, sports, youth group, even role playing with stuffed animals can help a child move past their fears. Try it all with a single goal in mind – how can I help my son or daughter get stronger?

Some fears may always be present, like public speaking, so focus on the things your child can control like her emotions. Learning to replace fear with facts, (Wikipedia says that millions of other people are just as scared as I was when facing the same situation), or replacing fear with greater faith like this promise from Isaiah 41:10, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

Mastering the journey from childlike fear to adult like faith is what we would want for our children at any stage of life. Learning how to manage fear is the path to a life of confidence and calm. It’s a good path, but uphill all the way so let me challenge you to get started.  

About the Author – Dwight Bain is an author, counselor and certified life coach who helps people manage major change. Follow his daily posts for wisdom on Twitter or Instagram @DwightBain or or at his blog, accessible through

Before Marrying Again...Ask These Questions

By: Christine Hammond, LMHC

The first marriage ended in divorce. The second one is going to be different. But how can a person be sure that they are not making another mistake of a different caliber?
This is a checklist that I use with clients during premarital counseling. It has been developed over the last 15 years spent counseling thousands of couples prior to marriage.
Ask clients to look through the following checklist and check all that apply.

_____ 1.   Are there frequent arguments over nothing with little resolution?
_____ 2.  Do you or your partner use biting sarcasm to confront issues?
_____ 3.  Are you staying in the relationship out of fear or worry?
_____ 4.  Do you have few areas of common interest?
_____ 5.  Are you or is your partner overly dependent on parents or children?
_____ 6.  Are there any signs of physical, sexual, verbal, emotional, mental, spiritual, or financial abuse both present and in the past?
_____ 7.  Do you avoid discussing sensitive topics or are you afraid of their reaction?
_____ 8. Does your partner frequently complain about unreal aches and pains?
_____ 9.  Does your partner make excuses for not finding a job or keeping a job?
_____ 10.                      Does your partner frequently change jobs or have they been fired more than once?
_____ 11.                       Are you or your partner participating in any addiction such as alcoholism, drug use, gambling, work, or pornography?
_____ 12.                      Are there uncontrollable outbursts of anger?
_____ 13.                      Is your partner inflexible and unwilling to see things from another perspective?
_____ 14.                      Does your partner avoid contact with others and prefer to be alone?
_____ 15.                       Is your partner afraid to be alone and constantly seeks out approval from others?
_____ 16.                      Have there ever been incidents of cruelty to animals or people?
_____ 17.                       Do you find yourself always doing what your partner wants to do?
_____ 18.                      Does your partner have extreme irrational fears, inappropriate reactions, odd beliefs, or bizarre behavior?
_____ 19.                      Does your partner constantly crave attention from others?
_____ 20.                     Does your partner know more details about your life while you know very little about theirs?
_____ 21.                      Does your partner lack healthy long-term relationships with friends or family?
_____ 22.                     Is your partner overly jealous, questioning you all the time about your whereabouts?
_____ 23.                     Is your partner overly critical and demanding that you adjust to their expectations?
_____ 24.                     Are you and your partner dishonest about your sexual past?
_____ 25.                      Do you have an uneasy feeling about the relationship?
_____ 26.                     Does your partner have a criminal record or show signs of criminal behavior?
_____ 27.                      Does your partner hear voices or see people that aren’t there?
_____ 28.                     Is your partner overly suspicious about mundane things?
_____ 29.                     Are there two contrasting sides to your partner like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde?
_____ 30.                     Does your partner obsess about a topic and wear you down until they get their way?
_____ 31.                      Is your partner a habitual liar, deceitful, or do they skirt around the truth?
_____ 32.                     Does your partner blame you or others for mistakes, misfortunes, or missed opportunities?
_____ 33.                     Does your partner refuse to accept responsibility for mistakes and displays inappropriate remorse?
_____ 34.                     Is there a disregard for your safety or minimizing of your concerns?
_____ 35.                      Does your partner overstep your or other’s boundaries?
_____ 36.                     Are your parents, children or friends strongly against the relationship?
_____ 37.                      Do you have a feeling of settling?
_____ 38.                     Does your partner lack the ability to be intimate (not the sexual act)?
_____ 39.                     Is there a lack of care, genuine concern, and empathy?
_____ 40.                     Does your partner threaten to harm themselves or others if they don’t get what they want?
_____ 41.                      Do you feel manipulated by your partner?
_____ 42.                     Is there a callousness, coldness, or distance that is unexplained by your partner?
_____ 43.                     Has your partner refused to heal from past traumatic incidents?
_____ 44.                     Is your partner unaware of how their behavior and actions impact others?
_____ 45.                      Are there regular discussions of separating when things don’t go your partner’s way?
_____ 46.                     Do you feel like you are walking on eggshells around them never knowing what will happen next?
_____ 47.                      Does your partner have inappropriate emotional reactions on a regular basis?
_____ 48.                     Does your partner have poor impulse control?
_____ 49.                     Does your partner exploit others to get what they want?
_____ 50.                     Do you constantly wonder what your partner is thinking or doing?

Answering yes to a few of these questions does not mean a couple is doomed. Rather it signifies a need to better evaluate the situation and seek counsel outside the relationship.  Some of these issues can be resolved quickly so that the foundation of the marriage is stronger than ever. 

However, if clients answered yes to numbers 3, 6, 11, 16, 24, 26, 27, 34, 40, or 49 please seek professional help immediately as these issues are more long term in nature. Marriage will not fix the problem it will only make it worse.