Showing posts from August, 2011

Marriage Counseling: Losing That Loving Feeling

By Chris Hammond, MS, IMH

In every marriage there are moments when the feeling of love and romance seems lost as the busyness of everyday life overwhelms you. Somewhere along the way the intense and exciting love you once strongly felt is replaced with feelings of comfort and security. While comfort and security are important feelings of worth in a marriage, you hunger for the intense excitement of your earlier years when every thought was captivated by the other person and your heart ached when you were apart.

The mistake many make is looking for that loving feeling in someone else rather than in their partner; they contact old flings trying desperately to find that intensity and excitement again. While others believe that their marriage is beyond that point of intensity and excitement and instead struggle with settling for the mundane. In reality, neither needs to be the case as you can reignite that intensity and excitement in your own marriage without bringing in another perso…

“Back to School? Make it Cool: Tips for Teens on Making This Their Best Year Ever”

By: Aaron Welch, LMHC, NCC, CSOTS

To quote from the classic Christmas Carol, “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year”…only, it’s not. Not for many teens. For many, the beginning of each school year is a time of anxiety, stress, and fear. There are many potential obstacles that teenagers face as they enter the halls of learning. Will they be socially accepted? Will they make the team? Will I sit alone at lunch for another year? What if I fail my classes? Will I even graduate? The academic and social pressures often cause students to feel like there is a black cloud hanging over their head before they even start.

But there are ways that parents can help. There are tips that can help teenagers to break the chains of failure, anxiety, and rejection. Some are external helps; better boundaries, time management, and coaching for better social skills are tools that can truly help a teenager move ahead in their school career. Yet, it all begins from the inside-out. External cha…

Managing ADHD: Getting Ready to Begin to Prepare to Start

By Chris Hammond, MS, IMH

One of the many challenges of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is taking the first real step in beginning a task or assignment. There are the many sort of, kind of begins such as organizing your desk, sharpening all of your pencils (because one is never enough), going to the bathroom, adjusting the lighting, and checking your email again but in actuality, you have not really begun the task or assignment. Rather you have gotten ready to begin to prepare to start the task or assignment and before you know it, time disappears and nothing is accomplished.

Sadly enough the rituals that you spent all of your time engaging in prior to beginning a new task or assignment and often repeated the very next time you begin to prepare to start. Or worse, new rituals are added to the list even further delaying your start. In the long run, such delays can negatively affect your work performance, a school grade, a messy garage or the other ten projects that …

A Different Perspective on Spiritual Warfare

By Chris Hammond, MS, IMH

Oftentimes, we see spiritual warfare as an attack from the outside. Some larger force outside of us is coming after us with the intent to cause harm. These attacks can take the form of financial failure, marriage infidelity, natural disasters, rebellious children, economic depression, war, or dissension in churches. And sometimes, correctly, this is spiritual warfare. But sadly, sometimes these events are instead direct consequences of our own sinful actions and desires. Yet the greatest battle for spiritual warfare is not the larger than life events happening outside ourselves; rather it is in the smaller thoughts and feelings stirring inside.

Thoughts. Ask yourself these questions and answer them honestly to better evaluate your thoughts.

• What do you really think about and how much time do you spend thinking about it?

• Do you replay conversations over and over in your head instead of what you did say?

• Do you fantasize about how to get even wit…

Preparing for Marriage: Love Conquers All – Or Does It?

By Chris Hammond, MS, IMH

Newly engaged couples are so much fun to watch. They are very tender with each other, they smile when they speak to each other, they care about the other person’s opinion, and they are optimistic about life in general. Best of all, they believe the other person is perfect and their love will last forever, that somehow they have the ideal type of love and their love will conquer all problems life tossed their way. This is what is meant by having rose-colored glasses when looking at your partner, seeing only the good and none of the bad.

However something happens when these engaged couples walk down the aisle and say, “I do”. The same rose-colored glasses seem to shatter resulting in the good becoming minimized while the bad becomes exaggerated. One of the many reasons premarital counseling is recommended is to help to highlight via an indifferent experienced third party, the potential areas of contention. While God’s love is capable of conquering everyon…

How to Destroy a Marriage – Get Into Debt

It seems that our culture encourages the concept that after you say “I do” at your wedding, you also say “I do” to a house payment, car payments, new furniture, nice honeymoon, and each other’s debt. Here is a new thought: the ball and chain in your marriage is not each other, but rather the debt you both carry around. Think about it. The debt becomes like an additional partner in your marriage as you can no longer separate without bringing the debt with you no matter who in the marriage contributed to the debt. The debt controls what you can and cannot do, where you can and cannot go, and how you can and cannot spend. The debt becomes part of your every conversation, the cause of great anxiety and increases your stress as each of you takes a stand against the other in the blame game. That is why there is no quicker way to destroy your marriage than to go into debt.

How did we get here? In the movie, “The Company Men” there is a scene in which Ben Affleck depicts the façade th…

Preparing for Marriage – The Joining of Your Money

By Chris Hammond, MS, IMH

One of the hardest areas for most couples to agree is in the area of money and finances. In fact, most divorces are the result of disagreements over money that date back to the beginning of their marriage. Failing to plan for your finances to be joined together is a recipe for disaster. There are many financial courses available to you such as Financial Peace University and Crown Ministries both of which lay a solid financial base and should be considered within the first year of your marriage. Until then, here are a couple of potential differences in your financial perspective to discuss and compare notes. By spending time now understanding each other’s perspective, some of the tension involving money can be minimized.

Different socioeconomic backgrounds. You may not have grown up in the same zip code or come from the same financial background. Some families tend to be savers and some tend to be spenders, your family’s financial background has already…

When Your Spouse Wants to Separate and You Don’t

By Chris Hammond, MS, IMH

One of the hardest words to hear from your spouse is the request that you separate for a while or possibly even divorce. Sometimes these words are expected but they are never fully realized while other times these words catch you by surprise. It is hard to hear and even harder to understand the reason why the separation is necessary as the most obvious reason is frequently not the real reason. Trying to understand everything before you move on can be a fruitless process as you may not be dealing with the complete truth. Yet, if you will open yourself up and work past the pain, this can be a time for growth and healing.

Get thinking. Your time is best not spent making a list of your spouse’s faults and failures, more than likely if they wanted to know your thoughts, they would have asked. Quite possibly they may already know what you think and are not interested in being reminded of their failures. Instead of focusing your energy on them, you are far be…

How to Build a Neighborhood Play Group

By Chris Hammond, MS, IMH

Once the initial shock of motherhood is over and you and your baby are finally sleeping through the night, settling into a routine that allows you to enjoy your time with your child becomes a priority. One of the best additions to your new routine is a mom’s group or neighborhood play group. Meeting other moms and other children is good for both you and your child, especially in your neighborhood. These relationships can last a lifetime and provide an avenue for discussing mutual concerns or questions. They decrease loneliness, normalize your experiences, and increase the possibility of shared help.

But how do you go about it if you don’t know anyone in your neighborhood? Try these suggestions:

• Go to your neighborhood playground or one nearby at about the same time every day. This will enable you to become familiar with other moms and begin a conversation with them.

• Take regular walks or bike rides around the neighborhood stopping to talk to other …

Preparing for Marriage – Two Becoming One

By Chris Hammond, MS, IMH

There are many definitions of marriage today with different states and churches adding their own definitions to the mix. You, like I, are each free to follow our own definition of marriage within the laws of our state. But as for me, I choose to follow the Biblical model of marriage which is a man and a woman united together in a covenant from God (Genesis 2:24). This unity is the beginning of a family unit to which children may be added in the future but it is also a departure from your family of origin. It is in its’ very nature a formation of a new relationship, a new bond, and a new unit. To better understand a Biblical marriage, some ground work needs to be laid.

In His Image. Ever wonder why God created man and woman in His image (Genesis 1:27)? Could it be that He created man and woman in His image because we are to model Him here on earth? Several times Jesus tells us that we are “a light” to the world (Matthew 5:14). Our light does not come …

Preparing for Marriage – Dealing with the In-Laws

By Chris Hammond, MS, IMH

Preparing for a wedding is fun, after all this is a party, a celebration of two lives coming together. Preparing for a marriage is entirely another event; it is not fun, rather it is work. Any time you take two different view points, two different personalities, and two different backgrounds and merge them together, there is bound to be tension. One of the often overlooked areas of preparing for a marriage is dealing with the in-laws to be. They are likely to be involved in your lives going forward so setting the parameters now before marriage decreases the potential conflict.

The new “we”. Before you walk down the aisle or go to the courthouse, you should begin the practice of changing your perspective from “me” to “we”. More importantly, the “we” means you and your spouse to be, not “we” meaning you and your parents. For some this a hard adjustment as even the most simple of decisions were discussed with your parents, for others this is a no-brainer.…

ADD/ADHD Students – Successful School Strategies

By Chris Hammond, MS, IMH

The school year is starting again with another opportunity to grow academically and personally. For most ADD/ADHD students however the new school year can be intimidating with different teachers and a new schedule. Here are a couple of tips for making the most of the new school year.

1. Set your alarm for 30 minutes before you think you need to wake up. This gives you time to find all of the things you need for the day.

2. Have a list in plain view of what special item is needed daily. For instance, band is on Tuesdays so you need your instrument; gym is on Mondays so you need a change of clothing.

3. Start your day off right with a good breakfast high in protein and low in sugar.

4. Get a planner that has enough space to write down assignments yet is small enough to carry around.

5. Mark the days off and half days in your planner for the entire year.

6. Take the syllabus from the class and mark any due dates in your planner now.

7. Keep the syllabus from…

How to Parent a Difficult Child

By Chris Hammond, MS, IMH

You have read the parenting books, implemented the ideas, and tried new techniques but nothing seems to work. While your other children seem to be responding and benefiting from intentional parenting, one of your children is still not thriving. In fact, they are getting worse. Maybe they have been diagnosed with ADD, ADHD, SPD, OCD, ODD, CD or Asperger’s. Such diagnoses can help to explain your child’s behavior but it does not help in understanding how to effectively parent them. So you read more books and try to be more compassionate only to find that your child’s behavior is still not improving.

All is not lost and your efforts are not in vain. For the most part you are likely to be on the right track with firm boundaries, negative consequences and positive rewards for behavior combined with a look at the heart of your child. These elements are essential to intentional parenting yet it is not enough for your child. Instead, sometimes it is the small …

What! School Starts Next Week!

By Chris Hammond, MS, IMH

If you are like me, then the start of school always seems to come sooner than expected. Projects that need to be finished are halfway done, trips to the beach were less than planned, vacation time flew by, and friends coming over happened too infrequently. But here we are again with school starting regardless of how little was accomplished.

Getting you ready for the new school year is one thing, but getting your child ready is a whole different task that is often met with resistance. So here is a list of several things both of you can do this week to get ready for the start of the new school year.

1. Make the morning drive or walk to the bus stop now to know how long it takes to get there.

2. Repeat the same drive at the return time following the pick-up lines.

3. Begin this week by getting up at the time you will need to wake up for school.

4. Do your entire morning routine including making breakfast and lunch as practice.

5. Clean out the old backpack or lunch …