Monday, August 29, 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 person or settling for less.

Remember. Grab an old photo album, turn on your song, eat at your favorite restaurant, or relive your first date; anything that reminds you of when you first met each other will work. Then spend some time remembering what you first loved about your spouse and communicating it to one another. This is not the time to rehash old arguments or frustrations; rather it is a time to reflect on the good times and what did work well between the two of you.

Repent. Anytime you visit the past, there will be moments when you realize that you hurt one another. Take a few moments to acknowledge the past hurts, ask for forgiveness, and let it go. Holding onto past hurts is like erecting a wall around your heart to protect yourself from any more harm. When you ask for forgiveness and intentionally work at not repeating the same mistake, you allow your spouse to remove the wall around their heart and the love will flow more freely.

Rediscover. You have grown in your marriage and so has your spouse. You are not the same person that first got married so spend some time getting to know the person your spouse has become instead of the person you have decided they have become. Give grace first to each other before others in your life and you will discover a love that is far deeper than the intense and exciting love that you once felt.

It is never too late to turn your marriage around. By remembering, repenting and rediscovering your spouse you can turn your hearts towards one another and your bond will become stronger than when you first began.



-----------------------------------
Reprint Permission- If this article helps you, please share it with your own list at work or church, forward it to friends and family or post it on your own site or blog. Just leave it intact and do not alter it in any way. Any links must remain in the article. Please include the following paragraph in your reprint.

"Reprinted with permission from the LifeWorks Group weekly eNews, (Copyright, 2004-2011), To subscribe to this valuable counseling and coaching resource visit www.LifeWorksGroup.org or call 407-647-7005"

About the author- Christine Hammond is a Registered Mental Health Counselor Intern at LifeWorks Group w/ over 15 years of experience as a counselor, mentor & teacher for children, teenagers & adults.

Monday, August 22, 2011

“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 changes are very limited in how much they can help a teen if the inner world of that teenager is not growing. The external changes that can help a teenager in the world of academia must spring forth from an inner change of attitude and approach.

So, the following are just a few quick tips that will help this school year to be the best one ever. They are listed from the inside-out:

1. Be Positive: As with many areas of life, our attitude determines a lot about how we handle every situation. It is very important, as the summer comes to a close, that parents help their teens to mentally prepare themselves for school. Many are excited to come back and see their friends but the majority approach the school year with a negative expectation about their classes and work. Parents must be understanding about the feelings of their teenagers. Parents must empathize with their children about how tough school can be. Teens desperately want to be heard and, if they believe you are really listening, they will be much more receptive to you. Since they have to go to school regardless of their feelings, parents should encourage teens to “go for it” instead of railing against the challenges of school. Helping teens to “embrace” the hardships of school and then helping them to deal with the challenges is a key. If a teenager can attack the challenges of school it will help their self-esteem and will help change their attitude to a more positive one. Help your teen to change their patterns from negative to positive thinking. It can be done. If need be, take your teen to a life coach or counselor who specializes in helping adolescents. Your teen may resist at first but, if you find the fit in a professional, your teen will not only endure it but may very well enjoy it.

2. Be Healthy: One area that works against teenagers during the school year is that many of them subscribe to a very unhealthy routine in their lives. They stay up late, they eat lots of junk food and drink an abundance of soda, they eat tons of sugar and many are sedentary in their leisure time. All this makes for a tired, emotional, stressed-out student. Parents should talk to their teens about tweaking their routine in a way that will help them succeed in school. I’m not talking about turning the home into a prison camp but simply adjusting the routine so that teens have more energy and a higher tolerance for the stress of school. Eating more protein, especially in the morning, will help them avoid the midday crash, getting enough sleep is vital to mental focus and coping skills, even a little cardio exercise daily will help expel built up anxiety and stress, and talking about healthy ways of dealing with anxiety will go a long way in preparing the teen for a great year. Teens must be coached on how to cope with life stress in positive, healthy ways.


3. Start Quickly: If parents can motivate their teens to get a fast start in their studies it helps to immediately build positive momentum. This not only helps them academically but it also empowers the teen by boosting his confidence and avoiding the feeling that they are behind and will never catch up. Positive momentum can really help the teen to have an outstanding year. To that end, I advise that parents become very intentional about encouraging and helping their teenage student for the first few weeks of school. Sit with them and work on homework, encourage them in what they do well, be upbeat and positive with them. Teens may resist this a bit (or a lot) but, deep down, almost every teen longs for the approval of and connection to their parents. The hardest part about momentum is in the beginning. It is slow to get something going but, once you do, it can plow through difficulties and obstacles in ways that will amaze you. Don’t let your teen get behind the eight ball early.

Finally, let’s look at what the overriding theme should be in your home as you approach this school year. Parents should sit down with their teen and emphasize that their grades are important but they do not determine the teens worth or value. So many teens face the pressure of parental and teacher expectations concerning academics that they often begin to believe that they are only valuable if they perform well. Our kids should be very aware that we love them and value them for who they are, no matter what. Your teen must have no doubts that, even if they fail a test, they are still treasured at home. This doesn’t mean you have to sit back and watch your teen struggle (although sometimes failing can be a great learning lesson). It just means that you remember that your son or daughter is worth far more than a grade in a class. This vote of confidence removes the pressure from the teen and frees them up to actually perform better with less anxiety.

Parents, Teens……the school year is upon us. I hope you work together to make this year the BEST year you have ever had.





-----------------------------
Aaron Welch is a licensed mental health counselor, nationally certified counselor and certified sex offender treatment specialist. He strives to fight for the hearts of his clients and empower them to build a legacy that impacts the world. He is part of a team of experts at “The Lifeworks Group, Inc”. For more information about Aaron or Lifeworks, please visit www.lifeworksgroup.org or www.legacycounselingservices.org or call us at 407-647-7005.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

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 are in limbo. The pile up of tasks then becomes overwhelming which adds to increased discouragement, anxiety and can even spark bursts of anger. There is hope. Whether you have ADHD or are related to someone with ADHD these tips will help you to actually start and complete the new task or assignment.

Identify your anxiety. One of the reasons you are delaying the start of a new task or assignment is the fear of increased anxiety. Each new task or assignment carries with it expectations of thoroughness, completeness, and timeliness. If you postpone starting, then in theory you are postponing the anxiety and fear of unmet expectations. In reality however, you are increasing your anxiety because you are lessening the time you have to complete the task or assignment. If instead you view each ritual as stealing time away from you, the desire to keep performing the ritualistic behavior will diminish. In addition, taking several deep breaths and intentionally relaxing the muscles in your body can minimize some of the anxious feelings while beginning.

Live by the clock. By setting time limits for how long you will work on a task or assignment or how long you will indulge yourself in ritualistic behavior, you self govern your own behavior rather than being governed by someone else like a boss, spouse, parent, or teacher. In the end, you are in charge of your own behavior and while the temptation may be great to ignore the clock, it is an unbiased opinion as to your progress or lack of progress. If for instance you give yourself ten minutes to engage in ritualistic behavior and one hour to begin the task or assignment, then you have taken control of both situations.

Stop narrating your progress. A co-worker, friend, spouse or sibling does not want to hear that you gave yourself ten minutes to do your rituals and now you are going to start on the task or assignment. Looking for praise and most likely not receiving it based on you past behavior will further discourage you from returning to work. Instead, reward yourself. Knocking off five minutes from your task or assignment, taking a walk, and doing another ritualistic behavior in-between blocks of time designated for work, are all good ways to reward yourself that do not involve others.

Yes, it is very hard to change the way you have been doing things for so long and adjust to new ways of thinking or performing tasks or assignments. But in the end, a finished project without the increased anxiety, excessive rituals, unmanaged time and constant narration will bring you satisfaction for a job well done without all of the stress.


----------------------


Reprint Permission- If this article helps you, please share it with your own list at work or church, forward it to friends and family or post it on your own site or blog. Just leave it intact and do not alter it in any way. Any links must remain in the article. Please include the following paragraph in your reprint.

"Reprinted with permission from the LifeWorks Group weekly eNews, (Copyright, 2004-2011), To subscribe to this valuable counseling and coaching resource visit http://www.LifeWorksGroup.org or call 407-647-7005"

Monday, August 15, 2011

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 with someone who has caused you harm?

• Do you image achieving a great result to vindicate yourself in front of others?

• Do you focus your thoughts on one area of our life (i.e. work) at the expense of another area of our life (i.e. family)?

• Do you wish for someone else to experience the same pain as you?

• Do you dream about winning the lottery?

• Do you think about your past failures and wish you had done it differently?

• Do you call yourself a failure, loser, or other self-depreciating statements?

Each one of these seemingly insignificant thoughts is actually part of your spiritual battle which is more appropriately named distraction. By distracting you from thoughts that are good, pure, just, and holy, you have taken your focus off of God and onto more worldly desires. Some of these desires seem innocent such as winning the lottery and giving the money to family and charity but in reality if God wanted you to have more money He would not need the lottery to give you more money, He would just give it to you. By focusing on the lottery or some of the other thoughts listed, you are being distracted from the things and people God did bless you with in your life and instead setting yourself up for disappointment.

Feelings. Ask yourself these questions and answer them honestly to better evaluate your feelings.

• If it feels good, do you do it regardless of whether or not it violates your standards?

• If it feels good to buy a new piece of clothing, do you do it even if you don’t need it?

• If it feels good to flirt with someone, do you do it even if it jeopardizes your marriage?

• If it feels good to have a drink or two or three, do you do it even if you risk becoming drunk?

• If it feels good to mouth off to someone, do you do it even if you risk damaging the relationship?

• If you don’t feel like reading the proposal, assignment or book, do you do it anyway?

• If you don’t feel like parenting your children today, do you do it anyway?

• If you don’t feel like dealing with your grief, do you do it anyway?

Everyone has feelings and some days the feelings are stronger than others, feelings can drive us to do an action or not do an action regardless of how we think. Just like our thoughts can lead us astray, so can our feelings. Run away feelings turn into a spiritual battle better identified as discouragement. Fear of discouragement may drive us to do something that makes us feel good in the moment regardless of the consequences, where as discouragement may drive us not do to do something. It is important to remember that God created feelings so feelings in and of themselves are not bad contrary to many popular beliefs. By feelings which drive our behavior without a thought filter can be destructive.

Spiritual warfare is not always the big things happening around us; sometimes it is the little things happening inside of us. Take an inventory of your thoughts and feelings to see if they need a cleansing. After all, most historians will tell you that the greatest battle is the one you are fighting right now.


-------------------------------------

Reprint Permission- If this article helps you, please share it with your own list at work or church, forward it to friends and family or post it on your own site or blog. Just leave it intact and do not alter it in any way. Any links must remain in the article. Please include the following paragraph in your reprint.

"Reprinted with permission from the LifeWorks Group weekly eNews, (Copyright, 2004-2011), To subscribe to this valuable counseling and coaching resource visit www.LifeWorksGroup.org or call 407-647-7005"

About the author- Chris Hammond is a Registered Mental Health Counselor Intern at LifeWorks Group w/ over 15 years of experience as a counselor, mentor & teacher for children, teenagers & adults.

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 everyone and everything, man’s love falls far short. Here are some of the major areas that man’s love cannot conquer.

Addiction. There are many forms of addictions a person can have: alcohol, gambling, pornography, drugs (illegal and prescription), and sex just to name a few. These addictions consume time, money and energy from your relationship and in the long run, can even destroy it. Your finance may even say that their addiction tendencies are less because of your presence and while this may be true for the time being, it will not be true in the future. The reason the addiction is less during the engagement is because of the excitement of the upcoming marriage and the hope and promise it brings. As soon as difficulties surface, this hope will quickly turn into despair and the addiction will return sometimes with a vengeance.

Abuse. There are also many forms of abuse such as physical, emotional, sexual and verbal. Physical abuse involves any physical contact that is unwelcome or threatening. Emotional abuse is neglecting your partner’s basic needs for security, love and attachment. Sexual abuse includes rape or any type of forced sexual encounter. Verbal abuse is the use of foul language, demeaning statements, biting sarcasm or hurtful remarks. Loving someone will not stop the abuse. Often the abuse is very subtle in the beginning and often in frequent during the engagement process with your finance being very apologetic afterwards. These are warning signs that should not be ignored because the abuse is very likely to increase after the wedding.

Alarm. There are many ways your partner can alarm you, perhaps they engage in self-harming behavior (such as cutting), threaten to commit suicide, threaten to cause you physical harm, or have irrational fears (such as paranoia or extreme jealously). These behaviors need to be addressed with a professional who has experience in helping individuals to overcome their alarming behavior rather than a well-meaning finance who is unsure of how to handle the situation. Getting married will not eliminate any of these behaviors no matter what your finance says, in fact it will worsen.

Addiction, abuse and alarm are three good reasons to end an engagement. Yes, your finance can get better with professional help, a willingness to overcome the challenges, and by the grace of God but even these ingredients separate from each other do not guarantee success. Just for a moment, take off your rose-colored glasses and look at your partner objectively to see if there is any trace of these behaviors. After all, your love does have limits.


-------------------------

Reprint Permission- If this article helps you, please share it with your own list at work or church, forward it to friends and family or post it on your own site or blog. Just leave it intact and do not alter it in any way. Any links must remain in the article. Please include the following paragraph in your reprint.

"Reprinted with permission from the LifeWorks Group weekly eNews, (Copyright, 2004-2011), To subscribe to this valuable counseling and coaching resource visit www.LifeWorksGroup.org or call 407-647-7005"

About the author- Chris Hammond is a Registered Mental Health Counselor Intern at LifeWorks Group w/ over 15 years of experience as a counselor, mentor & teacher for children, teenagers & adults.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

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 fa├žade that everything is fine by going to play golf in his expensive car after he has lost his job and is on the verge of losing his house and his marriage. He falsely believed that appearance was everything and all he had to do was do what he always had done and everything would be fine. He was wrong. Debt traps you into the belief that you will never lose your job, that you will always be in perfect health, and that the economy will work in your favor. This is not true, it is a lie. There are no guarantees for the future and tying the hopes of your marriage and future into being able to pay off your debt is dangerous.

Who are you trying to please? Is it your spouse? Is it you? Is it your neighbor? Or are you already trapped into trying to please your lender? Too much emphasis is placed on what you need to do to make and keep your lender happy and loan you some more money. Is this really the emphasis you want in your marriage? Do you really want to spend excessive amounts of time keeping a stranger at a bank or credit card company happy with you so that they will loan you some more money? It is difficult enough to manage your and your spouse’s expectations without having to manage the expectations of your lender. Your lender becomes like a third wheel in your marriage demanding more and more of your time and money. This is not what a marriage should look like.

So now what? Realizing the strain and stress that debt has already placed on your marriage is the first step in your recovery. Identifying your debt as a problem in your marriage and agreeing that it needs to be removed is even harder to digest as it goes against your old expectations. The next step is stop adding more debt right now, today, at this very moment no matter how hard this may be. Change your expectations from having a debt ball and chain in your marriage to freeing you and your spouse. The only way to remove the debt ball and chain is little by little, dollar by dollar, pain by pain, but the benefits to your marriage will be significant.

No one goes into a marriage with the attitude that they are going to destroy it, yet that is precisely what happens with a debt ball and chain. The burden becomes too much and one person wants out no matter what the financial cost. It is never too late to turn around and choose a different path, a path that does not have a ball and chain but rather freedom to live, fail, and succeed.



--------------------------
Reprint Permission- If this article helps you, please share it with your own list at work or church, forward it to friends and family or post it on your own site or blog. Just leave it intact and do not alter it in any way. Any links must remain in the article. Please include the following paragraph in your reprint.

"Reprinted with permission from the LifeWorks Group weekly eNews, (Copyright, 2004-2011), To subscribe to this valuable counseling and coaching resource visit www.LifeWorksGroup.org or call 407-647-7005"

About the author- Chris Hammond is a Registered Mental Health Counselor Intern at LifeWorks Group w/ over 15 years of experience as a counselor, mentor & teacher for children, teenagers & adults.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

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 influenced your finances. And while your family’s perspective on money may be different from you, imagine the tension that can be created if your spouse-to-be has an entirely different background experience. The discussion topic to have is what is your family’s experience with money and how has that experience affected your financial decisions.

Different financial goals. Having financial goals like how much money do you want saved, when and where would you like to retire, and what annual salary are you striving to achieve are just a small sample of goals that you should be discussing. After all, each of you already has a financial goal which should become a shared goal between the two of you. Some financial goals may be more defined and specific than others; one of you is likely to be a bit more detailed. But if your spouse-to-be says that they don’t have a financial goal then their goal is really to allow others, including the financial markets, to dictate their life. This is not a healthy goal upon which two people should be joined.

Different spending habits. More than likely, one of you will be a spender and the other a saver. Determine now who is which and who is going to be in charge of managing your finances. The saver is the best choice for managing the money as they are better at long-term planning then the spender. Both of you should begin now to put together a budget that you can agree on that is consistent with your financial goals. Discuss and agree now on how money will be spent from each paycheck and how much money will be saved. There are many guidelines out there for budgeting but the best one is the one that works for you and is easy to stick with every month.

Different checking accounts. Right now you have different checking accounts and different monthly expenses. Soon you will need to decide how and if the accounts will be joined together into one account or several different accounts. Whether or not the accounts are jointly held, both of you needs to have access to the accounts including the balances at all times. If not, one person may believe that the other is hiding money from them. This breeds distrust and disunity. Discuss now what accounts you will keep at which banks and how to give both of you access to the balances on a monthly if not daily basis.

While there are many more issues to address with joining your finances together, this list is a good place to start as you begin the merging process. It is likely that the above topics will cause some disagreement already but that is precisely what it is designed to do because if you agree on these topics now, it will greatly reduce the tension later.


-------------------------------------
Reprint Permission- If this article helps you, please share it with your own list at work or church, forward it to friends and family or post it on your own site or blog. Just leave it intact and do not alter it in any way. Any links must remain in the article. Please include the following paragraph in your reprint.

"Reprinted with permission from the LifeWorks Group weekly eNews, (Copyright, 2004-2011), To subscribe to this valuable counseling and coaching resource visit www.LifeWorksGroup.org or call 407-647-7005"

About the author- Chris Hammond is a Registered Mental Health Counselor Intern at LifeWorks Group w/ over 15 years of experience as a counselor, mentor & teacher for children, teenagers & adults.

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 better off focusing your energy on yourself and what you can change. You cannot change your spouse, otherwise they would be a different person by now and you would not be in this position, but you can change yourself.

Get real. Do an inventory of yourself making a list of your strengths and weaknesses. Do not let your spouse or others to make the list, instead compile the list yourself. Once you have made the list then take a couple of days off and reevaluate the list adding and subtracting as needed. Having a better perspective of yourself allows you to see things differently and perhaps brings to light some of your failures in the marriage.

Get personal. Identify the areas that you have failed in your marriage and take responsibility for your faults. This is a time to ask for forgiveness for mistakes not only from those you have harmed but from God and yourself as well. This is an extremely difficult process and should be done with great care without expecting any results. This is not a time to compare faults and decide whose faults are worse; rather it is a time to deal with your issues.

Get moving. Sitting around feeling sorry for yourself will not help the situation. Your life has changed and it may be a temporary change or a permanent one but nonetheless it has changed. You need to adjust to your new situation, new environment, and new reality as soon as possible. One of the best ways is to try a new exercise routine, volunteer at a homeless shelter, or help a friend with their problem. By doing something for someone else, you can gain a better perspective on your own life.

While this list may not keep you from feeling depressed or sad due to the separation, it can help you to change your focus off your spouse and onto yourself in a more positive way. However, prolonged depression should be addressed with a medical professional or counselor. You can change and you can grow even through some of the most difficult times in your life.

-------------------------------------

Reprint Permission- If this article helps you, please share it with your own list at work or church, forward it to friends and family or post it on your own site or blog. Just leave it intact and do not alter it in any way. Any links must remain in the article. Please include the following paragraph in your reprint.

"Reprinted with permission from the LifeWorks Group weekly eNews, (Copyright, 2004-2011), To subscribe to this valuable counseling and coaching resource visit www.LifeWorksGroup.org or call 407-647-7005"

About the author- Chris Hammond is a Registered Mental Health Counselor Intern at LifeWorks Group w/ over 15 years of experience as a counselor, mentor & teacher for children, teenagers & adults.

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 moms who are outside with their children.

• Get involved in your homeowner’s association and volunteer to put together an activity which involves kids. This further increases your chance of making new friendships.

• If you have a community pool or a nearby YMCA, visit it to meet some other moms and children. The morning times are the best times for children as by the afternoon they are usually taking naps.

• Your local library usually has special reading times for small children. This is another great opportunity to meet other moms and children.

• Some local businesses have specials for children such as kids eat free one day during the week. By attending, you can meet others while you eat.

• Local churches sometimes have programs for moms and kids such as Mom’s Day Out. These usually cost a nominal fee but it is a chance for you to connect with other moms and your kids to meet other kids.

• Some malls have indoor playgrounds which is a great place to make new friends and get a little shopping in.

• As strange as it sounds, you can even meet other moms at your doctor’s office. The first year is spent visiting your doctor quite a bit so make the most of the visits by talking to other moms in the waiting room.

• Facebook your friends and ask to be introduced to other people on their friend list that may live close to you or have kids the same age. This is another safe way of meeting other moms.

Once you have met a group of moms, suggest a regular meeting place such as a playground, the library, the pool, or even alternating houses. Establish the group with regular meeting times such as every other week at 10am, this way everyone knows when and where they are meeting. After you have begun the group, continue to invite new moms as others disappear to maintain the group over a long period of time. These friendships can be the beginning of meaningful long-term relationships not only for your but for your child as well.


-----------------------------------------------
Reprint Permission- If this article helps you, please share it with your own list at work or church, forward it to friends and family or post it on your own site or blog. Just leave it intact and do not alter it in any way. Any links must remain in the article. Please include the following paragraph in your reprint.

"Reprinted with permission from the LifeWorks Group weekly eNews, (Copyright, 2004-2011), To subscribe to this valuable counseling and coaching resource visit www.LifeWorksGroup.org or call 407-647-7005"

About the author- Chris Hammond is a Registered Mental Health Counselor Intern at LifeWorks Group w/ over 15 years of experience as a counselor, mentor & teacher for children, teenagers & adults.

Monday, August 08, 2011

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 from us, rather it comes from reflecting God’s light which is never extinguished. We were created in His image to reflect His light. Why you ask? So that even in our relationships, in our most important relationship such as marriage, His image and His light can be seen.

Intentionally Created. Looking back over Genesis 2, we see that man was created out of dust and woman was created out of the rib of man. Men and woman are literally created differently. God could have created them the same way but He did not. This is not just a physical difference, but a difference in purpose and design as well. Why you ask? Each of us has a different role in life. When we look at the trinity of God: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, each part of the trinity has a different role to play. One of the many roles is the Father as the Creator, the Son Jesus as the sacrifice, and the Holy Spirit as a guide. You do not see the Holy Spirit called the sacrifice because the Holy Spirit knows the role it plays in the trinity. A husband and a wife are intentionally created with different roles yet they are part of one unit.

Separation from family. In order for two to truly be united as one, they need to leave behind their family of origin. Just as there are no additional roles in the trinity, there are no additional roles in the new family unit. The new family unit consists of a husband and a wife (Genesis 2:24). Leaving parents can be a difficult task but it is an essential element for the formation of a new bond. Why you ask? As long as a parent is there to cling to in times of need, a spouse will never learn to cling to one another and the bond will not be properly formed.

Two into one. This is a great mystery which is difficult to understand until you experience it. Once we accept that our purpose in life is to reflect God’s image, that we are intentionally created for a reason, that we are to leave our family of origin, then we can begin the process of becoming one with one another. Why you ask? The new bond properly reflects the relationship between God the Father, the Son Jesus, and the Holy Spirit to one another. When the marriage unit adds children, it is a perfect reflection of the trinity.

The bond of two becoming one is tightly woven and is not easily broken if formed correctly. Many of the marriage problems are centered on an improper unity of a marriage and often going back to the basics of what a marriage is can elevate some of the most difficult challenges.


----------------------------

Chris Hammond is a Registered Mental Health Counselor Intern at LifeWorks Group w/ over 15 years of experience as a counselor, mentor & teacher for children, teenagers & adults.

Reprint Permission- If this article helps you, please share it with your own list at work or church, forward it to friends and family or post it on your own site or blog. Just leave it intact and do not alter it in any way. Any links must remain in the article. Please include the following paragraph in your reprint.

"Reprinted with permission from the LifeWorks Group weekly eNews, (Copyright, 2004-2011), To subscribe to this valuable counseling and coaching resource visit http://www.LifeWorksGroup.org or call 407-647-7005"

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. Nevertheless, if you begin this process now, before the wedding, your parents are more likely to adjust to the new perspective as well. This is not a perspective that you want your in-laws to adjust to after the wedding as it may cause frustration and resentment. Rather, practice it now. When you say “we”, it is only you and your spouse; no parents allowed.

Mine are mine, yours are yours. As a rule of thumb, communication is best received from you to your parents. Parents are more likely to receive good or bad information if given directly from you to them without any interference. You talking to your in-laws can create a question of whether or not their child, your spouse, really agrees with the decision. This question then lives in the minds of your in-laws for the duration of your marriage and will likely be brought up at an inopportune time. When the two of you finally agree on an issue, you tell your parents and your spouse tells his/her parents.

Mark your calendars. One of the most common disagreements that an engaged couple find themselves addressing is where to spend the holidays. This may not have been an issue while dating, but when engaged each set of parents are basically staking out their claim on a particular holiday. They know that the plan you set the first year is going to be very close to the one you will follow every year including when you have their precious grandchildren. So plan carefully. Keep one holiday for yourselves, at your house, to begin your own tradition and then divide out the rest amongst everyone else. You don’t have to communicate your plan ahead of time but if both of you agree now, there will be less tension later.

Keeping these tips in mind will reduce the in-law tension in your home. Remember, future decisions should involve you and your spouse; not you, your spouse, your parents, and your in-laws. The more people involved in a decision, the more difficult it is to come to an agreement, just look at congress.

-------------------------

Chris Hammond is a Registered Mental Health Counselor Intern at LifeWorks Group w/ over 15 years of experience as a counselor, mentor & teacher for children, teenagers & adults.

Reprint Permission- If this article helps you, please share it with your own list at work or church, forward it to friends and family or post it on your own site or blog. Just leave it intact and do not alter it in any way. Any links must remain in the article. Please include the following paragraph in your reprint.

"Reprinted with permission from the LifeWorks Group weekly eNews, (Copyright, 2004-2011), To subscribe to this valuable counseling and coaching resource visit http://www.LifeWorksGroup.org or call 407-647-7005"

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 each class at the beginning of your binder so you can remember what is expected during the year.

8. If on a block schedule (classes are every other day), mark the days for the entire year in the planner. Keep another schedule and post inside your locker door.

9. If on a block schedule, have two 3-ring binders: one for one day, the other for the other day.

10. If classes are every day, keep two 3-ring binders: one for the morning, one for the afternoon.

11. Have blank paper in your binder to doodle or draw during class, this will help to keep your focus.

12. Taking notes during class will also minimize the distractions and help you to focus (these are not notes that you pass to your friends!).

13. Keep a paper clip in your pocket to play with when you get fidgety.

14. Minimize bathroom breaks as it takes even longer to regain your focus.

15. Most teachers will work with you if they understand your struggle, so be honest with them.

16. Bring homework with you to your classes in case you have some free time. School time is the best time to complete homework because your focus is the best.

17. Do a physical activity immediately after school, no video games or homework. Save that for later.

18. Do homework after a meal and after some physical activity, but before playing.

19. Make sure you have a fun activity at the end of the day; this is your down time.

20. Go to sleep at regular times whether you are tired or not, routine and proper sleep increases your ability to focus.

While these steps will not guarantee good grades, they can help to improve your performance. More importantly, as you learn to minimize the challenges of ADD/ADHD, your confidence will improve and this may be your best year yet.


--------------------------------------

Chris Hammond is a Registered Mental Health Counselor Intern at LifeWorks Group w/ over 15 years of experience as a counselor, mentor & teacher for children, teenagers & adults.

Reprint Permission- If this article helps you, please share it with your own list at work or church, forward it to friends and family or post it on your own site or blog. Just leave it intact and do not alter it in any way. Any links must remain in the article. Please include the following paragraph in your reprint.

"Reprinted with permission from the LifeWorks Group weekly eNews, (Copyright, 2004-2011), To subscribe to this valuable counseling and coaching resource visit http://www.LifeWorksGroup.org or call 407-647-7005"

Monday, August 01, 2011

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 changes that you can implement that make the biggest impact. By adding these three rules to the techniques you are already doing, you may see better results.

No questions. Questions like, “Why is your room still messy”, “Why did you do that”, and “What were you thinking” are unproductive. If your child answers these questions honestly with “I forgot”, “I don’t know”, and “I wasn’t thinking”, this is likely to frustrate you even more. Interrogating your child is almost never productive in the positive sense as it fosters rebellion in the heart of your child. While it may give you some answers, the negative consequence of a strained relationship is more damaging. Instead of questioning them, make statements like, “Your room is messy”, “Your behavior is not acceptable”, and “Think about this”. Statements rather than questions reinforce your boundaries and provide security to your child.

No explanations. Long winded explanations border on lecturing. Remember when you were a kid; did you enjoy the lectures from your parents? Didn’t you just tune them out after a period of time or talk to yourself in your head when it went on and on? So, don’t repeat the same mistake with your child. Instead be short, sweet and to the point. Long winded explanations invite opportunities for your child to argue back as they discover potential loop holes in your explanation. Keep your explanations to one or two sentence at the maximum.

No emotions. Getting angry, becoming emotional, crying, laying on a guilt trip, or nervously laughing are all inappropriate emotions during discipline. Feeling these emotions is normal and you should express them privately, but doing so in front of your child while disciplining will add to the tension of the moment. Instead deal with the moment as needed and then go back to your child later when you are no so angry, emotional, teary, guilty or laughing and explain to your child the emotion you were feeling in one or two sentences. This small change will teach your child not to react when emotional, but rather to reflect and then respond.

Small changes can make a big difference in handling a difficult child. They are likely to be more demanding, more time consuming, need more attention, and use more of your energy. But by implementing these three simple rules, you will find that you will feel less drained and more prepared to handle the next challenge that comes your way.

----------------------------------------------
Reprint Permission- If this article helps you, please share it with your own list at work or church, forward it to friends and family or post it on your own site or blog. Just leave it intact and do not alter it in any way. Any links must remain in the article. Please include the following paragraph in your reprint.

"Reprinted with permission from the LifeWorks Group weekly eNews, (Copyright, 2004-2011), To subscribe to this valuable counseling and coaching resource visit www.LifeWorksGroup.org or call 407-647-7005"

About the author- Chris Hammond is a Registered Mental Health Counselor Intern at LifeWorks Group w/ over 15 years of experience as a counselor, mentor & teacher for children, teenagers & adults.

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 boxes.

6. Sort through old school supplies and make a list of new purchases.

7. Check your school’s website for school supply lists.

8. Go through clothes getting rid of clothes too small and making another list of needed clothing.

9. Organize your closet space so shoes and socks are easy to find.

10. Check clothing for any missing buttons or hems that need to be taken down.

11. Go to the store and purchase needed items now before school begins for the best discounts.

12. Organize your desk or homework space to prepare for upcoming homework.

13. Run a virus scan on your computer and clean it up in preparation for new assignments.

14. Make sure your printer has an extra print cartridge.

15. Review summer reading lists and assignments making sure all papers are completed.

16. Go on your school’s website and look at after school practice schedules to update your calendar.

17. Arrange for car pools before school begins.

18. Print off the master school calendar for the year noting all holidays and half days in advance.

19. Spend an hour a day on the computer brushing up on a skill such as typing or math.

20. Do one special thing like seeing a movie, going to the beach or hanging with friends.

If the summer slipped by too fast, there really is no point in dragging out the beginning of the school year in hopes of postponing the inevitable. Rather, now is the time to be thankful for what you did, be thankful for who you did it with and be thankful for another year.


-------------------------------

Chris Hammond is a Registered Mental Health Counselor Intern at LifeWorks Group w/ over 15 years of experience as a counselor, mentor & teacher for children, teenagers & adults.

Reprint Permission- If this article helps you, please share it with your own list at work or church, forward it to friends and family or post it on your own site or blog. Just leave it intact and do not alter it in any way. Any links must remain in the article. Please include the following paragraph in your reprint.

"Reprinted with permission from the LifeWorks Group weekly eNews, (Copyright, 2004-2011), To subscribe to this valuable counseling and coaching resource visit http://www.LifeWorksGroup.org or call 407-647-7005"