I want you to address in a column what you do when family members aren't speaking. How do you tactfully handle family holiday parties when they refuse to be in the same place as each other, but you have to invite them both? One has issued an ultimatum that they want us to choose sides, which we feel is not the right thing to do. Is there any way to navigate these bad relationships or fix them? Please give us some advice.
Many people suffer from depression and anxiety around the holidays. Some have it because they have no family to be with, others have it because they do have family to be with. Family gatherings can be a real challenge if there is resentment, hurt feelings, and conflict between your guests.
We recommend you send this article to both parties and tell them you love and support them, and just want everyone to suffer less this holiday season. Explain that you have no judgment around this issue and totally understand how hard it is to deal with these conflicts, but you just want to help both sides heal.
I believe we are on this planet for one reason — to learn, grow and become better. Our main objective is to learn to love ourselves and other people at a deeper level. If this is true, forgiving would be the No. 1 most important lesson, and it's a challenging one too because our ego side really likes to hold onto judgment.
It’s easy to love people who are kind and good to us. Loving people who hurt us is the challenge that pushes us and forces us to rise. It shows us the limits of our love and gives us the chance to stretch and grow them.
If you are going to change how you feel about an offense, you will need to learn to look at the situation in a new way. This article is going to help you do that. You may feel like you aren’t ready, but "I'm not ready" is just an excuse we use when we can't articulate the real reason we don't want to forgive.
You must identify the real reason you are holding onto this offense and don't want to forgive it. Here are some possibilities:
1. Remember none of us are perfect.
This person did something wrong and it sounds like this was an especially painful wrong, but you aren’t perfect either. You may not have made this mistake, but you have made others. You must remember that you are both imperfect, struggling students in the classroom of life, with lots more to learn, who both deserve forgiveness.
You don’t want every mistake you ever made held against you forever. In order to feel forgiven for your past wrongs, you must give others the same.
2. You alone are responsible for the pain you are experiencing.
No situation can cause you pain without your participation in it. Your thoughts and feelings are under your control and this means no one can take away your pain or give you pain. You alone have that power. If you struggle to understand this principle, read my previous KSL article about choosing to be upset.
You must grasp the truth that you are in control of your thoughts and feelings. You can feel better right now if you want to. You don’t have to wait until you feel ready to forgive. You can choose to be ready now.
3. The other person is guilty of bad behavior, but you both have the same infinite and absolute value.
You both have the same value no matter how many mistakes either of you makes. This is true because life is a classroom, not a test, and our value isn't on the line.
That does not mean we can sit back and stop improving though. It means our lack of knowledge and need for improvement doesn’t affect our intrinsic value. We have the same intrinsic value regardless of the amount of learning we still need to do. You want this principle to be true because you want it to be true for you.
4. Forgiveness happens best when you see yourself and others accurately
Forgiveness will happen when you see yourself and others as innocent, completely forgiven, struggling, scared, messed up, but perfect students in the classroom of life, with lots more to learn. Most of us think forgiving is about seeing people as guilty and then trying to pardon them for those mistakes. If you try to forgive this way it will never happen. You will still be hung up on the fact they are guilty. Forgiveness will never work when it’s a gift undeserved.
Instead, let all the wrongs, pain and hurt on both sides of this be wiped clean of all selfish, fear-based, bad behavior. It is time to let go and accept divine forgiveness for both of you. Let the other person be a “work in progress” and don’t crucify yourself or them for mistakes. Accept the gift of forgiveness and see life as a classroom where mistakes don’t count against our value. We can just all erase them all and try again.
5. Forgiveness is the key to happiness and it is the only way to peace, confidence and security.
This is universal law. The key to forgiveness lies in one very simple choice that you must make over and over every day. What energy do you want to live in? You have two options — you can live in judgment, blame and anger energy? Or forgiveness, peace and joy energy?
Judgment energy means you stand in judgment of others, condemning and crucifying them for past mistakes. If you choose this mindset, you are giving power to the idea that people can be "not good enough" and should be judged harshly, which will come back on you too. You will always struggle with your own self-esteem and this energy will feel heavy, negative and unhappy.
Your other option is a forgiveness energy. Here you choose to forgive yourself and others, and completely let go of every misconceived, stupid, selfish, fear-based mistake either of you has ever made. You choose to see these mistakes for what they really are, bad behavior born of confusion, self-doubt, lack of knowledge, low self-esteem and fear. In this place, you choose to see everyone as innocent and forgiven and let them (and you) start over with a clean slate every day.
If you choose this mindset, you will feel safe, loved, whole and good about yourself and this energy will be light, peaceful and happy.
The question is: How do you want to live?
Consider letting go of the past offense and showing up at the family gathering with nothing but love and compassion in your heart. This doesn’t mean you have to be close to or deal with the other person, but it does mean treating them with respect, compassion and kindness. It means understanding that negative feelings hurt you more than they hurt them. It means choosing to focus on gratitude and being the love in the room, then on the past and casting blame.
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles is the president of claritypointcoaching.com and 12shapes.com - She is the author of the new e-book Fearless Forgiving: The clarity path to peace - you can get this inexpensive e-book on amazon here.
This was first published on KSL.com
I have been married for over 20 years. During this time, I have tried unsuccessfully to make my wife happy. I have initiated counseling sessions several times only to come out worse for going. I recently had a friend say they think I'm a victim of emotional abuse from my wife. I have tried to see her side of things and understand where my wife is coming from and to even work on myself. But am I using this as an excuse? Do many men get emotionally abused? When do you work on yourself and when do you insist a wife's behavior isn’t ok?
If you want a healthy relationship, you must constantly work on yourself AND you must insist your partner do the same. If your partner is abusive (which we will determine below) and they are unwilling admit their behavior is wrong, change the attitudes that drive the behavior and get professional help, there may be cause for you to leave.
We say this, because you teach people how to treat you by what you allow. If you are willing to keep living with someone who is emotionally abusive, why should they change?
If they know you are too scared to leave or are a pushover, they have no motivation to change anything, and it takes a great deal of motivation for an abuser to change their ways and give up the power they get from the abuse.
We also want to reassure you that abuse by women against men is not uncommon at all. Both genders are actually almost equally abused. One report showed that “40% of victims of severe physical violence are men, who are victimized by their intimate partners, and men are also more often the victim of psychological aggression.” You can read more about this on www.batteredmen.org.
Also, remember we are in the classroom of life to learn about love. So, allowing someone to mistreat you is denying them an important lesson they have coming. It is not ok to disrespect, insult or be cruel to any human being. Someone has to teach that to your spouse and the universe has selected you.
We want to clarify what behaviors constitute abuse though, because some of you are so used to abusive behavior, you actually think it’s normal and therefore ok. Everyone has disagreements with their spouse, but some kinds of fighting behaviors are not acceptable, ever. We believe there are three types of bad behavior that show up in relationships and we want you to recognize them so you know what is okay and what is not.
Here are the three categories of bad relationship behavior:
If you are seeing signs of abuse, you should seek professional help and do something about it right now, especially if there are children in your home. We often hear people in abusive relationships say they are “staying for their children” and don’t want to break up the family. You must understand that even watching this kind of abuse can damage your children. Safe Horizons (a website for victims of abuse) says that without help, children who witness abuse are more vulnerable to being abused themselves as adults or teens, or they are likely to become abusers themselves.
You and your children deserve to feel safe and respected in your home. You should also be able to have mature, rational, mutually validating conversations about problems that arise with your spouse. If your partner can't do that and is tearing down your self-esteem on a regular basis (so you feel miserable and worthless) and you experience fear whenever they are home, you are probably a victim of abuse.
Your rationalizing this behavior as normal makes sense, if it is all you have ever experienced, but it is not normal or acceptable. If you love yourself, your children and your spouse at all, you owe it to them all to seek help. It is time for your spouse and children to learn that all people deserve to be treated with kindness and respect
If you don’t have a religious leader, counselor, or coach to go to for help, start with the Utah Domestic Violence Coalition, they can point you in the right direction.
We know that change and seeking help sounds scary because ‘the known’ even though it’s bad, feels safer than the ‘unknown’. But you will all grow and learn so much it will be a win in the end. There will be some hard moments, but you are stronger than you think you are, and you deserve better.
You can do this.
This was first published on KSL.COM
SALT LAKE CITY — In this edition of LIFEadvice, coaches Kim Giles and Nicole Cunningham share tips and tricks for getting more help around the house.
I’m getting more and more resentful as the years go by with all the work I do to keep the house and family running. I feel unappreciated about it and I’m just getting tired of these tasks. My family is not much help either. Unless I nag and yell, no one lifts a finger to help out. Do you have any advice for my overwhelming and lack of motivation?
Many parents experience resentment and are overwhelmed about the work it takes to keep the home clean and running smoothly. But choosing a martyr story and feeling anger or resentment about it will push other family members away and make them even less interested in helping.
In order to change things at your house, you must first take responsibility for your emotions and for creating a situation where no one helps you. You are at least partly to blame because you have either not asked for help or you are not handling it the right way.
You may have too many expectations or timelines (like wanting it done now or you’ll do it yourself) or you may communicate poorly what you need and how you want it done. If you are someone who complains about the quality of the job they do, you may have created a place where they can’t please you — so they’ve given up.
1. Detach from perfectionismUnfortunately, many parents are attached to tasks done correctly and they have a hard time embracing the learning process and rewarding attempts made by their children to help. These parents experience fear of loss, that they are going to lose quality of life by forgoing the standards they desire.
A practical way to adjust your perfectionism is to show your family you appreciate their efforts even if they aren’t up to your standards. The most common mistake we see from parents is going in to straighten things up after their children’s attempt to help. This tells your child their efforts weren’t good enough and this results in them being less willing to do the job again (at least not with the same enthusiasm).
Instead, reward their efforts. Language such as, “Tim, I love how you straightened your bed cover like that.” Instead of, “Tim, you did a good job, but your forgot to tuck in the bottom sheet and you still have a pair of shoes that needs to go into the closet.” Your intentions are good in teaching them quality, but all your child hears is “I have failed, my best is never good enough and why do I even bother.”
The kids in our Tuesday night teen class say feeling like a failure is the primary reason they are not willing to help out around the house. You may think it’s because they’re lazy, but they say parents will be mad at them either way, so why try.
2. See every experience with your children as your perfect classroomParents often feel fear of loss when they come home to find the children have made a mess in their house. You may have exaggerated angry reactions because you feel robbed or taken from. You feel robbed of the time and energy it will take to put things right. Instead of being triggered by fear, this is a beautiful opportunity to look at your need to be in control and why you have to have things perfectly clean.
Many parents are too invested in the opinions of other people and what their clean house says about their value. You may need to remind yourself your value is not tied to your house, and a happy family is more important than a house that looks like a museum. Whatever happens today in your home is your classroom and a chance to practice being the loving, mature, strong, kind, wise adult you really want to be. Every mess is a chance to practice seeing your value as infinite and not tied to any situation.
3. Be realisticYou must have realistic expectations before asking your children to clean anything. You may want to clean it with them a few times first, so they are clear of your expectations. It also helps to be specific — “Tim, I would like you to clean your room, don't forget to make the bed and put all of your shoes in the closet.”
Set them up for success by allowing a realistic time frame instead of placing high demands when there is little time or energy to achieve them. Setting your children up to succeed in their efforts maintains the enthusiasm and willingness to help you.
Children as young as 8 to 13 can learn most skills through watching you. Simple tasks such as taking the trash out, feeding the dog, collecting the mail and making their beds every day.
Children younger than this can participate by cleaning up their toys or drawing materials, and learning to dress themselves and buckle themselves in their car seats.
Teenagers and young adults can participate by maintaining the yard, washing cars, cooking meals and completing weekly laundry. Household tasks with weekly repetition provide great learning opportunities for your children.
Many parents at our weekly free parenting classes are uncomfortable with the idea of their children doing tasks wrong or not doing them. If your expectations are realistic though, you can allow children to make mistakes, to not follow through on their jobs, or not do the best job the first time and use these as positive learning opportunities.
Instead of just yelling and demanding, take the time to talk through why they made the choice they did and what do they think about the job they did. When you take the time for this kind of learning you will make your child feel respected and you will give your children the skills to be a functional adult someday, which is definitely worth the time and effort.
By taking the time to allocate household tasks that are age appropriate and showing your children how to do them, you give them a sense of achievement while also relieving your burden.
Sit down and discuss the chores with the whole family so each person realizes what the tasks are and that this is an equal work zone. Explain your expectations and that everyone must pull their weight so no one has more responsibility or tasks than the others.
As time goes on you can also invite flexibility and freedom and let the children rotate on specific tasks or swap with other family members. We heard about one son paying his sister to do his laundry, this is actually a great “real life” experience. You can do it yourself or pay someone to do it.
Another great idea is to tell kids they can either do their chores or they can hire the “Mom’s Cleaning Service” to do them. If the chores aren’t done by this specific date, then you will do them, but it will cost them. This cost comes out of their allowance. If they do their chores, they get the money, but if not you keep the money. You must be fine with it either way, so they get the freedom to choose. (This works really well with children who like control and choices.)
You can approach parenting without a martyr complex and become a calm, wise leader and get the whole family involved, if you just take the time to make this happen.
You can do this.
This was first published on KSL.COM
Question:I admit I have high standards and expect my kids to excel and get really good grades, but I would feel like a bad parent if I didn’t. My husband and I are both over achievers who have post-graduate degrees, and we have been successful in business. Of course we want the same kind of life for our kids. A friend recently asked me if I think I put too much pressure on them and I guess I’m not sure. I think maybe there is a fine line between too much pressure and not enough, at least in my opinion. I also expect my kids to be pretty independent and responsible, but this friend made me feel like she thinks I’m there for my kids enough. I would be open to an outside opinion on what’s too much pressure, I really want to be a good parent and raise them right. Your articles have been helpful in the past so I thought I would ask.
Answer:The thing you must be aware of is more and more kids from affluent families, who have supportive parents, are suffering from depression, anxiety, low self-esteem and substance abuse, and these kids are the most at risk for suicide.
An article in The Atlantic magazine about the suicide rate in Palo Alto, California, showed how often kids from wealthy families end up stressed, miserable and suicidal. The author, Hanna Rosin, said the major factor for these kids is pressure from parents that leaves them tired, discouraged and feeling alone.
There is an interesting book called "The Price of Privilege: How Parental Pressure and Material Advantage are Creating a Generation of Disconnected and Unhappy Kids," which might interest you. Author Madeline Levine says there is a toxic combination that happens when there is too much pressure to succeed and not enough connection with their parents. Those two together create the risk.
She says parents are too often over-involved in some things while being under-involved in others. For example, they care a lot about grades but don't take time to listen and connect.
Here are some warning signs that your child may be at risk:
You must be realistic about the world you live in today; 5,400 teens take their life every year, and untreated or unrecognized depression is the No. 1 cause.
Seventy percent of teens today suffer from at least one episode of depression before adulthood. Academic stress, family financial struggles, romantic problems, peer pressure, divorce and traumatic life events are usually the catalyst, but a lack of good mental and emotional coping skills then turns into depression or anxiety.
Psychotherapist Karen Ruskin, Ph.D, says parents need to be supportive, not pushy. She says "the key is to be your child's biggest fan and nurturer” and make sure their mental and emotional health are your main concern. Many parents struggle to teach kids how to process emotions, because they don’t know how. You can’t teach what you don’t know.
Parents must upskill themselves first and become more mentally and emotionally resilient. Then, make it a high priority to teach children how to handle life and maintain confidence and self-esteem.
Here are a couple of other important things you must do:
1. Allow failuresThis means not overreacting from fear when they happen, and making sure a child knows their value as a person is not tied to their performance, grades, sporting events or anything else. Teach kids their intrinsic value is the same as every other person on the planet and nothing can change it. They cannot be less than anyone else and they can’t be better either.
When failure happen say, “Well the good news is that doesn’t change your value at all. How do you feel about it? Is there anything to be learned for next time? Is there anything I could do to help?” When you have failures, you must also model a healthy way of handling them.
2. Teach life is a classroom, not a testThis goes along with No. 1 — make sure they see every experience as an interesting lesson that showed up to help them grow, but doesn’t affect their value at all.
3. Teach and model good self careIt is your job to make sure you feel good and are creating a life you want to live in. Parents who model this behavior give kids permission to make life enjoyable and recognize when they are emotionally drained and what they need to do to get back up, Make sure you don’t call yourself stupid, live in constant stress and panic, and are unhappy most of the time. These behaviors teach kids all the wrong lessons. If you need help getting your own life and thinking on track, get some.
4. Teach kids to follow their own inner truth about what is right for themTeach them to make their own decisions by letting them. They sometimes need guidance and to learn how to stick to things that are hard, but teach them that they alone are entitled to choose what activities, sports and hobbies are right for them and honor their feelings.
5. Spend quality time asking questions and listeningThis is probably the most important thing you can do. Make sure they feel heard and understood and that you honor and respect their right to their own ideas and opinions. Respect and caring is a two-way street, and you must give it if you want it back.
You must remember the most important thing your child needs to make it in the world isn’t an ivy league education or perfect grades, it’s a good sense of self-worth.
Children who see themselves as capable, strong, smart and valuable rise to the top as adults wherever they go. Make sure instilling confidence and teaching healthy ways to process emotions is your first priority.
Give them lots of opportunities to solve their own problems (with you just asking smart questions to guide them), make decisions and experience the consequences from their choices. Saving them from loss or disappointment won’t prepare them for the real world. Be OK with some failures now, while they cost less.
If you need help to calm down your own perfectionism fears and high expectations, reach out to a good counselor or coach who specializes in overcoming fear. A little professional guidance can change things fast.
You can do this.
Many of us didn’t learn mature communication skills or how to process emotions with clarity from our families, and they don’t teach these skills in school or at church. Many people never have the opportunity to learn a better way or how to think positively unless they seek it out on their own. You cannot just sit back and blame your parents though, you must take personal responsibility for your lack of skills and find someone to help you. There are many courses, seminars, coaches and experts who can help improve your communication skills and gain tools to help you handle yourself better. And the truth is - You can’t do better, until you know better.
In this article I will show you five common bad “people skills” habits, with some suggestions for changing them. These come from Patrick King’s book People Tactics:
#1 Not being fully present in conversations:
You may think more about what you want to say next, than you really listen, or you might be thinking about something else altogether and not listening at all. You may give people the impression you don’t care about them or wish you were somewhere else. You are going to have to work on changing this if you want good relationships. If a conversation is boring you, you must own it’s partly your fault, because you aren’t engaged in making it meaningful by asking questions and getting to know this other human being.
One of the best new people skills you can practice is making every human being you talk to feel valued, by asking about and validating their ideas, opinions and stories. Choose to see every human being as having something important to teach you. Ask more questions, listen and give them all your attention. This will create rich, caring, respectful relationships. Choose to be more curious about other people, ask more questions about them and show they matter. Drop or set aside your concerns and opinions. Really focus on the person in front of you. Don’t just listen, but really hear them, especially the people closest to you. Echo back what they say and honor and respect their right to think or feel different from you. This takes commitment, but you can do it.
#2 Your world is black and white:
This means you believe your ideas, opinions or feelings are right and anything else is wrong. You also see the world with a strong moral compass, where there is no grey. Patrick King says, “This habit is particularly toxic because people who have this mindset are very judgmental.” They have a tendency to see themselves as better or smarter than others. If people sense this tendency in you, they may avoid conversations with you or avoid you altogether. If this is your spouse or child that isn’t engaging with you anymore – that is a big problem.
The way you can change this habit is to first, change the way you see the value of all human beings. You must choose to see all people as having the same value and that value doesn’t change – it is infinite and absolute. Choose to remember that though someone thinks or acts differently from you, they still have the same value. Remind yourself that your perspective is one perspective (it is not truth). Also understand the more opinionated and stubborn you are, the less connected you will be with others.
When you insist on being right and making others wrong, they feel you don’t value them as a person. This happens because most peole have attached their worth to their ideas and opinions. You must remember this and resist the need to be right all the time, so people will feel valued and like you. Choose to tell people you respect their right to their views and way of doing things (even your children). For some people with certain Psychological Inclinations, this black or white viewpoint takes a lot of work to change. If you’d like to know more about Psychological Inclinations check this link out.
#3 You are a conversational narcissist and dominate conversations:
Do you love to hear the sound of your own voice and like to talk about your opinions too much? Do you realize after a conversation that you didn’t leave room for anyone else? Usually this need to talk too much comes from a deep fear of not being good enough. This fear drives your need to talk so you feel validated or you are trying to prove how smart or important you are.
To fix this bad habit you need to do some work on your own sense of intrinsic value. Choose to see every person as having the same value, and you will soon realize that counts for you too. The more secure you get the less you will need to talk about yourself. Challenge yourself to spend every conversation asking questions and listening instead of talking, because it’s the kind of person you really want to be. Showing up for others and making them feel important, will in the end, make you feel better about yourself than talking does.
#4 You give unsolicited advice or opinions:
Be honest with yourself. Is this something you do? Do you honestly mean well and want to help others, but accidently come off as a know it all? You must understand unsolicited advice is an insult. It makes others feel small, dumb or helpless no matter how well intentioned it is. If this is something you do, make a new rule you never give advice unless you ask permission first. “Are you open to some advice on that?” This is a great way to make sure you aren’t stepping on anyone’s toes. If they say no, honor that. Often people bring up a topic because they want to process out loud, more than they want your opinion. They need listening, more than input most of the time. Ask if they want help solving the problem, or just a listening ear? Then honor what they say. If they aren’t open to advice, respect that and let it go. It takes maturity and self-control to be this respectful, but it pays off big in most relationships. This one alone could completely change your relationship with your kids.
#5 Assuming you already know what someone feels and thinks:
If you haven’t asked questions and listened (today) then you don’t know where they are. One of the biggest insults in conversations is assuming you know what someone feels, thinks, does or did. Even if you were there, you don’t have any idea what went on in someone’s head or heart. To honor and respect other human beings, you must ask questions and listen to them, before you ever take action or say anything. Don’t assume anything.
If you want good relationships, you must listen more than you talk. You must work on controlling your fears, so you don’t let your emotions create dramatic reactions. I have written many articles on overcoming your fears and there is a great free e-book on processing emotions on my website that might help. You may also want to take our free Clarity Assessment because it will show you (on paper) your subconscious tendencies toward being right, talking too much or not listening to others.
If you are not creating the kind of relationships you want, or are getting consistent feedback that your reactions and behavior are out of control, immature or dramatic, own it and do something about it. I don’t know how to change – is no excuse. Life is a classroom and you are here to grow, so you must be actively looking for ways to improve yourself. Coaching is a great place to start, to gain new skills and have some support to get there.
You can do this.
This was first published on KSL.com
Part of me hates the holidays because the family gatherings end up making me feel horrible about myself and I really don’t need more of that. I already struggle with feeling I’m not good enough so add in my relatives, who are all more successful and have perfect families, with tons of expensive presents and it’s no fun at all. Anything I can do to feel better about myself when around them all?
During the Holiday season many of us find ourselves feeling more down than up. We all want to be present and spend time with our family, we just don’t want the conflict, confrontation, feelings of jealousy and inferiority that usually accompany these events. Fortunately a simple shift in mindset could help you to get through the holidays without any negative feelings.
The first step is to understand where the negative feelings come from. You (and everyone else on the planet) are suffering from a severe case of Fear of Failure (the fear that you aren’t good enough). Everyone does battle with this fear, to some degree, on a daily basis. But the holidays can trigger you more than any other time of the year. When your fear of failure gets triggered, your emotions, thinking and behavior can get negative fast. We all exhibit our worst behavior when we feel inferior.
For some of us this fear drives us to over compensate and show off, toot our own horn and try to get attention. For others it encourages them to shrink back, stay quiet and even be invisable if possible. Some people get grouchy and mean, while others are too nice and try to win approval through people pleasing. The types of bad behavior that fear of failure creates are countless, but none of them bring out the authentic you or make you capable of love.
Unfortunately, at Christmas there are always questions asked by friends and relatives about how we are doing and what’s new in our lives. Some families also tease and use sarcastic humor, which can make you ridiculed, judged or criticized. If you have had a tough year with many challenges, lessons of loss, or trials, these questions can lead to huge feelings of failure and could make you uncomfortable and defensive. Most of the family conflicts we see at Christmas, are the result of being offended by others, jealousy or being triggered with feeling that you are not enough. If you are not able to financially give at the level you would like to, or the gifts under the tree are few, this can also trigger huge feelings of not being enough.
Comparison to others is the fastest way to lose your confidence and feel bad about yourself. And it’s so easy to do. You need only go to Facebook and see what clothes other people are wearing, where they are on holiday, their new car, parties, friends and their amazing job, and it’s easy to feel deflated and believe your life is not measuring up.
Here are ____ ways to stop the comparison:
There is a worksheet on my website that will help you maintain a healthy, positive, holiday mindset. You can download it here. Read it a few times daily all through the month.
You can do this.
First published on ksl.com
Please help us with our 17-year-old son. Despite all our best efforts and role modeling, we have raised an entitled child that expects things in life he hasn’t earned. He has been jumping from job to job, because he feels they are too boring or the pay is too low. He instead spends his time hanging with friends, sleeping too much, or arguing with us that we aren’t there for him, although we pay for everything and he even has access to a car. Honestly the entitlement attitude is wearing thin, but we don’t know how to fix it. We can see that we made life too easy on him, because when things don’t go his way he sulks and acts like he hates us, or blows up in anger over small things. How can we get him to accept some responsibility for his life now, without pushing him away?
We are seeing this more and more with the teens we work with. These aren’t bad kids, they just didn’t learn how to be responsible hardworking contributors as children, despite their parents best efforts to teach it. They are also displaying repressed anger and confusion about who they are, where they are going and how to get there.
It is going to take getting tough and enforcing some real consequences, and doing it consistently, to instill better work ethic and cure the entitlement in your son now. The attention-seeking, excuse-making behavior happens because teenagers seek negative attention over no attention at all, and often they don’t know a better way to ask for the love and attention they need.
It is a time of great change and confusion for teens, and often their entitled behavior comes from fear they don’t know how to get what they need on their own. If you can look beyond the sense of entitlement, you will see a child who is desperately lost and scared. He has huge fear of failure (the fear he isn’t good enough) and this is creating the selfish, egotistical behavior. You will have to be very encouraging, validating and firm with your consequences to fix this.
Introducing new rules that encourage better behavior is essential, but it must also include having lots of mutually validating conversations, where your teen feels heard, validated and encouraged. This ensures you are addressing the underlying fear issues while maintaining a loving connection. The best way to have this conversation is gently, with love, and frequently. There is a communication worksheet on my website to help you do this. Constantly reassure them you are there for them and you believe in them.
Set aside some time every week to do something (one on one) with your teen. Getting food together is usually your best bet. Then, work at listening and asking questions more than you talk. This is difficult for most parents and will take time and practice to master. You may consider some life coaching for yourself, so you get the tools and skills you need to really connect with and help your child.
Here are some ways you can teach work ethic and eliminate a sense of entitlement in your teen:
If you are struggling with this, get some professional help yourself and quick. You may benefit from some parent coaching while you get another coach to work with your teen. Either way, some consistent tough love and consequences are in order, and we promise the sooner you do it, the sooner you will get a son who cares about his future, wants to be successful, and cares about others. Professional help makes a huge difference.
It’s a critical right time now, and you still hold more power than you realize. Use consistent rules and consequences to reshape his attitude. You will be doing him and the rest of the world a big favor by doing this.
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles is the CEO of claritypointcoaching.com and a master executive coach. Nicole Cunningham is a master coach who specializes in working with teens.
This was first published on KSL.com
I have a difficult family problem. My wife has a daughter from her first marriage that is toxic, controlling, and alienating. I am trying to be "the wise, mature, strong and loving adult” you talk about in your articles, but it’s really hard. And we coming up on the holidays, Christmas, and other special events and her daughter wants her mother there, but I am not welcome. My wife is even starting to get pulled in that direction and siding with her daughter, which really hurts. How do I handle this? How do I heal our family? How do we stop all the finger pointing and should I let my wife go or insist on being included?
Life is rough, it is no easy, rose garden endeavor and everywhere there are people, there are problems, drama, fighting and defensiveness. This is true because everyone on the planet is dealing with a huge amount of fear, which puts us in a selfish, needy, defensive, and protective state - where we are incapable of loving, wise behavior.
Our fears of failure and loss keep us focused, every day, on getting something (validation, reassurance, attention or a feeling of superiority) to quiet our fears. Until we get this, many of us have an empty bucket and nothing to give.
This sounds dismal, but understanding this truth will help you to see human behavior accurately (as fear-based) and get yourself into a better space where you can rise above it.
Many people, who suffer from deep subconscious fear they aren’t good enough, cast other people around them as the villain. If they can do this and stay focused on your bad, they won’t have to deal with their own bad behavior or feelings of inadequacy. Chances are pretty good this daughter has cast you as the bad guy, to make herself feel better or she is haveing fear of loss (losing her mother’s focus, attention and love). This might drive her to use guilt to manipulate or control her mother into siding with her.
This happens a lot in blended families and can make everyone feel threatened and unsafe. But you can fight the fear in your family dynamics with strength and love. Here are three questions, which might change the way you see this situation and help you to be your best in spite of it:
1)Are you experiencing this situation for a reason? One of my hero’s is Viktor Frankl, who survived the concentration camps during World War II. During the midst of that horrible experience he asked himself this question, “Was it just random bad luck that I ended up here or did this happen for a reason, and there is meaning and purpose in my being here?”
After much thought, he decided there was no way to know for sure which might be truth. This left him with a powerful realization, when there is no way to know ultimate truth “We get to choose our perspective”.
You can choose to see your life as random chaos, and view others as having the power to take from you and even ruin your journey. You can experience pain and grief over this situation, or you can see life as a classroom and the universe as a wise teacher, who is co-creating your journey with you and every choice you make, to deiver the perfect educational experiences for you. This would mean this whole situation is here to bless you.
Frankl said, “Life is never made unbearable by circumstances, but only by lack of meaning and purpose” in how you see them. When you decide to see any situation as here to serve you in some way, you will suffer less and take things less personally. You may even be grateful for it.
You have the opportunity (if you choose it) to see this daughter is your perfect teacher. She is in your life for the same reason everything else is in your life – to grow you, to help you become stronger, wiser or more loving toward yourself and others.
This is the real purpose of everything in your life. When you get this, you will feel better about the situation.
2)How can I be a hero and turn this mess into a human achievement? The amazing Viktor Frankl decided to see his circumstance as having purpose and meaning (to grow him in some way). He decided if he was here for a reason, then he must turn this horrible situation into a human achievement of some kind. He could do this by choosing to stay in trust and love, and help and serve others every day, which was absolutely heroic in those circumstances.
He was dwelling deep in human fear and suffering, which meant there was a great deal of selfishness, anger and hate around him. It would have been easy to embrace negative thoughts and behavior. I am sure it took every ounce of power he had to stay in a place of love, but he proved it can be done.
We can rise with love, amidst hate and conflict. We have the power to behave with grace and strength when things go bad or people attack us. Remember we are eternal beings having a interesting educational experience here, but we cannot really be diminished or destroyed. Ultimately we are safe in God’s hands the entire time, and our infinite, absolute value cannot change. Therefore there is nothing to fear.
When we remember this and choose a fearless mindset, we can become a hero in any situation. We can dig deep for the love and strength (that is our true nature) and love our enemies, give to those that curse us, and even stay peaceful through an attack. We do this not because we are a doormat, but because we know they can’t really hurt us.
“Human potential at its best, is to transform a tragedy into a personal triumph, to turn one's predicament into a human achievement.” - Viktor Frankl
You can do this too. Choose to view this situation as a story. Years from now someone will read this story and come upon this chapter (from today moving forward). What do you want them to read about you and how to handled this from today moving forward? Take the time to put write this story on paper and detail how you (the hero) will rise from here.
You might choose love towards your wife and her daughter no matter how they choose to treat you. You could ask them what would make them happy and if they choose to go alone, let them, without feeling slighted at all. But you must do this as a gift of love, not to claim moral high ground and beat them with your righteousness. You must take a completely generous, non-needy stance, showing them you are fine and will still stand in love towards them, no matter what they choose. This might make them see their unloving behavior and own it (but that cannot be your agenda).
Another possibility is that this lesson for you is about learning how to have mutually validating conversations so you can talk this through with your wife and daughter. There is a great worksheet on our website to help you with this. We also teach a relationship skills class each month, where we can show you how to have loving, mutually validating conversations and good boundaries so you can work through any problem.
3) What is in my control? You cannot control how other people think, feel or behave. You cannot make people like you or care about you. The only thing in your control is what you think, feel and do. You asked me, “How do I heal our family?” - the truth is you can’t, but you can heal yourself.
Viktor Frankl said, “Forces beyond your control can take away everything you possess except one thing, your freedom to choose how you will respond to the situation.”
Make this your focus every day. Heal yourself by turning anger over to God and choosing peace. Make some plans with your friends or family and show you wife and daughter what love really is. Love never forces or demands, or defends or attacks. It just says “I want you to be happy and I know I’m whole, loved and right on track in my classroom journey no matter what you choose.”
Choose to see your wife and her daughter as innocent, struggling, scared, students, doing the best they can with what they know (they may need more education, which you can trust the universe to supply right on time.)
Be the hero in this story by choosing an accurate perspective (that you have nothing to fear), strong thinking (based in principles of truth), and loving behavior (that is unselfish and giving). These are the only things in your control and you will at least be proud of yourself and like who you are.
You can do this.
This was first published on KSL.com
My teenage daughter rules the house and if she’s not happy, no one is happy. She is so difficult when she doesn’t get her way, it’s sometimes easier to just give in and not ask too much of her. I choose my battles and don’t let her walk on me about the big stuff, but I think I’ve become a doormat on the little stuff. She knows how to manipulate me with guilt to get what she wants. I hate it, but I don’t know how to change the pattern. Any advice?
Most teens use a great deal of manipulative and attention seeking behavior on their parents, and many parents, due to their fears of failure and loss, get played.
When your fears of failing as a parent or losing your child get triggered it’s hard to see the situation clearly and respond in a way that really serves your child. Instead, you may find yourself giving in, reducing your boundaries or even allowing yourself to be manipulated into doing or purchasing things in order to feel safe.
(Obviously, there will be some of you, who feel very comfortable enforcing strict boundaries and saying no to their teens. This article is directed at the parents who get walked on or manipulated and may not see it.)
We often see a cycle of guilt and fear in our Parenting Bootcamps, where parents, subconsciously create and contribute to cycles of manipulative behavior, as a result of their fear. Coaching these parents to function in a fearless state, stops this over-compensation and enables them to put well thought out, balanced and productive boundaries in place. These boundaries enable them to love and support their children without drama or being sucked into psychological games.
Eric Berne M.D. published an interesting book in 1964, called Games People Play. In it he describes the subconscious games people use to make themselves feel better or get what they want. All parents should be familiar with these maneuvers teens (or adults) may use.
Watch for these games in your home in your children and in yourself:
(You may be where they learned it.)
1) The Shame and Blame Game. This is where you are critical or judgmental towards other people and project your shame (your fear of not being good enough) onto others, because if you can cast them as the bad guy, then you must be the good guy. At least that is what it feels like in the moment. In reality, putting other people down only makes you feel better temporarily, because focusing on their shame doesn’t really take yours away.
If you have a teen that is critical and/or complains about everything and everyone, they may be having a self-esteem crisis, and they may need professional help to change the way they determine their own value. When they are more secure they will be less critical.
2) The Self-Pity Card Game: This happens when someone calls you on your bad behavior and you immediately play the self-pity card and talk about how bad you have it. You are really asking people to excuse your bad behavior and feel sorry for you instead of being mad at you. You may say things like, “I’m sorry, but everything is going so wrong for me right now, I’m having a horrible day, I have no friends, or I’m just so depressed. That's why I behaved badly.” They use self-pity to manipulate their way out of being responsible for their behavior.
This is favorite of “drama prone” teens and works well on loving, caring parents. You must watch for this and validate their hard time, but do not remove their responsibility for their behavior. You can’t let this game work or you will encourage more of it.
3) The Sympathy Card Game: This happens when they constantly talk about how bad they have it or how terrible and/or worthless they are. This is a game to get validation from other people. People play this game on Facebook when they leave posts like “Worst Day Ever” but they don’t leave an explanation about what happened. They do this because they are subconsciously fishing for validation. This game is a subtle and immature way to get attention.
If you see this in your teen, it is a sign they need some help with their self-esteem though and trust us, you cannot fix this with compliments or praise. It’s a deeper issue and may require some professional help to change the way they value all people and themselves.
4) It’s Their Fault That I Can’t… This is about blaming others for making it impossible for you to do something you should be doing. Teens often blame the teachers for their bad grades, their parents for their bad attitude and their friends for their sadness. The payoff here is they aren’t responsible for anything.
You must insist that your teen be responsible for everything they do, think or say, and for every situation they have created in their life. If you don’t they will become a powerless victim and spend their entire life there. Again, this may require a professional help (or someone other than you) to show them the truth or teach you how to handle being the bad guy.
5) You Don’t Love Me: This is a common game with teens, as it is really good for manipulating parents. Parents feel guilty (especially if they have been working long hours and already feel like they are letting their family down) so they have to give the teen what they want, to prove their love. If you are seeing this in your home, don’t give in on this one, but show an increase of love and attention in a healthy way somewhere else.
Here are some questions to ask yourself to make sure you have healthy boundaries and a healthy connection with your teen:
When you don’t know what to do… just ask questions and listen. Don’t say anything but, “Tell me more. Help me to understand what you are feeling.” If you haven’t created a safe place or listened well in the past, you may have to apologize for that and promise to just listen now. Then, validate your child’s feelings, while at the same time enforcing strong boundaries as to how you and the family must be treated and what behavior is appropriate.
Good communication, trust, and mutual respect (and seeking professional help early on) are the keys to a healthy relationship with your teen.
You can do this.
This was first published on KSL.COM and 10 other publications
My relationship with my adult children is not good. They are disrespectful and unkind in spite of all I have done for them. They have hurt me deeply in the past, but I forgive them, why can’t they forgive me for past mistakes? I have had so many things go wrong in my life the last few years and I just need them to understand I’m doing the best I can. How can I get them to see how their behavior isn’t right? How can I get them to stop blaming and shaming me?
(KSL readers: Please go easy on this person in the comments.)
The problem is you cannot change or fix other people. You can have a mutually validating conversation with them and really listen and validate them, after which you ask to share how you feel and ask for different behavior moving forward, but that doesn’t gaurantee they will change, and their future behavior is totally out of your control. The only person whose behavior you have any control over is yours.
The path to change or fix any situation starts with taking personal responsibility, owning your part in it, and working on your part. Often we are so wrapped up in our fear of not being good enough that we prefer to cast the blame on others. When we do this it just makes the situation worse, and no one wants to be around a person in shame and blame.
It takes a very motivated, mature and clear person to be willing to see their role in every problem, take responsibility and be willing to grow and to change. Ironically, this is the kind of person that everyone wants to be around.
We all want people in our lives who are clear, have appropriately proportionate reactions and behaviors, and who own their mistakes and apologize when they make one. We are drawn to and respect people who are strong enough to own their faults. However, too often, we see people too afraid to wear any responsibility for their actions and decisions at all, and usually their lives and relationships continue to spiral downhill.
Stop here for a minute and ask yourself an important question. As you were reading the first part of this article … were your thoughts on how others really need to own their part, or were you honestly thinking about your own behavior?
If you were already in blame mode and more focused on how the other people in your life need to read this and own their part, chances are this is a pattern in your life and you are struggling to own your part.
(If you were focused on your own behavior, you are probably good at seeing your own part. Some of you may even have the opposite problem of blaming everything on yourself and you may need to do some work on repairing your self-esteem.)
Either way, you probably have some deep fear of not being good enough. You may have had this fear most of your life and it may have created a subconscious tendency to point fingers, judge and even be angry at other people, because focusing on how bad they are quiets your own fear of failure a bit. (Or you may always point the finger at yourself. What we are shooting for here is balance.)
Please be honest with yourself about your pattern, especially if it's a tendency to point fingers. You probably don’t consciously chose to blame others though and take the victim role. You subconsciously do it. It is just the way you were programmed to see things throughout your life. The good news is, you can change it.
One of the best ways to take greater personal responsibility in your life is to realize that this situation, though it may not be all your fault, is your responsibility. Unless you take responsibility for the lesson showing up (because you apparently have something to learn in it or a way to grow from it) you won’t have any power to change it. You must own that. Though others may need to change too, your focus must stay on becoming more mature, wise, calm, balanced and loving yourself. You must work on you.
You may not like how this sounds, but the buck really does begin and end with YOU and your behavior. In every person’s life there is a time when they must step up and take responsibility for what they have created around them and for their own happiness. It is no one else’s job or responsibility to make you happy!
Look around you and take note of what is working and what isn’t working in your behavior. If being mad and angry at the kids isn’t making you happy, you might want to try something different. If telling them how horrible they are treating you isn’t making them love and respect you, you might want to gain some other skills or tools to try. If the people you love don't want to spend time with you, what behavior in you might be causing that? Where is the stress, unhappiness or imbalance in your life showing up?
What are you willing to change in yourself to create something different?
There are many ways in which you can take personal responsibility and create change in your life:
I promise you, when your children see you take personal responsibility for your part of the problems and see you learning, growing and changing, they will not only feel more open and loving towards you, but they may be more likely to look at their own bad behavior and be ready to grow too.
We all desire more connectivity, respect and a life with less conflict and confrontation. Understanding your own behavioral patterns and getting some new tools and techniques to express yourself and connect with others really can change everything.
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles is the president of claritypointcoaching.com. She is the author of the book "Choosing Clarity: The Path to Fearlessness." Nicole Cunningham is a master coach and psychological inclination expert.
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These articles were originally published on KSL.COM
Kimberly Giles is the president and founder of Claritypoint Life Coaching and 12 SHAPES INC. She is an author and professional speaker. She was named one of the top 20 advice gurus in the country by Good Morning America in 2010. She appears regularly on local and national TV and Radio.