As a therapist specializing in child and adolescent matters, I spend a lot of time reading about fresh research, new techniques, and what I like to call “lessons learned”, or the tried and true wisdom from other professionals. Kiddos come see me usually once a week and we either talk or play (play therapy) and we work on things through trust, connection, and skill building. I love what I do, always have, and I imagine, always will.
Did I also mention that I am a mother? Yep,… two beautiful children and one soon-to-be bright and strong step-daughter. I love having children but don’t get me wrong, it is hard work – very hard work. As parents we walk a very fine line. We are challenged to find teaching moments in good and bad times. We try to protect our kids from the dangers and pitfalls of life while also arming them with the skills and lessons needed to thrive and grow. Parents have to determine when it is time to hold on, and when it is time to let them fly.
I recently came across the quote below. After reading it, my initial response was from the lens of a therapist, “yep, absolutely, makes perfect sense.” Then I read the quote from the lens of a parent and I thought of my son struggling with a difficult friend or my step-daughter struggling with a class in school and I recalled how hard it is to watch those we love struggle and how easy it would be for me to “rescue” them and make it all go away – or at least that specific situation go away. But then I wondered “What happens when the next challenge comes, or the next one”?
Because there will be many challenges our kiddos face and unless we have taught them the skills and built the confidence to overcome those struggles, they will learn to look to others – their parents, their spouse, their [fill in the blank] to solve their problems rather than address them themselves.
As I say this, I send out a reminder of that fine line, of course we are not going to force our child to face something like abuse, neglect, bulling, etc. alone, those aren’t the challenges I am speaking to here. The challenges I speak to are the life lessons our kiddos need to know about money, difficult people, staying the course, and/or keeping commitments. Trust me, I get it, it’s hard and I struggle too but the return on investment is more than worth it.
Whether you’re a 13 year old male or 63 year old female, friendships are woven into many aspects of our lives. Friendship can have an impact on our careers, marriages, families, health, and sometimes even retirement. Although friendships usually provide positive contributions to our lives, they can also impact us negatively. Pop culture coined the phrase, Toxic Friend is defined as a friend who generally makes you feel drained, unsupported, and/or can be overly demanding of your time and attention. Sometimes healthy friendships evolve into toxic friendship which makes it especially hard to acknowledge the signs that the relationship has gone awry and even more difficult to address this transformation.
Below, I have included an image outlining common characteristics of a toxic friendship. If you think you have a toxic friend in your life, the first step is to recognize the friendship is toxic; acknowledgement is always the start to making a change. Secondly, set boundaries for yourself, practice saying no or standing up for what you need. Third, talk to other nontoxic friends and seek an objective opinion about whether you can salvage the friendship or if you need to let it go. Fourth, talk to your friend about seeking professional help. Your friend may need to talk to a mental health professional to work through life or relationship issues and help him get back on track. Finally if all else fails, ending the friendship may be the best thing to do. Please see the attached article below for additional details on handling toxic friendships.
Ending a friendship is painful and can create a feelings of sadness and loss. If you or someone you know in the Denver, CO area is in need of assistance working through a toxic friendship or other areas of your life, contact Chapin Counseling Services at 720-862-4224 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org to set up a free, initial consultation.
Human connection, one of the most sought after, craved human desires and needs. We look for human connection almost everywhere in our love interests, friends, children, doctors, and parents; it is what gives our lives purpose and meaning. For most of us, it’s easy to muster up the feelings a positive human connection can create trust, respect, admiration, and love. On the other hand, how does it feel when we don’t have a positive human interaction? Often times it makes us fee…l shameful, lonely, or rejected. Over time, a pattern of reoccurring negative human interactions can cause a person to become angry, distant, and mistrustful. Not surprisingly, these individuals eventually start to push away the very thing they crave and need so deeply.
One of my favorite researcher/storyteller – aka “Magic Pixie” (see Ted Talk below), Brené Brown has spent many years studying this need for human connection. Through her research she found that vulnerability, or the willingness to be vulnerable is a critical determinant in our ability to form solid, meaningful, human connections with others. The irony here is that before we, as humans can truly experience a positive human connection we have to allow ourselves to be seen – really seen for who we are, warts and all. Well, that is scary! What if he/she person doesn’t like me? What if he/she sees that I am… messy/always late/scared/insecure? So I ask you, so what if he/she does see these things and you find out he/she feels exactly the same?