Thursday, January 29, 2015

Ask Maxy

Dear Maxy ,
My parents are getting divorced after 22 years of marriage and it seems to be strongly affecting my mother in a terrible negative way .
Mom has told me that she has contemplated suicide twice . Once, she even held my brother's gun to her head . Everyone in the family, even my grandmother, my aunts and even my boyfriend , think mom needs counseling . 
So how do I suggest it without making her think I am calling her "crazy" ? And another problem is the cost . Mom may refuse to go because it's too expensive . Do you have any suggestions that may help ? 
Concerned Daughter 
Dear Concerned Daughter,
All mentions of sucide  should  be taken seriously . You are right  that your  mother  could  benefit from professional  help  and it  doesen't  need  to be expensive . Tell her  you are worried  about  her  and  it might help if  she  talks  to  someone  about  her  feelings . Free  and low-cost help  is  available  through local  churches, graduate  school  counseling  departments, medical school psychology departments , United Way , the  YWCA, and the YMCA. The Samaritan Institute ( ) . Nami   ( ) and  the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline ( ) and through support  groups  such as  the Depression  and Bipolar Support Alliance  ( ) and Recovery International ( ) . Do a little  research on her behalf  and  make  a suggestion, including  a website  or  phone number so she  can get the help she needs.

Dear Maxy ,
I am noticing a new behavior in my tween daughter that is driving me nuts . Pretty much anything I say to her she rejects as if I don't know what I'm talking about . We are constantly bickering over every little thing . I asked her one day how she became an expert on everything at such a young age , trying to add some levity to the situation . What can I do to stop getting caught up in the arguments .
Stressed Out 
Dear Stressed Out,
According to Dr. Laura Markham, an 11/12 year old girl's hormones are going crazy and their brains are rewiring, so they are famous for their mood swings. They often don't even know why they're having an angry or tearful outburst. They often are ambivalent about "growing up" and resist the bodily changes and societal expectations that are thrust upon them. They begin experimenting with being sassy. It's pretty normal. But you can change the dynamic of the relationship:
1. Reconnect: Hug her more, spend time alone with her, listen more and find out what's going on in her world. Do something she likes....maybe go shopping or out to lunch.
2. Stop criticizing and start appreciating: Consciously remind yourself -- and her -- of all things you love about her. Give her more positive reinforcement and help her build her self esteem.
3. Try to see it from her point of view: Cultivate empathy for her. You may think she is over-reacting or over-dramatizing but girls this age have big feelings. She will learn to moderate them if she feels she is understood by you. 
 Focus on what really matters -- how people in your home treat each other, rather than being a disciplinarian. That doesn't mean you don't set limits. It means you do it in a patient, respectful, calm way, so your child internalizes calmness and respect and the ability to set limits for herself. If you respond to her upsets by getting upset yourself, it's like throwing a match on kindling.
Of course she won't become perfect. So you will need to cultivate the patience of a saint. Is that fair? No. But since when has parenthood been fair? A sense of humor really helps and it can break a tense moment. The bond you build now will last the rest of your life.
Here are some books you can get from the library.... The Everything Tween Book: A Parent's Guide to Surviving the Turbulent Pre-Teen Years - by Linda Sonna......How to Hug a Porcupine: Negotiating the Prickly Points of the Tween Years - by Julie A. Ross......Six Ways to Keep the "Little" in Your Girl: Guiding Your Daughter from Her Tweens to Her Teens - by Dannah Gresh .
Good luck, Maxy

Dear Maxy ,
I get so many emails these days that it is hard to keep track of them . It has become a problem for me because I have missed following up on key messages from my family and work . One of my clients got mad and threatened to take his business elsewhere . It that isn't bad enough , one of my friends got upset because I didn't respond to his invitation to go to his birthday party . I didn't see any of these messages . I feel overwhelmed by technology and really wish I didn't have to manage email . What should I do .
Out of Control
Dear Out  of  Control ,
You need to "make friends" with technology and  figure out  how  to use it  to  your  advantage . Start by  separating  your work  from your  personal life . Create  a new  email  address  specifically  for  your  friends  and  family . Send  a message  to all of  them  from that address  requesting that they use  that one . Next , clean out  your  other email  address . Delete  everything  that is  old  and unneccesary  . Review  everything   and respond  to anything  that is  outstanding . If  you are  late  in your  reply , be sure  to apologize  for  your  tardiness . Being  organized  will help you  stay on top  of  your responsibilities .

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