Mother Wants To Change Four-Year-Old Daughter’s Name

Mother Wants To Change Four-Year-Old Daughter’s Name

I recently read an article about a mother who wants to change her four-year-old daughter’s name because she recently found it that it’s not as unique as she first thought.

The mother, who wished to remain anonymous, named her daughter Esmée, a name that at the time she hadn’t heard much in the last 20 years or so, but once her daughter started school,  she quickly learned that there were other girls who had that same name at her daughters school,  including two in her class.

The mother apparently is so upset to find out that her daughter’s name is a rarely popular name that she now is considering changing her name.

I have known parents who had a hard time settling on a name for their baby, including one who called her baby by the nickname “Yum Yum” up until the child was about one years old before she finally settled on a name.

While that may sound unusual, it’s not that uncommon. About 11% of parents end up regretting the name they initially pick for their child and end up changing it, but usually within the first year when it really doesn’t have an affect.

However, around one years of age, children began recognizing the sound of their names and around ages two or three, they begin developing a sense of identity which includes who they are in connection with their names.

Changing a child’s name after one years of age can create identity issues, insecurity and confusion within the child as to who they are. Imagine toddler tantrum on steroids in some cases.

My question is, what if whatever name she chooses for her daughter next, becomes popular in the next couple of years? Is she going to change her child’s name once again?

To better understand the underlying problem, we have to better understand the mother who went through some tough times in her childhood due to having a very common name.

The mother wrote, “Every time I hear my real name I shudder,”.

For the mother, this may have in fact been pretty traumatic and something she has never overcome. What she doesn’t understand however is that individuality will come from her daughter’s unique personality, not her name.

Many parents try to relive or redo their lives through their children, but this can be very unfair to the child. Changing this child’s name, in my opinion, would be a very selfish and vain act.

I’m not saying that if the mother did change the child’s name that it would be a traumatic, horrible, life changing mistake. It may have no real affect or long term affect on the child at all. What I am saying however is that there is more to a person than their name. The child may decide to be called something totally different when they get older anyway.

For example, I knew a teenager who’s mother named her Lorraine because the name meant a lot to her.  She was very shocked and even upset when she found out that the kids in school called her daughter “Rain” and many had no idea her birth name was Lorraine. The the mother, Lorraine had a special connection, but to her daughter, it had no such connection, but “Rain” did. It was her way of being unique and special.

More importantly, parents have to be careful to not hand down their issues to their children. They should allow their children to be unique in their own right because they already are, no matter if their name is Susan or Rain.

Emotional Vampires: How To Spot Them And How To Deal With Them

ed6568492c7ad5b402e59e8e9a09fe20-d55q1a1I am personally very sensitive to other peoples energy. Meaning, if I am in a room where everyone is sad, I can feel that sadness and even myself start to become sad. The same is true if the energy and emotion are happy or angry. I often get taken out of my element when I get around someone whose energy is different than mine. Meaning, I can come home happy and immediately become down if my partner is down because she had a bad day. It’s something that is my personal challenge to work on, but many of us are like that.

We realize that while some people are very positive and they often help improve our mood and energy, others are just the opposite, they are very negative and suck us dry of any happiness, positivity, peace and joy. A popular term for these type of individuals today is emotional vampires.  Some emotional vampires we know right away because they immediately drain us of emotional and physical energy as soon as they come around. Others are much more discreet and make remarks that leave us feeling bad and doubtful about ourselves such as  “You’re just not as smart as your brother” or “You’re always taking things personal”.

There are different types of emotional vampires and here I’ll list them and give you some tips on how to deal with each type you may encounter.

The Narcissistic Vampire

This vampire is all about themselves and everything is always about them. They are conceited, grandiose, entitled, want all the attention and admiration and believe that they are ultra-important. They lack empathy and have a very short fuse when it comes to giving love to others. Even when they do show favor to others, they will quickly withdraw it if things aren’t done their way, then they become very hurtful and punishing.

One way to combat this type of vampire is by keeping things in perspective by realizing that these type of people are very limited emotionally. If you expect more from them, you will just be disappointed over and over again. Falling in love with them is just setting you up for heart ache because they do not know how to be selfless or love unconditionally. If you depend on them for your self-worth you will only be crushed.

If you must deal with this type of person, the best way to handle them is by showing them how something will be in their best benefit. They are very selfish people and are happiest when they believe they are benefiting the most out of a situation.  This type of person is in my opinion the second most draining.

The Victim Vampire

This type of vampire is always crying “poor me”. They hate to take responsibility for their own actions. They believe that everything and everyone is against them which they believe is why they are unhappy. They fail to see, or want to see, their role in causing their own unhappiness. They will blame everything and everyone but themselves. These type of  vampires are most draining when you try to help them, but never can.

For this type of vampire you have to set limits and boundaries for self-care. Tell them you can only listen for a few minutes because you are busy, otherwise they will drain you quickly.

The Controlling Vampire

This vampire is always trying to control others by telling them now only what they should do, but also how they should feel. The way they do this is sometimes obvious, other times it’s less obvious because they try to control you by invalidating your emotions if they don’t believe you should feel that way. These are the type of people who always know what’s best for you and don’t have a problem telling you. In the end you end up not feeling good about yourself, feeling demeaned and belittled.

With this vampire you have to be assertive and confident. Pick your battles wisely with them and don’t try to control or “fix” them, that will only set them off. Be assertive on the things that matter and let some of the smaller things go.

The Splitter or Borderline Personality Vampire

Dealing with someone who has borderline personality disorder in itself is a taunting task. These type of vampires are always in black and white relationships, there is no gray areas. You are either good or bad therefore the relationship you will have with them will always be love and hate relationship. One day they worship you, but do something wrong and the next day you are totally worthless. They are very emotionally damaged people and often feel numb unless they are angry, and that’s when they feel alive. These type of vampire will keep you on a continuous emotional roller-coaster which is not only emotionally draining, but they can make you feel like you’re going to lose  your mind trying to deal with them and walking on eggshells to avoid conflict.

With these type of vampire you have to not allow them to suck you in and get as angry and upset as they are. You have to protect your emotions, stay calm, don’t over-react when they come looking for a fight. Believe it or not, these vampires respond best to structure and knowing where the limits are. If they start to get angry and out of control, tell them that you are going to walk away until they calm down. They won’t like it, but in the end this type of response is best for you and them. They will come to know their limits. They are also good at pitting people against each other and dividing friendships and families which is why it’s also important to not take sides when one tries to pit you against others, especially family and friends. These people in my opinion are the most draining because of their unpredictable, yet predictable nature.

We all know some emotional vampires and to be emotionally free, we have to learn how to deal with them.

For more information on emotional vampires check out “Emotional Freedom: Liberate Yourself From Negative Emotions and Transform Your Life.” by Dr. Judith Orloff and “Emotional Vampires: Dealing With People Who Drain You Dry.” by Dr. Albert Bernstein

Helping Your Child Prepare For Back-To-School

Photo-Contest-Best-Back-to-School-Moment-mdnIt’s that time of the year again where summer is winding down and both kids and parents are either anxiously or excitedly getting ready for another school year.

Some Children will be going to school for the first time, others to a new school or riding the school bus for the first time. No matter how you look at it, for parents and children, back-to-school can be a stressful time of year.

Many parents while trying to balance work, a family and even preparing for back-to-school, often overlook their children’s anxieties about heading back to school. Without realizing it, they may be setting their kids up for emotional and behavioral failure.

It’s important that parents work with their children to build emotional resilience and help them manage their emotions in order to keep them psychological healthy and in the long run, help the parents be less stressed as well.

Children are incredibly resilient and  capable of dealing with change, often more so than adults, but it’s important that parents provide an environment that fosters communication and sharing of thoughts and feelings about returning to school. Establishing this type of environment where sharing thoughts and feelings about school are encourage will also foster a healthier relationship overall between parent and child.

There are many things you can do to help prepare your child emotionally and psychologically for returning to school. The American Psychological Association (APA) offers the following tips:

  1. Practice the first day of school routine: Getting into a sleep routine before the first week of school will aide in easing the shock of waking up early. Organizing things at home—backpack, binder, lunchbox or cafeteria money—will help make the first morning go smoothly. Having healthy, yet kid-friendly lunches will help keep them energized throughout the day. Also, walking through the building and visiting your child’s locker and classroom will help ease anxiety of the unknown.
  2. Get to know your neighbors: If your child is starting a new school, walk around your block and get to know the neighborhood children. Try and set up a play date, or, for an older child, find out where neighborhood kids might go to safely hang out, like the community pool, recreation center or park.
  3. Talk to your child: Asking your children about their fears or worries about going back to school will help them share their burden. Inquire as to what they liked about their previous school or grade and see how those positives can be incorporated into their new experience.
  4. Empathize with your children: Change can be difficult, but also exciting. Let your children know that you are aware of what they’re going through and that you will be there to help them in the process. Nerves are normal, but highlight that not everything that is different is necessarily bad. It is important to encourage your children to face their fears instead of falling in to the trap of encouraging avoidance.
  5. Get involved and ask for help: Knowledge of the school and the community will better equip you to understand your child’s surroundings and the transition he or she is undergoing. Meeting members of your community and school will foster support for both you and your child. If you feel the stress of the school year is too much for you and your child to handle on your own, seeking expert advice from a mental health professional, such as a psychologist, will help you better manage and cope.

 

It’s Not All Your Fault

1132x1600_12879_Bat_your_eyes_girl_2d_illustration_girl_sad_woman_portrait_picture_image_digital_artRecently I was talking to a 27-year-old female who had been arrested for the first time on various drug charges. Emotionally she was a wreck. I could tell she was really a good person on the inside, but emotionally she obviously wasn’t as stable as she could be and I immediately sensed that her childhood was filled with some type of neglect or abuse.

Why was I able to sense that? Because from my years of working with people, especially teenagers and women who have been abused and/or neglected as children, I’ve noticed that a large majority of them present very similar including being angry, shy, depressed, manic or lacking boundaries coupled with other cues such as body language.

This young lady was at some points crying, then angry, then laughing, and then crying again. Her life was “a mess” as she put it. She had two children, was in an unstable relationship (like all the other relationships she had been in), couldn’t seem to get her life together or in her words, “do anything right” and she had started smoking crack cocaine, a secret she kept from her family until she got arrested.

She couldn’t understand why she couldn’t get her life together. Why every time things would be going good, she would do something to mess it up. She was living almost in constant chaos and was using drugs to escape it. She had never been diagnosed with anything before and blamed herself for not being able to stop herself from making bad choices over and over again.

And then I asked her if she was ever abused before. I already knew the answer, I would have been shocked if I was wrong, I was hoping I was wrong, but I was right. She started crying and told me she had been molested repeatedly from the age of 8. Her childhood from that point on was filled with abuse, neglect and abandonment. No wonder now as an adult her life was “a mess”.

One of the things that happens to children and even adults when we experience abuse, neglect, trauma, abandonment or anything that is so mentally and emotionally painful that we can’t make sense of it, is that it doesn’t get fully processed and it becomes clutter in our minds, thoughts and emotions.

Our emotions and thoughts become fragmented with a lot of unprocessed feelings and those unprocessed feelings are what eventually will cause us to express ourselves in unhealthy ways, especially if we aren’t naturally resilient or have great social-emotional supports. However, even if we are naturally resilient and have great supports, chances are that fragmentation will still affect the way we think, feel and interact with other people.

That is what was going on with this young lady and until I explained to her how the trauma and pain from her past was affecting her future, she had no idea that at least some of what she was going through wasn’t totally her fault. Deep inside she is holding on to feelings of rage, insecurity and hurt from all the abuse, trauma and abandonment. All that unprocessed, raw emotion has to come out somewhere consciously or unconsciously. In a lot of people it comes out  in the form of rage towards themselves or others.

They may cut themselves, or do other things that demonstrate a lack of love for themselves such as being promiscuous, abusing drugs or alcohol and getting into abusive or neglectful relationships over and over again just to name a few. Some may even attempt suicide. Drugs, sex, self-mutilation and even suicide may be used as ways to try to control the rage they have inside.

They may turn their rage outwards and inflict hurt on others by being abusive, bitter, and pushing people away sometimes to the point where they wake up one day and realize they are totally alone and will blame other people for abandoning them even when they were the one pushing them away.

On top of that, they become so used to hiding their real feelings and emotions that they have difficulty communicating and expressing themselves in a healthy way. In return, they often end up feeling misunderstood and often blaming others for everything that doesn’t go right. Their psychological defenses will leave them blind to their own role in their interpersonal difficulties.

When someone has all this stuff going on in their conscious and subconscious mind, there’s no wonder their lives are continuously in chaos. Almost nothing they do will fix it if they remain unaware and blind to how their past is influencing their present. If they aren’t willing to try to change and get help, then it’s very unlikely that their lives will ever be all that it could have been.

Change Starts With Insight

Sometimes the toughest part of therapy is insight building, which means getting the person to see things as they really are and how they are truly affecting their lives. Many people like to place blame on others and take absolutely no responsibility for their circumstances. Even this young lady at one point was trying to blame her boyfriend for calling the police when he couldn’t find her. When the police found her and search her, they discovered the drugs so this was all the boyfriends fault according to her.

Once I got this young lady to see that she had to take responsibility for her current incarceration, I pointed out to her that it wasn’t all her fault.  Much of her current issues, the relationship instability, the drug use, the emotional instability, all had roots in her past. Once she got this she had an “aha” moment. She had never even put the two together. Even in that moment I could see the light bulb go off as some insight started pouring in.

That was amazing, but now it was time for the real hard work to begin. Now that she had insight, she had even more responsibility to start taking charge of her life and to stop letting the garbage from the past stink up her present and future.

Where To Start Healing

Immediately she said she wasn’t strong enough to do that, that she was too weak and that might be true which is why I told her the first thing she needs to do is to get into rehab. She needs to get clean and then to also find a good psychotherapist. She is going to have to be determined, patient and emotionally open because she will have to face a lot of emotional pain she’s been avoiding and she’ll have to resist the urge and the fear to do what she’s always done which is to get angry,  runaway from getting help or to sabotage herself again.

This is not something that is going to be resolved in one session, one month or even one year. This will likely be a life long battle for her, but one that is worth fighting.

She has a long road ahead of her, but if she is willing to do the work, she will have a much better life. Until she does the work and gets the help she needs, nothing in her life will make sense the way it should and she will always be left feeling like a victim. It’s not all her fault, but she now has the responsibility to take control of her life and to at least minimize the hurt from the past.

This one young lady’s experience echos that of hundred of young women I have dealt with over the last several years. Many of them due to their experiences, stressors, and predispositions to certain illness will go on to become drug addicts, alcoholics, diagnosed with bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder, depression, anxiety, etc. Some of them will be resilient and despite their past live incredible lives as relatively emotionally healthy people.

It may not be all your fault, but it is your job to take responsibility and control over your life.

The True Toll Of War

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I’ve written before about the affects of war on our veterans. About how on average 22 veterans kill themselves everyday, many suffering from post traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injuries, physical injuries, substance abuse, depression and other mental stressors. However, what is rarely talked about is wars toll on the families of veterans.

Many military spouses, children, even siblings and parents end up suffering when their loved ones are deployed and sadly, many of them end up killing themselves as well. Exactly how many is unknown as that record is not yet being kept the way the number of veterans who commit suicide is, yet it is an issue that needs to be tackled.

Deployment after deployment can take its toll on any veteran and his or her family. The fear, trauma, uncertainty, pressure and strain can be too much for some of them to bear. Many are left feeling exhausted, isolated and desperate.

Multiple deployments can leave a family feeling despondent. Many families end up emotionally and financially shattered as they take care of injured veterans with physical and or emotional wounds that can take their toll over time. Some are so grief stricken over the loss of a loved one at war, that they themselves can’t stand to live.

I am not saying that stress, plus deployment equals suicide. Suicide is much more complicated than that. The combination of reasons a person commits suicide is different for each individual. There are many military families who deal with war, injury and death fairly well and show great resilience.

However, when it comes to suicide there are usually many underlying factors such as a wife who was already depressed and gets extremely depressed when her husband is deployed. Alone and depressed, she may be more tempted to take her own life.

Many family members get severely depressed when their loved one is deployed, but fail to seek mental health help out of fear that it will jeopardize the career of their loved one. After all, they are supposed to be the strong ones, supporting their family members at war. However, they too suffer.

Many who sought help felt like they did not get adequate treatment. Some confided in their doctors only to receive medication with no counseling or follow up care.

Take Faye Vick for example, a 36-year-old Army wife of a newborn and 2-year-old who killed herself and both kids by asphyxiation in her car while her husband was deployed.

Cassey Walton, a wife of an Iraq vet who killed himself outside his home in 2007, shot and killed herself just days later wearing her husbands fatigue jacket and dog tags.

Monique Lingenfelter, the wife of a sergeant, barricaded herself in her home and killed herself and her baby despite police trying for hours to persuade her to come out.

Sheena Griffin told her husband while he was away at Fort Hood preparing to be deployed to Afghanistan, that she wanted to kill herself and their 8 and 9-year-old sons. By the time he called police and they arrived to her house, the home was already engulfed in flames and Sheena and her two sons were both dead.

And then there is Jessica Harp who wrote a nearly 4,000 page suicide letter that went viral, detailing how her marriage had deteriorated after her husband served in the war.

According to Harp, her husband came back changed, drinking, impulsive and most likely suffering from PTSD. She said that if her husband had died she would have been surrounded with support, but because he wasn’t dead physically, but wounded mentally, there was little to no support and the weight and emotional strain was too much for her to bear.

Harp didn’t kill herself. Her letter was preprogrammed to be sent out, but she ended up in a local hospital instead of killing herself.

Melinda Moore, a researcher at the University of Kentucky says, “The service member is like a pebble in a pool, the pain a person carries affects everyone around them. Trauma ripples outward.”

You can see these affects on their spouses, their children, other family members and even friends before, during and after deployment. War has a way of changing people. The person who left isn’t always the person that comes back and this has an affect on the entire family unit from parents, to spouses and kids.

The number of military family members who have killed themselves or attempted to kill themselves is unknown, because it isn’t being tracked, something I hope will change soon. In 2009 there were 9 confirmed suicides of service family members and “too many to count” attempted suicides in just the army alone according to Army officials.

The way we treat our veterans who come back from war has to be holistic, meaning that we treat not only the veterans, but those are are closes to them as well in order to keep families together, people mentally health and a live.

If you or anyone you know who is a family member, spouse or even friend of a service member and you need help, here’s a list of resources.

Veterans Crisis Line- A 24/7 hotline open to family members of all armed forces: 1-800-273-8255 and press 1

For nonemergency help try TAPS (Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors): 1-800-959-TAPS (8277)

Military OneSource- provides counseling referrals and assistance with all needs of military life including mental health: 1-800-342-9647

Your Plans For Your Life May Upset Those Who Are Supposed To Support You

Ronda Rousey - Press ConferenceThis morning I read about Ronda Rousey, someone many of you probably have never heard of, but she is one of, if not the most famous woman in mixed martial arts and is the current female bantam weight champion.

Last week Thursday she hinted in a MMA article that she may retire early and possibly have a baby. A simple consideration for a young lady in her twenties, but many of her “fans” didn’t take it that way.

Many of her “fans” were irate and took to Twitter angry that she could even be thinking about retiring early, when she is still in the prime of her fighting career, and even more so, to retire and have a baby as if even thinking about a life outside of fighting was a sin.

She fought back on Twitter with her own angry comments and disappointment that even her talking about, thinking about retiring had her receiving backlash. She went on to say basically that she isn’t going to continue doing something if she feels like she’s accomplished what she set out to accomplish and/or doesn’t enjoy doing it any more.

That got me to thinking about a lot of things, including how we are affected by other peoples expectations for us and plans for us. You see, many of her so-called “fans” had put Ronda into a box and couldn’t even imagine her stepping outside of that box until they were ready for her to do so.

People will always have expectations and plans for us and a lot of times those expectations and plans will go against our very own expectations and plans. As long as we are living up to other people expectations and plans for us and our lives (living within their box) then things are very copacetic, but once we go outside of those boundaries, then things can get complicated and even heated.

We know this from being children, especially teenagers and young adults.

Maybe your parents expected you to go to college to be a doctor, but you decided to follow your dreams of being a fashion designer. How did that work out? Did your parents still support you or did they show their disapproval the way Ronda’s “fans” have at her decision to not fight until she is physically beat to a pulp with no life outside of fighting?

The same thing comes with friends and relationships. Maybe your husband expects you to stay at home with the kids, but that’s not what you want for your life? Is he going to support you in your decision or is he going to make you feel bad for even considering working outside of the home?

Most of us are influenced to some extent by other people’s expectations and plans for us and often times we don’t even know it. When we make plans for our own lives that go against what other people already had planned for us, it can send across waves of anxiety, even amongst those who are supposed to have our best interest at heart.

Take for example if you and all of your friends are stuck in a dead end job, but you decide to go back to school, switch jobs or are given a promotion. These same friends may resist that change, try to prevent you from making it or have animosity towards you for doing it.

Why?

One reason is that when we do something for ourselves that goes against other people’s plans and expectations for us, it causes them to reflect on how that change will effect them and forces them to think about themselves, their lives and about what they are and are not doing.

That’s why you can’t always expect your friends and family to encourage or celebrate your changes and accomplishment because your new direction may cause them anxiety which usually causes people (instead of focusing with in) to lash out either by not supporting your decision, plotting against it or having bitterness towards you for something as simple as buying a new car or getting a new hair-do.

When you do something that is different, they have to ask themselves, “now what for me?” and/or “What does this say about me?” Does your new car make them wonder what are they doing wrong so that they can’t afford a new car? Does your new hairstyle make them wonder why they can’t be as courageous as you are (instead of looking inward and recognizing that unconscious thought, they are likely to “dislike” your new hairstyle and try to make you dislike it too).

So, when making plans for your life, I think it is good and healthy to expect some resistance from those who are supposed to care about you the most. Hopefully all you will get is support, but don’t be surprised if you meet resistance or what some people call “hate”. Don’t get frustrated by it or allow it to distract you. All it is is a mirror being reflected back on them that makes them have to question their life and that is a good thing when they use it for motivation instead of “hater-ation”.