Specializing in Family Counseling, Men's Issues, & Trauma

How to Talk to Your Son About Pornography….Part II

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How to Talk to Your Son About Pornography: Part II

Check out Part I here: How to Talk to Your Son About Pornography: Part I

The initial conversation is over.

We started STRONG, sending a clear message: we know about the problem (breaking the silence), we care (empathizing with our son), and we can help (our action plan).

Now it’s time to take the next step, active disciplining of our sons, guiding them into MANHOOD.

EXAMPLE TALK:

 

Who is Present: Dad and Son

Who is NOT There: Other family members or friends.  In fact, Dad has taken steps to ensure there will not be interruptions by others, which would only serve to destroy your son’s confidence in opening up.

Setting: The fire pit in the Yard.  Your son has built the fire (as was agreed upon) and he is excited to show you his handy-work.

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Son: Dad, what do you think?  Pretty good fire, huh.

Dad: Yeah, you did a great job and didn’t even burn the house down!

Son: Well, if I did you are the one who taught me to build fires.

Dad:  That’s true.  Well, let’s get to what we are here to talk about.  I told you I would follow-up with you on the issue of sex and sexual temptation.  It can be a tough and uncomfortable topic for guys to open up about, so the squirming I see you doing is pretty normal.

Son: Yeah, it’s pretty awkward. . . (trailing off).

Dad:  It definitely can be and that’s why I am going to take the lead in this as your dad and carry more of the weight.  I am just going to ask you trust me enough to follow.  Part of my job is to show you how to be a man who serves his heavenly King.  You see, we will all bow our knee in submission to something.  Our choice is whether we will bow to God or to sin.  As you get older, you are going to see a lot of boys and men proudly bowing their knees to sin, thinking it makes them more of a man.

Son: Yeah, I definitely see that at school.  Guys think it’s cool to talk dirty and try to get girls to have sex with them.  It’s really not.

Dad: I agree.  The truth is tsmartphone-459316_1920hose things haven’t changed.  Guys were doing it when I was in school too, we just didn’t have all the technology you have today.  I want to talk with you about how what we see and think about can impact us physically.

Son: But I already had the puberty talk with you, dad.  I know my body is changing.

Dad: Yes, we did have that talk, and I know you are aware of some of the facts about how your body is transitioning from being a boy to a man, but knowing some facts and really understanding what is happening are not the same.  I believe you when you tell me you want to have sexual integrity, to really tackle this issue.  If I told you gaining understanding would really help get you to your goal, would you be willing to take on the challenge, even if it may be a bit uncomfortable?

You are calling your son up, seeing his desire to live a life of integrity and inviting him to accept the difficulty as part of the challenge.  Guys thrive on being called up.

Son: Yes, but it does make me feel weird talking about it.

Dad: The enemy wants us to stay silent and alone, to be scared into trying to do it all on our own.  Why do you think he would want that?

Son: I guess it makes us weaker.

Dad: Absolutely!  Our enemy prowls around like a roaring lion, but the truth is he is a coward, and wants to get us alone and discouraged, too fearful to reach out for help.  When we are alone we are right where he wants us, ready to be picked off.  You and I talking, in spite of our fears, is an act of FIGHTING BACK!

Son: That’s a cool way of looking at it. I hadn’t realized that before.

Dad: Well, let’s talk about the physical part of sexual temptation.  I know you and I have talked about becoming physically aroused, getting erections, masturbation, and orgasming, but there is more to arousal than those things.  There is a lot going on in your brain.  In fact, you can be aroused without any of those things I just mentioned happening.  Have you ever found yourself noticing or enjoying looking at a girl?

Son: Yes . . . (a little bit timid).teenage crush

Dad: Sure, and that’s a form of being aroused.  What’s it like when you notice a girl you think is attractive?

Son: Well, I just think she is pretty, and kind of look at her.  Don’t guys just do that?

Dad: Guys do notice girls, but there are things going on which they often don’t take time to notice.  For example, have you ever noticed having some enjoyment or excitement when you are checking a girl out?

Son: Yes, I guess I have.  It kind of just feels good.  I don’t know why I like looking, but I just do.

Dad: I really respect your courage in being willing to talk about this.  Let’s keep that going.  When you are looking at a girl you think is beautiful, what do you notice about her?  What are your eyes drawn to?

We are giving our son a chance to talk about his natural attraction to girls without having to resort to locker room humor.  He has the chance to talk candidly with dad about what it’s like to notice and take pleasure in looking at girls.  This ability to have an actual discussion which is not crass is especially important for Christian young men who are trying to live in INTEGRITY.  Often times, we talk about the fundamentals of our sexual attraction and experience, but do not talk about the pleasure involved.  Unintentionally our boys begin to believe the only guys getting to enjoy having sexual attraction are those boys who are giving free reign to their desires.  The message turns into sex being burdensome to Christians while being fun for other guys.  Let’s pick this back up after dad and son have had a chance to talk a bit more. 

Dad:  We’ve talked a bit about the physical arousal and pleasure in noticing girls.  Now I want to examine what we allow ourselves to think about, what goes on in our minds that no one can see but God.

Son:  I know I have thoughts I wish I didn’t have sometimes.  I know they aren’t right, but sometimes it’s so hard. . .

Dad: It really can be.  What’s it like for you when you give in, when you have those thoughts you regret?

Dad opens the door for his son to talk about the challenge of guarding his thoughts in a hyper-sexual world which mislabels impulsivity as being authentic to yourself.  We rejoin the conversation a bit later.

Here are some follow-up questions to use with your son to help the two of you talk about when he struggles in his thought life:

  • What do you do after you have struggled in your thought life?
  • What are you thinking about yourself when you mess up?
  • How long do you feel down/think these thoughts?
  • Do you ever get discouraged?
  • How often do you think other guys struggle in this area?
  • What does God think about your struggle?
  • Does struggling sometimes mean you are not serious about your walk with the Lord?
  • Do you ever just want to give up? (if yes, when does that happen?)

 

christian marriage therapyLooking for help? Join the 3,000+ families who have found the help they need by trusting the counselors of MyCounselor.Online. We specialize in Biblically Christian and Clinically Proven Counseling provided by Licensed Professionals. Session fees range from $50-$155 and we have payment plans & scholarships to meet every budget. Have more questions? Click Here for Christian Marriage Counseling

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How to Talk to Your Son About Pornography

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Everyone knows the statistics about boys using pornography, unless, they live on an island in the middle of the ocean. Of course, they’d probably have internet access there too!

There is an epidemic of boys turning to internet pornography, using it frequently and developing a habit which could plague them for years to come. It’s an issue I am seeing more and more of in my office, as a therapist specializing in working with families and men’s issues. Parents come in upset, unsure of what to do, having found their son is looking at porn. It’s very important how you respond. Your son doesn’t just need an anatomy lesson, he needs a Biblical moral framework through which to understand himself and the problem.

Here is some clear, practical guidance on this particular issue from the counselor’s office:

1. Let’s Avoid the Extremes:

Responses can often arise out of one of two camps:

On one end, we have the worldly, secular perspectiveBoys are just curious about their sexuality, arousal, and the female body. They will do exploring which is normal, healthy, and should be encouraged. The chief goal here is to avoid them experiencing any shame about the pornography and sexual content they are viewing. We will dress that in some kind of secular morality, where we tell the boy it is okay to be curious and look at porn, just don’t objectify women.  Maybe he should look at sexual content in which women are featured as powerful.

Confused yet?  It’s the post-modern mindset. There’s no right or wrong, just perspective. Feeling any kind of shame is bad. This kind of thinking ends with a self-serving man who worships his own desires, spurning correction. Wow, that’s sounds bleak! Well, so life is without God.

The second extreme is not much better. Parents find out their son has looked at pornography and react purely out of fear, without any wise counsel. They respond as if the boy is now permanently damaged, beyond repair. The parents drill into the child, “We didn’t raise you to do this kind of stuff, don’t you get how serious this is”, and so on and so forth. The boy learns a few things from the experience:

  1. If you are struggling, don’t go to mom and dad, they don’t know what to do and will overwhelm you with their response.
  2. Either I am the only person weak enough to struggle with this, or other people are just hypocrites and fake.
  3. If I really loved God I wouldn’t struggle with sin.

2. Get Some Perspective:

Instead of these responses let’s try something different. Pornography use is serious. It’s an issue of lust and can be destructive to the boy’s life, just like any sin. Sin is destructive, leading us to harm. We are all born sinners leaning towards our own destruction, and will struggle with it on an ongoing basis until we die. Sexual sin is often times, in my experience working with boys, the first time they have encountered and really had to deal with their sin nature in an ongoing way.

In other words, up until this point, when the boy has said an unkind thing or taken what does not belong to him, the solution has been simple. He goes and apologizes or returns the item. He feels remorse, and in many cases, no strong desire to return to the destructive behavior. However, now enters sexual temptation.

For the first time, he is both genuinely sorrowful and ashamed of what he has done but is drawn strongly to act-out again. The boy questions his commitment, sincerity, and relationship with God. After all, if he was truly sorry, wouldn’t he stop? Do you see where this is leading? The sin natures a fundamental problem, all people must come to terms with, and for many boys, sex is the issue which first brings it out.

They can either deny the existence of sin, as in the case of a humanistic perspective, there is no God and therefore, no sin, only socially imposed morality creating unnecessary shame. Or we can accept, as the Apostle Paul did, that we all struggle with sin.

We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. Romans 7:14-15 (NIV)

Here is Paul, a man who has seen Jesus, and been sent as an apostle to grow the church among the Gentiles, talking about struggling with sin. It is a humbling statement, reminding each of us, we need a savior. Parents, which of us has fully mastered our sin nature? I answer with a confident “none.” Our son’s need to hear this, not to give them an excuse to sin more, but an encouragement, helping them too understand the grace and forgiveness of God.

3. The Talk:

Now, how do we engage this boy in a meaningful dialogue, avoiding the extremes and having an accurate perspective on the problem?

Who: Present, at least initially, should be all three people (Son, Mom & Dad). Which parent has the closer relationship with the boy? That parent should take the lead in the three person conversation initially. If mother is the closer parent, this is fine. You can be part of this initial conversation. However, over time, Dads, this is a matter of you son coming into manhood and God has placed you in his life to offer guidance and direction on this journey. You should transition to the parent taking the lead in this issue. If you are uncomfortable or unsure how, speak with a counselor, pastor, or another, older man who is spiritually mature and has successfully walking his own sons through understanding sex and sexual issues.

Where: A comfortable, private environment, without distractions.

When: Not right after you, parent, found out. Talking through things while emotions are high and you have not had time to process them is unwise. Taking a day or two to put your thoughts together and get counsel is appropriate. But wait, what about the issue at hand? If I don’t address it now, that’s a mistake. No, if you don’t address it wisely, that is a mistake.

Communicate to your son this is an issue you will be revisiting, and set a day and time. Additionally, make sure he no longer has access to pornography (ie: limit internet access). Those two things you can do now. Your task, when you initially find out about your son’s porn use is to let him know and plug the holes in the boat (ie: discover routes of obtaining the material and block these access points). That’s it. There is nothing wrong with telling him this is a serious issue, and you are glad he has brought it to you. Simply tell him you will need to talk further about it later.

Length: Not long, 30 minutes max, unless your son wants to talk longer. This is typically more of a problem for mothers. It is at this point I have to remind you as a counselor, your son is not a girl.

Boys do not typically sit and talk at length about issues. They are mission/task oriented in their communication and do not do well with ambiguous dialogue.

Content: Bite-Size. We are not covering everything in one marathon talk. If you want to train your boy to cringe and hide from you every time you have a concerned look on your face, ambush him with long conversations. Think of one or two small things or “bites” you are looking to accomplish in the discussion. He can only really take in a piece at a time, and overloading him only serves to alleviate your anxiety (and then leads to frustration as he “checks out” of the conversation).

EXAMPLE TALK:

Setting Porch at the Family Home.

Present- Son, Mom & Dad.

Not Present (equally important)- Siblings, who are at a friend’s house.

DadSon, as you know, your mother and I are aware you have been looking at pornography and we are concerned about this. As your parents, it’s our job to guide you into becoming the man God has for you to be, and this material is harmful. Now, I recognize this can be very embarrassing to talk about, maybe you wish we would leave it alone, but that would be unwise.
Son: Yes, I know I shouldn’t have been looking at that stuff. It’s very embarrassing to talk about.
Dad: I hear that, it’s awkward to sit down and have this discussion with your parents.
Mom: Son, would you be more comfortable if you and your father had the conversation without me present? I wouldn’t be offended, it matters to me what you think.
Son: I’m okay.
Mom: All right, if that changes, will you let me know?
Son: Yes.
Dad: When was the first time you looked at pornography on our computers?
Son: It’s been a while, I really can’t remember when.
Dad: Had you looked at it prior to your last birthday?
Son: No, I hadn’t yet. I guess it was about two months after that, sometime in June, I think.


*Why is it so hard for him to remember? The two most common reasons I come across are deception or a combination of shame and avoidance.

  1. Deception usually happens with young men who are more immature and impulsive. His parent’s faith in God is exactly that, their faith, not his. His primary driver, in this situation, is preserve his own freedom to do what he wants.
    • Conversations about serious issues are especially boring and pointless to him. He will do all in his power to end them quickly and limit any consequences he could face.
    • He is short-sighted, sacrificing his integrity to ensure he is still allowed to go out Friday night with friends.
    • The approach with this young man will be primarily behavioral with small amounts of discussion. More specifically, he learns by having his privileges restricted by those outside of himself. He does not self-regulate (make changes himself).
    • If this describes your son, more in depth conversations will occur following the consistent implementation of discipline. Obedience will be present prior to any understanding.
  2. Shame and avoidance are present when a boy is conflicted about his behavior. Typically, this is a young man who has a personal relationship with God and a more mature perspective.
    • He does not need anyone to tell him what he is doing is wrong, he feels the weight of this for himself.
    • He experiences significant shame for his actions and has attempted to correct his behavior himself. However, the behavior has become a cycle for him. In other words, he looks at porn, feels shame and guilt, repents, promises himself he will not do it again, attempts to move forward and put the past behind him, and then stumbles again.
    • This young man feels such shame, he attempts not to think about what he has done, hence the avoidance. He works to forget what has happened, which makes recalling events difficult. In a sense, whereas the first boy deceives others, this young man works to deceive himself because reality is painful.
    • Handling this young man will involve more guidance and relationship, relying less on behavioral interventions (grounding, loss of privileges, etc).

Dad: Okay, where did you go to find the images?
Son: I didn’t have to go anywhere. I wasn’t even meaning to find them. I was playing around on Facebook and visited a friend’s page. He had some pictures of girls in swimsuits with a link. I knew it was wrong, but I clicked on the link. . . (trailing off).
Dad: Sounds like you were kind of caught off guard. Temptation works like that sometimes. So you clicked on the link, and then what happened?
Son: It took me to a page with pictures of girls, some of them in bikinis and some of them without clothes. I just kept looking and clicking.
Dad: Wow, so the link took you to a page with some very powerful images on it. You started looking and struggled to stop.
Son: Yes, and I felt terrible. I prayed and asked God to forgive me. I told myself I would never do this again.
Dad: And then what, how long did you go without looking again.
Son: Like two weeks. At first, it was easy, but then it got hard. I kept thinking about looking again. Eventually, when you and mom were out and I was alone, I went back and looked. I felt horrible all over again. I prayed again and really meant it. I told God I was going to stop.
Dad: It sounds like you have really been wrestling with this problem. You even did what mom and I have taught you to do by taking it to the Lord in prayer. I am glad you did that.
Son: But it didn’t work.
Dad: What do you mean?
Son: I kept doing it again. Pretty soon, I didn’t even pray anymore. I mean, if I was really sorry I would stop, right? Why would I keep doing something over and over again? If felt so fake.
Dad: I am hearing this has been confusing and difficult for you. Can I help you to understand it?
Son: Yes, I guess.
Dad: Good. Son, this is the first time, probably, you have had to deal with a sin issue that doesn’t go away easily. Do you remember the time we caught you lying about your homework?
Son: Yes.
Dad: We talked about it, disciplined you, and then what happened?
Son: I didn’t lie about homework anymore.
Dad: Yes, exactly. I bet you weren’t even very tempted to lie again.
Son: No, I wasn’t. I didn’t like how lying made me feel or getting in trouble.
Dad: To this point in your life, sin has been like this for you, kind of simple. However, now, as you are getting older, you are going to start having challenges like this, which are very different. It means you are going to be doing some really amazing growing in you understanding and faith. You know all those Bible stories we have taught you over the years?
Son: Yes.
Dad: Well, many of the people in those stories struggled with issues that weren’t really that easy, or simple. In fact, many of them had a decision to make: get discouraged and quit, or trust in God.
Son: I did trust in God, and He didn’t take this away.
DadThe reason God didn’t take it away is because your sexuality is a gift from Him. God made you to be sexual and does not want to take that away from you. God wants you to grow to enjoy this part of how he made you, within the plan and boundaries He has set. The issue is that Satan always tries to distort what God has given us with sinful motives and actions.
Son: I guess that makes sense.
Dad: This is a lot to take in, so don’t worry about understanding everything right away. Today’s conversation has been about getting the problem on the table. From here, I am going to help you in two ways. First, I am going to work to help you plug the leaks in your life. You and I will see where you are getting access to pornography and put some boundaries there. Boundaries help to keep us away from situations that are harmful. Believe it or not, I have boundaries for myself when it comes to the internet and what I look at. Second, you and I are going to meet to talk through this issue. We’ll set a weekly time to get together, maybe sit out by the fire pit. I know we both like that.
Son: That sounds okay. I do like sitting by the fire. Can help set it up?
Dad: Sure, in fact, I think that could be your responsibility. Well, do you have any questions or concerns?
Son: No, not really.
Dad: Well, how are you feeling?
Son: Kind of relieved. This wasn’t as bad as I thought.
Dad: Great. These things can be tough, but they can be talked about. Let’s end in prayer.


Let’s summarize the talk:

  1. We broke the silence, talking with our son about a difficult, sin issue.
      • We worked to identify when the problem started and hear a little bit of how our son felt. Notice, we did not go in depth or attempt to find out all the details. This is because this talk was the beginning, not the totality of what we are doing.
      • When we attempt to have too epic of a conversation with our teenage son, in a way, we are doing the same thing he is, attempting to make the problem disappear in one stroke. It doesn’t work and we get discouraged.
  2. We empathized and validated our son. He got to hear us recognize how difficult this is for him and how trapped he must have felt.
  3. We put together a plan of action to instill hope. We included the practical step of taking away opportunities to view pornography while also making a plan to have ongoing discussions.

This article is only an introduction to the topic of pornography and teenage boys. There may be questions or concerns you have in regards to the issue. If that is the case, you are welcome to contact Shaun Lotter, MA, LPC at The Relationship Center. We would welcome the chance to advise you.

christian counselingOver 1,400 families in southwest Missouri trust the counselors of The Relationship Center to serve their counseling needs. With more than 14,000 hours of therapy in the last 5 years alone TRC counselors have the experience that can make the difference. We specialize in Biblically Christian and Clinically Proven Counseling provided by Licensed Professionals. Session fees range from $75-$125 and we have payment plans & scholarships to meet every budget. Have more questions? Click Here to Learn More About Counseling at The Relationship Center

10 Indespensible Habits of Successful Parenting

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  1. Invest in your relationship with God. Attend church regularly, pray for your family, and read your Bible.
  2. Be the person of integrity and character you tell your children to be. We ALL need to look in the mirror regularly and determine, with the Bible as our measuring stick, how we are doing in life. This takes great courage. Look in the mirror, identify your needs, and making changes. Great parents lead their children by being the person God has for them to be.  Leadership is not simply the setting of bedtime or inspecting of chores; that is a simplistic understanding of the concept. Godly leadership takes courage and sacrifice. Your kids long for others of character they can follow. Make the bold decision to start improving your family by first looking in the mirror.
  3. Speak well of those in authority. It is ironic that one of the chief complaints that counselors hear from parents is children not respecting authority. As a parent, what is your attitude towards authority.  To be more specific, do you speak ill of your boss, complain about church leadership, and run down public officials. Not every person in leadership is doing a job worthy of respect. However, the Bible does not make a distinction in these cases. God’s word is clear; respect them anyway. If you sow seeds of rebellion in your children via your words and actions, you can only hope to harvest rebellion. Use care in what you say and how you say it. Honor those in authority. In doing so we are obedient to the Lord and we establish our own authority as parents.
  4. Take time with your children. If you don’t have time, make it. If you can’t make it, re-evaluate your priorities. Remember, teenagers need attention too. Do you have time? Can you make time? Your children need you. Driving down the road there are billboards urging mothers and fathers to engage in the lives of their children. Well-meaning non-profit groups implore us to seek out time to spend with our little ones. There is no simple answer to finances and other obligations that keep parents from their children. However, making the decision to spend time with your kids is an investment both you and they will reap a huge return on.
  5. Set rules and enforce them, even when you don’t feel like it. Don’t worry so much about children always understanding why they must do something or the reasons behind it. Remember, obedience comes before insight.
  6. Love and cherish your spouse. Your relationship with your spouse is critical in the development of your children. Sons will learn what it means to be a husband and father. Daughters are taught how to be a wife and mother. Children learn how the sexes should treat one another and how important a marriage really is, versus all else that demands your attention. The condition of your marriage has, is, and will shape your child’s future.
  7. The Bible is your measuring stick for the way a family should operate, not television or the popular culture.
  8. Never stop loving your children with your words, actions, and intentions.  Say “I love you,” give hugs, and intentionally make time for your kids.
  9. Take care of yourself. This is a passing statement you may laugh at.  When do you have time to take care of yourself?  It is a very serious manner. You can’t have anything to give to your children, if you are used up yourself.
  10. Forgive yourself when you mess up, and ask your family to forgive you. The concept of forgiveness is powerful, not only as a cornerstone of our faith, but as a character trait we want to possess and see developed in our children. It is learned, so lead your children through humility.  Asking for forgiveness from your spouse and children when you have made a mistake and forgiving others is a tremendous act of courage and humility, not a sign of weakness.

 

family-250x250Over 1,400 families in southwest Missouri trust the counselors of The Relationship Center to serve their counseling needs. With more than 14,000 hours of therapy in the last 5 years alone TRC counselors have the experience that can make the difference. We specialize in Biblically Christian and Clinically Proven Counseling provided by Licensed Professionals. Session fees range from $75-$125 and we have payment plans & scholarships to meet every budget. Have more questions? Click Here to Learn More About Family Counseling at The Relationship Center

A Word on Parenting Boys

parenting boys family counseling

In an age of political correctness and gender neutrality, it is important to remember that boys and girls are different because God created them uniquely. A mature understanding of parenting requires that we not be gender avoidant, but sensitive to the notion that boys and girls each require a different approach.

Parenting Boys

While both genders need leadership from their parents, boys seem to need it in greater amounts, and at a more simple level. Boys require love and nurturing, but will often grow very unhappy and get into trouble without firm leadership, specifically in the form of a father. Any group of boys, on the playground or on a sports team, will quickly form a hierarchy of leadership. This happens naturally, as boys, and men, function by establishing an order of dominance. Keep it simple when parenting your young man. He needs to know he is not the dominant male in the home. The way to accomplish this is to have men in his life who lead by example, not just with words. You will quickly be aware of the importance of this principle when it is not practiced. Even well adjusted boys will push the boundaries of their own influence and authority in families where there are not men to hold them in check. In a sense, they attempt to become a man in regards to freedom, while keeping the responsibilities of a boy. The result is a young man who disrupts the home and increasingly defies authority. Love him enough to stand up to him.

 

family-250x250Over 1,400 families in southwest Missouri trust the counselors of The Relationship Center to serve their counseling needs. With more than 14,000 hours of therapy in the last 5 years alone TRC counselors have the experience that can make the difference. We specialize in Biblically Christian and Clinically Proven Counseling provided by Licensed Professionals. Session fees range from $75-$125 and we have payment plans & scholarships to meet every budget. Have more questions? Click Here to Learn More About Family Counseling at The Relationship Center

10 Quick Tips for Disciplining Children

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  1. Keep explanations simple and brief. Say less, do more. Let your children connect the dots and figure out the lesson they are learning.
  2. Be respectful in speaking to your children, modeling what you want from them.
  3. Your anger is a valid, but ineffective tool to modify your child’s behavior.
  4. Say only what you mean, always following through with what you say.
  5. Consequences should have a specific, targeted behavior.
  6. Disciplinary measures need a defined beginning and end.
  7. No bargaining or bribing to get a desired behavior.
  8. If immediate change in your child’s behavior does not occur, this does not mean discipline is not working. Change is only part of what you are after when you discipline. You are after a relationship; a secure stable parenting relationship with your children is established via discipline regardless of change.
  9. Enjoy your kids! Spend time playing with and getting to know them. Relationship will keep them from rebelling and keep you from getting resentful. This is just as important to effective discipline as the act of disciplining itself.
  10. Obedience comes before understanding.

 

family-250x250Over 1,400 families in southwest Missouri trust the counselors of The Relationship Center to serve their counseling needs. With more than 14,000 hours of therapy in the last 5 years alone TRC counselors have the experience that can make the difference. We specialize in Biblically Christian and Clinically Proven Counseling provided by Licensed Professionals. Session fees range from $75-$125 and we have payment plans & scholarships to meet every budget. Have more questions? Click Here to Learn More About Family Counseling at The Relationship Center

When to Get Family Counseling: Family Counseling 101

family therapy counseling

Most of us put things off until we can’t any longer. If you have taken time to look at getting  family counseling, you probably already know it’s time or past time to get help.  At The Relationship Center, we know issues don’t simply go away; they just demand our attention more loudly over time. Don’t make the mistake of ignoring a problem until it becomes unmanageable. Common issues include:

  • Lack of Communication
  • Damaged and Distant Family Relationships
  • Disrespect and Defiance in Children
  • School Failure
  • Destructive Peer Relationships
  • Effective Parenting
  • Abuse and Neglect

Who Gets Family Therapy?

“Normal Families.” Often, families assume they are abnormal or lesser if they need help. We use the word “normal” as a measuring stick for our lives. However, part of living is having real challenges, and overcoming requires getting help at times. All families have difficulties. Not all families overcome.

Who Needs to Come to the Session?

Initially, your counselor will meet with all of your family together to gather information, gaining an understanding of the situation. You will be asked to consider what you want to work on. Next, he or she will make recommendations on how to proceed. He or she will likely set times to meet with children or parents individually. This can vary from family to family, taking into account the particular issues present in each case.

How Long Does Counseling Last?

The duration of counseling depends on two basic variables: extent of the problems and what you hope to accomplish. First, the extent of the issues takes into account the severity of symptoms and the extent to which healthy functioning is disrupted. Second, each family must decide what they want to accomplish. If the goal is quick alleviation of symptoms via behavioral means, the counseling intervention is generally brief. However, if core issues are not addressed, long-term problems will likely rise again. This is a “band-aid” approach. A more thorough intervention involves taking time to get to the root of the problems, not simply addressing symptoms or problem behaviors. This takes longer and is more involved, but is generally more effective long-term. It is a “surgical” approach.

What If My Child / Teenager Is Really Upset With the Idea Of Counseling?

Resistance is a norm in counseling, not a rarity. As a parent, you are often put in the position of knowing what is best and making sure this occurs. Therefore, it is no surprise that counseling is like eating vegetables, frowned upon by children although it is healthy. Your counselor is experienced at dealing with resistance and it is rarely an ongoing issue. Regardless, be encouraged. As a parent, you do not need your child’s permission to improve your family situation.

Parenting: A Balancing Act

It’s no secret, parenting isn’t easy.  Children don’t come with instructions manuals, and, even if they did, it seems the manual gets rewritten on a regular basis.  Often times, parents may not even be sure how to conceptualize and then communicate what they are struggling with exactly.  Asked what is going on and they may not be sure.  What is more difficult is the communication between mother and father.  In theory, you and your spouse are supposed to be a dynamic duo, a kind of super team capable of handling anything the little people living in your house can dish out.  However, you may not be anywhere close to being able to talk to your spouse about it.

Wouldn’t it be great if there were some simple tools you as a parent could use to understand and talk about what you are going through?  Well, the good news is those kinds of resources exist.  Here is one, very simple, quite effective way for moms and dads to understand and communicate in regards to the challenges of parenting.

20130125182402-tightrope-walkingParenting is a kind of ongoing balancing act between three important functions: Guiding, Nurturing & Controlling.  Using these terms, you can form a kind of working language to accurately define what it is your children are going through and devise an effective response.  The best part is, these tools are dynamic, able to be used in an ongoing way to handle the inevitable changes life brings.  In your family, circumstances do not remain constant.  Your kids get older and so do you.  You encounter new successes, and novel challenges arise.  Let’s start with defining each of these jobs:

Guiding:  Simply put, guiding involves parents directing the course of their child’s life via the position of a trusted adviser.  Throughout life, a your child is faced with many decisions leading to various possible outcomes, some better than others.  You harbor a deep desire to help your children make the very best choices, often based on your own experiences growing-up and the perspective as someone who has been around quite a bit longer than your kids.  You place significant effort into giving direction and explaining why particular choices would be best.

Nurturing:  No diamond, regardless of color or clarity sparkles in the dark.  Your nurturing is like a light, which brings to life all the beauty and quality of your child.  Nurturing is an child-mirroract of loving your child in such a way that brings out their very best and refines it further, while challenging those aspects in need of change.  Your love sees what is great in your child, acting as a mirror.  Your child will develop their own sense of self and worth via the reflection of their your nurturing.  Again, this reflection should be lovingly accurate.  In other words, you do not simply highlight your child’s strengths while ignoring issues, as this would lead to your child developing a very distorted picture of themselves.  Instead, as the parent, you demonstrate how to love deeply, bringing out the best in your child while refining rough edges.

Controlling:  Probably the most challenging aspect of parenting to navigate is determining the correct level of control to implement in raising your children.  In contrast to guiding, control is the action of directly exercising power over the course of your child’s life.  It is the act of making parental decisions about what will and will not be allowed to occur.  My child will be allowed to view PG movies.  They can go spend the night at a friend’s house.  No phone calls after 9pm.  Control requires authority on your part as parent.  Power is necessarily out of proportion in the parent-child relationship.  You can and should have more than your kid.  Children need to learn to navigate the challenges a power imbalance presents.  After all, they will be doing so the rest of their life either effectively or ineffectively (as in the case of rebellion).

Now these three terms have been defined, it’s time to use them.  Click Here to view Parent Nurturing & Controlling Discussion Guide.

 

family-250x250Over 1,400 families in southwest Missouri trust the counselors of The Relationship Center to serve their counseling needs. With more than 14,000 hours of therapy in the last 5 years alone TRC counselors have the experience that can make the difference. We specialize in Biblically Christian and Clinically Proven Counseling provided by Licensed Professionals. Session fees range from $75-$125 and we have payment plans & scholarships to meet every budget. Have more questions? Click Here to Learn More About Family Counseling at The Relationship Center