Lots of us follow people we like and admire online; a favorite DIY blog or a former high school classmate on Facebook. But when does “blog stalking” cross the line? Therapist, Julie Hanks, LCSW has five signs to watch for.
1) You post more often on their page than on your own
2) You think about them when you’re doing other things (or you answer
question for them on their blog/page)
3) You talk about them in conversations as if you’re close friends
4) People can tell who you follow online when they meet you
5) Your real-life responsibilities and relationships are neglected
What are your favorites blogs to follow? Have you ever been guilty of blog-stalking?
Has someone accused you of being too sensitive or suggested that you grow a thicker skin? Or maybe you’ve heard that you’re hard to read or that you’re a tough nut to crack?Those comments may be clues to your style of processing emotions. how much of your environment you let into your being and how aware you are of your feelings.
The boundary concept was developed and researched by Ernest Hartmann, MD, of Tufts University, and this concept was expanded further in the book Your Emotional Type by Michael A. Jawer and Marc S. Micozzi. Jawer and Micozzi’s research further explore “thick and thin” emotional types, suggesting that our minds and our bodies are connected, and that our emotional type impacts our predisposition to certain health conditions. “Different people process their feelings in different ways–your emotional style is a fundamental aspect of who you are. It affects more than just your outlook on life; it can affect your very well-being,” according to Jawer and Micozzi.
What should you do if you suspect a friend’s child has a problem? Here are my tips for when to step in and when to step back. Ask yourself these 5 questions:
1) How close is this friend?
If you notice that a neighbor’s child is overly aggressive and angry (hitting, biting or throwing things) toward others should you say something? It depends on how close you are to your neighbor. “I’ve noticed that your child sometimes feels things intensely and gets a bit rough with other kids.”
TIP: Bring it up in a tentative, emotionally neutral way
2) Has your friend been open to feedback in the past?
If you’ve given your friend honest feedback in the past it’s more likely that she’ll be open to specific feedback about her child. Even moms who are generally open can easily get defensive when the think their child is being criticized. If you suspect your friend’s child has some kind of emotional or mental disorder like ADHD or Autism, it may be hard for your friend to hear.
TIP: Ask first if she is open to feedback about her child
3) What is your intent?
Look honestly at your motives and intentions. Are you bringing up a concern about your friend’s child to make your little darling look better, or to make yourself look like a better mother than she is? If you suspect that your friend’s child is cheating on tests at school to get straight A’s you may want to check yourself and make sure your motive is really trying to help her child.
TIP: Make sure your intent is to help her child
4) Does this directly impact your child?
If your child is directly affected by your friend’s child’s behavior, then bring your concerns up to your friend. You first priority should be protecting your own child, and preserving you friendship comes second. A common issue with preschool and early elementary school is peers asking to show their “private areas”.
TIP: If it impacts your child, bring it up
5) Are you willing to risk your friendship?
There are some concerns that may be worth risking a friendship. For example, if your friend’s teen is drinking and driving or having unprotected sex with multiple partners and your friend has no clue, for public safety and serious health concerns it may be worth taking a risk and bringing it up.
Mothers-in-law and daughters-in-law don’t always speak the same language. But, there are ways to prevent miscommunication and avoid misunderstandings. Therapist, Julie Hanks, LCSW explains what those mixed messages really mean.
“My kids NEVER did that!”
TRANSLATION: needs acknowledgement that she did a good job as a parent.
MIL TIP: notice and comment on positive parenting moments.
“When are you going to give me a grandchild?”
TRANSLATION: wants you to know that she’s excited to be a grandma.
MIL TIP: Convey trust in Daughter in law & son to make those important decisions.
“I always clean/cook/organize this way.”
TRANSLATION: wants acknowledgement for her homemaking experiences.
MIL TIP: Wait until you’re asked before giving any advice.
“He was mine first.”
TRANSLATION: wants you to know how much she loves her son and she’s scared to lose him.
MIL TIP: Be direct about relationship wishes but not demanding (i.e. I’d love to see you guys more often. Are you free for dinner Sunday?)
“Have you put on weight?”
TRANSLATION: wants you to know that she cares about her appearance.
Adults may think crushes are silly, even superficial. But to a child, a first crush is a big deal. Therapist, Julie Hanks, LCSWÂ has “do’s” and “don’ts” to help you handle your child’s first crush.
1) Watch for signs
First crushes generally happen in elementary school between 5-10 years old. Even if your child doesn’t tell you directly that they have a crush, you might see the signs: giggling with friends, being mean to or teasing the child they like, or planning a special gift.
2) Get curious
This is a great opportunity to understand more about your child and to begin help them explore their preferences and values. Ask your child open ended questions like: “Tell me more about Kate…” “How does John feel about you?” or “What is it that makes her special to you?”
3) Never tease
Feelings of affection are the beginnings of attraction that will lead to meaningful relationships in the future. Talk about feelings of infatuation in a positive light, as a wonderful thing. Never tease or make fun of your child’s crush.
4) Set boundaries
Your child’s first crush is a great time to start a dialogue about appropriate physical and emotional boundaries, especially if your child is in older elementary school. Discussions on showing physical affection, spending time together, texting are all important things to start talking about.
5) Soothe hurt feelings
When first crushes are not reciprocated, it can be painful, even for children. This is an opportunity for you to teach your child that they are resilient and can move on after being hurt or disappointed.
You have many aspect that make you…you! Focus on developing and valuing all of them…mental, social, spiritual, emotional, and physical.
One of the most common New Year’s Resolutions is to lose weight and get fit. When you don’t exercise as much as you’d planned or you overeat one day what do you say to yourself? Are you kind and loving, or do you tell yourself things like, “See, another year when you can’t lose weight” and say belittling things to yourself?
Self-acceptance frees us to make changes. Women worry that if they accept where they are they’ll stay the way they are, but the opposite is true.
Tip: Focus on improving health and self-care
No matter what your physical appearance, you can always take small steps to take good care of yourself. I love the phrase “Life rewards action” because it’s true. Even taking one small step to better your health is a good thing.
5) Social mistakes
How we look in the eyes of others in terms of our behavior is another aspect that can impact self-esteem. Saying something dumb, being impatient with your child, or things as simple as realizing you’ve been calling someone by the same name.
Tip: Own it and move on
You’re self-esteem can remain in tact if your mistake, misstep, or error and then quickly moving on instead of worrying about it.
Tip: It’s none of my business what other’s think of me
If you’re worried about what other’s might be thinking about your misstep it’s crucial to remember that it’s not your business what others think about you. You can’t control their thoughts. You’ll never really know what others think about you anyway, unless they are willing to tell you directly.
Does the fear of offending friends or family members keep you from setting boundaries? It’s a timely topic with the holidays fast approaching. Therapist, Julie Hanks, says it’s ok to set boundaries, even if you offend someone.
Q: Why are we afraid to set boundaries that might offend someone?
You might mistakenly confuse boundaries with aggression or with using a “sword” stance. It might feel “mean” to you to do something that you know will contribute to another person’s pain, or you may feel responsible for other people’s emotions.
It’s helpful to think of these 3 relationship stances when setting boundaries:
This passive stance is characterized by a lack of awareness of your own feelings, highly valuing pleasing others, devaluing own wants and needs, and feeling “run over” by others. You value other’s emotional needs above self.
In this reactive stance, you’re emotionally “on guard”, lashing out at slightest hint of emotional threat, on “high alert”. You might let emotions build up and then explode with cutting words, snide remarks, or become cold and aloof and unavailable. You value your own self-protection over other’s needs.
In this enlightened stance, your “emotional” feet are planted firmly on the ground. There is a feeling of calmness as you seek a broader perspective. When you do get upset you don’t ignore it or react to it but seek understanding. You value your own and other’s emotions and desires and take responsibility for your part.
Q: Why are we afraid to tell people what we need or what we want?
We don’t want to jeopardize our relationships. We are afraid of isolation or rejection, or we are afraid to hurt those we love because that causes us pain too.
Q: Do we worry too much about other people’s feelings?
We do worry about other’s feelings to much when it comes to boundaries. I worked with a couple recently whose family always stays with them during the holidays. Just having had a new baby, this couple was not feeling up to having house-guests, yet they were hesitant to take a stand. We talked about the importance of concentric circles of relationships. In the core is self-care, then the next ring is the marriage relationship, then parenting, then extended familyâ€”in that order and challenged them to set boundaries, even if feelings are hurt.
Q: Are women more afraid to offend other than men are?
Women in particular are hard wired and socialized to highly value relationships and emotional bonds. I had a client whose friend constantly badmouthed her own ex-husband. While she wanted to supportive she was sick of hearing complaining. I encouraged her to honor herself and her own needs first, hold up a “lantern” to the situation and state what she saw was going on. For example, “I can tell this divorce has taken its toll on you and you’re really angry with Tim. Of course you are. However, I’m getting worn down by the topic and wondering if it would be more helpful for you to talk to a therapist because I’m not sure what to say anymore.”
Q: What if others don’t respect our boundaries?
There’s nothing more frustrating than setting clear boundaries and not being heard valued, or taken seriously. I worked with a woman whose adult son lived at home and refused to get a job. She needed him to take responsibility for his life but she felt like he was ignoring her and wasn’t taking action. We worked to help her set a clear, firm timeline of when he needed to start paying rent or find another place to live. Instead of trying to make him get a job, I helped her shift to setting firm boundaries in areas that she hat she could control (like who lived in her house).
Q: Is it harder to set boundaries with certain people?
Some people don’t like being told “no” and may resort to a “sword” stance if you do. If there’s underlying tension, unresolved issues, or insecurities in the relationship it may be harder to set boundaries.
A common dynamic I see in my practice is tense in-law relationships. There was one situation where a client’s mother-in-law kept trying to parent her kids when she was there, what food he could or couldn’t eat. I suggested that she take her mother-in-law aside and using a lantern stance, acknowledge her mother-in-laws good intentions and ask her not to step into a parenting role without being invited.
Q: Why do we protect other people at our own expense?
We protect others at our own expense because we think it’s the “right”, nice, loving thing to do. You may have been taught not to express yourself or it may be hard for you to know how you feel and what you want.
This is a common dynamic especially during the holidays. Holiday traditions with extended family often trump the individual and family needs. I’ve worked with many families who want to deviate from family traditions but know that others will be “hurt” by their decision.
No parent wants to be “Scrooge” about Santa, so why not just keep believing forever? Therapist, Julie Hanks, has advice on how to handle “Santa doubt” and how to keep Santa’s example of love and generosity, alive.
Should you keep your kids believing in Santa?
1) Let your child take the lead
Â· Watch for Santa doubt starting to creep in sometime between ages 5-7.
Â· Children usually make a gradual shift in beliefs instead of one big moment around age 7.
Â· Cognitive development shifts around this age from fantasy to more rational judgments based concrete evidence that doesn’t add up.
Â· 2 of 3 children said they felt pride in figuring out the truth about Santa, and half still liking the idea of Santa even though he wasn’t real. (Source )
Â· In preparing for this segment I asked my 9 year old, “Tell me about Santa…” He replied, “You mean do I believe or not? I think he’s real because there is no way you guys could hide all those presents from us! And I don’t think you could leave and buy all that stuff on Christmas eve. But I don’t believe in the tooth fairy. I think that’s just you or Dad leaving money under my pillow.”
Â· “We told our kids right from the start that there was no Santa. They chose to believe otherwise. We insisted that he was a story, a fairy tale. They insisted that we were teasing them. Finally, when they were around ten or so they started to realize that we had been telling them the truth all along but they decided when and what to believe.” –Stephanie Cannon