Lessons We Can Learn From An Ant Colony, Karen Merrit, LPC intern
In 2006, entomologists discovered the magnitude and complexity of the inner structure of an ant colony. Scientists took three days to pour ten tons of concrete down into the anthill. After one month, they began the excavation. Weeks passed before they were able to uncover fully the “megalopolis” of the colony. Spanning over 50 square meters and embedded close to 8 meters deep into the earth, scientists discovered multiple tunnels, chambers, and roadways. If that was not amazing in its own right, the effort it took to construct it is mind blowing. In order to move the 40 tons of soil, each ant had to bring to the surface an amount of dirt that was four times its weight. Furthermore, scientists estimate each ant carried each load at least a kilometer up once it was in the lower chambers. Imagine carrying something four times your weight uphill for over 1,000 yards.
When you think about it, our children have to do this on a daily basis. With growing accessibility to information whenever and wherever they want it, our children are being exposed to stories and events that are even difficult for adults to understand. Gone are the days of being the first one to talk with your child about a serious situation. Between Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, Snapchat, and Kik, our children are exposed to war, hatred, violence, and injustice more than ever. The loads they are carrying weigh far more than ours ever did.
As parents, we become the excavators when we spend time slowly uncovering the “megalopolis” of information, emotions, and responses that make up the inner structure of our children. Just as the process of uncovering the anthill was slow and intentional, our conversations must follow the same structure. Spend time just talking with your child about his or her likes/dislikes, friends, hopes/dreams. This can be done in the car, at the table, or at bedtime. Spending even just a few minutes each day sets the foundation for more in-depth talking later.
If you’d like to learn more about how to start conversations with your child or if you feel that the load your child is carrying is too great and he/she needs help, please fill out a contact request or contact one of the counselors at SoulCare Counseling directly for a free 30 minute consultation. We are here to help!
How Can We Be There For Those Hurting During The Holidays?, Jessica Tovar, LPC intern
Most of us know that uncomfortable feeling that overtakes us when we see someone who has experienced a loss and is hurting. It can feel paralyzing. Our heart hurts for them, yet we feel that nothing we could say could ever be adequate. Therefore, we often end up saying nothing. At least this way we think we can avoid making it worse or reminding them of the pain they are drowning in. The truth is, for the one grieving, the silence can feel deafening and isolating. On the other hand, we may try to fix the other persons pain, to make them (and us) feel better. This can be damaging as we unintentionally say something that ends up hurting them.
So what can we do? How can we reach out to others hurting this holiday season?
First, let’s take the pressure off of ourselves. We can’t fix their pain or make them feel better. We don’t need to say much; there’s not much we can say. They just need to know we care. Grieving is a process and is different for everyone. The best thing we can do is to acknowledge they are hurting. Scripture tells us to “Rejoice with those who rejoice, and mourn with those who mourn”, (Romans 12:15). There are many practical ways to acknowledge someone’s pain. For starters:
~ Send a note, email, or text to let them know you realize this is a hard time for them and that they are on your mind and in your prayers.
~ If you see them in person, you can say the same thing. In fact, simply acknowledging that you don’t know what to say can relieve a lot of pressure and kicks the elephant right out of the room!
Let’s not let fear keep us from reaching out with the love that is in our hearts. Let’s bring others in when they are hurting by acknowledging their pain and loss instead of unintentionally isolating them. Let’s push past the awkwardness and love well!
I’m sure you know what I’m referring to. You know, when your child tries to lure you in with a “But Mom!” or a “What if I don’t want to?” comment.
Most children will do whatever it takes to try to dethrone you & pull you down to their emotional level. When we're not careful, we forget our adult ways & start acting like children ourselves.
LET YOUR KID HAVE THE LAST WORD
“What? Let my child have the final word?”
“But I'm the one in charge!”
Sometimes we don't realize that when we argue with our children, not only do we look foolish, but we diminish our authority as well. Think about it. When's the last time you saw a CEO arguing with a janitor or The President of The United States debating with a hostile antagonist on the street? Leaders maintain their authority by listening when appropriate, succinctly saying what needs to be said & then moving on in a timely manner.
Here's an example:
You peek your head into your child’s doorway & cheerfully say, “It's time to clean
your room.” And you get the classic response, “BUT MOM!”
At that moment, you have a choice. Do you react to the "But Mom!" or do you move on & assume that your child is going to make a good decision?
If your kids are frequently referring to you as if your 1st name is ‘But,’ then that obviously needs to be addressed. I’m not recommending ignoring that behavior indefinitely, but timing is everything. Sometimes it's worth waiting to address behavioral issues until everyone is calm, especially if the child seems to be hoping for a fight.
DON’T WAIT FOR A RESPONSE WHEN ONE ISN’T NEEDED
As in the above scenario, how the parent presents the command is vitally important. Choose your wording, tone & body language carefully.
Saying, “I need you to clean your room” is different than saying, “It’s time to clean your room.” The 1st command leaves more room for arguing than the 2nd.
If your tone of voice is serious, then you might inadvertently convey that you’re anticipating resistance. Plus, misusing your tone of voice to express gravity may backfire by painting a daunting picture of the task at hand.
Also keep in mind that lingering at the doorway & waiting for a response may give your child an extra opportunity to rebel. Our body language can portray the message that we're waiting for them to argue. But if you say your child’s name, make eye contact, briefly express your expectations & then immediately move on, you convey the powerful message that you expect compliance.
DON'T ANSWER EVERY QUESTION YOUR CHILD ASKS
We’re not obligated as parents to give an answer to every question. Getting into debates is often avoidable. Let's be kind & polite parents & answer appropriate questions but also recognize that we’re doing our kids a disservice when we engage them in arguments. When the intention of a question is to undermine our authority, then an answer is usually not needed. And if our child is being defiant & knows the answer to his/her question, then we need to be careful how we react.
Imagine you tell your child that it's time to do something & he/she pulls out the other famous line, "What if I don't do what you say?"
Our natural instincts are usually to bow up & show them who's boss. You might be tempted to quickly respond with fighting words & an aggressive, authoritarian come-back. Or you may feel obligated to tell them exactly what will happen to them if they disobey. But what if you responded with a simple "Hmm" & calmly walked away?
Walking away can be an effective technique to communicate that we trust & expect the child to do what's right. It diffuses the situation & gives him/her a chance to regroup, save face & hopefully make the right choice. We need to provide opportunities for our kids' consciences to kick-in. If we utilize silence & leave their comments as the last words floating in the air, our kids are stuck with having to feel & think about what they just said. But if we stand there & engage them in battle, then they’ll keep fighting to try to prove their power. We’re the powerful ones when we don't get sucked-in to childish ways.
For those of us with children who are particularly strong-willed & gifted debaters, it’s easy to get bamboozled by their persuasive & manipulative methods. The self-control of restraining ourselves from arguing back-and-forth actually reinforces our position of authority. The one who is most self-controlled is most qualified to be in charge.
It's okay to let the conversation end with them arguing. Let them be the ones making fools of themselves. Don't let them pull you down to their level of social skills. It's our job to model healthy conflict resolution. It's appropriate in relationships to sometimes say, "I choose not to argue."
Kids want so badly to lure you in.
Be the mature one.
DON'T BITE THE BAIT!
The Deception of Rejection
The feeling of rejection is painful and strikes us at our core. Rejection can be legitimate or even perceived, but either way it hurts deeply and the pain effects us greatly. In fact, when we dig a little deeper, rejection means to most of us the worst possible scenario— that we don’t have significance. What if this were not true at all?
What if we have bought into the lie that it must be true—that being rejected actually means we lack worth and value? Could it be that our perspective is completely wrong?
Each human life is created for a purpose. We are the only person on this earth with our fingerprints, design, and make-up. We were perfectly and intentionally made, every detail of us was dreamt up before the foundations of this earth. Every single human being is of great value. We are so valuable that the highest price possible was paid for us. The blood of Jesus was shed for us, so that we ARE accepted.
I think of Jesus’ time here on earth; It was a time full of rejection. God actually came down in the flesh to rescue His children, because of our great value, and He was rejected. It’s interesting that even though Jesus was rejected over and over, it didn’t change His significance. It did not mean He lacked worth and value. It didn’t change anything about who He was. He knew who He was and rejection did not change that.
What would it be like to have a new perspective—to be so sure of our identity, that even when rejected by others we still know who we are and Who’s we are? Being rejected by another, does not define who we are. It does not define our value. Our value cannot change.
Jessica Tovar, M.A., LPC- Intern
under the supervision of Dr. Bernis Riley, LPC-S
1706 Tennison Parkway, Ste. 140
Colleyville, Texas 76034
"Caring for the soul with the mind of Christ"
Lately it seems as if the world is becoming a scarier and more dangerous place. Each day is filled with news of another tragedy. Sometimes, as parents, we just want to hold on to our children and never let them out of our sight. We want to keep their world as safe, as sheltered, and as happy as possible. Yet all the while, we are continuing to deal with the realities of the world. Each day brings a new challenge, but countless inspirational calendars and day planners remind us, “Today is going to be a great day!” In fact, one desk calendar boasts that it is “instant happiness in a box.” So, what happens on those days that just aren’t great, no matter what your calendar says? The day when you get a text from your son or daughter about an active shooter on their college campus. The day when you get the diagnosis that your cancer is back. The day that your car won’t start, you hit all the traffic on your way to work, and then when you finally get there, you realize you left your materials for your big meeting on your desk at home. Those are the great days we are promised?
Our lifestyles can become so overridden with stressful and disappointing situations that sayings such as, “Today is going to be a great day!” can often feel trite and unattainable. We become burdened with the struggles of today, and our outlook on life becomes hardened and at times, even pessimistic. Then when you add on the burden that we feel as parents to protect our children, it can often become too overwhelming to bear. Instead of reaching out, we retreat within. We become anxious and depressed, or angry and reactive, and our decisions and actions reflect this new reality we have created. However, these are the days and times to reach out and up.
Psalm 90:14, reminds us to ask God to “Satisfy me each morning with your unfailing love, that I may sing for joy to the end of my life.” In this world, we are not used to simply being satisfied; we always want more. However, when we ask God to satisfy us with His love, we our putting our full and complete trust in Him to provide for us what we need, both physically and mentally. Because His love will fill our hearts and minds with a peace that passes all understanding, we are able to slow down and not get caught up in the state of fear that plagues our hearts and minds. Doing this doesn’t make the events of the world remedy themselves, but it helps us become more equipped to walk through them with our children.
If you’d like to learn more about receiving help for your or your child in releasing anxious, withdrawn, angry or reactive thoughts and actions, please fill out a contact request or contact one of the counselors at SoulCare Counseling directly for a free 30 minute consultation. We are here to help!
Karen Merritt, LPC-Intern at SoulCare Counseling