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Author Topic: 8.44 | Child Development and Parents with Mental Illness  (Read 17760 times)
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« Reply #30 on: February 11, 2012, 11:20:48 AM »

I just wanted to say as someone with a uBPD mother and a uNPD/ASPD father that I've found this topic to be extremely helpful--possibly one of the most  Idea-inducing things I've ever read in my life. I don't remember much before age 3-5, but it's pretty amazing to read the lists from age three on and see that I was actually doing--or trying to do--what is expected of children at each developmental stage, but being punished for it and having it thwarted due to the home environment. Also, as someone who has never experienced a healthy childhood firsthand and who wants to be prepared to parent in the near future (though with a healthy future co-parent), I'm really excited to learn what to expect at each stage. Thank you!
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« Reply #31 on: February 11, 2012, 12:58:35 PM »




Excerpt
D covers for her mom/dad because we've always treated those behaviors as something that needs covering. What if they don't?

Very interesting observation, JS. You're pointing out one of the implicit rules that was operating in the family.

Spotlight: Family Rules

Every family has rules. Some are explicit: No cursing in our home. Some are implicit: Ann gets to boss Joe around because Ann is the favorite. Children are keenly aware of implicit rules, and it can take decades for adults to be able to look back on the rules and see that they are not always healthy. Taking an honest inventory of the implicit rules can help you see the world through the child's eyes and judge whether the rules need to change or if you want to acknowledge the rules (name the elephant in the room) and help the child process his thinking and feeling around the rules.

1. What are some of the implicit rules of the family of the child you're concerned about?

        Examples might be: We always take care of mom first. We are allowed to laugh and joke around unless Dad is in a bad mood; our mood must match his. Uncle Hal will get drunk and pass out on the floor; pretend he's not there.

2. Whose needs are the rules serving?

3. Does the child experience radically different sets of rules in different settings?

4. What resources are available to help the child cope with rules that may be unhealthy or with rules that are radically different in different settings?

What a great topic B&W!  xoxo

Sorry I'm late to chime in... .I'll have to go back and review some of the other stages and work through my perspective of what I know about the skids.

For explicit vs. implicit - I had an explicit rule - no swearing.  And I modeled the behaviour myself.  The children never heard me swear. 

But the implicit behaviour was - no swearing if Marlo was there alone.  But if dad was there, we can swear because he won't say anything.

Another implicit rule - rules are only rules if Marlo is home.  Dad will let things slide and he won't give any consequences unless Marlo points it out to him.

Most of the 'rules' that I enforced were ones that my husband and I came up with together and most were his idea and I whole heartedly agreed. The only problem was that I was the only enforcing them - at least consistently.

This provided a very unstable environment for the kids (in my opinion), because it was confusing at first for them.  One day they can't punch their brother in the head, the next day they can with little or no consequences.

I think the rules served the needs of all of the people in the family - modeling respect, self control, safety and self respect as well.  However, I think a lot of the implicit rules served the needs of the children and my husband.  My husband tends not to react to something unless it's glaringly obvious that there is a BIG problem.  And the children enjoyed the freedom of being able to do as they wanted.  It also served the kids to further drive a wedge between my husband and I because they blatantly pointed out to my husband that he was only enforcing the explicit rule because I pointed out to him that it needs enforcing.

Another implicit rule for the children was that they were to always show their mom their loyalty - either by telling her negative things about me, or by directly behaving in a disrespectful manner towards me and telling her about it.  This would gain praise from their mom and she would further feed the behaviours by telling them how much she loved them and how much she knows they love her.

On the flip side, the other implicit rule was that they must NEVER discuss anything negative about their mom.  My SS was not very good at this and every now and then he would 'let something slip' about some behaviour that mom was displaying while they visited, but he was quickly shunned and told to shut up by his sisters and advised that he wasn't allowed to say anything.

Some ways that I think we can overcome these behaviours is to state clearly as parents what is acceptable and not acceptable - develop NEW explicit rules that include things that address these situations.  I think also stating clearly that there will always be rules that are allowed at one house and not at another - for instance, a child's friend might have a rule that it's okay to run in the house, but in our house, it isn't. 

I think the most important part is to turn implicit rules into explicit ones that are clear and concise.  And then ensure that, as the parent, you are enforcing them, leading by example and being consistent.

I think children are very adaptable to different rules in different places as long as the message is very clear consistently.  Chewing gum at home is okay. Chewing gum in school is not.  Children understand these things because it's always the same at school. They get it and they understand it.  It's the people around them - in authority - who either model the behaviour or don't, who consistently enforce the rule or don't that cause implicit rules to form.
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« Reply #32 on: February 11, 2012, 01:33:39 PM »

I'm also an Adult Child, and although this workshop is for Parents/Primary Caretakers, following along at each stage of development has been so validating for me. Unlike many AC's/Traumatized People my memories are so clear... .I remember so much that many of my cohorts don't and are trying to reconstruct regarding their childhood/adolescence. There is SO MUCH here I identify with growing up with a pdmomma.

I am struck by the Caretakers and their genuine concern for these kids. You have NO idea what a difference you make in our lives and I'm sure it's a real struggle for all of you dealing with a whole plethora of challenges. I just want to say, "Thank you for caring. Thank you for trying to mitigate the crazy we're currently experiencing or grew up in. Thank you for loving us enough to understand we're little ones/adolescents in old people's minds. We became grown-ups without the benefit of childhoods." You may not feel you're making much of an impact-kids see a lot, we just don't say a lot or share it with you. But your steadfastness, your constancy and consistency and unconditional love is what in my experience makes an indescribable and positive impact on our lives. That DOESN'T mean "No Boundaries, No Rules"-thanks, but we have that with our PDparent who moves the "goal-posts" for acceptable behavior all over the map. Predictability is NOT a given in our world. Even if you're the parent on the "receiving end" of blatant PAS/denigration by your adult child with a PD when you have physical custody, please try not to worry too much, OK? We see, we hear and we KNOW who's "safe" and consistent and who's "not." We do understand more than you realize regarding who is getting the "short end of the stick" in terms of the nasty stuff the other 'parent' says. Even if we "defend" that pdparent, it's almost reflexive and indicative of our desire to "believe" that PDparent is safe. Some illusions are necessary for survival. And our role as at least emotional caretaker for our PDparent is beyond your control and our's too. That's what we DO IMO in part to feel we have some control over the outcome, some degree of impact in the external world as well. Don't worry about this because it's not something you can do much about at this time. It'll change over time, really.

Your presence in our lives may not reap immediate, measurable "Progress" short term but always remember, the end of this story has not been written. Your consistent caring and compassion is written all over our hearts and will remain right there for the rest of our lives. Thank you for being a beacon of light and hope as we struggle through this together. (My apologies, cross posted, can't see the previous response.)
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« Reply #33 on: February 12, 2012, 10:32:27 AM »

There's lots to discuss and I'm glad you've found many different handholds into this material, coming from different perspectives.

Finishing out the developmental stages... .

Developmental Tasks of the Late Adolescent

(15 - 19 years)

• Achieving emotional independence from caregivers and other adults.

• Preparing for an economic career.

• Preparing for significant intimate relationship and family life.

• Achieving masculine and feminine sex roles (i.e. individual sexual identity and orientation).

Impact of Parental Mental Illness on Later Adolescence

(15 – 19 years)

Children may:

1. Find emotional independence difficult. [See Have you experienced emotional incest in your family? to learn more about the struggles that adult children of BPD parents have had in trying to achieve a healthy balance of closeness and independence with their parent.]

2. Have feelings of ambivalence. Be unable to balance self-care and care of others. Have a care-taking role, feel a need to remain at home to be a support.

3. Have limited choices due to poverty, illness, housing, privacy, lifestyle, etc. Find career choices are affected by self-confidence, resources, mentors, etc.

4. Be overwhelmed by responsibility. Have difficulty with completion and follow-through due to history of stability/breakdown cycle.

5. Have limited attachment and trust which impacts the development of relationships. Not develop healthy interactions due to caregiver’s style of social interaction (extreme anger, overly suspicious). Have difficulty forming personal friendships and/or romantic relationships due to inexperience in forming and maintaining healthy relationships.

6. Have a predisposition due to genetics and environmental exposure. Fear of developing the illness as hormones begin to surge.

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« Reply #34 on: February 12, 2012, 10:54:41 AM »

Spotlight: Shame and Core Beliefs

Excerpt
A common perception for youth who have a parent with a mental illness is a personal identification with shame, or family shame as described by Dr. Marsh (1994). (If my parent is flawed, then I must also be flawed). The result is that children can develop conflicts around being in public or being seen when their internal message is one of keeping things hidden. This can result in difficulties around accepting oneself and predisposes the child to developing feelings of low family esteem and low self-esteem.

A Lasting Impression: A Teacher's Guide to Helping Children of Parents with a Mental Illness, Canadian Mental Health Association.

And something written directly for children that we can all benefit from reading:

Excerpt
Shame is another feeling that often plagues kids whose parents have problems Shame means you feel bad about who you are you think you don't measure up to others. You think you're not much of a person, that others are better than you Shame is a feeling people can have at any age, but teens are especially vulnerable to shame, even if they don't have troubled parents to complicate their lives. Any time you're trying to manage a new situation and you're worried about whether you're going to manage it well, you're vulnerable to shame. Since adolescence is full of new situations (like getting an adult body and mind and meeting all the new challenges that go with that), all teens are likely to have experiences of shame.

Let's think about why having a troubled parent might bring feelings of shame. There are a few reasons I can think of. Sometimes kids take their parent's problem as a personal failure, and personal failures often bring shame. Kids can have the idea that a better kid would be able to fix their parents' problems. A better kid would cheer up a depressed father or calm a worried mother or convince a paranoid mother that the CIA is not out to get her or persuade a father with a dangerous habit to give it up. Not true! Kids very seldom can fix adults' emotional problems. No matter how smart or funny or goodhearted or patient a person you are, that's still going to be the case. So try not to put yourself down for not fixing your parent's problems when it's not reasonable to expect yourself to do so.

Another idea that bothers some kids is the idea that a better kid naturally would have gotten a better parent, that is a parent who is healthy and nice and reliable and even-tempered. There's a feeling that a truly good kid wouldn't get assigned a not-so-terrific parent in the great parent lottery, as if fate or nature or God gives great parents to all great kids. Again, not true. Your parents are not a reflection on you.

You and your parents are separate people. No matter how troubled they be or embarrassing their behavior, that doesn't make you any less of a person. You may have had bad luck in the parent department. That happens. It's not your fault and it doesn't make you have less valuable than your friend or schoolmate who's got an award winning parent. So hold your head up. Lots of successful, smart, good people had lousy or troubled parents. When you come to admire an actress or a rock star or a politician, you don't worry about what kind of parents they had. you judge them on their qualities. When you meet a jerky, dishonest, mean kid at school, you don't say, Her mom's nice so she must be nice, too." You say, "Even though her mom's nice, she isn't."

Where do kids get the idea that they are bound to be just like their parents? In part it comes from early childhood wishes to be exactly like Mom or Dad. Very young children often feel they don't have many strengths or skills of their own. They look around and see that most people are bigger and more capable than they are. They don't want to feel small and inept, so they "borrow" strengths from the people closest to them usually their parents or older brothers and sisters. They say, "My did is big" (so I don't have to feel little) or "My mom can drive a car" (so it's okay that I can't). They compare their parents with other kids' parents because they're borrowing their parent's strengths and thinking, "If my mom is smarter, then I'm smarter".

When you're older, you don't need to do so much borrowing, because you've developed your own size and strength and ability. But the idea of getting your worth from your parents' worth may still be with you. If you like what you see in your parents, that idea doesn't do you much arm; in fact, it can help you feel secure. But if you don't think highly of your parents, the tie that started out as a boost to your self-esteem becomes a drag on your self-esteem.

If that's what's happening, it's time to remind yourself that your value doesn't come from your parents. In fact, it never did, even when you were three years old. It never was true that your mom being smart made you smart or your dad being strong made you strong. You didn't really have their strengths then and you don't have to feel dragged down by their weaknesses now. Another thing you can do for yourself is to make attachments to people and groups you can feel proud of. Make sure though, when you do that, that the group  you join really stands for what you value and respect. Don't join a gang just to belong to a group; that's no better than staying hooked up with a parent you don't respect.

From When Parents Have Problems, by Susan B Miller






Uncovering Core Beliefs


A child with a parent with mental illness may be carrying around a number of self-damaging core beliefs. Being neglected leads to a feeling that you are unworthy of care or love. Being idealized leads to a feeling that you are not known, and that your true self must be defective and not worth knowing. A parent's depression and talk of suicide is terrifying to a child, and he will often blame himself to have some control: It's my fault dad wants to kill himself. It's because I'm bad. I'll try to be better.

When a child in your life seems to be struggling with something, it can help to uncover the core beliefs that have formed. A good place to start is with a time and place when the child feels safe and ready to talk. Ask questions, gently, not with a challenge but with genuine curiosity. Then help the child explore the beliefs and test them. You don't need to say "that's wrong," but rather open up the idea that the child can question the beliefs him or herself. In cases with ongoing custody issues,  or for other reasons, it may not be possible to have a direct conversation about a parent. However, here is an imagined dialogue [very compressed and idealized] to give an idea about the kinds of questions that might surface core beliefs. Discussions of peers' families, stories, movies, famous people's lives, etc. can also provide a one-step-removed arena in which to explore core beliefs.

Dad Gets Mad

Adult: You said Dad's been getting mad a lot lately.

Kid: Yeah.

Adult: How are you doing with that?

Kid: Fine.

Adult: When he's mad, what's going on inside you?

Kid: Nothing. [quiet; adult says nothing, looks a bit to the side] Well, I'm thinking that he'll feel better soon.

Adult: That yelling will help him feel better?

Kid: Yeah. It usually does. I just let him go for a while. It helps him.

Adult: Getting mad and yelling help him? [neutral voice]

Kid: Yeah. He gets in a better mood after and we can go do stuff.

Adult: So do feel like you're helping him by sitting there and letting him yell at you?

Kid: Well, I usually make him mad, so I figure I should help him feel better.

Core belief: It's my job to make my parent feel better.

Adult: That's part of your job at home then?

Kid: Yeah, because I make him mad.

Adult: How do you make him mad?

Kid: You know, by running around and then I forget to feed Sadie [the dog] sometimes.

Adult: It is good to follow through on your responsibilities, like feeding Sadie. I don't know... .is making somebody else feel better your job? Like if I want to be in a bad mood, can you really make me get in a good mood? [And so on... .if the child is open, explore the core belief from different angles and open up the idea it can be questioned.]




Self-reflection Questions:

1. Is the child showing signs of shame?

2. What signs?

3. What are the sources of shame?

4. What negative core beliefs might the child have developed?

5. Are there opportunities for the child to test those negative core beliefs? If so, what are they?
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« Reply #35 on: February 12, 2012, 11:06:32 AM »

Thanks for this effort, b&w. I can anticipate referring to it frequently.

I've read/heard a lot about what can happen to girls whose father is absent from their lives. A search for male role model.A seeking for male approval and love. Gravitating toward whatever guy promises love, attachment, etc. It's not the same for everyone, of course, with plenty of exceptions, but it's the stereotype.

Questions are, does a father suffering from mental illness engender a similar reaction? And, what's the stereotypical effect on a girl whose mother is unavailable to her either by being absent or because of mental illness? Same for boys, too.

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« Reply #36 on: February 12, 2012, 09:16:40 PM »

On core beliefs: does this example from my dinner table tonight fit this discussion?

Gd6 is taking big serving of salad and notices yellow bell peppers. She does not like peppers usually. So she says rather loudly, I am taking a yellow pepper and trying. Look mommy, I am trying it. Wow, it is good. I will eat some more of these. Look mommy, I am eating yellow peppers so you will not yell.

I usually look down during meal times, or at dh or gd. Definitely not at DD25. I looked up at after this last comment and noticed DD staring at me. Like "did you put her up to this? what are you saying about me to my daughter?" Only the look, no words spoken by DD. Not to me or to gd.

This to me is totally in response to a HUGE blow up at dinner exactly a week ago that led to the police being called to get DD to take a break in her raging. She was unable to take a time out or calm herself until I called police to come. She walked away from the house before they came. I called them again the next afternoon when she started picking at me in front of gd again.

I have seen other changes in gd's behavior this past week, just from this one episode. Now, DD has had rage episodes before, but this is the first where the trigger was so focused on gd. And Dd's friend G actually said to gd that her mommy's anger was gd's fault. Now that makes me so mad  :'(   How do I compensate for that comment. Especially with all this effort on gd's part to be what her mom was demanding from her.

She is super cooperative, doing her homework, going to the bathroom without company (though she asked tonight after DD had left the house to hang out with friends - she likes company doing #2. She takes care of herself. But she nodded yes when I asked if it was only OK to her to aske me when mommy was gone.) She is also doing chores - picking up her toys, putting her clothes in the hamper, ---all these are wonderful things that she is totally able to do on her own. She just has resisted doing them when I have asked her. The troubling part for me is this sudden shift to having to do it all 'right'. Espcially when mom is around. And her calling her mom's attention to the fact that she is compliant.

Her teacher also noticed a huge shift in her independent work this past week, and commented to me about it on Friday. Is this all oK? I like that she is doing what needs to be done. Is she really feeling better about herself here, and I am worrying over nothing? Very confusing. And seems to fit this topic. Also fits the impact of being adaptable for survival. I have done this to survive being the parent of DD these 25 years.

Is this a negative core belief in action? How can I help her test this belief? What kind of questions can I ask?

qcr ?
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« Reply #37 on: February 12, 2012, 11:45:46 PM »

Excerpt
Gd6 is taking big serving of salad and notices yellow bell peppers. She does not like peppers usually. So she says rather loudly, I am taking a yellow pepper and trying. Look mommy, I am trying it. Wow, it is good. I will eat some more of these. Look mommy, I am eating yellow peppers so you will not yell.

 To all of you, qcr. I don't know, of course, but it does sound like she's trying to be perfect because if she's perfect (core belief here) Mommy won't get mad, and it's her fault Mommy gets mad... .if I'm perfect, I can make Mommy better. It's something she can control.

I would try to edge around the subject with her. "I've noticed you're working really hard at school and at home. It's great to try your best. It's also fine to make a mistake. How do you feel about making mistakes sometimes?" Maybe find a parallel in your own life when you've tried to be perfect and then realized that though it's good to do your best, being perfect isn't necessary? And that people are responsible for their own actions and feelings? Is there a quiet time you can have a lazy talk about her feelings and validate that you know she's trying so hard... .what is she afraid of might be the key question.

Questions are, does a father suffering from mental illness engender a similar reaction? And, what's the stereotypical effect on a girl whose mother is unavailable to her either by being absent or because of mental illness? Same for boys, too.

Almost all the research so far is on mothers. There is some on attachment and fathers (and other topics as well I'm sure, but predominantly mothers), which I'd have to spend some time on to answer your question. Clinically, there's lots to show that a father having a mental illness has a profound effect on a child as well. It's just not well explored in studies.

Absent mother... .great question. I'll try to find some info and others may have some to offer as well.

B&W
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« Reply #38 on: February 14, 2012, 01:05:30 PM »

 Excellent workshop Black and White! Thank you all for sharing...

QCR: Your gd age 6 is developmentally not able to fully understand why her mother is not emotionally available or able to love her like most parents would. Her behaviour is an attempt to "please" her mother and get that love... At this age and stage kid's thinking is its their fault ie: parents divorce, parent having a mental disorder, etc.

Your gd. may have a core belief  ie: rescue fantasy, etc. that she believes if she is good enough, pleases her mum enough that things will be different... What does your gd say, feel about her r/s with her Mum?
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« Reply #39 on: February 14, 2012, 11:59:25 PM »

Excellent workshop Black and White! Thank you all for sharing...

QCR: Your gd age 6 is developmentally not able to fully understand why her mother is not emotionally available or able to love her like most parents would. Her behaviour is an attempt to "please" her mother and get that love... At this age and stage kid's thinking is its their fault ie: parents divorce, parent having a mental disorder, etc.

Your gd. may have a core belief  ie: rescue fantasy, etc. that she believes if she is good enough, pleases her mum enough that things will be different... What does your gd say, feel about her r/s with her Mum?

Mostly she just says she does not want anyone to yell. Esp. her mom, but this applies to everyone. And she is being more engaged everywhere in her life, not just at home or when DD is around. At school, daisy scouts, with friends and their parents, with dh and I. It is almost like - no one is going to bully me anymore. I am going to take care of myself. Am I putting too much of an "adult" spin on this? I see her get really frustrated, like writing her valentines for school yesterday. She threw her pencil across the room. I had her get another pencil, and mostly have been just sitting quietly nearby. Then she pulls it together and gets back to work. SHe had to finish before she could go out and play. The valentine writing was a homework assignment.

Today she had a friend (lets call her M) over that is also in her 1st grade class. They are very different girls - and are very aware of this, or figuring it out. M is wanting to come over a lot since her dad has moved out to an apt and they have  live in babysitter now and her mom is at work - previously a stay at home mom. M is into gymnastics, princess stuff, wearing dresses and fancy shoes and prefers indoor play. Gd prefers soccer, basketball, bikes & scooters, animals, bugs frogs running snowballs & sleds. They really have little in common. And M is always getting the 'cooperation' awards in class - Gd gets few of those though she knows she is doing her best every day.

So at bedtime we were talking about M and how confusing her life must be now with her dad living seperate and her mom going "on a date with a new boy tonight". Seems really fast to me - they were together in December! Maybe I am just too old! So we talked a bit about how Gd's mom and dad are apart and have other bf's and gf's and yet they still love her. So I think I keep trying to tell her with words what my fantasy is - that her mom and dad love her like other kids parents love them. And as I write this I am not so sure. DD believes she loves her 2 kids as any mom does - and that I have created this division between them somehow by not rescuing her and the kids. GEEZ - she was the one doing alcohol and drugs all along with both kids and both daddy's. Why have I been so blind    :'(

It must be very confusing for gd as most of her friends, except for M, have very traditional families with at home mom's, working dad's, siblings that live with them ---

Think I need to find some sleep now. I am getting confused too.

qcr

Oh, we go a video valentine from gd's brother, my gs4, that was placed in foster care at 5 mos and adopted by the foster parents at age2. Long period of visits and crap before the court finally said enough is enough -- and the daddy got deported and the incompentent case worker was replaced. Gd asked - who is he? My brother? She has his pictures all over her room - she collected them and put them there. I was confused by her question. Have not had direct contact from adoptive family for several months, and this was first time they showed any reference with him knowing where he is from.

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« Reply #40 on: February 19, 2012, 10:11:23 AM »

As part of this workshop, please share ways and sources you use to learn about child development in general. Having that background helps to deal with normal developmental issues and also gives a sense of "what's normal."

For example, a number of reputable websites like WebMD and Baby Center have a feature that allow you to register your child's age and then they will send you e-mails with newsletters tailored to child development matters you and your child are likely experiencing. Or you can go to them and read articles about certain ages/specific topics.

And of course there are many books on the topic and other resources--share your favorites!

B&W
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« Reply #41 on: September 04, 2013, 12:35:02 AM »

Reading through this thread - forgot about it since 18 months ago. Much has changed and much is the same in my family. We are all growing in many ways, even BPDDD27. Can really see the developmental shift for gd8 this past summer into 'middle childhood'. Willing and able to verbalize her fears, needs, ask for help when needed.

Took lots of notes while I read this thread tonight, need to ponder questions, relate to lots of new reading about parenting with a new basis in neuroscience of development. How we can help our troubled kids, and ourselves, correct many patterns and connect our mind - emotions - body in better balance.

I will be back. Lots to think about.

qcr
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The best criticism of the bad is the practice of the better. (Dom Helder)
John090995

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What is your sexual orientation: Straight
Posts: 4


« Reply #42 on: March 23, 2014, 08:13:15 AM »

Interesting topic. We have 4 children who seem to be reasonably well adjusted.  Whatever that means.  Not sure there really is a normal.  At any rate, my wife berates them for their chores or whatever expectation she has that they are not meeting.  I feel completely powerless and have to watch this happen.  I don't understand or know what the long term consequences are, but I know that I have a reaction to it.  What have you done in these situations?  I have left the room.  I have mentioned it to her.  Nothing seems to make me feel any better and I am concerned about my kids.  She always circles back and works through the issues, but it sure is painful to watch. 
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unicorn2014
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Gender: Female
What is your sexual orientation: Straight
Who in your life has "personality" issues: Ex-romantic partner
What is your relationship status with them: Divorced
Posts: 2574



« Reply #43 on: February 15, 2016, 01:08:00 AM »

I'm starting to read through this workshop and after reading the first page, I want to cry. Has anyone else had this reaction?
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Caramel Brulee

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What is your sexual orientation: Straight
Posts: 4


« Reply #44 on: December 13, 2017, 11:36:47 PM »

This sounds so interesting.
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