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Uncertainty and Change; Friend or Foe?

Uncertainty: Friend or Foe?

Making a Change:

Since last year I’ve been working on a lot of goals. I opened a business and started working with supervisees for the first time. I’m putting myself out there as a trainer/speaker for the first time. First, first, first.

Adding these responsibilities have really stretched me and challenged me in a lot of ways. I’m learning to experience the emotions that come with owning something with your name on it. I am by no means an expert at business, but I like the challenge and I’m learning as I go. I was looking to grow and change and challenge myself. I’m accomplishing just that, and in the process I’ve done a lot of new things I’ve never done before. It’s a very exciting time for me.

The Challenge of Uncertainty

On the other side of taking these steps to obtain my goals in the counseling field comes a lot of uncertainty. Financial uncertainty, will I have enough clients, will supervisees come to see me, and what if I work months on a training and no one shows up? Fear of failure and the unknown can easily creep in.

The thing is, change and uncertainty are very challenging for me, and probably for many others. I tend to like plans and to know what’s next. Those that know me know how scheduled I am and how I like to plan my life way in advance. Business challenges that for me on so many levels. I’m very loyal and dedicated and I will drag out a tough situation that’s not great just to avoid the change and stay in my comfort zone. On the positive, this makes me a very loyal and consistent person and I’m great at commitment, but if I don’t keep myself in check I will continue a sometimes difficult or not good for me but good for them situation, or get stuck in the mundane.

It’s Not Just Me!

I’ve noticed some of the same challenges with change and uncertainty with people that I work with.  Either they hit a new milestone in their career, like getting their license and begin to explore their options, or they’ve decided to change the way they are doing something in their home or work life and dealing with the ambivalence that can sometimes follow the decision to make a change.

I read this morning on one of my favorite websites “Unstuck.com” that our brains see uncertainty as a challenge.  That we try to make up something certain in our minds to deal with the uncertainty because we are wired to survive that way.  This makes since in a survival situation, but it can sometimes be a stumbling block to a positive change. People tent to have trouble seeing past the ambiguity to the other side of the change. It takes a greater payout on the other end for people to walk through the uncertainty.

So Now What?

I was talking with someone I trust yesterday about some of the uncertainty I’m experiencing right now and she asked me how could I view uncertainty differently, rather than a threat? Or a fear? Well, here’s what I’ve come up with:

  • Change is certain.
  • Change is sometimes necessary.
  • View it as an opportunity to be creative with your life.
  • Write out the positives of the end goals.
  • Practice self-care rituals to deal with the emotions of the change.
  • Lean on your support, your tribe, or who ever you go to for accountability and
  • Practice your faith and trust in you God, and also yourself to make the right steps.
  • Focus on the next step right in front of you, (Thank you Oprah for this one!)
  • Focus on the Process not the outcome (thanks Marie Forleo!)
  • Look at the ambiguity and uncertainty not as a threat, but as an opportunity to be creative and make some tough decisions.

How do you deal with change and uncertainty? Leave a comment below and share with your friends.

# 1Tip I Received as a New Counselor Filling Out the License Application

Starting out as a new counselor I worried about filling out the application, meeting the requirements, would it get approved, etc… One thing that helped me relax and stop over analyzing things was when a seasoned counselor simplified it for me. I hope you find this tip helpful in today’s video blog.

 

What Questions Do You Have on Becoming a Licensed Professional Counselor?

Do You Have Tips on What Helped You Become a Counselor? Please Share Below in The Comments!

 

Don’t Let Discouragement Get You Down

cropped-header-2.jpgSometimes you plan things. Big plans. Life changes, opening a business, starting a relationship, going out with your girlfriends, anything. You get excited about it, you think, “Thank the Lord! Look at how He’s blessing my life” when things start going well. Then you have one of those weeks, cancellations, bad news, a tough client week or whatever the case. I feel disappointment, if I’m honest with myself, and some confusion too.

So how do I turn this around? I want to give up, but that’s not the answer. I want to drag my appointments in the door by their hair. No, that won’t work either. I want to blame someone, myself, others, the universe.

Then I feel like, what is the world telling me? Am I really ready for this? Did the Lord really tell me to do this? Doubts. Big Hairy DOUBTS. I’ve poured hours, money, sweat, tears, time, you name it into this venture. I look into the face of uncertainty. I can’t stop now I’m too far in.

I get down on my knees and give my worries to the Lord, my God. That’s my first step. I allow the tears. I allow the mixed emotions. But when I give it over to the Lord, I know He has no doubts. He will bring the people that need what I have to offer. He will provide. He’s proved it to me time and time again. When I left an agency job broken and torn, He healed me, when I had nothing He provided my needs. He gave me support and all I need. He won’t let me down. People will. Money will. Position will. Things will all let me down. But He won’t.

Isaiah 42:16 (NLT)

I will lead blind Israel down a new path, guiding them along an unfamiliar way. I will brighten the darkness before them and smooth out the road ahead of them. Yes, I will indeed do these things; I will not forsake them.

 

1 Chronicles 28:20 (NLT)

Then David continued, “Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Don’t be afraid or discouraged, for the lord God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. He will see to it that all the work related to the Temple of the lord is finished correctly.

 

Hebrews 13:5 (NLT)

Don’t love money; be satisfied with what you have. For God has said, “I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.”

  • Deuteronomy 1:21 (NLT)

    Look! He has placed the land in front of you. Go and occupy it as the lord, the God of your ancestors, has promised you. Don’t be afraid! Don’t be discouraged!’

  • Deuteronomy 31:8 (NLT)

    Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the lord will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; he will neither fail you nor abandon you.” Public Reading of the Book of Instruction

  • Joshua 1:9 (NLT)

    This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua’s Charge to the Israelites

  • Isaiah 41:10 (NLT)

    Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.

Therapist Self Care as a New Therapist Working with Traumatized Children.

 

An affectionate couple sitting on the beach alongside copyspace during a pretty sunset
An affectionate couple sitting on the beach alongside copyspace during a pretty sunset

I was prompted this week by a situation to share my experience at a time early in my career when I was struggling with burnout. I hope you find it helpful.

 

I began working with children who are traumatized as an intern during my graduate school program in 2005. I was working a full time job at a mental health agency with severe mentally ill adults while attempting to maintain a 20-30 hour a week internship at a domestic violence shelter. I was burning the candle at both ends. Before I knew it I was losing sleep, not eating regularly, and I had constant thoughts about clients I was serving, including a feelings of guilt over a difficult client situation at my job.

 

I didn’t notice it in the beginning. It didn’t start right a way. It was more of a gradual progression of overwork, and attempting to balance everything on my own. I didn’t know how to ask for help. I didn’t understand the signs that I was burning out on my own.

 

I didn’t know what I didn’t know. It wasn’t my fault. I don’t remember it being talked about a lot in my graduate school classes at the time (I hope things have changed). It happened because I was new to the field still, and also because it wasn’t talked about and it had begun to feel almost normal to me.

 

It wasn’t until a supervisor of mine returned from some time off and sat down with me and told me to seek my own therapy that I realized how stressed out I was and that I needed to make some changes. She was kind, honest, and identified the signs that I was burning out. I will never forget that. I will always value that.

 

How did I know I was burning out?

 

  • Less sleep
  • Constant thoughts and memories of a specific situation
  • Feelings of guilt
  • Feelings of sadness
  • Feeling stuck like I couldn’t change anything
  • Withdrawing from others
  • Crying easily
  • Feeling isolated
  • Thinking I had to figure everything out on my own
  • Not participating in enjoyable activities
  • Finding it difficult to relax

 

I am sure there are more signs others could add to this list. This is not exhaustive. But that was my experience at the time.

 

Thanks to that experience with my supervisor (and the therapy that followed that meeting) I have since learned how to tell I’m burning out and overworked, and when I need to takes extra steps to care for myself.

 

I now realize that I am not alone in some of the feelings I was having (stress, frustration, feeling stuck, sadness). And I take extra care to surround myself with supportive people in our field and outside our field that I can be honest with and that will be honest with me and hold me accountable to care for myself, go easy on myself, and have empathy for myself when I feel this way.

 

 

There are several things that I do to prevent and/or manage feelings of stress and burnout:

 

  • Be honest about the stress that sometimes comes with our profession and the client content we witness everyday
  • My faith, prayer and spiritual support from my relationship with God;
  • A strong social support system, friends, family, my husband;
  • Seeking outside of the agency supervision or consultation;
  • Participating in my own therapy;
  • Making time to unwind and de-compress from work;
  • Writing and blogging;
  • Reading about successful, healthy businesses and their practices and therapists;
  • Finding the right time to be emotional and allowing the feelings I had to be there;
  • Focusing on what is best for my clients;
  • Maintaining my ethics and professionalism even when things felt fuzzy or grey;
  • Recognizing what I do and do not have control over; and,
  • Knowing when it was time to take a break
  • Taking responsibility for what is mine, and not taking responsibility for other people’s choices.
  • Reading about self-care
  • Trying new ways to relax
  • Taking time off when needed
  • Setting short and long term goals (for career and other areas of my life)
  • Journaling
  • Art (making it and enjoying other’s art).
  • I am also thankful for the many things I learn about myself through this job.
  • Have a variety of clients to vary my day
  • Being genuine with others
  • Listening to the people I trust the most when they tell me to slow down (this is sometimes hard to do)

How can you support a colleague who may be going through a difficult time or dealing with burnout?

  • Be available.
  • Be honest (with love) about your concerns.
  • Be empathetic
  • Offer support and referrals if necessary.
  • Invite them to something fun outside of work (dinner, girls weekend, lunch, or even out for coffee)
  • Send an encouraging note, email or Facebook post.

 

Can you think of other ways you can support a struggling colleague?

 

Let’s share in the comments below section and support each other

If you are a therapist struggling with your work and would like support please visit the Self Care for Therapist Network for information and articles.

I also offer individual and group supervision for play therapists and those seeking licensure as a professional counselor and a FREE Play Therapist Consultation Group for Licensed Mental Health Practitioners who are advanced play therapists. If you are not already in supervision please contact me to make an appointment and have supervision as part of your self-care plan


How Do I Help a Child Involved in Bullying? Show Notes from Justice For Nate

girl with paint on faceiStock_000063932169_MediumLast April I had the amazing opportunity to be interviewed on Thrive Global Network in response to a death of Nate Wombles
Unfortunately many children and even adults are involved in the bullying cycle.

Many parents feel stuck  if their child is involved in a bullying situation. How do you teach your child to respond without egging on the child who bullies?

What is Bullying, and What do I do about it?

Bullying is aggressive, threatening behavior by one child or adult towards another child/adult. The whole goal of the bully is to gain power or control over a person who they perceive is weaker than them.

Bullying can be verbal, emotional or physical or through technology, called “Cyberbullying.”

(http://www.stopbullying.gov/)(http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/pub/understanding_bullying.html)

Bullying can occur either by one person or groups. Groups of bullies may also be called gangs.

Bullying is not just for kids, bullying can occur at any age, even into adulthood.

What roles do people play in a bullying situation?

There are different roles students play in a bullying situation.

The person doing the bullying

The person being bullied

Someone who is both bullied and being a bully towards others.

Those who defend or stand up for the person being bullied.

Those who assist the bully.

Those who reinforce the bully by becoming bystanders.

A person can both be the victim of bullying and also bully others at the same time.

What are signs a child is being bullied?

Signs a child may be a bullying victim are:

Unexplained bruises, scrapes or marks

Changes in behavior such as eating habits, nightmares, stomach aches, making excuses to not go to school, ride the bus.

Unexplained  damage or loss of belongings

Child coming home hungry

Changes in grades

Child becomes sad, anxious, angry, or depressed

Child beginds withdrawing from others

Stops hanging around friends

Sources:  http://www.stopbullying.gov/“Bullies are a pain in the brain”, and www.Safechild.net

What do I do if I think my child is being bullied?

What parents can do if a child is being bullied:

  • Address the situation immediately.
  • If you’re not sure communicate with your child by stating the changes you’ve noticed and asking what happened. http://info.character.org/blog/bid/128143/19-Signs-Your-Child-Is-Being-Bullied-and-What-to-Do-about-It
  • Role play ways to respond to the bully with your child.
  • Listen to your child when they want to talk about it.
  • Don’t encourage the child to ignore it or fight back
  • Encourage confidence and assertive communication
  • Talk to your child about who to tell if they are being bullied, create a safety plan with your child.
  • If the school is involved, allow school officials to address the other parents rather than calling them yourself
  • Seek counseling for your child if he or she is in distress (anxious, depressed, withdrawing, etc…)

What your child can co if he or she is being bullied.

The main thing to teach your child about preventing bullying is how to show confidence.

  • Don’t cry, and stay calm (crying gives them satisfaction)
  • Stay away from groups of bullies/gangs
  • Tell an adult if they see weapons, are being teased/bullied, you can help your child make a list of people they can go to
  • Go a different way than the bullies if having to walk home or go to a different part of the playground
  • Spend time with other friends
  • Run away from the situation if they are after them, preferably to an adult he or she trusts.
  • Tell their friends, friends can even help stand up for them.
  • Stick up for him or her self by using a confident voice “I don’t like….”
  • Practice what to say
  • Remember the bully wants power, it is more about their need for power than about you
  • If a child is alone and the bully wants their stuff, teach them to give it to them and leave the situation.

Some don’ts when dealing with bullies (Romain)

  • Don’t cry
  • Stay calm
  • Don’t ignore
  • Don’t taunt the bully.
  • Don’t beg the bully not to hurt you.
  • Don’t believe the names they call you are think negative about yourself
  • Name call back or agree with them
  • Try to fight back

What can bystanders do to help bullying?

“Research shows that bystanders intervene only 20% of the time, but when they do, bullying  stops about 50% of the time,” Bazelon said.

Even the smallest act of intervention can work wonders, she added. “Bystanders can help in many ways, simply by standing with the victim or touching their shoulder during an incident, or even by sending a supportive text or calling them on the phone afterward.” http://info.character.org/blog/bid/177221/Be-More-Than-a-Bystander-Speak-Up-Against-Bullying-and-Violence

  • Stand up for the person being bullied
  • Don’t give bullying an audience
  • Help the child being bullied get away without getting yourself in harms way.
  • Tell a trusted adult
  • Be friends

What teachers and schools and organizations can do if bullying is occurring:

First get the facts from multiple sources.

  • Listen to those involve without judgement or labeling
  • Separate children involved
  • Make sure person doing bullying knows what the problem is
  • Identify reasons child may have bullied
  • Have clear consequences:
  • have class discussion, role play situations
  • Attempt to help children make amends
  • stopbullying.gov has several tips on involving person doing bullying in consequences , including apology letters, doing good deeds, and what to stay away from
  • Provide opportunites for bullying education

Signs your child is bullying other children:

  • Gets into frequent arguments or fights with others
  • Is angry
  • Blames others for their problems
  • Unexplained new belongings or money
  • Frequent trips to the principle’s office at school.

There is a quiz at the end of Bullies are a Pain in the Brain to screen if your child is bullying others.

What to do if your child is bullying others?

  • Don’t get defensive, take responsibility for your child.
  • Talk to your child to tell you what happened and listen to their side.
  • Try to find out the issue your child is dealing with that led to the bullying behavior.
  • Set limits.
  • Apply consequences to the behavior
  • Provide alternatives to aggressive behavior.
  • Ask your child how you can help.
  • Seek professional help for your child if necessary to deal with the source of the issue.

Why do people bully others? According to stompoutbullying.org

  • Power and Control is the main issue surrounding bullying behavior
  • Sometimes someone else is also bullying the child
  • Child may be having difficulties at home or have experienced abuse, neglect or witnessed aggressive behavior themselves
  • To avoid getting bullied
  • For social power
  • Some plan their bullying and are liked by others but not their victims

Why don’t kids tell?

stopbullying.gov reported on the Indicators of School Crime and safety that bullying is reported to adults less than 40% of the time

  • Feeling helpless
  • Fear or intimidation by others
  • Not wanting to be seen as a tattletale
  • Feelings of isolation and withdrawal

What are the risk factors for being bullied?

It’s important to note that while these are risk factors, not all children with these characteristics are bullied.

  • Seen as quiet or different by other children
  • Difficulty speaking up for themselves
  • Difficulty with peer relationships
  • Are anxious, depressed or low self esteeme

What are the risk factors for bullying?

There are two types of those who bully defined by stopbullying.gov

Those whose goals are concerned with popularity, power, control.

Those who are more isolated, have low self esteem, less involved in school, less social involvement with peers.

Other risk factors include:

  • Are aggressive
  • More difficulties at home
  • View violence as a way to handle their problems
  • Less involvement from parents,
  • Negative view of others
  • Difficulty following rules
  • Have friends who bully

What are the long term consequences of bullying?

  • A NY Times article summaries a study by the JAMA network on psychiatry that found long term consequences of childhood bullying into young adulthood.
  • Young adults were interviewed/assessed on which role they played in the bullying scenario and placed into different groups
  • Outcomes included increased anxiety and panic for those who were victims, increased panic for those who were both bullies and victims and increased instance of adult antisocial behavior for those who were bullies but not victims.

“A very small number of bullied children might retaliate through extremely violent measures. In 12 of 15 school shooting cases in the 1990s, the shooters had a history of being bullied.” www.stopbullying.org

Resources and links

“Bullies are a Pain in the Brain” written and illustrated by Trevor Romain

“Cyber Bullying Not More” by Holli Kenley, MA

stopbullying.gov

http://info.character.org/blog/bid/128143/19-Signs-Your-Child-Is-Being-Bullied-and-What-to-Do-about-It

http://safechild.org/categoryparents/preventing-bullying/

http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/02/20/effects-of-bullying-last-into-adulthood-study-finds/

http://acestoohigh.com/2015/03/02/bullying-starts-early-with-parents-and-babies/

http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/pub/understanding_bullying.html

How to Stop Bullying? Listen Live Tonight!

On April 26th, a group of teens were walking home when a Jeep containing several more teens followed and harassed them. In the end, Nathan Wombles was senselessly and brutally struck and killed in front of his family while protecting his brother, who was in the group of teenagers walking home. On Wednesday’s Thrive Global Network’s show, I am on with Kellye Williams and Mary Nichelson. They will talk with Nathan’s wife regarding the incident and to learn more about the man that Nathan was. Then they will be joined by myself, Thrive’s own Jill Osborne-licensed professional counselor-as I helps them work through the reality of bullying. We are dedicating this 1-hour special to the Wombles family, Nathan’s memory, and to acquire hands-on advice in dealing with a subject that impacts everyone. It’s an all new Thrive Weekly Magazine at 7 PM EST. http://www.revmediatv.com/radio/thrive-global-network -with Sandra Finley Ludwig

How to Set Limits with Toddlers

IMG_0442How Do I Set Limits With my Toddler?

Many toddlers ages 2-4 go through testing limits. In fact toddlers and teenagers are a lot alike! they are both trying to learn boundaries and independence. It is important to remember how little they are and that they are still learning.

Here are Some Steps to Setting Limits

  1. Keep your own emotions in check and don’t discipline when you’re angry.
  2. Use a firm, but calm tone (hard I know sometimes).
  3. Keep language simple and concrete.
  4. Remove yourself from a power struggle by giving two choices.
  5. Use Encouragement!
  6. Be consistent with limits and don’t give in just to avert a tantrum

What Do I Say If my Child Has a Tantrum?

Sometimes you have to let a child calm down from a tantrum or meltdown before you can talk to them. I find it helpful to practice a few specific scripts to say to a child when I am teaching parents how to set limits. This helps give concrete things to say to a child who is upset or angry.

A great resource for what to say to a child when they are angry or having a tantrum can be found at www.angriesout.com. You will also find many other useful articles on how to communicate with your child when they are upset, or if they are showing aggressive behaviors.

What is Discipline and How is it Different than Punishment?

Discipline is about teaching, punishment is about suffering. When you are parenting and setting limits, it’s important to ask yourself what your short term and your long term goals are for your child. What do you want your child to learn from his or her misbehavior? How will this experience help develop responsibility?

 Why is My Child Misbehaving?

I view behavior as purposeful. All behavior has a goal. This may or may not be a conscious goal. Misbehavior in children is often a misguided attempt to achieve one of four goals.

What Is Your Child’s Goal?

1. Gain attention?

2. Power and Control?

3. Revenge?

4. Having Feelings of Inadequacy?

Sometimes paying attention to your own feelings as a parent will give you an idea about what your child is trying to achieve. They will give you clues about the purpose of your child’s behavior.

How Are You Feeling in the Moment?

1. Annoyed? Your child may be trying to gain attention.

2. Angry? Your child may be wanting power or control over a situation.

3. Hurt? Your child may be wanting revenge.

4. Hopeless? Your child may be feeling inadequate.

When I first began working with children, I found it challenging to set limits and manage certain behaviors during group or in sessions. When I learned this it really helped me to realize that a child’s misbehavior is often not about the behavior itself, but a misguided attempt to meet their needs. Paying attention to my own feelings in the moment and using them as clues to my child’s needs really helped me to separate their behavior from my feelings and know how to respond.

A good book I could recommend (because I use it for my own kids!) is Toddler 411 by Meet authors

Dr. Ari Brown

and Denise Fields

 

What are some of your biggest challenges when parenting toddlers? Leave a comment below and lets get the conversation going!

How To Help a Child Grieve the Death of a Sibling

iStock_0littlegirl in snow MediumOne of the questions I addressed to the listeners on Thrive Global Network dealt with the difficult loss of a sibling.

 

 

 

“What is the best way to help children deal with the loss of a sibling? (Our children were young when we lost 2 babies, but even as teenagers, their grief is very real and very present)”

 

Tips for parents with a loss of a sibling:

 

Loss of a child is one of the most difficult things families I work with deal with. Especially when you yourself are grieving and are caring for another child who is also grieving the loss.

In general there are 5 stages of grief. I like to look at it as more of a cycle because I think that people experience grief and loss in some way as they grow and change. For example holidays and anniversaries/birthdays you may experience sadness, grief of some sort even if you have come to accept the death of a person.

Also as a child grows they gain new insights to their lives and may experience the grief emotions differently as they grow. As children become teenagers they now may have a better understanding of the situation and have developed more insight. It is important to find some way to remember the person during these times and to allow yourself to feel the emotions of grief.

  • Accept where the child/teen is in the grief process
  • Encourage, but don’t force expression of emotions
  • Grief is not a “problem to be fixed”, but something that must be experienced and felt. I see it as part of the healing process after a death or a loss
  • Talk to your kids about how they may experience these feelings in their life again and it’s ok
  • Continue to set appropriate limits with your children, “you feel____ but it is not ok to show it by throwing the toy or hitting your brother”
  • Keep regular routines
  • Reinforce positive memories, show pictures, create a memory book or photo album
  • Ok to be honest about your own feelings (I feel sad) without being too overwhelming
  • Adolescents can really benefit from participating in memorial events (not forced but given the opportunity)
  • Sometimes the questions children have or the explanations can be uncomfortable for adults, and many adults try to protect children by avoiding clear terms, but it is important to understand that these questions are part of a child’s normal development and how they are trying to understand what has happened.

A story that I use with young children who’ve lost a sibling is called “Always My Brother” by Jean Reagan, which addresses sibling loss. Stories are great because they break down sometimes difficult issues in to a language children can understand

There are Five Stages of Grief : As presented by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross who “On Death and Dying”

Shock/Denial: disbelief that the death has occurred, or feeling numb to the death, others may mistakenly believe the person is fine because they are not crying or acting out or are showing little emotion.

Anger: either anger at the person who died, themselves (may blame self) or circumstances, child may act out or feel out of control

Bargaining: “If I am a good kid God can bring the person back” may have feelings of guilt

Depression: sadness, withdraw, realization the person is gone, feeling lonely, wanting life the way it was before the person died

Acceptance: Understands the reality that the person is gone and life is changed, misses the person but feels hope that things are going to be all right

Children experience losses differently depending on their age and development, and while the death may have occurred while they were small, when a person gets older you develop more insight into your life and issues and events or reminders or life events may bring up some feelings about the deaths.

Have you experienced the loss of a sibling yourself? Or have a question or comment about todays post? Leave a comment below and join the conversation.

 

 

 

How Much Freedom Should I Allow My Teenager to Have?

Mom with two teens readingI was recently interviewed on Thrive Global Media by Mary Nichelson and Kellye Williams. This is the first of a series of questions submitted by some  of their listeners. The questions have been edited for content.

As a parent of teenagers, how do you find the perfect balance of letting go, yet protecting our kids?  I still want to protect them without stifling their maturity and confidence. Where is the balance found?

Many parents struggle with trusting their teens, and with their teen’s need for independence. I think it depends on your teen, their age, and have they shown responsibility so far or are they showing you through their behavior that they cannot be trusted for some reason.

Teens still need boundaries and consistency with rules, discipline, however as they get older and show more responsibility you can be flexible and allow more freedom. Teens also can learn from life lessons that allow for natural consequences of their choices. For example, if they have a project due tomorrow and they’ve known all week but they are just starting on it today then give them the responsibility to get it done and experience the consequences of procrastination (more stress, not turn out as well, etc…).

If your teen is struggling with a lot of behavior problems, substance abuse, etc… then they may need more rules and more structure. I would also prioritize your battles, and choose which ones to fight (drug use, aggressive behavior) and which ones to let go of (hair color, etc…).

The teenage years are often a challenge for both parents of teens and their teenagers because teenagers to trying to gain their independence. This sometimes leads to pushing boundaries and sometimes conflict as the teen tries to explore their identity and independence.  Teens explore various issues during this time including spirituality, sexuality, peer relationships, career goals, and relationships with caregivers.

One of the most challenging situations I think, for Christian parents is when a child begins to explore their beliefs and may either distance themselves from church, or explore different beliefs than those they were taught growing up. There can be different reasons why a teen may be struggling with their spirituality and church. Maybe they don’t feel they fit in with the peer group at the church they go to, or maybe they aren’t sure of their faith, the influence of culture, or a peer group they belong to.

Whatever the reason there are things you can do to help support your teen while they are going through this exploration process.

First, recognize this as a normal part of every teens development and how they are trying to reconcile their upbringing with becoming an independent adult. Secondly, encourage, but don’t force open communication about spiritual issues and why you believe what you believe.

Allow your teen freedom to discuss their opinions and questions openly. Additionally, if your teen wants to explore other churches, offer to attend with them, and discuss your differences afterwards. They key is open communication with your teen and allowing some responsibility for their own spiritual growth.

For some interesting stuff on teens and why many teens and young adults distance themselves from church read : Students Abandoning the Faith

For Parenting Contracts with your teen go here: Free Printable Parenting Contracts for Teens

For general information about parenting your teen go here: Parenting Teens at About Parenting

To Hear My Interview with Mary and Kellye Click Here: http://www.jillosbornelpc.com/events/

Have a teenage child? How do you balance boundaries with your teenager and allowing them to take more responsibility? Leave a comment below and let’s start the conversation!