by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghMarch 14, 2021 child counseling, child therapy, family counseling, family counseling during corona virus, parenting, Parenting and Families0 comments
Whether you’re a parent or caregiver, weathering the pandemic with children has probably felt like a pressure cooker at times. Boredom, turmoil, and anxiety arise when faced with remote school days or filling long afternoons sans extracurriculars.
Kids look to the adults in their lives to help them cope with this complex, global situation. How can we make strong mental health choices to protect them?
Start By Helping Yourself
It’s difficult to support others when you feel unsupported. Take some moments at the beginning of each day to center yourself. You could wake up a little early to do a 20-minute yoga class. Perhaps digest the headlines over a quiet cup of coffee. Even stopping to breathe deeply for one minute can make a difference.
Now that you are calm, transmit that to your children. Start with basic facts about COVID-19. Dispel any scary rumors that may be circulating. Especially be aware of internet and TV messages. Assure them that, although we do need to take it seriously, adults are working to keep everyone as safe as possible.
When your child has a question about the coronavirus or lockdown life, take the time to listen. Give them space to air out their concerns. It may help to provide multiple modes of expression, like drawing, playing, and talking.
Measures of Control
We all like to feel some control of our lives, however small. The same goes for young people. Fortunately, the safety guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19 translate into simple activities. Guide kids to wash their hands, wear a mask in public, and stay at least 6 feet away from anyone outside their pod.
Lighten the mood when you can. Hand-washing can be made into a fun game with songs. Mask crafts add color and art to something obligatory.
Social distancing may especially distress kids who miss their friends. Take some extra time to emphasize why it’s important to keep distance. Explain that the infection spreads when people are in close contact with each other. Assure them that it’s temporary, and they will see their friends again. Meanwhile, engage in remote or outdoor socializing when possible.
Middle schoolers and high schoolers may benefit from graphics that demonstrate how “flattening the curve” works. This helps them understand the bigger picture and empower them to be part of the solution.
Come Up With Fun Distractions
On the bright side of lockdown, we have so many opportunities to spend quality time with our kids. When we’re safe at home, there’s no need to ruminate on pandemic worries. Have a family meeting where everyone lists a hobby or interest they want to grow during quarantine: puzzles, art, reading, writing, music, gymnastics, bird-watching… Maybe you all make a pact to work on doing the splits by the end of quarantine. Maybe you remodel a room and turn it into an art studio or sublime reading nook.
Most of us have some kind of dream home project that’s been sitting on the shelf. Time to get into it! The antidote to worry is action.
We Can Pull Through This
If the stress of the pandemic seems to be wearing on you and your children, make the wise choice: seek counseling. Zoom makes family therapy readily available, and it’s just as effective.
It’s true that we’re all in this together – if your family feels overwhelmed, you don’t have to tough it out alone.
by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghMay 11, 2020 corona virus and shared custody, family counseling during corona virus0 comments
Tips for Co-Parenting during Quarantine Coronavirus
It is always important for parents to be on the same page when it comes to their children, perhaps it is even more important that parents take the time create an atmosphere of predictability and consistency in shared custody and co-parenting family dynamics. The family counseling community has seen many examples of damaging dynamics from families during quarantine COVID times. From parents who are unable to agree on whether their children will be able to see in person health care providers, to parents who attempt to withhold visitations under the guise of COVID, it is the children who stand in the middle to lose much needed contact with their loving parents and caregivers. Here are some child therapist and family counseling verified tips to help you and your child’s other parent get on the same page. Remember, it is pretty likely that you and your former partner share the goal of helping your children adapt during these difficult times.
The courts have not waived parents’ rights to visitations due to COVID. That means your normal custody arrangement remains in full effect during this period, even if you have concerns over how your child’s other parent is enacting social distancing or who they are coming into contact with while they are having their visits, you still have a legal obligation to uphold the legal arrangement. Of course, if you feel that their other parent or family members are behaving in a dangerous way you should speak to your legal counsel but in most every instance the courts have not interfered with custody arrangements over COVID family concerns.
What is really best for the kids. The impact of this virus is even more difficult for small children as they do not have the rationale to understand the purpose of limitations on their behavior. This makes it even more important that we follow up as caretakers with consistency in the rest of the routine. Routine has an effect of soothing fear and anxiety, seeing the same family members and important people in kids lives are a big part of what makes their life feel predictable and manageable.
Parents will need to communicate, with each other! There are a lot of instances of parents using others as a ‘go between.’ From asking young children to relay messages to asking receptionists, and therapists, teachers and doctors to tell their former partner what is happening with their child, this is not a good idea. First, it is outside of the role of any child or provider/professional person to manage the communication between you are your child’s other parent. If you feel unable to manage basic communication with your child’s other parent for any reason, you should enter co-parenting family counseling immediately.
Remember that there are things outside of your control. COVID is a massive reminder that there are so many things outside of our control, while we should always act in our own and our loved ones best interest, there are still so many variables that we can not influence. Your child’s other parent may be to some degree, one of those situations that makes your feel helpless. We know that in the face helplessness and uncertainty most people feel a large measure of anxiety. Acknowledge your anxiety and spending some time assessing whether it is rational or irrational. You will likely need to have a moderate degree of flexibility in allowing your children to have a slightly different experience in their other parents home versus your own. These personality differences may have led to the demise of your relationship with your former partner and they will likely make co-parenting with them tricky but not impossible. Try to start with the points where your agree, maybe as simple as ‘we both love the kids.’
With COVID, there are a few categories of people and they are reacting to Corona differently. Some of concerned for their health and the health of others and are closely monitoring the CDC guidelines for managing COVID. Others are concerned about their loss of freedom and autonomy. Others are concerned about the financial impact of COVID closures. All of these are perspectives that come from a place of caring about the well-being of our society and others albeit in different ways. If your child’s other parent has a perspective very different from your own, you should attempt to find some compassion for them and really hone in to be sure that any concerns you have for your children to assess that they are well founded concerns and rational. One of the most important things that you can do for your children right now is to care for your own stress and manage it effectively so that you can be the best version of yourself during the challenges that we are all facing.
Check out the link by World Health Organization for tips on parenting during quarantine!
by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghApril 10, 2020 family and marriage counseling, quarantine, relationship conflict, social distancing0 comments
How to reduce conflict and enhance your relationship during Quarantine COVID-19.
While many sources state that there are potential dangers to sharing home, life, and work space with your partner, and children, and dog, and anyone else that finds their way into your domestic life, we want to discuss that there are many ways to turn those potential pitfalls into opportunities for relationship moments. While it is true that mental health stressors are steeply on the increase, as well as dangerous statistics like sharp increases in mental health crises calls and domestic violence being reported. Alternately the experiences of some couples who are living, loving and working together can be positive, at least in the short term. Couples are grateful to spend more time together, to have shortened their work day by cutting off the commute, and are given the chance to understand the nuances of each others work and life in deeper and more meaningful ways. This article will highlight two ways that social distancing and working from home can add greater stress to your relationship. We will discuss each and the steps to manage them.
If your relationship was struggling before COVID, it will likely become much worse with the added stress of working from home and too much closeness for comfort. While there are a variety of conflicts that couples experience, an overwhelming number of them fall under the category of ‘conflict communication.’ Meaning that the two are not listening and responding to each others needs, thoughts, and attempts at connection in a way that supports the fabric of their love. Sometimes we are most bothered not by having too much time together but in noticing that the time together is punctuated by painful distance, quiet, and missed opportunities. If this sounds familiar to you, become intentional to not simply live in the same home but to put down your phones and turn off the TV, tune into your partner with the goal of understanding them. Ask them questions like what are they working on, what is important to them right now, what they are struggling with right now, dig in and ask follow up questions to each of their responses. Use our intimate conversation guide for couples if you are looking for more pointers on going deeper into dialogue.
Try to keep some degree of normal in your day. Get dressed and ready for your work day even if nobody outside of your home will see you. Be sure that you have created your own makeshift work space if you dont have a home office. With your routine and space in tact, try to take breaks and pauses just as you would in your work office. That is time that you might be able to connect with your partner. You can try to arrange walks in the neighborhood together, prepare lunch, dinner or breakfast together to form a further routine.
The second way that couples might experience greater stress during the pandemic is if there is an imbalance in the way that they share spaces and household tasks. In this scenario, feelings of hurt, disappointment, and frustration will emerge from misunderstandings. An example might be that while both partners are working the same number of hours but one partner is primarily responsible for managing household and child care tasks. A way to overcome the challenges of this scenario lie within the realization that expectation will change during the pandemic, there will likely be more household responsibility and there will need to be more time and support in managing this. There will also likely be a shift in the work life of any partner who is in the workforce. Work policies and expectations might become more lax, and at bare minimum working from home will shorten the work day commute, each partner should tune into the other and discuss what is needed and how they can both help the household adapt to the changes.
Mother: a word unlike any other. It has meaning in every culture and time since the birth of human kind. By definition it elicits a range of thoughts and emotions, as each of us considers the personal and collective vision we have for the word “Mother.” The day we honor those who embody this wondrous expression is once again upon us. What does it mean to you? How do we characterize the word, the embodiment, the spirit of “Mother?”
Who Is She?
Venus von Willendorf
At the birth of civilization it was the “Great Mother” the nomadic tribes worshiped. She who could spring forth life from her womb and nourishment from her breast, and revered as a magical being would thousands of years later become the most respected woman in the Christian Bible. “Mother Mary,” a virgin, who gave birth to Christ, is just one of the many creation stories from our collective religious canon. Isis, an Egyptian goddess, worshipped as the ideal mother and wife was honored for her connection with nature and magic. She was the friend of the wealthy and poor alike. Pachamama, a fertility goddess linked to the earth and nature, promotes ingestion of a tonic brewed from “the mother vine or the sacred vine.” In fact, the earth is often referred to as the “First Mother,” giving life to all who have followed. “Mother Earth” provides the theater for each human to rise from the soil, wind and rain. In all of her selfless giving, Mother, often asks for nothing. In our endless quest for progress and growth we often forget to mumble a simple “thank you” to our sacred creator.
A Mother’s Love Remembered
Thank you for my life. From your flesh I was born, from your blood I could breathe, from your surrender I was able to grow and love. We have this day, this collective day, to remember the importance and the essence of what it is to be “Mother.” A day to recollect with gratitude all the giving, caring, and loving smiles; the encouragement, tenderness, warmth, sustenance, freshly pressed clothes, and matching socks. For the hand that stroked my hair when I was sick, and took my temperature with expert precision, reassuring me that it would be okay.
Madonna and Child with St. John the Baptist and St. Mary Magdalene by Neroccio di Bartolomeo
Thank you Mom for the freshly cooked meals, the gooey cookies, the cradled feeling of being gently rocked until the tears magically disappeared. For the hand that nestled yours, until my safe arrival to the other side of the street, Mom, allow me to offer a kiss to that hand. To the sweet voice who read the fairytales at bedtime, the passion with which the words fell from your lips – hearing those words was the greatest gift I have ever received. Your words both read and spoken have taken me so far. To the singer of lullabies and pop songs, turned all of the way up on those warm summer days when we would drive with the windows down. You should know that I love the sound of your voice, Mother. The voice that I hear most prominently after all these years is yours. I still hear you, Mom. I know that sound, I delight in it, and I thank you for your encouragement and your courage. As a woman I have felt that glory, the knowing and the gratitude, and you were right.
This Mother’s Day, allow us to recall the sacrifice which lead to the brilliance surrounding her title, she asked for nothing but the charm of your smiles and hugs. The homemade greeting cards were always her favorite, especially when they came with a macaroni necklace that crowned her throat more dazzling to her than any string of pearls and rubies. I think she only wanted to know that we appreciated what she did, to say,” Thank you, Mom.”
Though a single day could never be enough to truly illuminate the magnificence that all of your love and time deserves, it is but what should be many days to honor and recall with great fondness and respect the queens the earthen goddess has created. For all the biological Moms, Step-Moms, Foster Moms, the Mommas of fur babies, the Grandmas, the Mother Earth, a world of Moms who sustain the life from moment to moment, today we salute you and we honor you, Divine and Mortal Mother, Thank you.
Love, and maternal happiness,
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