Myths and Misunderstandings of the Grieving Process
by Brook Noel Pamela D. Blair, Ph.D.
It is the rare school or family environment that teaches what to expect either emotionally or pragmatically, when life collapses in tragedy, especially the advent of sudden and unexpected death. A sudden loss can put one into a whirlwind of emotions and visceral responses, twisting and turning us until we are set down in a place that feels as foreign as another planet. Like a hurricane, there is nothing like it, and nothing can prepare us. We can only follow suggested guidelines, i.e. evacuate, board up, etc. However, unlike a hurricane where there is often advance warning, with sudden death there is no such warning#151;no way to prepare.
We are ill-prepared to handle sudden death because we don#146;t expect life to be so tenuous, so fragile. However, once our lives are touched by the experience of tragic loss, we never look at life in quite the same way. We become acutely aware of the delicate nature of the human organism, and life becomes precious in a way it never was before.
You can consciously shift from feeling grief is #147;something that happens to you#148; to #147;grieving is something you do to heal.#148; Remember, when life feels out of control, and it#146;s bound to during this time, that you do have control over how you will grieve and this can be very empowering.
In this article we will cover many of the common myths that people hold today. You may have encountered some of these already or been feeling pressured by them yourself. By examining the myth we can create a more well-rounded picture.
Myth #1 - Death is death, sudden or long term and we all grieve the same way. Of course there will be some commonalties in the grieving process. Truth is, depending on our life experiences, age, sex, resiliency, number of previous losses, health, cultural expectations and relationship to the deceased, we will each #147;do grief#148; in our own unique way. No two of us are exactly alike in our histories and in our relationship to the deceased.
Myth #2 - By keeping busy I can lessen or eliminate my grief. In an attempt to avoid the pain, grievers may choose to keep busy. We may find ourselves cleaning the house, dusting bookshelves, cleaning closets and engaging in other non-important tasks. However, you will find this #147;busyness#148; is simply a sidetrack that will only work for a short time. There is clearly no way around grief.
Myth #3 - I am going crazy and I#146;m afraid I will stay that way. Sudden death creates trauma for the survivors on many levels. Trauma victims may not behave as people would expect. Many people report feeling numb and indifferent. Those around you, may expect you to be more openly distraught and you may hear comments like, #147;My, you sure are taking this well,#148; or #147;I expected to find you in a more disturbed state.#148; You may find yourself walking around in a fog with an inability to make decisions. You may behave in a matter-of-fact way and you may appear to be functioning at a rather high level. Blank stares are common as the mind tries to grapple with the unimaginable. You may not weep, cry or wail for some time. All of these behaviors may puzzle onlookers and family members, and all of these behaviors are normal and temporary.
Myth #4 - I will need to make sure I don#146;t grieve for too long#151;one year should be enough. Sometimes societal and religious beliefs impose rules like time limits for grief, what we should wear, how we should behave, when and where we should talk about the death and to whom. With sudden death, as with any death, we must find our own way through to embrace life again. Most recoveries from sudden death take at least two years, and in some ways we never #147;get over#148; the loss completely. Our expression of grief needs to come out of our need to make meaning or sense from what feels like meaningless tragedy, and no time limit can be set on that.
Myth #5 - If I express my anger at God or the circumstances of the death, I am a bad person and will #147;pay#148; for it. Anger is an extremely uncomfortable emotion for some of us, but it is one of the most important ones to express. If you become angry with God, don#146;t judge yourself too harshly. As Earl Grollman writes, #147;It#146;s okay to scream at God. He can take it.#148; The Psalms are full of raging at God about injustices. We believe God can handle anything we throw his way. However, if you find your anger is becoming out of control (i.e. breaking valuables, threatening or preparing to kill someone, wanting to burn the church or hospital down or you have suicidal thoughts) immediately seek appropriate professional help and guidance.
Myth #6 - I won#146;t have to grieve as much and I will feel better if I use alcohol or medication to alleviate my sadness. Some survivors will use, or increase their use, of alcohol or antidepressants. By doing this however, they distance themselves from what they need to feel to heal, and they distance themselves from their family members and support systems. The grief simply goes underground and waits to be expressed. They may mistakenly believe that #147;If I drink (drug) to get over it, then the grief will be gone when I#146;m sober.#148; Nothing could be further from the truth. Some will need the temporary relief that medication can provide in order to function and a competent therapist should help make this decision.
Myth #7 - If I talk about my loss I#146;ll feel worse. You cannot move through your grief unless you experience it. Hiding it or denying it will only prolong it. Meeting and talking with other people who have been through this process will help you. Ellen Sue Stern writes in Living with Loss: Meditations for Grieving Widows, #147;It#146;s essential to allow yourself to talk as much as you want; healing is hastened by reminiscing about your husband [or loved one] processing the last days of his life, the funeral and any other details surrounding his death. For now choose only to spend time with people who are supportive and understanding, who can lovingly listen as long as you need to talk.#148;
Myth #8 - After a while I won#146;t think about it anymore. You may be ambushed by grief when you least expect it. To believe you can forever put the loss and the circumstances surrounding the death #147;out of your mind#148; is a completely unrealistic expectation. You will, from time to time, throughout your life, re-experience feelings associated with the loss.
Myth #9 - I should be relieved that they didn#146;t suffer a long and lingering illness. You may hear some say #147;well at least he died quickly#151;be happy for that.#148; Perhaps you are thinking this way if the person you lost suddenly was much older or had been suffering. But for most of us, the sudden death was an untimely one#151;one that occurred way too soon for the person and those left behind. There may be little, if any, relief in the knowledge that they died quickly.
Myth #10 - Once I am done with one stage of grief, I will simply move on to the next. With the popularity of the well-known #147;Five Stages of Grief#148; (Kuuml;bler-Ross,) some people mistakenly believe that grief is a linear process. Like we said before, recovery is not like an elevator that takes you from the basement of despair to the penthouse of joy. It is more like a maze where you go forward a bit, move back a few steps, cover the same ground again and find yourself at the beginning. Like a fun house hall of mirrors, you see yourself over and over again, distorted and misshapen until you come out the other side.
Myths can prohibit the process of recovery. Use the above Myth-Busters to work past the myth to reality.
I Wasn't Ready to Say Goodbye: surviving, coping and healing after the sudden death of a loved one
by Brook Noel and Pamela D. Blair. Available through your favorite bookseller or at
Brook Noel is also the founder of GriefStepsTM
. Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com
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Goals for the New Year
By Patricia Chadwick
As the New Year dawns, now is the time to think of your goals for the coming year. I'd once heard a saying, "If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time!" I found this to be quite true and have strove over the years to write down my goals and review them often. I find this helps me to accomplish the things that are important to me.
I suggest that you get away by yourself for a day in order to really think about the goals you want to set for you and your family. You will benefit by having several hours alone without any distractions. That way you can really think deeply about the things you want to accomplish. If you can't take a day, split your goal setting session into 2 or 3 hour sessions until you are done. If your teens are in school and your husband works outside the home (2 things that I don't have!), you can spend your time when they are gone setting your goals. Turn off the phone and television - and don't go on the Internet! Since I don't have this opportunity, I've done it several ways. One year, I went up to our summer cottage, lit the wood stove, and spent the day goal setting. Another year, I took a drive to a small, quiet restaurant in a neighboring county and spent the day sipping hot cocoa and setting my goals. Another year, my husband took my family away for the day and I stayed at home, spending the day writing out my goals. Anyway you can, make it happen! Setting your goals down on paper will help you attain them throughout the year.
As we think of these objectives, we might wonder what types of goals we should be setting. This is something personal. To set my goals I use a loose-leaf notebook with a yearly calendar in it. I break the notebook into 12 categories. You may find that more or less works for you. Think about what is important to you and set out to attain it! Below are some ideas to get you started.
This section will help you focus on what you would like to accomplish spiritually during the year. You might want to include things like:
Studying the Bible more in depth
Reading through the Bible in a year
Practice the spiritual disciplines (prayer, fasting, journaling, etc.)
Learn to be quiet and listen to God's voice and then do what he says!
Read a certain Christian Book
Develop a certain character trait
Work on loving your neighbor as yourself
In this section you will focus on what you wish to accomplish as a family. It may include character traits you wish to instill in your children. You may want to include items such as:
Work on treating each other with respect
Discuss sexuality with my young teen
Help your teen prepare to get his license
Work on developing a closer relationship
Help teens become more independent and self-sufficient
Train teens in various practical living skills
Continue to develop Bible study skills
Have family devotions
Strive to eat supper together at least 5 times a week
You may also want to break it down into separate goals for each member of your family.
This section will help you focus on improving your marriage relationship.You may want to include things such as:
Work on understanding my spouse better
Read 2 marriage enrichment books this year and practice what I learn.
Remember to show respect and love
Find a counselor who can help with marital difficulties (if needed)
Plan a "date night" at least once a month
Pray meaningful prayers for my spouse
This section will help you focus on yourself. What goals do you want to attain personally in the coming year? Do you have hopes and dreams for your own future? This is the place to write them down! You may want to include items such as:
Take a college class community college
Learn how to use the internet more efficiently
Learn how to design web sites
Read at least 3 books "just for fun"
Make one new friend
Work on living healthy - eating better, exercise, etc.
This section will help you focus on making ends meet and saving for the future. You may want to include items such as:
Stay out of debt
Work on living more simply
Begin saving $40 per month in savings
Eat out only once a week to save money
Work out an investment plan
Business GoalsThis is a section every WAHM will want to work on. You many include items such as:
Develop a business plan for a new home business
Research new marketing techniques
Read at least one book on improving your home business
Find a new customer base
Some families homeschool, others have their teens attend public or private day schools. Some have children in college. This section will help you develop educational goals for your family. You may include items such as:
Decide whether homeschooling is right for your family
Decide on which school your teens should be attending
Help teens plan their schedule for next year
Help teens develop ideas of what careers they'd enjoy as adults
Look into colleges and scholarships with older teens
Develop a savings plan for college
This section will help you to put (and keep!) your house in order.You may include items such as:
Paint the Kitchen
Clean out closets toss old clothes
Read a book on organization
Have house powerwashed windows washed
Keep lawn mowed
After you set your goals, put your notebook in a place where it is readily available to you. You don't want to just write the goals down and forget about them! Throughout the year, make a special effort to get out the goal notebook and review it and see how your doing. If you need to work harder on certain objectives, then make a note of it and work harder! If you've accomplished a goal, check it off. If you do this consistently, by the end of the year, you will be amazed at how much you've accomplished and will have the satisfaction of knowing that you did indeed hit what you aimed for!
Patti Chadwick is a freelance writer and creator of two websites,
. Visit her sites and sign up for her FREE weekly newsletters. Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com
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By Cheryl Gochnauer
(The following is an excerpt from Cheryl#146;s latest book, #147;Stay-at-Home Handbook: Advice on Parenting, Finances, Career, Surviving Each Day Much More#148;, InterVarsity Press 2002.)
As I write this handbook, my daughters, at ages 8 and 12, are neither toddlers nor teens. I like to tell people that I#146;m in the relatively easy years, and it#146;s true. But don#146;t think I#146;ve forgotten what it was like when they were younger! For those who are still tackling 2-foot-tall tornadoes, I say, #147;Hold on, Marathon Mom. It gets better, I promise!#148;
When my husband, Terry, proposed, he didn#146;t use the classic #147;Will you marry me?#148; line. Instead, he asked me to be the mother of his children. Misty-eyed, I agreed.
I didn#146;t realize I had just signed up for the race of my life.
Now don#146;t misunderstand me. I would do anything for our 2 jaunty little redheads. But I#146;m learning motherhood has a lot more to do with running shoes than baby booties.
The glorious days of hitting the snooze button are over. Each morning, the alarm beside my bed fires off like a pistol shot.
My naiuml;ve images of Madonna and Child left in the dust, I#146;m off on a fast track unlike any I experienced in the working world. Relatives and friends cheer from the sidelines, shouting their favorite child rearing pointers and admonitions.
There are no set rules for this tough course, however. I#146;m going to have to figure it out as I go, as the road ahead veers with twists and turns to challenge the most determined marathon mom.
Flipping on overhead lights and whipping back bedspreads, I tickle little bottoms as my kids grope blindly for their covers. #147;Time for school! Let#146;s go!#148;
This morning#146;s hurdles include dressing my preschooler, Carrie, who is yelling, #147;I can do it myself!#148; -- but can#146;t -- and beating my third-grader#146;s rumbling bus to the curb. With a hurried hug and a half-zipped coat, Karen is on her way. Her sister perches expectantly at the window, then waves a pudgy hand and oatmealy spoon, splattering the TV, our cat and herself as she belts out, #147;Bye-Bye!#148;
Bounding up the stairs with Carrie in tow, I dash back to their bedroom. On the floor are five or six discarded outfits that didn#146;t make the first string. Peeling off the soiled garment, I find myself back at the starting line. Howling #147;I CAN DO#133;umph!#148; Carrie#146;s demand is muffled as I do it myself, pulling a stubborn turtleneck over her carrot top.
As the whipping whirlwind continues to swirl, my husband is caught up in the fun, too. Smoothing bedspreads and plopping breakfast dishes in the sink, Terry jogs along beside me for a while, then veers off to his own job.
Running in place, I watch him leave, wondering at the ease with which he separates the track at home from the track at work. How do guys do that? Even when I worked full-time, my mommy track plotted a course right through the middle of my office.
There is no time to think of that now, though. Gathering speed, I face into the headwind. Snatching various hats on and off throughout the day, I sprint through my various roles: accountant, chauffeur, cook, interior decorator, laundress, maid, physician, secretary and preschool teacher. That is just for today. Tomorrow, the course will change, and so will the hats.
By the time Karen bursts in the front door with a backpack of homework and serious case of the munchies, I#146;m beginning to get winded. But there is still dinner to be prepared.
Uh, oh. Mother Hubbard#146;s cupboard is bare. Ready or not, it is time for that most thrilling of all challenges: grocery shopping with the kids.
An hour later, we are back home, with fast food. After streaking down aisles, rescuing teetering boxes and bottles in the wake of my two mini-tornadoes, I decide to let off the pace a bit. The local hamburger joint can do the dishes.
#147;Daddy! Daddy!#148; Karen and Carrie race to open the door as Terry#146;s key turns in the lock. Together, we sit at the kitchen table, munching fries as I don my counselor#146;s hat. Workplace traumas, schoolyard adventures, and household mishaps shared, the course finally begins to wind down.
After homework and splashed-to-the-ceiling baths, it is time for songs and books. With a kiss and snuggle-hug, I tuck in each of the girls and flip off the light.
As I cross the finish line, the imaginary crowd fades into a peaceful contentment. I haven#146;t set a new world record or anything like that, but I have run a good race.
Maybe I didn#146;t realize the implications of saying #147;Yes#148; to Terry when he asked me to be the mother of his children. But I wouldn#146;t trade my marathon for anything. Tomorrow, I get to hack out a fresh course. I#146;m looking forward to seeing what is around that next curve.
Cheryl loves to hear from readers. Write her at
, where you can interact with lots of other at-home parents in the active message forums. Also check out your
#150; there are now more than 20 talented writers who will encourage and equip you in your family-focused lifestyle choice!
Books make great Christmas gifts. Your Homebuddies have several titles they'd like to recommend, including Cheryl's own "So You Want to Be a Stay-at-Home Mom" and the #147;Stay-at-Home Handbook#148; excerpted above.
Check out this link at Homebodies.
To read a sample chapter of "So You Want to Be a Stay-at-Home Mom,"
Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com
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A Lousey Plan Is Hatched
My husband and I had just landed in New York for a weekend getaway, ourfirst in three years. After working day and night for a week to get readyfor the trip, I felt heady with excitement. I had even managed to getthrough airport security without having to take off my shoes or surrender mytweezers. Life was good.
We were still in the car heading to the hotel when my cell phone startingthrumming in my purse. I sensed this was a bad development. The only peoplewho call me on the cell phone are my kids, and they only call to alert me toa crisis, such as the discovery that we are out of ketchup and it#146;s hot dognight.
I answered fearfully, the way one does when one suspects it#146;s the principalcalling again, saying it#146;s time to reconvene to discuss young Cheyenne andher #147;need for excessive socialization during class.#148;
#147;Hello Mommy?#148; It was my charming young daughter. #147;Bad news, Mommy. Me andthe boys have lice.#148;
Now I like to think I#146;m a pretty good mom, and as such, I had contingencyplans for many emergencies likely to strike during my absence, such as earinfections, civil unrest and earthquakes. But tiny disgusting insectscongealing to my children#146;s heads was one I hadn#146;t figured on.
#147;You have lice???#148; I fairly screamed across the nation. #147;Are they sure?#148;
#147;Yeah. You need to pick us up. They don#146;t want us in school.#148;
#147;I can#146;t pick you up, because you are in Los Angeles and I#146;m on the LongIsland Expressway!#148; After stating this simple fact, I broke down in tears.Why had the good Lord done this to me? I tip fairly. I hold doors open forpeople. I don#146;t even eat the last donut in the box, and don#146;t think that#146;san easy thing. Where was the justice in this?
For the next several hours, I cursed the fact that I hadn#146;t coughed up theextra few bucks for the national calling plan on my cell phone, because Ihad to make about seventy-five calls, all of which entailed cripplingroaming charges. But I had no choice. Hours of time spent making elaboratechildcare and sleepover arrangements were down the drain. Who would take myplague-infested children now? I started calling in favors (real andimagined) from friends and relatives. No amount of pleading, begging orgroveling would be beneath me. It would take a village to de-louse mychildren. And the villagers would have to -- I was on vacation!
I mean, talk about a bad hair day.
But that wasn#146;t all. Because, as everyone knows, once lice are in the house,you also have to launder every scrap of material under the roof, everystitch of clothing, bedding, and teddy bear, (no matter how fragile). Or, ifyou are unwilling to do 450 loads of laundry, you can simply take all thecontents of your household, including the children, and have themhermetically sealed for two weeks, after which time experts claim it is safeto unseal them.
Later that evening, I basked in the comfort of knowing that I had real, true friends, the kind who buckled under the pressure of my threats and cries of desperation. I had friends who actually came over to lather up my kids with expensive anti-lousing agentsand launder my every possession. I also discovered who wasn#146;t my friend #150;namely, the Commandant of Lice at the school. She was the one who at firsttold me not to worry, she would take care of my kids till the end of the dayuntil their carpool picked them up. She made it sound as if she was justdoing it because she was filled with the milk of human kindness. She thenpresented me with a bill for two-hundred and fifty smackers upon my returnfor services rendered.
I still didn#146;t get off so easy. Even now, two weeks later, yucky things arestill hatching on my kids#146; heads, we are still laundering like crazy andoiling each other#146;s heads as if we are getting ready to be anointed Pope.Feeling paranoid, I even had the kids begin to check my own scalp, whichthey were happy to do and which elicited many gasps of #147;Oh my God! I didn#146;tknow you were so gray!#148; and #147;I think I see something! Oh, never mind, Ithink that#146;s just rust.#148;
We are now resorting to more drastic measures, and one of my sons now sportsa military crew cut. If these diabolical creatures don#146;t stop erupting inour hair, the rest of us will do the same thing, and I will end up lookinglike Sigourney Weaver in the movie #147;Aliens.#148; (Well, since she#146;s eight inchestaller than me and we have other, trivial physical differences, maybe I won#146;t look exactly like her, but once you#146;re walking around with a shaved head,who notices the rest of you, anyway?)
All this goes to prove one thing, in my opinion. During these times whenmany of us still fear the threat of domestic terrorism during air travel, wedon#146;t even know the half of it. The real danger may be nesting in our kids#146;hair.
Judy Gruen is the author of
"Carpool Tunnel Syndrome: Motherhood as ShuttleDiplomacy."
Sign up to receive Judy's free, twice-monthly email humor columnat
, and enter your email address on the Newsletter page.(c) Judy Gruen, 2002. For permission to reprint, either electronically or in print, please contact the author at
. Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com
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Dream A Little Dream With Me
By Cheryl Gochnauer
Copyright 2000 Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com
As an at-home parent, it's important to surround yourself withpeople who support your family-focused decision. To illustratethis point, this week I'm including part of a message boardposting from a Homebodies reader, Shelly, and some responses herposting generated:
"Ever since I was a little girl, I dreamed of being married tomy handsome prince, having babies and making my home a safeharbor for my family and friends. It was a simple, non-glamorousdream, but it was my heart's desire.
"I am the only lady to stay home with children in my husband'sfamily, and every now and then I get feedback as to my lifestyle. Recently, I was having a conversation with my sister-in-law, whodoesn't have any kids. We were talking about working, and shecommented, 'Well, I could never see myself staying home with mychildren, because I wouldn't want to lose touch with reality andhaving a structured life.'
"When I get these little jabs, it hurts. But I have never feltthe need to be like everyone else; in fact, as I get older, Itry very hard to be myself and am thankful I am what I alwayswanted to be: a wife, mother and homemaker." - Shelly
Thoughts from other Homebuddies on Shelly's situation:
"When I was a stay-at-home mom, my life wasn't structured.That's what I loved about it. We woke up when our bodies told usto; we played outside when the weather let us; we went with theflow. As far as being in touch with reality, that is a commonproblem with some SAHMs. If you aren't careful, your entirelife will revolve around sippy cups and potty training." -Jennifer
"My own sister is married and doesn't have kids. For a longtime she used to harass me about staying home and doing 'nothing'all day. Until she walks the walk, she's not going to know.Don't let people get to you. You know your heart; stand by whatyou believe." - Terri
"Although your desire was to be a mom all along, lots of usdreamed of a career, house, hubby AND kids, so it may be veryhard for your sister-in-law to imagine that your dream wasdifferent. It wasn't until we had all those things that some ofus realized our values had changed." - Mary
I appreciate the thoughts expressed in each of these ladies'postings. Are you looking for the same sort of support asyou're tackling your at-home parenting role? Visit the messageforums at Homebodies
and link upwith new friends with common goals.
Not connected to the Internet? Check with your local churchesand boards of education to discover parenting support groups inyour area. Like Jennifer said, at-home life is more than "sippycups." Mix up your routine by meeting other like-minded moms,whether in person or on the Web.
Cheryl loves to hear from readers. Write her at
or visit her website at
where you can interact with lots ofother at- home parents in the active message forums. Also checkout your Homebodies Columnists - we now have 25 talented writerswho will encourage and equip you in your family-focusedlifestyle choice!
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Opening Your Home For The Holidays
By Cheryl Gochnauer
TWAS THE NIGHT BEFORE VISITORS, and all through the house, the hostess was obsessing, drafting children and spouse.
Do you really need to dust the top of the refrigerator? "The more I do, the more I feel I have to do," sighs Sally. "I'm like one of those hamsters on the wheel."
Relax. Your home should be comfortable, not spotless. Most people feel less pressured when family's on the way than they do entertaining first-time guests. Either way, people are coming to see you, not conduct a white-glove test.
HARK! THE HERALD DOORBELL RINGS. One source which, understandably, wished to remain anonymous, says, "With my family, there's no notice. They just come and run you over." Avoid having to just say "Go" by scheduling the visit's end before guests arrive.
Give new visitors a tour. Present simple ground rules positively. If you'd rather guests not smoke inside, provide an alternative. Demonstrate how to operate remotes and microwaves. If they have free access to the refrigerator, tell them.
WHAT "CHILD" IS THIS? When guests surprise you with Fido, remain calm. If you don't allow indoor pets, offer your garage, suggest a nearby kennel, or ask that the animal be confined to its carrier.
On the flip side, forewarn visitors about your own pets. "I make it known that I have a dog, and the dog lives in the house," says Teresa. "If they can't handle that, they need to find somewhere else to stay."
DANCE OF THE SUGAR-FREE PLUM FAIRIES. "My husband, Bob, and I talk with guests ahead of time to see if they have any unusual food preferences or dietary needs," says Charlotte. Sidestep the disappointment of a "no, thanks" response to your seven-course meal by determining crowd-pleasing menus ahead of time.
Why slave alone in the kitchen while friends reminisce in the den? Prepare several meals in advance. Make double portions and throw the extra in the freezer. Stock up on foods that won't spoil if everyone decides to eat out - or if guests don't show at all. Make breakfast easy for everyone, whether they be early-risers or sleep-ins, by setting out cereal the night before.
SLEEP IN HEAVENLY PEACE. Make guestrooms as dreamy as possible. Test the bed's comfort, imagining yourself as an outsider. Furnish a nightlight, alarm clock, extra blankets and storage space for belongings. Please night owls with a television with an earphone jack, or magazines to browse in the wee hours. Plan for pallets, in case parents want their small children to sleep in their room.
IT'S BEGINNING TO LOOK A LOT LIKE CHAOS: If everybody's enjoying themselves, there's no reason to rush friends and family to the door. But if they're there for several days, you should definitely look to them for help. Don't be shy about inviting guests into the kitchen to help chop vegetables or set the table. Playfully toss them a dishtowel after dinner. If they're getting low on clean clothes, show them how to operate your washer and dryer. Point out extra toilet tissue and cleaning supplies under the guest bathroom sink.
OH HOLY NIGHTLIFE. Explore the local holiday sites together. Have a tentative entertainment schedule set before guests arrive so you can coordinate your plans with theirs. Tug-of-wars over checks are avoided, too, by discussing finances in advance. Will you split expenses, or treat each other? Presenting options in a forthright, cordial manner sets everyone at ease. Be sure to carve out some downtime so your guests can spend some time to themselves, too.
AWAY IN A MINIVAN. As the visit winds down, do a room-by-room check to make sure no one's forgotten anything. Help take luggage to the car, then gather everyone together for one last photo, surprising children with a small gift to entertain them on their way home.
Hugs. Kisses. Waves.
Close the door. Reclaim your recliner.
Enjoy the silent night.
and be sure to visit her website at
where you can read 25 columnists devoted to encouraging at-home parents. All rights reserved, Homebodies.Org, LLC. Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com)
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Unique Gifts for Teens
By Patti Chadwick
Tired of giving the same gifts year after year? Looking for something unique to give your teens? Check these out!
Clothes in a Bottle
A great way to wrap a clothing item for your teen is to roll it up and put it inside a mason jar. Decorate the flat part of the lid by gluing holiday fabric to it and tie with a matching ribbon. If you want to conceal the clothing, cut a large square of fabric and place it in the jar, then add the gift and lid.
Cut 2 pieces of fabric in the shape of an 8 without the holes in the center. The top of one eight should fit along the middle of the 2nd 8. Hand stitch the 8s right sides together, following the curves, leaving a small opening. Turn right side out and fill with black-eyed peas or rice. Close opening.
Movie Theater Tickets
You can usually buy presale movies certificates in a book at a discount price. I find this is a favorite among my teens.
Key Chain with Car Keys
Give your older teen their own set of keys to the family car along with a house key on a teen-friendly key chain. They will love this.
Most gas stations now sell pre-paid gas cards. Get some of these for your driving teens..
Clothing Gift Cards
Instead of giving clothes that you pick out, why not give your teens gift cards from their favorite clothing store?
Video/Music Gift Cards
Give gift cards to their favorite video or music store.
Buy your teens subscriptions to their favorite magazines. Girls usually like fashion or teen magazines (why not try Focus on the Family#146;s
magazine). Boys usually like sports or video game magazines (why not try Focus on the Family#146;s
Buy your teen a book from their favorite genre.
Buy your teen a new backpack, purse, or make up bag.
Give your teen some new software for the computer #150; either educational software or a fun computer game.
Give your teen a genuine leather wallet.
Roller Blades or Ice Skates
For your sports-minded teen, why not get a new set of roller blades or ice skates? While you are at it, how about a season#146;s pass for the local ice rink.
Most kids love getting privileges. Give out certificates good for
Extending curfew for one evening.
Driving the favorite family car on a date
Having control of the TV or computer one evening
Take a date out for steaks #147;on the house#148;
Receive a double allowance for one week
Fill that Christmas stocking with much needed soaps, shampoos, hair gels other hair products, deodorants, and acne creams.
What teen doesn#146;t like candy? It#146;s something you just never seem to outgrow. I#146;m not a big fan of chocolate, but I feel special occasions deserve good chocolate! The week before Christmas you will find great sales on candy EVERYWHERE. Also, if you like to make your own, you will find candy-making supplies at specialty stores and most local grocery stores. For those who don#146;t like chocolate or are allergic, try making carob candy - check out your local health food store for supplies and details.
Another great stocking stuffer is school supplies. About this time of year, school supplies have either run out, been lost, or are worn out. Fill that Christmas stocking with new pens, pencils, folders, notebooks, and notebook paper.
These gift ideas were taken from the new book
HAPPY HOLIDAYS WITH TEENS
written by Patti Chadwick, available in both ebook and print formats at
. Stop by Parents Teens and pick up a copy today. Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com
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The Frozen Chosen
By Leanne Ely, C.N.C.
The kids have been in school for awhile now and it's back to the ol' routine. For most of us, that means lots of activities and increased busyness. Do the math and you'll find your equation quickly lacking in time to prepare good healthy meals for the family. So what do you do? Give up and throw yourself in front of a truck at the drive-thru?
What you should do is chill out... literally. Have you taken a stroll down the frozen food aisle lately at the supermarket? There is a bevy of perfectly wonderful, good-for-you foods just waiting to take up residence in your home freezer. Today's frozen foods are a quantum leap over the stuff passed off as "cuisine" a few years back. Using your freezer as a pantry can help you get meals on the table in a jiffy, without icing down the nutrition.
Here's my Frozen Chosen: 10 Quick 'n Easy Foods complete with a simple-yet-tasty recipe or serving suggestion for each.
Get The Juice Out! I am particularly fond of orange juice, especially the calcium-fortified kind. For a great after-school snack, freeze a mixture of half orange juice and half vanilla yogurt in a Popsicle mold. Minute Maid has a "country style" brand with calcium that tastes fresh squeezed to me.
Wok This Way! Stir frys are a snap when the veggies are ready to go. There are plenty of varieties and brands to choose from. The Basil Herb Primavera Easy Recipe Creation from Birds Eye caught my eye. Add some chicken and pasta and you have a healthy gourmet meal.
Stop Meating Like This! One of my favorite quick meals is a veggie burger. Add a whole-wheat bun, all the fixin's of a regular burger and you won't even miss the meat. I'm partial to the Gardenburger, but I also like Boca Burgers. Morningstar Farms also has an unbeatable line up of frozen un-meats, too. Their breakfast patties make for a great breakfast sandwich. Simply add a scrambled egg and slide the whole thing between a whole-wheat English muffin for a terrific breakfast to go.
Don't Chicken Out! You're probably up on the fact that chicken is a good bet nutritionally. Tyson's frozen boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut down the time for cooking. You don't even have to thaw the chicken! Toss your favorite seasoning on the top of a frozen breast and bake. While the chicken is baking, cook up some instant brown rice and throw a salad together and you've got dinner ready to go in less than 30 minutes.
A Favorite Pasta Time! The varieties are endless and so are the ideas for making them into a meal. Bake some raviolis with spaghetti sauce for a casserole, cook up some tortellinis (Italia makes a good one) and plop some Italian dressing on them to make a salad. Need a quick appetizer for a party? Those same tortellini in Italian dressing make a great hors d'oeuvres. Simply skewer them kabob-style on large toothpicks.
Something Fishy Here! Gorton's and Van De Camp's both make grilled frozen fish fillets. No deep-fried stuff here -- just fish and some spices (two of my faves: lemon pepper and Italian herb). They're easy to use as is, for fish sandwiches or even for a main course salad.
Berry, Berry Good! Today's technology has improved the quality of everything, especially frozen fruits. Fruits are picked in their prime and flash frozen preserving their incredibly sweet flavors as well the nutrients. Cascadian Farms offers organically grown fruits. Mix frozen berries with some yogurt and cereal (like Grape Nuts) for a refreshing quick breakfast.
Waffle Over Breakfast! Hallelujah and pass the syrup. It's about time frozen waffles were made with whole-wheat flour. Eggo Waffles has two whole-wheat varieties. My choice is the low-fat one: half the fat and all the flavor. Try a smear of peanut butter (if you're not allergic) and sliced bananas on your toasted waffle. Fold over like a taco and you've got another easy, kid-friendly breakfast to go.
Veg Out! While the stir-fry option is nifty, plain old frozen veggies are a good choice in their own right. CW offers tender baby green beans, petite peas and other tasty selections (even a few organic ones).
. A Quick Fix! For those days when the best cooking effort you can muster is to operate a microwave, sow some Seeds of Change. . as in the top-notch options available in ready to go meals in a bowl. The Moroccan Lentil Rice Pilaf and the Zesty Cilantro Quinoa Blend are both very good.
You may find that not all markets carry the stuff I mentioned above. But I've found the quickest way to get something is to ask for it. Make sure you talk to the frozen food department manager or go right to the top and corner the grocery store manager.
Believe me, they appreciate hearing what you want because they want to keep your business. Competition for your grocery dollars is stiff!
Above all, don't sweat your busy schedule. Take a chill pill and put your cares on ice. It's easy when you've chosen the best in frozen foods.
BIO: Leanne Ely is the radio talk show host of Heart of a Woman. She is the author of
, The Frantic Family Cookbook, a nutritionist and the editor of Menu-Mailer, the definitive answer to that perplexing question, "What's for Dinner?"
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Excerpted from Home is Where the Mom Is
Copyright 2002; permission granted for use on Dr Laura website.
Contact author Shelly Burke at:
. As an at-home mom you have long, unstructured amounts of time to fill. A very structured schedule would not allow for the flexibility children need and the emergencies that require your attention #147;right now.#148; But with no boss, no deadlines, and no meetings or set coffee breaks or lunch times, it can be a challenge to discipline yourself to use your time wisely.
Think back to a day when your to-do list was a mile long. You probably got up early (or at least on time), worked very efficiently, and crossed off almost everything on your list. Now look at a day when you had just a few things planned. Did you work just as hard and efficiently and have some free time to do something enjoyable at the end of the day? Or did the few things on your list take the same amount of time as the long list of jobs? Too often, #147;. . . work expands as to fill the time available for its completion.#148; (Parkinson#146;s Law). If you#146;re not conscious of how you#146;re spending your time, it can take all day just to complete a few tasks. If you don#146;t manage your time wisely, you may never get around to doing the things that are important to you.
This quote from
Organizing for the Creative Person
should guide us all; #147;Become aware of how you are actually spending your time and whether these efforts are helping you to achieve your goals. If not, you need to change either your goals or the way you spend your time.#148; For a few days, be very conscious of how you spend your time. Keep a detailed log if you want. Include the time you spend looking for something (one report says that Americans waste nine million hours a day looking for misplaced items!), talking on the phone, doing household chores, and watching TV. Also list the time you spend doing things you enjoy, like reading the paper, surfing the net, devotions, playing with your kids, cuddling with your husband. Next, list activities you#146;d like to do, but haven#146;t yet found the time to squeeze into your regular schedule. These might include joining a Bible study group, exercising, spending more time with your husband and kids, writing, and so on. Now let#146;s fit these truly important activities into your schedule.
First evaluate your day and eliminate non-productive activities. Some time wasters will be obvious; watching lots of TV, for example. Cutting out TV all together is probably not realistic, but try turning it on only for the morning and evening news, or programs you really want to watch. If you consistently spend time waiting in line at the grocery store, try shopping at a different time or a different store. How many newspapers do you subscribe to? I had a friend who subscribed to and read four newspapers every day (she was very well informed!). When she realized how much time she spent reading the papers, she cancelled three of the subscriptions (she#146;s still well informed). One person#146;s time waster is another person#146;s sanity saver. I spend about 20 minutes every morning reading the newspaper (just one!) and eating breakfast. Some moms might consider this a waste of time; I consider it a necessary breather between getting everyone to their daily destinations and starting my day.
Eliminating Time Wasters
Make it your mission to look for and eliminate at least some of the time wasters in your life. Once you#146;ve identified a time waster, try one of these fairly painless solutions to minimize or eliminate it.
Eliminate the task or do it less frequently. Scrubbing the kitchen floor may be a necessity, but do you have to do it three times a week, or would once a week, with spot wipe-ups in between, be enough? Say #147;no#148; to organizing the salad luncheon (you know from experience it will require many, many time-consuming meetings and phone calls). Offer to bring an extra salad, instead.
Lower your standards. #147;Good enough#148; might be a high enough standard. Do your husband#146;s shirts have to be ironed perfectly, or will #147;good enough#148; do? Is it necessary to move all of the furniture every time you vacuum (I sure hope not!), or just once in awhile? Do the books have to be in alphabetical order, or just on the shelves? You don#146;t have to write Pulitzer-Prize winning thank-you letters if quick notes will express your gratitude just as well. Instead of giving everything your #147;all#148; (100%) give less important things 80%, or even 50%. Most times this will result in a more than satisfactory result, and give you the extra time to devote 100% to the tasks that really count.
Let someone else do it. Tasks you dislike can be huge time wasters. Sheila hates ironing, and recalls her solution; #147;I used to put it off until the pile was huge, and the clothes were full of dust and dog hair and had to be washed again before I could iron them. Then I found out that dry cleaning a shirt costs less than a dollar! This minimal cost was a huge bargain, considering what I saved not having to wash the clothes twice. It also saved wear and tear on the clothes and I didn#146;t have to waste energy coming up with excuses not to iron.#148;
Your babysitter would probably welcome a little extra money in exchange for doing light housework after the kids are asleep. Ask her to dust, organize the videos, fold clothes, clear out the dishwasher, or sew on buttons. As your kids get older they can take on more responsibilities. Jane said, #147;Folding laundry was one of my least favorite tasks. I taught my kids to fold washcloths and small towels when they were just three years old. Now that they#146;re older they fold all the towels and washcloths along with their own clothes. I can#146;t wait to teach them to iron!#148;
Many tasks can be done faster, safer, and better by professionals with the training, experience, and tools necessary to do a difficult job. Unless you#146;re an expert, hire someone else to clean the gutters, trim trees, or paint the house.
Avoid interruptions. You develop a momentum when working. According to Time Management for Dummies, #147;By interrupting yourself and losing your flow, rhythm, and momentum, you#146;ll find it twice as difficult to resume your work . . . don#146;t drop everything . . . ignore these interruptions and continue working.#148; You can#146;t tell a crying child to wait until you#146;re done cleaning the closet, but you don#146;t have to answer the phone every time it rings, or answer every knock at the door, or check your e-mail or daily mail the moment it arrives.
Now that you#146;ve eliminated some time wasters, you can fit more into your schedule. But don#146;t always fill your time with more work; fill it with activities you enjoy! Instead of scheduling half an hour to wash your windows (you hired a teen-ager to do it), you can take a bath, call a friend, or play #147;dollies.#148; Later in this chapter you#146;ll make a list of enjoyable activities you#146;d like to do when you have extra time.
Home is Where the Mom Is
, copy; 2003, permission granted for use on the Dr. Laura website. Contact author Shelly Burke at
or visit Shelly's website at:
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Parenting Trends for the New Year
By Chick Moorman and Thomas Haller
What will happen on the parenting front in 2006? Are there signs already in place that point in specific directions? Can predictions be drawn from the evidence currently available? Will there be an upturn in taking parenting responsibility seriously or a continued slide towards parenting indifference?
While, there is no parenting crystal ball that will accurately predicts what will happen to the state of parenting in 2006, events already in place and the energy surrounding those events seem to suggest several parenting trends. Our predictions follow.
Prediction Number One: The purchase and reading of books on parenting will decline in 2006. Sale and use of parenting resources on the internet is on the rise. Traffic to sites that offer practical, useable advice for parents on specific parenting issues will increase. CD sales will also go up so that busy parents can glean valuable parenting information while they drive to work or school.
Prediction Number Two: Busy parents will continue to outsource their parenting responsibilities. There will be a dramatic increase in parenting consultants who will be hired to teach children how to ride a bike, hit a baseball, divide fractions, sleep through the night, or become potty trained. Party planners, tutorial services, and companies offering to take over parent responsibilities will flourish.
Prediction Number Three: The concept of Parent Coaching will explode in 2006. Even skilled parents will emulate professional athletes who, although they are the best in the world at what they do, have coaches who continually help them to improve and stay at the top of their game. A growing number of parents will huddle on a regular basis with coaches via the internet or telephone in an effort to learn how to raise responsible, caring, confident children.
Prediction Number Four: International Parenting Commitment Day will be recognized by a record number of families this year. Last year, March 20th was officially designated as International Parenting Commitment Day and attracted attention world wide. This year, more families will celebrate this special day with unique activities that bring attention to its importance. Check
for more information on ways to celebrate this significant day.
Prediction Number Five: Fantasy sport leagues will continue to grow in popularity. This growing interest will see more men investing time deciding who to play on their next fantasy team than actually playing with their own children.
Prediction Number Six: Children#146;s use of electronic media will level off at 6 frac12; hours per day. This will do little to address the problem of the Great American Family Disconnect. The strangers that lurk in children#146;s bedrooms (computer, television, media centers) will continue to teach attitudes, values, and behaviors as well as distract them from homework and create separation and distance from family.
Prediction Number Seven: In 2006 there will be a widening gap between children that receive effective parenting and those who#146;s parents over-function or under-function in the parenting role. Effective parents will continue to improve their verbal skills, build family traditions, and support their children with time and energy. Simply put, high-skilled parents will get better and low-skilled parents will get worse. The parent effectiveness gap will continue to expand.
Prediction Number Eight: Reality #150;based TV shows about parenting will continue to attract attention. Some parents will tune in to watch how parents of unruly children learn to take control and make kids obedient. Others will watch and be appalled at what they consider shame-base parenting that attacks character and wounds the spirit. The producers will continue to find dysfunctional families with few parenting skills and out-of-control children that will shock viewers into staying tuned to the program. Many parents will view the sensationalized accounts and think they are learning valuable techniques to use with their families. Others will be appalled and simply grateful that they have been taking parenting seriously for many years and recognize that extreme measures are not needed in their families.
Prediction Number Nine: The number of parenting conferences offered around the country will increase in 2006 as will the number of participants attending. We have observed these phenomena over the past several years at the parenting conferences where we have presented and have seen a steady rise in number of attendees and new conference opportunities being offered to parents. This trend will continue.
Prediction Number Ten: Parents will show a growing interest in the spiritual aspects of parenting. Interest in our
workshops are at an all time high. Seeing parenting as a sacred responsibility and as an important ministry is growing in popularity among parents throughout the world. More parents will join that group in the coming year.
What parenting trend will you help promote in 2006? Will you be a book reader or a CD listener? Will you spend more time playing fantasy football or playing with your children? Will you get your parenting techniques from a TV show or from an enlightened parenting workshop? Will you celebrate International Parenting Commitment Day, hire a coach, or outsource your parenting responsibilities. However you answer these questions in 2006, you will be helping establish a trend.
Chick Moorman and Thomas Haller are the authors of
The 10 Commitments: Parenting with Purpose
. They are two of the world's foremost authorities on raising responsible, caring, confident children. They publish a free monthly e-zine for parents. To sign up for it or obtain more information about how they can help you or your group meet your parenting needs, visit their websites today:
Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com.
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