How To Determine Parental Alienation (Family Counseling)

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It was about three months ago since my husband and I finally got divorced. Honestly, even though the whole process was too exhausting, I am glad that we came up with an amicable settlement. I am so thankful that despite the hardships of constantly trying to figure out what to do, we are now able to move forward with our separate lives along with the kids. But the previous happiness I once felt so good is now turning into a series of confusions, doubts, and heartaches. That is because I somehow felt that parental alienation is currently happening. It seems like my ex-husband has manipulated my children and that they unjustifiably reject me even though I didn’t do anything. How did I know? Here’s how.

Contact Resistance From Children

Before my husband and I finally called it quits, our understanding children offered us a solution to our family problem about spending time with whom. That is how we all came up with a solution of dividing everyone equally so that each of us can still have time to bond with one another. But a few weeks after the divorce, all my kids manifest contact refusal or resistance. I noticed the changes because every time I tried calling them from their dad’s home, my kids would often make these weird excuses that left me hanging. Some of those are “I’m not finished eating,” “I’m too busy on my homework,” “I’m not feeling okay right now,” etc. I understand that these things can happen. So as much as possible, I never thought negatively about it. But these excuses went on for the last couple of months until now. My kids won’t even agree to spend time with me and don’t go out with me. So I know for sure, something is not right.

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Unseen Parental Efforts

The whole situation of this marriage fall and divorce got into my kids smoothly. In fact, I didn’t entirely hear them complain about their parents getting into a divorce. I assumed that my children are well- knowledgeable and mentally and emotionally intelligent enough to handle the family pressure. And since my kids are always appreciative of their parents’ limited capabilities, I didn’t pay too much attention to my mishaps. However, again, after a couple of weeks from my husband and I’s divorced, my children changed so suddenly. Usually, when I get to pick them up at school, they would feel happy about it. They would thank me for at least trying to become present in their lives and still care for them as their mom. But everything turned different now. I sometimes felt like they do not want me to get close to them, not anymore. I can see that my kids were detaching themselves gradually without trying to offend me. But, unfortunately, what they are trying to do hurts a lot.

Confused With A Blaming-Like Actions 

As a mom of four, I know the struggle to keep up with my family’s needs and balance them with my career. Therefore, I understand how difficult it is for my ex-husband to do the same. I am not bitter, and I still consider my ex a good person despite the many challenges and indifferences we went through with our marriage. The decision was mutual, and we ended up calling it quits because my ex-husband and I knew we weren’t meant for each other. But with all these issues with our kids, I felt like I was the one who made the whole situation complicated. My kids are somewhat making me feel that it was my fault that their parents got divorced. With all these pent-up confusions, I went straight and asked them about what they think. But the children shrug it off. Now I am more confused about the parent-children relationship because I felt like I pushed them away with that unnecessary question. And it scares me. I might lose the children because of that.

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Final Thoughts

I felt like my kids do not consider me a parent who provides safety, availability, care, and love. The children do not treat me the same way like before this whole broken family thing took place. Honestly, even if I am not that sure about what is happening, I can tell that my ex brainwashes my kids to unreasonably create a negative perception towards me. I know there is no proof to support that overthought idea. But as a mom, I can feel something is off. And that even though that fed information is a distortion from reality, my children view it as their truth. I wish that these heartbreaking experiences I am dealing with right now are just part of the family adjustments that my kids and I are going through. I really hope.

 

Common Strategies Used By Parental Alienator As Per Told By A Counselor

Marital relationships are not perfect. Every couple deals with different issues and reasons for separation. It is a known fact that when the two decided to call it quits, some things in their lives that they invested together should completely end up with shared rights and responsibilities. In this particular case, the most common thing separated parents deal with “rights and responsibilities” is the children.

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When the marriage didn’t end up that good, the usual response of one parent is to alienate the children from the other parent. One deliberately or unknowingly behaves differently to convince the children to go against the target parent to disrupt their parent-child relationships.

Parental alienation usually comes from unresolved feelings, particularly bitterness and anger towards the target one. It gets used to taking advantage of the situation and the children. An alienating parent alienates children without realizing long-term harm. But how does the alienating parent do that? Here are some of their common strategies.

Badmouthing – Alienating parent usually badmouths about the other parent behind their back. That is because they want to put out their frustrations on the target parent due to the personal impact that marital separation had brought them. Parental alienators use unkind words to describe the other parent so that children avoid getting attached to the other party. Badmouthing is commonly effective as it changes children and alienated parent’s communication course.

Staged Absence – An alienating parent is good at staging the target parent’s absence to manipulate the children. They often create an environment where there are no displayed photos and other things related to the alienated parent. Alienating parent avoids talking about the target parent so that children can cut the desire to know more about the other side. It becomes an effective strategy as children focused more on engaging with the alienating parent and eventually builds disgust over the other. The kids will eventually and willingly ignore the other parent as they would not see them much of the important part of their lives.

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Limiting Contact – One easiest way of controlling the children is by limiting their contacts to their alienated parent. Usually, the alienating parent would impose rules limiting the kids from seeing or communicating with the other parent. Limiting contact is a strategy that often results in children’s emotional issues since most of them would develop the urge to contact the other party. The strategy is somewhat inconvincible at first. But once the alienated parent established a good basis to stop communication, children will soon get used to the flow.

Imposing Danger – Since most alienating parents are bitter and feeling betrayed, they would try and get back to their exes by using the kids. They would tell them that the target parent does not love anymore. And every time the target parent would try and contact the children, the alienating parent would hinder it by creating an impression that the targeted parent will cause danger. In some scenarios, the alienating parent would tell the kids that the other parent will hurt them to get revenge. It would create an emotional detachment, and children will soon voluntarily move away from the target parent.

Forcing To Choose – In an almost everyday scenario of separated parents, there is always the pressure to convince the best children. In case the alienated parents lose their winning point, they often force the children to choose. It is a strategy that often makes the alienating parents more favorable than the other because they take advantage of their time spent with the children and use it as an asset. Alienating parents would force the child to reject or ignore the target parent and use the “I’m the one who’s here” card.

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Imposing Fear – In some unfortunate instances where the issue between parents is out of hand, they intend to destroy each other by imposing fear on their children. An alienator would often scare the kids by telling them that they would leave or die if the kids choose the other parent over them. And since the kids couldn’t afford to handle their emotions, they would immediately choose the alienating parent because their presence has become more powerful than the other. It is a strategy that usually traumatizes children as the imposed fear grows overboard sometimes.

Asking Kids To Spy – Most alienating parents start with their parental alienation by asking the children to spy on the other parent. It somehow makes the children think that the action is validating the target parent’s wrongdoing despite no solid evidence. In this situation, alienating parents discretely teach the children to lie and keep secrets from the other parent to slowly remove the parent-children association. It becomes an effective alienating strategy because kids sooner or later judge their targeted parent as they focused more on their parent’s negative aspects.

 

Frequently Asked Questions About Divorce Counseling

My husband, James, and I had been married for 20 years when I found out about his extramarital affair with his former secretary. I overheard his friends joking about it while they were fixing a car in the garage. Then, I heard my husband shushing them because I might be nearby.

Well, I was, and it hurt me even more that he planned on keeping it a secret from me forever. It made me question the affection and love that James showered me during the two decades we shared.

When I confronted my husband, he tried to deny it at first. When I refused to talk to him for hours, James finally admitted to his mistake and told me that it was just one time during the early years of our marriage. He said, “I got drunk then, babe. I did not know what to do; she was coming on to me. I was weak back then. I am really sorry.”

James’ alibi only angered me further, though. I questioned every word that came out of his mouth. For one, why would he go drinking alone with his secretary when he was already married, and he knew that she liked him? Guys would only drink with the opposite sex alone when they had other motives most of the time. Also, was he sorry that he hid the affair from me for many years? Or was he sorry now because he got caught in his lies?

I thanked God that I learned about it when our two children were already in college. They were both technically adults, making it easier for me to decide to leave my husband that night and move to the house that I bought for myself before getting married.

Did my husband try to woo me back? Of course. He sent flowers and knocked on my door every day. I never answered him, though; the explanation he gave me was enough.

I asked my best friend, a divorce lawyer, to officially end my marriage. I told her about what James did and how I felt that was unforgivable. She whipped up the documents immediately and sent them to my husband because I did not want to see him again. Our kids were also aware of our situation at that point. Although they were obviously unhappy about it, they supported my decision because they knew that their father messed up.

A Hitch In The Divorce Proceedings

My friend/lawyer already warned me that my husband might not agree with the divorce at once. She was right – he contested it and filed a counter-affidavit. He practically said that it was silly to throw away a 20-year marriage over one mistake that happened decades ago.

The nerve of that guy to downplay the issue! But since he filed his own papers, I had no choice but to see him during the first divorce hearing.

The hearing was emotionally exhausting because I had to listen to James recall what happened back then, especially during his affair. It became even more exhausting when the judge ordered us to get divorce counseling before deciding how we would move forward.

Was that really necessary?

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  1. What do divorce counselors do? 

Divorce counselors typically help married couples on the verge of splitting decide if they genuinely want to part ways for good. They also help the husband and wife realize what causes their issues and possibly resolve them to save their marriage. If it’s unsalvageable, divorce counselors step in to ensure that the two can separate peacefully and prepare them mentally and emotionally for the divorce.

  1. Do therapists recommend divorce? 

No, therapists are not supposed to recommend divorce to anyone, no matter how much they think the couple should do that. The reason is that doing so is a violation of the ethical and moral codes that they have promised to uphold. Instead, therapists may try to help them understand their problems and come up with the best solution.

  1. What are the signs that you should get a divorce? 
  • Lack of Happiness: The first sign is a mutual feeling of unhappiness whenever you think of coming home to your spouse or sharing a meal with them.
  • Negative Interactions: If you can only notice the awful things that your partner does – and vice versa – it’s possible that you need to separate soon.
  • Avoidance: Avoiding the person you are supposed to cherish for the rest of your life is not a sign of a healthy relationship.
  • Lack of Sex: Physical intimacy is as important as emotional intimacy. Without sex in your relationship for no valid reason at all, it may mean that your love for each other has become platonic.
  • Priority/Value Modification: If you or your spouse wants to focus on your career or partying all of a sudden and does not wish to meet you halfway, it may create an irreparable rift between you.
  • Familial Suggestions: Often, your family members may see what you refuse to see regarding your marriage and suggest divorce.
  1. What is the meaning of marriage counseling? 

Marriage counseling refers to a type of counseling that has been designed for couples who cannot resolve their marital problems in their town. The marriage counselor practically acts as a mediator between the two until they reach an agreement.

  1. How do you know when your marriage is over? 

You will know that your marriage is over when your spouse does something, and you cannot forgive them. Forgiveness is vital to keep the relationship going. If you stay together without forgiving each other, your life will be miserable.

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  1. What questions are asked in marriage counseling? 
  • What are your biggest marital issues? – You and your partner can lay out every problem that you think your marriage has. Some of what the other person will say may not sit well with you, but that’s their opinion, so you should not immediately call them out.
  • When did the issues manifest? – This question aims to see your awareness of the problem. After all, some individuals are oblivious and do not know how to answer it. If you know when the issues manifested, you can figure out a solution for it more quickly.
  • What’s the most annoying thing that your spouse does? – Again, this is an anger-triggering question for both parties, but you must be truthful about what qualities or antics you find annoying. This way, you get to understand the problem.
  • What’s the most loveable thing that your spouse does? – Though you are upset with each other, try to remember what you loved the most about your partner.
  • How can you improve your marriage? – The marriage counselor will not dictate how you can improve your marriage. Instead, the mental health professional will help you realize your problems’ roots and think of what you should do with your marriage.
  1. What to do before going to couples counseling? 

From the start, agree about what you want to achieve by going to couples counseling. Do you want to save your relationship? Would you like to separate without hurting each other further? There is no wrong answer here, but you need to decide on that early.

You must also ensure that both parties are willing to do couples counseling. If one does it because the other forces or blackmails them, the counseling may not work.

Furthermore, you should not wait until you lose your respect and love for one another before you seek help. Most marital issues are resolvable, especially if you try to resolve them as soon as they appear.

  1. What happens at the first couples therapy session? 

The first couples therapy session will always revolve around your relationship history. For instance, how did you meet? When did you start fighting? Is there a third party involved? What is the common cause of conflict in your marriage?

No matter your reason for doing couples therapy, you must be honest to your therapist and each other. Otherwise, you may end up wasting your time and money.

  1. How can I regain my marriage? 
  • Control Your Critical Side: One issue that people complain about is their partner’s ability to pinpoint their mistakes all the time. It may not always lead to divorce, but it undoubtedly makes the marriage dry and almost platonic. If you don’t want that, you need to focus on your spouse’s positive aspects and let your critical side take the backseat.
  • Be Kind: Kindness is essential, regardless of how long you have been married to each other. It is sometimes missing in long-term couples since one may think that they are well past the niceties, but that should never be the case.
  • Focus on What You Love About Them: Everyone has flaws – even your spouse –, and it may be impossible for them to fix those. If you want your marriage to survive, you need to look past their faults and think of what you love most about them.
  • Create New Experiences Together: Relationships typically fall through the cracks when couples settle into a dull routine. To regain your marriage, you need to be spontaneous and try new activities together.
  • Nurture and Support Each Other’s Interests: Being married does not entail that you should have the same interests in life. It is best to acknowledge what your partner loves to do as a person and support them no matter what.
  • Talk: Often, a small problem intensifies when couples do not communicate with each other well. If you can learn to talk as much as possible, that will be beneficial for your relationship.
  • Have Sex: Physical intimacy should never be gone in a marriage, no matter how many kids you already have or how many decades you have been together.
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  1. Can a toxic marriage be saved? 

Yes, a toxic marriage can be saved, but it cannot happen overnight or when only one-half of the relationship wants it. Both parties should make an effort to work through their marital and personal issues before thinking of saving their relationship.

  1. Can a relationship go back to normal after cheating? 

Yes, a relationship can go back to normal after a cheating incident. Sometimes, it even acts as a wake-up call for the couple and makes them strive to improve their relationship. Despite that, the way back to a happy marriage may be rocky, depending on how grave the infidelity is.

  1. How do you trust someone again after they hurt you? 

Trusting someone again after getting hurt starts with forgiveness. You cannot fully trust someone if you are still holding a grudge against them or recalling the awful things they did to you.

Similarly, the other person must work hard to earn your trust. If they continue in their disastrous path, you may never be able to trust them again.

  1. Is it better to divorce than stay in an unhappy marriage? 

Some people prefer to stay in an unhappy marriage because of the kids, but a divorce will always be better than that. It is better because the kids will not see their parents fighting or barely talking or forcing themselves to act happy when they are around. That cannot be good for child development.

The divorce will also benefit the adults’ mental health since they no longer need to live under the same roof with someone they don’t love anymore. It will allow them to find a new love and find happiness.

  1. Do people regret divorce?

Yes, many people tend to regret divorce, even though it is for the best. That is especially true for individuals who cannot find new love afterward.

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Final Thoughts

During divorce counseling, the counselor mostly guided us with the questions we were supposed to ask each other. The more my husband confessed about his infidelity, though, the more I realized that I could no longer be with him.

I’d say the counseling worked because my husband finally accepted that I did not want to be with his lying ass anymore. There was no custody battle involved afterward because the kids were already adults, making our divorce even more peaceful. Before parting ways, we agreed to get together during the kids’ milestones, such as their college graduations, birthdays, and even weddings in the future.

Neither James nor I remarried after that. I guess he did love me truly. I loved him, too, but some mistakes could not be forgiven, no matter how much you love each other.

Frequently Asked Questions About Postpartum Depression

I always thought that postpartum depression is a myth. I kept telling myself that it is not true, despite the known research and studies I read online and seen on the news. I guess I was too stubborn to think about it because I do not entirely care about that particular health issue. I am confident that as long as I take care of myself and focus more on healthy habits, I am good. I can be positive to manage any stressors regardless of the physical, emotional, and mental causes. But, damn, I was wrong.

This couple of weeks seems to be the worst time of my life. Honestly, I can’t even think about anything because I am too focused on these uncertain thoughts. I was supposed to be happy because I recently gave birth to a healthy baby boy. But it felt different. It felt weird that I don’t feel like myself at all. I am not sad, disappointed, or angry about the whole experience, though. But I am not that happy either. With that mixture of emotions, I realized that I struggled with something I didn’t expect: postpartum depression.

With my current situation, all I can ask is help. I genuinely want to identify what I am going through because I now realized that I miscalculated the effects of this mental health problem. I tried to understand some of the specific information about postpartum depression through these frequently asked questions. Let me know if these are something all of us can rely upon.

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What are the causes of postpartum? 

A climactic drop in hormones in your body after childbirth, particularly estrogen and progesterone, can potentially contribute to postpartum depression. Even those other hormones produced by the thyroid gland that continues to drop sharply can trigger the mental health issue as well. Thus, when this progresses, it can leave you feeling sluggish, tired, and depressed. It can make you emotionally and mentally unstable.

 How can you prevent postpartum? 

There are certain things you can consider to prevent having postpartum depression. However, you need to realize that some methods that work well with others do not guarantee the full results you imagine. It would be beneficial if you educated yourself about the impacts of the condition. That way, you can prepare yourself well for the birth of your child. Always let your feelings known and avoid making major life changes during or even right after childbirth.

 Is PPD curable? 

Yes, postpartum depression or PPD is a severe mental illness that entails professional assistance. Most women’s signs and symptoms of depression tend to stay from 3 to 6 months after they begin and even last longer than that. But despite its overall damage to an individual’s overall health, it is highly treatable with medication and psychotherapy. But note. Some medications and treatments may show different results. Therefore, an individual should not expect the same outcome as others, for some therapies and medications work depending on the severity of an individual’s condition.

 Is PPD genetic? 

PPD or postpartum depression is a severe, relatively common disorder that affects women who give birth. Usually, it has lifelong implications for the affected individual and her family. Although some anecdotal evidence points out that PPD can be inherited, epidemiological evidence show that circumstances are high regardless of if the mental condition comes from genetic factors.

 Can a woman go crazy after giving birth? 

Unfortunately, yes. There are cases that new moms experience postpartum psychosis. Though it is a rare but serious mental health illness, it still affects women soon after having a baby. Some will experience mild mood changes and might consider it a “baby blues” that usually only lasts for a few days. However, postpartum psychosis is different as it impairs women’s mental health severely that they may find themselves unable to control their emotions. In worst cases, some new moms engage with self-inflicting harm and suicide due to the condition.

 How long are you considered postpartum? 

The postpartum period starts with the first six weeks after a mother gave birth. This period is a crucial time that requires all sorts of care for the mother and her baby. It is essential to stay focused on getting emotionally, mentally, and physically better during this time.

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 Is it normal to cry a lot after having a baby? 

A lot of new moms experience strong emotions right after childbirth. Feeling overwhelmed and crying a lot in the days is normal. But be mindful. If the condition becomes unable to understand and struggles with coping with emotional health, it is best to consult professional help. Spend time to consider and check it out for postpartum depression. Do not ignore the symptoms.

 What is a postpartum woman? 

The postpartum period begins immediately after childbirth. That is because the mother’s body, including her uterus size and hormone levels, returns to a non-pregnant condition. There will be some mild emotional and mental dysfunctions, but it usually does not last long. Unfortunately, for some individuals, their postpartum recovery won’t be just a few days. In some cases, their so-called “baby-blues” tend to stick a bit longer, which escalates into a mental health disorder.

 How does pregnancy affect mental health? 

Pregnancy affects women’s mental health, as it makes them feel more vulnerable and anxious. Sometimes, their condition may develop into severe cases of depression. Pregnancy requires a lot of overall wellness and balance. Thus, if expecting moms are not getting enough stability in their emotional and physical health due to their pregnancy needs, the possibility of damaging mental health is very high.

 Is PPD a mental illness? 

Yes. PPD or postpartum depression is a mental illness that usually affects women. Some of its severe conditions cause delusions or strange beliefs, hyperactivity, rapid mood swings, and decreased need for or inability to sleep. Also, it promotes Paranoia and suspiciousness, Difficulty communicating at times, extreme agitations and anger, and Hallucinations. It is significantly important to seek professional help when more of these symptoms occur.

 Is PPD serious? 

For some women, their PPD or postpartum depression is mild, that after a few days, they recover from emotional and mental health. However, some new moms experience symptoms a few days after delivery that lasts for months. Women who experience postpartum depression will experience good and bad days.

 What are good anxiety and depression medication?

Good anxiety and depression medication are antidepressants because they are shown to be effective. Doctors and licensed medical experts most widely prescribe these. SSRIs include Prozac, Lexapro, Paxil, Zoloft, and Celexa.

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Insight

I understand that not all new moms deal with postpartum depression, and not all of them can handle it. Like me, I am still trying to figure out how to win back my emotional and mental state because I badly need it right now. But honestly, I am having a rough time with that. But of course, I need to try harder for the sake of my baby, family, and myself.

A friendly reminder to all the new moms out there, please be careful with your mental health. Be well but not too confident about your current psychological state. You might struggle with a lot of complications when you ignore the negative signs and symptoms because chances are. Immediately seek professional help and do not rely on self-diagnosis.

 

Frequently Asked Questions About Couples Counseling During A Relationship Crisis

I came from a six-year relationship before I met John. My breakup with my ex was still fresh at the time, so I did not want to date anyone. However, my friends insisted that I should be on the rebound already to show my ex what he lost for being a two-timing jerk. After days of bugging, I finally gave in and let them drag me to a bar.

I did not have thoughts of finding my future husband in a bar. The most I could think of was a hookup, but nothing more than that. But then, there was this suave guy who did not leave my side all night long and practically barricaded me from the other men who wanted to come any closer. John was initially cool with being friends with benefits, so we became each other’s booty calls a few times a week.

Exactly three months since John and I hooked up, though, I found out I was pregnant. There was no question about my unborn child’s paternity, considering I had only slept with John since then. My only problem was that I did not know how he would react. After all, we did not expect it. We weren’t even in an exclusive relationship.

When I told John about my pregnancy, his face glowed, and he pumped his fist in the air. The man I thought would be devastated about the news turned out to be happier than any future father I had seen. Then, to my surprise, John knelt on one knee and presented a ring to me.

“I know things went faster than we intended, but I had been in love with you since the first night we met. I wanted to ask you to be my girlfriend for a while now; I just didn’t know how. However, now that we have a child together, will you accept my love and let me do right by you? I promise to court you every day even when we’re married,” John said.

I felt a mix of emotions at that time, but joy and love reigned, and we tied the knot soon enough.

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Two Years Later

The first thing John and I realized after the honeymoon was that we knew so little about each other. For instance, he had an awful habit of leaving the toilet seat up, while I sometimes snored loudly. He also liked pouring almost half the bottle of maple syrup over his pancakes, while I loved to eat an unhealthy amount of mashed potatoes. Despite that, we had a baby on the way, and we were willing to look past our indifferences to have a happy family.

When Luke came into our lives, I thought everything would still go smoothly between John and me. He said I did not need to work because he had a great job and income. I was grateful for it because I did not want to leave Luke at a daycare center while I was working. Besides, looking after a baby was a full-time job, especially when the baby’s about to reach their terrible twos.

The first time that John and I argued for a long time was when he came home from work without food on the table. My excuse was that I had to do laundry and take care of Luke, but John asked me about what’s so hard with ordering pizza, at least. That caused me to sleep in the baby’s room that night, but then John fetched me around midnight and said sorry. Nonetheless, after that, we continued to have arguments almost every day about little things.

I got fed up one day and asked John if he wanted to split because I could not handle another argument with him. His demeanor changed, and he hugged me, but I said we could not go forward unless we settled our differences through couples counseling.

What is the success rate of couples counseling?

Couples counseling has seen up to 80% success rate over the years.

How can I get free couples counseling? 

 You can avail free couples counseling by going to non-profit organizations or churches. In case you want to do it online, some platforms offer a free trial.

What is the best therapy for couples? 

 Couples counseling is the best therapy for two individuals who cannot deal with their relationship issues independently.

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How do I find a couples counselor? 

 Often, at least one person in your circle can recommend a couples counselor. If you cannot get a referral, you can visit the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT) website and use their locator feature to look for one in your area. Similarly, churches are typically linked to a couples counselor, given that engaged couples need to go through pre-marriage counseling.

What is the difference between marriage counseling and couples therapy? 

 Marriage counseling is short-term counseling that couples get when new issues pop up and affect their relationship. Meanwhile, couples therapy can deal with every problem that the husband and wife have had since their relationship started.

What is the Gottman Method? 

 The Gottman method is a couples therapy technique that therapists use to thoroughly assess the couple’s relationship and determine what solutions may suit them.

Can a marriage survive without intimacy? 

 No, a marriage cannot survive without any form of intimacy. Even a simple kiss or hug can do wonders for a couple.

Is it okay for married couples to sleep in separate rooms? 

 Yes, it is perfectly okay for married couples to sleep in separate rooms. In truth, some therapists may recommend it, citing that the separation makes the couple want each other more.

How many positives does it take to clear a negative? 

 Based on the praise-to-criticism ratio, you need to say or do five positive things to clear a negative deed.

How can I be more positive in a relationship? 

  • Accept that you and your partner are two different people who cannot always like the same things. The more you embrace each other’s uniqueness, the more your relationship will flourish.
  • When your partner tells you something, don’t just nod and agree with them absentmindedly. You need to practice active listening to know that you care about their thoughts, experiences, and emotions.
  • Pour all your attention to your partner whenever you are together. Time is one of the most precious gifts that can strengthen any relationship. If you cannot give it to your partner, your relationship may be in jeopardy.
  • In case you and your partner seem to have a misunderstanding all the time, you must learn how to choose your words and communicate better. Otherwise, you may end up separating.
  • Welcome positive and negative comments from each other – that’s how you will know the things you should stop or keep on doing. Still, the feedback session should occur respectfully, considering you are doing it to improve your relationship and not spite one another.
  • Trust is another beautiful gift. Assuming your partner has not given you any reason to doubt their love for you, you should show them more trust.

How can negativity kill a relationship? 

 Negativity can kill a relationship by making problems more prominent than they should be.

How do you know if you’re not happy in a relationship? 

  • You cannot talk to your partner without noticing their bad qualities or getting angry at them.
  • You often do not feel like coming home, knowing that your partner will be there.
  • You do not want to have sex with your partner. Even if you do, it feels like a chore than something you enjoy.
  • Your priorities are everything except for your partner.
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How do you stop overthinking in a relationship? 

  • If you do not understand what your partner’s words mean, try not to draw your conclusions and just ask them directly. Doing the former will only make you sad and paranoid.
  • Realize that your relationship does not revolve around you. Your partner has as many needs as you do, and it is only healthy for them to prioritize themselves over you sometimes.
  • Considering your relationship is still hanging in the air, you need to distract yourself. Go on a trip, hike with friends, or even date other people if that will keep you from overthinking.

Final Thoughts

John and I found a great couples counselor through our friends. I was initially embarrassed to go to the counselor’s clinic, but the counselor assured me that there’s no harm in saving our relationship. We went through a few sessions, and after each one, we felt closer than ever.

It had been 10 years since we went to couples counseling, and we became advocates of this treatment to our friends and family due to how much it helped save our marriage.

How Single Moms Can Get Through Pregnancy Without Destroying Their Mental Health

Being a mother is perhaps every girl’s lifelong dream. It often shows in the way they roleplay with dolls and treat them as their children. Some will not even let an hour pass without the dolls in their arms and throw a fit if the parents take them away. 

Despite that, when these girls turn into women, they realize that it is not always easy to find a man they can build a family with. Many of them end up as single parents, especially if their partner bails on them or is too messed up to keep.

In case you become a single mother before giving birth, though, it is understandable how it may harshly affect your mental health. You are at the most vulnerable phase of your life; the family you wished to give your child is already broken before they even arrived. But as much as you may want to give up, you should: 

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Think About Your Unborn Child

The first thing that you should think about is the well-being of your unborn child. Many experts have stated that a baby could feel everything the mother feels when they’re in your womb. So, if you are restless, they become restless. When you are always crying and depressed, it may have an adverse effect on them. 

Because of that, you need to try to be happy all the time. Force yourself to feel that way if you must since the primary goal is to help your unborn kid develop healthily. If you need to watch many comedies or be around your loved ones or go on a trip, go for it. There should be no room for anything that may jeopardize your baby’s development. 

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Consider That Single Parenting Might Be Better For You

No woman wants to be a solo parent from the beginning – not even adoptive mothers. The need to have a partner in life strengthened when you created a new life with someone special. However, there are also instances when it is better to be single instead of coupling with your child’s father. 

The perfect example of that is what Jenna went through in the Waitress musical. Assuming you hadn’t seen the show when it was still on Broadway, you should know that she was a waitress with a verbally – and almost physically – abusive husband. When Jenna realized that she was pregnant, she felt so scared about it. It didn’t help that her good-for-nothing husband asked her not to love their baby more than him. Jenna waited until she was in the delivery room to tell her husband that she wanted him gone, but she did it anyway. 

I know a lot of women like Jenna in the world. And believe it or not, it is always more ideal to raise a child alone than to expose them to such toxic relationships. 

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Allow Your Loved Ones To Support You

A common reason why a pregnant woman may find it challenging to deal with singlehood was a lack of support from friends and family. That is especially true if they turned their back on their loved ones, only to be betrayed by the man they picked over the latter. Pride may also get in the way as they want to prove to everyone that their pregnancy is not a mistake.

Still, here’s a newsflash: not everyone is too evil to keep on taunting you after knowing what you are going through. Perhaps your family is upset because of what you have done to them. That’s okay; they have the right to feel that way. However, if you are scared of getting rejected by them when you wish to come home, there’s a high likelihood that it is a baseless fear.  

You need to believe that some people genuinely care about you and your baby, and all there is to do is to let them in your world. This way, being a single mother won’t feel too impossible anymore.

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Deal With Negative Thoughts Much Later

Are you still unable to get over your breakup with your unborn child’s father? Do you often lie awake at night and think about what has gone wrong in your relationship? 

Although I would typically recommend facing your problems head-on, it may not be suitable for pregnant mothers. As mentioned above, an unborn child can feel every emotion that the mom experiences. Dealing with negativity while your baby is still under the developmental stage in the womb may cause complications later. 

If you can wait to do that until your due date, that will be incredible for your child.

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Bottom Line

No one blames you for becoming a single mother during your pregnancy, whether you have chosen to be one or not. If anyone does that, pay zero attention to them because their comments will do nothing but mess with your head. Aside from being healthy, you need to be mentally stable so that you can prepare to be a mom and dad to your baby.

Good luck!

The Alienated Parent: Surviving The Challenges Of A Broken Family

 

 

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Surviving the challenges of being an alienated mom or dad is not easy at all. Keeping your rationality, albeit your children abandoning all your attempts at keeping in touch, is devastating, and trying to be sensible in the arena of the family court is truly challenging. How can you feel normal when your family is broken and you are alienated from your kids? Can life for you ever become sane again?

Below are some essential pieces of advice for parents who have to cope with the heartbreaking realm of parental alienation.

Surviving Amidst Parental Alienation

Move forward mentally and emotionally. Do not focus on the broken relationship that you had with your alienated child or children. Move past the bitterness and rage. Don’t punish yourself. Concentrate on finding positivity every single day. Get some activity going—exercise or volunteer in your community. Start writing. And when your day is just not going the way you want it to, pray the serenity prayer. There is immeasurable power in it.

When you are an embattled parent dealing with parental alienation, you must feel alone, depressed, and broken. And if you’re struggling like most alienated parents, you might have the same question for the various mental health professionals and everyone else who attempts to provide comfort and advice: How? Where do I begin? Is there a manual for this?

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Even the smartest advice for reliving connections with your alienated kid, such as regularly keeping in touch with your child through messages of love and care, would be pretty difficult. To make things worse, showing your outpouring love and acknowledgment to your child provides him with the courage he needs to keep his painful and unyielding position. He could say, “I can keep on treating you badly because I’m sure you adore me, and you’ll always think that it’s not my fault.” Keeping your sane self when a previously loved child does not accept your invitation or never talks to you on the phone is really tough work. Keeping the sanity in the world of the family courts is also tough, particularly if your ex-spouse does not pass up a chance to file legalities to prevent you from communicating with your child, eventually damaging your soul and your bank account.

Gather Positivity

One of the most effective coping strategies for parental alienation is likened to the saying about an individual who visits the doctor and tells him, “Doc, I get hurt when I do something like this,” and the doctor would always respond, “So why do you do that? Don’t do that!” For instance, it is a fact that you must keep on proving to your estranged child that you are the persistent loving parent that you were then and now. But there is nothing in the law that states you must confront your child’s hurtful rejection when things aren’t going your way, and the abandonment will really break you to pieces.

Rather, you can make a call to your child right after you’ve spoken to your boss who just made a compliment, or you get to finish a difficult project, or your favorite show featured the best actress. You still may get a no from your child, or he’ll hang up the phone and not talk to you, but it won’t hurt that much if you’ve already felt glad about something.

Change Your Mindset

If you’re depressed when you think about the days when you were bonding with your child, then you’ve got to change your mindset. There’s this woman I know who alters her negative thoughts with joyful recollections of her frequent trips to her doting grandmother. Often, she would get rid of negative memories by imagining that she is wading in the clear, blue waters. Regardless of where your thoughts will bring you, you may alter both your mindset and your whole day with these little mind vacations.

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In CBT, reorganizing your thoughts entails altering something negative that you usually recite in your mind into a more affirmative statement. Say, for instance, based on your present circumstance, you may recite this silently, “My child is angry at me, and he doesn’t love me anymore.” Try changing this statement to, “My kid does love me and wishes to be with me again. It’s just that he’s doing his best to survive something that is hurtful for him as much as it is hurtful for me.”

On other days, thought replacements won’t do you any good, and you feel that you are not able to overcome the devastation and sadness of parental alienation. Just don’t fight it but negotiate with yourself. Permit yourself to feel sad for a time – just for a time – like before the day ends, or before heading to sleep. As a substitute for allowing yourself to feel sad and mourn the failure of keeping your child, commit to doing something after the deadline that would make you feel much better.

The Takeaway

Ultimately, the best way to deal with parental alienation is to gain knowledge. Having a sufficient understanding of the subject will give you emotional strength and enable you to decide wisely for yourself and your child.

 

 

Parenting 101: Help Kids Cope During The Pandemic

This pandemic situation is the number one cause of stress and anxiety of most people right now. And the victim of these mental illnesses is not limited to adults only. Children and adolescence also experience a different level of stress and anxiety that they sometimes cannot handle. So in times like this, it is essential that we also help the children cope with this pandemic.

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As we are all aware, kids and adolescence thrive on structure and predictability. They are good at understanding what is already in front of them. That explains the process of learning from experience where adults receive first-hand information, and then pass it to the children. But in this pandemic situation, everyone is adjusting in their lives simultaneously. Thus, it becomes a turning point for children to step up and try their best to match other people’s coping ability. But it doesn’t have to be that way. As adults, we need to find a way to help the children during this crisis because we are responsible for their overall wellbeing.

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Preservation Of Some Routines

Understandably, there are limitations and strict safety protocols the children must follow. Of course, we don’t want anything wrong to happen to them. But to help kids cope, we must allow them to look at the situation differently. We must understand that even if we are now working our progress to the new normal, we still have to retain some of the kids’ usual routines. These include playing, learning, and socializing. That is because some of us parents are becoming overprotective of our children that we hinder them from being kids. It shouldn’t have to be that way. We should not allow our kids to live their lives with fear and worries all the time.

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Unnecessary Input Of Negativity

As parents, it is okay that we level up our concerns to our children. We have to remind them of the disadvantage of the situation. However, we must understand that the way we deliver the words can significantly impact their outlook on what’s happening around them. We must learn how to slowly discuss negative information to our kids so that they will not feel a certain amount of emotional weight on their chest. If we haven’t noticed, kids are critical thinkers. It is possible that they may feel scared because they can’t do anything. They might think that some of us adults can’t handle our overall wellbeing, what more can them? With that, we must often talk honestly with the children to avoid confusion.

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Do Not Allow Isolation

Children are typically terrified of everything. That is their nature because they understand the insufficient knowledge and experience they have compared to adults. Thus, they remain dependent on us during this pandemic. But some parents are not aware of the danger of allowing kids to be alone, especially in a situation like this. So as parents, we must be there for our children. We need to let them know that being alone in this situation is not going to help anyone. We must not make them feel that home quarantine is design to keep them away from other people. We need to explain that this whole social distancing protocol intends to save lives and not to influence isolation.

Yes, it will be difficult for children to manage their lives because of the sudden changes they have to deal with. But we can help them with their struggle. As parents, we can make their lives easier as long as we try and understand their mental and emotional needs during this time.

Why Parents Need To Be Present In Kids’ Formative Years

It has been an eye-opening experience to attend the Parental Involvement Conference 2019. I did not want to admit that at first, but that’s the truth. It is especially helpful for the parents of young children like myself, who do not have particular parenting styles yet.

One of the ideas that stuck with me is, “Parents need to be present during the little ones’ formative years.” Here’s why.

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Kids Learn The Best From Their Parents

Whenever people say that parents are the best teachers, I believe them. The reason is that they know their kids more than anyone else. They have an idea about their interests; they can develop learning materials that suit the children’s needs. And this role is crucial during their formative years.

Being Present Keeps You From Regretting The Lost Years

I have a friend who always left her young children at the care of her mother so that she could work full-time. Her husband abandoned them, and it was the only way to feed the family. But as the kids became a little older and closer to their grandmother than their mother, my friend regretted not being around during their formative years.

Can the lost times be brought back? Nope. All absentee parents can do at this point is to make sure that they are present now. 

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Your Presence Can Lower The Chances Of Kids Straying Away In The Future

It is common to find parents at preschools. Sometimes, it is because they volunteer to help the teachers deal with the kids. Other times, it is because the little ones refuse to study unless they can see their mom or dad. 

The latter indicates the children’s dependence on the parents. Even if some people frown upon babying them in such circumstances, your kids will only remember that you are there when they need you the most. Thus, the memory may prevent them from going astray in the future.

Final Thoughts

There is no doubt regarding a parent’s determination to ensure that your kids will never experience hunger or poverty. Some even go as far as working overseas to guarantee that. However, if possible, try to be a permanent part of their formative years so that they can develop naturally.

 

Child Custody During COVID-19 Pandemic

Parents are facing big decisions during this pandemic time, especially in providing medical attention and education to their kids. Navigating to what is best for children somehow affects both parents’ emotional and mental capability since both of them are affected by the situation as well. There is too much pressure on who is supposed to be there with the kids. And during these uncertain times, one can take advantage.

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This current situation is a challenging time for those parents who share joint custody of their children. A lot of parents worry too much about what the kids are doing or who they are interacting with. During these times that the children have to switch back and forth, how is that affecting the kids’ lives? How can parents act on the kids’ exposure to other people when one of them is not around? How can parents secure the kids’ safety when only one of them is allowed to spend time with the children following a parental agreement?

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An Opportunity For Parental Alienation

On a case by case analysis, parental alienation can increase when one of the parents took advantage of the pandemic situation. If one of them becomes unreasonable, he or she might validate his or her action by stating the danger of the children’s exposure outside their home. Therefore, demanding and refusing for the children to travel or visit the other parent becomes an unbreakable rule of the one who is in charge. During this pandemic crisis, most parents that live separate lives together understand the danger of the situation. And both of them see it as an essential asset to an open opportunity to keep one parent away from the children.

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Key Steps In Keeping A Balanced Child Custody

In line with the issue of shared custody, one of the parents should not have to worry that much. That is because there are a few key steps that can help in protecting their custody rights from the other parent. These steps will work if both parties ensure to agree and follow parental agreement provided that it prioritizes the kids’ safety.

Source: medium.com

  1. The children need to have a routine where both parents can participate. The kids’ need a consistent schedule of doing different tasks in a timely manner. If in case the mom or dad can’t be there, one must allow the other to take the required spot to avoid keeping it empty. Both parents should agree to the set-up so no one can complain about who’s taking more time spent with the kids and who is not.
  2. Communication is always the key to the situation. If one parent becomes too confident about his or her rights in shared custody, he or she might reconsider. That is because a long period of not seeing or interacting with either one of them can increase the chances of kids’ feeling left out by one parent. Thus, it can add to the uncertainties of parental alienation. So to avoid that from happening, both parents must communicate with each other and to their children as well.
  3. Discussing the responsibilities and complications of the situation is a must. Custody agreements are still binding unless it gets legally modified. Therefore, there is no chance one parent can stop the other from visitation. That is regardless of the possible reason one parent presents to the other. So to avoid parental alienation, both parents should comply with their roles and responsibilities. That includes emotional, physical, mental, financial aids. Regardless of the pandemic situation, one or both parents should not use the global crisis as an excuse to disregard custody agreements.