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Getting Out of a Bad Relationship

You know you should break up with him. You know he’s not a good human. You know you’re lonely/unhappy/depressed with him. Why can’t you end it? You ask yourself this on a regular basis. Your friends and family hate the relationship. Sigh. It’s so hard.

If you know you should get out, but you can’t bring yourself to do it, here is some great advice on how to start:

Disclaimer #1: If your bad relationship is violent and/or dangerous in some other way, this advice doesn’t apply to you because you don’t have time to take baby steps. Please take what feels like a drastic step and do whatever is necessary to preserve your safety such as calling the police or contacting a battered women’s shelter.

Disclaimer #2: While I speak in a way that directs this towards females, this advice is for males too.

Helping teens grow and families improve connection,
Lauren Goodman, MS, MFT

Bad Relationship, Bad Emotional State

Ryan…oh Ryan. I so badly wanted you to make me first. I so badly wanted you to dedicate yourself to me the way I was dedicating myself to you. Instead you dangled the carrot just enough to keep me hanging on. I was never in first place. There was always the promise I would be after “just this one more thing,” but I never was. My emotions in reaction built from confusion to anxiety to sadness to desperation to resentment to strength.

Any good therapist could have diagnosed me as depressed or anxious; they would have been wrong. I learned from you being in a relationship that didn’t feed me and didn’t honor God led to the emotional experience of depression and anxiety. I thank you now for this troublesome time in my life because I better understand my clients. The number of lovely young women and young men I meet with who seem depression and anxious, but are feeling that way because of a bad relationship is staggering. They always ask the chicken or the egg question, but it is answered when they cut the anchor. Once they let go of their Ryan, they almost always feel a significant improvement in their mental health.

Helping teens grow and families improve connection,
Lauren Goodman, MS, MFT

Teen Girls’ Concern With Their Weight

Fitness and thinness can become an obsession for teen girls. Photo Credit: Marin via freedigitalphotos.net

Fitness and thinness can become an obsession for teen girls.
Photo Credit: Marin via freedigitalphotos.net

Are you worried your daughter is overly concerned with her weight?  You’re not alone.  Studies have shows teenage girls are dissatisfied with their bodies at a rate ranging from 50% to as high as 90%.  It’s distressing to think that many adolescents feel preoccupied with wishing they looked different.

There is a big difference between teenagers who do not like their bodies, and those who go a step further.  Some may not like what they see, but they still wear swimsuits, eat normally, exercise appropriately, and do not complain about themselves too often.  Other girls are regularly trying to diet, and feel very self-conscious in certain attire.

I had a college roommate who was as beautiful and fit as could be.  We went to school in Tucson, Arizona and it was dreadfully hot every Fall when we’d start classes.  Despite this, I never once saw her wear anything besides pants.  When I asked her about this she said it’s because her legs looked fat, and that they would never look as good as they had when she was a ballerina in high school.  As a result she created a rule for herself that she was not allowed to show her legs under any circumstances.  She ultimately created more and more rules for herself until she had imprisoned herself in the trap of anorexia.  It was heartbreaking.

If you’re worried about whether your daughter is too concerned with her weight, she probably is.  You wouldn’t be clued into this being a problem if it weren’t.  Just in case though, here are some things to watch for:

1. Your daughter has cut out certain types of food such as “carbs.”

2.  Your daughter won’t wear a swimsuit in front of anyone.

3.  Your daughter talks about food constantly.

4.  Your daughter makes comments comparing her body to other girls or women on a regular basis.

5.  Your daughter seems to be on a perpetual diet and/or exercise regimen.

6.  You daughter has calorie counting and/or fitness tracking apps on her phone.

If you start to see some of these behaviors, it’s time to begin the conversation about whether your teenager is too concerned with her weight.  It can quickly bud into an obsession that overtakes her life.  Believe me, I know since I struggled with this very obsession from age 15 to age 22.  That is seven years of my life I can’t get back.  The main focus during those seven years was weight loss and fitness at a time when I should have been having fun with friends and learning a lot in school.

I work with a great number of clients who are unhappy with their appearance.  Some of them have gotten all the way into an eating disorder, and others are on the borderline.  It’s always helpful to them when A) they realize many, many others feel the same as they do and B) there are so many other facets that make up who a person is.  Treating poor body image is not as simple as this, but it’s where you can start as a parent.

Helping teens grow and families improve connection,

Lauren Goodman, MS, MFT

Tips for Keeping Teens Safe This Halloween

Keep your teens safe on Halloween with these ideas. Image courtesy of samarttiw at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Keep your teens safe on Halloween with these ideas. Image courtesy of samarttiw at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Halloween is on a Thursday.  This is an “uh-oh” for a lot of parents of teenagers.  Many of you have teens who are going to help you pass out candy, or just have a couple of friends over to watch horror movies.  That’s awesome!  Those sound like really healthy, safe ways to celebrate Halloween.

 

However, some of you have to worry about what your teenager will be doing and who they will be with.  Will they be drinking?  Will they be making-out with random people?  Will they be pulling pranks that might get them into trouble?  Will they be trying some weird drug at a Halloween party?

 

Here are 5 tips to help keep your teenagers safe this Halloween:

1. Don’t let them wear a costume if you don’t approve.  This is especially important for teenage girls.  They are at an age where they are almost expected to wear a costume that shows way too much skin.  Don’t let your teen out the door dressed as a promiscuous nurse, or provocative version of some comic book character.  You get the idea.  Halloween is a night where inappropriate dress is often accepted; you don’t have to join the crowd and just look the other way.  You can help your teenager dress up in a way where they look cute, but don’t attract the leering eye of every person they walk past.

 

2.  Check your teenager’s backpack.  Don’t let them leave your house with a backpack unless you know EXACTLY what’s in there.  Open bottles and smell them.  Even the best-behaved teenagers consider drinking on Halloween.  Since Halloween is on a Thursday night (so almost the weekend) the probability that they actually will drink doubles.  Your teenager might have a bottle of what looks like Gatorade, but it may be mixed with vodka.  I’m not saying you can’t trust your kid, but you just never know.  I have seen a great number of teens brought into my office because their very surprised parents caught them drinking or smoking, etc.

 

3.  Know where your teenager is going, who is driving them, and what the contingency plan is.  If there’s one constant with adolescents it’s that their plans change.  Make sure you and your teenager have gone over exactly what you want them to do if plans change, and how they will get there.  Make sure they communicate with you regularly throughout the night.  If you don’t hear from them at an appointed check-in time, let them know in advance what their consequence will be (The most logical one being that you go pick them up right away).

 

4.  Have the party at your house.  If you allow your teenager to have a bunch of their friends over then you can control their environment.  You can make sure there’s no alcohol, no making out in random bedrooms, no smoking, and no party-crashers.  You can be certain everyone has a safe ride home at the end of the night.  You get the comfort of knowing your teen is in their own bed at the end of the evening.  The downside to this is that you probably won’t get to bed when you want to, and there will likely be a mess to clean on Friday morning.  However, those might be prices you’re willing to pay to know your child is safe.

 

5.  Let them trick-or-treat.  A lot of parents have a cap on the age a teenager can trick-or-treat.  I really do understand this.  Overall though walking from house to house where there are a lot of small children and parents around is a pretty safe activity.  Maybe it’s a little tacky to let your seventeen year old collect a pillowcase-full of candy, but would you rather have them doing that or at an unsupervised Halloween party?  Invite them and their trick-or-treating buddies back to your house afterward for scary movies and a pizza.

 

The basic ideas of keeping your teenager safe on Halloween is that they are in a supervised environment, and you know exactly where they are.  You are in close contact and there is a plan in place.  Definitely let them go and have fun with their friends.  Just remind them this is a chance to earn more trust and freedom from you if they handle this holiday with maturity.

 

Helping teens grow and families improve connection,
Lauren Goodman, MS, MFT