"Mending Lives" of children, parents, and families who want to improve the quality of their lives.
Individual, Couples, and Families - Children, Adolescents and Adults (ages 1 to 100)
The Arizona Justice Center provides a wide array of Christian services that is continually growing and expanding. If the services you are seeking are not listed below, please email us at AzJusticeC@cox.net . The list below is only a partial list of services we provide.
brooks gibson christian counseling therapeutic intervention parenting coordinator custody evaluation arizona phoenix: Feelings Journals, Barricade the door
Feelings Journals are similar to, but not exactly like diaries. There are no hard set rules for journaling, nor should there be. The purpose is for the writer to export, express, dump, unload, and relieve their emotions, out of their head and onto paper....or computer. Journaling emotions that are unpleasant, unclear, and of unknown origin, often helps to discharge their pent up energy. Energy that is behind the negative emotions you may be experiencing. By putting them down on paper and expressing them through different creative outlets, we can often discharge the emotional power they have held within us for so long. They can be discharged to safer levels that allow a feeling of calm and a sense of security to return. These relief periods will become more frequent with increased exercises and last for longer periods of time.
The only way out of the pain, is through the pain1. The more details that you include in your writing or drawings, the better the healing you will be able to do. We all try to escape and avoid pain, it is our nature to do so. In coping with unpleasant memories and experiences over a long period of time, we try to forget about the experiences in many different ways, regard to long term copingIn order to disociate from unpleasant events, suppressing memories is a common method of coping to avoid pain. This does not remove them from our memory or their power over us. As the recovery movement often says, "the only way out of the pain, is through the pain." The more detailed your writings and pictures are, the more real the memories are. If they are not real, there is nothing to be fixed. So to a great extent, your ability to heal, begins with your first step, by recalling WHAT needs to be fixed, in great detail.
Most people describe trying not to think about such negative emotions they experience and trying to forget the memories or events that caused them in the first place. People report different degrees of success in doing this, but eventually, they can no longer be denied. By expressing them in a detailed fashion, using words, pictures, or both, it helps discharge the power they have over us, often fueled by the fear of remembering. But they are only memories. Memories can no longer hurt us.
While most people who write in their journal consistently for several weeks will report varying degrees of relief. Some people find that drawing their feelings provides them with more relief and that they are much more comfortable drawing than writing. Some theorize that since writing in a journal and drawing pictures relies on different parts of the brain, each person's preference relates to whether they are left or right brain dominant. Whatever the cause, I have witnessed many clients derive many benefits from drawing their feelings and have displayed some of the samples I have collected below.
The quality of your drawings is not important. What is important is that you are able to draw the expression of your feelings, whatever they are. No matter how ugly or pretty they are, ploitically correct or not, offensive or appealing, repugnant or pleasant, hard or soft, quiet or loud, etc.
It is not important how well the drawings are, it is not a contest, there is no performance involved. The benefits are personal, just as the drawings are. Some examples of drawings are included below.
What do you see in this picture?
The assignment was to "draw your feelings".
When you draw your feelings, you may focus on how you are feeling at the moment, how you felt at some point during the day, or you may draw a particular memory from your lifetime. This can be especially helpful when recalling past memories the you recall many details about, but none of the emotions associated with the memory.
If you become too upset while trying any of these drawings, it is recommended that you seek professional assistance to help you in this area, before continuing.
In this example, Melissa drew two images she saw somewhere else that she related to, imagined herself in those positions as they related to her past experiences, then described how she felt in those situations. She keeps the images and over time, continues to develop the charachtors and their story line, experiences and feelings.
Parenting Children of Divorce: How to help children adjust and cope with divorce.
Parenting children can be challenging at any time. During a divorce, everything in life may seemmore difficult for parents, including being a parent to their children, whoseneeds cannot be put on hold and may in fact increase. Infants cannot tell their parents what they are feeling, so their caretakers need to be especially attentive during a time when they are in need of many things themselves. Parents may also be attempting to parent alone for the first time intheir lives. At a time when children need their parents the most, during a separation and divorce, their parents may not even be speaking, let alone working together.
What to look for:
*Children act out the unexpressed emotions of adults in the home.
Any parent of two or more children will tell you that children are all different. How they manifest their stress, anxiety or other emotions is just as different as how adults vary in their moods and methods of expressing themselves. Children do not express their emotions in the same recognizable ways that adults do however. Their age and cognitive level determine what skills they have available for communicating. With limited verbal skills, children often reduce their stress by re-enacting stressful situations over and over, until they become desensitized to what scares them. This includes talking about stressful situations or scary events to strangers or anyone who may listen, often blurting out their eyewitness accounts in public situations that unintentionally embarass their parents, lacking the social skills to handle high stress and delicate family matters.
Infants may become more irritable and become irregular in sleeping and eating patterns. They may show greater anxiety when being held by others and sometimes even with one or both parents if they are seeing them less. Some infants may spend more time with caretakers other than their parents, out of financial necessity. They may also show separation anxiety when apart from their primary caretaker, which in some cases is neither parent, if both areworking full time. Without a stable and consistent environment, they may become moody, that is, more irritable and needy, rather than calm and content.
Toddlers and young children may regress and revert to immature behaviors that they have grown out of, in such areas as toilet training, bedwetting, drinking from cups instead of glasses, sleeping or eating patterns, the toys they play with or the manner of their play behavior. The older children become, the more ability they have to express anger in ways that are recognizable to adults as anger. Too often, when children manifest anger, they are labled with terms such as, disobedient, acting out, attention seeking, or oppositional/defiant. These labels may be useful in attempts to control unwanted behavior, but ignore the internal world of children who may be crying out for help while being over-whelmed with changes and stress they are ill equipped to handle.
Parents need to recognize that children that are normally happy and well adjusted, begin acting out for a reason, perhaps as a means to get attention, but more specifically, because repeatedly reinacting stressful situations through play and their use of imagination, is their only means of reducing the anxiety they feel without help from adults. Unfortuneately, too often, if their parents are also in pain and do not place the children's needs above their own, children do not get the counseling or other assistance they need.
School Age Children
School age children may experience moodiness at bedtime and have a hard time settling down to sleep. They may become clingy and seek more adult involvement in everything they do throughout the day, especially from their parents and primary caretakers. They may not like being left alone and want to be within eyesight of their caretakers at all times. Areas where they were previously independent, such as playing in their room alone, taking a bath, getting dressed, may all revert to patterns from earlier years when they sought help and did not want to be alone. Younger children, assuming they are bonded to both parents, will benefit the most from frequent contact with both parents. Ideally, they would see both parents every day for quality time, but even children living in a nuclear family do not experience this. While parents are living together with the children, the children are often bonded to one parent more than the other, for a variety of reasons. In traditional settings, where the mother is home raising the children, it is common for the children to be more bonded with Mother as she is their primary caretaker, although it may not always be the case. The parents usually know how the children do while separated from each parent and for how long.
If the parents are unsure or do not agree on this aspect of the family alignments, they may have to have a professional complete a “Bonding Assessment” for the Court to determine how the children will fare being uprooted from their family organization, dividing time between their parents. A Bonding Assessment by a professional custodyevaluator determines how the children are bonded and aligned with each parent,the strength of those bonds and how much anxiety they will experience being separated from each parent for different amounts of time. If the children are equally bonded to both parents, the less time infants and young children spend away from either parent, each time they are separated, the better the children will adjust to their parents no longer living together.
Pre-teens and Teens
In general, the older children are, the more difficultly they have in coping with divorce, especially pre-teens and teens, may also become isolative and withdrawn over the changes being forced upon them. Teenagers, often experience mood swings, anger outbursts and become withdrawn at times and may exhibit other changes in their behavior or personal habits, such their dress, music, grades, attendance, choice of friends, entertainment and the groups they join.
FAQ's: Clinical or Christian based counseling, what's the difference? . . . other FAQ's
FAQ's (Frequently Asked Questions)
The FAQ's are still evolving, so if you have a question that is not addressed below, please email your question to AzJusticeC@cox.net . The most common questions can then be included in this section as another FAQ! Thank you for your contribution.
1. What kind of counseling do you provide? Is it based on the Bible, psychology, or something else?
All clients approach counseling with unique expectations and needs. They are experiencing challenges that they have been unable to overcome, despite increasing efforts to do so. Some clients are seeking spiritual, religious, biblical answers that will provide the solutions to the challenges they are facing, while other clients are seeking answers in for medical conditions or diagnosis.
While the Bible contains the authoritative word of God, medicine and science have provided answers to biological conditions and their treatment. Spiritual, moral, and life issues are guided by the direction found in the Bible. For medical, biological, clinical issues, we may also seek answers from medicine and science, such as antibiotics, and many other medicines that heal infections, treat virus, or other maladies.
A positive outcome is achieved by the client and their counselor working together to find the solutions and answers the client is seeking.
2. What is your background, is your education in psychology or the bible?
Reverend Brooks Gibson, M.Ed., began his undergraduate education at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln (UNL), majoring in psychology and minoring in philosophy. While studying human behavior in psychology courses, the philosophy courses studied many of the great philosophers in history that wrote about their beliefs in the existence of God. Living in a fraternity (Sigma Alpha Epsilon) provided the opportunity to discuss, debate, argue and propose solutions to many of humankinds struggles. Following the University of Nebraska, Reverend Gibson was provided the opportunity to attend Bible College in Arizona (Arizona College of the Bible, ACB), where the foundation was completed for his unique dual major and education in psychology and the ministry.
In 1980, Reverend Gibson began working for Donald Clifton, Ph.D., in Lincoln, Nebraksa, at the organization Dr. Clifton founded, Selection Research Institute (SRI), conducting lengthy and in-depth personality assessment interviews, requiring as many as five hours to complete with each client. The interviews and information obtained were evaluated by staff psychologists for the clients and their employers, such as Wang and IBM. In 1988, Dr, Clifton's company, SRI, purchased and took over the Gallup companies (Gallup poll), who are now headquartered in Omaha, Nebraska.
The personality assessments were used by Dr. Clifton to recommend the best person-environment fit for the employee and the managment team within the company they worked for, based on the clients overall strengths and the management teams' personality and management style. Dr. Clifton's SRI included many services, including, for instance, researching the success and contributing factors of success for the University of Nebraska football team.
This experience led to Reverend Gibson's deep interest in personality formation, function and assessment that has continued throughout his career, having assessed thousands of personalities over the last 3o years. Dr. Clifton has been credited with being the "Father of Strengths Psychology" and the grandfather of "Positive Psychology", according to the American Psychological Association (APA). Dr. Clifton was a frequent lecturer and guest speaker in the insurance and restaurant industries, where he effectively used humor and his theory of the "Dipper and the Bucket". Dr. Clifton was also awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross in WWII.
While at the University of Nebraska, an advisor informed Reverend Gibson that he needed to make a choice between religion and psychology, "because the two don't mix", implying that psychologists were atheists or agnostics. The angst created from this advisors unsolicited statement, became the motivation for Reverend Gibson's search for the Truth, leading to his dual majors and college education that spanned five universities.
Following his dual education as an undergraduate, Reverend Gibson completed a master's degree in counseling, followed by additional studies at other universities, including admission into a doctorate program of clinical psychology. After contracting Valley Fever however, it was no longer possible to continue as a doctorate student.
Consultation and other services in Divorce and Child Custody
Parenting consultation can refer to many things. Parents, grandparents or other concerned parties who seek advice from an expert in divorce or child custody matters, ask for a "consultation" to learn about their situation and the options they have in the context of the Family Court for the bests interests of the children. Parents may contact the office by phone (602-896-1000) or email at firstname.lastname@example.org to request these services which do not require a court order.
A consultation my help parents or other concerned parties understand child development needs, learn ways to reduce conflict and the exposure of conflict onto children, understand methods of co-parenting or parallel parenting, learn to communicate effectively, or understand the range of parenting plan options and how to consider them for their particular family. Services may be with one parent only or with both parents together. At times, one parent may consult to learn about various procedures available to the family, such as mediation, evaluation, the use of a Parent Coordinator, Therapeutic Interventionist, or visitation supervisor.
Consultations are not considered therapy and the purpose is to focus on a request by the parent(s) that is related to the divorce and the conflicts between the parents. In such consultation, there is no report to the court and there are no formal recommendations being made. The consultant may offer suggestions to the parents and point out available options for their situation. This is an excellent service to take advantage of before taking any court action or during a case in progress.
There are many people involved in a divorce or custody matter that all have their professional roles to play. Many of them will not be able to give you advice, as they all must represent the role they are assigned to in a case. A consultation is often the best way for parents to receive
A Parenting Coordinator is a person appointed by the court to assist with implementation of court orders by making recommendations to the court regarding implementation, clarification, modification and enforcement of custody and parenting time orders. The Provider serving as a Parenting Coordinator will submit a minimum of one report to the Court and may submit additional reports at the request of the Court.
When there is a concern for the safety of welfare of a child during visits with a noncustodial parent, the court may order that the visits be supervised by a behavioral health professional. When this occurs, the Provider observes the activities and overhears the conversation of the parent and child(ren) at all times. A periodic progress report is prepared for the Court. Low income litigants may qualify for an Access and Visitation grant to cover supervised visitation expenses.
Therapeutic Interventions cover a range of services, which may vary from reunification, co-parenting counseling, individual counseling or family counseling. The judge might identify specific therapeutic referral issues, including but not limited to relocation, estrangement, child maltreatment and parental substance abuse. Unlike traditional therapy, confidentiality is very limited in Court appointed treatment cases. The Provider completing a Therapeutic Intervention will submit a minimum of one report to the Court and may submit additional reports at the request of the Court.
FORENSIC HOME STUDY
There are two types of forensic home studies: (1) brief home visit and (2) extended clinical home study; either type can be stand-alone or augment a child custody evaluation.
The brief home visit is short, generally an hour or less, with the evaluator reviewing the living conditions in the home that the parent claims to have for the children, to ensure the neighborhood, living arrangements, and supplies (food, furniture, etc.) are adequate.
In addition to the data gathered in the brief home visit, the extended clinical home study includes observations and interviews of the various family members and often can last between 3-6 hours. Clinical interviews are conducted with any of the individuals in the household, including thechildren individually or in tandem with others. The family must stay home during the entire home study.
A report is generated from each type of Home Study and supplied to the Court and attorneys for the parties or directly to the parties if they are representing themselves.
INDEPENDENT PSYCHOLOGICAL EXAMINATION
The Court may order a person (a party in the case or someone in the parties' custody or legal control) to submit to a physical, mental, or vocational evaluation by a designated expert, when any of these issues are in controversy. The Court-appointed evaluator may seek clarification from the Court if the issues of concern are not specified in the Appointment Order. The evaluator has access to all records , reports, and documents, as well as any family member or person necessary to complete the evaluation (teacher, coach, etc.). The evaluator will submit a minimum of one report to the Court and may submit additional reports as requested by the Court.
LIMITED FAMILY ASSESSMENT
A limited family assessment (LFA) is designed to be focused and narrow in scope. Typically, there will be limited interviews and observations with parents and their children; less than a comprehensive custody evaluation. The evaluator will review select paperwork, have fewer external interviews (teacher, babysitter, etc.) and no psychological testing or home visits are completed. Examples of situations when the Court will order an LFA include: the appropriate parenting plan when the Court has already made a finding of child abuse, a finding of substance abuse, or estranged from a parent (or in a paternity case when the father has not had contact) and there is a (re)unification plan desired by the court; changes since the last comprehensive evaluation that may require a modification in the parenting plan; and the type of access best for a young child when there is a long-distance between the parents, but both parents are considered fit. Reports are submitted directly to the Court and attorneys, if represented, or the parties if they are representing themselves, unless the evaluator asserts extraordinary circumstances (imminent life threat, potential for serious harm to a person related to the case). The report that is generated focuses on specific, defined areas
The Governor's office for children, youth and families produced this booklet of violence prevention information and resources for individuals and families.
It contains important information on Breaking the Cycle of domestic violence (DV), the statistics on DV, traits of an abuser, abusive relationships, types of verbal and emotional abuse as well as physical and sexual abuse. Also important is understanding the affects on children in violent homes.
If you are a victim or know a victim, it encourages the victim to develop and safety plan and provides a long list of resources for help in the various Arizona counties, statewide and national hot lines.
This factsheet is a guide to parents of adopted teenagers. It focuses on child development, typical adolescent behavior, the special issues of adopted teenagers, the times when parents should become concerned, and the steps parents can take to make these difficult years more manageable.Most parents worry about their child when he or she reaches adolescence. Will the child who was once easygoing and helpful become moody and disrespectful? Will the child who was fiercely independent when young become a teen who gives in to peer pressure? Will the child who has had a conventional style of dress suddenly color his or her hair purple?
When adopted children reach adolescence, their parents are likely to be anxious and have an additional set of questions. Will the child become confused about his or her identity? Will a sense of abandonment and rejection replace feelings of security and comfort? Is the child behaving in a way that reflects inner turmoil about the past? Each of these questions leads to a larger issue: Will being adopted make adolescence harder for the child?
These questions don't have simple answers. Only a few studies have compared the psychological well- being of adopted adolescents with that of nonadopted adolescents. Some of those studies conclude that having been adopted makes no difference in adolescent behavior. Others suggest that adopted teenagers are more likely than others to experience problems. Experts disagree about the relative importance of the role of parents, the "climate" of the family, and the natural temperament of the teenager as contributors to adolescent problems. There are two points on which they agree, however. (1) Being adopted is an undeniable part of a teen's history and should not be ignored. (2) Adopted adolescents can successfully confront and resolve their special developmental issues.
How Children Develop
From infancy on, children alternate between bonding with their caregivers and learning to become independent. Infants begin to gain independence by learning to crawl and then walk. As infants become toddlers, they start to give nonverbal and later verbal messages that express their wishes and opinions.
Up to about age 6, children absorb information rapidly, asking questions nonstop. They are able to think about being abandoned, getting lost, or no longer being loved by their parents. They often have trouble telling the difference between reality and fantasy. At the same time, they experience separation from loved ones as they attend preschool or daycare programs and broaden their interests and group of friends.
The inner lives of children take shape between the ages of 6 and 11. From the security of their families, children begin to expand their horizons and participate in more activities away from home. It can be a difficult time. Children must cement their sense of belonging to their family while mastering the knowledge and skills required for independence. It is no wonder that by the time they become teenagers their struggles to form an identity may feel overwhelming and may lead to perplexing, and sometimes troublesome, behavior.
Typical Adolescent Behavior
Adolescence is a trying time of life for both teenagers and their families. The physical aspects of adolescence—a growth spurt, breast development for girls, a deepening of the voice for boys—are obvious and happen quickly, whereas mental and emotional development may take years.
The main challenge for teenagers is to form their own identity—an achievement not nearly as simple as it sounds. It means, according to adoption experts Kenneth W. Watson and Miriam Reitz, that teenagers must define their values, beliefs, gender identification, career choice, and expectations of themselves.
In forming an identity, most adolescents try on a variety of personas. They look for, imitate, and then reject role models. They examine their families critically— idolizing some people, devaluing others. They shun or embrace family values, traditions, ideas, and religious beliefs. Sometimes they have enormous self-confidence; sometimes they feel at loose ends and think of themselves as utterly worthless. They may believe something one day, and then change their minds and think the opposite the next day. Ultimately, they must come to terms with the big questions: Who am I? Where do I belong?
Teenagers are acutely aware that they are growing away from their families. As they look for ways to demonstrate their individuality, they often take on the values, beliefs, and actions of others their age or of celebrities they admire. Even though they are trying to set themselves apart from their families, they often want to look, act, and dress just like their friends.
Teenagers are still dependent on their parents, however, and may veer back and forth between striking out and staying close. "Parents should realize," write Jerome Smith and Franklin Miroff in their book You're Our Child: The Adoption Experience, "that the adolescent is primarily a child and not an adult, except in the biological sense. Emotionally, he is still as dependent on his parents as always."
It is not surprising, therefore, that disagreements between parents and teenagers occur. Adolescents want independence, yet they are unsure how much freedom they can really handle. Parents want their teens to move toward self-sufficiency but often are reluctant to give up control. Teenagers are confused about their futures, and parents are anxious about who or what their sons and daughters will become.
Adolescents wrestle with issues of sexuality and spend time thinking about and wishing for romantic relationships. Parents worry about their teenagers' choices of partners and friends. Often, parents don't know what advice to give or how to give it.
These kinds of tensions generally characterize the parent–teen relationship. There are additional issues for teens who came to their families through adoption.
Adoption and Adolescence
Adoption adds complexity to parenting adolescents. Adopted teenagers may need extra support in dealing with issues that take on special meaning for them—identity formation, fear of rejection and abandonment, issues of control and autonomy, the feeling of not belonging, and heightened curiosity about the past.
Identity issues can be difficult for adopted teens because they have two sets of parents. Not knowing about their birthparents can make them question who they really are. It becomes more challenging for them to sort out how they are similar to and different from both sets of parents.
Adopted teenagers may wonder who gave them their particular characteristics. They may want answers to questions their adoptive parents may not be able to provide: Where do I get my artistic talent? Was everyone in my birth family short? What is my ethnic background? Do I have brothers and sisters?
Sixteen-year-old Jennifer explains, "I'm trying to figure out what I want to do in my life. But I'm so confused. I can't move ahead with my future when I don't know anything about my past. It's like starting to read a book in the middle. My big family with cousins and aunts and uncles only makes me aware that I'm alone in my situation. It never bothered me when I was younger. But now, for reasons I can't explain, I feel like a puppet without a string, and it's making me miserable."
Some teens may feel more angry at their adoptive parents than they have ever felt before. They may be critical of how their parents helped them adjust to their adoptive status. They may withdraw into themselves or feel they need to stray far from home to find their true identity.
Fear of Abandonment
Jayne Schooler, an adoption professional in Ohio and the author of Searching for a Past, writes that it is not unusual for adopted teenagers to fear leaving home. Leaving home is scary for most adolescents, but because adoptees have already suffered the loss of one set of parents, it is even more frightening.
Seventeen-year-old Caroline, for instance, who was adopted as an infant, seemed to have her future well in hand. She was offered a partial scholarship to play field hockey at an out-of-state university, and she planned to pursue a career in teaching. Her parents were eager to help their daughter move on to this next part of her life. However, perplexing changes occurred halfway through Caroline's final semester in high school. She began skipping classes. She was "forgetting" to do her homework. She spent more time than usual alone in her room. When her parents mentioned college, she ran into her bedroom and slammed the door.
At first her parents were puzzled. But they soon became alarmed when her grades dropped and her personality changed. They encouraged her to talk to a family friend who was a clinical psychologist. Several months of therapy helped Caroline and her parents understand that moving away from her family and familiar surroundings scared her. Perhaps if she were at school, her parents would forget about her. Maybe there would be no home to go back to. After all, it had happened before.
At her parents' suggestion, Caroline decided to put her college plans on hold for a year. She and her parents continued to participate in counseling to sort out the issues that were blocking her development.
The Badeaus of Philadelphia are the parents of 20 children, 18 of whom were adopted. They see a number of differences in the way their birth children and adopted children cope with separation. "Now that our birth children are adolescents—one's 12 and one's 14," says Sue Badeau, "we see that they are already talking about college…what they want to do when they grow up and how they can't wait to get out of the house! It's the complete opposite for our adopted kids. It seems really difficult for them to imagine themselves as independent people. They seem almost afraid to leave the security of the family."
Issues of Control
The tension between parents who don't want to give up control and the teenager who wants independence is the hallmark of adolescence. This tension may be especially intense for adopted teens who feel that someone else has always made decisions for them: the birthmother made the decision to place them for adoption; the adoptive parents decided whether to accept them. Parents may feel pressure to control their teens, sometimes motivated by concerns that their teens have a predisposition toward antisocial behavior— especially when their teens' birthparents have a history of alcoholism or drug abuse.
Parents worry, too, about their teens' sexual behavior. What if their son or daughter becomes sexually active, becomes or gets a partner pregnant, or gets AIDS? Adopted girls may have particular concerns about sexuality and motherhood. On the one hand, they have the adoptive mother, frequently infertile, and on the other, the birthmother, who had a baby but chose not to raise the child. How do adoptive parents help their daughters come to terms with these different role models?
Because of their fears, many adoptive parents tighten the reins precisely when their teenagers want more freedom. "Kids see it as - You don't trust me,'" says Anne McCabe, postadoption specialist at Tabor Children's Services in Philadelphia and a family therapist in private practice specializing in working with adoptive families. "It can strongly affect the trust level between parents and their teens." McCabe advises that parents and teens work together to identify options for building trust in important areas such as schoolwork, chores, choice of friends, choice of leisure time activities, and curfew. Parents and their teen can come to an agreement on what constitutes trustworthy behavior in each area. They can determine what privileges or consequences will be earned if the teen either demonstrates or doesn't demonstrate the behavior in an identified time frame. Both parties have input, and there are fewer power struggles.
The Feeling of Not Belonging
Teens raised in their birth families can easily see ways in which they are like their family members. Their musical talent comes from their grandmother…Their father also has red hair…Everyone in the family wears glasses. Sometimes adopted teens have no such markers, and, in fact, are reminded frequently that they are different from their nonadopted friends.
This feeling of being different often begins with their physical appearance. Friends frequently look like one of their parents or another relative. Teens who were adopted may not have a relative they resemble. Friends who comment, "You look like your sister," often make an adopted teen even more aware of his or her "outsider" status, even if he or she happens to look like the sister. Sometimes, adopted teenagers won't even correct friends who comment on a family resemblance. It is easier than having to answer the questions that are sure to follow: Who are your real parents? What do they look like? Why didn't they keep you?
"People who note a family resemblance are really trying to say that the child has taken on some of their parents' mannerisms," says McCabe. "In some families, it can become an inside joke. For other children, it can expose a raw nerve."
Teens who have been adopted into a family of a different race (transracial adoption) often feel more alienated from their families than they did when they were younger. They become highly conscious of the obvious physical differences between themselves and their families, and they struggle to integrate their cultural backgrounds into their perceptions of who they are. Some adopted teens may doubt their authenticity as "real" family members and, therefore, feel uncertain about their futures.
Adoptive parents can help transracially adopted teens to feel they belong by making sure that the family frequently associates with other adults and children of the same ethnic background as their teen. They should celebrate their own and their teen's culture as a part of daily life. They should talk about race and culture often, yet tolerate no ethnically or racially biased remarks from others. For further discussion of these and other suggestions for transracial families, see the National Adoption Information Clearinghouse factsheet, "Transracial and Transcultural Adoption." To increase the feeling of belonging for an adopted teen of the same race as his or her parents but who may look very different, parents should point out any similarities that exist between family members. Statements such as "Everyone in our family loves to sleep late on weekends" or "Dad and you are both such Rolling Stones fans, you're driving me crazy!" should be made whenever appropriate.
The Need to Connect With The Past
As adopted teens mature, they think more about how their lives would have been different if they had not been adopted or if they had been adopted by another family. They frequently wonder who they would have become under other circumstances. For them, the need to try on different personalities is particularly meaningful. In addition to all of the possibilities life holds, adoptees realize the possibilities that were lost.
For some adopted teenagers, the feelings of loss and abandonment cause them to think and want more information about their original families. Sometimes they are looking for more information about their medical history. Has anyone in their family had allergies? Heart disease? Cancer? Seventeen-year-old Sheila, who developed unexplained skin rashes, always wondered if others in her birth family had the same condition. As 18-year-old Christopher kept reading more articles about the genetic nature of mental illness, he worried that his mood swings might be an indication of manic–depressive illness that could have been present in his birth family. Adopted as a baby, Sally, now 15, says, "It's impossible for someone who has not been adopted to understand the vacuum created by not knowing where you came from. No matter how much I read or talk to my parents about it I can't fully explain the emptiness I feel."
Some teenagers want to search for their birthparents. Others say they would appreciate having access to medical information, but that they have made peace with their adoptions.
When Teens Were Adopted at an Older Age
Issues for teens adopted at an older age are even more complex. Often they endured abuse or neglect, lived in several foster homes, or moved from relative to relative before finding a permanent family. Their sense of loss and rejection may be intense, and they may suffer from seriously low self-esteem. They also can have severe emotional and behavioral difficulties as a result of early interruptions in the attachment process with their caregivers. It is no wonder that it is hard for them to trust adults—the adults in their early years, for whatever reason, did not meet their emotional needs.
Teens adopted at an older age bring with them memories of times before joining the adoptive family. It is important for them to be allowed to acknowledge those memories and talk about them. Parents of teens adopted at an older age can expect that they and their teens will require professional guidance at some point, or at several points, to help create and maintain healthy family relationships.
When Parents Should Become Concerned...What They Can Do
Adopted teens may experience strong emotions, especially related to their adoption. It would be unusual for their adopted status not to affect them. A teen's sense of abandonment, quest for identity, and need for control probably do not have their origin in poor parenting by the adoptive parents.
If a teen decides to search for his or her birthparents, it is not necessarily an indication of a problem. Research indicates that some adoptees simply have a strong need to know about their biological roots. "One of the misconceptions [that adoptive parents have]," says Marshall Schechter, M.D., professor emeritus in child and adolescent psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, "is that they have done something to make their child want to search. They haven't. Everyone needs to know that they are part of a continuum of a family ... As more is learned about genetics, scientists are discovering that many talents or personality traits have a genetic basis. So it should not be surprising that teenagers who focus on developing an identity should begin thinking about their origin."
It is more likely that a teen will have problems in families "where the parents insist that adoption is no different from the biological parent–child relationship," says Kenneth Kirby, Ph.D., from the Department of Clinical Psychiatry at Northwestern University School of Medicine in Chicago. Teens know that it is different. Teens do better when their parents understand their curiosity about their genetic history and allow them to express their grief, anger, and fear.
The following behaviors may indicate a teen is struggling with adoption issues:
comments about being treated unfairly compared to the family's birth children;
a new problem in school, such as trouble paying attention;
a sudden preoccupation with the unknown;
problems with peers; or
shutting down emotionally and refusing to share feelings.
If your family style is one of open communication, you may be able to deal with these issues without professional help. Educate yourself through books or workshops run by agencies that provide postadoption services. Join an adoptive parent support group, which can be a valuable resource for families. The Clearinghouse can refer you to adoptive parent support groups in your area. Support groups also exist for adopted teenagers.
Chances are that if you have not been comfortable discussing adoption issues with your child in the past, it will be difficult to begin now. "The time to start talking about these issues is when children are younger," says MaryLou Edgar, postadoption specialist with Tressler Lutheran Children's Services in Wilmington, Delaware. "Otherwise, your kids know you aren't comfortable with the subject. It's like sex. One talk when your child is 12 isn't enough." Nonetheless, even if these discussions have not taken place earlier, it is up to the parents to initiate them with their teenagers, Edgar advises.
Many families benefit from seeing a therapist who specializes in working with adoptive families. Adoptive family organizations, adoption agencies in your area, and the Clearinghouse may be helpful in suggesting knowledgeable therapists. (See the Clearinghouse factsheet, "After Adoption: The Need for Services," for a discussion of the types of therapists. See Addendum II at the end of this factsheet for other tips.)
As with all teens, you should seek professional help if you see any of the following behaviors:
drug or alcohol abuse;
a drastic drop in grades or a sharp increase in skipping school;
withdrawal from family and friends;
risk taking; or
suicide threats or attempt.
If adoption is part of the problem, openly addressing adoption issues will improve the chances that the treatment will be effective. Parents who recognize that their teens have two sets of parents and who don't feel threatened by that fact are more likely to establish a more positive environment for their teens, one that will make them feel more comfortable to express their feelings. "Kids know early on what subjects their parents are uncomfortable discussing and will avoid them," says McCabe. "Secrets take a lot of energy. When there is freedom to discuss adoption issues, there is much less of a burden on the family."
"There is a significant difference in the way teenagers perceive themselves when they have information about their birth families—ethnic heritage, abilities, education, or just what they looked like," says Marcie Griffen, postadoption counselor at Hope Cottage Adoption Services in Dallas, Texas. "When they know why they were placed for adoption, it tends to help their self-esteem and give them a better sense of who they are."
Sue Badeau understands her children's need to connect with their biological parents. She and her husband Hector agree that openness is important to the well-being of everyone in the adoption triad (adoptive parents, birthparents, and the adopted person). The Badeaus are committed to helping their children discover their roots if and when they want to. Recently, the Badeaus located the birthmother of four of their children: Flora, Sue Ann, Abel, and George. Flora, 13, was having trouble giving up the fantasy that her birthmother was going to come back for them so "they could live happily ever after." Sue and Hector persuaded their children's birthmother to assist them in helping Flora put her fantasies to rest. The birthmother helped Flora understand why she and her siblings were placed for adoption. Sue Ann was grateful for the chance to have some of her questions answered, but the boys wanted nothing to do with their birthmother at that time. "I keep telling all of my kids that their families did the best that they could," says Sue. "Birthmothers aren't the horrible monsters people make them out to be, but real people who make mistakes."
Adolescence can be a confusing time for teens. Adopted teens may have special issues connected to identity formation, rejection, control, and the need to connect with one's roots. It helps when parents are understanding and supportive. Questions surrounding these issues are not a reflection of adoptive parents' parenting style. Wanting to know about their birth family does not mean that adopted teens are rejecting their adoptive family.
If your family has a long-standing history of openness, honesty, and comfort with adoption, chances are that you will be able to help your teen work through adolescence. When openness has not been your family style, or if you see alarming behaviors such as drug use or withdrawal from enjoyable activities, you should seek professional help.
Mental health experts are confident that adopted teens can confront and resolve their developmental issues just as their nonadopted peers do. With the support and understanding of their parents, adopted teens can forge even stronger family bonds that will continue to nurture their future relationships.
Source: National Adoption Information Clearinghouse Author: Written by Gloria Hochman and Anna Huston of the National Adoption Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, for the National Adoption Information Clearinghouse, 1995.
Being an Effective Parent - Helping Your Child Through Early Adolescence
What can I do to be a good parent for my early adolescent child?
Parents often become less involved in the lives of their children as they enter the middle grades. But your young adolescent needs as much attention and love from you as he needed when he was younger and maybe more. A good relationship with you or with other adults is the best safeguard your child has as he grows and explores. By the time he reaches adolescence, you and he will have had years of experience with each other; the parent of today's toddler is parent to tomorrow's teenager.
Your relationship with your child may change. In fact, it almost certainly must change; however, as she develops the skills required to be a successful adult. These changes can be rewarding and welcome. As your middle school child makes mental and emotional leaps, your conversations will grow richer. As her interests develop and deepen, she may begin to teach you how to slug a baseball, what is happening with the city council or county board or why a new book is worth reading. America is home to people with a great variety of attitudes, opinions and values. Americans have different ideas and priorities, which can affect how we choose to raise our children. Across these differences, however, research has shown that being effective parents involves the following qualities:
• Showing love. When our children behave badly, we may become angry or upset with them. We may also feel miserable because we become angry or upset. But these feelings are different from not loving our children. Young adolescents need adults who are there for them - people who connect with them, communicate with them, spend time with them and show a genuine interest in them. This is how they learn to care for and love others. According to school counselor Carol Bleifield, "Parents can love their children but not necessarily love what they do, and children need to trust that this is true."
• Providing support. Young adolescents need support as they struggle with problems that may seem unimportant to their parents and families. They need praise when they've done their best. They need encouragement to develop interests and personal characteristics.
• Setting limits. Young adolescents need parents or other adults who consistently provide structure and supervision that is firm and appropriate for age and development. Limits keep all children, including young teens, physically and emotionally safe. Carole Kennedy is a former middle school principal, U.S. Department of Education's Principal-in-Residence (2000) and president of the National Association of Elementary School Principals. She puts it this way, "They need parents who can say, 'No, you cannot go to the mall all day or to movies with that group of kids."
• Psychologist Diana Baumrind identifies three types of parents: authoritarian, permissive and authoritative. By studying about findings from more than 20 years of research, she and her colleagues have found that to be effective parents, it's best to avoid extremes. Authoritarian parents who lay down hard-and-fast rules and expect their children to always do as they are told or permissive parents who have very few rules or regulations and give their children too much freedom are most likely to have the most difficult time as parents. Their children are at risk for a range of negative behavioral and emotional consequences. However, authoritative parents, who set limits that are clear and come with explanations, tend to struggle less with their adolescents. "Do it because I said so" probably didn't work for your son when he was 6 and it's even less likely to work now that he's an adolescent.
• Being a role model. Young adolescents need strong role models. Try to live the behavior and values that you hope your child will develop. Your actions speak louder than words. If you set high standards for yourself and treat others with kindness and respect, your child stands a better chance of following your example. As adolescents explore possibilities of who they may become, they look to their parents, peers, well-known personalities and others to define who they may become.
• Teaching responsibility. We are not born knowing how to act responsibly. A sense of responsibility is formed over time. As children grow up, they need to learn to take more and more responsibility for such things as:
o completing chores, such as doing yard work, cleaning their rooms or helping to prepare meals, that contribute to the family's well being; o completing homework assignments without being nagged; o taking on community activities; o finding ways to be useful to others; and o admitting to both the good and bad choices that they make.
• Showing respect. It is tempting to label all young adolescents as being difficult and rebellious. But these youngsters vary as much as do children in any other age group. Your child needs to be treated with respect, which requires you to recognize and appreciate her differences and to treat her as an individual. Respect also requires you to show compassion by trying to see things from your child's point of view and to consider her needs and feelings. By treating your young adolescent with respect, you help her to take pleasure in good behavior.
There are no perfect parents. However, a bad decision or an "off" day (or week or month) isn't likely to have any lasting impact on your child. What's most important in being an effective parent is what you do over time. ________________________________________ Source: US Department of Education Last Modified: 09/11/2003
Developmental psychologists have been interested in how parents influence the development of children’s social and instrumental competence since at least the 1920s. One of the most robust approaches to this area is the study of what has been called "parenting style." This Digest defines parenting style, explores four types, and discusses the consequences of the different styles for children.
Parenting Style Defined
Parenting is a complex activity that includes many specific behaviors that work individually and together to influence child outcomes. Although specific parenting behaviors, such as spanking or reading aloud, may influence child development, looking at any specific behavior in isolation may be misleading. Many writers have noted that specific parenting practices are less important in predicting child well-being than is the broad pattern of parenting. Most researchers who attempt to describe this broad parental milieu rely on Diana Baumrind’s concept of parenting style. The construct of parenting style is used to capture normal variations in parents’ attempts to control and socialize their children (Baumrind, 1991). Two points are critical in understanding this definition. First, parenting style is meant to describe normal variations in parenting. In other words, the parenting style typology Baumrind developed should not be understood to include deviant parenting, such as might be observed in abusive or neglectful homes. Second, Baumrind assumes that normal parenting revolves around issues of control. Although parents may differ in how they try to control or socialize their children and the extent to which they do so, it is assumed that the primary role of all parents is to influence, teach, and control their children.
Parenting style captures two important elements of parenting: parental responsiveness and parental demandingness (Maccoby & Martin, 1983). Parental responsiveness (also referred to as parental warmth or supportiveness) refers to "the extent to which parents intentionally foster individuality, self-regulation, and self-assertion by being attuned, supportive, and acquiescent to children’s special needs and demands" (Baumrind, 1991, p. 62). Parental demandingness (also referred to as behavioral control) refers to "the claims parents make on children to become integrated into the family whole, by their maturity demands, supervision, disciplinary efforts and willingness to confront the child who disobeys" (Baumrind, 1991, pp. 61-62).
Four Parenting Styles
Categorizing parents according to whether they are high or low on parental demandingness and responsiveness creates a typology of four parenting styles: indulgent, authoritarian, authoritative, and uninvolved (Maccoby & Martin, 1983). Each of these parenting styles reflects different naturally occurring patterns of parental values, practices, and behaviors (Baumrind, 1991) and a distinct balance of responsiveness and demandingness.
Indulgent parents (also referred to as "permissive" or "nondirective") "are more responsive than they are demanding. They are nontraditional and lenient, do not require mature behavior, allow considerable self-regulation, and avoid confrontation" (Baumrind, 1991, p. 62). Indulgent parents may be further divided into two types: democratic parents, who, though lenient, are more conscientious, engaged, and committed to the child, and nondirective parents.
Authoritarian parents are highly demanding and directive, but not responsive. "They are obedience- and status-oriented, and expect their orders to be obeyed without explanation" (Baumrind, 1991, p. 62). These parents provide well-ordered and structured environments with clearly stated rules. Authoritarian parents can be divided into two types: nonauthoritarian-directive, who are directive, but not intrusive or autocratic in their use of power, and authoritarian-directive, who are highly intrusive.
Authoritative parents are both demanding and responsive. "They monitor and impart clear standards for their children’s conduct. They are assertive, but not intrusive and restrictive. Their disciplinary methods are supportive, rather than punitive. They want their children to be assertive as well as socially responsible, and self-regulated as well as cooperative" (Baumrind, 1991, p. 62).
Uninvolved parents are low in both responsiveness and demandingness. In extreme cases, this parenting style might encompass both rejecting–neglecting and neglectful parents, although most parents of this type fall within the normal range.
Because parenting style is a typology, rather than a linear combination of responsiveness and demandingness, each parenting style is more than and different from the sum of its parts (Baumrind, 1991). In addition to differing on responsiveness and demandingness, the parenting styles also differ in the extent to which they are characterized by a third dimension: psychological control. Psychological control "refers to control attempts that intrude into the psychological and emotional development of the child" (Barber, 1996, p. 3296) through use of parenting practices such as guilt induction, withdrawal of love, or shaming. One key difference between authoritarian and authoritative parenting is in the dimension of psychological control. Both authoritarian and authoritative parents place high demands on their children and expect their children to behave appropriately and obey parental rules. Authoritarian parents, however, also expect their children to accept their judgments, values, and goals without questioning. In contrast, authoritative parents are more open to give and take with their children and make greater use of explanations. Thus, although authoritative and authoritarian parents are equally high in behavioral control, authoritative parents tend to be low in psychological control, while authoritarian parents tend to be high.
Consequences for Children
Parenting style has been found to predict child well-being in the domains of social competence, academic performance, psychosocial development, and problem behavior. Research based on parent interviews, child reports, and parent observations consistently finds:
Children and adolescents whose parents are authoritative rate themselves and are rated by objective measures as more socially and instrumentally competent than those whose parents are nonauthoritative (Baumrind, 1991; Weiss & Schwarz, 1996; Miller et al., 1993).
Children and adolescents whose parents are uninvolved perform most poorly in all domains.
In general, parental responsiveness predicts social competence and psychosocial functioning, while parental demandingness is associated with instrumental competence and behavioral control (i.e., academic performance and deviance). These findings indicate:
Children and adolescents from authoritarian families (high in demandingness, but low in responsiveness) tend to perform moderately well in school and be uninvolved in problem behavior, but they have poorer social skills, lower self-esteem, and higher levels of depression.
Children and adolescents from indulgent homes (high in responsiveness, low in demandingness) are more likely to be involved in problem behavior and perform less well in school, but they have higher self-esteem, better social skills, and lower levels of depression.
In reviewing the literature on parenting style, one is struck by the consistency with which authoritative upbringing is associated with both instrumental and social competence and lower levels of problem behavior in both boys and girls at all developmental stages. The benefits of authoritative parenting and the detrimental effects of uninvolved parenting are evident as early as the preschool years and continue throughout adolescence and into early adulthood. Although specific differences can be found in the competence evidenced by each group, the largest differences are found between children whose parents are unengaged and their peers with more involved parents. Differences between children from authoritative homes and their peers are equally consistent, but somewhat smaller (Weiss & Schwarz, 1996). Just as authoritative parents appear to be able to balance their conformity demands with their respect for their children’s individuality, so children from authoritative homes appear to be able to balance the claims of external conformity and achievement demands with their need for individuation and autonomy.
Influence of Sex, Ethnicity, or Family Type
It is important to distinguish between differences in the distribution and the correlates of parenting style in different subpopulations. Although in the United States authoritative parenting is most common among intact, middle-class families of European descent, the relationship between authoritativeness and child outcomes is quite similar across groups. There are some exceptions to this general statement, however: (1) demandingness appears to be less critical to girls’ than to boys’ well-being (Weiss & Schwarz, 1996), and (2) authoritative parenting predicts good psychosocial outcomes and problem behaviors for adolescents in all ethnic groups studied (African-, Asian-, European-, and Hispanic Americans), but it is associated with academic performance only among European Americans and, to a lesser extent, Hispanic Americans (Steinberg, Dornbusch, & Brown, 1992; Steinberg, Darling, & Fletcher, 1995). Chao (1994) and others (Darling & Steinberg, 1993) have argued that observed ethnic differences in the association of parenting style with child outcomes may be due to differences in social context, parenting practices, or the cultural meaning of specific dimensions of parenting style.
Parenting style provides a robust indicator of parenting functioning that predicts child well-being across a wide spectrum of environments and across diverse communities of children. Both parental responsiveness and parental demandingness are important components of good parenting. Authoritative parenting, which balances clear, high parental demands with emotional responsiveness and recognition of child autonomy, is one of the most consistent family predictors of competence from early childhood through adolescence. However, despite the long and robust tradition of research into parenting style, a number of issues remain outstanding. Foremost among these are issues of definition, developmental change in the manifestation and correlates of parenting styles, and the processes underlying the benefits of authoritative parenting (see Schwarz et al., 1985; Darling & Steinberg, 1993; Baumrind, 1991; and Barber, 1996).
For More Information
Barber, B. K. (1996). Parental psychological control: Revisiting a neglected construct. Child Development, 67(6), 3296-3319.
Baumrind, D. (1989). Rearing competent children. In W. Damon (Ed.), Child development today and tomorrow (pp. 349-378). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Baumrind, D. (1991). The influence of parenting style on adolescent competence and substance use. Journal of Early Adolescence, 11(1), 56-95.
Chao, R. K. (1994). Beyond parental control and authoritarian parenting style: Understanding Chinese parenting through the cultural notion of training. Child Development, 65(4), 1111-1119..
Darling, N., & Steinberg, L. (1993). Parenting style as context: An integrative model. Psychological Bulletin, 113(3), 487-496.
Maccoby, E. E., & Martin, J. A. (1983). Socialization in the context of the family: Parent–child interaction. In P. H. Mussen (Ed.) & E. M. Hetherington (Vol. Ed.), Handbook of child psychology: Vol. 4.Socialization, personality, and social development (4th ed., pp. 1-101). New York: Wiley.
Miller, N. B., Cowan, P. A., Cowan, C. P., & Hetherington, E. M. (1993). Externalizing in preschoolers and early adolescents: A cross-study replication of a family model. Developmental Psychology, 29(1), 3-18.
Schwarz, J. C., Barton-Henry, M. L., & Pruzinsky, T. (1985). Assessing child-rearing behaviors: A comparison of ratings made by mother, father, child, and sibling on the CRPBI. Child Development, 56(2), 462-479.
Steinberg, L., Darling, N., & Fletcher, A. C. (1995). Authoritative parenting and adolescent adjustment: An ecological journey. In P. Moen, G. H. Elder, Jr., & K. Luscher (Eds.), Examining lives in context: Perspectives on the ecology of human development (pp. 423-466). Washington, DC: American Psychological Assn.
Steinberg, L., Dornbusch, S. M., & Brown, B. B. (1992). Ethnic differences in adolescent achievement: An ecological perspective. American Psychologist, 47(6), 723-729.
Weiss, L. H., & Schwarz, J. C. (1996). The relationship between parenting types and older adolescents’ personality, academic achievement, adjustment, and substance use. Child Development, 67(5), 2101-2114.
Source: Clearinghouse on Elementary and Early Childhood Education Author: Nancy Darling, PhD, MS EDO-PS-99-3, March 1999
The Supreme Courts' website also has a Child Support Calculator that allows you to input your information and calculate the amount of child support, without having to complete the worksheets that guide you through the process, step by step.
Breaking the Cycle: violence prevention information and resources for individuals and families. Published by then Govenor Janet Napolitano's office for Children, Youth and Families. It contains important information on Breaking the Cycle of domestic violence (DV), the statistics on DV, traits of an abuser, abusive relationships, types of verbal and emotional abuse as well as physical and sexual abuse. Also important is understanding the affects on children in violent homes.
If you are a victim or know a victim, it encourages the victim to develop and safety plan and provides a long list of resources for help in the various Arizona counties, statewide and national hot lines. If you are an abuser, there are counselors and other resources to help you stop being an abuser.
This generation is living though a very unique economic period in history. One of the greatest and most common stressors overwhelming people today, is the stress from facing foreclosure on their home. The loss of a home and personal possessions, combined with the uncertainty of their future, is terrifying for many families. The first step to overcoming the fear that is immobilizing you is information. In spite of the doom and gloom on the daily news or what your mortgage company may tell you, there are options for most families that can help!
While I cannot personally endorse any website, resource or service, some may find helpful information or more at these websites:
Living Lies: Foreclosure advice, forms, strategies, laws and more...