Co-Dependence….Relationship Addiction cont…

Recognizing Co-Dependency

What is Co-Dependency?  Co-Dependency is a learned behavior that can be passed on from one generation to the next. It is an emotional and behavioral condition that can affect an individual’s ability to have healthy, mutually satisfying relationships. It is also known as “relationship addiction” because people with co-dependency often form or maintain relationships that are one-sided, emotionally destructive, and/or abusive.

Who does Co-Dependency effect? Co-Dependency often affects a spouse, a parent, siblings, friends, and even co-workers of a person who is dependent on alcohol or substances. Originally the term co-dependent was used to describe partners in chemical dependency, people living with, or in a relationship with an addicted person. Similar patterns have been seen in people in relationships with chronically or mentally ill individuals. The term has broadened.

What is a Dysfunctional Family and how can it lead to Co-Dependency?  A dysfunctional family is one in which members suffer from fear, anger, pain, or shame that is ignored or denied. Underlying problems may include any of the following:

  • An addiction by a family member to drugs, alcohol, sex, gambling, work, food, or relationships
  • The existence of physical, emotional, or sexual abuse
  • A family member suffering from a chronic mental or physical illness

Dysfunctional families do not acknowledge that problems exist. They do not talk about them inside or outside of the family, they do not confront them, as a result family members learn how to repress emotions and disregard their own needs, they become “survivors” as opposed to “livers” of life. They develop language and behaviors that help them ignore, deny, or avoid difficult emotions. They detach themselves from each other and the problems in order to avoid talking, touching, confronting, feeling, and trusting the identity and emotional development of the members of the dysfunctional family are often inhibited. The attention and energy of the family is focused on the member who is “sick” or addicted. The co-dependent person(s) typically sacrifices his/her needs to take care of a person who is “sick”. This typically results in loss of a sense of self.


 How do Co-Dependent people behave?  Typically co-dependents have low self-esteem and look for anything outside of themselves to make them feel better. They find it hard to “be themselves”. Some try to feel better through alcohol, nicotine, food, or drugs and become addicted themselves. Others may develop compulsive behaviors like workaholics, gambling, or acting out sexually.

With very good intentions they try to take care of a person who is experiencing difficulty, but the care-taking becomes compulsive and defeating. Some co-dependents take on the role of Martyrs and become “benefactors” to an individual in need. A wife may cover for her alcoholic husband; a mother may make excuses for a truant child; or a father may “pull some strings” to keep a child from suffering the consequences of delinquent behavior.

The problem is that these repeated rescue attempts allow the addict to continue on a destructive course and become even more dependent on the unhealthy care taking of the “benefactor”. As this reliance increases, the co-dependent gets the “pay off” of feeling needed. When the care taking becomes compulsive, the co-dependent feels helpless in the relationship; they begin to see themselves as victims and are attracted to that same weakness in their love and friendship relationships.

Characteristics of Co-Dependent People (may include):

  •   An exaggerated sense of responsibility for the actions of others.
  •   A tendency to confuse love and pity, with the tendency to “love” those they can pity and rescue
  •   A tendency to do more than their share, all of the time
  •   A tendency to become hurt when people don’t recognize their efforts
  •   An unhealthy dependence on relationships. The co-dependent will do anything to hold on to a relationship; to avoid the feeling of abandonment
  •   An extreme need for approval, recognition
  •   A sense of guilt when asserting themselves
  •   A compelling need to control others
  •   Lack of trust in self and/or others
  •   Fear of being alone
  •   Difficulty identifying feelings
  •   Rigidity/ difficulty adjusting to change
  •   Problems with intimacy/boundaries
  •   Chronic anger
  •   Lying/dishonesty/denial
  •   Poor communication
  •   Difficulty making decisions

 How is Co-Dependency Treated? Because co-dependency is usually rooted in a person’s childhood, treatment often involves exploration into early childhood issues and their relationship to current destructive behavior patterns. Treatment includes education, experiential groups, and individual and group therapy through this co-dependents rediscover themselves and identify self-defeating behavior patterns. Treatment also focuses on changing the co-dependents view of self in relation to the addict and the addiction, while helping them get in touch with emotions that have been buried during childhood and on reconstructing family dynamics. The goal is to help them identify and allow them to experience their full range of emotions and develop a thought life that supports this process.


 Questionnaire to identify signs of Co-Dependency

Co-Dependency occurs in varying degrees, whereby the intensity of symptoms are on a spectrum of severity, as opposed to an all or nothing scale.
Please be advised that only a qualified professional can make a diagnosis of co-dependency; not everyone experiencing these symptoms suffers from co-dependency.

  1. Do you keep quiet to avoid arguments?
  2. Are you always worried about others’ opinions of you?
  3. Have you ever lived with someone with an alcohol or drug problem?
  4. Have you ever lived with someone who hits or belittles you?
  5. Are the opinions of others more important than your own?
  6. Do you have difficulty adjusting to changes at work or home?
  7. Do you feel rejected when significant others spend time with friends?
  8. Do you doubt your ability to be who you want to be?
  9. Are you uncomfortable expressing your true feelings to others?
  10. Have you frequently felt inadequate?
  11. Do you feel like a “bad person” when you make a mistake?
  12. Do you have difficulty taking compliments or gifts?
  13. Do you feel humiliation when your child or spouse makes a mistake?
  14. Do you think people in your life would go downhill without your constant efforts?
  15. Do you frequently wish someone could help you get things done?
  16. Do you have difficulty talking to people in authority, such as the police or your boss?
  17. Are you confused about who you are or where you are going with your life?
  18. Do you have trouble saying “no” when asked for help?
  19. Do you have trouble asking for help?

20. Do you have so many things going at once that you can’t do justice to any of them.

The addict is addicted to the substance/behavior, the co-dependent is addicted to the addict.

God’s word says: Is this not the fast which I choose, to loose the bonds of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free and break every yoke.  Isaiah 58:6NAS

Be Blessed and LIVE FREE















Might as well face it, you’re ADDICTED to love… How to recognize Relationship Addiction

If your like me you remember fondly this catchy song by Robert Palmer. It was a big hit in the 80’s. The music video featured the artist surrounded by sleek, porcelain skinned, crimson lipped, supermodels in black dresses playing instruments. Yea it was pretty cool. But there is nothing cool about true relationship addiction. It can literally rob a person of their self. I have worked with my fair share of men and women who have struggled with “love addiction” and I have learned to recognize the symptoms. Below I have provided a list for you to use as an assessment tool. If you or someone you know identifies with 3 or more of the following statements then you/they might be a relationship/love addict:

  • You are very needy when it comes to relationships.
  • You fall in love very easily and quickly
  • When you fall in love you can’t stop fantasizing , even to do important things like work.
  • When you are lonely and looking for companionship you settle for less than you desire or deserve.
  • You are overwhelmed with loneliness when you are not in a love relationship.
  • When you are in love you trust people who are not trustworthy, when any other time you have a hard time trusting people.
  • You take more than your share of responsibility for making a relationship work.
  • You tend to smother the person you are in relationship with.
  • More than once you have gotten/stayed involved with the wrong person to avoid being lonely.
  • Love/relationships are the only thing that really interest you.
  • More than once you have gotten involved with someone who would not commit hoping they would change.
  • When you are attracted to someone you ignore all the red flags that say that they are not good for you.
  • When a relationship ends you think your life is over. You have contemplated or attempted suicide after a relationship ended.
  • In some of your relationships you have been the only one in love.
  • You cannot stand being alone. You do not enjoy your own company.
  • You define your worth/identity only in relationship with another.
  • You cannot say no in relationships. You’d do anything to keep your partner when they threaten to leave.
  • You try very hard to be the person your partner wants you to be to the expense of things that are important, valuable to you.
  • You have high tolerance for suffering in relationships. You tolerate abuse, dishonesty and neglect in order to avoid being lonely.
  • You chase after people who have rejected you and try hard to change their mind.
  • You continue to call, text, visit people who have told you to stop, even after they have threatened to take action against you.
  • You are terrified of never finding someone to love/love you.
  • When you are in love you are overly possessive and jealous.
  • You have abandoned family and friends for a relationship.
  • You feel an overwhelming need to check up on, spy on the one you love.
  • You need constant proof that you are loved by the person you are in a relationship with.
  • You pursue someone you are in love with even if they are with someone else.
  • You lose your ability to make wise choices when you are in love.
  • You have done “out of character”, risky, degrading things for the one you are in love with.

You needn’t identify with all the statements on this list to be suffering from or at risk for relationship addiction as it takes on many forms. One of which is co-dependence (coming soon).

Until then take care, God Bless and please relate responsibly!


Hide- n- Seek

Recently I had the opportunity to do one of the things I love most in life. Sharing the love of God with others through His word!

The “others” I speak of here is an awesome group of young people in 3rd thru 6th grades, a very bright and impressionable group I might add. I’m not just saying this because I know and love them as my own church family, but because they ARE!!

All kids are at that age!

It is our responsibility as parents, elders, leaders, teachers, or whatever position of authority we assume to nurture that bright LIGHT God has placed within them.

This is particularly important for those who aren’t even aware that there is a light that shines out as we allow God to live in our hearts. That light shows even brighter as we live, speak, seek after His presence in our lives! It was such a blessing to be able to share this message with the young people who are most often not aware of their influence in their homes, schools, and communities.

The illustration I used to drive home the point to them was that of a literal light, a flashlight. At first I turned on the flashlight but then I hid it under a heavy coat (out of the kid’s sight). I asked the kids if they were able to see anything under my coat and of course they all said “no”. I went on to talk about how we all think and behave a certain way before God enters our heart but when He comes into our lives then our lives are forever changed, like a light switch has been flipped on in our souls. The Bible gives many examples of Godly change or “come to Jesus meetings” as I like to call them. In this lesson we spoke about Zacchaeus and how his heart was changed to do what was right!

I opened up the coat to reveal the bright light of the flashlight to illustrate this change, a change the world can see like a light!

Before I began my lesson I asked my husband to distribute (randomly) a few of those mini key chain flashlights to the kids to be used at the close of the lesson. Put a pin in that for a moment.

Okay so I went on to talk about some of the things that can hide our light from those who may be, knowingly and unknowingly seeking a saviour. Things like; poor attitudes, gossip, cheating, stealing, rudeness, lying, disrespecting authority, discrimination, hatred, unforgiveness, etc.

Back to the interactive part of my lesson. So I asked the children with the flashlights to shine them on the person sitting to their left, most of them being kids after all, shined them directly into their neighbors eyes in an attempt to be funny, but this helped me make my point! “Yes just like that light directly in their eyes it is obvious for some like those who attend church with you, to know that you have God in your life because they can see you here”. Then I asked the child to the right of the child with the flashlight to stand and tell us how they can see God in this child’s life? was it the way they sat quietly while the leaders were addressing the class, was it the way they sang out to the Lord during worship, was it the way they listened and even took notes while I was teaching? etc. as you might imagine most of the children standing just stared at me blankly unable to answer yes to any of these questions. I ended with “that is our homework this week, let your light shine so that they (the world) may know and praise Our Father in heaven”.

I don’t know about you but this has inspired me to be mindful of my “light”. I know that there is a world that is seeking a saviour, I don’t want to hide the light of the saviour in me!

Tag your it!  


Mindfulness is a term that refers to being mentally “present” in the moment. It involves actually taking time to cognitively process what is going on in your body such as your breathing, pulse rate, sensations of heat, or chill and any other sensations you may feel in your body at that moment. It is being aware of your thoughts, right now. Being aware of your behaviors and your surroundings, in the moment.

This is not a new concept, although it may sound “new agey”. mindfulness is an ancient Eastern concept. That being said mindfulness is not a faith or a religion, yet one can practice mindfulness faithfully or religiously in life.

One can even eat mindfully! which brings me to the point of this blog.

Yesterday was Father’s Day. My family (my husband, myself, and our sons) typically celebrates over the entire weekend. Yes we do love our “Daddy”. One of the things he enjoys the most is eating! so we ate!

Friday Night:

Pizza. One of daddy’s favs is pizza with everything (except sauce, my preference) but absolutely everything else! We sat around on our living room floor and laughed, talked, played games, watched a movie and truly, mindfully  took the time to enjoy each other. The pizza was really just an appetizer to the true feast of family we enjoyed that night!

Saturday Night:

Dinner out. The place we went to is a great place to eat, mindfulness not so much. When you walk in it’s easy to get swept up in the “wowness” of it all. So much color all over the walls and in the stained glass windows. The music is loud, fast and steady kinda clubish. I can’t deny we were all excited especially after getting such rave reviews from family and friends about this place, we couldn’t wait to be seated! We get to our table and the hostess gives us a quick tutorial on how to place our iorder (yes iorder) without thinking we all gaze at the shiny screen and begin to touch the pictures building a meal that a starving college student would be proud of. Finally with the final press of the screen we send our meal to the kitchen to be prepared! We sit, attempting to have conversation over the sound of the music. We watch others mouth words to each other, with only the occasional “sit down”, “put that down”, “stop that” , and “come out from under the table” being shouted out from the random table including ours. And we sit, and sit. Finally after “weeks” according to our 6 year old, we get our appetizer. Totally lacking any social graces, with daddy leading the charge, the boys attack this plate of Chile cheese fries. I manage to grab a “naked” fry as I watch my pack, grunt, nod, and lick their fingers. The hostess comes back to alert us that our order is “coming right out”. We acknowledge her and go right back to whatever we were doing before the “fry frenzy”. The main meal came. I thought “I’m gonna take pictures of the food” why? I’m not sure really but it’s a good thing that I did because it went fast! I looked up just in time to see daddy wiping his mouth with a napkin and that “all done” grin on his face, our 6-year-old dropping a half eaten carrot into my plate, and our 5-year-old drinking what was left of his dipping sauce.  There’s only one thing to do at this point right? Right! Desert. Again we stare into the screen, touch pictures, send to kitchen!

As I wait I am mindful, finally, of a few things. One, how much I love my beautiful boys all three of them fill me with so much emotion. I love hanging out with them! Two, this atmosphere is so not conducive to mindfulness. When your surroundings are loud, crowded, stimulating you are not able to focus on what you are doing. You are instead being drawn in by the environment itself. This is the genius of some of the most popular eating establishment they keep it dark, loud, colorful etc. so that you keep eating and drinking.  You are distracted by what’s going on just enough to dull your awareness of what’s going in!

Sunday (Father’s Day)

 We spent the morning snuggling in bed as a family, watching the father’s day message given by one of our favorite Bishops. We ate a light breakfast and prepared to go to church. This was already shaping up to be a good day! We arrive, greeting our church family with love, we make our way to our perspective services. The service was awesome  (as usual) and our oldest son actually had a peaceful departure from the Wii game he was playing (highly unusual). We head home for a beautiful home cooked meal including double chocolate strawberry cake, cards, and balloons all prepared in daddy’s honor.  We all sat around our dining table enjoying the meal. I had another mindful moment.  I saw the look of satisfaction on my husband’s face. As I am encouraging our sons to sit still, not to talk with their mouths full, and slow down I can see that they are safe, happy, and satisfied too. My satisfaction and joy comes from knowing that my love was in every bite.

This was good!

Believe it or not, Saturdays experience is what inspired this musing about mindfulness! Don’t get me wrong the food (when it finally came) was great. I am just simply noticing outside of the privacy of my own head what a difference being in the moment can make.

I want to invite you to join me in living a more mind-full life!

TIME-OUTS not just for kids…

  1. Suzie and Sam are constantly fighting. They have what I call “rightitis” this condition makes you deaf and blind to the validity of the feelings of others. This condition is very harmful to relationships it literally cuts off the bloodline which is open and honest communication, eventually causing the relationship to die.

In my professional life I meet couples like Suzie and Sam all the time, and most often by the time they are in my office the relationship is in critical condition.

I usually open with this: “You know I have no problem with you fighting, as a matter of fact a fair fight every now and then is a good thing it keeps us passionate”. Yes they look at me the same way you’re looking at the screen right now. A therapist who would tell her clients to fight? okay so let’s be clear I’m not telling anyone to fight. My point is this, couples don’t usually need permission to fight. They are going to do that whether I mention it or not. The fact that I mention it “normalizes” it. The concept of “fair fighting” however is not as apparent to some couples at least not the ones that end up in therapy.

One of the most effective, empowering, communication skills I teach clients suffering from rightitis is the Time-Out. You might call this a blood transfusion!

Typically when couples are discussing a sensitive issue like money, sex, parenting or any other topic that deals with roles, rules, and values it can get pretty heated before they know it. But instead of taking time to cool off the rightitis  flares up (like an irritable , burning rash, ugh)  and no one wants to concede leading to an all out inferno where one or both of them ends up saying or even doing seriously hurtful things as if they are seeking relief in the pain of the other.


How: When taking a time-out as an adult one person (typically the one that is the least angry) will call a time out by stating something like “I see this discussion is getting us nowhere maybe we should talk about this later when we are more calm, maybe after dinner tonight”. There is no exact script as to what you should say as it can vary according to time of day and especially if there are children in the home, the point is to keep the situation from escalating out of control. Note: the person that “calls” the time-out is also responsible for calling the time in. Meaning if you set a time for the discussion to continue then you must approach the other person at that time and say something like”Is now a good time to continue our discussion?” usually this leads to a healthy discussion where both parties feel heard and respected because you have made a calm conscious decision to engage.

When: Usually a person knows when they are not in the right frame of mind to discuss certain sensitive topics, and in that case it is better not to. Simply ask your partner if it would be okay to discuss it at a later time, setting an appointment like in the example above; after dinner, in the morning, etc. and the same rules apply you need to approach at the appointed time…. In cases where the discussion has already begun and it is headed for a bad place (like you feel your rightitis flaring up or you notice symptoms in your partner) then is a good time for a time-out.

Why: I can personally say that when I have taken a time out to give myself the chance to really evaluate the situation I find that there’s really nothing to fight about. There are certain things that my partner and I are not going to see exactly the same simply because we are two different people. Period. I have found the main reason discussions escalate into fights is because one person holds the perspective that the other person is asking them to surrender their opinion to the others. For example: Suzie and Sam agree on their goal to be financially “set” for retirement however they disagree on exactly how to accomplish that goal. Sam believes it should be done one way based on how he was raised and his relationship with money. Suzie believes it can be accomplished another way based on the same factors. They go around and around until eventually they are both shouting in anger and they are no longer talking about money they are making attacks on each others character. You see it’s not enough for Suzie to say “Yes, Sam I certainly see your point however I believe that this way would work just as well.” In Sam’s mind “you haven’t really heard me unless you agree with me”. Not only is he unable to see Suzie’s point as valid but he keeps restating his, badgering her until she reacts in anger. A time-out would allow them the opportunity to see that the important thing is that they agree on what they want for their future, the hows can be negotiated in a calm manner.

Time-Outs aren’t just for kids, in fact they are one of the most grown up ways to practice healthy communication!

Warrior Angel

Have you ever  truly stopped to think about the nature of an angel of God?

If the answer is no or not very often. Perhaps this is because we often need circumstances to bring our minds and hearts to recall how God has called His angels to move on our behalf. In my recent study of His word I was reading the book of Exodus and it caused me to think “what is the nature of an angel”. I know this may sound like a crazy thought to some but it led to some very freeing revelation for me!

The angels that we are used to seeing personified in art, television, movies, etc. are big, beautiful, white, winged, creatures, with soft, kind, faces. Not that I disagree with this one bit. But this is only illustrates one side of an angel.

As I read His word I get excited and fired up about the warrior angel! The angel that not only has my back but goes before me covering my front too! God’s angel is a fierce opponent to the enemy, when he comes for me (and boy does he) God dispatches His angels and they cover me saying “I dare you to touch her, she belongs to God”. Even when I do have to go “into battle” I can take comfort in knowing that my angel army is with me and they will never leave me, although I may be wounded in battle I will aways be victorious!

That is so awesome!

So those of you who feel like you are in the fight alone sometimes, even if your thinking that an angel only comes to comfort you after the battle is over, Just know there is a warrior angel just waiting to do battle on your behalf!

Exodus 23:20      “See, I am sending an angel before you, to guard you on the way and bring you to the place I have prepared”.

Numbers 22:31-32     Then the LORD removed the veil from Balaam’s eyes, so that he too saw the angel of the LORD standing on the road with sword drawn; and he fell on his knees and bowed to the ground. [32] But the angel of the LORD said to him, “Why have you beaten your ass these three times? It is I who have come armed to hinder you because this rash journey of yours is directly opposed to me.

Outta Gas

Image Have you ever felt Empty, like you’re totally spent, at the end of your rope?

Yeah me too. As a matter of fact I have been feeling that way lately. My children are growing up and although they are becoming more independent in some ways in others ways my role as a parent has never been more demanding. I love being more “hands on” in their education volunteering in their classrooms as well as being on the board of the PTA, but this too is very demanding of my time and energy. In reading my good friends blog at she talks about God expanding our territory and I realized that He has done just that in my life!

God has allowed me to reach all new levels of insight and impact as a therapist. Each day He fills me so that I can pour out completely to those He has sent my way. Now I don’t say these things to be proud or cocky, in fact I realize He is the only reason I am able to do ANYTHING.

Especially lately I find myself saying “Lord lest you fill me, I have nothing to give so I pray you meet me here at the end of my strength and help me to go on in your name”. No sooner than I say “Amen” do I feel the strength of the Lord fill me again!

It’s amazing.

To the question I asked in the beginning, there is an answer. He is faithful to fill the empty, to expand your territory all you have to do is ask and you will receive.

I want to share a song with you that helps me get through these times. Please click on the link below, take a moment to listen and hide these words in your heart!


Role Play, Who cares for the caregiver

Many of us take on the title Caregiver, wether it be in our personal or professional lives or for some of us, both! We have become so accustomed to and functioned so well in this role that those around us don’t see us in need of care. Unfortunately we even fail to recognize our limits and frailties as we are about “taking care of business”. I can bear witness to this as I have struggled with “burn-out blindness” for many years (far too many).

Last year was one of  real revelation for me in this area! Especially at the close of the year.

I went through some health issues that ultimately resulted in surgery and temporary convalescence. I was “down” for about 3 weeks total. Did I see this coming? the truth is yes. I did. My body had been giving me signals all along but I was so focused on my role and who I am to so many people in my life and I took my focus off of God and His role in my life! No I didn’t forget who He is, my FOCUS was not in the right place. You see, to be focused on Him is to be always aware and behaving in a way that honors His dying on the Cross so that we may live a life more abundant (this means healthy!!)

So my prayer for all who read this is that you never lose sight of God’s role in your life.

He Cares For You!!

Consider these words:

1 Peter 5:6-7  Humble yourselves, therefore, under  the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you,   casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.

Romans 8:37-39 No, in all these things we are more  than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor  life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers,  nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Galatians 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is  no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the  flesh I live by faith in the Son of God. who loved me and gave himself for  me.

Romans 5:2-5 Through him we have also obtained  access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the  glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that  suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character  produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been  poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to  us.

This is how He ROLES!!

The Word, a Mirror not a Window

I was talking to one of my “sheroes” in The Faith (my mommy) yesterday, and she said something to me that struck me so profound in that moment. She said “The word is a mirror not a window”. To put this in context we were discussing how we mature spiritually, is it by comparing ourselves to the other person, holding them to our standard of faith, or is it by applying God’s standard to our lifestyle. I made my points and she made hers and all of a sudden she dropped that bomb! (in a good way). I’m sure this is not an original quote by my mother, although I don’t know where she got it from, I’m glad she gave it to me!

I say this because it has challenged me to ponder this point (and share it with you). When I look in the mirror I am oh so aware of the things I want/need to change about my appearance. No I am not saying that’s all I see, I also see the beauty God has blessed me with. When I speak of changes I mean the things that stand out as “fixable” to me. These things change depending on the day or even time of day I look in the mirror. For example, I can wash my face in the morning to get rid of the “sleep” in them, I can apply or wash off make-up to change the appearance of my face, I can wax my eyebrows or lip to remove “unsightly facial hair” ,I can use teeth whitening solutions to make my teeth whiter etc.

I can also hold my spiritual life up to the mirror. If I am focusing on what I can do to fix/change my life in this aspect, I can apply the word of God daily with prayer and devotional time (which I don’t do with make-up), I can “wash off” the old cares, worries, and fears of yesterday (which may add wrinkles and muddy the complexion), I can step up my study of God’s word (which is like cleaning the “sleep” from my spirit) you see things much clearer this way!

But what about the window? When I picture a window in this context I picture either someone looking in, or someone looking out. Either way taking the focus off of self. When we as Believers are looking at what others are or are not doing in their lives, quoting or misquoting scripture to make our point, we are essentially using the The Word of God as a window to peer into the lives of others. We may convince ourselves that “we are only telling the truth”  saying things like:

“They are only struggling financially because they love money too much”

I Timothy 6:10 “For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil, some people, eager for money, have wondered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs”.

“There kids don’t respect them because they didn’t raise them in the church” or “All that child needs is a good spanking he’ll straighten up”

Proverbs 22:6 “Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it”.  Proverbs 29:15 “The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother”.

“How can she love a man like him” or “If she loved him she would submit”.

I John 4:7-8 “Dear friends let us love one another, for love comes from God, Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God, whoever does not love, does not know God, because God is love”. Love flows through a marriage that lives up to mutual responsibility.

I Corinthians 13:5 “Love is not self seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrong”.

And so each of us when tempted to judge others should remember this principle. The word of God is a mirror not a window. If you are looking to assess someones spiritual maturity, Micheal Jackson said it best; Start with the man in the mirror! 

I’m a Little Tea-pot…”Cooling down” an Angry Kid

remember this Nursery Rhyme: “I’m a little tea-pot short and stout, Here is my handle, Here is my spout, When I get all steamed up hear me shout, Tip me over and pour me out” .

I especially loved the little dance that goes with it; one hand on your hip (for the handle) and one hand extended (for the spout). I can still hear my pre-school class singing it as I write this I can also remember my teacher enthusiastically (actually over-enthusiastically) performing the movements with us as we sang.

As an adult I wonder in what other areas do we apply the “tea-pot” mentality. I can certainly see myself as a parent doing the tea-pot dance; one hand on my hip, and one hand extended(usually with index finger pointed), No I am not singing the words the this nursery rhyme. I’m scolding my kids about something.

With this in mind Imagine your kid is the tea-pot. We can hardly keep them from getting “all steamed up” as anger is a very natural and healthy emotion. But we can teach them how to manage their anger and frustration so they don’t harm themselves or someone else.

Here’s how:

What Parents can do:

Modeling – I truly could not say enough about the effects of modeling both positive and negative on the way a child deals with any emotion, anger especially. How do you handle anger and frustration? can your child describe the shape and size of your tonsils because they get a good view of them as you are screaming at the top of your lungs in fits of anger. Did your child’s first words begin with a S or a B (and no I don’t mean sister or brother). Teach them to deal with frustration in constructive ways before it turns into full-fledged anger by practicing this your self.

Honesty – “keep it real” we’re gonna get angry. It’s how you handle it that counts. Have you ever been so frustrated that you couldn’t think of any “constructive” response in that moment? me too. What I learned is that you can even use those times to practice honesty. Saying something like, “Mommy is so frustrated right now I need to take a time out to think about what to do next. But we will have to talk about this later”. This teaches the child that you always have the opportunity to think before you act, and sometimes even parents need a time-out.

Bargaining – This is not bribery! How many times have you talked yourself out of being angry or having a bad attitude about something you didn’t want to do like work, or jury duty saying” after the day I’m having I deserve…..”. This also works with children “I know it makes you angry when your little brother plays with your toys without your permission, you deserve some extra TV time for not acting out in anger.”

Physical Outlets –  Never underestimate the power of a hug. I have seen a hug tame the “mother” of all tantrums. A child was having a kicking, screaming, on the verge of hurting himself fit in the store. Daddy had made the mistake of thinking he was done shopping without the item that the boy “had to have” so chaos ensued. The dad calmly excused himself from the check out line, as I watched from the line right next to them, what I saw brought tears to my eyes. The dad gently scooped his child up from the floor, whose body had gone stiff with anger by this time, and held him in the tightest, silent embrace. I watched the boy’s body go limp melting in his daddy’s arms. The dad paid for his items and left the store with his bags thrown over one shoulder and his son over the other. I could only imagine the peaceful ride home with the child asleep in his car seat. Amazing huh?

“Pay” Attention – So much of a child’s acting out in anger is about attention seeking. This acting out is their way of demanding more attention from you. By giving them attention for this you are teaching them that acting out is effective. Instead encourage them to use their words and when they do the “pay-off is your attention. Tell them how pleased you are to see them choosing to express their anger appropriately. This is a 3 fold intervention; 1. giving your child the attention they crave 2. ignoring the  bad behavior you don’t want to continue in the child 3. and acknowledging your child’s good choices. Obviously safety comes first so if the behavior is putting the child or someone else in danger, ignoring would be inappropriate.

Laughter – This really is the best medicine. Let your kids see you laugh and be silly sometimes. Often unintentionally we give our kids the impression that we are always serious and intense they begin to take on this demeanor themselves. “loosen up” and giggle a little with you kids!

What your Child can do:

  • Talk to a friend or someone they trust– one of the lessons that I have learned through working with families with kids of all ages, is that parents are not always the best choice when kids need to talk through their anger. In some cases a close friend, family member or other trusted adult may be more appropriate.
  • Count to 10- sounds really simple, almost too simple right? but that is exactly why this is so effective for kids.  This is something they can do on their own allowing them to feel in control of their emotions. For older children try counting backward.
  • Get or give a hug hugs are powerful. Remember the story of the tantruming child I shared earlier.
  • Physical activity tossing a ball, shooting hoops, jumping jacks, push ups, running around the house 5x as fast as they can, house hold chores e.g. pulling weeds, cleaning windows etc.  encourage your child to “use” that anger energy in a constructive, productive way.
  • Draw a picture of their anger expressing their emotions through art is an effective way for your child to see and show you the dark, ugliness that is their anger.
  • Sing and dance along with the radio or favorite TV show these days there are lots of kid friendly shows with singing and dancing: Yo Gabba Gabba, Fresh Beat Band, and Ni Hao, Kai-Lan are a few of our favorites. I have also been known to compose a few originals of my own, which my kids find hilarious!
  • Think happy thoughts again something very powerful that your child can do totally on their own giving them the ability to control their thoughts and behaviors.

 finally and most importantly, PRAYER is something parents and kids can do together . Ask God to cover your family with peace so that  there is no room for anger in your home.

The Father says:

“And you fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord” Ephesians 6:4

“Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged”. Colossians 3:21

If you have questions or concerns about your child’s anger it may be necessary to speak to a mental health professional in your area to address your concerns.