Category: Relationships

5 ways adult children hurt their parents without realizing it

5 ways adult children hurt their parents without realizing it

What are you doing to brighten the lives of your aging parents? Bringing a little light and happiness into their lives will leave a legacy of love your own children will emulate.

An article by Gary and Joy Lundberg

Most people love and appreciate their parents. We don’t doubt that. The problem is, parents can’t tell this unless you show it by the way you treat them. Sometimes adult children can bring heartache to their parents without realizing what they’re doing. We’ve boiled it down to five main ways this happens. If you are a parent of adult children, you may recognize some of these. If you’re the adult child, you may be in for an awakening. As parents age, their physical needs may change but their need for your love never does. Check to see if you’re doing any of these.

1. You don’t call them much

Time just flits by, and you realize it’s been a month since you last called your parents to check on them or to share what’s happening in your life. You may be thinking, well, they can call me anytime they want. There’s no question; parents need to call their children, as well.

Here’s the thing, they don’t know your schedule, and they don’t want to interrupt you at the wrong time. Or they don’t want to trouble you with their problems. And yet, they want you to care. You need to take the initiative and call them, at least some of the time. Even just a short call to see how they are feeling. Ask them what they did that day then share what you are doing. Be sure to include some good news. Too often, the only news shared is the bad. Being in on at least part of your life will bring them more happiness than you can imagine. If they lay on a lot of unwanted advice, just say, “Thanks, Dad, I appreciate your concern. I was just thinking about you and wanted to know how you’re doing.” Don’t forget to say, “I love you.” That’s music to their hearts.

 2. You ask them for money

Some kids only call when they need money. Don’t do that. In fact, don’t ask them for money at all. You’re an adult and capable of providing for yourself and family. Your parents have worked hard for what they have, and they deserve to keep it for their needs. As their lives wind down they have no idea what expenses lie ahead. They need that retirement nest egg for the unknown. It’s comforting to them to have that security. We know some children who’ve bled their parents dry, and then when the day came and the parents needed the money to live on it was gone. That’s not fair. Don’t ask your parents for money. If you owe them for some you’ve already “borrowed,” pay it back as soon as you can. Lovingly help them protect what’s theirs. They need to be able to enjoy it in their later years.

 3. You forget their birthdays

Parents love to be remembered on their special day. It doesn’t have to be a fancy celebration, just a remembrance. You know how you feel when you receive a gift from them. They aren’t much different. They like it, too. Find out the things they enjoy. A young couple we know gives their parents a gift card to their favorite restaurant, and they thoroughly enjoy it. If you don’t have the money for a gift, you surely have the money for a card. Receiving a card in the mail from an out-of-town child brightens any parent’s day. A phone call is great, too. If you live nearby, drop by with a hug and good wishes. Let them know you’re thinking of them, and wish them a happy birthday. You might even add, “I’m sure glad you were born. I love you, Mom.” Some children invite the family over to celebrate a special birthday. Turning 70 is a lot more fun when you’re surrounded by those you love.

 4. You don’t offer them your help

You may be thinking, hey, I told Dad to let me know if there’s anything I can do for him, but he hasn’t told me of anything. He’s probably hesitating because he thinks you’re too busy, or he’s afraid you didn’t really mean it. How about suggesting something to him? Look around and see the needs. Older people are advised to stay off ladders because their balance is impaired, and it’s too risky. How about offering to come over, climb that ladder and clean out their rain gutters. A friend’s son recently did that for his parents, and they were extremely grateful for the help. A little help from you will go a long way in helping your parents feel loved.

 5. You don’t include them in your family events

They don’t need to be included in everything but for the main events, invite them. They want to be part of special occasions, such as holiday dinners, a baptism, a concert your child is in, weddings or a vacation. Let them enjoy being with you and your family when it fits. Sometimes just an invitation to Sunday dinner at your house will brighten their day. If they invite you and your family over for dinner, accept the invitation and show up.

Is this what you want?

Look at how you are treating your parents and ask yourself if this is the way you want your children to treat you when they’re grown. They are learning how by watching the way you treat your parents. It’s a lesson they won’t forget. If you’re not measuring up, it’s not too late. You can make a change this very day. Begin by picking up the phone and calling your parents right now.

5 Ways Giving is Good for You

5 Ways Giving is Good for You

By Jason Marsh and Jill Suttie

This essay originally appeared on Greater Good, the online magazine of the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley.

1. Giving makes us feel happy. A 2008 study by Harvard Business School professor Michael Norton and colleagues found that giving money to someone else lifted participants’ happiness more that spending it on themselves (despite participants’ prediction that spending on themselves would make them happier). Happiness expert Sonja Lyubomirsky, a professor of psychology at the University of California, Riverside, saw similar results when she asked people to perform five acts of kindness each week for six weeks.

These good feelings are reflected in our biology. In a 2006 study, Jorge Moll and colleagues at the National Institutes of Health found that when people give to charities, it activates regions of the brain associated with pleasure, social connection, and trust, creating a “warm glow” effect. Scientists also believe that altruistic behavior releases endorphins in the brain, producing the positive feeling known as the “helper’s high.”

2. Giving is good for our health. A wide range of research has linked different forms of generosity to better health, even among the sick and elderly. In his book Why Good Things Happen to Good People, Stephen Post, a professor of preventative medicine at Stony Brook University, reports that giving to others has been shown to increase health benefits in people with chronic illness, including HIV and multiple sclerosis.

A 1999 study led by Doug Oman of the University of California, Berkeley, found that elderly people who volunteered for two or more organizations were 44 percent less likely to die over a five-year period than were non-volunteers, even after controlling for their age, exercise habits, general health, and negative health habits like smoking. Stephanie Brown, now a researcher at Stony Brook University, saw similar results in a 2003 study on elderly couples. She and her colleagues found that those individuals who provided practical help to friends, relatives, or neighbors, or gave emotional support to their spouses, had a lower risk of dying over a five-year period than those who didn’t. Interestingly, receiving help wasn’t linked to a reduced death risk.

Researchers suggest that one reason giving may improve physical health and longevity is that it helps decrease stress, which is associated with a variety of health problems. In a 2006 study by Rachel Piferi of Johns Hopkins University and Kathleen Lawler of the University of Tennessee, people who provided social support to others had lower blood pressure than participants who didn’t, suggesting a direct physiological benefit to those who give of themselves.

3. Giving promotes cooperation and social connection. When you give, you’re more likely to get back: Several studies, including work by sociologists Brent Simpson and Robb Willer, have suggested that when you give to others, your generosity is likely to be rewarded by others down the line—sometimes by the person you gave to, sometimes by someone else.

These exchanges promote a sense of trust and cooperation that strengthens our ties to others—and research has shown that having positive social interactions is central to good mental and physical health. As researcher John Cacioppo writes in his book Loneliness: Human Nature and the Need for Social Connection, “The more extensive the reciprocal altruism born of social connection . . . the greater the advance toward health, wealth, and happiness.”

What’s more, when we give to others, we don’t only make them feel closer to us; we also feel closer to them. “Being kind and generous leads you to perceive others more positively and more charitably,” writes Lyubomirsky in her book The How of Happiness, and this “fosters a heightened sense of interdependence and cooperation in your social community.”

4. Giving evokes gratitude. Whether you’re on the giving or receiving end of a gift, that gift can elicit feelings of gratitude—it can be a way of expressing gratitude or instilling gratitude in the recipient. And research has found that gratitude is integral to happiness, health, and social bonds.

Robert Emmons and Michael McCullough, pioneers in the scientific study of gratitude, have found that teaching college students to “count their blessings” and cultivate gratitude caused them to exercise more, be more optimistic, and feel better about their lives overall. A recent study led by Nathaniel Lambert at Florida State University found that expressing gratitude to a close friend or romantic partner strengthens our sense of connection to that person.

Barbara Fredrickson, a leading happiness researcher, suggests that cultivating gratitude in everyday life is one of the keys to increasing personal happiness. “When you express your gratitude in words or actions, you not only boost your own positivity but [other people’s] as well,” she writes in her book Positivity. “And in the process you reinforce their kindness and strengthen your bond to one another.”

5. Giving is contagious. When we give, we don’t only help the immediate recipient of our gift. We also spur a ripple effect of generosity through our community.

A study by James Fowler of the University of California, San Diego, and Nicholas Christakis of Harvard, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, shows that when one person behaves generously, it inspires observers to behave generously later, toward different people. In fact, the researchers found that altruism could spread by three degrees—from person to person to person to person. “As a result,” they write, “each person in a network can influence dozens or even hundreds of people, some of whom he or she does not know and has not met.”

Giving has also been linked to the release of oxytocin, a hormone (also released during sex and breast feeding) that induces feelings of warmth, euphoria, and connection to others. In laboratory studies, Paul Zak, the director of the Center for Neuroeconomics Studies at Claremont Graduate University, has found that a dose of oxytocin will cause people to give more generously and to feel more empathy towards others, with “symptoms” lasting up to two hours. And those people on an “oxytocin high” can potentially jumpstart a “virtuous circle, where one person’s generous behavior triggers another’s,” says Zak.

So whether you buy gifts, volunteer your time, or donate money to charity, your giving may help you build stronger social connections and even jumpstart a cascade of generosity through your community. And don’t be surprised if you find yourself benefiting from a big dose of happiness in the process.

Jason Marsh is editor-in-chief and director of programs at the Greater Good Science Center and the course producer for “The Science of Happinesss.” Jill Suttie, Psy.D., is Greater Good‘s book review editor and a frequent contributor to the magazine.

Marriage: The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse

Marriage: The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse

By Ocean Palmer

Whether at work or home, relationships erode because of four things:
1. Criticism
2. Contempt
3. Being too defensive
4. Stonewalling.

Criticism
Criticism is marked by attacks and negativity, the usual tricks of a bully. These stinging attacks hit especially hard on those whose personalities are meek or submissive, or who do not possess a confident self-image.

Contempt
Contempt is shown through put-downs and disdain. Belittling and disrespect are used to make us feel inferior. Often the sender of these messages does so in order to boost his or her own self-esteem, which is typically low to begin with. They try to make themselves feel better by making someone else feel worse.

Being too defensive
Becoming defensive occurs when someone challenges the negative feedback they are receiving by responding with mean, negative retorts aimed back at the initiator. This is a counterproductive “lashing back” technique that plays out like a tennis volley at the net, with both people trading shots.

The television show Seinfeld built an entire episode – The Jerk Store — around this concept. George Costanza took a verbal shot from a co-worker and was determined to think up something wittier to fire back. He failed miserably and never did.

Stonewalling
Stonewalling involves the silent treatment and/or the refusal to share information of emotional value during “clear the air” discussions.

This is called “selective disclosure” and selective disclosure erodes trust. The refusal to come clean on true feelings and relevant information are barriers to rebuilding a relationship.

Stonewalling can involve withholding information, revealing issues of emotional importance, or both.

Those four’s cumulative cost
Each of those irritation techniques will, over time, take its toll. Together they will accelerate hard feelings and cause drama and stress — which will eventually lead to bitter and resentful confrontation.

Excerpt from an article by Ocean Palmer

In contrast, 4 other qualities are good for a happy marriage:

1. Humour
2. Gratitude
3. Forgiving
4. Emotional Disclosure

A Reason, A Season or a Lifetime

A Reason, A Season or a Lifetime

People come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime.
When you know which one it is, you will know what to do for that person.

When someone is in your life for a REASON,
it is usually to meet a need you have expressed.
They have come to assist you through a difficulty,
to provide you with guidance and support,
to aid you physically, emotionally or spiritually.

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5 Ways to Deal with Conflicts

5 Ways to Deal with Conflicts

Conflict2

Conflicts are bound to arise in our relationships from time to time. Very often, conflicts arise from simple mis-communication. At other times, conflicts are due to clashes of personalities.

Each of us deals with conflicts differently. There are at least 5 ways in which we can deal with conflicts, but not all of them lead to desirable outcomes. Can you identify which of these ways you predominantly use to resolve conflicts in your life?

1. Avoidance
    “It’s not a big problem. Why rock the boat?”

2. Accommodation
    “I’m willing to give up a lot to avoid conflicts.”

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