Last year, my husband and I decided at the last minute that I was going to homeschool Brielle. After discussing several options, we decided to enroll Brielle in an online school called Bridgeway Academy. This article is a review of the online school and the cost of the Bridgeway Academy Homeschool programs.
BRIDGEWAY ACADEMY HOMESCHOOL COST AND PROGRAM OPTIONS
Bridgeway serves grades PreK-12, and they have multiple schooling options.
The first option is individual learning.
You can customize your child’s education with different publishers for different subjects. You are also able to customize to your child’s learning style: visual, auditory, and kinesthetic. There is the ability to choose different learning styles per subject as well.
The major con for this program is that it is NOT accredited, which means they do not keep track of grades or give you a report card. As a result, your child would need a placement test to determine their grade if you chose to re-enroll your child in public or private school.
The second option you can choose is the actual Bridgeway Academy, which is the part of the school that is accredited.
There are four options you can choose: Total Care Textbook, Blended program, HOPE program (which helps children with learning disabilities), and Records and Support.
As I previously mentioned, with any of these options you can customize your child’s program to fit his or her learning style. Bridgeway Academy also allow you to have several different payment plan options, which you can view on their website in the links above. Each curriculum also comes with a list of electives, and you pick up to two of them. You have the option of whether you want the electives to be graded, but they still provide your child with additional educational opportunities.
After much discussion and research, we decided on the Total Care Textbook package for Brielle. With the blended program there was too much screen time, which Brielle did not respond to well. Before you get to discuss your child’s curriculum with your advisor, your child first needs to complete a placement exam. This exam is online and is done in two parts: math and language arts. It is a progressive test. For every question your child gets right, it gets harder and harder. If you get most of them correct the test will take approximately 2-3 hours to complete, but your child can take as many breaks as he or she needs.
After the test is completed, you see the results and set up a time to speak with the advisor. During that conversation, your advisor will go over the different options you have for math, language arts, science, and social studies (as well as electives). Since Brielle had extremely high scores in math, we decided to have her take the second-grade math and the other subjects were for first grade. Additionally, there are two publisher options to choose from for all major subjects.
After choosing your curriculum, it takes approximately a week for your materials to arrive at your house.
The package contains all books, manipulatives, and a selection of novels your child will read throughout the year. As I mentioned earlier, the main difference between the Total Care Textbook program and the Blended program is that in the textbook program, you are responsible for keeping track of your child’s progress and submitting grades. For the blended course, their online system keeps track of your progress and grades.
For both programs, the instructor guide and lesson plans come with daily work for each subject. It also includes additional support/alternative lessons you can do with your child. Every week or two your child will have tests in math, science, and social studies, as well as writing assignments and tests that need to be graded in language arts.
I personally felt that the Total Care Textbook program worked very well for the most part. There were some initial struggles at the beginning with figuring out how to navigate the Bridgeway system on the computer, but once Brielle and I got into a groove, it went smoothly. Homeschool lasted about 2-3 hours every day, and the rest of the time was devoted to play time. I made up a daily schedule (that I give for FREE when you subscribe!) to provide Brielle with structure, which kids need desperately during such unstable times. Brielle is a kinesthetic learner, so having manipulatives was extremely helpful along with the textbook.
The major pros to Bridgeway Academy are that you have the flexibility to teach your child on your own schedule.
You can decide how much time to devote to each subject, and you can decide the pace for your child. We were able to finish the curriculum by the end of April, and we took off for several weeks to accompany my husband on work trips. That convenience is a big plus. Another pro is that the cost of Bridgeway Academy is more affordable than many of the other online accredited homeschool programs.
In my opinion, the one major con with Bridgeway Academy is that there is no instructor led option.
You can purchase elective classes that meet one time per week for approximately two months, but those are offered at an additional cost. You are responsible for being the full-time teacher. It is your responsibility to teach your child all the subjects. There are NO teachers that support your child’s needs or give you a break.
This year we had more time to plan which homeschool program we would use for Brielle. We enrolled her in Georgia’s online public school, Georgia Cyber Academy. It is free, which is a huge plus. They also have teacher-led online instruction, but the amount of computer-led instruction is an issue. We are trying to work something out with the teachers where the screen time will be more limited. If Georgia Cyber Academy is not a good fit, it is comforting to know that I have the option of enrolling her in Bridgeway Academy again.
I hope you found this information helpful! Remember that each homeschool journey is unique and there is no right or wrong way. Give yourself compassion and grace while homeschooling. Also remember that it takes time to adjust to a new way of teaching and learning.
UPDATE: We pulled our daughter out of Georgia Cyber Academy. They were unwilling to make any accommodations regardless of her IEP. Brielle is now back at Bridgeway Academy.
One of my biggest parenting challenges is living in the moment with my daughter. To be fully transparent, I always struggled with my daughter’s current age/stage of life. I spent most of my child’s life either staring in the rearview mirror or looking ahead.
I WASN’T LIVING IN THE MOMENT WITH MY DAUGHTER
When my daughter was a newborn, I remember feeling so exhausted and overwhelmed. I had to put my daughter’s pacifier back into her mouth throughout the night in addition to breastfeeding. I wanted her to be able to put her pacifier in her own mouth. Also, I wanted her to be able to sleep for longer stretches without needing milk. It felt like my world had completely turned upside down. There was no room for me or my needs because taking care of her was so all consuming.
When she started sleeping for longer stretches, I still didn’t live in the moment. I wanted her to get a little older so she could communicate with me. I thought parenting would get easier when she was more verbal and also more mobile.
When she became a toddler, I couldn’t wait until she was potty trained. I was tired of changing diapers and her endless response of “no” to everything I said. I thought that once that stage was over, I would then be able to live in the moment.
I yearned for time to myself when I wasn’t constantly getting tugged, grabbed, pulled, Called for, Whined to, and needed.
Despite all the years of wanting her to get older, at the same time, I cried every year on her birthday. When she became an infant as opposed to a newborn, I cried. Each time she was about to turn a year older, I cried. I both wanted to reverse and fast forward time, but never could embrace the current time.
When my daughter started school, I was a complete mess. Despite wanted some breathing room, I was beside myself that now my child had an entire new world separate from me. We had done everything together, and that was no longer the case. I cried when she went to school three days a week part time, and five days a week part time. When she went five days a week full time, I was inconsolable. I got what I thought I wanted all along, but it turned out that once I got it, I wanted nothing more than to give it back.
When Brielle became school-age, I started dreading her getting older. I remember her eating cheerios in her highchair, jumping in her jumperoo, and holding her arms out to me and saying “mama” for the first time. Truthfully, I would give anything to be able to rock her to sleep in my arms one more time.
I am haunted by how the years seemed to fly by.
I want to yell at myself that I didn’t cherish it more. My daughter is going to be nine years old, and the things I used to complain about are now the things I miss so deeply. It is the ultimate cosmic joke.
The expression that comes to mind is, “Be careful what you wish for.” Not only do we fail to live in the moment with our kids, we fail to embrace whatever stage we are in in our own lives. As children, most of us wanted nothing more than to get older and to feel like an adult. Once we were adults, we wanted nothing more than to stop aging. Not only do we fail to see that life isn’t greener on the other side, we make the mistake of thinking that reversing time or moving time forward will make us happier. Spoiler alert: it is not the case.
I NOW APPRECIATE WHAT IS IN FRONT OF ME, EVEN THOUGH IT CAN BE DIFFICULT AT TIMES
I spent too many years not living in the moment with my child. I’ve realized that I need to savor the joys that come with whatever stage of life she is in currently. My daughter will never be a baby again, but she also will never be this age again. I have to appreciate what is right in front of me because the present time is indeed a present.
Embracing the present does not mean that you are going to love every second of it. Far from it. It is perfectly okay and normal to be cranky and want more sleep when dealing with a screaming baby. It is okay to have the desire to put cotton balls in your ears if you hear your toddler whine one more time.
Each stage of life has its challenges, but it is also important to appreciate the beauty of each stage.
Take the time to savor the moment when your child is sleeping peacefully in your arms. When your child wants nothing more than to be with you, remember that there will come a day when friends, significant others and the outside world will compete with you for that leading role. It is difficult and frustrating to be needed so deeply, but it is also such a privilege. Learning to hold space for both is the key to living in the moment.
As for me, I am doing my best to learn from the error of my former ways.
I strive to live in the moment. I appreciate the benefits that come with having a child who is not yet a pre-teen, but not a little girl either.
Now I can have deeper conversations with my daughter. She is more self-sufficient, but she wants to be with me and still looks to me for comfort and safety. My daughter is learning to rely on herself, but she still needs me.
She is currently homeschooled, so I get to have extra time with her. I still struggle with lack of free time, but I appreciate that I get this time with her. When she went to school, I felt that by the time she got home, had a snack, and did her homework, it was time for her to get ready for bed.
Now we have all the time in the world together, and I am trying to live in the moment and appreciate that as much as possible.
Brielle now loves reading, so she will sometimes sit next to me on the couch as we each read a book. Other times she will sit with me and I’ll read her a book or we take turns reading to each other. She also loves writing, so I got her a journal and we will each write in our own journals. My daughter still looks at me lovingly and tells me that I’m the best Mommy in the world. I cherish that, as I do all the benefits that come with living in the moment.
Parenting at this age is not a piece of cake, as she is more defiant and argumentative. However, the truth is that every stage of parenting is going to have challenges. For every obstacle you get passed in one stage, a new one inevitably pops up in the next stage. The truth is, parenting will always have its challenges. Those challenges simply change with time. Learning to accept that allows one to embrace living in the moment as opposed to trying to change it.
I will always look back wistfully at the years passed.
I will sneak a peek at her baby books and cry at old photos. However, I am now taking the time to savor all the benefits that come with loving and accepting exactly who my daughter is currently. I can miss who she was, but I wouldn’t change who she is now for anything. With that acceptance I have found a peace of mind that I never had in parenting prior. I cannot control the passing of time, but I can control how I choose to spend my current time. I hope that is something that resonates with each of you so that you too can live in the moment and embrace it.
As my daughter gets older, I often reflect upon her childhood. Growing up with an abusive mom, I understand the significance of my role as a mother. I know that her upbringing will shape her values, beliefs, and perceptions about herself and her relationship with others. My hope is that when my daughter grows up, she will look fondly upon her childhood. I hope I will instill in her morals, kindness, and self-confidence. These are the things I want my daughter to remember about me:
(1) She received my full attention
Life can pull all of us in many directions, and as mothers we have to juggle quite a bit. However, I always set aside quality time to spend with my daughter. No matter how hectic my day was or how many outside distractions, I was intentional in my time with her. I want my daughter to remember that there wasn’t a single day when she didn’t receive my full attention. The amount of time might have varied, but we always did something together without me looking at my phone, checking my emails, or thinking about something else.
I implemented “fun time” with her, which is a minimum of 15 minutes a day together doing something of her choosing. We played tea party, teacher, house, teacher, tic-tac toe, hangman, etc. Whatever it was, I gave her my undivided attention. There were many times throughout the day when I couldn’t give her my full focus. However, during fun time she had all of me. I hope she will remember that when she grows up.
(2) I cared about what she had to say
I want my daughter to remember that her thoughts mattered to me. When she spoke about Frozen for the 100,000th time, I listened. I listened to every single word of her conversation with her imaginary friend. When she told me that she wanted to be a horse trainer when she grew up, I listened. I cared about every hope, every thought, every dream, every feeling. No matter how big or small, I want my daughter to remember that I wanted to hear what she had to say.
(3) I made her feel safe and comforted
I cry as I write this one. Of all the things I want my daughter to remember about me, this one is of utmost importance. I did not grow up having a mother who made me feel safe, and I wanted that more than anything. Being the person who makes my child feel safe is such an honor and a privilege, and it brings me so much joy to know that I was able to give that to her.
I am the one she goes to when she is afraid. She comes to me when she feels hurt. I am the one who reads her books about not being afraid of the dark and teaches her belly breathing. I am the one who helps her relax when she has a hard time sleeping at night. She reaches for my hand when she needs comfort. I am the one who wipes away her tears, kisses every boo-boo, and wraps my arms around her when she needs reassurance. I am her safe place.
(4) She is loved unconditionally
While I’m crying, I might as well write about this one too. Again, this was something I lacked growing up, and it was something I vowed to give to my daughter. I want my daughter to remember that no matter what, she is always loved. There is nothing she could ever say or do that would change that.
When I am feeling angry at something she said or did, I always make sure to tell her that my feelings of anger do not take away from my love for her. If we have a difficult night and she is giving me a hard time at bedtime, I always make sure to tell her “I love you” as the last thing I say to her for the night. There are many uncertainties in this world, but my love for her is not one of them.
I have no doubt that the conflicts between my daughter and I will only intensify as she hits puberty and teenage years. I want my daughter to remember that no matter our disagreements or frustrations, my love for her is unwavering.
(5) Our bedtime routine
I have put her to bed almost every night since she was born. I want my daughter to remember that our bedtime routines have changed with age, but we always have one. When she was younger I would rock her in the rocking chair and sing her lullabies. Now, I read her the next chapter from whatever book we’re currently reading, kiss her stuffed animals, and then we kiss each other’s hands and forehead. We always say our bedtime prayers and “I love you.”
(6) WE DID THINGS JUST THE TWO OF US
We have a secret handshake, we like to snuggle together in the bed and talk about our day, and we listen to yoga music and put our legs up on the wall for ten minutes (it’s very good for relaxation). We also take walks around the block when it is nice weather, and we will stop and look at the lawns, the flowers, and the house on our block that frequently changes its outside décor. While walking we also like to play a game. We quote a line from a book we’ve read together, and the other one has to guess what book the line came from. I want her to remember all those little things that we did, and that they were special because we did them together.
My hope is that she looks back fondly upon this time. For example, during lunchtime I sometimes take out a blanket and spread it on the living room floor so we can have a “picnic lunch.” I made up a funny song when she couldn’t remember the definition of “antonym”, “synonym”, and “homonym.” To reinforce what she’s learned in math, sometimes I’ll set up chairs around the blackboard and she gets to be the math teacher for me and her stuffed animals. She gets to take frequent breaks and jump around and “shake out her wiggles”. When she feels like she isn’t able to figure something out, I show her another way of learning it. Sometimes it clicks and sometimes it takes days or even weeks, but I want her to remember that learning differently does not mean she can’t learn. The sky is the limit for her.
(8) Our family traditions
I want my daughter to remember the hearts taped on her door on Valentine’s Day, the balloons with little notes stuck inside them on her birthday, and the decorations all over the walls. I hope she remembers how we would change the décor in the house for every season, and how she would help me put the old décor away and set up the current ones. When she grows up, I hope she remembers how we all (me, my husband, and my daughter) sat down together every night at dinner and talked about our days. I want her to remember how we had movie nights with popcorn, how we snuggled under blankets and lit a fire when it was cold outside, and how we drank hot cocoa with marshmallows.
(9) Our Jewish traditions
I want my daughter to remember the role that Judaism played in our lives. Some of these traditions include how we lit candles every Friday night for the Sabbath and had a special dinner. We played dreidel and ate potato pancakes on Hanukkah, we sang our hearts out when we had our Passover Seders, and we said our prayers every night before bed and prayed every Sabbath. I hope she continues to have a love of Judaism and her faith helps her throughout her life.
(10) Cooking together
I want my daughter to remember all the times we spent cooking together. Whether it was making granola, preparing a special meal for Daddy’s birthday, or making cookies, we each wore our aprons as we cooked together. I taught myself to cook, and it was important to me to teach her how to cook. She has sensory issues and didn’t like her hands to get sticky. When cooking she had to put her hands into the ingredients at times to mix (e.g., granola mix). As a result, she now doesn’t have that problem. We always have fun together in the kitchen, although she is never a fan of the cleaning up part! My hope is that my daughter remembers those times.
(11) Being silly together
We have always danced together. When she was a baby, I carried her and danced (and once almost tripped over my pants that were too long!), and as she got older she would hold my hands and dance. Now we crank up the music, shake our booties, and act like complete fools. We also sing together (and not well, may I add) and tell each other jokes. I want my daughter to remember that I wasn’t afraid to be silly and make a fool of myself in the name of fun.
(12) I was her biggest cheerleader
I was fortunate to be able to stay at home so I could witness all her firsts (e.g., first smile, laugh, sitting up, crawling, walking, etc). When she went to school, I attended every school event, volunteered in the classroom whenever there was an opportunity, never missed a Friday school service, and literally cried the one time I didn’t know the school invited parents to participate and therefore I wasn’t there.
When she took dance class I watched on their TV every class she took, watched on the bleachers every gymnastics class, and cheered every soccer game she played. I taped every time she received a new taekwondo belt and clapped (probably a little too loudly, but I clapped for all the other kids too). I want her to remember that I was her biggest cheerleader and supported her every hobby and passion. Most of all, I was so proud of her for trying, regardless of the outcome.
(13) I was her biggest advocate
I want my daughter to remember that I was her biggest advocate. When her kindergarten teachers suggested that she wasn’t capable of doing the work the other kids were doing, I wouldn’t hear of it. I took a home video of her doing the very work they claimed she couldn’t learn. After my meeting with the principal consisted of him checking emails instead of listening to my concerns about my daughter’s lack of support, I pulled her out of the school.
I found out she could get an Individualized Education Program (IEP) through the local public school. I emailed and fought with the support team to get an initial meeting and subsequent evaluation. Then I did intensive research and made sure they tested her on all areas of concern that I had. When it was time to write up the IEP and they showed up with all of two goals, I spend the next two weeks coming up with all the goals and recommendations that she needed. They are now in the IEP.
I have kept the door open to her returning to school. We are looking into private schools, but I will not send her anywhere until I know that the school will implement the IEP completely and will give her the support she needs too thrive.
(14) I made mistakes and I owned up to them
I actually want my daughter to remember that I am not perfect. I want her to know that when she grows up it is okay and normal to not have it all figured out. Motherhood isn’t a walk in the park, and I won’t always say and do the right things. I also want her to know the importance of taking responsibility for your mistakes, and that there is no shame in saying you are sorry. She may be my child, but she deserves an apology no matter her age. In doing so, I hope she will understand and remember that I did my best and was always willing to admit wrongdoing.
(15) It is okay to not be okay
I do not discuss my adult problems with my child. However, I want my child to remember that it is normal and healthy to not always be okay. I have tried to teach her healthy coping mechanisms and ways to work through her feelings. In addition, I model for her that it is crucial to allow yourself space to feel whatever you are feeling. I want my daughter to remember that I encouraged her to talk about how she was feeling and not bury those feelings. My hope is that she also remembers the importance of honoring those feelings instead of judging herself for them.
(16) I took my role as mom seriously
It is my job to guide and teach my daughter. From the time she was born, I have taught her through play things such as language, numbers, writing, and reading. Even more importantly, I teach her the importance of being a good person. I want my daughter to remember that my priority was to teach her morals and values, not to be her buddy. We have fun together and I love spending time with her, but I am her parent. It is up to me to let her know that she should be picking up her toys, taking her schoolwork seriously, and showing respect and gratitude. I want my daughter to remember how seriously I took the role of being her mom.
Part of my job is to encourage her to believe in herself. My daughter struggles with playing independently. I have encouraged her to be her own friend and figure out ways she can enjoy her own company. Although I am her source of safety and comfort, it is also my job to teach her to be her own source of safety and comfort too. She needs to love herself, and I am not a replacement for that.
(17) I encouraged her to be her best self
As a recovering perfectionist, I am very mindful of not instilling a perfectionistic mentality into my daughter. I want my daughter to remember that I encouraged her to always try her best, but I did not compare her to others. I want her to always strive for growth and to be the best version of herself that she can be. That said, perfection is not a goal nor an option.
(18) We always Read together
From the day she was born, I have read to my daughter. Now that my daughter is older, she reads to me as well or we rotate reading pages to each other. I still make sure to read to her every night. She is an avid reader, and I want my daughter to remember all the wonderful memories surrounding reading together.
(19) She could tell me anything
I want my daughter to remember our talks. When something was on her mind, she would often tell me she wanted to have a “meeting”. We would go into my room, sit on my bed, and she would tell me what was on her mind. I tried my best to offer comfort, advice, or just listen, depending on what she needed. I may not have always gotten it right, but I tried. As she gets older, it is important to me that my daughter knows that she can always come to me. There may be times when I feel it is important to state my opinion because I want her to make informed decisions. Regardless of her life choices, I will always be there for her and try my best to support her.
(20) Life is what you make of it, and it is often unfair
I want my daughter to know that life will knock her down. It is up to her if it keeps her down. My daughter doesn’t know any specific details of my childhood now, but one day I will tell her. I want her to know that despite my struggles I kept trying.
She knows she has difficulty concentrating and has difficulty controlling her impulses. When she asked me why some things are harder for her, I told her that life is often unfair and there isn’t always a good answer. I want her to remember that I always encouraged her to play the cards she was dealt. Most of all, I want her to know that her mother was a fighter, and that she is a fighter too.
I am sure I will add to this list as my daughter gets older. My greatest wish is that above all, she remembers and believes that I was a good role model. I hope she looks fondly on her childhood and wants to instill the same kinds of memories with her children. One thing she will never have to remember, though, is how deeply and fiercely she is loved.
I was asked by a reader named Sarah to write a post about life through my eyes. Although I welcome suggestions, this topic is one of the hardest ones I’ve ever had to tackle. I have written many posts about my struggles, but describing what life feels like for me is incredibly difficult to articulate.
I am very much an enigma. Although I have self-awareness up the wazoo, implementing that self-awareness is challenging. I have a strong sense of who I am, but I still struggle with codependent tendencies and seeking validation from others. My personality is one of an advocate (INJF), and I will vehemently stand up for what I believe in. However, I am incredibly sensitive, and my feelings are easily hurt. I know I am strong because I have survived a lifetime of abuse and trauma, but I still feel weak.
The truth is, we are all comprised of a series of contradictions. Our lives and experiences have formed and shaped our way of perceiving the world. For many of us, we are our own worst enemies. We go into the ring with the sense of self that knows better versus the self that is consumed with pain. Life through my eyes has been that constant internal battle.
LIFE THROUGH MY EYES
I spent my childhood in survival mode. As a victim of emotional and psychological child abuse and severe neglect, I grew up having no sense of safety or stability. I did not know what if felt like to be loved unconditionally. I was extremely codependent on my mother, who was my abuser. It was engrained into me that I was worthless, helpless, and incapable. Nothing I did was good enough to make my mother love me, so I concluded that I was broken and unlovable.
This way of thinking was the voice of my inner child, and that way of thinking never went away. Our inner child is the child within all of us. It is based on the thoughts and experiences that took place during your childhood, pre-puberty. Every single one of us has an inner child. Your childhood will determine the perspectives, needs, and thoughts of your inner child. Due to my trauma and abandonment issues, my inner child views the world through a lens of fear, loneliness, and terror.
For a very long time, my inner child was my primary sense of self.
It was hard for me to detangle who my inner child was versus who I was as an adult because my way of thinking never changed. As an adult, I still saw the world through her eyes. As someone with C-PTSD and anxiety that is often debilitating, I still felt like a helpless, scared and fearful girl.
LIFE THROUGH MY EYES: MY ADULT SELF VERSUS MY INNER CHILD
Since I couldn’t save myself as child, I believed I could not save myself as an adult. I jumped from relationship to relationship, wanting the person to “save me”. I felt that I was not whole and could never be whole due to the damage done to me. However, I thought that if someone finally loved me, it could fill that void. The truth is that that void can never be filled by another person, and I kept experiencing that painful truth time after time and relationship after relationship. I was like a parasite by creating a sense of self and wholeness from another person. When the relationship would end, I crumbled along with it.
When my husband started abusing alcohol during my pregnancy, my inner child was up front and center. The man I had chosen to start a family with, the man who was supposed to love me, was not someone I could count on. I was alone again, but this time, I was about to bring a living being into the world.
How could I be a mother on my own when I still felt so very much like a helpless child?
My husband turned to pills soon after he stopped using alcohol. He spent the first four years of my daughter’s life MIA emotionally. Even after he became sober, he struggled to use healthy coping mechanisms to deal with his pain and to communicate his feelings. Meanwhile, I had a daughter who depended on me. I promised myself as a child that the cycle of abuse would stop with me. Therefore, I knew I had to stop viewing myself as that lost little girl. After years of being abandoned by my mother, I came to the realization that I was guilty of abandoning my inner child as well in adulthood. I had to give myself the support and love that I hadn’t received as a child.
I now had my own little girl, and her safety and well-being were my responsibility.
Having my daughter helped me a long way towards realizing that I had a sense of self separate from my inner child. It was my job to take care of my daughter and step-up as an adult. In doing so, I learned that I could stand on my own two feet. I had an obligation to teach my child that she is in control of her life and that happiness is in her own hands. Therefore, I had to start practicing what I preach.
I still vacillate between seeing life through the eyes of my inner child and the eyes of a woman who is a survivor. There are instances when I am triggered, resulting in me lashing out and feeling out of control. I know in those situations that that scared little girl within me feels frightened and scared, and that my inner child is reacting out of fear and feeling unsafe. I know my inner child is in survival mode because she had no choice but to do that growing up.
However, I am learning that through recognizing the needs of my inner child, I am showing her that she is safe.
By listening to her and honoring her feelings, I am giving her the love she needs. She isn’t being abused anymore. She isn’t in danger anymore. There is an adult who can care for her, love her, and make sure that she is protected. After years of looking for someone to rescue me and my inner child, I am learning that I am the person that needs to proudly take ownership of that role. I am my inner child’s source of safety and support. It isn’t easy to stare your pain and your past in the face, but I now know that my inner child deserves to be loved. I now know I deserve to be loved too.
I am by no means “healed”, and truth be told, I don’t I don’t think anyone is ever fully healed.
We all have wounds and bruises. Some are merely knacks, whereas others are deep. Some are physical in nature, and others are invisible, but oh, so potent. We are all damaged, but being damaged does not mean that we are broken.
Living life through my eyes means that I will always struggle with anxiety. After being thrown out of my house from the time I was 8, I am very much shaped by the message etched into the recesses of my being that the outside world is a scary place. Although I am aware of why I feel that way, it doesn’t change those feelings.
As a result, I feel fear doing things on my own.
I feel tremendous anxiety making phone calls, going on errands, and even going to a doctor’s appointment for a check-up. Additionally, I do not drive on the highway and will try to drive somewhere in advance to make sure I know where I am going. I also have social anxiety.
That said, I have driven without practicing in advance when it is last minute, I have taken my incredibly hyperactive daughter on errands, and I have had in-depth phone calls with my daughter’s pediatrician. Although I don’t think my fears will ever go away, I still try to face them. I will fight to be the best version of myself until the day I die.
I used to feel a lot of shame about my anxiety, and most people don’t know the extent of it. Outside of my husband and my immediate family, nobody knows that I have debilitating anxiety. However, I spent too many years feeling shame about those feelings and judging myself for it. I now know that my anxiety is a by-product of my abuse, but anxiety doesn’t define me.
I spent too many years staying in inner-child mode, instead of incorporating her into my life.
There will always be someone who will judge me for my struggles. They won’t understand why a grown woman has these difficulties. However, I also know that I am a warrior for getting up every single day and fighting. It is a daily internal fight to not allow my fears to define me. I fight daily to be the best mom, wife, and person I can be. I also fight daily to not let my past control my present and future.
There will always be things that others do easily that are incredibly difficult for me. I now accept that. However, I am determined to show my daughter that bravery isn’t measured by success, but in having the courage to face your fears and keep trying. It is a lesson I have to remember and implement every single day.
MY BALANCING ACT
I now try to view life with a balance between grown-up Randi and inner-child Randi. My inner child will always be a part of who I am, but she isn’t all of me. I learned that it is not okay to stay trapped in the past, but I need to honor the feelings of my inner child and hold space for her. I am proud of my inner child, and I remind her of that daily.
My inner child is here to stay, and I now embrace her.
I am able to see the world through her eyes, while also noting when it is time for me to remind her that it is my job to step-in and protect her. I didn’t get the love I needed as a child, and there is nothing I can do to change that. However, I can now give that love to myself and to my inner child. I keep that knowledge in my mind and in my heart as I view the world and my life through both pair of eyes.
Our job as parents is to support and guide our children through life. That is no easy task. We are constantly questioning what is best for our children. However, despite our best intentions, there are times when we do not follow the golden rule of treating our children like we would like to be treated. This is where the hypocrisy of parenting comes in.
I believe that we are all guilty of unintentional hypocrisy. We may send mixed messages, ignore our child’s opinions, or have a separate set of rules for ourselves than our children. These actions can make children feel confused and unsure of how they should act in the world.
Before I go any further, I want you to know that this is something that every parent does.
I am by no means trying to make anyone feel badly about themselves or their parenting skills. Parenting is hard enough as it is. We are often consumed with guilt, which only gets amplified because of a world that often shames our choices. That said, we can always strive to learn and grow as parents. My hope is that this article brings awareness to allow some room for growth. No mom shaming is being written by me. Ever.
I am guilty of many (if not all) of the examples written below. With that said, our children are very much aware of the double standards that we set for ourselves and for them. We will always make mistakes as parents, but my hope is that we can learn from those mistakes, while giving ourselves compassion.
The Hypocrisy of Parenting: 8 Confusing Messages We Send Children
(1) Kids aren’t allowed to have bad moods.
There isn’t a person on the planet who hasn’t had a bad day. Sometimes there is no explanation. Other times it is situational. It may be that we didn’t get enough sleep the night before. Our boss was unfair to us. Our spouse didn’t appreciate the effort we put into cleaning the house. A person stole our parking spot. We all feel cranky sometimes. Sometimes it just has to run its course.
Children are no different. They will experience bad moods, frustration, crankiness, and/or acting ornery. This is where the hypocrisy of parenting comes in. We expect others to show us compassion and empathy when we are feeling “off” or when we had a bad day. Yet when kids get cranky, we usually tell our children to stop. We inform them that it isn’t okay to be grumpy. If there is a cause, we may try to help our children through it, but eventually we will reach a point where we tell our kids that enough is enough. We are not going to put up with their attitude.
Just as we need to sometimes ride the wave of whatever it is we are feeling, so do our kids. Kids are allowed to have bad moods and bad days, just like us. The hypocrisy of parenting is when we don’t give our children space to feel that way.
(2) WE INSIST OUR CHILDREN CLEAR THEIR PLATE WHEN THEY SAY THEY ARE FULL
As adults, we are able to stop eating when we feel full. Yet there have been many times my daughter says she is full, and I insist she eats everything before getting up from the table.
I understand that some kids will claim they are full as a tactic to skip dinner and go straight to dessert. That is a different story. However, if a child insists they are full and doesn’t want any more food (dessert or otherwise), why do we tell them they need to keep eating?
It is important to keep in mind that not allowing kids to make these types of decisions can lead to problems in adulthood. In fact, this hypocrisy of parenting can lead to obesity for children when they get older because they develop an inability to control their apatite properly (dailymail.co.uk, 2020) .
(3) We don’t try to understand why our kids are acting out of control.
It is often difficult for kids to express themselves. As a result, children are prone to temper tantrums due to the frustration of being unable to articulate their feelings. They also lack the skills to emotionally regulate themselves. If you think about it from their perspective, wouldn’t you get out of control if were unable to explain how you were feeling? Heck, many adults struggle with expressing their emotions.
Temper tantrums are grating on even the most patient of people. However, if we take the time to understand WHY our toddlers are throwing a tantrum, it can make it easier for both parents and children. Instead of trying to get our children to stop, what if we took a moment to take a deep breath, and tried to understand what the cause was of the tantrum? Perhaps it was exhaustion. Perhaps they felt frustrated because they lost their favorite toy. Whatever the reason, young children or children who have difficult expressing themselves have the same feelings as we do- they want to feel understood.
The hypocrisy of parenting takes place when we don’t take the time to understand why our kids are acting out. As grown-ups, if we get extremely frustrated, we want empathy. We want the people we care about to take the time to understand why we are feeling triggered. In fact, a huge part of marriage is taking the time to understand our partner’s triggers and hold space for them. Even if we don’t agree with why someone is acting a certain way, we do our best to respect their feelings. Children deserve the same treatment.
(4) We rush to judgment.
I get angry when I feel judged. I am sure you do too. We all deserve the opportunity to be heard. Children deserve that opportunity as well.
Raise your hand if you have gotten mad at your kid for doing something without giving them an opportunity to explain themselves. I’m raising my hand too. What if we didn’t rush to judgment and saw if there was a reason for those actions? We are guilty of the hypocrisy of parenting when we jump to conclusions, but we don’t want others to rush to judgment about us.
Again, if your child is doing something outright dangerous or inappropriate, I am by no means advocating that behavior. What I am suggesting is that we are often black and white with our children. There is right and wrong, but we forget that sometimes we need to allow a little bit of grey. Before we jump in to correct or critique our child, perhaps we can give them some space to explain things from their perspective.
I remember a particular time I was guilty of this.
My daughter is not allowed to use paint without permission. I came into the play room and found my daughter painting. I felt my blood boiling that she disobeyed a rule. She was told to immediately put away the paint. After giving me me the saddest look, she put it away and walked into her room. She said nothing.
A few minutes later she came back downstairs. My daughter was crying and told me that she wanted to surprise me with a special picture on a canvas. She tried markers first, but it didn’t look good. She knew she was supposed to ask permission to use the paint, but she couldn’t because then it would ruin the surprise. Let’s just say that I felt like something that should be scraped off the bottom of a shoe after she explained herself.
Did she break a rule? Yes. However, I was quick to rush to judgment and assume she was being defiant. She had very sweet intentions, but I was quick to make assumptions. Had I given her the opportunity to explain herself, I would have handled the situation differently. I would want the chance to explain myself, and she deserved the same.
(5) We don’t let our children openly speak their minds.
As adults, we are supposed to use our voice and be our own greatest advocate. We are guilty of hypocritical parenting when we expect our kids to blindly follow what they are told.
I want to stress that there is a line between arguing/debating versus giving your child a chance to share their perspective. Some things are absolutely non-negotiable in life for all of us. However, as long as a child is being respectful, I believe we should encourage our kids to speak their minds. I think teaching our kids to blindly follow anyone of authority is a very dangerous and slippery slope. If we don’t allow our kids to speak up now, how can we expect them to use their voice as adults or if they are in a compromising situation?
I went to a private school that served pizza on Fridays. In third grade, I realized that they were giving us extremely small slices, yet charging us regular price. Although the people doing this were in a position of authority, I felt what was going on was wrong. I decided to start a petition that we should receive bigger slices. Unfortunately the school did not comply with my request, but I was proud of myself for standing up for what I believed in and taking a stand. Even though I was a child, I felt (and still do) that I should speak my mind.
There have been several times when I have said something to my daughter and she has suggested or said something that changed my perspective. There are other times when I will listen, but tell her that I am standing by my decision. I want her to know that I care about her opinion, while understanding that giving her a voice doesn’t mean that she dictates how I parent.
(6) We expect our children to immediately drop what they are doing for us.
I do not like to wait for my daughter. When I tell her she should get off of her iPad, finish an activity, etc. I expect her to immediately comply. However, I am absolutely guilty of hypocritical parenting because if my daughter wants my attention, I will usually tell her she has to wait for me.
I’ll take it one step further. When my daughter tries to get me to stop what I’m doing, I will get angry at her for demanding. I am in the middle of something, and I expect her to be patient and wait. So why do I not allow the same for her?
What I’ve started doing is giving her notice that I’d like her to finish up what she is doing. Obviously if there is an urgent matter, she is expected to stop immediately (just as I would do under the same circumstances). Otherwise, I let her know in advance and will give her ten minute, five minute, and one minute notice. Similarly, I will typically ask for ten minutes to finish something up. If either one of us need more time, we let the other one know.
(7) We Don’t Let our children make their own decisions.
For example, many of us enroll our kids in extra-curricular activities. Have you ever enrolled your child in an activity without asking your kid which one they’d prefer to do?
I had a neighbor who loved baseball. He told me he dreamt of being a professional baseball player, but he wasn’t good enough. From the time his sons were young I would watch him practicing with his sons in the street. I remember one day commenting to the older son that he must really love baseball. His response was, “Not that much, but my dad really does”.
Some of us are guilty of thinking that just because we like something, we think that our children should feel the same way. We forget that our children are their own individuals with their own likes and dislikes. Just because our dream was to be a doctor, doesn’t mean our children are going to be doctors. We should not project our hobbies and aspirations onto our children.
(8) we trivialize their feelings.
If something is important to me, I want my opinions and feelings to be acknowledged. However, if we feel our kids are upset about something that we deem “silly”, we will often minimize their feelings and say it isn’t a big deal.
We need to remember that kids deserve respect too. They deserve to have their feelings validated no matter what. We sometimes fall into the hypocrisy of parenting when we feel our kids are blowing something out of proportion, so we tell them to let it go. Our kids deserve to feel that it is safe and encouraged to express their feelings no matter what. We may think they are blowing things out of proportion, but we have no right to tell our kids how to feel. I know I wouldn’t want to be told my feelings were silly.
The hypocrisy of parenting is something we all are guilty of doing. So often, we do not treat our children the way we would want to be treated. We must stop holding our children to a higher standard than we can attain ourselves.
How can you tell if someone is a narcissist? Narcissism is a topic that comes up quite frequently. It seems that everybody knows a person they’ve deemed a “narcissist”. That word is commonly used to describe a person with an inflated ego whose focus is often on themselves and their own well-being.
CRITERIA TO TELL IF SOMEONE IS A NARCISSIST
Unfortunately, the term of being a narcissist gets thrown around often and sometimes recklessly. True narcissism goes way beyond someone monopolizing the conversation at dinner. It causes someone to have an extremely inflated sense of self-importance, a pattern of self-centered, arrogant thinking and behavior, and a lack of empathy and consideration for other people.
It is not easy to tell if someone is a narcissist. However, there is a criteria to determine if a person actually has Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD). According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), a person has NPD if they exhibit five of the following criteria (ncbi, 2020):
Has a grandiose sense of self-importance (e.g., exaggerates achievements, expects to be recognized as superior without actually completing the achievements).
Is preoccupied with fantasies of success, power, brilliance, beauty, or perfect love.
Believes that they are “special” and can only be understood by or should associate with other special people (or institutions).
Requires excessive admiration.
Has a sense of entitlement, such as an unreasonable expectation of favorable treatment or compliance with his or her expectations.
Is exploitative and takes advantage of others to achieve their own ends.
Lacks empathy and is unwilling to identify with the needs of others.
Is often envious of others or believes that others are envious of them.
Shows arrogant, haughty behaviors and attitudes.
NPD usually develops either in adolescence or in early adulthood. It is very common for children and adolescents to display personality traits that resemble NPD, but such occurrences are fleeting and register well below the clinical criteria for a formal diagnosis of NPD. True symptoms of NPD are apparent in many different social situations and are extremely consistent over a period of time (psycom.net, 2021)
The 4 Different Types of Narcissism
Narcissists are very charming and charismatic. Therefore, it is very easy to develop a relationship with one unknowingly. For purposes of deeper clarity, there is research that labels narcissists with different types and subtypes. The DSM-5 doesn’t group narcissism into different types, but some experts classify narcissists into four different groups:
This is typically what we think of when a person is described as a narcissist. These people perceive themselves as superior to others. Grandiose narcissists are extremely entitled and expect special treatment. They are desperate to maintain this illusion of grandiosity and will do anything to maintain their perception in the eyes of others. They display arrogant behavior.
This type of narcissism is hard to spot, because it is more subtle and less recognized. With that said, it may be the most common types in younger generations (Millennials, Gen Z and Gen alpha) (psychologytoday, 2020). Vulnerable narcissists feel constantly victimized because they believe they are superior and the world fails to recognize their superiority. They prefer to receive attention from selected people rather than be the center of attention. Vulnerable narcissists often suffer from child abandonment issues and because of that they tend to exhibit codependent behavior. They will also pretend to be selfless to get the admiration of others.
Communal narcissists get their validation from helping different groups of people (e.g., charities). They get involved to feel needed, and they want to be liked and appreciated. However, their intentions are impure. They do good deeds to receive validation as opposed to caring for others.
Malignant narcissism refers to a very specific, but less common version of NPD. This is considered the most severe type and the one to cause the most harm to others. They are highly manipulative and will exploit others with no remorse. The symptoms of malignant narcissism overlap with antisocial personality disorder (APD). To be considered a malignant narcissist, those individuals need to be diagnosed with both features of NPD and APD (verywellmind, 2019).
Malignant narcissists are paranoid and are sadistic while taking pleasure in the pain of others. Sociopaths are an example of malignant narcissists, and they are very hard to spot. These individuals believe they are exempt from normal societal rules and are cold and calculating, which often makes them very dangerous.
The Toxic Subtypes of Narcissistic Personality Disorder
Falling under each type of narcissism are two subtypes that classify how these traits appear to others dealing with a narcissist.
Overt vs. Covert
Overt narcissism is what we think of when we imagine the typical narcissist. They are usually the most confident and arrogant person in the room. Overt narcissists dominate the conversation and bask in the attention that they receive. They demand admiration and charm their way through life with false intimacy to those they want to impress. Overt narcissists are prone to rages way beyond normal anger, and they may ridicule and mock others. Grandiose and communal narcissists will always be overt (psychologicalhealingcenter.com, 2020).
On the other hand, the needs of a covert narcissist are much less obvious. A person with covert narcissism might come across as shy and withdrawn. Covert narcissists are still self-absorbed and believe that they are better than everyone around them.
Since covert narcissists believe they are superior to others, they may avoid situations or tasks that they feel are beneath them and challenge their sense of superiority. They are hypersensitive to criticism and will become defensive very easily. They can act in a vindictive or passive-aggressive way if they feel slighted by another person. Additionally, they have delusions of victimization and may cry on cue to manipulate others, as well as stage a crisis to gain attention. These individuals typically have a long history of depression and anxiety and are likely to experience other personality disorders, such as borderline personality disorder (medicalnewstoday.com, 2020). Vulnerable narcissists will always be covert, while malignant narcissists can either be overt or covert.
Somatic vs. Cerebral
Narcissists as a whole are either somatic or cerebral. In other words, they feel superior based on their bodies or their minds.
Somatic narcissists obsess over food, weight and their appearance. They will spend a lot of time talking about activities like going to the gym and dieting. Somatic narcissists are very sexually active. Since they gain their self-esteem from sex, they have a very hard time remaining faithful in their relationships. They can’t stand criticism, but will constantly criticize others based on their appearance (mindbodygreen.com, 2020).
Cerebral narcissism is found in a person who feels superior based on their intelligence. They want to be the center of attention and need to feel smarter than everyone else. They have a vast array of knowledge and tell stories (either real or make believe) that illustrates how smart they are. Also, they will point out others’ failures, and will often show a great amount of hatred and disdain for those people they feel are not as smart as they are.
Like somatic narcissists, cerebral narcissists enjoy having power over others. However, they gain that power with their mind rather than their body and charm. Since cerebral narcissists derive their self-esteem through intellect, they often lack an interest in sex. Therefore, they can remain faithful and be in romantic long-term relationships (thenarcissisticlife.com, 2019).
My Relationship with Narcissistic Personality Disorder
As I mentioned earlier, it is very hard to tell if someone is a narcissist. With that said, a relationship with one is usually very damaging to your mental health and self-esteem.
I spoke HERE about the relationship I had with my mother. She meets the official criteria for having NPD. I tried to (unsuccessfully) have a healthy relationship with her. Throughout my childhood and most of adulthood, I tried very hard to gain her love and approval. It took years to learn that this was an impossible task. I realized that if a person is unable to have empathy or recognize that their actions are unacceptable (in my case, abusive), that person cannot meet your needs and/or respect your feelings and boundaries. As a result, I went no contact with my mom 3 years ago.
Over the past 3 years she has sent me several emails. She has never acknowledged or admitted fault for the hurt she caused me. All she talks about is the perceived wrongs done to her, and how I am at fault by not allowing her to see her granddaughter. She has no empathy for the pain and abuse that she inflicted upon me or my child. Each email speaks about herself and her delusions of trying to do the right thing by emailing.
It is a hard pill to swallow that your own mother does not love you and care about your feelings.
I now understand that narcissists are not capable of admitting they have done anything wrong. They are also completely unable to show compassion for the hurt and pain they cause other people. It is that knowledge that has helped me to realize that my mother’s actions are not a reflection of me. I used to think it was my fault that she didn’t care about me and treated me so terribly. I now understand that narcissists are experts at making others feel they are to blame for the pain they cause.
SIGNS AND BEHAVIORS TO TELL IF SOMEONE IS A NARCISSIST
Narcissists don’t have many long-term friends. If you are in a relationship with a narcissist, they will lash out if you want to hang out with your friends because it damages their fragile ego and sense of self.
Another agonizing aspect of being in a relationship with a narcissist is that they think they are right about everything.
They will never admit wrongdoing and will never apologize. You can’t debate or compromise with them. Therefore, it is important to avoid negotiation and arguments with them. Narcissists love being in control.
People with NPD value themselves over others, and will typically disregard the wishes and feelings of anyone else. They expect to be treated as superior, regardless of their actual status or personal achievements.
Narcissists are very charming and will do almost anything to get what they want. That is one of the many reasons why it is difficult to tell if someone is a narcissist. Narcissists think that they deserve to be with other people who are special, and that special people are the only ones that can appreciate them. With that said, once you do something that disappoints them, they will turn on you. It can be subtle at first, but over time you will start doubting yourself more and more. This will often cause you to feel like you aren’t good enough and can’t do anything right to make the other person happy. Your self-esteem will begin to strip away, and you will often walk on eggshells in order to try to appease the person.
It is extremely difficult to tell if you are in a relationship with is a narcissist because of all the manipulation and gaslighting.
The most popular tactic used by every type of narcissist is gaslighting. Gaslighting is a manipulation tactic that makes victims question their perception of reality. Their behavior turns your world upside down so much that you no longer know what to believe. Narcissists are typically emotionally abusive and cannot have a healthy relationship with others. This includes romantic and non-romantic relationships.
Do not hesitate to reach out to a professional to tell if someone is a narcissist (healthline.com, 2019). When you’re in the middle of a relationship with a narcissist, few things make sense and your world is never stable. You will not feel supported or validated by a narcissist. Therefore, seeking outside help and support is the best way to deal with being in any type of relationship with a narcissist.
I understand how difficult it is to walk away from a narcissist. However, I am proof that ending a relationship with a narcissist is possible. Remember to value your well-being and happiness. If a person disregards your feelings, ignores your boundaries, makes you feel badly about yourself, and doesn’t prioritize you, it is necessary to walk away. It might be difficult at first, but loving yourself means removing toxic people from your life.
Fights. Conflict. Arguing. Words that make most of us incredibly uncomfortable. However, fighting is inevitable in all relationships. The key is to figure out how to have a healthy fight instead of an unhealthy fight. For purposes of this article, healthy fighting is synonymous with constructive fighting and healthy conflict. If conflict is part of any relationship, it is crucial to learn how to have a healthy fight.
Ways To Have Constructive Conflicts In A Healthy Relationship
(1) Mindfulness and taking a pause
Healthy fighting is about addressing a problem together. Even when two people have strong opinions, the key is learning to respond instead of react. This is a crucial way to fight productively.
I will admit that my husband and I are both hotheads. As a result, what may initially be a simple discussion turns into a trigger-fest, with each one of us reacting to what the other one is saying. Instead of addressing the problem, it turns into a bigger argument.
I know we are not the only ones who often react first and then think later. Luckily, there is a solution that enables healthy fighting between couples. It involves mindfulness. This means paying attention to the physiological reactions going on in your body (blood pressure rising, heart racing, surge of adrenaline) that take place when you start to feel emotionally charged. If you learn to notice those reactions once they start, you can prevent them from going any further.
Practicing pausing before reacting is how couples have a healthy fight. Once you recognize that you are starting to react, STOP. Take a breath. Don’t say a word. Instead, put a hand up to indicate you need a break or determine in advance a signal you will use when you need to stop. Walk away if needed. If you stop as soon as you feel a reaction, it will prevent you from verbally reacting. It will also take less time to calm down. Once you react and fall down the rabbit hole, it is much harder to get out of it.
Mindfulness and pausing is not something that you can learn to do overnight. If you typically react rather than respond, work on listening to your body’s signals and get better equipped at noticing them. Over time, you will be able to take that much needed pause.
(2) Showing empathy and give validation
When you are fighting, are you trying to understand the feelings of your partner? You do not have to have the same opinion as your partner to show empathy. Validating someone’s feelings is a huge part of healthy fighting. Ultimately, each person in a relationship wants to feel heard.
You don’t need to agree with what someone is saying, as long as you can recognize that their way of experiencing things doesn’t have to be the same as yours to make it valid. Ways of validation can be non-verbal, such as leaning forward when the person is speaking, making eye contact, and nodding.
We can each have our own unique feelings. No matter how we feel, those feelings deserve acknowledgment, respect, and validation. When there is a desire to understand your partner’s way of thinking and feeling, this is healthy fighting in a relationship.
(3) Focus on the issue at hand
It is easy to turn one argument into a rehashing of all of your issues in the relationship or with that person. That will only make the argument turn into a blame game. Instead, have healthy conflict by sticking to the particular topic.
(4) Know when to hold them and when to fold them
Sometimes there is not an easy resolution to a problem. If you feel like you are going in circles with no end in sight, put a pin in it. That will give both of you time to think over what the other one was saying, and to try to gain some clarity and additional perspective. Decide in advance when you will revisit this topic so it doesn’t get swept under the rug. Constructive fighting means knowing when to stop before it turns into destructive fighting.
(5) A mutual desire to reach a resolution
Healthy fighting between couples means that both people approach the conflict wanting to repair a problem. Figuring out a solution isn’t as important as each person having a genuine desire to resolve the issue. You may not be able to reach a resolution, but it is a constructive fight if both are approaching it from a healthy mindset.
(6) How you express your feelings
If you talk about your feelings in terms of how YOU are affected by a situation or the other person, that is a much healthier way of fighting. Try to use “I feel” rather than “You did” when fighting. Make it about yourself instead of speaking for the other person or criticizing them.
(7) Wanting to communicate
Healthy relationships understand that fighting is par for the course. It is better to get your feelings out in the open and address your concerns rather than bury your feelings or pretend that everything is okay. Communication is key in every relationship, and it is necessary to communicate even if it will cause a fight. Your partner isn’t a mind-reader, so you need to be upfront and honest about what is on your mind.
Be as specific as you can about your concerns and when brainstorming solutions. Sometimes, there is a pattern to your conflicts. By being as specific as you can about your feelings, you may discover what is the true root of the problem. Open and honest communication in every aspect of the conflict enables constructive and healthy fighting.
(8) Be a team
Conflict between couples is healthy when both people understand that the ultimate goal is to work together. Remember that if one loses, the both of you lose. It is necessary to be a team rather than keep a running tally of who is right and who is wrong.
(9) Give each person time to talk
There are two people in a relationship, and each one is entitled to have a voice when there is a fight. Give each person a chance to speak, and try your best not to interrupt. When one person is finished, then the other person should get the same opportunity to talk. If one person tends to monopolize the conversation, you can determine in advance how much time you each will get and take equal turns speaking. Just as it is important to be a good listener, it is important that you each speak your mind and voice your feelings.
(10) Make Requests
Fighting in a healthy relationship means asking your partner to contribute to a solution or a situation. If you make a request rather than demand or complain, you are approaching the conversation in a productive way.
(11) Ask questions from a curious perspective
When in doubt, ask your partner what they need. If you have any confusion, ask! Ask what will make your partner happy. Ask what they need to feel safe and loved. Lack of proper communication and misunderstanding will cause a conflict to turn into an unhealthy one.
(12) Respect your partner’s boundaries and stick to your own boundaries
When fighting, it is important to stay respectful and honor each other’s boundaries. This could mean setting an alarm because your partner doesn’t want to discuss heated topics after a certain time, or it could means taking a time out for a designated amount of time. Whatever the boundaries may be, discuss these boundaries in advance to ensure that they are implemented on both ends.
Things to Avoid That Can Lead To Destructive Fighting
Ignoring your partner- checking your phone, looking around or any avoidant behavior are all signs of unhealthy conflict.
Criticizing, shaming and demeaning behavior- eye rolling, sighing, or verbally belittling your partner.
Jumping to conclusions- give your partner an opportunity to explain their behavior or circumstances by asking questions rather than throwing accusations.
Beginning a conversation already triggered. Take time to calm down before you discuss anything.
Asking questions to prove the other person is wrong. Only ask questions when wanting to genuinely understand the other one and to work together.
Keeping track of all the things you disagree with while the the other person is speaking.
Walking away in the middle of a conflict with the intention of not addressing the topic again.
Dismissing your partner’s feelings or refusing to acknowledge the validity of your partner’s feelings because you don’t agree with them.
Bringing up topics that cannot be resolved (e.g., took place in the past) or that detracts from the topic at hand.
Bringing up your partner’s deepest secrets and vulnerabilities in the middle of a fight.
Getting increasingly triggered and continuing the conversation.
Avoiding a topic altogether because a resolution wasn’t reached.
We are all unique, with our own set of desires, emotions, and opinions. Two different people and perspectives will eventually result in conflict. If people are open to understanding those differences, arguing can be a source of deeper understanding of one another. Learning to fight in a healthy way will allow for a relationship filled with love, no matter the argument.
Grief is something we have all experienced at some point in our lives. Death is not the only factor that evokes grief and loss. It is important to understand the five stages of the grieving process in order to identify and process your emotions, as well as empathize with others who are grieving.
What Causes Grief, and is there a right way to grieve?
Grief is caused by a variety of circumstances, including the ending of relationships, illnesses, the end of a project or goal, or perceived or real changes in your life. This includes changing schools, locations, or jobs. The pandemic has caused social isolation and tremendous change for all of us.
The truth is, we are ALL grieving in some form right now due to the loss of our old way of life.
“Everyone, from all walks of life and across cultures, experience loss and grief at some point” (psychcentral.com, 2021).
A psychiatrist named Elisabeth Kubler-Ross created the Kubler-Ross model, which is the theory of the 5 stages of grief and loss. These stages were described in her 1969 book, On Death and Dying. Although Elisabeth Kubler-Ross’ model was initially based off of working with terminally ill patients, it has been adapted to include all types of grieving and loss. The five stages of the grieving process are popularly referred to as DABDA.
It is important to note that although she described 5 stages of grief, there is no right or wrong way to grieve. Some people will experience only certain stages of grief, where others might experience all of them. The stages are not linear, so they can be experienced in any order as well. The extent to which you feel emotions and symptoms associated with grief will vary as well. Additionally, the amount of time in which you experience a particular stage and/or grieve in entirety will vary from person to person. In other words, everyone grieves and feels loss differently.
The Five Stages of The Grieving Process
Denial is considered the first stage of grief, as it can initially help you to cope with your loss. It might be hard to fully comprehend and acknowledge. Denial and disbelief is a coping mechanism that allows the impact of the news to not happen all at once. Therefore, denying the news, feeling shocked, and going numb are common symptoms associated with this stage. Typically, this stage is about living in a preferable reality as opposed to the actual reality. Physical symptoms may include nausea, vomiting, increased heart rate, and difficulty sleeping. This stage will end when the feelings that were being buried start to come to the surface (psycom.net, 2020).
Feeling intense anger, frustration, irritation, and anxiety all encompass this stage of grief and loss. Pain from loss may result in feelings of helplessness, which then turns into anger. Those in this stage may feel angry at a person, a higher power, or a general feeling of anger. You might also feel guilty for feeling angry, which will make you feel angrier. It is also common to feel angry at the cause of your loss (webmd.com, 2020).
Pain is the source of this anger and allowing yourself to feel this way is part of the healing process. Pushing your emotions aside will not allow you to grieve. Therefore, it is important to hold space for these feelings.
This stage of grief takes place as a way of holding onto hope and trying to prevent a loss from becoming permanent. There are often feelings of helplessness and desperation. For example, a person may pray that they will be a better person, become more religious, etc. in exchange for sparing the life of a family member who has a terminal illness. You might also feel guilt as you think over if there was something you could have done differently to prevent this situation from taking place (psychcentral.com, 2021). If bargaining and circumstances don’t improve, it may lead the griever to experience denial and pain again.
This is the stage when emotions are very raw as you are fully facing your present reality. You may feel heartbroken, intense sadness and despair, and fully realize the loss. Additional symptoms include feeling overwhelmed, loneliness, hopeless, inability to get out of bed, and not wanting to participate in activities. Physical symptoms during this stage are changes in appetite and sleeping, headaches, stomach aches, fatigue, easily distracted, isolation, and physical pain.
Remember you have people who care about you. Allow others to support you during this difficult time.
During this stage the loss is accepted. That doesn’t mean you are happy about it; however, you accept and acknowledge your new reality. “Acceptance is more about how you acknowledge the losses you’ve experienced, how you learn to live with them, and how you readjust your life accordingly” (psychcentral.com, 2021).
Please note that you will still have bad days and may still experience anger, sadness, feeling heartbroken, etc. You may feel like you have accepted the loss at times and then move to another stage of grieving. Remember that grieving and healing are not stagnant.
Eventually, you will remain in this stage for longer periods of time and move forward with your life. You will figure out a way to live life with this loss. At this point you will start to reach out to friends and families, be more involved in activities, and you will start to feel more hopeful (www.betterhlep.com, 2020 ).
Additional Stages of The Grieving Process
There are current adaptations of the 5 stages of the grieving process. The 7 stages of grief are an extension of the original with overlapping stages ( www.betterhelp.com, 2020). Similarly, there is no order to these stages:
Shock and Denial– feel shock and inability to grasp reality
Guilt and Pain– experience feelings of heartbreak and emotional pain as well as grief
Anger and Bargaining– feel anger and also try to bargain for a different outcome
Depression, Reflection and Loneliness– reflect upon the loss and feel depressed and lonely
The Upward Turn -grief starts to become more manageable and less difficult
Reconstruction and Working Through -start to set realistic solutions and work through changes due to this loss
Acceptance and Hope– accept circumstances and begin to feel a sense of hope about the future
When to Seek Professional Help
If your feelings of depression are getting worse, you have thoughts of harming yourself, or you are turning to drugs or alcohol to numb your feelings, it is important to seek professional help. This can be done in the form of a support group or seeking out a bereavement counselor. Both of these can be sought out online.
Coping Strategies for Loss and Grief
Although you should not rush or force your way through grieving, there are things you can do to help yourself during the grieving process:
Pick something that you feel comfortable doing during this difficult time. Whether it is exercise, mediation, or pursuing a hobby, focus on implementing things that will improve your emotional and mental well-being.
(2) Reach out to others
Do not isolate yourself. Whether it is talking to a friend or joining a support group, do not deal with loss on your own. Speak with others who can empathize or who can offer additional insight and support.
(3) Create small, attainable goals
This enables you to feel a sense of accomplishment and responsibility for your life while allowing you to grieve and process your loss.
(4) Give yourself room to heal
Understand that grieving takes time and moving through your grief is the only way to get passed it.
(5) Avoid harmful behaviors
Do not turn to unhealthy behaviors to deal with your pain.
The Grieving Process
Grief is not a one-size-fits-all process. It is an individual path, and it is one that has no rhyme or reason. There is no valid or correct way to grieve. However, understanding these stages of grief enables you to understand your grieving journey. Allow yourself to mourn in whatever way that you experience your feelings of grief and loss. Recognize and hold space for your emotions, give yourself the support you need, and remember that healing takes time and patience.
I hope this information is helpful and provides you with support. If you know someone who is grieving, remember that the most important thing you can do is to let the person know you are there and willing to listen anytime.