The Benefits of Christian Grief Counseling after Losing a Spouse

There is arguably no harder life change than losing your marriage partner. Whether your spouse died suddenly or after a prolonged illness, you are left in a familiar yet devastated world. Understanding the natural aspects and steps of grieving can be beneficial as you begin the process of living life without your partner.

Acknowledgement of the Loss

The first response to the loss of a loved one is that of thinking, “they really aren’t gone, are they?” As you grieve, you gradually move from this initial response to a more intellectual acceptance that your spouse is gone and they will never return.

This knowledge also becomes your new emotional reality – e.g. when you remember that your partner is no longer there to turn to, or when you expect familiar words, gestures or responses.

Such habits of togetherness only serve as painful reminders of your loss. This explains why some people suffering from the loss of a loved one reportedly “see” their departed spouse in public places, only to realize later on that it was someone else with a striking resemblance of their loved one that merely conjured memories. Seeing someone you mistake to be your loved one usually brings a ray of hope, a temporary thought that your loved one is not gone after all.

The Need for Expressing Grief

Experiencing the pain of loss is another natural and important part of the grieving process. It includes being willing to not only feel but also express your hurt and any other emotion brought about by your loss.

Grief is a painful experience and it is normal to be overwhelmed with sadness.  Feeling the pain and grief of death helps you to process the different aspects of your loss. It is normal to feel alone because as the bereaved spouse, you are now alone in the relationship.

These strong emotions play an important role in helping you come to terms at an emotional level that your partner is no more. Sometimes, some upsetting and uncomfortable emotions might also emerge. Anxiety, anger, despair, guilt, regret and even depression may surface. These typically reveal the difficult parts of the relationship between the deceased and the bereaved.

Finding Hope in Pain through the Cross

For believers in Christ, death is more than a natural event. We were actually created to be immortal but as a result of sin, death comes upon mankind. We not only die but we also go through the pain of watching loved ones die.

Nonetheless, the death of Christ and his conquering of sin give us the hope that death is not the last state for us and our loved ones.

Christian Grief Counseling for the Bereaved

Friends, family and everyone else in the support system of the couple (like social groups and a church family), should help support the person that loses a loved one. However, after three or four months of grieving, the bereaved spouse is often encouraged to move on with life or at least adjust better.

Naturally, the loss will hit the left spouse harder than it will hit other people. When the initial shock of the loss of a loved one begins to fade off, at a time when they would really do with more specific support, the support almost always declines. This is an ideal time to pursue Christian grief counseling in Newport Beach to find the necessary additional support and guidance.

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What is Codependency? 12 Common Signs of Codependent Relationships

What is codependency? Codependency is common and most people struggle with it to some degree. If you find yourself constantly sacrificing for others, setting your needs to the side, and always seeking to fix the person or present problem you might be struggling with codependent tendencies. The inability to feel whole just as you are requires you to look for that feeling somewhere else.

The “need to be needed” fuel’s the life of a codependent. In the book, Codependence: Healing the Human Condition, Charles L. Whitfield calls codependence a “disease of lost selfhood.”

He says that we become codependent when we turn our responsibility for ourselves over to someone else. We lose sight of who we are and what we want because of our attempts to be what others want us to be.

We learn how to relate to others through our family of origin and so our childhood might give clues as to how our codependency began. For example, children in alcoholic families learn to avoid emotions and to define themselves through others.

If a child was forced to take care of a drug-addicted parent, this could develop into adult codependency.  “Codependent No More” author, Melody Beattie, identifies characteristics of codependents.

Here we will examine twelve of those characteristics.

12 Signs of Codependency

1. Desire to Fix

Codependents love to help. This is most often the case because they believe people are incapable of taking care of themselves.

Codependents need to feel needed. If they aren’t fixing a person or situation, then their identity feels unstable and emptiness sets in. The codependent person always wants to be the one to handle every crisis.

2. Self-Sacrificing

They often overcommit themselves and will neglect their own needs to meet someone else’s needs. Their partner’s happiness is their responsibility. This tendency often makes codependents targets for people with narcissistic personalities.

They struggle to say no when someone asks for something. A codependent person can look like a hero to others, but in truth, their help is motivated by unhealthy impulses.  Codependents are the types that need to be reminded to put their own airplane mask on before helping the person in the seat next to them.

3. Poor Boundaries

People struggling with codependency also struggle with boundaries. As a child, perhaps generational boundaries were blended, and you had to take on the role of a parent. Weak or nonexistent boundaries can form for a variety of reasons, but setting and maintaining firm boundaries is critical to teaching others to respect you.

They provide a sort of “force field” that prevents the kind of emotional abuse that can happen in close (though dysfunctional) relationships. Boundaries tell people how to treat us.  If there aren’t any boundaries, codependents risk becoming a doormat.  By setting and respecting healthy boundaries, you can retrain your relationships.

4. Unhealthy attachments

Codependents are constantly seeking approval, yet recoil at the thought of rejection. They are unable to find personal satisfaction and crave being attached to someone for their happiness.

Codependents stay in abusive relationships because they believe either that the other person will change or is the only one that will love them. Codependents can become obsessed with being with a friend or partner.

5. Fluctuating self-worth

Codependents lack confidence in themselves. They have a sense that they are not worthy and nothing that they ever do is good enough. They long for compliments, but when they get them, they reject them because they think them untrue. Their self-worth is similar to a yo-yo as it bounces up and down and hinges on what the important people in their life say about them.

6. Repression

Codependents are often rigid and controlled. They are often afraid to be who they really are for fear of being judged. Codependents usually learn at an early age to repress their emotions.

7. Obsession

Codependents worry about everything and everybody to the point of obsession. They become enmeshed with others and are often anxious about other’s problems. They focus all their energy on someone else as a result of their deeply ingrained dependency.  Often, they can’t let go of a relationship because of their obsession with that person.

8. Controlling

Codependency often forms after growing up in an uncontrollable environment, possibly with an alcoholic or emotionally absent parent. Codependents have a habit of manipulating people by using guilt, helplessness or even extreme kindness. It’s important for the codependent to feel in control.  They believe they can change someone and that changing them will make them happy.

9. Denial

Codependents smile in faux agreement with a friend. They pretend that things aren’t as bad as they seem or make excuses for a loved one’s behavior.  They bury themselves in work and pretend the problem doesn’t exist.

10. Dysfunctional communication

Codependents often don’t communicate properly. They find it difficult to communicate their own thoughts, feelings, and needs because they don’t know them. They often wait to express their opinions until they know what other people are thinking. They try to say what will please people or what will get others to do what they want. They don’t say what they mean or mean what they say.

11. Lack of trust

Codependents lack trust in themselves and others. This is usually seen when trust was damaged at an early age in life and has never been truly recovered. They doubt their feelings and decisions. They think that God has abandoned them and they can lose their faith in God.

12. Anger

Codependents are often filled with suppressed anger that they don’t know how to manage effectively. When people don’t do what codependents want, they feel angry, victimized, unappreciated and powerless.

Codependents often feel afraid, hurt, and angry, and they often live with others who are the same way. They cry regularly, get depressed, overreact, get sick, and have violent temper outbursts. They often punish others for making them feel angry.

Codependency usually stems from experiences that occurred in childhood that have bled over into adult life. Treatment consists of exploring some of those childhood memories and looking at current codependent behavior patterns.

If you have identified with any of the signs listed above and want to delve more into those problem areas, consider reaching out to a Christian counselor today. Choosing the right counselor can make all the difference on your road to recovery.

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Common Abandonment Issues: Do You See Yourself Here?

Most people have struggled with some level of fear of being ‘abandoned.’ For many of us, this may be intrinsic to our thinking. We can often feel as if we are inadequate for the people that we are in a relationship with, and we may worry that they will suddenly leave us because of this.

As a result, this can lead to trust issues which can manifest themselves as an inability to commit to those same relationships that are so dear to our us. It is so important to recognize these abandonment issues before they start affecting the way in which we interact with those around us.

10 Common Abandonment Issues

Here are 10 of the most common abandonment issues. Are any of these true of you?

1. You Struggle to Let People In

Do you feel as if you constantly have to keep your guard up? Do you set up boundaries around your life in a way that protects you from giving too much away to your loved ones? Some of this can be healthy, but when you are unable to be vulnerable before those who are dearest to you, you have a problem.

2. You Detach Yourself From Those Nearest To You

Do you ever feel as if you are distancing yourself from those around you? Are you closing off from your partner? While over-dependence is never healthy, it is relationally appropriate for you to have some level of dependence on your loved ones. This helps nurture a deep, lasting relationship.

3. You Are Overly Clingy

We all get a bit clingy sometimes. When something happens in your life that threatens to rock your foundations, it is natural to want to cozy up with your partner.

But a perpetual state of clinginess is not healthy and may indicate that you are harboring a deeper issue related to abandonment. Clingy people can be overly demanding, and their relationships are likely to be dysfunctional.

4. You Struggle To Feel Love

Do you struggle to give and receive affection? Do you often feel numb when you are around your loved ones? People who fear abandonment often struggle to engage in any physical affection and may withdraw from situations where this has the potential to occur. Bonding becomes very difficult, and relationships often become strained.

5. You Seek To Control

Those who struggle with abandonment live in a constant state of relational uncertainty. This often produces controlling behavior. Do you commit yourself to knowing everything about your partner’s whereabouts at all times? Do you “blackmail” your partner in order to keep them from leaving you? This kind of behavior undermines any foundation of trust you are seeking to build and renders the relationship stilted and unhappy.

6. You Think The Worst Of People

Does the worst-case scenario always seem like the most likely outcome to you? Do you constantly think that those closest to you harbor ulterior motives as to why they want to spend time with you?

Do you always shy away from conflict, fearing that you will fall out with people and that they will abandon you? These negative core beliefs about yourself and others can lead to fractured and damaging relationships.

7. You Are Always Looking For Flaws

Do you compile a list of your partner’s failings? Do you dwell on the small wrongs you have suffered at their hands? Are you always on the lookout for flaws that you can pick up on in others? This mindset often stems from a fear of closeness. In order to protect yourself, you seek to find imperfections in others and demand perfection from yourself.

8. You Fear Intimacy

Do you run at the first sign of any real intimacy? Those who harbor an issue related to abandonment tend to go either way when it comes to engaging in a relationship. They either hold on far too tight and smother their partner, or they fail to show adequate commitment, leaving their partner feeling discouraged and insecure.

9. You Have Very Weak Boundaries

Those dealing with abandonment issues may find themselves in codependent relationships. Do you constantly seek to keep your partner happy because you are afraid they might leave you?

Do you make excuses for your partner’s poor behavior because you fear the consequences that standing up to them or pointing out any of their faults would bring? Do you constantly feel as if you must prove your worth in the relationship? Inevitably, this leads to an unhealthy relationship.

10. You Are Overly Sensitive

Do you often find yourself overreacting? Do you put up walls of defense at any sign of danger? If you feel as if you are going to be abandoned, you may find yourself incapable of dealing with any criticism, even if it is offered in love. Relentlessly attempting to justify your behavior produces frustration in those around you and often results in poorly maintained relationships.

The good news is, there’s hope! You do not have to be driven by your fear of abandonment. With the right help from a professionally trained counselor, you can be equipped with the right tools to help you throw off insecurity, doubt, and anxiety, and participate in therapy that is tailored to suit your emotional needs. You will be given the help required to start building healthy, lasting and life-giving relationships with those around you.

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ADHD Treatment Options: Beyond Medication

If you’re looking for ADHD treatment options that go beyond the typical medication solutions, this article is for you. First, let’s get a better understanding of what ADHD really is and what the symptoms include.

ADHD: What is it?

ADHD is a common disorder. The Diagnostic Statistical Manual, 5th Edition of the American Psychiatric Association (DSM-5) refers to Attention-Deficit Disorder (ADD) / Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) as a “Neuro-developmental Disorder” and calls it a neurological disease. Thought the disease is more common in children, the manual notes that it can occur in people of all ages.

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIH) defines ADHD as “a brain disorder marked by an ongoing pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity that interferes with functioning or development.”

The NIH specifies three essential types:

  • Inattention – the person easily gets off task, fails to persist, has trouble focusing and staying organized.
  • Hyperactivity – the person is always on the move, regardless of whether it is appropriate or not. They may fidget non-stop, tap, or talk. In adults, this may be exhibited as acute restlessness or causing others to become worn out with the non-stop activity.
  • Impulsivity – the person may be prone to making snap decisions without thinking through any potential consequences or ramifications. They may feel a strong need for immediate gratification and display an unwillingness to delay gratification. They may constantly interrupt others and may make crucial decisions without giving them proper thought.

The Mayo Clinic’s website calls ADHD “a chronic condition that affects millions of children and often continues into adulthood. ADHD includes a combination of persistent problems, such as difficulty sustaining attention, hyperactivity and impulsive behavior … children with ADHD also may struggle with low self-esteem, troubled relationships and poor performance in school. Symptoms sometimes lessen with age [but] some people never completely outgrow their ADHD symptoms.”

The Mayo Clinic also lists several different real-life scenarios as examples to demonstrate the difficulties that those who suffer from ADHD will often experience:

  • The tendency toward classroom difficulties, which can be the cause of academic failure, judgment from others, and low self-esteem
  • The tendency to being accident-prone and suffering more injuries than non-ADHD children
  • The tendency toward low self-esteem
  • The tendency to struggle with interpersonal interaction
  • Greater risk of drug and alcohol abuse

Also, according to the Mayo Clinic, ADHD children are much more likely to suffer from such conditions as:

  • Learning disabilities, especially with communication and understanding
  • A variety of anxiety disorders
  • Depression
  • Disruptive mood dysregulation disorder, seen in irritability and easy frustration
  • Oppositional defiant disorder (ODD), marked by a habit of defiant, negative, or even hostility toward those in authority
  • Conduct disorder, demonstrated in antisocial behavior like fighting, stealing, vandalism, or causing harm to animals or people
  • Bipolar disorder, which is characterized by both depression and mania
  • Tourette’s syndrome

What Causes ADHD?

CHADD and the NIMH (National Institute of Mental Health) state that even after a plethora of studies, the sources of ADHD are still relatively elusive. NIMH suggests that “like many other illnesses, a number of factors can contribute to its development,” such as:

  • Genes – more than 20 genetic studies indicate clear evidence that ADHD runs in families.
  • Smoking, alcohol consumption, or use of drugs while pregnant
  • Environmental toxin exposure while pregnant. or for the child, at a very young age
  • Over-consumption of sugar
  • Low birth weight
  • Various brain injuries

CHADD also lists the following items, which while they are not known causes, are believed to intensify ADHD symptoms for some:

  • Excessive watching of television
  • Excessive sugar intake
  • Stress in the family (e.g. – conflict, poverty)
  • Trauma

There is a mixed bag of opinions when it comes to the distinct “causes” of ADHD, though most experts would agree that it is rooted in a neurological chemical imbalance.

ADHD has, like many mental disorders, been medicalized, and serious efforts are underway to reassure parents that ADHD is not as a result of bad parenting, family issues, bad teachers, or improper socialization. Lacking well-tested evidence one way or the other, ADHD is currently viewed as a brain-based medical/genetic disorder.

ADHD Treatment

Both the Mayo Clinic and NIMH are convinced that certain treatments can drastically reduce ADHD symptoms, improving quality of life.

A variety of medications are prescribed and combined with various therapy approaches:

  • Behavior therapy: Parents and teachers can adopt behavior-modification techniques, such as reward systems or timeouts.
  • Psychotherapy: Older ADHD children are encouraged to discuss the things that are bothering them, exploring inappropriate patterns of behavior, and learning appropriate and healthy ways to manage their condition.
  • Skill Training for Parents: Parents develop and put into practice ways of understanding and guiding their child into right behavior.
  • Family therapy: This nurtures the family dynamic and will assist both the parent and child in understanding the challenges they face.
  • Training in Social Skills: Children are helped to develop acceptable social behaviors that will serve them well in adult life.

The Mayo Clinic also recommends some alternative treatment methods:

  • Meditation or Yoga: Regular practice of yoga or meditation can help children learn relaxation and discipline, which can help them learn to manage their ADHD.
  • Special diets: The diets typically recommended for those suffering from ADHD require them to eliminate foods that are rich in sugar and fat. Experts would also advise avoiding additives and coloring. However, studies so far have not discovered a substantial link between ADHD and diet. It is recommended that those with ADHD stay away from caffeine, which can trigger many of the symptoms associated with this disease.
  • Vitamin or mineral supplements: While there is no conclusive evidence that they can actively alleviate ADHD symptoms, vitamins can be good for one’s general health. “Megadoses” of vitamins – doses that are in excess of the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) – can cause harm.
  • Herbal supplements: To date, no evidence suggests that herbal remedies are of help in managing ADHD, and on the contrary, some can even be dangerous.
  • Proprietary formulations: Made of vitamins and micronutrients, as well as other ingredients, there is little evidence to suggest they can do any good.
  • Essential fatty acids: These fats, which include omega-3 oils, are necessary for the brain to function well. Research regarding their efficacy is still ongoing.
  • Neurofeedback* training (also referred to as electroencephalographic (EEG) biofeedback): a child is taught to focus on performing a specific task while employing a machine which displays brainwave patterns and activity, keeping brain wave patterns active in the front of the brain, and thereby improving ADHD symptoms. Additional research is required to determine the efficacy of this treatment.
  • Regular exercise, alongside its general health benefits, may also positively affect ADHD children’s behavior when supplemented by other kinds of treatment.

Christians and ADHD Treatment

The Medicalization of ADHD

The medicalization of ADHD has been occurring for some time. Current estimates by CHADD suggest that more than 1 in 10 U.S. children, ages 4-17 have received a positive ADHD diagnosis and that more than 15% of elementary school-aged children are routinely diagnosed as having ADHD. These numbers alarm many people who call into question the APA’s contention that ADHD should be classed with the neurobehavioral diseases.

Additionally, it is important to treat the medicalization with caution. It can become too easy for difficult children to be broadly defined as suffering from ADHD and quickly medicated as a result. This may not be dealing with their root problems and simply numbs the neurological problem without adequately treating it.

A 2012 article in Der Spiegel magazine quotes Dr. Leon Eisenberg, a pioneer in ADHD studies, who eventually distanced himself from the over-diagnosis of ADHD. “ADHD is a prime example of a fabricated disorder,” Eisenberg said. “The genetic predisposition to ADHD is completely overrated.” Instead, child psychiatrists should investigate much more thoroughly the psychosocial reasons that can lead to behavioral problems, said Eisenberg. Are there fights with the parents, do mothers and fathers live together, are there family problems? Such questions are important, but they take a long time, said Eisenberg, adding with a sigh: “A pill commits itself very quickly.”

Too often, a purely medical diagnosis misses the holistic nature of the condition. Plus, the ADHD label can become very stigmatizing. Author Kati Li claims that “by diagnosing kids with ADHD, biological factors have come to override what used to be considered moral problems under the jurisdiction of the family.”

Li asserts that the medicalizing ADHD fails to hold children responsible for their own actions. Rather, it relegates unacceptable behavior to the realm of disease, and families are not considered responsible for their failure to discipline, socialize, and protect their children.


The medicating of ADHD is also a cause for concern for many. Many of the drugs prescribed for ADHD treatment closely resemble amphetamines (speed), a narcotic in the same class as cocaine and one that is often used in a recreational context. Many argue that ADHD medication can also lead to nervousness, addiction, anxiety, decreased appetite, insomnia, headache, nausea, stomachache, heart palpitations, and dizziness.

Anthony Martignetti, critical of prescribing medication for ADHD treatment, believes that “talk therapy” is a much better way forward. He emphasizes the role of the parent in effectively treating ADHD, pointing out that they may “interpret discipline, age-appropriate accountability, and boundaries to be forms of psychologically damaging abuse…which creates children without boundaries who are unresponsive to parental controls and who act and appear to be what we would have referred to in another time as ‘spoiled brats.’”

Secondly, he argues that ADHD can be made worse when parents lack sufficient time to actually parent their kid. Parental fatigue and guilt may be one reason that children are lacking boundaries and struggling to listen to instructions.

Third, Martignetti points the finger at societal and cultural shifts that interpret aggressive behavior, “roughhousing,” competitiveness, and other kinds of “acting-out” as actually detrimental to the self-esteem development process.

Religious Considerations

According to Ms. Li, the medicalization of ADHD appears to only offend certain Christian groups (i.e. Catholics and Conservative Protestants). Conservative Protestants rightly believe the Bible to be God’s word (and therefore infallible and inerrant), and that human beings possess a sinful nature which predisposes him to rebel against and disobey God’s laws. On this basis, they also discourage behaviors that constitute a health risk (i.e. – smoking, extramarital sex, drug use, fornication, etc.).

Evangelicals point out that according to 1 Cor. 6:19 the body of a Christian is a temple of the Holy Spirit and therefore must remain free of sin. Evangelicals reject much of secular psychiatry due to its secular presuppositions, favoring a Biblical approach instead. As a result, they typically do not view ADHD as a disease. In fact, conservative Protestants and Roman Catholics have both recognized the spiritual aspects of ADHD.

The Bible contains teaching about many of the symptoms of ADHD. A quick search of a Bible app will turn up references to “attentiveness” (Proverbs 6:6-8, 6:20-21, 7:24, 12:11, 24:27; Colossians 3:23; James 1:19; Deuteronomy 6:6-8; 1 Peter 1:12-15), “self-control” (Galatians 5:23, 2 Peter 1:6, 1 Corinthians 9:27, Proverbs 10:19, 25:28, Matthew 12:36, Philippians 4:8), and “impulsivity” (Proverbs 18:13, 21:5, James 1:2-4, 1:19, Galatians 5:22).

In addition, Philippians 2:3-4 demonstrates the need for one to have a servant’s heart, Romans 12:2, Ephesians 4:23, and Philippians 4:8 teach self-control over one’s own thought life, 1 Corinthians 14:40 implies that living lives of disciplined structure is desirable, 2 Timothy 3:10-11 shows that demonstrating acceptable behavior is important, and 2 Timothy 3:16 states that the teaching of the Bible is profitable.

The Pursuit of Godly Seed, a book written from a conservative Christian perspective, demonstrates how Biblical principles of children-rearing and developing healthy home life can actually be a guard against ADHD. The book points out the devastating consequences of devaluing, neglecting, and rejecting children and their need for excellent, guidance, training, discipline, teaching, protection, and faith-based nurturing.

The book argues that children may be exasperated by parents or caregivers and that this can turn them off to the things of God. The book lists some key conditions that could result in this occurring in children from a Christian background: (a) “lukewarm” Christianity in the home, (b) abuse in anger, (c) the pain and confusion of parental divorce, (d) verbal abuse, and (e) sexual molestation or abuse.

Concluding Remarks

Christians should always critically assess any ADHD diagnosis given by a medical professional and would be wise to survey all available treatments when seeking out ways to help their child’s condition. There are many beneficiaries to the medicalization of ADHD in children and indications are that the medical industry frequently undermines the role of parents and family and interferes with their attempts at Biblical children-rearing.

Too often, parents are effectively “drugging” their children, having been told that their kids have a “brain disease.” But we must be critical of the evidence for this assertion. Many believe that inattentive or impulsive children are simply in need of well-rounded parental discipline, guidance, and love rather than serious medical intervention. God loves these kids, and he wants them to grow into all He has planned for them. With this mind, parents should think carefully about reaching for prescriptions and should take careful thought when seeking treatment for their child.

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Two Common Anxiety Disorders in Children

Do you recall what your very first day at school felt like? Or how about your first day of work on the job? These thoughts and fears may no longer reside in your memory since they were normal and temporary reactions. However, imagine how it would feel if you were to experience those same feelings constantly, even when they made no sense!

These feelings of anxiety can be overwhelming for a child. Maybe your child struggles with anxiety and you are wondering what is really going on in their head when they fear a social setting so much that they can’t participate.

It can be tough on the whole family when one of the children struggles with anxiety symptoms, and even more so when their best friend or their teacher just doesn’t get what is happening, or understand how to support them.

Some teachers are not equipped to know what is happening when a child experiences anxiety and they can underestimate the effects that it has on the student’s success and performance and social relationships. Teachers may confuse anxiety with other things, such as behavioral issues, and not know how best to work with parents for a successful outcome, as well as how to advocate for the child within the larger framework of the school system.

Perhaps you have wondered how to better understand your child’s needs when they face these types of challenges but are met with misunderstandings and/or lack of support from others.

The remainder of this article will cover 10 ways that anxiety affects a child’s life and education:

  • A child’s feelings of worry about themselves, their parents, or family members
  • Having nightmares or night terrors and lack of sleep
  • Symptoms of panic attacks
  • Decline in educational success
  • Physical symptoms of headaches and stomachaches
  • Extreme difficulty focusing or concentrating
  • Heightened risk of developing depression or other anxiety disorders
  • Lack of social skills or experience
  • Low levels of communication while in social situations
  • Being misunderstood by family, school teachers, and/or peers

There is a difference between anxiety and an anxiety disorder. There are anxiety disorders that occur only in children. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition (DSM-5) distinguishes between anxiety disorders and normative fear or anxiety, noting that anxiety disorders are extreme and persist beyond a time that is developmentally appropriate.

Anxiety disorders in children can cause them to read greater levels of danger into a situation or completely avoid it. Separation anxiety disorder and selective mutism typically begin in the early years and persist throughout adulthood when left untreated. Sometimes children with anxiety disorders may have the symptom of panic attacks in response to a fear.

Separation Anxiety

Although some separation from a caregiver is normal in children, separation anxiety is when a child is so anxious from the separation of a caregiver that it is developmentally inappropriate. The diagnostic criteria for separation anxiety disorder include:

  • Nightmares
  • Worry that their attachment figure might be hurt in some way and a reluctance to be separated from them.
  • Physical symptoms related to distress.
  • Extreme apprehension about possible events such as kidnapping, accidents, getting lost or getting sick – anything that might separate them from their attachment figure.
  • Reluctance or refusal to leave the house and go to places like school, aversion to sleeping somewhere other than home, and physical symptoms such as head or stomach aches when separated from the attachment figure.

The most commonly diagnosed childhood anxiety disorder is separation anxiety. School disruption effects 75% of children struggling with separation anxiety because of their unwillingness to even attend school on a daily basis. Even children who end up going to school may still suffer because they cannot focus on what is being taught due to their anxiety over those at home.

Sleep disturbances are also common with symptoms consisting of nightmares as well as physical symptoms. This is a challenge for any parent who is unaware of the level of fear that their child experiences from sleeping in their room alone.

When a child does not get enough sleep, it is difficult for them to function at school. Their behavior may cause confusion in the classroom which can create tension in their relationship with teachers and peers. The behavior can become so disruptive that the teachers and peers may find it difficult to engage with them on a developmentally appropriate social level, resulting in the child being labeled as defiant.

A parent may develop their own response to their child’s anxiety symptoms. Some parental responses can end up reinforcing the child’s symptoms and behaviors. Negative behaviors may result in a parent removing them from the area in which the behavior occurred, which can increase their anxiety even more.

This can be increasingly frustrated for parents who struggle to understand what is going on with their child. Parents may continue to reinforce behaviors, for example, by allowing their child to sleep with them when they fear to sleep alone or to stay home from school when they do not want to go. This is detrimental to the family as a whole and may cause stress to the rest of the family.

Do you have a closer bond with one child more than the others? Perhaps this bond was formed with the child who most needs the sense of closeness and safety. This can cause rifts between you and your spouse or other family members before you are even aware of it.  While you spend much of your time attending to the child struggling with separation anxiety, others in the family may be feeling left out.

Not only does separation anxiety have an immediate effect, but it can prove detrimental long-term as well. The isolation a child experiences today can bring on social problems, later on, making it more likely they will remain unmarried. In addition, children who suffer from separation anxiety disorder are more likely to develop depression or other types of anxiety disorders as they grow up.

Selective Mutism

Anxiety can affect a child’s life and educational success in other, more subtle ways. Does your child never talk at school, but won’t stop talking as soon as you pick them up?

Does your child act shy in public when around people that you know, when only moments ago they were laughing and talking with their brothers or sisters in the car? Does this seem to be context-specific? Perhaps they suffer from selective mutism, another anxiety disorder that can strike children.

Selective mutism, though quite rare, typically affects children prior to the age of five. It often goes unnoticed until such time as the child enters school. Many times, children grow out of selective mutism, but understanding the effects, symptoms, and signs of it is still important because of the many ways that anxiety can affect a child’s life and education.

In order to deliver a diagnosis of Selective mutism, certain criteria have to be met, such as:

  • Not speaking in settings or situations where it would normally be expected (i.e. – school).
  • Not speaking when it isn’t merely a result of ignorance of the subject being spoken about.
  • Symptoms that are unrelated to some other type of communication disorder or which happen simultaneously with some other disorder, like autism spectrum disorder.
  • Behavior that lasts for more than a month and stretches beyond the first month of school, when children are normally hesitant to participate in their new surroundings.

Here are a few factors that are critical for understanding the kinds of symptoms that one should look for. Children with selective mutism will often have normal patterns of communication at home with their family. However, they will clam up in public settings (such as school) and may even fail to speak to their extended family members who do not live with them. Children may also be silent when in the company of peers.

A child with anxiety may have even more of a struggle in making friends at school than will a child who is anxiety free. It is even more challenging for a child that suffers from selective mutism. Other children may be hesitant to befriend a child that cannot talk to them.

Selective mutism may also produce other problems at school, especially if the teacher cannot interact with, and assess the educational levels of the child, or where the child cannot communicate their needs to the teacher.

Even though children with selective mutism can occasionally come up with nonverbal methods of communication, like pointing, the lack of communication may increase the possibility that they will be teased by peers, which will further aggravate their anxieties about being in social settings.

A child with anxiety, whether ongoing or only occasional, has feelings, emotions, and behaviors that may be initially confusing to those who care about them. Young children will likely not understand the anxiety symptoms in their body at first, but they pass into the adolescent years they become more aware and they may prioritize their need to feel better, even though they might not know exactly how to achieve this.

They may try things that may appear to relieve the anxieties that they experience and run the risk of developing unhealthy or risky habits that can lead to increased anxiety, shame, guilt, or confusion.

Parents, siblings, friends, and teachers can find it a significant challenge to interact with a child that experiences all the worry and fear brought on by separation anxiety or selective mutism. However, these challenges can be overcome – there is hope, because of the high success rate of managing both conditions.

Therapy can (and should) include both the child and family members to increase their understanding of the symptoms and to help develop more appropriate ways to manage anxiety and its causes. Children will be taught more appropriate ways of coping with their anxiety and develop skills to change their thought patterns when anxiety symptoms show up.

If you are unsure whether anxiety is the cause of your child’s distress, schedule an appointment with a Christian Counselor Newport Beach today. Becoming educated about your child’s anxiety can be the beginning of a new day for everyone.

“I love you,” courtesy of London Scout,, CC0 License; “Afraid,” courtesy of Joseph Gonzalez,, CC0 License; “Coloring time,” courtesy of Aaron Burden,, CC0 License; “Smug,” courtesy of vborodinova,, CC0 License 

5 Causes of Depression: The Common Culprits

statistics on depression reveal the extent of this widespread mental health condition – the National Institute of Mental Health estimates that in a single year, between 5-12% of people will suffer from at least one episode of major depression. These episodes can have a huge impact on the individual’s life.

When looking at lifespans as a whole, about 20% of people will suffer from a mood disorder at some point in their lives; this can include depression, anxiety, etc.

It’s more than likely that someone you know is living with depression, which may or may not have been diagnosed.

What Is Depression’s Root Cause?

Since depression affects so many lives, this leads us to ask what causes this condition. Psychologists have been exploring the possible causes of depression for many years. They’ve drawn some conclusions, but there are no easy answers, and the explanations we do have are complex and vary according to the individual.

Different Types of Depression

It’s important to give a definition of depression since the term can encompass a range of more specific conditions. The hallmark diagnosis is called Major Depressive Disorder, and under this umbrella are 14 more specific diagnoses that can be made by therapists, psychologists, and psychiatrists.

When making a specific diagnosis, mental health professionals account for severity, whether or not the condition occurs in a repeating cycle, and whether or not there are psychotic symptoms present. In any of these categories, the standard minimum for diagnosis is a major depressive episode lasting for two weeks or more, with impacts on both mood and motivation.

Dysthymia is a long-term, less severe form of depression that can linger for years. Although it may not be as acutely painful, this chronic, continual condition can be exhausting and debilitating.

Another common type of depression is based on an adjustment disorder. This can be triggered by painful or stressful events, leading to a depressed mood, which can eventually turn into a major depressive episode.

A final significant type of depression to mention is bipolar depression, wherein the sufferer fluctuates between low and high moods. The “high” of bipolar can feel pleasant but often triggers destructive behavior.

The common thread running through the various types of depression is a long-lasting period of sadness and lack of motivation.

Since depression presents in so many different ways, it’s vital for therapists to ask a lot of questions to make an accurate diagnosis. For example, an adjustment disorder with depression might be based on the environment or circumstances more than brain function, and this can be processed in therapy.

By contrast, it can be hard to pinpoint the cause of a major depressive episode. These episodes can start suddenly, overwhelmingly, and seem to have no rhyme or reason. This type of depression is often based on brain chemistry issues. A psychiatrist may be most helpful in this case.

Possible Causes of Depression

Let’s take a closer look at some of the common causes of depression:


A popular commercial created a visual for depression using a two-dimensional blob bouncing around in black and white with a huge frown on its face. This is, of course, an oversimplified caricature of depression, but it does point to the reality of neurotransmitters in the brain, as the illustration included little triangles floating between two knobs corrected to larger neurons.

This illustration managed to demonstrate the possible imbalance of chemicals that can have a significant impact on our mood and mental health.

Neurons are cells that transmit information throughout the body and brain. They have the capacity to fire signals that allow us to think, experience emotions and memories, and maintain both voluntary and involuntary control over our physical functions.

Serotonin is a specific neurotransmitter that has a positive impact on mood. Dopamine is another. Antidepressants work by balancing neurotransmitter levels.

It can be challenging to medicate depression effectively because of the complexity of the brain and how widely the response differs based on the individual. Finding the right antidepressant can require a period of trial and error.

Other steps can be taken in the meantime, however, such as exercising and improving one’s diet. These can help ignite the process of recovery. Of course, the nature of depression often makes it difficult to find the motivation to be more active, but if you can incorporate it into your life you can see a positive change to your mood very quickly.


Genetics is another major factor in depression. Your chances of developing depression are much higher if you have a family member suffering from it, especially if they are a parent or sibling. Genetic predisposition is a powerful component in this disorder.

Genes affect brain development and how neurotransmitters interact, but they are not a decisive predictor. Even identical twins do not have a 100% correlation between brain disorders. And some people are depressed even without a family history of depression. This is why we say that while genes increase the likelihood of depression, they do not cause it, but are often combined with other factors, such as the next one.


One professor described this cause of depression as a gun that was loaded by genetics, with the trigger being pulled by the environment. If someone is genetically predisposed to develop depression, they will often be triggered into developing it by their environment.

Examples of environment include workplace stress, the loss of a loved one, or even the weather (as seen in seasonal affective disorder).

The environmental category also describes a common threshold that would generally trigger depression in almost anyone, such as being oppressed or bereaved. Each person has an individual threshold at which they will inevitably suffer depression because we are humans who are susceptible to being affected by our circumstances.


This is a physical trigger for depression that can easily be overlooked. Anemia reduces energy levels, leading to reduced motivation and often low self-esteem. This might present as depression, however, the cause isn’t a chemical imbalance, but a lack of iron in the blood.

When someone who is anemic experiences this sadness and lack of motivation, they often seek therapy and describe symptoms of depression, but any prescribed antidepressants won’t help. After a long period of trying to find the right medication, the feeling of depression will linger, fueling a sense of hopelessness.

It’s important to consider whether low iron might be contributing to your mental condition. You could ask for a blood test, or even just try to eat iron-rich foods more often and test their effects on your mood.


It’s important to note that depression is not your fault because you’re too sinful or not praying enough. The assumption that a person’s depression is because they’re out of line spiritually has inflicted a lot of damage.

This is evidenced by the fact that many individuals who have major sin issues do not have depression, while people living moral lives often struggle with depression. This situation is not hopeless; God can use our emotional state to draw us closer to Himself.

One common factor in this category is gradually withdrawing from spiritual habits that helped fulfill us in the past, such as Bible studies, small groups, or volunteering. Although it can be tempting to isolate when depressed, maintaining social connections and spiritual activities can be crucial to keep a depressed person from spiraling further downward.

People often withdraw because of their depression, not the other way around. Therefore, know that it’s important to intentionally stay involved and that it can help your mood and sense of personal value.

As we’ve discussed, depression is often rooted in physical causes, and we should be confident that we can ask God to provide both physical and emotional healing.

Treatment for Depression

Depression often consumes the life of someone suffering from it. Treatments must address the wide range of issues that can contribute to this mental condition. According to research, a combination of both therapy and medication generally provides the best outcome for sufferers.

If you’re depressed, you might feel trapped in a pit that you can never climb out of. Medication can be like someone tossing a rope down into the pit. You’ll need to put in the work to climb out, but that is a much more achievable goal when you actually have a rope.

Some people are in deeper pits than others. If your pit is more shallow, you might be able to climb out without the help of medication, but for others, that’s not possible. This isn’t a judgment about your worth as a person; it’s just a matter of assessing your individual situation and responding in the most helpful way.

The act of seeking therapy alone often jump starts the recovery process. Christian Counseling Newport Beach can work with you to make progress in various areas of your life. He or she can also identify any thought processes you have that contribute to your mental health condition so that you can challenge false beliefs with truth.

For some, simply identifying the depression and processing it is enough to begin to climb out of it. A psychiatric referral may be in order to help you identify a medication that can work for you. And in general, therapy can help you uncover the cause(s) of your depression and start you on your healing process.


“Darkness,” courtesy of Andrik Langfield Petrides,, CC0 License; “Laundromat,” courtesy of Drew Roberts,, CC0 License; “Alone time,” courtesy of Steven Spassov,, CC0 License; “Waiting,” courtesy of Shashank Sahay,, CC0 License

11 Weight Loss Tips to Keep it Off

Our busy lifestyles coupled with the availability of processed foods create the perfect storm for health issues. It’s no surprise that heart disease, diabetes, and other weight-related ailments are continually on the rise. Still, many people are seeking ways to reclaim control over their health.

11 Weight Loss Tips to Help You Make Lasting Change

1)   Think Small

Portion control isn’t a myth. If done correctly and consistently it will provide the desired results. A small, but full plate tells your brain it’s having enough food. On the contrary, large plates with more white space available make people serve and consume more food because portions appear smaller.

Put your veggies on a big plate to trick your brain into wanting more and the sweeter items on a small plate. When you swap your large plate for a smaller plate get ready to notice a big difference!

2)   Be Proactive

Sometimes we can sabotage our own success by not preparing adequately.  Try not to react to your hunger with unhealthy food choices. Be prepared by keeping healthy snacks in your pantry, office, car, and gym bag to make beneficial choices more likely.

When dining out, look online at the menu to make a conscious choice before even setting foot inside the restaurant. The aroma permeating a restaurant can prompt you to pick a food that doesn’t have your best interest in mind. Don’t be afraid to eat ahead of time or bring your own food when you know you’re going to be somewhere around meals you have chosen not to indulge in.

3)   Dish Up The Food

Admittedly, it’s easy to open a bag of popcorn while watching a movie and before you know it the entire bag is gone with no kernel in sight. Or opening up a package of cookies and consuming an entire sleeve without thinking through your actions. Part of eating intentionally is telling your food where to go instead of your food telling you where it’s going. Be the boss of your snacks.

If you have a tendency to eat fast, your brain may not register satisfaction or fullness in time to alert you that you’ve overindulged. This is a pattern for many on holidays where food is plentiful.

Decide what a reasonable portion is based on your individual plan and put it on a plate, napkin, bowl, cup or even the palm of your hand. Avoid eating out of the bag, carton, or other food container where you might lose track of your consumption.

4)   Eat Mindfully

Eating is not only among the most fundamental in the hierarchy of needs according to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, but is historically known to bring people together around the dinner table for a time of fellowship. Sharing a tasty meal with good company can be one of the most memorable times in life.

Distraction diminishes the pleasure that eating has to offer. Next time you want to enjoy a spoonful of one of your favorite foods, turn off the TV, close your eyes and allow your senses to bring the experience to life as your taste buds peruse all of the different flavors and textures of the dish.

5)   Discomfort is Inevitable

Making dietary and lifestyle changes will cause some moments of (sometimes extreme) discomfort in your life. Saying ‘no’ to foods that were once staples in your home can test the very fiber of your willpower. At such times, reminding yourself that you are saying ‘yes’ to feeling good and promoting your overall health for a higher quality of life is essential.

6)   Be Active

Changing your diet must be coupled with increasing your physical fitness. You don’t need to become an Olympic athlete overnight. Create space in your day to participate in an exercise of your choice that motivates you.

7)   Dig Into The Why Behind Your Food Choices

Eating too much food or the wrong kinds of food can be a mask for or reaction to problems in other areas of our lives. When we are trying to fill a void in our lives or numb our pain, we can find ourselves taking comfort in the pleasure of eating. It’s paramount to take the proper time to focus on your emotional, spiritual and physical needs.

8) Accountability

Change is hard! If we do not share our goals with someone we trust, it becomes easier to make excuses or completely give up on the goals. If you find physical activity intimidating, find a battle buddy to walk, run, swim or join a fitness class with you.

It keeps you accountable and provides you with a person with whom to celebrate when goals are achieved. If meal planning isn’t your strength, find a mentor who can offer useful tips and tricks for designing a satisfying meal plan that you will look forward to preparing.

9)   Abstain If Needed

A trigger food, like ice cream, doughnuts or cake, can set off a domino effect that ends in unhealthy, and uncontrollable indulgences. When stress and negative emotions are high, vulnerability to overeating and binges also increases. It’s more beneficial to avoid taking that first bite than to take a bite and have to slam on the brakes.

“I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but not everything is constructive. 1 Corinthians 10:23

10)   Keep Moving Forward

Mistakes will happen. Perfection isn’t expected. Extend grace toward yourself during those moments you might fall off. If you fall seven times, make sure you get up eight. No more starting over on Monday, the first of the year, after vacation, or when the holidays are over. Return to healthy eating immediately at the next meal. Don’t allow one negative decision to define your entire day. Keep moving forward. Don’t beat yourself up, but build yourself up!

11)   Flexibility Is Your Friend

Other than your trigger foods, which you might decide to completely remove from your diet, give yourself the freedom of flexibility. People who create rigid and constrictive diets often give up along the way because the pressure for perfection becomes too much to bear.

When you are a guest, be a blessing to your hostess. If foods are offered that you normally would avoid, make the wisest selections to not offend your hostess and get back on track at your next meal. Give yourself the freedom to choose which vegetable or fruit you want to eat. Avoid getting stuck in a regimented plan.

How Christian Counseling Can Help You Lose or Manage Your Weight

Television, magazines, and billboards tell us what our bodies should look like yet advertise foods that definitely won’t deliver any type of nutritional value. Fast-food and frozen meals become easy options because of the fast-paced world we live in.

Many people are increasingly busy, yet physically out of shape. If you are struggling with making healthy choices in your diet and physical activity, you are not alone. Christian counseling Newport Beach provides guidance and support to help expose the cause of the problem and create the best path forward.

“Breakfast,” courtesy of Hanny Naibaho,, CC0 License; “Parfait,” courtesy of Sambazon,, CC0 License; “Bicycle,” courtesy of Alejandro Lopez,, CC0 License; “Sunday,” courtesy of Imani Clovis,, CC0 License 

5 Ways to Improve Your Experience Parenting Teenagers

Parenting teenagers can be daunting. Adults remember the challenges of being adolescents themselves, and no amount of money in the world would induce them to go through those years again! The teenage years can be unsparing in difficulty, lasting from ages 8-25.

However, it’s just as challenging (or even more so) to be the parent of a child at this stage of life. Suddenly, your relationship with your adoring child shifts, and you find yourself struggling to relate to a seeming stranger who treats you as an enemy. In the wake of these changes, the entire family struggles to adjust to a new normal.

This article seeks to provide you with helpful tips to navigate the challenging season of parenting teenagers. A quick preview: don’t take things personally, set realistic expectations, understand your underlying goals and purpose, and encourage healthy self-esteem, and we also look at “eight anchors for adolescent growth” from the book Surviving Your Child’s Adolescence by Carl Pickhardt.

Helpful tips can’t make parenting teenagers easy, but implementing them can reduce the stress of this stage of life for you as the parent.

5 Tips for Parenting Teens 

1. Don’t take it personally

In Surviving Your Child’s Adolescence, Pickhardt uses the metaphor of a dog turning into a cat to describe a child turning into a teenager. You’ve spent years enjoying the happy companionship of a loyal dog, and then one day you wake up and find out that you’re the owner of a temperamental cat, who has a propensity to sulk in the corner.

When this realization dawns on you, it probably means your child has entered the teen years, and one of the best things you can do is to not take your child’s change in behavior personally.

According to Pickhardt, “Because parenting is a position of partial influence, parents need to limit their sense of responsibility. They can never know enough. They cannot fully protect any more than they can fully prepare.”

It’s hard not to attach a sense of personal worth to the way your child acts or performs, or to the level of success that they have. But your worth as a person and as a parent is not dependent on your child’s success. If you feel that you need to be perfect as a parent, that will probably end up placing pressure on your child to be perfect, which leads to unrealistic expectations of both you and your teen.

Feeling pressured to make sure your child is happy and successful will only lead to feelings of defeat, emptiness, and failure, because challenges and struggles are inevitable in life, and you won’t be able to control each one for your child, especially when he or she reaches the teen years.

Instead of this pressure, try to be a supportive, constant presence in your child’s life during the teen years. Trust the Lord, ask your spouse for support, and rely on other support systems if you need to. Be at peace with doing your best, even if your teenager disagrees with you.

Most teenagers go through a phase of mood swings, differentiating themselves from their family, and challenging authority to varying degrees. This will create unavoidable discomfort for you as the parent. Know that you are not alone during this time.

2. Set healthy and realistic expectations

It’s probably difficult to believe that the person who was once your lovable baby will turn into a teenager who doesn’t want to be around you. In some cases, teenagers don’t act this way, but most will go through a phase of distancing themselves from their parents and family of origin. This is a normal transition; it’s just part of growing up.

Make sure you’re not disciplining your child for behavior that is simply a developmental shift. Have grace on your teenager as he or she deals with mood swings, conflict, changes in communication, and even a propensity towards defiance.

Pickhardt explains five shifts that are a reality for most teenagers and will impact their parents and family life. The first reality is ignorance. During the teen years, kids become more private in their communication with their parents, effectively leaving their parents in the dark about certain aspects of their lives.

The second reality is estrangement. This occurs when a teen differentiates themselves from their family for the purpose of solidifying their individual identity. A teen may become interested in activities outside of daily family life. Abandonment is the third reality of adolescence. Parents often feel abandoned or lonely because their teen wants to spend less time with them.

Control is the fourth reality: “The challenge for these parents is to accept that although they can’t control their son’s or daughter’s choices, they can inform them, asserting influence through communication they make and stands they take.” During childhood, it’s easier for parents to set limits; the teen years require some adjustment.

And finally, the fifth uncomfortable reality is conflict. If there’s a teenager in the house, an increased level of conflict will probably be there as well.

Perhaps you’re thinking boarding school sounds good right about now, but having realistic expectations will make the journey of parenting your teen much easier in the long run. This normalizes your child’s behavior and helps you prepare for future transitions.

3. Understand the purpose

Though it may not feel like it now, this season of life has a purpose. The teenage years are a time of transition—from being completely dependent (as a child) to being independent (as an adult). This process of a child differentiating from their parents and developing a sense of personal identity and responsibility will allow them to be a thriving and productive adult one day.

Of course, this isn’t always fun to think about, but it’s a parent’s responsibility not just to enjoy their children, but to facilitate their development and preparation for adulthood.

The elevated levels of conflict in your home during this time are a natural way to “broker increasing differences between you and your teen, a necessary part of how you get along.” In other words, the conflict is necessary in order for you and your teen to reach a new level of equilibrium in your relationship, one that acknowledges disagreements and different values.

Sometimes you might feel like your teen is defiant for no reason at all, but it’s actually a necessary step in attaining independence and a sense of self.

No matter what stage of life you’re in, change is difficult. Consider the last major transition you went through as an adult. You probably felt uncomfortable, stressed, and anxious. Your teen is feeling that way right now, multiplied several times over, as they navigate a solid decade of constant change. A little empathy from their parents can go a long way toward making this time of life easier.

4. Encourage self-esteem in your teen

This is simpler than it might sound; just find any way you can to speak an encouraging word to your teenager. He or she will probably struggle frequently with discouragement, loneliness, and disappointment, as well as a comparison to others. As the parent, you can be your teen’s safe place—the one person who is guaranteed to build them up and see their potential. Look for ways to share in your teen’s happiness, join their activities, and encourage their dreams.

Whenever a new activity or trend catches your teen’s attention, you should always show an interest in it. Even when they move on or fail to reach a goal, they will in all likelihood cherish the support you offer them. Figure out what is important to them and join in.

5. “Eight Anchors of Adolescent Growth”

These “eight anchors” as outlined by Pickhardt offer a tangible guideline for parents to understand what they can expect from—and cultivate in—their teens.

  • Completing homework – Pickhardt describes homework as “work ethic training.” These assignments offer a daily opportunity to complete an often-unpleasant task even when you don’t feel like it (i.e., being disciplined). It also allows your teen to grow in the skill of time management. Having good time management skills and being self-disciplined will set your teen up for success in life.
  • Cleaning your room – Learning how to clean and maintain one’s personal space is one of the first steps in preparing for adulthood. It also shows respect for oneself, parental standards, and other members of the household.
  • Doing chores – Helping with household tasks is part of being a responsible family member. The parents are not the only ones who should be caring for and maintaining a functioning household. Pickhardt believes that chores should be done regularly, apart from a child being compensated with an allowance.
  • Participating in family gatherings and events – Many adolescents will balk at this at some point, preferring to spend time with friends instead, but it’s critical to enforce family participation because it sets an example of valuing these relationships, which usually last much longer than peer friendships.
  • Volunteering for community service – Serving in some way on a regular basis allows your teen to get outside of their own experience and thoughts about themselves. It gives them an opportunity to put someone else before themselves.
  • Saving money – Money management is another fundamental skill that will be invaluable in the future. While people differ in whether they tend to save or spend, everyone can benefit from learning to show financial restraint, set goals, and manage your own natural tendencies with spending.
  • Developing proficiency – Pickhardt states, “Developing proficiency of knowledge of skill nurtures confidence that many adolescents sorely need.” Parents can facilitate this by encouraging their teen to commit to learning a specific skill and develop confidence in that area. It may be in the realm of music, sports, art, or something else. When your teen wants to give up, encourage them to persevere.
  • Relating to salient adults – It is a blessing to have godly adults in your teen’s life who set a good example for them. Teenagers need this to offer a contrast to the influence of their immature peers. These adults can be family friends, relatives, teachers, or church leaders who can exert a positive influence on your teen.

Parenting teenagers is a unique stage that can be fun, overwhelming, and exhausting all at once. Some days you might think your child will never get out of this stage, while at other times it will seem like they’re growing up much too quickly.

No matter what stage of the journey you’re on, keep what we’ve covered here in mind:

  • Don’t take it personally,
  • Set healthy expectations,
  • Understand the purpose,
  • Encourage self-esteem,
  • Establish the Eight Anchors of Adolescence.

Hopefully, these tips have offered some help and hope in your journey of parenting your teen. If you need extra support, don’t hesitate to contact our team of Christian Counselors. We would love to walk alongside you on this journey.

“Window seat,” courtesy of Alexandre Chambon,, CC0 License; “Growing Up,” courtesy of Suleman Mukhtar,, CC0 License; “Strong,” courtesy of Christopher Campbell,, CC0 License; “Down,” courtesy of Marcelo Matarazzo,, CC0 License