Our Love Affair with Alcohol and Other Drugs

Have you ever paused to consider just how deeply your lifestyle and those around you have been affected by alcohol and other drugs?  In this infographic provided by the Australian Drug Foundation, we are shown the facts about our nation’s love affair with alcohol and other drugs. No matter what your age or socio economic factors, it is evident that these substances have negatively impacted our lives and will continue to do so unless we better educate ourselves and our families in these areas. This fascinating infographic shows us that we can no longer put our head in the sand- we must take responsibility for our own use of alcohol and other substances as the effects are more wide reaching than we ever imagined.

Our Love Affair with Alcohol and Other Drugs

Do you struggle with alcohol and/or other drugs and are concerned about their long-term effects on your life and those around you? If so, contact Watersedgecounselling on 0434 337 245 for a FREE 10-minute phone consultation on how we can best help you or press book now to book in our online diary.

Parenting: 5 Tips To Help Your Children Cope With The Chronic Illness Of Their Sibling by Jessica Morris

waiting_for_the_right_moment___by_captivatedimagesI can only imagine how difficult it is for parents as they care for a child with chronic illness. The constant trips to and from the hospital; 24/7 care at home; not to mention the financial stress of the situation are unfathomable to me at such a young age. Yet amongst all this chaos, have you ever considered how your children are coping with this chronic illness? Not just the child who is being carted around from doctor to psychologist and then to the naturopath, but also their siblings? The truth is chronic illness does not just affect the person diagnosed; it also impacts the immediate family in every way possible.

Working at a school, I have had a glimpse of the challenges that many parents go through daily as they attempt to care for their child, get them to school, work a full time job and then make it back by home time. In short, life is difficult enough for the average parent without the added pressure of a chronic illness. Whether this illness comes as debilitating anxiety, depression, cancer, Chronic Fatigue, Lime Disease or some unknown bacteria that is as of yet unidentified, it becomes well known to every member of the family.

It is possible to try and shield your children from the illness that their sibling is undergoing; however the fact that they will have to attend school while their brother or sister gets to ‘lie on the couch and watch TV all day’ will eventually cause them to ask questions. As a child who had a sibling with chronic illness all through high school, I have been able to see what was beneficial for me and what I needed in order to cope with this strange condition that debilitated my sister 24 hours a day.

If you have a child who is currently going through chronic illness, here are 5 tips on how to approach this topic with their siblings:

1. Be honest

Children and teenagers will pick up if something is wrong in their household, particularly if it involves a sibling who is now being doted over by their parents. Tell them what is wrong, give them the details of the illness (as best suited to their age and maturity) and tell them if it can be cured.

2. Allow them to help

Let’s face it, your children may not be able to do much to help their ill brother or sister, but this doesn’t mean they can’t try. By allowing your children to ‘help’ by drawing a picture, cooking, cleaning up or even feeding their sibling they will feel useful.

3. Don’t compare them to their siblings

If your child is anything like me, they will quickly realise how unfair it is that they HAVE to do everything that their sibling is unable to do. Whether this be attend school or do chores it will seem unjust that they have to carry more of the weight. Explain to them why your expectations of them are different from their brother or sister, and show them that they have many privileges that their sibling is unable to partake in.

4. Validate your child

Your child will probably become envious of the attention their brother or sister is getting. They will long for that time with their parents as well as some of the ‘privileges’ their sibling receives. Let your child know that it is ok to feel this way and listen to them. Explore how you can best show your healthy children how valued they are and try to spend time with them.

5. Be patient

Just as you are learning to be patient with your child and the fact that they are experiencing an illness you have little or no control over, the rest of your family will also have to learn this patience with each other. This period will challenge you and your family, but draw together and consistently show your appreciation and love for one another to strengthen your family unit. By doing this, you will not just be supporting your ill child, but also their siblings.

About Jessica Morris

Jessica Morris is a 22 year-old free-lance journalist living near Melbourne, Australia. Passionate about pop culture and how this intersects with mental health, faith and social justice; she seeks represent this generation within the media. You can view her work at www.jessicamorris.net.

 

If you are experiencing difficulties in your parenting or  need  support and encouragement as you parent, then here’s what you need to do, contact me on 0434 337 245  for a FREE 10-minute phone consultation on how I can best help you or you can make an appointment to see Colleen by booking online now.

Parenting: What Can I Do To Safe Guard My Child From Substance Abuse?

awaiting_the_day______by_captivatedimagesWhat can I do to safe guard my child from substance abuse? is a question that nearly every parent would like a ‘water-tight’ answer to.

From the moment of conception, your world changes forever as you are confronted by the knowledge that it is your job to nurture, provide and protect this precious life that shares your blood. Never have you felt more vulnerable than as you gaze upon your newborn child, wondering about the miracle of life and the intensity of your love for this child. In those early years, you are focused on the task of raising this child to be a ‘good’ person. You do all you can to protect your child from harm and teach them to respect and care for their own health and wellbeing.

However there comes the time when you can no longer protect your child. In order for your adolescent to develop towards a mature, well-adjusted adult, it is imperative that they separate from you and find their own identity. Called individuation, this is a biological imperative that drives your adolescent to learn independence in order to survive and thrive as they stand on the threshold of adult life. With their growing independence comes the need for you as a parent to step back and allow your child to explore their world and learn how to function independent of you.

But, you ask, can I you trust my adolescent to make wise and safe choices without me?

Seemingly overnight, your child undergoes a personality transformation: private and brooding, angry and insolent or just plain disagreeable and moody. Spending hours on social media, you feel shut out and unappreciated by this stranger in your household. Your anxiety heightens with the distance that has emerged between you and your child and with that, the fear that your adolescent will be vulnerable to other influences inviting them to experiment with drugs.

The good news is that you can have a very positive influence. There is a growing and strong body of research indicating that parental influence is the most underutilized tool in preventing adolescent substance misuse.

What does the research tell us?

  • Parents are most often identified as the individuals who have talked to a child about drugs
  • Young people consider parents to be credible sources of information about drugs
  • As agreements between young people and parents go up, drug involvement goes down
  • A supportive, warm relationship with one significant adult can be enough to protect a young person against adverse events
  • Effective parenting is a key factor in reducing adolescent risk-taking behaviour
  • The likelihood of alcohol misuse can be seen as a direct result of low levels of parental action

The key to ‘safe-guarding’ your child from substance abuse is primarily your relationship. Where your adolescent feels secure, accepted and encouraged, they will remain connected to you and therefore less vulnerable to negative influences. On the other hand, where your adolescent feels criticised, blamed, judged and misunderstood they will feel insecure and more vulnerable to the same negative influences. Above all, be aware that your anxiety is very likely to be communicated in ways that have a negative influence on your adolescent, so be pro-active about any anxiety you experience and talk to a counsellor about it.

If you are aware that the connection you have with your adolescent is insecure, give consideration to seeking professional help to support your relationship. A professional family counsellor can assist you to recover and rebuild a supportive and secure relationship with your young adult.

If you are experiencing difficulties in your parenting or  need  support and encouragement as you parent, then here’s what you need to do, contact me on 0434 337 245  for a FREE 10-minute phone consultation on how I can best help you or you can make an appointment to see Colleen by booking online now.

Teenagers: “I don’t want to go to school!” When a sick day is more than an excuse By Jessica Morris

Boy in Deep ThoughtMany people say that their high school years were the best of their lives; that they were filled with the making of lifelong friends, lifelong learning and unforgettable memories. I’m not quite sure what high school these people went to, because I am unashamed to admit that my high school years were the hardest of my (albeit short) life.

Rather than looking forward to seeing my friends every day, I woke up with a ball of elastic in stomach at the thought of who I would partner with in class, or if a group of girls would allow me to sit with them during lunch. A day before a class I particularly disliked I would come down physically ill and start to tear up. As I progressed, anxiety about subjects I was particularly bad at evaporated and morphed into constant stress regarding whether I was good enough to get a high score in the subjects I had always excelled at. High school was brutal, and I needed all the support I could get.

The importance of parental influence in attending school and their role in my thriving in its harsh environment became apparent to me when I was just 13 years old. I woke up one morning and walked around school in a zombie like state. On the second day this occurred I switched off completely and all I could do was grunt. The following morning my mother woke me up and told me three very important things:

1. I had depression

2. My parents were going to get me help

3. I did not have to go to school that day

Oddly enough, the fact that I did not have to attend school that day has stayed with me as a defining memory in the last decade. It showed me that my mother accepted that what I was experiencing was valid; that she believed I could no longer fight such a battle alone; and that my health was of far greater value than any expectation placed on me by the community.

I learnt very quickly that my parents influence and the actions of my teachers and mentors had a significant impact on my recovery.  When I was encouraged, supported and given leeway in my studies to focus on my health, I thrived and was able to resume going to school and completing tasks I had once felt nauseous about.

Due to the support I received from my family and school staff, I eventually started going to school full time in my final year. This means that it took me five years to become what I viewed as ‘normal’. Each year in between involved me battling to get to school, and frequently visiting the school office to ask my father to pick me up early. In retrospect, I am able to see what was helpful in this period and what wasn’t.

So for every parent, grandparent or guardian who has a Gen Y causing chaos in your home every school day as you nearly force them to get to school, here are some simple rules that will hopefully help you and your Gen Y as you approach the next six or so years of education.

1. Let your Gen Y know that their experience is valid and that you realise this is not an excuse to miss school.

If your Gen Y is struggling to get to school frequently there is a good indication that something is wrong in their life.

2. Don’t force them to get to school.

This is not to diminish the importance of an education or the fact that your child needs to resume a somewhat ‘normal’ life. Rather, it can enable your child to work through their anxieties, fears or other issues in a safe environment before they feel somewhat ready to return to school.

3. Reinforce the importance of school as a healthy aspect of your Gen Y’s life.

If your child is not working towards going back to school first on occasion, then progressively to the capacity their health will allow, they will lack motivation and the skills needed upon their graduation.

4. Approach your child’s school and make them aware of the situation.

There is any amount of strategies and ways staff can support you so your child doesn’t fall further behind or experience a harsh transition back to school.

5. Seek outside help.

While the support of my family and school were fundamental in my recovery, having a counsellor who could listen, support and challenge me, enabled me to want to return to school. As a parent or guardian, you do not have to face this battle alone. Seek the help of a professional not just for your child’s health, but for your own.

About Jessica Morris

Jessica Morris is a 22 year-old free-lance journalist living near Melbourne, Australia. Passionate about pop culture and how this intersects with mental health, faith and social justice; she seeks represent this generation within the media. You can view her work at www.jessicamorris.net.

 

If you are experiencing difficulties in your parenting or  need  support and encouragement as you parent, then here’s what you need to do, contact me on 0434 337 245  for a FREE 10-minute phone consultation on how I can best help you or you can make an appointment to see Colleen by booking online now.