Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Why Is Betrayal Injury So Painful? 3 States of Being

We are discussing Betrayal.  In Week One, we discussed "Feeling Stuck in Betrayal?  Free Yourself From Five Common Traps." Please read Betrayal Week One and then join us in our discussion here.

None of us plans for a betrayal.  Perhaps, if we could, it would be less painful because we would have the opportunity to prepare for it. However, that is part of the insidious nature of betrayal. It is completely unexpected, unimaginable, and undeserving. Thus, not only are we blindsided but we feel lost in its upheaval. What is going on? Why is betrayal injury so painful?

States of Being*
Many folks have heard of the "stages of grief." When we experience loss of any kind, we move through the stages of grief such as anger, denial, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.* However, when we are betrayed, we move through three States of Being.* These three States of Being  describe not only what we are feeling and experiencing but also define who we are. They are extremely debilitating.

In order to understand why betrayal injury is so painful, let's explore the three States of Being.

State of Being One - State of Confusion

When a betrayal occurs, the first few thoughts and words which immediately surface include the following:
  • Why? 
  • How could this happen?
  • I don't understand.
  • This just doesn't make sense!
  • How could he/she/they do this?
In the State of Confusion, we desperately try to make sense out of something which does not make sense. We can't find any answers. We are not able to reason or rationalize the behaviors of others. And, we feel lost in the chaos of confusion. Because our lives have been turned upside down and we aren't able to make any sense of out the destruction which has taken place or continues to take place, we experience a number of debilitating emotions and symptoms including:
  • Depression
  • Anxiety, anxiousness, or general sense of panic
  • Sadness or moodiness
  • Fatigue and loss of energy
  • Resorting to compulsive or excessive behaviors to cope
  • Returning to or relapsing into unhealthy patterns thinking, behaving, or feeling
There is no specific time period or length of stay in the State of Confusion. Each person's betrayal experience combined with other forces relating to the betrayal injury along with an individual's support systems and recovering tools all factor into its longevity. However, shortly after a person experiences the State of Confusion, she will enter into the State of Worthlessness.

State of Being Two - State of Worthlessness

The State of Worthlessness is horrific because it injures us at our core.  The State of Worthlessness robs us from what we had, redefines us from who we were, and relinquishes us to a lesser place than what we knew before. In this well of worthlessness, we come  face to face with several new realizations.
  • We are not as important or valuable as we believed.
  • We are not as important or valuable as another person, place, thing, opportunity, need, or desire. 
  • We are not important or valuable at all.
Thus, when our role, identity, and purpose have been stripped away, we don't know who we are. Our beliefs have been shattered, our truths have become lies, and our trust has been profoundly violated. In this weakened place, we experience either onset or exacerbation of painful emotions and serious manifestations including:
  • Depression, feelings of isolation and withdrawal
  • Anxiety and anxiousness
  • Physical ailments or disturbance of current illnesses 
  • Anger and bouts of rage
  • Relapse into unhealthy patterns of behaving, thinking, and feeling
  • Using unhealthy coping mechanisms
  • Feelings of hopelessness and helplessness 
  • Thoughts of suicidality
  • Extreme guilt, self-blame, self-doubt, and shame
When we enter into the State of Worthlessness, our defense mechanisms kick into high gear as an attempt to mitigate our pain. Not only do we find comfort in our denial, but often we hold ourselves responsible for the betrayer's actions. We find ourselves saying things like, "If only I had. I  should have done....  If I could, I would have...Maybe if I, perhaps he will...."  We may even reach out to the betrayer, trying to convince him/her/them of our worth. Many times, this invites additional betrayal injury and lengthens our stay in the State of Worthlessness.  Depending on each person's unique circumstances, as individuals begin to climb out of the well of worthlessness, they enter into the State of Powerlessness.

State of Being  Three - State of Powerlessness

The State of Powerlessness is both polarizing and paralyzing. One minute, we feel completed controlled and changed by our betrayer. And we feel powerless to change our circumstances. The next minute, we want to do everything  and anything in our power to change or control our betrayer. We find ourselves volleying back and forth between extreme emotions of vulnerability and volatility. With these prison walls of powerlessness, we are filled with frightening emotions and often present with a myriad of serious symptoms including:
  • Increased depression, anxiety, anxiousness, panic, anger, rage, fear,hopelessness, helplessness
  • Extreme self-blame, self-hatred, resentment, bitterness, shame, guilt
  • Complete loss of worth and esteem
  • Increase in use of substances or other self-soothing behaviors 
  • Relapsing or returning to inappropriate or unhealthy behaviors to regain a sense of control or to release yourself from being controlled
  • At risk of harming self and/or harming other 
Being thrown into the prison wall of powerlessness is crazy-making.  And, it is during this time that rational, reasonable, and right-thinking individuals find themselves in a desperate place. As is the case for the State of Confusion and the State of Worthlessness, our natural instinct is to want the betrayer, or someone or something else to make it right, to fix it, and to ease our pain. Do we deserve that? Yes, we do. But, in most cases that is never going to happen.  And even it it does, having someone else try to repair the damage will rob us of the opportunity to do the recovering we need to do and heal the deep hole in our heart.

I encourage readers to pick up a copy of Daughters Betrayed By Their Mothers: Moving From Brokenness To Wholeness. Their empowering stories demonstrate how they broke through their betrayals, healed their wounds, and came to a place of peace and acceptance - first with themselves and then with their mothers. If they had waited for their mothers to "make it right for them," they would still be waiting.

In closing, part of healing from any injury is understanding what we are feeling and why. Betrayal is no different.  Gaining insight into your injury by becoming acquainted with  the three States of Being, learning that what you are feeling and experiencing is completely expected and "normal," and knowing that you are not along in your suffering is a step in moving out of your pain-field.

The next step involves working through the the States of Being. This takes time and it will require a strong commitment on your part.

A comprehensive recovery process is outlined for you along with activities and exercises in Breaking Through Betrayal: And Recovering The Peace Within.
  • Section I "Knowledge and Awareness: Chapter One - What is Betrayal? And Chapter Two - What am I Feeling and Why?

Next time,  Betrayal Injury: How Long Will I Feel This Way and Why?

* States of Being - Adapted from Breaking Through Betrayal: And Recovering The Peace Within 2nd Edition

* Stages of Grief - Adapted from On Death and Dying by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Feeling Stuck From Betrayal Injury? Free Yourself From Five Common Traps!

It is so easy to feel stuck in betrayal. Why? The very nature of betrayal tells us that you didn't do anything wrong.  Someone else or something else wronged you!  Therefore, someone or something else needs to fix it or make it right! Unfortunately, this kind of thinking is a trap and it will keep you stuck.  In order to start freeing yourself from betrayal, it is important to know the traps and how they are impacting you.

Trap #1: Waiting for someone or something else to fix it or make it right.

This is the biggest trap that victims of betrayal fall into.  As already mentioned, this is a completely natural feeling to have. Although this is not the case for everyone, most individuals wait for the betrayer to come to his/her senses, to apologize, or to make amends or restitution. Other victims of betrayal may wait for relatives, friends, or connections of the betrayer to side with them and to convince the betrayer of  his/her wrongdoing. Freeing yourself from this trap means doing the hard work of righting yourself.

Consequence: Waiting for the betrayer puts your healing on hold. Waiting for the betrayer will not heal the hole in your heart.

Trap #2:  Gauging your wellness on what the betrayer does or does not do. 

This is another very common trap, especially when the betrayer is someone very important to you. It is prudent to observe the behaviors of the betrayer and gather information as to what his/her intentions  or motives may be in moving forward; however, it is also important to remember that the betrayer did not put your feelings or needs first and may not do so moving forward. The betrayer has much to account for and much work to do as well.

Consequence: Gauging your wellness on what the betrayer does or does not do keeps you and your healing tethered to the betrayer. In other words, you are holding your healing hostage to the betrayer.

Trap #3:  Victims to do not give themselves enough time tending to their own healing before making life-changing decisions. 

Because of the emotional destruction and damaging fallout associated with betrayal injury, it is only natural for individuals to make life-changing decisions in an attempt to mitigate their pain. At times this is necessary when victims must comply with court decisions, legal matters, or they are forced into the decisions by actions of the betrayer, etc. However, it is usually best to wait on making critical decisions until there has been ample opportunity for healing to take hold and for a strong support system to be in place.

Consequence: When individuals are  navigating from a deeply injured mindset, they tend to make decisions which they regret and often times their decisions invite additional re-injury from the betrayer. 

Trap #4: Victims turn to or relapse into unhealthy behaviors to cope or to self-soothe.

The horrifically debilitating States of Being* which are hallmarks of betrayal injury - confusion, worthlessness, and powerlessness - accompanied with  symptoms of depression, anxiety, insomnia and hypersomnia, hopelessness,  etc. are often intolerable. Victims of betrayal are feeling extremely vulnerable and fearful; many feel their lives are spinning "out of control." It is a frightening place to be and turning to or relapsing into unhealthy behaviors to cope or self-soothe appears to be the only solution or at the very least, an escape from chronic pain.

Consequence: Turning to or relapsing into unhealthy behaviors further injures victims and sabotages opportunities for healing to begin. This also may serve to provide the betrayer  with information which could bring additional harm to and consequences for victims.

Trap #5: Victims don't recognize or feel the need to do their own healing. 

The first four traps are all connected to Trap #5.  When individuals are betrayed, we typically hear statements such as:
  • Just give it time.  You'll learn to trust again.
  • You need to forgive and move on.
  • You guys will work it out.  You love each other. 
  • They are awful. You're better off being out of there.
Although there may some truth to such statements, they are also extremely damaging. When we are  betrayed, we are injured. And as with any injury, in order to be whole again - to be well again - we must do the hard work of healing the hole in our hearts and the emptiness in our souls. We must invest into ourselves first.  We must trust in ourselves first. We must believe in ourselves first. When we do....

The healing we experience - not the betrayal injury -  
will take hold and serve to guide us on our path ahead. 

Consequence: Victims who do not recognize or feel the need to do their own healing most often become bitter and resentful.  Their betrayal injury continues to define them.

Are you ready to start freeing yourself? 
You know the traps. Now, get ready to do some work.
Help is here and waiting for you. 

* States of Being - In order to heal from betrayal injury, it is important to understand what you are feeling and why. In Part One of  "Breaking Through Betrayal," learn about the three debilitating States of Being - Confusion,Worthlessness, and Powerlessness- and how to break through them! 

Learn how Daughters who were wounded by their  mothers chose wellness over victimhood.
 Read their powerful stories of doing the hard work of breaking through their betrayals,
 healing their wounds, and coming to a place of peace and acceptance -
 first with themselves and then, with their  mothers.

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Monday, February 26, 2018

Pilates For Parents: Cool Down! Not Perfection. But Purposeful!

Pilates For Parents: Cool Down! 

Not Perfection. But Purposeful!

If you have just joined us in our Pilates For Parents series, welcome!  Please go back and read:
Also, in order to get the most benefit out of this series, make sure you do the homework exercises! Then, join us here as we continue to flex and strengthen our parenting skills!

Before we move on, let’s check in on your homework.  Last time, our lessons were built around the concept of Providing & Guiding: 

Are you meeting your children's needs while being an effective mentor and model?

You were asked to respond to a series of questions designed to stretch and strengthen your skills around providing for the physical and emotional needs of your children as well as deepening your inner awareness and developing your practices around mentoring and modeling behaviors.  Revisit these exercises on a frequent basis.  Continue to challenge yourself by checking in with your children and changing your routine if needed.

Remember, when parents provide for children’s physical and emotional needs and when they guide their paths, children feel worthy and valuable. Let’s continue to show them THEY MATTER!!

Get read for our Cool Down! Not Perfection.  But Purposeful!

We have covered a lot of material in our Pilates For Parents series.  As with any new exercise regime, we can feel overwhelmed.  Also, with all the other demands and challenges which parents face on a daily basis, it is easy to fall back into old patterns or slowly back off of the exercises which are proving to be more of a struggle. Therefore, it is important to remember….

We don’t need to be perfect in our parenting. We need to be purposeful.

Repeat that.

We don’t need to be perfect in our parenting.  We need to be purposeful.

What does that mean?

Being purposeful means that we parent with intention and direction.  It means we are open to assessing and addressing two essential questions:

1) What kind of parent do I want to be?
2) What am I doing to live out the kind of parent I want to be?

The previous four workouts were designed to introduce you to a set of principles and equip you with a set of practices to develop your parenting skills.   Hopefully, many of them helped to cultivate a deeper sense of awareness around their importance and their impact on our children. Now, it is up to you take what you have incorporated into your routine and fine-tune targeted areas will help you to reach your desired state of parenting.

Exercise #1

Take as much time as you need and respond to the following question.

What kind of parent do I want to be?

As you reflect, consider these additional questions:   
  • Think about how you were parented. What worked for you?  What didn’t? Why? 
  • What positives and negatives do you see in how others parent?  
  • Who do you admire and respect as a parent?  Why?  
  • What other resources, belief systems, values, or foundational principles guide you in your parenting?  Which ones help you to be the kind of parent you want to be? Are there ones which might not work for you and your children?  Why?

When you are finished reflecting, write down your thoughts. Then, read over your response.  Are you pleased? Is this the kind of parent you want to be or that you will strive to be? If not, spend more time on this. There is no rush. 

From Daughters Betrayed By Their Mothers: Moving From Brokenness To Wholeness, one of the most profound findings was that only two of the daughters chose to become mothers.  Because of their “lack of parenting” exacerbated the deeply disturbing behaviors of their mothers (and at time their fathers), the “Daughters’” associations with parenting were, understandably, deeply and negatively impacted.  Although two daughters became mothers, they chose to parent with deliberate forethought, intention, and purpose. Each made a promise to herself at a young age “not to repeat the destructive and damaging parenting they endured.”

This is critical. It is important to know what kind of parent you want to be.  It is important to know why.

By knowing what kind of parent you want to be, you are more likely to challenge and grow yourself by working the Pilates For Parents exercises. Also, as you formulate your ideas around what kind of parent you want to be, tell your children what you are doing and be transparent with them, especially if you are making significant shifts in your parenting. As you explain what you are doing and why, keep the communication channels open and fluid, checking in on their progress as you are assessing yours.

Move on to Exercise #2.

Exercise #2

What am I doing to live out the kind of parent I want to be?

Review the Pilates For Parents concepts and exercises in the previous posts.  As you read through them, select one area which will support your goal of being the kind of parent you want to be?  Work on that area as long as you need to. This may take weeks.  This may take months!  Do not move onto another concept until you feel you have fully and successfully integrated the exercises into your parenting program. 

This is important.

You will know how you are doing by asking your children how THEY are doing!
You will know how you are doing by asking your children how YOU are doing!

Remember….breathe.  Relax.  And keep going!!

Exercises for review: Choose one area to work on.

Week One:  Warm up -  You Matter!

1.   What am I doing each day that demonstrates I MATTER TO MY CHILD? What do I need to work  on? What am I doing well?
2.   Am I checking in periodically with my children to see if THEY FEEL LIKE THEY MATTER.What did I find out? What am I doing to help them?

Week Two: Workout #1 – Am I Showing Up?
1.  Am I healthy and stable?  What behaviors do I need to improve, change, or eliminate? What areas are strong and healthy?
2.   To whom and to what do I give my attention? Where do I need to improve or what do I need to change?  What areas am I doing well with my children?
3.  Am I a safe harbor for my children?  Do I react or do I respond? What behaviors do I need to improve, change, or eliminate.  What areas am I doing well?

Week Three: Workout #2 – Protecting: Am I doing what is best or what is popular?
1.  Am I implementing the practices around safety and protection?  What do I need to change or improve?  What areas am I doing a good job of addressing?
2. Am I communicating with my children about their safety?  If so, how?
3.  Am I implementing the practices around “caring for my children over time” (nurturance)? What do I need to change or improve?  What are my strengths?
4.  Do my behaviors demonstrate to my children that I am “caring for them over time?”  If so, how?

Week Four: Workout #3 – Providing and Guiding
1.  Am I providing effectively for my children’s physical and emotional needs? What do I need to improve or change?  What are my strengths?
2.  Am I being an effective mentor and model?  What areas do I need to improve or change? What are my strengths?

At times, you may get tired and frustrated. Take a deep breath.  Relax.  Cool Down.  And then, each and every day, begin again. Recommit yourself again. 

We don't need to be perfect. We need to be purposeful.

In closing,  being a good parent is incredibly important and it is incredibly hard.  And, it is one of the most rewarding jobs we have if we put the time, attention, and investment into our children who want, need, and deserve our very best.  


When our children were born, they made us the most important person in their lives.  
We must be willing to do the same.

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Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Pilates for Parents: Workout #3 - Are You Providing & Guiding?

Pilates For Parents: Workout #3- Providing & Guiding 

Are you meeting your children's needs while being an effective mentor and model?

If you have just joined us in our Pilates For Parents series, welcome!  Please go back and read Pilates For Parents: Warm Up - You Matter!! ,  Pilates For Parents: Workout #1 - Are You Showing Up? , and  Workout #2: Protecting - Are You Doing What Is Best or What Is Popular?  Also, in order to get the most benefit out of this series, make sure you do the homework exercises! Then, join us here as we continue to flex and strengthen our parenting skills!
Before we move into Workout #3 – Providing & Guiding, let’s check in on your homework from Workout #2 – Protecting! 

 We focused on two concepts:
  • Safety - Doing what is best for our children’s health and well-being –not what is easiest or most popular.
  • Nurturance - Caring for our children over time – remaining cautious about detaching from them too early while being mindful of their need for independence and autonomy.
Your homework consisted of a series of questions which were provided as guidelines for safety and nurturance.  Did you address each of them? If so, what changes or shifts did you make? Did you find yourself feeling guilty or inadequate? If so, release it! Pilates for Parents, like any new exercise regime, requires patience and perseverance on your part, not perfection! Also, this homework is not a “one and done” assignment.  Revisit these questions on a daily basis as you make decisions regarding your children’s wellbeing.  As they enter into the more challenging years of adolescence and teenagers, these questions also serve as an important foundation for you and your children to keep the communication lines open.  

Remember, no one else will care about the safety and nurturance of your children as much as you do.

Let’s move on the Workout #3 – Providing & Guiding!

Parenting books are filled with the latest suggestions on how and what to provide for children. Families are encouraged to tailor recommendations according to their values, belief systems, and traditional or cultural practices. For the purposes of Pilates For Parents, we are going to focus on two areas of Providing:
  • Physiological needs
  • Emotional needs

Physiological needs

Children’s basic physiological needs such as food, shelter, and clothing are extremely important for their healthy development. If children are deprived of these basic needs, other areas of growth are jeopardized and can result in delayed development or other adverse effects.

On the other end of the spectrum, because we live in a very material-driven culture, it is easy for parents to succumb to the pressures of “staying up with the latest fads” or “competing with the Joneses.”  Children want to fit in and belong and most parents don’t want their children to do without. However, there are important lessons to be learned around “what is needed” and “what is wanted.” It’s up to parents to make those distinctions and demonstrate the meaning behind each.  

This is important. 
  • Providing basic needs is essential for our children’s health and wellbeing. 
  • Keeping a pulse on excesses and curbing their intake cultivates an appreciation for balance in their lives.
Emotional needs

Children’s emotional needs center around three critical areas: love, belonging, and acceptance. 

Love.  Love is a verb.  It needs to be expressed, and it also needs to be demonstrated.  Parents can tell their children they love them and they are important, but if parents are not available, do  not follow through on commitments, or their parenting techniques are contrary to a compassionate and caring approach, children receive mixed messages and begin to question their lovability.

Belonging.  Belonging means to feel a part of  a meaningful entity or unit.  Having a strong sense of belonging within a family tethers children to their sense of worth and esteem.  Although their individual character and personality must be recognized, children who feel their being is an important “piece of a whole” tend to have greater feelings of self-efficacy. When children feel they do not “fit in” or when siblings are favored, they blame themselves and internalize it as self-deficiency.  

Acceptance.  At first, acceptance may seem to be the same as belonging. However, it is different.  Each child is unique. Each child has her own personality, talents, quirks, creativity, strengths, and weaknesses. Each child must be celebrated for who she is and what she brings to the world. Each deserves the respect and the unconditional positive regard from her parent/s or guardians. A lack of acceptance causes children to feel ashamed of who they are.  They often question their “reason for being.”

One of the most consistent finding in Daughters Betrayed By Their Mothers was a feeling of “not being enough.”  One of the daughters referred to her feelings of emptiness as the “not enough syndrome.” Even when there were sporadic or conditional expressions of love and belonging, their mothers inability to demonstrate acceptance for the daughters greatly damaged their sense of worth and of mattering and negatively impacted  the daughters’ future relationships.

This is important.
  • Providing love, belonging, and acceptance cultivates a deep sense of worth and value within a child. 
  • Not doing so creates a significant disequilibrium around their sense of self and an inability to form healthy attachments as they grow and mature.
Exercise #1
Parents and guardians, while reflecting on the above concepts, assess on how you are providing for your children’s physiological and emotional needs.  Spend time responding to these questions:

1) Am I providing their essentials: food, shelter, and clothing? What areas need improvement?  
2) Am I meeting their needs? Am I succumbing to their wants? Am I explaining the differences to them?
3) Am I expressing my love – both in my words and my actions? Are my actions consistent with the messages of love I am conveying?
4) Am I providing a sense of belonging for my children? Do they feel connected to the family unit?  Have I checked with them lately?
5) Do I accept my children for who they are? Do I acknowledge them for their unique qualities, characteristics, gifts, talents, etc.? Am I critical, judgmental, or do I find fault with them? Have I asked them if they feel accepted by me? Have I asked them if they feel like "they are enough?”

Let’s move on to our second Pilates practice - Guiding.  We will explore two areas:
  • Mentoring
  • Modeling


Mentoring is a common term which we typically associate with an experienced individual who is training a novice or less knowledgeable person in a specific field or task. For the purposes of Pilates for Parents, we are going to define mentoring as... 

“Informing and guiding our children as they move through their developmental stages 
in order to be better prepared to navigate their world.”

We talked earlier about the importance of parents being a “safe harbor” for their children. Mentoring adds another dimension to this metaphor.  Children need to know that parents will provide a consistent compass for them to tether their decision-making and their course of direction. Although it is beneficial to children's development when parents provide their children with diverse athletic opportunities,artistic activities, and academic interests, this does not mean that we expect children to follow in our footsteps or that they must embrace the interests and passions we engaged in as children. It means that as our children discover and uncover what their interests are and as they struggle through developmental challenges and changes, parents and guardians are available and present to talk through issues, problem solve, and assist their children in setting an informed course of action or path. Of course, younger children require more direction and guidance. And effective mentoring means tailoring our approach to the individual needs  and  personality of each child. 

Several of the daughters in  Daughters Betrayed By Their Mothers reported that because their mothers were unwilling or unable to guide them through the adolescent to teen developmental stages, they were uninformed and highly unprepared for the complexities and consequences of intimate relationships. Most of the daughters interpreted their mother’s indifference in guiding and preparing them as not being worthy, as not mattering enough. They were left to navigate unchartered waters on their own.

Although there are times where is it beneficial for children to experience the consequences of their behavior and of their choices and to learn form them, when children are left adrift to “figure it out for themselves,” without  informed guidance, the consequences can be deeply damaging and at times dangerous.


Parents and guardians have heard this word a lot!  However, its importance cannot be emphasized enough!  If we do not practice what we preach or if we do not model the behaviors we hope to instill in our children, they will learn that too!  Modeling means...

 “Showing our children how to do something 
or demonstrating the desired behavior through the process of imitation.” 

Modeling does not mean we have to be perfect. It means we need to be consistent with and conscious of our behaviors as we establish expectations and norms for our children.

A common complaint often expressed by parents and guardians is that their children are too attached to their phones. Parents report conflict about excess phone usage, children not paying attention, and arguments over attending to other responsibilities, chores, etc.  However, when children have been surveyed about their parents’ screen usage, they feel their parents are distracted and disconnected as well! Numerous studies report children wish their parents would spend less time on their technology!

It’s important to remember, we – as parents and guardians – are our children’ first teachers!  What we say and do matters.  Our children are observing and learning from us.  As they grow and mature, they are likely to model what has been demonstrated at home.

Exercise #2

Spend some time reflecting on the following questions.  Take your time.  Remember, we don’t have to change everything at once.  However, when it comes to “mentoring and modeling”, it is important to be brutally honest with ourselves. 

 1) As my children grow and develop, am I an effective guide? Am I a reliable compass or are they trying to “figure it out by themselves?” 
2) Do I expect my children to be like me or follow my dreams or do I cultivate their unique characters and support their dreams? Have I asked them if they feel they will disappoint me if they don’t embrace a certain practice or interest? Am I ready to hear their answers?
 3) Am I modeling the kinds of behaviors and attitudes I want to instill in my children? What areas do I need to work on?  What am I doing well?  
4) What expectations do I have for my children that I need to practice or improve upon? 
5) When I see my children misbehaving or mistreating someone or something, have I asked them where they learned the behavior? Am I willing to listen to their responses?   
6) Do my children see me as an effective role model?  Have I asked them?

In closing, today’s Pilates principles of Providing and Guiding are not easy to assess and address. And, they require a commitment to implementing them on a daily basis.  Just as is true with any exercise program, the more we workout – the more we integrate these practices into our routine – they will take hold of us, providing and guiding us in our parenting journey.

Keep going and keep growing!

Next time – Pilates For Parents:  Cool Down!  Not Perfection. But Purposeful!

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Saturday, February 3, 2018

Pilates For Parents: Workout #2: Protecting - Are You Doing What Is Best or What Is Popular?

Pilates For Parents: Workout #2- Protecting!

Are you doing what is best or what is popular?

If you have just joined us in our Pilates For Parents series, welcome!  Please go back and read Pilates For Parents: Warm Up - You Matter!! and  Pilates For Parents: Workout #1 - Are You Showing Up? Also, in order to get the most benefit out of this series, make sure you do the homework exercises! Then, join us here as we continue to flex and strengthen our parenting skills!
Before we move into Workout #2 – Protecting, let’s check in on your homework from Workout #1 – Showing Up (Being Present)!  We touched upon three really important and heavy duty principles – Stability (Wellness), Selflessness (Child Focused), and Stillness (Safe Harbor).   We placed Showing Up! in Workout #1 because that it is THE MOST CRITICAL practice to put into place!  This is important.

Growing our effectiveness as parents is dependent upon our capacity to be well, to be child focused, and to be a safe harbor for our children.

This is essential.

Growing our effectiveness as parents is dependent upon our capacity to be well, to be child focused, and to be a safe harbor for our children.

Therefore, move along with us as we add workouts to our routine, but continue to begin each day with Workout #1!  Implement your action steps.  Remember, the best way to change or improve behavior is to take small steps, achieve your goal, and then move forward.  If you have a setback, readjust your goal and begin again.  Don’t give up! Recommit and reward yourself along the way for your successes!

Let’s move on with Workout #2 – Protecting!

Today’s workout may seem like common sense.  Of course, parents and guardians should protect their children! However, because of all the changes and challenges parents and guardians face every day, there are two areas which can help us to do a better job of Protecting our children:
  • Safety
  • Nurturance

In order to protect our children, we need to focus on their safety. We must be proactive about who or what we allow into their lives… and when and where.  Keeping our children safe means…

Doing what is best for our children’s health and well-being –
not what is easiest or most popular.

This is important.  Keeping our children safe means…

Doing what is best for our children’s health and well-being- 
not what is easiest or most popular.

Some of the most heartbreaking stories from parents and guardians involve the dangers of the Internet.  Whether it is cyber bullying, revenge porn, predators, etc., children are being humiliated, injured, and placed in high risk situations.  And yet, when parents or guardians are questioned about their rules for safe practices regarding their children’s usage or if they have a Family Media Plan  in place, many are surprised or stunned!

Before we turn over any piece of technology to any age child, we must be willing to do the hard work up front.  This requires that we find out what the risks are as well as the benefits.  We need to know how to implement practices and rules for their usage which will minimize the dangers and educate us on how to intervene if the unthinkable happens. This safety issue is fully addressed in   "Power Down & Parent Up: Cyber Bullying, Screen Dependence & Raising Tech-Healthy Children" (2016, Loving Healing Press, Inc.). Parents and guardians, “Power Down & Parent Up” is a concise but powerful resource just for you! It is a road map which will guide your path of safety as you and your children navigate the tech world.

Real Power Means Being Informed!
Technology issues are important; however, with any social behavior, parents and guardians should always keep their children’s safety in mind when making decisions about their degree of access and exposure to, or consumption of anything. In doing so, it is helpful for parents and guardians to ask themselves these four questions:

1)  How much do I know about this person, place, thing, activity, etc.?  Have I done research and background checks?

2)  Why am I agreeing to this?

3)  How will this benefit my children? How will it not?

4)  Am I willing to commit to monitoring, supervising, or following-up on this person, place, or thing, etc.  and explore how it is affecting my children? If so, what will that commitment look like?

Several years ago while speaking to an audience on cyber bullying, a parent raised her hand and asked, “Do I have a right to invade my child’s privacy? Should I be checking her texts?”

My response was compassionate yet firm. “We have a responsibility to keep our children safe. And, I will show you how to do so with respect and regard for them.”  After demonstrating to the audience how to implement a Family Media Plan ( American Academy of Pediatrics), there was relief on their faces!

For your homework, let’s being with Workout #2: Protecting  - Exercise #1.

Exercise #1 – Safety

Ask yourself the following four questions as you make decisions about protecting your children.  Then, discuss with your children, age appropriately, how you are making adjustments in your decision-making and why. 

1)  How much do I know about this person, place, thing, activity, etc.?  Have I done research and background checks?
2)  Why am I agreeing to this?
3)  How will this benefit my children? How will it not?
4)  Am I willing to commit to monitoring, supervising, or following-up on this person, place, or thing, etc.  and explore how it is affecting my children? If so, what will that commitment look like?

If you have made decisions which you now recognize are not in the best interest of children’s health and well-being, it is absolutely permissible to change your mind!  Age appropriately, explain to them what you have learned and why you are making adjustments!  Children are resilient and respond well when parents and guardians take the time to explain their rationale.  Recently during  a conversation with a friend who has a daughter in college and a son in middle school, she shared, “When my husband and I realize we’ve really blown it, we tell our kids, ’We made a mistake’!  We care about you!  We are going to do a do-over!’”  She laughed and added, “My kids are great about it! They appreciate that we know we are not perfect and that we mess up too!”

Remember, it’s never too late to do a do-over!!  NEVER!

Let’s move on to Nurturance!

The second component to protecting our children is based around the principle of Nurturance. Most of us are familiar with the word nurture. It a caring word and a compelling word.  Nurturance means “the ability to care for over time.”   Strengthening our nurturing skills means…

Caring for our children over time – remaining cautious about detaching from them too 
early while being mindful of their need for independence and autonomy.

This is important.  Strengthening our nurturing skills means…

Caring for our children over time – remaining cautious about detaching from them too
early while being mindful of their need for independence and autonomy.

Although many animals provide us lessons on parental nurturing, deer are a perfect example. The adult doe instinctively protects her babies while affording them brief moments of autonomy as they learn necessary survival skills. In the early months after birth, a mother doe stays extremely close to her babies. Although she is leading the way through the grassy terrain searching for food, she remains vigilant keeping a watchful eye on them and on any potential danger. Mother doe are also extraordinarily keen to the dangers of premature exposure to the wilderness, introducing survival elements and foreign environments slowly and cautiously. As her young fawn or buck mature, a mother doe will distance herself further in proximity from her young ones; however, it is clear that keeping them out of harm’s way remains her first priority. At first sight, scent, or sound of an intruder, she signals their departure and secures their safety.  As the seasons pass, the young adults saunter through the terrain, cautious but confident on their own.  Mother doe eyes them from nearby, still caring over time from afar.
Mother doe are keen to the dangers of premature exposure.
Parents and guardians, while reflecting on this metaphor, assess on how you are providing nurturance for your children.  Spend time responding to these questions:

1.  Do I watch over my children? Do I know where they are, what they are doing, and with whom?

2.  Did I start out strong in my commitment to nurturance when my children were young and have I sustained that commitment over time? If so, in what ways? 

3.  Have I exposed my children prematurely or allowed unsupervised access too early to a person, place, thing, etc., without considering their safety? Have I adequately prepared them with the appropriate insights and tools to handle potential dangers and possible harm? What areas do I need to address?

These questions are very difficult to answer.  Take your time as you think through them and respond.  Remember, Pilates For Parents – like any worthwhile exercise program - can be uncomfortable at first as we stretch and strengthen areas we have not worked on before or areas we have let go. Also, remind yourself that we rarely change anything when we are feeling cozy or comfortable in what we are doing. Give yourself permission to allow any guilt, doubt, or discomfort to motivate you to recommit and keep going!

As we bring Workout #2 – Protecting to a close, the importance of providing safety and nurturance was a critical finding from the “Daughters  Betrayed By Their Mothers" study. Because most of the mothers were unwilling or unable to do what was best for their daughters’ health and well being or to care for them over time, daughters were injured physically and psychologically. Many were chronically in “harm’s way”; several were confronted with dangerous and destructive situations. One of the most painful and consistent discoveries from the study was that daughters believed “they did not matter.” Their sense of worthlessness was deeply lodged within their beings and most carried it with them into their adult lives which often led to making unhealthy choices with injurious consequences.   

Parents and guardians, this is important.

When we provide protection for our children by making their health and well-being a priority and by caring for them consistently, vigilantly, and unconditionally over time…

We signal to them  – THEY ARE IMPORTANT.        
We demonstrate to them  – THEY ARE VALUABLE.

This is very important.

When we provide protection for our children by making their health and well-being a priority and by caring for them consistently, vigilantly, and unconditionally over time…
We signal to them  – THEY ARE IMPORTANT.       
We demonstrate to them  – THEY ARE VALUABLE.

Wow! What a responsibility!  Parents and guardians, you can do this! Remember,  your children have already made you the most important person in their lives.  They deserve no less.

Please, do your homework!  Keep going and keep growing!

Next time: Workout #3 – Providing and Guiding!

For more resources, please visit Holli Kenley!
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Be sure to grab a copy of  Power Down & Parent Up!!
Real power means being informed!!

Daughters Betrayed By Their Mothers:
Moving From Brokenness To Wholeness

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Perpetrators Thrive in the Secrecy and Silence of Closed Systems: What Should Parents Know and Do?

With the news coverage of the secrecy and silence surrounding a plethora of sexual assault cases within a "closed system" (a USA gymnastics organization and a university), it is important to revisit steps for  Proactive Parenting in the protection of children and in the advocacy of victims.

Taking Back My Life - People Magazine, Feb.19, 2018
For the purposes of today's  blog, we are going to focus on Proactive Principle #2. Visit Proactive Parenting (full blog)  for Proactive Principle #1 . Tragically, because of on-going sexual assaults of students on our college campuses and universities, examples and statistics will be incorporated to illustrate specific concepts and principles.

Proactive Parenting Principle #2  is a tough one - rarely discussed but critically important. Again, integrate it into your mindset and apply it to your parenting style. Here we go. Let's look at how we can protect our children and prevent them from being at risk in predatory, secretive, closed environments or systems of abuse and/or assault. 

#2   - The degree of innate trust ascribed to a closed system can be a reliable predictor of an abusive environment and/or where perpetrators carry out their dangerous agendas.

Before you read that again, let's define two terms used in this principle:
  • Innate trust - This kind of trust comes with the entitlement given to the trustor accompanied by the natural subjection or compliance of the trustee. This kind of trust usually carries with it a power differential.  Examples are parent- child; pastor - parishioner; coach - athlete; mentor - student; doctor - patient. Tragically, as with many sexual assaults - on-campus perpetrators are usually someone the victim knows and trusts.
  • Closed system - This is a term which refers to any kind of  family unit, organization, place of worship, or any type of grouping of individuals where there is a system of rules or regulations in place (written or understood) which can be protective and constructive in nature but can also be secretive and isolating. A closed system typically has a person or persons of authority, power, or position who enforce or impose their rules or regulations. Given the hierarchy of some systems and their alliances, often times individuals in authority protect or cover up the offenses of the perpetrators.   Examples include families; places of worship; children's teams, classrooms, organizations or clubs; or familial extended relationships or friendships. Horrifically, universities and colleges protect themselves first, before the victims. Victims, in fact, are discouraged from going to the police because colleges and universities do not want a public record.  In 2012, 45% of colleges reported zero sexual assaults (Washington Post,2012), even though 1 in 5 women report being raped or sexually assaulted (The Hunting Ground, 2015).
With these explanations in place, read this again.

The degree of innate trust ascribed to a closed system can be a reliable predictor of an abusive environment and/or where perpetrators carry out their dangerous agendas. 

There are cases where child abusers can be random individuals and criminals; however, it is tragically the case that  most often perpetrators are in our own homes, families, and within the organizations and/or groups of individuals with whom we and our children socialize and trust. Over the years treating victims of sexual abuse and trauma, I was constantly sickened by the perpetrator's identities: baby-sitters; step-brothers; uncles and aunts; step-parents; close family friends; biological parents; friends of older siblings; coaches; teachers; grand-parents; faith leaders; biological brothers and sisters; campus acquaintances and friends. And the list goes on.

The point is this - children have a natural trust in those individuals whom they turn to for love, nurturing, and fulfillment of their basic needs. Horrifically, some of those same individuals are sick human beings who can manipulate a closed system by instilling fear, shame, guilt and secrecy in children in order to victimize them.

Although I am going to give parents more concrete strategies in next week's blog, Proactive Parenting Principle #2 works hand in hand with Principle #1.  As you are assessing your children's degree of access or exposure to anyone or any environment, parents - you must scrutinize the degree of innate trust that you have ascribed to that person or personsand you must evaluate the dynamics of the closed system.

Ask yourself the following questions regarding innate trust ascribed to a person or an environment:
  • Why do I trust this individual or organization? What proof or evidence do I have?
  • Have I done a background check or done my research? Currently, over 100 universities and colleges are under Federal investigation for sexual assault on their campuses.
  • Have I just assumed that this person or group is safe? 
  • Have I checked up on my child  when he/she is alone with this person or group?
  • Are there any unhealthy symptoms, signs or red flags with this individual? What does my gut tell me?
  • Am I ascribing too much trust to this person or group? Am I aware and paying attention to my instincts?
And ask yourself these questions regarding the healthiness or unhealthiness of a closed system: 
  • Do your children feel free to talk to you about anything? 
  • Are they fearful or afraid of someone in  your own family, neighborhood, university/college campus or other?  Would you recognize their fear, anxiety, or other distress symptoms?
  • Have you asked your children lately if they feel safe? Have you asked them what they do if they didn't feel safe? 
  • Have you talked with them about their bodies - what is private and what to do if someone touches or hurts them in any way?
  • Is there someone that you are afraid of or who is abusive to you? Have you asked yourself what messages you might be teaching your children?  Have you asked them how they feel?
The next few questions are critical!
  • Have you talked with your children about secrets and threats? Do you know if anyone has asked them to keep a secret or threatened them if they didn't?
  • Do your children know, without a doubt, that you will believe them, protect them, and take care of them if they tell you something bad?
  • Are you a safe harbor for your children?
In closing for today, I know that this is a lot to take in. And I know that some individuals reading this are themselves survivors of sexual abuse or trauma. It is never to late to reach out and get help. There are so many good people with the same or similar story who have dedicated their lives to helping others and who are passionate about preventing child abuse. Next time, we will discuss more specific Proactive Parenting strategies, but for now I want to leave you with a few resources. These warriors are nationally and internationally known, and I am honored to be associated with them. Please, visit their websites and their materials.

~ Proactive Parenting is not optional...
It is our responsibility  ~

For more protective parenting strategies, please read - Proactive Parenting - Part Two.

Rise and Shine Movement - "We equip parents to protect kids from sexual abuse. Because it is not a stranger.  It's someone you know."

RAINN is a national site that provides a myriad of resources and support. RAINN - Rape, Abuse, Incest National Network

If you are a victim of abuse or your son or daughter has been a victim of abuse within our military, please visit Protect Our Defenders .You are not alone.  Support and resources are available for you.

If you are a parent/guardian of a teenager (or a tween- teen) looking for guidance in discovering their worth based on what is important to them and in  making healthy decisions for their life, get a copy of Another Way  by Holli Kenley, M.A., MFT.

National Safe Helpline -   877 - 995-5246

For more support and resources, please visit Holli Kenley
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