On Your Mind: An angry husband

on your mindNOTE: The question below reached us through our “online hotline” button which lets anyone send a question to a local counselor at Ozark Guidance —  in a completely anonymous way. The email comes in with no email address and no identifying information. We set it up this way so women would feel free to write about anything on their mind.

My husband gets angry and raises his voice often. He often calls me a “worthless piece of sh-t” when he gets mad. He has pushed me and slapped my hand several times in the past 10 years. He says it’s my fault for getting him mad because I nag him or ask so many questions.

He also said, which really concerns me, that he can see how those football players punched their girlfriends/wife. He doesn’t think it’s right but he can see how the woman’s nagging could have made them that mad.

We are both in our 60s and it’s a second marriage for both of us. I know he cheated on his ex but I don’t know about physical abuse. He also tried to cheat on me but was caught. He is a womanizer.

What do you think?

Dear Wife,

What I think doesn’t matter nearly as much as what you know to be true. So here’s some truth: Physical violence, putting someone domestic violence letterdown, rationalizing violence and blaming another person for your actions are ALL signs of domestic violence. What you’re dealing with right now IS domestic violence.

You were absolutely right to reach out for help by writing this letter. It means that you’re starting to really see the signs of abuse and violence in your relationship. I hope that you’ll not only see the signs but also find the strength to follow your instincts. And the good news is that our community has a lot of people standing by who are ready to help you and want to help you.

Please write down this information because you need to know about the Peace at Home Shelter, which is located right here in Northwest Arkansas. The people there are trained to help women going through domestic violence. They can help you learn more about this issue so that it doesn’t continue to escalate. And they are open all the time. If you call this number (877-442-9811), someone will be there to answer it 24-hours a day. You can also get information from the shelter’s website by clicking HERE.

Please reach out to them or to the mental health professionals here at Ozark Guidance. Don’t wait until your story becomes a news headline before you get the help you deserve. We’ll be thinking about you and wishing you the very best.

Therapists at Ozark Guidance would be happy to answer your questions and read what’s on your mind. Click the butterfly icon below to fill out an anonymous submission form with your question or concern. The form contains NO identifying information and is designed to give local women an online place to share concerns with a person qualified to offer feedback.

Disclaimer: This RESPONSE does not provide medical advice It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on nwaMotherlode or Ozark Guidance websites.

On Your Mind: Could this be ADHD?

on your mindMy sister-in-law thinks my son may have ADHD based on conversations I’ve had with her about some of my son’s difficulties in school. What are some red flags that would indicate he needs to be tested and how would I get the process started? It feels so overwhelming.

ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder) currently affects up to 12 percent of our children, and these numbers seem to just continue to climb. Often times, parents start to feel overwhelmed when others question if their child may have ADHD. Many parents feel like they’ve done something wrong, when in reality they have done everything right.

They’ve been to the school, talked with their kids and provided every resource imaginable. But sometimes, the typical things parents do to help their children just aren’t enough. That’s when it’s time to seek help from a professional, like a behavioral health therapist or doctor. There may be an underlying problem that requires both medical and behavioral support.

How do you know when it’s time to seek out that extra help? Look for some of these difficulties in your child’s behavior:

  • trouble paying attention
  • inattention to details and makes careless mistakes
  • adhd letterseasily distracted
  • loses school supplies, forgets to turn in homework
  • trouble finishing classwork and homework
  • trouble listening
  • trouble following multiple adult commands
  • blurts out answers
  • impatience
  • fidgets or squirms
  • leaves seat and runs about or climbs excessively
  • seems “on the go”
  • talks too much and has difficulty playing quietly
  • interrupts or intrudes on others

Any child may show some or all of these behaviors at times, but the child with ADHD shows these behaviors more frequently and severely than other children of the same age. One suggestion would be to watch your child when they are around a group of same age friends. Do they show any of the listed behaviors much more frequently than their peers? If so, it may be time to seek that extra help.

Selecting the right mental health professional for this comprehensive assessment and treatment is the key to a good outcome. Parents should ask their pediatrician or family physician to refer them to a child and adolescent psychiatrist, who can diagnose and treat this medical condition. In addition, Ozark Guidance Center has a group of Board Certified Child and Adolescent psychiatrists, psychologists and licensed clinical professionals trained and experienced in providing you confidence in the knowing whether or not your child may have ADHD. (Our protocol includes complete assessments and appropriate treatment for your child and family.)

Treatment for ADHD can vary greatly depending on the professional you seek assistance from, but treatment can include behavioral plans, parent training, self-regulation skills and medications. These strategies can help improve a child’s behavior and performance in school and at home.

I wish you the very best as you pursue answers about your son’s challenges at school. If we can help, call Ozark Guidance at 479-750-2020 to get more information or to schedule an appointment.

Sincerely,

Dr. Randy Staley

Staley, Randy MDDr. Randy Staley is a native Arkansan. He completed medical school at the University of Arkansas Medical School and a five-year combination psychiatry, child psychiatry, and general pediatrics residency at the University of Kentucky in Lexington. Staley is the Chief Medical Officer for Ozark Guidance and has been serving clients within therapeutic day treatment, therapeutic foster care, and outpatient children’s services. His background, professional and personal interest lends a unique perspective on the condition, diagnosis, and treatment options for children and adolescents with ADHD. 

Therapists at Ozark Guidance would be happy to answer your questions and read what’s on your mind. Click the butterfly icon below to fill out an anonymous submission form with your question or concern. The form contains NO identifying information and is designed to give local women an online place to share concerns with a person qualified to offer feedback. 

Disclaimer: This RESPONSE does not provide medical advice It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on nwaMotherlode or Ozark Guidance websites.

On Your Mind: How to talk to your kids about suicide

onyourmind

Guest post by Dr. Erica Boughfman, Ozark Guidance

The death of Robin Williams this week has brought the subject of suicide to the forefront of discussions.

Many of your children will hear about the news either by seeing something themselves or having a friend mention it. As a parent, it can be difficult in situations like this to know what the right thing to say is or how to best respond to our children when they begin to ask questions.

Suicide is prevalent and will eventually be a conversation you have with them whether the prompt is Mr. Williams’s death or that of a family member, close friend, or peer at school.

Here a few tips on talking with your child about suicide:

stop sign in stormIn deciding how to talk with your child about suicide, it is important to consider how you would talk with your child about death in general. What have you already shared with your child about death? What facts about the death of someone would you share with your child given his or her age and developmental level? The answers to those questions will help guide what and how much you feel comfortable sharing with you child.

A conversation about suicide is a conversation about mental illness. Death can be challenging to explain to a child and that becomes more complicated when the cause of death is suicide. If someone died of another disease, you would likely name that disease and talk about it with your child. The same should be true in talking about mental illness and suicide.

There remains a stigma about mental illness, but talking openly about it with your children helps to minimize that stigma. Many people have a mental illness and yes, unfortunately, that can lead to a person’s death.  It is also important to share with your children that mental illness can be treated and remind them to always come talk with you if they have any struggles or concerns.

Avoid using the terminology that someone “committed suicide”. When talking with your children about suicide it is important to say that the person died from suicide and not that the person committed suicide. This helps to emphasize to your child that it is the illness that led to the person’s death, not that person’s actions.

Allow your child to guide the conversation. As a parent of two young children (2 and 5), I learned quickly that my kids will ask the questions they have and will process the answers as they are capable at that time. As long as you are providing that safe space for them to ask those questions, they can guide that conversation for you. It is good to first initiate the conversation with your children so that they know it is ok for them to share and ask questions.

Answer questions openly and honestly, while taking into consideration your child’s age and developmental level. I have worked with many adolescent clients over the years whose parents did not tell them the truth about different situations when they were younger in order to “protect” them (suicide is one example of when a parent may alter the truth).

In each situation, no matter the initial incident, the client ended up experiencing that loss again, now with all the information, and also experienced the pain of being “lied to” by someone he or she trusted.

This is not to say that a parent always has to disclose specific details that might not be appropriate to share with a child. Often with young children, very short and to the point answers is what they seek.

Saying something as simple as, “the person was very sad and had depression and it caused him to die” may be all that needs to be shared. Then refer to the suggestion above, let your child guide the conversations with the questions he or she has, but remember to answer those questions honestly.

Talking with your children about suicide can certainly be challenging. However, the more we talk about suicide and mental illness with our children, our friends, and each other, the more we help to reduce the stigma of mental illness.

And if your child were then to ever experience the darkness of depression, he or she would know that you are there, ready to listen and to assist them in getting professional help.

Dr. BoughfmanErica Boughfman, PhD., LPC, is program director of Ozark Guidance’s School-Based Services of Washington County. You can reach Ozark Guidance at 479-750-2020 or 800-234-7052. The mental health crisis phones are answered 24/7. Disclaimer: This response does not provide medical advice and is intended for informational purposes only.

On Your Mind: 4-year-old power struggles with Mom

onyourmindThe question below reached us through our “online hotline” button which lets anyone send a question to Lauren Levine, a local counselor — completely anonymous. The email comes in with no email address and no identifying information. We set it up this way so women would feel free to write about anything on their mind.

Question from reader:

My 4-year-old son and I have a difficult relationship. We fight so often about so many different things, from picking his room up to simple things like apologizing to his little brother. I try not to make it a power struggle, but where is the line between discipline and creating power struggle?

He is potty trained but he has started having accidents during the day. I’m beginning to wonder if this is him trying assert his control or could it be something more, and how would I know? I want a loving and more stress-free relationship but I don’t know what else to try.

Dear Mom,

“Parenting is easy” said no one EVER!!

Yes. Once a parent grabs the bait and engages in a power struggle, it’s game over. There is no “winning.” You sound like a thoughtful and caring mom. Your sense of your son having accidents as a way to exert control may be accurate. (Before making this judgment, however, I would  check with primary care physicians to rule out any physical causes.)

Many moms believe that overpowering “authoritarian parenting” is the only way. This style of parenting often includes yelling, shaming and scolding and often results in a diminished sense of self and ability to feel confident in one’s own decision making. There are many more thoughtful, respectful methods of parenting. Here are some ideas:

peaceful parentsInstead of seeing child’s ability to “push back” as bad behavior, try to understand it as a positive healthy sign of his development. Consider finding ways to support your child in feeling empowered. When he doesn’t always feel overpowered, he won’t feel the need to engage in a battle as often.

So how does one do this? Always consider offering reasonable choices — choices that you are willing and able to follow through on. Rather than dictating orders ask “this or that.” Rather than saying “Pick up all those toys now” change it to “Which toys would you like to pick up first?” Or “Which shirt would you like to wear today?” instead of “Here are your clothes. Get dressed.” Children who feel respected will disengage from the need to battle.

I often comment that when we parent by the seat of our pants we resort to punishment, but if we have a plan in place we can offer opportunity to work towards reward. And who doesn’t respond better to positive reinforcement?

This is a very short response to huge and ongoing questions.

Make sure to use resources that are available to you. Www.mommybites.com is a wonderful online resource which offers free parenting classes and advice as well as many helpful articles. Many community centers and schools offer parenting support . I often recommend a book called Peaceful Parents, Happy Kids:  How to stop yelling and start connecting , by Dr. Laura Markham. It offers practical tools for parenting without a power struggle.

Don’t try and do this alone. Remember It takes a village.”

Sincerely,

Lauren

photolaurenCLICK HERE to read more about therapist Lauren Levine. If you’d like to ask Lauren a question about something on your mind, click the butterfly icon below and submit your question. The form is NOT tied to your email address or any other identifying information, therefore your question will be submitted anonymously. You can read the answer to your question by reading the therapist’s response here on nwaMotherlode.com.

Click HERE to read other questions and answers in the On Your Mind category.

on your mindlauren info

On Your Mind: Local wife and mom dealing with verbal abuse

onyourmindThe question below reached us through our “online hotline” button which lets anyone send a question to Lauren Levine, a local counselor — completely anonymous. The email comes in with no email address and no identifying information. We set it up this way so women would feel free to write about anything on their mind.

Question from reader:

My husband of 10 yrs has gotten progressively more and more verbally angry at me. Yesterday he pushed me twice during an argument. I have begged him to talk and get counseling, but he refuses. I am name-called (liar, manipulator, selfish). We have two very young twin toddlers. I am at a complete loss…..He has made me feel guilty and ashamed of my behavior. I am blamed for all arguments. Yesterday he told me that after 10 yrs, he can’t stand me……I’ve reached a new low where I beg forgiveness and beg for him to talk to me. Please help.

Reply from Lauren

I am so sorry you are in this situation. Your husband is being abusive and controlling and potentially dangerous.  I know you know this or you wouldn’t have words can hurtreached out for help.

What jumps out for me in your plea is that he won’t go with you or on his own for help. What I know for certain is that we cannot change other people — even our husbands. But you CAN do the work to help yourself.

I want to encourage you to reach out for counseling to gain some more perspective, gain some strength and support for putting a plan together for yourself.

I’m not sure what your financial/insurance situation is, so I want to offer a range of options. If you have insurance, go to the Psychology Today website and do a search for a therapist and choose one who appeals to you.

If you don’t have insurance, you could consider both Ozark Guidance (479-750-2020) or Dayspring (479-631-9996) since they both offer a sliding fee scale for uninsured and/or underemployed.

Good luck to you and let me know if I can help.

Sincerely,

Lauren

photolaurenCLICK HERE to read more about therapist Lauren Levine. If you’d like to ask Lauren a question about something on your mind, click the butterfly icon below and submit your question. The form is NOT tied to your email address or any other identifying information, therefore your question will be submitted anonymously. You can read the answer to your question by reading the therapist’s response here on nwaMotherlode.com.

Click HERE to read other questions and answers in the On Your Mind category.

on your mindlauren info

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