What are some examples of parenting styles that result in successful individuals?

So, in this blog we manage to include reference to both presidential nominees. Thank you for reading!

Clinton and Trump 2016 Copyright Futurism.com

The diversity of parenting styles and context for individual parents, children and families is infinite. MyFampal has researched this area quite extensively, and there are huge arrays of anecdotal information and opinion on parenting styles, but very limited evidence that one style of parent support offers better long term benefit over another.

Food for Thought

Success Means Different things to Different People

How is success measured? Health? Education? Relationships? Happiness? Social conscience? Annual earnings? Charitable giving? Number of likes on Social Media?

Who is the most ‘successful’ adult – Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton? Which one would you like your child to emulate? [Zeitgeist example – like milk, best served fresh]

Styles and Expectations Vary Greatly Between Cultures

Contrast the high-pressure Gaokao exams in China with US and UK preference for continual assessment. These very different teaching methods meet with mixed approval of parents, but still dominate in those cultures.

What Factors Impact ‘Parental Success’ in Raising a Child

I am assuming that factors such as love, compassion, nurturing etc are taken as read. In no particular order, and by no means exhaustive…

Time, childhood trauma, childhood trauma for parents, teen mental health issues, age, socio-economics, genetics, education, health, peer group, career choice, beliefs, political view, gender, and resilience.

How many of those can a parent truly impact?

What do you think?

This blog first appeared as an answer to a question posed by a user on Quora and answered by John Kerrigan.

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Here’s Why Data Without Valuable Insights Will Just Leave Us All More Confused

fitness-app

Even those of us who aren’t tech-savvy will have noticed there’s a proliferation of apps, services and hardware on the market at the moment that have been created to enable us to collect more data about ourselves than ever before.

From a Fitbit that you strap to your wrist to tell you more about your steps or the Spire that hooks onto your clothes and assesses your stress levels, through to apps designed to teach you mindfulness or wearable devices to track your blood pressure.

Whether you call the movement ‘quantified self’, ‘mHealth’ or just see it as a natural progression as the worlds of tech and wellbeing collide, it’s here to stay. And you can track anything and everything all from your wrist or your phone. But is all of this data really making us fitter, happier and healthier?

Sure when you first buy a fitness tracker and see your points or steps climb up throughout the day, you feel a sense of achievement. The same goes for a sleep app, a calorie counter or maybe one that rewards you when your breathing slows down.

But that novelty wears off quickly. And many of us are left with stacks of data, but little guidance into what to do next. That’s mostly because there are no clear goals and no added insights to inform us about how we could do better. We’re often just rewarded with a virtual medal because we smashed an arbitrary ‘points goal’—it’s hardly going to keep us sticking around for very long, is it?

The fitness tracking industry has come under fire only this past week for similar reasons, as research concludes a fitness tracker and accompanying app, when added to diet and exercise advice, does a worse job than advice alone to help people with long term weight loss. Although there are many reasons why that could be the case, we think a huge part of it is that people just don’t know what to do with all the new data they have access to. Knowing that you walked 10,000 steps today might sound impressive. But that target doesn’t work for everyone. Will you work to improve that number? Should the target vary by baseline fitness, weight or age? The truth is, many modern day apps and devices aren’t built to answer these important questions.

Data is meaningless unless you’re collecting the right kind, using it in the right ways and tracking it over time. Because there are rarely any quick-fixes and immediate results, just long-term data collection that raises awareness, builds a picture and provides insight on trends and patterns.

This is why we feel MyFampal stands out, because it’s not about gamifying your family’s behavior or a child’s anxiety. We know that’s not right when we’re dealing with such an important issue. Instead, we’re focused on collecting the right kinds of data from our scientifically robust questionnaires, making well-informed recommendations and then supporting families collect that data over time to get the best insights on pre-empting and preventing more serious mental health issues.

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My Sister Wrote a Suicide Note. All I Could Think Was That I Still Hadn’t Done My Homework!

girl-hair

My life was turned upside down when I was twelve years old.

My older sister was gone. Overnight, I transformed from annoying younger sibling to only child. No one told me what to do (other than my parents and teachers). I no longer had to hide in my room because I was scared of the shouting. I finally didn’t live in fear in my own house.

Life wasn’t always like this.

When we were children you would never have met such lovely girls. When my sister and I were really young, around 3 and 5, we would play a silly game. One of us would wrap a blanket around the other and fill it with stuffed animals and dolls. We would then push the package down the stairs to see how fast it would go. One time my sister pushed me before I was ready and I went tumbling down the stairs head first into a door. It probably wasn’t the safest game looking back, but it was really fun.

I honestly don’t believe that there was one moment where everything went downhill.

It was more of a gradual descent and we just didn’t have the skills or resources to know what to do. My guess would be that it started when we moved country for my Dad’s job. He didn’t really discuss the move with any of us, we just packed up and left.

When my sister started her freshman year at high school she began to change.

I don’t blame the high school that she went to, though some of the people that she met there were sketchy.

One day I came home from school and no one was home. Hours later, Mum called to say she wasn’t going to be home for a while and I should microwave the leftover pasta for dinner. I forgot to take the pasta out the metal pan, so nearly set my house on fire. There’s still a black scorch mark on the back of the microwave.

I went back to my computer and continued talking to my friends, figuring I’d do my homework when Mum got home and yelled at me to do it. But she didn’t come home ’til ten. She had my sister with her, who stormed upstairs. Mum told me that she had written a suicide note and was being sent to a mental health clinic. I remember thinking, “Wow that’s pretty bad. Crap! I’ve done no homework.”

It definitely wasn’t my best life moment. My sister went away for a week to work on her depression and even thought she made out like it had helped a lot (she was really good at manipulation), nothing changed. A few months went by with her screaming and shouting every day about some trivial thing, and I would just run upstairs to hide from the mood swings.

Around this time she started pushing some pretty serious boundaries.

One time she showed me a pack of cigarettes, next she told me she’d bought some weed. Both times she told me not to tell my parents but I was a 12 year old kid! Of course I’m telling them.

The last straw was when we took a family holiday to West Virginia. I don’t know how it escalated but there was this massive screaming fight, the first my Dad ever saw her intense anger. My sister grabbed his phone and was holding it hostage. She eventually threw it across the room, shattering the screen. At this point, my mum took me out of the room and we walked around the parking lot.

Soon after my sister was sent packing to a wilderness behavior therapy program. The only time we were in contact was via a weekly letter that we’d send each other. A few months later, she ‘graduated’ and showed us all of the camping techniques that she had learned. It was actually pretty impressive.

Next thing I know my sister is being sent to a boarding school in Arizona to help with her depression and mood swings. Again, my only contact with her was during a weekly phone call with the whole family. Sometimes these were fun and kind of normal – other times it was like a therapy session. I felt like I had very little time to talk to her because she was always talking to mum and dad instead of me.

Her time at the school did a lot more for my sister, my mum, and my dad than it did for me. I’m not saying I got nothing out of it, but siblings tended to be excluded from a lot of the therapy that went on. That school definitely did a lot to help our family to get back on a better path though.

All of us are in a better place – we’re a pretty snazzy family now!

We’re not perfect, but we’re family so it doesn’t matter. My sister and I are supposed to bicker about small things like what to watch on TV. We’re supposed to be mildly rebellious against our parents because, obviously, nothing they do will ever be cool to us.

Even though they all have flaws, all my family has supported me through hard times, literally and figuratively. They are the most important thing to me. Even when my dad is trying to make me watch Bridge on the River Kwai or my sister’s trying to convince me my spandex shorts are hers or when my mum turns into the Grinch at Halloween.

All these little quirks are what makes our family so great, and I love them to the moon and back.

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I Put My Daughter Into Therapy to Cure Her Violent Outbursts, But it Was Me Who Learned the Biggest Lesson

photo-of-family

I always thought our family was perfectly normal…

As toddlers the girls were into drawing, painting and played happily with friends.  We had fun holidays as a unit and with extended family and friends. Later, the girls did well at school and my husband and I counted our blessings.

My husband often worked long hours and there were times he had to work weekends too. This was hard for us all; I needed a break from being a full time mum and the girls needed their dad. My own upbringing was quite strict and I was determined to be more supple with my own children.  This, in combination with Sam’s absences, made for an environment where boundaries weren’t held.

As my eldest daughter Charlotte got older, she learnt to manipulate me…

We had to move cities for my husband’s work, which also had him travelling a lot. Though the girls were more than able to keep up academically at their new school, emotionally they struggled.  I tried to keep them on an even keel with activities like movie nights, long dog walks and shared meal preparation but I was fighting a losing battle.

Teenage Charlotte began to refuse any requests I made of her – little things like picking up laundry and clearing the table.  With high school looming, her moods and anger became more frequent.  She became increasingly rude, started to isolate herself in the evenings and spent more time on social media.

When I voiced my concerns to friends they said that their kids were doing the same things so I didn’t think much more about it and put it down to ‘hormones’. When Charlotte started high school, she joined the field hockey team and started to make new friends.

I thought life was settling down. Boy, was I wrong…

One morning I got a call from school to say that Charlotte had written a suicide note.  I was shocked and didn’t know what to do. Sam was away with work so he couldn’t help. The school counsellor was great, explaining the protocol in situations like this and introducing us to professional mental health support. A professional therapist assessed Charlotte as ‘at risk’ and referred her to a teenage psychiatric hospital.

That was the start of a long downward spiral for Charlotte’s mood, antisocial behavior and mental health issues. While in hospital Charlotte learnt from other patients how to cut herself. From the teen psychiatric outpatient center she started smoking and learnt where to buy drugs.

At home, we began to fear her coming home from school and felt we couldn’t give her the parent support she needed. We would walk on eggshells, never knowing what mood she would be in. Sam was still away with work a lot and Charlotte was becoming abusive to me – verbally and, on occasion, physically aggressive too. Charlotte is a bright girl and it felt like she would plan some destructive behavior when she knew that I wouldn’t be able to cope or had to go out. The stress we were all under was terrible; I felt alone and scared.

We were lurching from one crisis to another…

That Summer we took a trip as a family to celebrate my birthday. All was going well until one evening when Charlotte flew into a rage. For the first-time, Sam saw her extreme antisocial behavior at its worst. The next morning, he and I had a long talk. Despite our best intentions, we realized we were failing Charlotte and possibly endangering our other daughter.  

We contacted an education consultant who recommended a residential course of therapy. I felt relieved. Charlotte was going to get help to cope with her depression. When she first started at Spring Ridge Academy for teenage girls, she was defiant, resistant and unwilling to change. Her therapists had their work cut out for them but gradually, over time, Charlotte began to realize that the only way out was to roll up her sleeves and participate.

Charlotte had the most intensive therapy, but we also benefitted.

We had weekly phone therapy sessions and, with help, slowly began to learn how to communicate more openly with each other.

In addition to the weekly calls, the school held a workshop for parents. This event changed my life. It made me realize I need to speak up and say what I feel.

After years of avoiding conflict I stopped being a mouse and started to grow a backbone. 

My relationship with my husband became more balanced and healthy and I stopped saying yes to everything. 

As I became stronger, my relationship with Charlotte changed. She was used to me accepting whatever aggressive behavior she felt like dishing out but now the balance of our relationship was changing for the better.  

It’s been a long, difficult and emotional road…

Though we’re through the worst of it, it’s not over by a long way. Every day, week and month brings a new challenge that tests us all in some way but we have learnt how to communicate our feelings, fears and concerns to each other in a healthy way.

It’s not plain sailing and there are times when I fear we are slipping backwards, but after a time-out and a few deep breaths, the family comes back to talk through the issues. This is progress. None of us are perfect and we all have baggage, but the process we have been through has helped us understand ourselves better and treat each other with respect.

My family means the world me to and I love them all to bits. I feel sad that we didn’t have the knowledge, resources or skills to prevent Charlotte’s slide into depression. But I am happy that because of the care she received, and the lessons we all learned, we’ve become a happier and healthier family.

Names have been changed to protect the family’s privacy.

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