What to do When Your Child Wants to Talk to a Therapist? Here’s 3 Important Issues To Understand.

Has your child asked to talk to a therapist? When something is troubling your child, and they want to talk – you listen. But what if they’ve asked you to see a therapist? Now what?

If your child brings up therapy to you, a few factors might impact how you respond, it’s best not to panic or become unsettled. This conversation topic can be particularly alarming for parents especially for those who have never experienced therapy or significant mental health struggles. But that doesn’t change how prevalent therapy is in the world today, and normalcy is the most important message you can convey to your child right now. Here’s 3 key issues you will want to keep in mind during this crucial conversation.

There are many reasons children ask for counseling that are actually really positive messages about how healthy they are. If they come to you about getting help, it doesn’t mean you are a bad parent. And if they ultimately turn to a therapist to receive that support, again, you aren’t a bad parent. Remember not to take things personally but rather stay open and allow this to be a learning moment for everyone.

Malaty Therapy Reminds Parents to Walk Your Child and Teenagers Shoes

#1 Do Your Best To Put Yourself In Their Shoes When Your Child Wants To Talk To A Therapist

Put yourself in their shoes, and remember the struggles you had as a child. The normal social fears of who will wave to you in the hallway, which lunch table you’ll sit at and how your clothes look have been magnified from the people in the room with you to 100+ eyes through a screen. Just like you were, your child is trying to find the right balance of fitting in and discovering who they are as an individual. The only difference is – in your day, you didn’t post what you were doing, or wearing on a platform for people to judge your every angle.

Malaty Therapy Reminds Parents Social Media May Cause Anxiety and Even Depression in Children and Teens

#2 Social Media Could Be Causing Your Child To Experience Anxiety And Even Depression

The reality is – social media is part of the day-to-day experience most kids have to deal with now. And it often carries a huge significance for them. Social media has become a catalyst for depression and anxiety for many teens. Do you recall how mean certain kids could be in school when you were growing up? Sadly these same types of kids now have the same capabilities to be cruel from miles away, hidden behind a screen.

Imagine already struggling with your flaws yet putting yourself out there anyway because everyone is doing it. Each photo that your child posts represents their self-worth – maybe not to others, and certainly not to you, but it does to them. As they await a certain number of likes and comments, comparing that and the quality of their content to their peers, they are waiting to find out how much they are loved and whether they are good enough.

Even when the comments are kind, social media isn’t building your child up; it is breaking them down. While social media is not the only problem, what all teens need right now is a chance to build confidence, and therapy can give them that chance.

Regardless of how severe their need for counseling is, therapy is an invaluable tool for all youth. When your child wants to talk to a therapist, remember they can learn new coping skills and techniques to help them handle difficult thoughts or situations in a much healthier way. And this can help them throughout their entire lives.

Why Teens Don't Want To Talk To Parents By Malaty Therapy

#3 Why Kids And Teens Don’t Want To Talk To Their Parents

When your child wants to talk to a therapist, it’s okay to experience your own emotions and confusion and take a step back to process. You can step back while also accepting that they might need counseling to help them process what’s troubling them. Suppose you continue to struggle with accepting or understanding, or think that your family would benefit from working on the issues privately at home – that actually could end up being a source of suffering for your child. In this case, you can always consider family counseling as a place to start.

If your confused about what to do when your child wants to talk to a therapist, remember children are growing and that means lots of  changes. Teens go through many changes and phases. The three biggies for teens to be aware of are: hormones, physical and social changes. The combination of these changes happening simultaneously can be confusing and somewhat disorienting. This often happens when they begin a new chapter in their life like starting high school or college.

Additionally when a child or teen’s sense of self changes, they don’t always know how to relate to the others, including parents. The American Psychological Association (APA) states in their article: Parenting – The Teen Years : “Teenagers, dealing with hormone changes and an ever-complex world, may feel that no one can understand their feelings, especially parents.” If something is troubling your child they may not even speak up and ask for support. When they do, it’s important to listen and understand why they might be holding their feelings inside. When your child wants to talk to a therapist, rather than a you, it could be there’s less emotional baggage, and they don’t want to add more stress to you or your relationship.

When your child asks to talk to therapist, family therapy can help says Malaty Therapy

There are positive aspects to all this pulling away when your child asks to talk to a therapist. Kids and teens are learning how to be more independent.

In most cases your child likely doesn’t know what all to expect from therapy either. Ultimately asking you for help to engage in a therapy session for a healthier perspective and mindset can lead to a happier more fulfilling life. When your child is coming to you with their pain, asking for your support – make this crucial conversation into something positive and powerful for both of you.

For more on Crucial Conversations get the book Crucial Conversations: Tools For Talking When Stakes Are High

Call or contact us to match you with the best therapist for your child or teen.

We have locations in Houston and Kingwood Texas.

Parents and teens can work together to prepare for the school year & covid- caused anxiety

Tammer Malaty, therapist and owner of Houston’s Malaty Therapy, believes many parents just don’t understand what their teenage students have been going through while trying to learn during the COVID19 pandemic. 

Malaty believes parents look at grades, attendance and other empirical facts, but sometimes forget to consider the mental shift that occurs when switching between virtual and in-person learning. He created Malaty Therapy, which has locations in Memorial and Kingwood, to help teens, young adults, and families deal with life challenging changes and behavioral problems.

Now, as students prepare for the upcoming in-person school year, some mental health professionals predict a rise in students seeking mental health-related services. Experts say that the global pandemic is a collective trauma that everybody in the world is experiencing. And children and teenagers are going through things nobody has experienced before.

Tammer Malaty, therapist and owner of Houston’s Malaty Therapy believes many parents just may not understand what their teenage students have been going through while trying to learn during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Remember teens are dealing with continuous changes too

“From an academic standpoint, maybe kids viewpoints are in-line with their parents, as in ‘my grades are important to get into college but I don’t necessarily think what parents are worried about are the same things that the kids are worried about,” said Malaty.

After growing up around family members who have contracted COVID19, socializing entirely through video games and social media and navigating a world through continuously changing guidelines, some mental health professionals say they are treating teens with symptoms of anxiety and depression far more often than years prior. 

According to the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health at Michigan Medicine, 73 percent of parents report that COVID19 has had a very or somewhat negative impact on their teen’s ability to interact with their friends. While 46 percent of parents also say they have noticed a new or worsening mental health conditions for their teen since the start of the pandemic.

There are a variety of factors that influence a teen’s mental health. Experts agree it’s usually a combination of what they experience at home and online.

To understand teen anxiety, one should also consider it from an economic standpoint, said Malaty, who works primarily with teens from Katy and the the Memorial area of Houston. The teens Malaty works with are from higher socio-economic backgrounds. Therefore not part of groups that have been not been disproportionally affected by COVID19. Even though those teens are less likely to have parents lose jobs, or their lives, due to COVID19, they still had to deal with isolation from being constantly at home. 

“Kids lost their social lives. Plus many kids are spending way too much time in isolation at home. Kids who played video games a little bit started addictively playing video games or spending too much time online,” said Malaty. “So many things got exacerbated during COVID. I think to some extent we will continue to see that in this upcoming school year.”

This article excerpt is from the Houston Chronicle article written by Ryan Nickerson. Ryan Nickerson is a reporter for Houston Community Newspapers and the Houston Chronicle.

Read the full article on Chron.com: Experts: How Parents Can Help Their Teens Deal With COVID Caused Anxiety. 

Want to learn more about Teen Mental Health? Go to: Mental Health Services For Teens & Young Adults.

Checkout this article for tips on how to deal with school stress and anxiety. 

School Stress – 7 Hot Tips To Help You Deal With The Anxiety

Want to Dive Deeper? Watch The YouTube Video – 

Expert35 – Student Mental Health with Tammer Malaty

How to Deal with School Stress

Many students want to know how to deal with school stress.

High school and college students are faced with new schedules, routines, teachers, friends, classmates, plus new material to learn. Even more, it feels like anxiety and stress are waiting to meet you around every corner.

As a student, you know all too well what the stress of work overload feels like. Many unrealistic expectations are placed on you, leaving you rushing between classes carrying a burden that is heavier than your textbooks.

At some point you may have said to yourself “I’m so stressed about school I want to cry”.

The truth is that nothing can prepare you for the transition into high school and college, and so you jump right in and do the best you can. Yet, school expectations can have a way of making you feel like your best isn’t good enough.

What started as an unrealistic workload and schedule has now left you with the anxiety of feeling incapable of completing your work on time. And making time for work or extracurricular activities while taking care of your mental health in the process can be a challenge. So, how do you deal with stress at school? Implementing just one of these 6 self-care tips can help ease your anxiety. In addition, we hope adapting them will help you feel more in control of managing the challenges you face.

When stress becomes a problem, dive into these 6 hot tips on how to deal with school stress

Create an organized workspace so you can reduce your school stress

Create an organized workspace so you can reduce your school stress –

If you feel like you are always running low on time and trying to get things done in the windows available, you won’t want to continually waste spare time digging around for the things you need.

This includes electronic files as well – do you have hundreds of papers and projects saved to your desktop, waiting to be organized in a folder and back-up drive? It’s okay – this happens to everyone.

It might not seem like a priority at the time, but it will save you from taking an hour of your precious time down the road if you take two minutes to create a hard drive or Google Drive folder and drag over your work once it’s complete.

It feels good to stay on top of your organizing. Knowing that everything is there should you need to quickly reference something in the future. It’s better than digging through stacks of paper or a computer desktop with icons scattered everywhere.

To the best of your ability, keep your workspace and surrounding environment neat and tidy. Too much visual noise can make your mind feel scattered and distract you from the task at hand, which might further set you back and leave you feeling more stressed than when you started.

Malaty Therapy can help you manage school stress and leave the all nighters behind.

Avoid all-nighters –

It’s vital to establish monthly study plans to avoid all-nighters and school stress. Procrastination is a bad habit that will cause you more stress and anxiety. Working on your course work for a few hours everyday will help you avoid falling into the all-nighter trap.

When your having trouble with school stress, practice building study habits that work for you. Start slow and go with the 20-minute rule. It simple, so take action – begin studying for only 20 minutes.

You can do anything for 20 minutes. Right? If you feel like going longer keep at it. If you need to stop and try again later, it’s okay. The point is to keep building the habit of studying for 20 minutes to get your head in the subject matter.

This 20 minute rule is a life-long habit that can serve you to avoid study and work projects from piling up. Fear plays a part in the procrastination game and the 20-minute rule can break that fear up. Here’s more on how The 20 Minute Rule Can Help You Accomplish Any Task by writer, Grace Claman on Medium.

Another way to build productive study habits are to get a study buddy and hold each other accountable. It’s much easier and much more fun when you are working toward a goal together.

Take Mine Breaks To Avoid School Stress and Burnout

Build mini breaks into your schedule –

As busy and stressed as you already feel, the idea of adding more to your day might make you feel a bit anxious.

But if you bring your mental health to the forefront, everything else will fall into place and get accomplished with more ease. In this way, taking breaks is actually more productive than not taking any at all.

Rather than leaving your breaks up to chance or saying, I’ll do something I enjoy only if and when I get this done, go ahead and plan them now and then plan your work around it.

Plan some time to get outside with friends or exercise to relieve stress and tension and reset your mind.

If you create a work or study schedule this way – you have a higher chance of not avoiding a few things you enjoy that can provide a necessary distraction for a while from you from what causes you stress.

Once you’ve blocked off breaks in your schedule, you can set an alarm and time them too.

Even if you do not feel 100% like you need it when break time comes, take it anyway.

Malaty Therapy Helps With Students With School Anxiety, Self Care Like Taking A Yoga Class Can Help You Avoid Anxiety.

Yoga and meditation are proven to reduce school stress –

Much of our school stress and anxiety comes from how we perceive things or what we imagine.

This is not to say that your anxiety or stress as a student is not real – it is.

Yet, it is far too easy to add to our worries by stressing about grades that have already been finalized or saying things like, I will never finish this project in time or ace that exam.

There is underlying pressure in school for students to be perfect, whether it is pressure from parents or thinking their teachers prioritize perfection when much of the time, your teacher or professors only want to ensure you progress.

Whether or not you are in school by choice right now, this is an excellent opportunity to learn, not just what is in your books but also about the world around you and yourself.

You deserve to enjoy this process and not miss out on critical moments and opportunities because you were too busy feeling stressed out.

Yoga and meditation are excellent tools for students with anxiety as they are centered around the idea of mindfulness.

By learning how to work with the breath and stay present, these practices can help you cast some of your past or future worries aside.

They are also helpful tools for noticing when you begin to feel stressed or anxious (in other words, you are mindful of it). Recognize when you need a little break. Take some deep breaths, refocus, and tune into what you are working on.

Exercise helps to put you in a better frame of mind

Exercise the stress away –

Too much school stress can be terrifying.

Exercising and getting outdoors is essential to reducing anxiety.

You may have noticed or are currently dealing with some of the many undesirable symptoms of anxiety, including trouble sleeping, weight gain, headaches, and difficulty focusing, to name a few.

Stress puts the mind and body into something called fight or flight mode, during which time our body releases stress hormones that trigger an increase in our heart rate and alertness.

It can be tricky to get out of this stress response. Physical exercise is one of the best ways to do it. In the short-term, it will help you relieve tension and get your stress hormones under control. And when done regularly, it helps improve your overall mood and can lower your anxiety symptoms.

There are many ways to stay active and motivated –

It’s all about finding something that works for you, your schedule, and your environment and resources.

Whether it is running outside with a friend or biking in between classes, make sure you pencil it in. Find something you love to do. And if there is ever a day where your plans fall through, staying moving is the most critical part.

Cleaning your living space or taking quick 10-minute walks throughout the day counts too!

When experiencing anxiety always ask for help.

Always seek help when your struggling with school stress and anxiety –

If you are still having trouble managing your anxiety or stress, help is always available.

A therapist or school counselor can help you address your anxiety and stress. And recommend healthy strategies for dealing with it.

There are many tips available for managing stress, and many treatment types. Don’t worry if one does not work well for you. You can always modify to what does work for you.

A professional can help point you in the right direction to improve your stress level now. Plus help you reduce it in the long-term.

Want to Dive Deeper? Watch The YouTube Video –

Expert35 – Student Mental Health with Tammer Malaty

Read more about Malaty Therapy’s Young Adult & Teenage Anxiety Treatment

Compulsive Disorders Malaty Therapy

Compulsive disorders involve uncontrollable behaviors that lead to habitual habits for teens and young adults. There are many compulsive disorders parents need to be aware of more than ever during COVID-19 restrictions. It’s important to both recognize and  help your loved ones should they be experiencing uncontrollable self destructive behavior. If they are in recovery for compulsive behaviors you will want to help them to prevent relapses. 

Boredom Plays A Big Part In Risk Taking And Can Lead To Compulsive Behaviors

Young adults have a much lower threshold for boredom than an adult does. Their brain is constantly seeking stimulation and they are naturally more predisposed to risk taking behaviors and impulsivity than an adult. Since we are cooped up inside together for longer periods of time, young people might experiment with self destructive activities to make an otherwise mundane day a little more stimulating. Consequently these activities lead to compulsive behaviors they can’t seem to quit. Surprisingly they find themselves in a habitual loop they can’t seem to get out of.

Encourage and Engage Your Teen

Most importantly, you’ll want to encourage them to get out of their room and engage with the family or go outside for an hour or so each day. They may drag their feet and complain that they don’t “feel like it” and they “don’t want to,” but stay firm in your request. Moreover insist that they come out of their room and leave the phone behind for an hour or two a day. They don’t have to be happy about it, they just need to do it. 

Furthermore you need to also engage with them. So go outdoors for an hour with them. Take a walk around the neighborhood or visit a park together. Above all ask them what they want to do and enthusiastically participate in their interests. Perhaps it’s preparing a healthy meal together or making a TikTok video. 

Drug and Alcohol Cravings are Real

Cravings Are Real With Compulsive Disorders

Likewise your son or daughter may be experience a huge change in their daily routine of school, work , social or sports gatherings. They may have lost access to friends that also encouraged and participated in the same risk taking behaviors as your child. With these types of sudden changes in their living routine, more intense cravings are likely to occur. 

Common Signs of Compulsive Behaviors in Teens & Young Adults

When someone experiences uncontrollable urges they can seem preoccupied, irritable, short tempered, moody or lethargic. And it’s possible they will engage in “shady” behavior trying to seek something to relieve them of their habitual cravings. They may stress eat and consume more sugar than usual, as sugar releases dopamine which gives them a feel-good feeling. 

How To Relieve Compulsive Behaviors

If someone is trying to change their risky behavior and curb self destructive habits, exercise, even just a brisk walk helps stimulate dopamine production. Watching something funny and laughing also helps stimulate dopamine production this can help them better deal with habitual thoughts and cravings. 

Keep Your Teen Occupied 

Most important to note is that cravings typically last about 10-20 minutes then subside. If a young person can occupy themselves for that duration of time until the craving passes then they can lower their chance of a relapse. Cravings can and will happen throughout the day especially early in their recovery. So if they need to drop what they are doing to occupy themselves in a productive way, please support them.

The one thing young people want their loved ones to know is that when they tell you they are experiencing a compulsion, this does not mean you should panic. When they acknowledge these thoughts and feeling, it’s a good thing. They’re aware that it’s happening and telling you informs their support system. Ask your child how you can support them. If it’s simply lending an ear and letting them take care of themselves, then that is all that is needed. 

Remove Temptations

During restricted living requirements due to COVID-19 state regulations your child may have lost access to outside friends that influence them to engage in risk taking activities. In this case, they may turn to things inside the home that allow them to continue in their habitual behavior. Remove whatever temptations you can from the home environment. Be it food, digital games, devices, the internet etc., it’s truly best to remove them from sight. 

Prevent Compulsive Disorders By Reducing Access

If you have a young person in the house that you suspect might be dealing with an uncontrollable compulsive disorder. Put away anything that may tempt them to prevent them from indulging in self destructive habits. Have a conversation with them about what is triggering their compulsions. If you are struggling to get through to them, give us a call to have a conversation about the problems they are experiencing. 

Signs of PAWS (Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome)

Look Out for Signs of PAWS 

If your young person has recently stopped a habitual behavior they will experience Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome or PAWS. PAWS is the second stage of a withdraw process sometimes following weeks or even months after a chronic compulsive behavior has stopped. This is the brain’s way of attempting to straighten itself out and return to normal functioning. 

Symptoms of PAWS include: 

  • Sleep disturbances (hypersomnia or insomnia, appetite disturbances 
  • Mood swings 
  • Irritability 
  • Anhedonia (lack of pleasure in things that used to bring enjoyment) 
  • Depression 
  • Anxiety 
  • Cravings  
  • Sensitivity to stress 
  • Lack of focus or initiative 
  • Trouble remembering things 

Don’t Jump To Conclusions When Your Loved One Is Recovering From A Compulsive Disorder

Unfortunately, a lot of these symptoms also look like regular teenage behavior at times. Be careful not to jump to conclusions. We always encourage parents to be sure and take their child the family doctor for a checkup during this time of change.

There are a lot of emotions flying around right now as so many people are experiencing uncertainty, stress, anxiety, depression, boredom, and disrupted schedules. Adolescents are predisposed to feeling their emotions intensely.  So we caution parents and guardians about labeling their young person’s moods and activities as habitual unless you have reasonable evidence that points you in that direction.  

Your teen has had their entire life turned upside down and now has no solid routine to fall back on. Teens with compulsive disorder issues may have more trouble than others with this. However, behaviors such as sleeping more than usual, or struggling to sleep, eating more than usual, or having appetite disruptions are normal reactions to this change in lifestyle. We are all coping with waves of emotions at different times as best we can. These behaviors alone do not point directly to your teen currently having a severe uncontrollable compulsive disorder. 

You’re Not Alone in the Battle Against Compulsive Disorders

If you think your young person might be experiencing PAWS, uncontrollable cravings or medical symptoms, please contact Malaty Therapy for a 20-minute phone consultation at 713-628-3966.

If you need more resources check out The Council on Recovery who can put you in contact with appropriate resources for you and your young person.

Blog Written By: Allie Haydon, LMFT, LPC, LCDC

The past month has been strange to say the very least. The normal day-to-day activities that we had grown so accustomed to, like attending school and work, grocery shopping, and meeting friends and loved ones for brunch or dinner has changed in ways we never could have imagined. For those of us who feel the most filled up on days when we have had the chance to hug our friends at the end of a challenging workweek, we’re really starting to feel the effects of social distancing. These times are weird and filled with emotional challenges, y’all, and it’s okay to acknowledge when you’re feeling the feels, whatever they might be. No one is immune to the effects COVID19 has had on our lives. But the good news is, managing emotional distress during this reprieve from normal life is possible. 

Take a Moment to be Mindful of Your Emotions 

Many of us have gotten so used to the fast-paced nature of our world that the past several weeks have really thrown us for a loop and maybe even caused some of us to ask some pretty tough questions about what our future holds. 

Just know that you are not alone, and that healing and connection can still come from asking tough questions like these in a nonjudgmental, supportive environment: 

  • How will we recover from this? 
  • When will things go back to “normal”? 
  • When will I get to have sushi in a restaurant again? (I feel this one in my soul!) 
  • How do I stay sane during this weird time? 
  • Is it okay for me to be enjoying this time with my family at home? 

Malaty Therapy Can Help You Through Emotional Distress & Uncertainty

We’re Here To Help You Through Emotional Distress & Uncertainty 

We don’t have all the answers, but we’re here to sit in the uncertainty with you and bring hope into each one of our sessions. In those moments when you begin to feel like you just hopped onto your own emotional rollercoaster brought on by judgments and catastrophic thoughts, take a moment to pause, acknowledge the emotions you are feeling, and let yourself know that it is okay and makes sense to feel overwhelmed, nervous, restless, uncertain, and even frustrated during this time. 

Be Mindful & Present in the Moment 

Often what gets us in trouble is our default mode of suppressing, ignoring or avoiding our emotional experiences. This is where mindfulness comes in. In its most basic form, mindfulness is simply noticing what’s happening in the present moment without judgment. 

Checking in on your emotional state and asking yourself questions like these is a great start: 

  • What emotions am I feeling in this very moment? How intensely am I feeling these emotions? 
  • Where do I feel this stress, tension and emotion in my body? 
  • What thoughts am I having that might be making me feel this way? 
  • How do I take care of myself in this moment? 
  • Who can I talk to if things get too heavy for me? 

Malaty Therapy Helps You Face Emotional Distress Head-On

Face Emotional Distress Head-On, Even When It’s Scary

Here’s the thing. Sometimes it can be scary to face our catastrophic thoughts and intense emotions head-on, and it might feel safer to ignore the way we have been emotionally impacted by the changes that have most recently taken place. What we know, though, is that when we ignore or push down our emotions, they tend to stick around and become more unmanageable as more and more thoughts and emotions are added to the pile of things not dealt with. Until we have identified what we are thinking and feeling, it’s hard to effectively find resolution. Sometimes just naming our emotions and thoughts and giving voice to them helps reduce the distress they cause and can bring us a bit of relief. 

“But I Don’t Have Time to Worry About My Emotional Stressors” 

Many of us are facing issues right now that we hadn’t prepared for or even considered. We get it. We understand that just because we’re all spending more time at home, it doesn’t necessarily mean that we all have loads of time and energy on our hands to dedicate hours of our day to things like meditation and spiritual practices. 

A Little Bit of Mindfulness Goes a Long Way…

The cool thing about mindfulness and meditative practices is that a little bit goes a long way. Taking just 5-10 minutes a day to simply pause, focus on your breathing and complete a check-in with yourself and your people makes all the difference. Whether things have slowed down for you as a result of the current state of our world or you’ve found that you’re busier now more than ever, know that sometimes simply just hitting the pause button for a short moment out of each day to check in with yourself and truly see how you are holding up makes all the difference! 

So just to make sure we’re all on the same page: 

  • Times are particularly weird right now. Taking the time to pause, take a few deep breaths and check-in with yourself and your loved ones is a beautiful first step in opening your heart up to the benefits of mindfulness. 
  • Be patient with yourself during this time and know that while we don’t have all the answers right now, we do know that things won’t always be this uncertain and challenging. 

Last But Not Least, Malaty Therapy Is Here For You 

If you notice that you’re experiencing some serious emotional distress and heavy emotions that have become too much to hold on your own, remember that you are not alone, and that we’re here to help! We’re still here Houston, and we are ready to support you and give you the space you need to figure these things out. 

Be Well Houston!

Blog Written By: Rebekah Wallace LCSW

We don’t need experts to tell us that post-COVID-19 reality will see a rise in both birth and divorce rates. While some relationships may blossom as a result of this ‘time out,” many will find it difficult and may feel trapped. As a Houston couple’s therapist, I am anticipating an even greater need for relationship therapy help from my clients due to the stresses of COVID-19. But for the time being, I’d like to offer some relationship therapy tips and advice to help you and your partner understand each other, and better communicate. 

Are You Feeling Trapped and Overwhelmed? 

Desire to flee the scene may be high during these times. Your home has turned into a mission control center and overlapping roles keep multiplying. Some of you may feel that chronic tension and disconnect between you and partner has only amplified. You are feeling trapped. Forget about sex. Not much emotional space is left to process the tragedy of it all, either. 

Appreciating The Pause and Connecting 

Maybe, you are someone on the opposite side of this reality, appreciating the pause, using the time for self-reflection and what a pleasant surprise – you found a human next to you on a couch. Turns out it is your partner! 

Intimacy Can Be Frightening 

Well, what do you do with each other in this vastness of time? Have you ever experimented sitting in silence for 5 minutes, looking at each other without any distractions, and realized you were close to having a panic attack? Yep, intimacy can be frightening. 

Wherever You are in the Adaptation Process to COVID-19 as a Couple, Here are Some Reminders and Tips to Consider: 

Relationship Triage Starts with Taking Vitals. 

I invite you to check in with yourself before reading further. What’s the speed that you are going with right now? Are you scrolling to get to the point? When was the last time you paid attention to your breathing? What’s going on in your body? Any tension? If you had to take a guess, what’s your pulse rate right now? When was the last time you checked in with yourself? 

If you were really honest with yourself, who do you track the most, yourself or your partner? Chances are that your most active internal monitor is turned on your partner. When we feel hijacked by irritation, anxiety or chronic upset, our knee jerk reaction is to find a scapegoat. And now s/he is in your face, 24/7! 

Let’s Remind Ourselves of Some Basics from Decades of Research on Relationship and Neurobehavioral Science. 

Reminder 1: Different not wrong. 

Implicit and explicit judgment is a silent killer of relationships.

Over 60% of marital and relationship upsets arise from conflicting values, priorities, beliefs, and personal tendencies for which there is no standard. 

If you think of yourself as more mature, caring, logical, stable, more [fill the blank] – you are on the high horse of contempt. No matter how strategic you are in hiding it, non-verbals will send the message to your partner loud and clear (they comprise 60% of our communication). Your partner, in turn, might start feeling inadequate, defensive, dismissive and will feel more distant or worse of all, vengeful. 

Admitting that you are part of the relationship problem is probably the hardest and most pivotal milestone in couples therapy. This life changing transformation moves the relationship out of the ER into the ICU and back home. 

Bottom line, people develop different styles of coping with stress. It’s essential to remember that one is not better than the other. Here are some examples: 

Independence First (I.F) vs. Togetherness First (T.F)

During stress, Independence First people don’t just want personal space they need it, otherwise they lose their emotional stability. I.F people prefer relationships where each assumes responsibility for self and prefer to rely on direct requests. They might blame T.F people for being selfishly needy. On the other hand, T.F want relationships in which each assumes responsibility for knowing and anticipating the needs of others. They think that mutual dependency is healthy, and see I.F people as selfishly self-absorbed

Invest in the Future (I.F) vs. Live for the Moment First (L.M.F)

I.F people delay enjoyment until they fulfill responsibilities, sacrificing the present for an anxiety free future. L.M people combine work and play, prioritize enjoyment, fear that life will pass them by while they prioritize routine. 

Predictability First (P.F) vs Spontaneity First (S.F)

P.F people need to minimize chaos, organize lives in predictable ways. Their dreams are around safety, protection. They might criticize S.F people’s way of living as irresponsible/inefficient. S.F thrive on the unexpected, dream of co-adventurers, are open exploration of life, and fear that life will become routine. 

Slow to Upset (S.U) vs Readily Upset (R.U)

R.U people experience upset feelings frequently, intensely and use them as agents of change. They value justice and quality over peace/harmony. They tend to criticize S.U people for covering up true feelings and being afraid of emotions. 

S.U people have mechanisms that diffuse upset quickly and value harmony and tolerance. They “don’t sweat the small stuff.” They fear if they become upset there would be no end to it. S.U people criticize R.U for being like children with tantrums, see them as negative people for whom nothing is good enough. 

Problem Solving First (P.S.F) vs Understanding First (U.F)

P.S.F people (usually also Slow to Upset people) don’t look for sympathy and validation but need concrete ways of action to stabilize. For U.F people understanding and validation comes first, plan for action next. They tend to fear that without understanding and validation from their partner life would feel lonely. 

Which are you in each of these? Ask your partner which person they feel they are. 

Reminder 2: Be flexible in changing leads. 

Forgo the myth of reciprocity. Research shows it’s a recipe for disaster. Assume your partner has your best interest, because s/he thinks you do too. 

Scale your anxiety, depression and energy level throughout a day. Ask yourself: “How grounded and present do I feel towards myself, to my partner and kids.” If you are feeling low, share with each other and come up with a plan for the day. Who picks up on what? What are you committed to doing today? If the day is not going as you hoped, check in with your partner, be transparent, renegotiate and modify the agreement. What are your non-negotiables and what are flexible areas where you can meet halfway? If both are low in energy, co-create your “let’s cut us some major slack” day. 

Reminder 3: Ground rules for conflict. 

Practice stepping back during heated moments when you are feeling flooded. Learn your emotional and physiological response pallet. Reassure your partner that you will return and will give your full attention to hear your partner’s reality/perspective and what’s at stake for her/him, even if you know you are about to slam the door. 

For more insights on fair fighting check out this worksheet. 


Reminder 4: Practice self-soothing.

Husband Practicing Self Care By Stretching During COVID19 as Suggested in Relationship Therapy

Have a safety plan when you feel you are about to lose it. 

Your Self-Soothing Safety Plan Might Include: 

  • Taking your fight/flight adrenaline out for a run or work out 
  • Calling a friend 
  • Breathing practice with focus on prolonging your exhales (for faster relaxation) 
  • Listening to music 
  • Taking a bath 
  • Mindfulness practice by engaging 5 senses (tuning in on sounds, things you see, smell, touch and taste) 
  • Yoga 
  • Writing it out 
  • Exploring apps for meditation and mindfulness 

Don’t Dismiss Important Sensations By Self-Medicating

If you notice the urge to self-medicate (with alcohol, nicotine, porn, comfort food, social media, etc) or with rage and aggression, these might be warning signs that some parts of you want to dismiss your body’s important sensations. 

Give yourself permission to feel the full range of emotions. Breathe through discomfort. It is temporary. The fear that these sensations and emotions will overwhelm your system and stay forever if you let them may pound in your head. Invite them, acknowledge, listen, try to understand what their job and fears are, validate, thank them. You’ll see that they step back, like difficult people do when we validate them. 

Reminder 5: Make effective repair. 

If you did lose it and said things you regret, acknowledge that your reaction was not warranted. Express genuine understanding about how your reaction might have impacted your partner. Share what you’ve learned about your triggers. Only talk about your reactions. Don’t feel obliged to agree with their perspective either. You can still disagree, but state that you wish you could have expressed it differently. 

Schedule time to re-create a better version of the same conversation. To get an understanding, give understanding. Ask open ended questions to genuinely understand what’s at stake for them. Validation is the most powerful elixir for any relationship repair, but probably the hardest to learn and embody in your way of relating. Practice meeting them half-way. Again, what are non-negotiables and flexible areas for creating a win-win agreement?

Use This Time To Deepen Your Bond 

Happy Couple Deepening Their Bond By Communicating as Suggested in Relationship Therapy

Intimate relationships hold an infinite opportunity for mastering our emotional intelligence if we stay open to explore our blind spots and continuously generate curiosity about each other. During this time of standstill, I hope you make it a point not only to make your fights fair but also carve out moments to slow down and deepen your bonds. More thoughts on how to look into your blind spots and strengthen your connection to come in Couple’s COVID-19 Triage Part 2 and 3. 

Book recommendations for couples: 

You Are The One You’ve Been Waiting For. Bringing courageous love to intimate relationships 

(Internal Family Systems) by Richard Schwartz. 

Eight Dates: Essential Conversations For a Life Time of Love by John Gottman and Julie Schwartz Gottman. 


Emotional Intelligence in Couples Therapy, Advances from Neurobiology and the Science of Intimate Relationships,” Brent J. Atkinson. 

The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Workby John Gottman and Nan Silver. 

During these times of trouble, you don’t need to struggle alone. Malaty Therapy can help you get through the challenges in your life, brought on by COVID19. If you’re worried, anxious, stressed, we’re here for you! Call us now at (713) 628-3966 to set up a phone, video therapy session today!

Blog Written By: Christina Levin, LMFT-Associate

This quarantine is rough, y’all. I know you already know that. It’s been a little over a month that I have been away from my career in family therapy and chosen to stay inside my home, isolated with just my dogs and my husband in Houston. (Let it be known, my husband is still alive.) This time inside has given me the wonderful opportunity to pour over all of my streaming devices’ libraries to find the best, most inspiring, and sometimes trashiest television and movies. While Netflix has typically been fairly good to me – I’m talkin to you “What’s New Scooby Doo?” and “Tiger King” – my daily go to streaming service is actually Disney+. I’ve watched all of my favorite Princess movies, all of the Marvel cinematic universe again, and peeked at the Mandalorian for a precious glimpse of Baby Yoda. I threw a party for the early release of Frozen 2 and Onward. It’s been a joy, honestly. As a family therapist, my time spent watching Disney + has opened my eyes to the opportunity we have for some truly valuable family time during this quarantine period. This unprecedented slow down from work, school, sports, and activities allows us to take a time out and focus on what’s important. We need to seize this opportunity to truly connect with our families. 

Movies Can Spark Important Conversations On Family Values 

Something hit me a little differently the other day when I was watching Coco. I’m not sure what it was because I was too blinded by my tears as Miguel sang to Mama Coco “Remember Me”, but I realized that if I had kids with me it would be such a great learning moment for them. I started to daydream about pausing the movie to sit and talk with them about the importance of family and how we can learn so much from our elders, even if it feels like they are a little distant. We could discuss the importance of family traditions, share family stories, and create these life long bonds together that would last even beyond this life. It made me hopeful for the end of this quarantine and the next chapter of my life as a mom one day. 

Into the Unknown: Movies Can Inspire Your Family 

Inspirational Words Written On White Stones

Cut to the next night when I was watching Frozen 2 with my dogs. I identify with Elsa feeling out of place and constantly wondering why. I get wanting to figure out where my place in this world is and constantly looking for external validation that I’m doing ok or I’m in the right spot. Her journey to Ahtohallan is so inspiring to me. She knows there’s something out there for her and she fights her way through the dangerous sea into the unknown (see what I did there?) to make it to this point where everything else is stripped away except for herself. She learns that she is the only person, the only thing, that can validate and encourage her to be all that she has the potential to be. She is the one she’s been waiting for. There I was again, crying, of course, imagining watching this with my own daughter someday telling her she can be anything she wants to be when she grows up. She doesn’t need to wait for someone to tell her she is enough. I pray my children will feel loved and confident in themselves to achieve whatever it is they feel called to do. 

Make Family Movie Time a Time to Connect

Family Watching Movie Together

And here’s my charge for you, quarantined friend. While watching movies seems pretty sloth-like and monotonous these days, I encourage you to take that family movie time and dig a little deeper. Maybe take some time to think of discussion questions for the movies you want to watch. Take time to pause and talk with your kids (or spouse) about what you could learn from Buzz and Woody, Moana, or Nemo. Use this precious free time away from the hustle and bustle of work to really dig into your core values as a family and build those connections we might have missed without this opportunity to slow down. It sounds cheesy, but honestly, most of the best things in life are! 

Watching movies together can be so therapeutic in a time like this. Being able to escape into a film can teach you how to express your fears, dreams, needs, and inspirations in ways you may not know otherwise. It lowers one’s defenses and allows new bonds to form. It can ease us into tough conversations and guide us towards a new appreciation of life. 

So, give it a go this week. Let everyone pick their own movie and think of some creative follow up, discussion questions. Good luck! Stay safe and enjoy the rest of your family time.  

During these days of isolation you don’t need to feel alone. Malaty Therapy can help you get through these strange times brought on by COVID19. If you’re worried, anxious, stressed we’re here for you! Call us now at (713) 628-3966 to set up a phone or video chat therapy session today!

Written By: Sarah Henry, MA, LPC, LMFT

I came across this post and it perfectly summed up an idea I have had about parenting in a way I could never quite put my finger on. Frankly, this quote makes me feel super powerless as a parent…but let’s explore it some more.

Think about it, thousands of years ago it made perfect sense to parent your offspring the same way you were parented, because not much had changed. There were stone tools that you needed to learn how to hunt and fight with, and generally the technology changed very little over the generations.

Today, technology changes at warp speed (pun intended) which means that the values our parents were raised with are applied in a drastically different way today. If we generally parent how we were parented, but in a very new world, then we are kind of always chasing our tail as it were. The world we were prepared for in our formative years looks very different today and I think it’s safe to say that the world we are preparing our children for may change just as rapidly.

Therefore, the most helpful way we can parent our children today is by helping them learn to adapt to change and think critically for themselves.


This is a much higher level of brain functioning than we have been used to handing down to our kiddos at such an early age, especially given that executive functioning skills are developed in the late teens to mid-twenties. If you think I’m full of it, I highly suggest listening to some podcasts or looking into some articles about the future of jobs and applying that information to what type of skills our young people will need to have in their generation. Below is a graphic that explains what executive functioning skills are:           


In the future, creativity will have a much higher place among the skills required in social situations and employment opportunities than in the past. I believe the reason for this is the rapidly changing technology and our fascination with discovering the newest, most efficient technology for the future. Our children will need to learn to think outside the box and “dream big” in order to bring to their employer the next “new thing.”

What got me thinking though is how can we really ever fully prepare our children for what is to come when it is changing all so fast? And the only answer I can seem to come up with is that our children often know what’s best for them better than we do at times. They have power and information in a way that we just simply do not. I’ve always been a fan of young people because honestly, their capacity for flexibility (in mind and body) greatly surpasses an adult’s. Their creativity and solution finding skills are at an all time high because their brain is still developing connections at a rapid pace, whereas ours has slowed dramatically by the time we reach our 30’s.

My suggestion is to formulate a partnership with your child as best you can while keeping an open mind and asking more questions rather than giving direction. This not only balances the power differential, but also encourages critical thinking and executive functioning.

For example, my teen comes home the other night complaining about an argument she and a friend got into. I let her spill and ask her “How can I support you right now?” This question is meant to get her to pause, check in with herself and her emotions, and think about what she might need from this interaction. She then says to me, “I just want you to tell me what I should do.” Now, this is a tempting trap. I mean, who doesn’t like having all the answers right? AND its been solicited by my young teen! What a grand moment for my ego! However, I do not know the whole situation, I only know what she has told me, and I am also not her…so what I would do that feels really natural, might be a stretch for her. So instead I ask, “Well, how would you like to handle the situation?” She says, “I just need a break from her right now, I can’t talk to her anymore about it tonight.” I say, “Ok so how do you tell her that? Or do you? What can you handle and what is considerate to your friend?” She answered, “I will text her and tell her that I’m going to bed and we can talk about it tomorrow.” I reply, “That sounds fair, and look, you figured this out all on your own!”

My point is, rather than “lazy parenting” and telling them what you think they should do, or lecturing them while their eyes glaze over, or getting burned out by repeating yourself over and over again…why not ask more questions? Make them do the work of THINKING about it! They will not only be using THEIR energy, rather than burning up YOURS, but they will also be finding a solution that is right for them (which they are more likely to do anyway).

This is certainly a practice. If you have not been in the habit of asking questions rather than directing orders then it will take some time to get your mind used to approaching your kid that way. You may also feel this overwhelming urge to fall back into old patterns and “just do it” for them because its “quicker,” “easier,” and it will release the urge. DON’T! THAT’S LAZY PARENTING! In the end, you will struggle with a clueless, helpless teen and young adult who has a hard time thinking things through. They will NOT do it right every time. They WILL mess up. It WILL be hard to watch. BUT LET THEM DO IT!

When parents lack the respect of their teen it is palpable. Parent’s experience frustration, anger, powerlessness, feeling out of control, offended, scared, and resentful towards their teen.

two woman faces

Respect is an interesting concept. It is not quite a feeling, but more of an idea. You know when you have it and you definitely know when you don’t. You don’t know how to put it into words, how to get it, or keep it. It’s an abstract idea to hold in your mind.

What is respect? When you think of someone your respect, you may think of someone you look up to, admire, and want to emulate. You may think of someone who regards the feelings, wishes, rights, or traditions of others rather than trampling them or shutting them down.

Teenagers have a hard time understanding abstract ideas like respect because firstly, their frontal lobe development lacks ability to fully understand abstract thought and ideas. Teenagers are still more concrete thinkers, meaning, if they can see it and touch it, they know what it is and that it is there. Abstract thought happens in the frontal lobe of the brain which continues to develop until around the age of 25. The frontal lobe is what makes humans different from animals and gives us the ability to reflect on ourselves and understand abstract thought (an idea that is not seen or touched, but still understood). Secondly, research has shown that adolescents have a difficult time (as do some adults) with taking the perspective of another person (i.e. putting yourself in someone else’s shoes). This is a learned skill, not something you are born with. For more information on this research, enjoy the link to this TED Talk explaining adolescent brain development: https://www.ted.com/talks/sarah_jayne_blakemore_the_mysterious_workings_of_the_adolescent_brain?language=en

Respect might be an abstract concept, but we can teach our young people what respect looks like by showing them respect. Here are some helpful thoughts about how to cultivate respect with your young person:

  • Have a discussion about respect.
    Ask your teen what respect means to them. Ask them who they respect and get curious about what they see in that person that they respect. Ask them to describe how they know they respect someone and how they know they do not respect someone. Ask them what character traits they respect in a person and what character traits they do not respect in someone. Ask them how they know when they are respected by others and what others might respect in them. (Remember that fear is not respect, so if they give an answer like “They know I can kick their ass” that is not respect, that is fear, and probably some ego on the teen’s part.) Share your answers to those questions too. Don’t grill them, have a casual conversation where you share your thoughts and allow them to share their’s. Be careful not to scold, judge, or shut them down. They don’t have all these ideas fully formed and chances are, they might not have ever thought about it before. The point is that you are trying to understand how they understand respect and you are sharing your thoughts on it. This is not the time to preach or teach. If their eyes glaze over or they start giving you one-word answers, you’ve lost them. Shut up and start over another time. “I don’t know” is an answer, let them say it because they probably don’t know. Ask them to think about it and assure them there are no wrong answers, you are just curious what they think. If they still say “I don’t know” then that’s ok (frustrating, I know, but ok). The point is, you asked the question and whether or not you heard the answer, they probably started thinking about it.
  • Take the information you gained from that conversation and use it.
    Listen to the characteristics of people they respect and do a quick moral inventory of yourself (This is sometimes hard as it requires us to be rigorously honest with ourselves and is difficult to do when we cannot see our own blind spots). Ask a friend, spouse, therapist, or even your teen for help seeing your blind spots! Remember, try not to react offensively when given feedback, you asked for help! Take the feedback! You have room to grow! If they tell you something you disagree with, you do not have to respond, simply take note of it and see where they might be right. Sleep on it for a few days. Let it sink in. They shared their experience of you, so whether or not you can see it, there is some reason why they said it.
  • Make amends.
    Enough cannot be said about an adult’s ability to own their mistakes with their children. This is a powerful tool to use with your teens and is widely underrated and under-utilized. An amends is different than an apology. An apology is saying “I’m sorry” which loses it’s meaning after being said over and over again for the same behavior. An amends has got more “oomph” to it. An amends is stating that a behavior was wrong and owning that you were wrong for saying or acting a certain way. It is asking what you can do to make it right (that is reasonable, I definitely understand that a teen may take advantage of this). Then, it is stating how you would like to handle that type of situation in the future. What about this process facilitates respect? Some thoughts are: your ability to acknowledge your wrongs and handling it in a graceful, respectful way. It teaches them how they can make an amends when they mess up. Humility is a building block of respect (a whole blog post can be written about humility as well). To be humble means to accept that you have more to learn, that you are not so ridged as to think that you could not possibly be wrong. That characteristic commands respect and others will typically follow its example when given.
  • Respect is about trust.
    A wise 15 year old client taught me this when they discovered they had a very difficult time being respectful to their parent when they felt they could not trust them. Trust is another one of those tricky, abstract ideas that is difficult to explain, but yet you know when you have it and you know when you don’t. Ask your teen “Do you trust me?” This is a vulnerable question that you may not like the answer to. However, this will open a world of conversation that you have never had before. You might even ask them if they can trust you with some things but not others and get curious about what those things are that they trust/distrust you with. Trust is not simply about being able to “keep secrets,” it is about being able to be vulnerable and not fear they will be invalidated, scolded, or shut down when being vulnerable. (Again, a whole other blog can be written about trust alone). Make sure to share your thoughts with them as well, what you trust them with and what you do not. If they react defensively, try not to talk them out of their feelings. Simply state that you are sharing with them how you feel and acknowledge that you both probably have some work to do in this area with each other.
  • The 5 to 1 ratio.
    The Gottman Institute has been studying marriage for years and they have found a very important secret to happiness in marriage: for every one negative interaction, there should be five positive interactions. (Take a look at this post for more information https://www.gottman.com/blog/the-magic-relationship-ratio-according-science/ ). This ratio applies to more than just happy marriages, it also applies to all relationships! So, take a look at the negative to positive interactions you have with your teen. If you are only fighting, discussing grades, doling out consequences, and scolding them for choices they have made, then there will be less trust and less respect. One of the top 5 suggestions I give to parents in sessions is to go do something fun and light-hearted with your teen at least once a week. Ask them what they want to go do, go see a movie, a concert, hiking, riding a bike, fishing, an art class, go to a museum, art exhibit, skate park, Pokemon Go! Just go do something! Before you start your activity, preface to your teen that you will both stay off your phones and be present with each other and you both will keep the conversation light! Parents, you will not talk about school, grades, friends, sports, or any other controversial topic during the activity. If they mention it, great, nod your head and LISTEN only! Sometimes I suggest for a family to come up with a “code word” to quickly shift gears if someone starts to wander into emotionally triggering territory. Make it something neutral like “waffles” or “red light” then quickly change the subject. When you spend time with your teen having fun and just being a person with them, you will be surprised by what you learn about them and you will have added trust into your relationship.
  • Act with integrity.
    As an unruly teen myself, this was my biggest disrespect trigger. When adults said things like “Do what I say, not what I do” respect was lost completely. If they told me “because I said so” with no explanation, I lost respect. Imagine a co-worker, boss, or spouse saying this to you…condescending right? Well, teenagers are adults in the making and should be treated as such. If we are telling them to get off their phones and go be outside, we should be doing the same thing. If we are telling them to eat vegetables and not an entire bag of chips, we should be doing that too! So, if we want our teens to respect us, we must act respectfully towards them. That means taking the time to explain a decision. (If they “don’t get it” no matter how many times you explain, then its usually because there is no good enough reason for them to not get their way. Don’t waste your breath, state something like “I told you the reason, its ok if you don’t like it.”) Follow through with your word. When you set a boundary and a consequence and do not follow through with it, you have just lied to them. If you have done this repeatedly, then there is not trust there. They either react as if you are threatening them, or they don’t respect the boundary because you’ve taught them that it is not real. It means following our own advice and practicing what we preach. People watch what we do, not what we say. We teach people how to treat us by treating them the way we would like to be treated.
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  • Give them space to have their feelings.
    I feel like this comes up in sessions repeatedly. Parents often are appalled by their child’s reaction to a consequence or boundary (obviously there are some extreme cases, in which case you may want to seek family therapy for assistance). The parent either expects them to have some kind of reaction like “Thank you mother and father for your amazing boundary and your infinite wisdom. I appreciate you doing for me what I cannot do for myself right now.” Laughable right!? Most teens just are not going to respond that way. They will be angry, sad, shut down, irritable, etc. Then some parents want to keep talking to their kid to try to make them feel better about the consequence or boundary. This is called “talking someone out of their feelings,” and it usually doesn’t work and ends up in an argument. If you set a boundary like “You must pass all your classes to attend a concert at the end of the month” and they have not met that boundary and therefore cannot go to the concert, they are allowed to have their feelings about it. Set the boundary and follow through with the consequence then walk away. They are allowed to be disappointed and upset. This is learning that you really mean it. The boundary was real and so was the consequence. They may not like you right then, but they will respect it and you because you are being straight forward with them and letting them process it.

If you would like more information, learn how to apply these tips to your personal relationships, or need some assistance clearing out the resentment to get to a place to utilize these tips, then please give us a call! We have plenty of therapists that specialize in individual, couple, parent and co-parenting, and family sessions with adults, young adults, teens, tweens, and children of all ages. 713-628-3966. To learn more about us please visit https://malatytherapy.com

I hope my daughter knows struggle.

I hope she knows what defeat feels like.

I hope that she experiences striving for something she wants.

This may sound harsh or contrary to what many parents hope for their children, but if my daughter does not experience difficulty and failure at something, then she may never know the glorious feeling of triumph! She may never fully grasp the pride of finally accomplishing a goal. Of finishing a task. Of crossing the finish line. Of taking a bow at her play.

If she did not experience struggle, she may never know how to handle failure. A closed door. A missed opportunity. Or a chance to show good sportsmanship.

I want my daughter to have all the happiness in the world, but even if I could bottle it up and hand it to her, I would not rob her of the experience of striving for it.

I want to model grace and dignity when faced with defeat. I want the opportunity to guide her through the process of facing a loss, a failure, and delayed satisfaction. I want to teach her what acceptance looks like. I want to guide her in the process of picking herself back up and trying again. I want her to know how to persevere when presented with a challenge. And I want her to know how to problem solve when obstacles show up.

I will not shield her from these valuable experiences, for life is full of them. I will not cushion the blow, but allow her space to process and move forward. I will not find fault or blame, but ask what could be done next time if anything? I will encourage rather than do FOR her.

I TRUST in her ability to figure it out. I BELIEVE that she will overcome and grow from whatever experience she faces. I have FAITH in her ability to stand back up when she falls. Because I LOVE her.