Tag Archive | Parenting

A Holistic Divorce

This past week I attended a two-day training on collaborative law that I would like to share because it is important to be informed of all your choices when considering a #divorce. Disclaimer – this is for #Ohio residents though there are about 18 states and about a dozen countries who practice collaborative law, so please check in your area to find out what applies to you.

If you are considering a divorce, there are four ways to go about this.

A. Collaborative Law

B. Litigation

C. Dissolution

D. Mediation

I’ll start with litigation which everyone knows about and this is your traditional way of going about getting a divorce. The judge may require mediation as a result of this and this is to try and cut down on court time.

Dissolution is where both parties agree on everything and they have an attorney write up their agreement and present to the court. A very inexpensive way to get a divorce however, as mentioned, both parties must agree. Usually this can happen when there are no children involved.

Mediation is where the couple hires a mediator to discuss what needs to happen and they present their agreement to their attorneys who files it in court. This can be done at the onset, you don’t have to wait for the judge to decide on this.

Then there is collaborative law which I call a #holistic divorce. This is where all parties (professionals and spouses) come to a table and discuss the business of getting a divorce. There is *no court involvement in Columbus, Ohio because the judge comes to the attorneys office to sign off on the divorce (*not the same with other major cities in Ohio, check with your state or country). If court involvement it would be once everything has been settled and then there is a filing of paperwork to approve the divorce.

Collaborative law includes two attorneys, a mental health coach or neutral (not in the capacity of a therapist, nor are they providing therapy but, the service is provided by a licensed therapist), a financial coach or neutral and in some cases other specialists are brought in, if need be, for consultation. All professionals meet with the spouse/spouses individually or as a couple upfront to explain the services and begin to assess the couple. Then all parties and professionals come to the table to begin a discussion of what is to take place. This can involve several sessions but there is no court involvement so the schedules are based on everyone at the table rather than dealing with court being in session. Therefore appointments can be more flexible.

What captivated me by this process is that a mental health coach is involved as well as a financial coach. This means two things. One, the mental health coach is there to help determine what is in the best interests of the children and the family. Someone who understands #psychology vs. a Guardian Ad Litem (aka GAL) who, most often, is not a therapist and does not understand mental health. The mental health coach is also doing an assessment to determine if the couple is going to be a good fit for the collaborative law process. In some instances, i.e., domestic violence, substance abuse and mental illness might not be a good fit for the collaborative law process. Two, the financial coach presents the facts of the figures. Then the parties say whose side of the page the items go on and talk about what they see. Eventually, how things will be divided up occurs with much discussion from the team.

In collaborative law, even the attorneys are in a relationship with one another that is not antagonistic as it would be in litigation. While they clearly will represent the spouse who has hired them, at the table they are not in a defensive position but in an empathic position for both parties. This means the spouse who hired them pays for them under the knowledge that their attorney will be listening and be prepared to be concerned for the opposite spouse as well. This is important because the process will not be about “winning” for their side but about the family gaining a supportive outcome.

The divorce process is an uncomfortable position for two people to be in. It is a major transition in someone’s life and how it is dealt with will determine the health and well-being of children involved (as well as the spouses) going forward. When the egos of two people can be mediated by a group of professionals who are helping them to see what is in the best interests of their family, it is more likely that a good outcome can be assured. This is not an inexpensive process yet compared to the time, energy and money that would be spent in litigation, it will most likely be less costly than litigation. The results will most assuredly be less costly on the emotional well-being of both parties and the children involved.

Please note this is NOT legal advice as I am not an attorney. This was presented merely for informational purposes. You should consult with your attorney to find out more information on these options. Also, please take a look at the links provided to gain more knowledge for  yourself. Thank you, Jeannine Vegh, M.A., I.M.F.T.

Advertisements

Choose Chastity Because You Have Self-Respect

The idea of remaining a virgin has always had religious connotations with it because this is where the concept has the strongest need. In our modern society many people are ashamed to associate with a faith, which is very sad because it is important to value spirituality as well as mind and body. Parents are refusing to provide religious instruction through some avenue of persuasion, opting to “let them choose,” which is about as ignorant as allowing a child to vote. So by writing about chastity here, I want to put it in the context of self-respect.  For some reason modern women writers tend to focus on making sex acceptable and I think it is more important to make self-respect acceptable and a priority. This is not a conversation about religion but it is about being a feminist and it is not about hating men.

Not having sex before you are married is a very beautiful step toward choosing the right partner. It takes a certain amount of maturity, wisdom and focus to make this decision. I am always so proud of my female clients when they tell me they have opted to go in this direction. Some make the decision because of religion and some because they are smart enough to know they are not ready. When my female clients have chosen to embark on the path of sex before marriage, I am proud of them for choosing birth control and safe sex (a majority of young women refuse to use birth control). I know these women are not getting any support from their girlfriends because the “in” crowd is focused on their sexual appetites and what brand of sex they choose. The latter is ridiculous because you cannot be sure of your identity until you are an adult and even then, it takes time to adjust to being in the real world. Many people, I believe, are going to rue the day they made drastic changes to their sex and persona as a young person – wait and see. We have already gone through the plastic surgery guilt and the sudden surge in sex changes and sexual confusion is next. We, as psychology professionals cannot even give certain diagnoses to minors and this is because they are going through identity confusion.  So this is my main argument for chastity. Teenagers are going through an identity crisis and it is best to wait until they are an adult to make any sexual decisions. Regret is a painful feeling to deal with throughout your life.

With chastity before marriage so many benefits come with this decision. You are free to focus on your future without any inhibitions or “responsibilities,” [to someone]. In the meantime, it is important to date and befriend lots of people but be very open about your boundary of not having sex. By doing so, you will get rid of the bad people immediately who are only about pulling down your drawers. You don’t have to worry about disease or babies that “accidentally” occur because you have chosen not to use birth control. You can think about college or career aspirations. You can focus on building a financial portfolio so that you can buy a house and a nice car. You can enjoy having fun with friends and dates because you are not tied down to anyone. When you are dating, you are taking the time to get to know one another and finding out what it is you want in a relationship. When you finally do choose to marry, you are wearing a white wedding dress with pride and because you respect the meaning of the color. The long term benefits are that you will have a lot more happiness by choosing to respect yourself and you will be more successful in life.

The cons that come with sex before marriage are that once you have gone down this road, it is hard to turn back. You can with perseverance and strength and a willingness to start over though. Sex at a young age often becomes a place to perform. Young people get caught up in size, quantity, positions, acting, what they are able to do, and how great they are. This is a very shallow path toward a future because you become focused on your statistics and performance rather than your life. Many people, I have spoken with, who start out at a young age get so lost that they forget who they are. I spend time in sessions coaching them on how to find the human being that rests within. Of course because our society has decided it is not politically correct to discipline a young woman or the young man, for not using birth control, so many women have determined they can take the chances. They see these hideous reality shows where women have multiple partners, have babies before marriage and men see that it is practically acceptable to abandon a woman once she is pregnant. Our society is more focused on feeling sorry for than teaching values. Celebrities have no sense of their role in society and how they are ruining our young people by setting poor examples. It is great for a wealthy person to have a baby at 16 because they have nannies to take care of the unwanted child. The average person has nothing financially to contribute and this can end up leading to social services intervention and/or the public welfare system.

Sex is not a bad thing; it is a very wonderful way to be with a person that you love. It is icing on the cake but much more worthwhile when you have taken the time to get to know someone. Building a friendship and having trust and respect with your partner is foreplay. Foreplay is not a conversation on a first or second or so on date that you end with sex. It takes time to build this emotional connection and once you have a commitment, don’t end this by having sex. Wait to get married to do this, you’ve gone this far so why not? Young people are not able to make a decision that they are in love with someone when their friendship is about sex.

Emotional instability is often the very reason that women end up being unfaithful to their partners because we have “emotional infidelity” (before the act is performed of having sex) whereas men have physical infidelity upfront. When women don’t have a strong emotional connection to their partner, they seek someone else to fulfill this wish. You can’t love someone just because you have had sex together. That is infatuation. You can’t expect to build a relationship on a one night stand or a fling. Most women try to do this and they fall short or end up pregnant hoping to force the issue. Obviously none of this works. To quick to jump in bed is behind so many failed marriages.

The degradation of our current society is at an all-time low that I often wonder if it will ever be possible to repair it. So many inappropriate messages are being thrown out into our culture which unfortunately is witnessed by everyone, including the very young. When I grew up these topics needed to wait until after the nine o’clock hour which was reserved for adults. Even then, the topics were hardly an issue of concern to young people, not when you compare this with our world today. The focus on death by suicide and suicidal ideation is really missing the point. It is not about encouraging people to be sexually open; it is about encouraging self-esteem and abstinence as a way toward a happier and more successful life. I wonder if the rate would be so high if minors were not so focused on coming out or having sex in general? If we made the priority in schools about academia and goal planning for the future rather than passing a test and getting out of school. The idea of focusing on bathrooms rather than education when a person should not be choosing their sexuality as a minor (especially changing the gender) is so harmful to the young psyche whose brain doesn’t even stop developing until they are an adult. Young people won’t need to worry about bathrooms and sexuality if they are focused on their academic future. When they are out in the real world and beginning to see what life is all about, than they can make choices with a clear mind that is not intimidated by peer pressure, family, or religion.

Young people, often, do know what their sexuality is at a very young age but it is more important that they behave like a child and have fun. It is more important that they are groomed for adulthood and are taught principles to grow on. This means learning about religion – with their parents there to instruct as well as the religious sector. It means getting a good education – with their parents taking this seriously and being involved with the school. It means the parents need to teach values, i.e., work ethics and family beliefs. The only thing a young person should be choosing is which sport or type of dance to be in or which school club to join or which elective they want to take. Even then, this should be a decision agreed upon with the parents based on finances of course.

By not focusing on sex a child will have a much stronger and healthier sense of self. Being chaste will more than likely cause a child to be better educated in the long run and this will help them to make better choices in life. It is time for us to take a step back and reflect on the values we, as older adults, were taught growing up and realize how great we had it. Then we need to re-think the messages we are sending out on the Internet and how it is affecting the young minds. A young woman is more of a feminist by respecting her mind, body and spirit and a young man respecting feminist ideals when it is not about getting her in bed. Wait to have sex or to determine your sex and focus on your future. You will thank me one day.

Growing Up With a Narcissist

Remember back when you were young. Did you often feel as if you were to blame for everything? Was one sibling revered over you (usually this might be the male child)? Did you try to assert your opinions only to see them turned aside with a phrase similar to “What do you know anyway?” Or at times you might hear “It’s always about you isn’t it?” Did you then and do you now feel as if you are desperately trying to get your parents approval for the decisions you make in life, yet never seem to do anything right? It is very possible that you grew up with a Narcissistic Parent.

My original blog article, The Child of the Narcissist was published in 2011 and today has more than 10,000 readers from around the world – and still counting. I published a part two about a month ago and then just recently put together a CD: The Child of the Narcissist – Guided Meditations for Healing. This CD is available on CreateSpace for only $10.99 a great deal for someone looking for something to utilize as an adjunct to therapy.

CD Cover

A Narcissistic Parent robs a young person of their childhood and then makes life difficult when they try to become a parent themselves. It is emotional abuse that you will suffer your entire life until you take your power back, as an adult. A child of a narcissist has a difficult time individuating from the parent and growing up into an adult. How can you when they are continuously keeping you down? If you also suffered physical and sexual trauma from this parent, it is even more difficult to go out into the world and try your best to be a successful person. The tragedy is that as a child of a narcissist, as long as they hold you emotionally hostage, you continue to seek their approval which you will never get.  How do I know all these things? I am not just a psychotherapist but a survivor as well. I took my power back and write about this now on my website jkvegh.com

The Meditations which I recently published on CD through CreateSpace (and soon to come on Amazon) came about as I began to search for a different way to approach clients in the healing process. I am a great believer in  meditation  and will share this with clients. Then one day I sat down and wrote a script for different meditations that might help a person who was a victim of parental narcissism. Having meditated myself for over 30 years, I used my knowledge of guided meditations from Jon Kabat-Zinn and Shakti Gawain and thought about what someone might need to hear as a child of a narcissist.

This is meant to be an adjunct to therapy because, as a professional, I know doing the CD alone will not be enough. You can’t just self-heal with a series of meditations.  Your voice has been blocked and you need to talk and be validated. Make sure you have a therapist whom you are beginning to do work with and have discussed your mother or father with. Of course this might also include other family members too. Whomever you were raised by and considered a parent.

After you listen and participate in the meditations, make sure you have pen/pencil and paper available to do stream of consciousness writing. This is so beneficial to the process as well. A lot will come up for you and you want to jot this down and then share it with your therapist.

Many things are written about Narcissism and there are even many wonderful movies which highlight this topic as well. These are great resources to utilize. However, the most powerful process in healing from Narcissism is transforming from child to adult in therapy. Now I am offering you this really great CD which has different tracks focusing first on the mind – holistic, than on the body – somatic, and finally, on the spirit – transpersonal.  Taking your power back from the perpetrator will allow you to have the life you have been holding yourself back from all these years. You deserve it!

Mindful Parenting – Eliminate the electronics

There are only two lasting bequests we can hope to give our children. One of these is roots, the other, wings. Goethe

I went to Hoover Dam today (in Columbus, OH) and was absolutely amazed to see every single person on the bridge with a cell phone in their hand and their heads down. It was a beautiful day of mid-high 80’s and a crisp breeze was reaching out to us from the exploding water down below. In the horizon to the right were deciduous trees commanding attention for over 200 years or more. To the left the river flowing by with a few scant boaters in the midst. Many unoccupied boats sat docked rather than utilized.   As I walked by these people, no one said hello or even noticed that I existed. A man and his son, heads bent down walking, oblivious to the fact that other humans existed. They are discussing something of importance, probably a game they are playing via a smart phone. A bunch of teens were crowded around the building that houses the engineers and they were all gabbing about, looking down at their smart phones – rather than facing each other like men. A bunch of adults who were clearly together sit under the observation deck on the opposite side of the bridge, every single one of them heads down poking very quickly on their mini keyboards. A woman rode by on a beachcomber, right hand clutched to her ear gossiping about life, left hand on the handlebar. Others walk by had head phones on and were staring straight ahead like a zombie.

Dam in Fall

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I feel so bad for these children who’s parents deprive them of nature’s beauty. Who have no ability to set boundaries for themselves, let alone are teaching their children to have no boundaries and to just ignore the world. Parenting like this is neglecting human connection and is creating isolation. No holding hands, no rides on dads shoulders, no talking about the boats and dam and what it is there for. It is not just here that I have noticed this and I am sure you have too. In restaurants families have their heads bent down over IPads. In cars, parents are on their phones rather than focusing on the road, with kids in the back watching videos. Parents are not attaching to their children, they are teaching them to detach from life. The violence level in this world is to such extremes as we have never seen before, in modern times and the stories we hear about the perpetrators are people who have been neglected in life on some level.

What is our future to be like if we are all walking around with our heads down ignoring life around us?

The Child of the Narcissist – Part Two

In 2011, I wrote the article The Child of the Narcissist and since this time, I have grown quite a bit as a psychotherapist and as a person surviving this type of parent. The reasons for this is that I worked on taking my power back from this person, in order to be able to help other people do the same thing. I also did this because I felt as if I were out of integrity as a therapist not being able to do so.  I still felt like a child around this person and, as a therapist, I needed to grow up personally to be a better professional.

I won’t be able to do a step by step plan in this circumstance because it really depends on who this person is to you. You know them. You know what it might take intuitively, so standing up to this person will vary. It is important though, for your own healing process, to not only understand what Narcissistic Personality Disorder is but to understand how to heal from this. How to move forward in your life without continuing to be a victim. So I am updating the original article here from a more mature, healthier perspective. You can read all types of pop psychology books that will make you more “in the know.” Reading these books will only give you tools to make you believe you can now diagnose this person and prepare you with a suit of armor. This is not healthy – to only read about them. It is important to read about how to heal from this parent and for you to become a healthier person.

One thing I want you to understand before you continue reading is that you are not changing the Narcissist here. You are changing yourself.

Firstly, focus on taking your power back from the Narcissist.

1) You have to stand up to them in whatever way makes sense with this person. Maybe you confront them head on (sometimes this can be dangerous though, especially if you are unprepared for the outcome. I know people who have been assaulted by the person as a result.) In my case it was spontaneous, without warning, somewhere deep inside of me I just snapped (unlike the TV show no one was killed or harmed in anyway). It helped in my case because the placater in the family stood up for me and the hero just remained aloof. Everyone else just stayed quiet. After this person (the Narcissist) threw a temper tantrum and saw they would receive no attention from anyone, it just ended right then and there.

I have also known people who stood up to their parent and the family abandoned them. This is something you have to be prepared for and reconcile this within yourself.

2) You have to set boundaries with this person and continue to set boundaries, and continue to set boundaries and continue to set boundaries.

3) Be prepared not to take the bait – there are going to be times when you are with this person. I have found that, in my circumstance, a long time passes without criticism and then out of nowhere I am hit with some strange comment, an insult, or some type of questioning that I know is going to lead to trauma in the family. I know if I am not careful answering this question, to deflect the intended result on their end, people will be hurt.

Example: Lets say you mention something to the Narcissist. You are with other family members, whom you said something about. The Narcissist says something out loud “outing” what you said. You are suddenly caught between a rock and a hard place.

In this type of situation you could get caught up in defending yourself, or you could just be honest. Yes I said that. Then you talk to the other family privately on your own, without the Narcissist in the room.

4) Work on detaching yourself from this parent or family member – You have to be in a place where you no longer need them or their nurturing. This means you get your mother/father from a surrogate. Find an elder or older friend that you look up to. It is also important to heal from these wounds by focusing your attention on yourself and building your ego.

This last part is the most important aspect of healing from the Narcissistic parent. You don’t think of this parent as being dead. You just don’t worry about what they say or do because you are not invested in gaining something from them. You know longer need them for validation, love, support. You have separated and individuated (become an individual separate from your parent) and are behaving like an adult now. This is very important because what I have learned is that until you are able to do #4, you will continue to behave like a teenager around this parent, no matter if you are 30 or 60. Until you individuate, (let go and mature) you will find that when you are around them you continue to act like a child.

Now that I have individuated from my parent fully, I find I am actually able to listen to them differently. Sometimes I actually learn something from what they say. Sure, there are moments, such as #3 above but I recover from this more quickly because I realize they have no power over me.

In 1980, I ran away from this mess and during this time lost an ability to grow with nieces and nephews, brothers and sisters. I missed out on so much simply because I could not bare being around this parent anymore. The emotional abuse was so overwhelming to me. I had a “parent” in California, where I was living for 30 years. This woman guided me, protected me, taught me, nurtured me and I was able to grow as a person. However, I returned to Ohio in 2010 because I realized, as a therapist, it was time to heal from the Narcissistic parent. I did not really understand this until I became a psychotherapist. I knew it would help me in my practice and help me to teach others as well. I was guided to this process intuitively.

*To understand separation and individuation a little more, here is Murray Bowen’s philosophy which I kept trying to read and understand in my graduate program, until I finally got it one day. It also helped that I worked with a clinical supervisor during my internship who focused on Bowen’s theory of family systems. (a selection from Wikipedia)

Differentiation of self

Differentiation of self is one’s ability to separate one’s own intellectual and emotional functioning from that of the family. Bowen spoke of people functioning on a single continuum or scale. Individuals with “low differentiation” are more likely to become fused with predominant family emotions. (A related concept is that of an undifferentiated ego mass, which is a family unit whose members possess low differentiation and therefore are emotionally fused.) Those with “low differentiation” depend on others’ approval and acceptance. They either conform themselves to others in order to please them, or they attempt to force others to conform to themselves. They are thus more vulnerable to stress, defined as stressor(s) and psycho-physiological “stress reactivity,” and theirs is a greater than average challenge to adjust/adapt to life changes and contrary beliefs.[7]

To have a well-differentiated “self” is an ideal that no one realizes perfectly because, like with Abraham Maslow’s concept of “self-actualization“, it is a concept without literal physical or material example. Even if total self-differentiation is achieved in a given moment or context, it is, like feeling states or thoughts, temporary and ephemeral. Those with generally higher levels of “self differentiation” recognize that they need others, but they depend less on others’ acceptance and approval. They do not merely adopt the attitude of those around them but acquire and maintain their principles thoughtfully. These principles, morals, and ethics help them to decide important family and social issues, and to consciously or unconsciously resist lapsing into emotional reactivity and feelings-based—-usually impulsive—-thoughts and actions. Thus, despite conflict, criticism, and even rejection, those with greater capacity to “self differentiate” can stay calm and rationally “clear-headed” enough to distinguish thinking rooted in a careful assessment of the facts from thinking clouded by emotion. What they decide and say matches what they do. When they act in the best interests of the group, they choose thoughtfully, not because they are caving in to relationship pressures. They’re more objective observers, more capable of calmness under relationship and task pressures. Confident in their own thinking, they can either support another’s viewpoints without becoming wishy-washy; or, they can reject another’s opinions without becoming hostile with them, or passively disconnected from them. This is especially relevant to the family of origin, and as we grow and develop maturity, also with extended family members, friends, or associates.[8]

Now on CD The Child of the Narcissist: Guided Meditations for Healing

Also available for download too!

CD Cover