Education and Counseling for Individuals Affected by Oppositional Defiant Disorder and ADHD

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Parenting as a Single Mother or Father

The number of kids living in a single parent family has doubled in recent years. In fact, statistics indicate that single parent families represent 30% of U.S. households, while 25% represent two parent households.

Based on current trends, there are predictions that upwards of 70% of kids born since 1980 will spend (or have spent) some time living in a single parent home before their 18th birthday. These kids are not doomed to failure.

The following strategies are offered to the single parent who is determined to raise a good child despite the myths of doom and gloom:

1. ATTITUDE ADJUSTMENT— Adults and kids do better when single parenthood is perceived as a viable option and not as a pathological situation. Start with a positive attitude and focus on the benefits of single parenting, such as less conflict and tension in the home. Many single moms and dads treasure their newfound autonomy and independence and feel hopeful about the future.

2. CREATE A STABLE, NURTURING HOME— Nurturing is a high priority, but kids also crave stability and security. While this is important for all kids, it is especially crucial for kids who have suffered 8 loss of stability due to divorce or death of a parent. Kids need to feel secure and protected, and it is our job as moms and dads to create a nurturing environment where they can thrive. Your kids need to hear how much you love them and how proud you are. Some kids may require more affection and attention than others, so know your youngster, and take your cue from him/her.

3. DEAL WITH OVERLOAD— The single parent frequently feels overwhelmed by the responsibility, tasks, and emotional overload associated with raising kids alone. It is extremely important to manage time wisely and to ask for help when necessary. Assign kids appropriate chores and tasks. Arrange car pools when possible, and ask other moms and dads for help when needed. My kids would not have been able to continue in club soccer were it not for the kindness of other parents providing rides to practices and games.

4. DEVELOP A RELIABLE SUPPORT SYSTEM— Develop a wide network of people who can provide you with emotional support, companionship, help in emergencies, child- care, reality checks, etc. Be selective and choose caring, reliable, trustworthy people who will be there for you in times of need. Single moms and dads with healthy support systems usually feel better mentally and physically and demonstrate to their kids that it is OK to ask for help. Support groups for single moms and dads offer an excellent opportunity to socialize and share with others in similar circumstances.

5. DO NOT TREAT YOUR CHILD AS A PEER— Do not confide in your youngster as though he/she is your peer, regardless of how mature the youngster appears to be. This is a common mistake made unintentionally by many single moms and dads who turn to their youngster for emotional support and don't realize they are hurting the youngster until after the tact. Allow kids to be kids, and find other adults for companionship and support.

6. ESTABLISH SCHEDULES AND PREDICTABLE ROUTINES— Part of creating stability and security in the home involves establishing predictable schedules and routines for your kids. Of course, we must not be rigid and inflexible, because kids need to learn that life is not always predictable. Find a healthy balance.

7. HAVE REALISTIC EXPECTATIONS— Focus on success and not on failure. Set realistic goals as a family and work together to accomplish these goals. Decide what is important and prioritize accordingly. Have family meetings on a regular basis and allow kids to have input. Learn to effectively communicate and solve family problems together while still demonstrating that you are the boss. Give your kids credit and give yourself credit.

8. RECOGNIZE THAT YOU ARE ONE PERSON AND YOU ARE DOING THE BEST YOU CAN— No matter how loving and competent you are, you are still only one person and you are doing a job most agree is meant for two people. Do not allow your kids to manipulate you by making you feel guilty about the situation. Remind kids that you are a team and have to work together. Give yourself credit for a job well done. You may have to wait until your kids are grown before you get any credit from them. This is where a sense of humor comes in handy!

9. TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF— It is critical for your kid's well-being for you to take care of yourself. There are times when you feel like you need a break. Ask other single moms and dads to trade babysitting or hire a mother's helper. Pay special attention to diet, exercise, stress management, and getting a good night's sleep. Learn relaxation, yoga, meditation, visualization, or whatever healthy coping skill allows you to relieve stress and tension. Take a walk, read a book, call a friend, take a nap (my personal favorite). A stressed out parent results in stressed out kids.

10. YOU ARE THE BOSS— Establish firm, clear boundaries that leave no doubt that you are the boss in the home. Single moms and dads (and two parent households) often make the mistake of allowing kids to become equal partners or peers, and too many kids are running the show. This loads to serious individual and family problems. Kids need limits. Use consistent discipline that provides clear expectations and guidelines for behavior and rely on natural and logical consequences. Learn to say, "I love you enough to say NO to you.”

If you are feeling overwhelmed, depressed, anxious, or stressed, get professional help. A competent therapist can help you find the light at the end of the tunnel.

==> My Out-of-Control Teen: Discipline Strategies for Single Parents

Helping Your Pregnant Teenager

Teen pregnancy can be one of the most difficult experiences an adolescent ever faces, but there are steps you can take to help your daughter deal with teen pregnancy. Understand how to support your adolescent as she faces the consequences of teen pregnancy.

Provide support—

Teen pregnancy is often a crisis for a young girl and her family, as well as the baby's father and his family. Common reactions include anger, guilt and denial. Your adolescent may also experience anxiety, fear, shock and depression. Your adolescent needs your love, guidance and support now more than ever. Talk to your adolescent about what she's feeling and the choices ahead.

Discuss the options—

A pregnant adolescent — along with her parents, the father of the baby and his parents — has a few options to consider:

• End the pregnancy. Some pregnant adolescents choose to end their pregnancies. If your daughter is considering abortion, make sure she understands the risks and the emotional consequences. Keep in mind that some states require parental notification for a legal abortion.
• Give the baby up for adoption. Some pregnant adolescents continue their pregnancies and give their babies up for adoption. If your daughter is considering adoption, help her explore the different types of adoption available. Also discuss the emotional consequences of giving a baby up for adoption.
• Keep the baby. Many pregnant adolescents keep their babies. Some marry the baby's father and raise the baby together. Others rely on family support to raise the baby. Finishing school and getting a good job can be difficult for an adolescent parent. If your daughter is thinking about keeping the baby, make sure she truly understands the challenges and responsibilities involved.

Encourage your pregnant adolescent to talk to her health care provider or an expert in pregnancy counseling about all of the options.

Understand the health risks—

Pregnant adolescents and their babies are at higher risk of health problems. Possible complications for pregnant adolescents, especially those younger than age 15, include:

• Anemia
• High blood pressure
• Premature labor

Possible complications for a baby born to an adolescent mother include:

• Low birth weight
• Premature birth

Promote proper prenatal care—

A pregnant adolescent can improve her chances of having a healthy baby by taking good care of herself. If your daughter decides to continue the pregnancy, encourage her to:

• Avoid risky substances. Alcohol, tobacco and illicit drugs are off-limits during pregnancy. Even moderate alcohol use can harm a developing baby. Smoking increases the risk of preterm birth, problems with the placenta and low birth weight — and drugs your adolescent takes can pass from her to her baby, sometimes with devastating effects. Even prescription and over-the-counter medications deserve caution. Have your adolescent clear any medications or supplements with her health care provider ahead of time.

• Eat a healthy diet. During pregnancy, your adolescent will need more folic acid, calcium, iron, protein and other essential nutrients. A daily prenatal vitamin can help fill any gaps.

• Gain weight wisely. Gaining the right amount of weight can support the baby's health — and make it easier for your adolescent to lose the extra pounds after delivery. A weight gain of 25 to 35 pounds (about 11 to 16 kilograms) is often recommended for women who have a healthy weight before pregnancy. Pregnant adolescents may need to gain more weight. Have your adolescent work with her health care provider to determine what's right for her.

• Get tested for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Pregnant adolescents are more likely to have STDs than are older pregnant women. Many STDs — including chlamydia, syphilis and HIV — can harm the health of an infected mother and her baby.

• Seek prenatal care. During pregnancy, regular prenatal visits can help your adolescent's health care provider monitor your adolescent's health and the baby's health.

• Stay physically active. Regular physical activity can help ease or even prevent discomfort, boost your adolescent's energy level and improve her overall health. It also can help her prepare for labor and childbirth by increasing her stamina and muscle strength. Have your adolescent get her health care provider's OK before starting or continuing an exercise program, especially if she has a medical condition or hasn't exercised in a while.

• Take childbirth classes. These classes can help prepare your adolescent for pregnancy, childbirth, breast-feeding and being a parent.

If your adolescent lacks the finances or transportation necessary to obtain prenatal care, a social worker may be able to help.

Prepare for the future—

Teen pregnancy often has a negative impact on an adolescent's future. Adolescent mothers are less likely to graduate from high school, are more likely to live in poverty and are at risk of domestic violence. Adolescent fathers tend to finish fewer years of school than do older fathers. They're also less likely to earn a livable wage and hold a steady job. In addition, children of adolescent parents are more likely to have health and cognitive disorders and are more likely to be neglected or abused. Girls born to teenage parents are more likely to experience teen pregnancy themselves, and boys born to teenage parents are more likely to serve time in prison.

If your daughter decides to continue the pregnancy, address these challenges head-on. Discuss your adolescent's goals for the future and how she might go about achieving them as a parent. Look for special programs available to help pregnant adolescents remain in school or complete course work from home. Encourage your adolescent to take parenting classes and help her prepare to financially support and raise a child.

Whatever choice your adolescent makes, teen pregnancy can have a profound impact on her life. Be there for your adolescent as much as possible. Your love and support will help your daughter deal with pregnancy and the challenges ahead.

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Parenting Defiant Adolescents: Tips for Frustrated Moms and Dads

It's only natural for all adolescents to challenge authority at times. There is a type of adolescent that can take this to the extreme. They are referred to as "defiant adolescents" and can be very trying for parents to communicate with.

Defiant adolescents are not your typical adolescents. They will not challenge your authority once in awhile. Defiant adolescents will try to challenge almost every statement that you make as a parent.

Don't feel special though, they won't do this to just you as their parents. They will do this with teachers, relatives, and authority figures alike. Finding a way to communicate with adolescents who fall into this behavioral category can be tough, but it can be accomplished if you as a parent can exhibit a thick skin and persistence in your effort to get through to your adolescent.

The typical defiant adolescent feels that the world is against them and nobody knows how they feel. They will feel that all rules are made to make life harder on them and to be unfair. This is why as a parent you need to be careful when setting boundaries and rules for your defiant adolescent. The adolescent will question your rules, be prepared for this.

To be prepared, make sure the rules you set have logic behind them and you are ready to point out the logic. You don't have to argue back and forth with your defiant adolescent though, just reiterate the logic of the rules. Do not let the argument get personal. Remember, a defiant adolescent opposes the rules and not necessarily the person who made them. If your child challenges every rule you make, then you can be slightly flexible and only make the rules that you feel are truly necessary for their safety.

Defiant adolescents are confrontational but not stupid, many are very smart. They will benchmark how you treat them when compared to how their friends are treated by their parents. If they feel the situation they are in is better than their friends they may relent a little in their opposition, but do not expect them to give it up completely.

Remember that a defiant adolescent feels that nobody understands them. To help counteract this belief, schedule family outings doing activities that your adolescent enjoys. Take an interest in one of their hobbies.

Help them to attend events or activities that build on their hobbies and attend the events with them. When you are sharing this time with your adolescent it's a good time to keep your ears open. If they let their guard down they are likely to express some of the things that make them feel frustrated and the need to oppose you as a parent. If you listen closely you can start to figure out ways to use the information they provide to you.

You don't necessarily need to change your parenting methods, but refer back to things they tell you and they will start to realize that you are not just a parent enforcing rules, and that you listen to their thoughts. Even though it is important to listen and bond, you also must keep a barrier between yourself and your child as well.

Remember you are their parent and not their friend. If a defiant adolescent feels that you have shown weakness and they can control you, they will walk all over you as a parent. Explain to them that you are just trying to raise them to succeed in the future, and that the family is not a democracy. Explain it does not have to be a battle over every issue and that you and them as parent and adolescent can enjoy times together, yet in the end you have final say in the household.

Defiant adolescents are hard to get control of at first. Once you have gotten control, as a parent you need to make sure you maintain a general level of control and authority. These adolescents will never stop challenging your rules, but they might reduce the number and intensity of the challenges.

This most often happens once they realize you are not the enemy, you are their parent. It also happens when they realize that your rules are not just made up to be punishments but do have logic to help your adolescent succeed in the future. Mom and dads must realize though these changes will not happen instant. Parenting a defiant adolescent is harder than parenting your average adolescent, but when done correctly can create an even stronger bond between you and your child.

==> My Out-of-Control Teen: Help for Parents

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