Getting Your Kids to (Really) Talk to You

I am in the midst of a new-found Oprah obsession.  Sure I’ve watched her shows in years past, but the last couple of months I have been enthralled.  Yesterday (May 19th) was no exception.  In addition to other guests, she interviewed a brother and sister whose mother had left their family.  Working with them was psychotherapist, M. Gary Neuman.  I have to admit that sometimes when I see therapists on television I hear “blah, blah, blah” (is this what people hear during my media interviews? Hmmm…).  Anyway, Mr. Neuman was great!  In particular, he had one piece of advice that was particularly poignant.  That is (and I’m paraphrasing):

If you really want your kids to talk to you, you have to do more than say ‘Let me know if you want to talk’ or ‘You can come to me if you have any problems.’

He is so right!  So many of us think we are opening the door to our kids’ conversations by making these statements, but in fact it takes much more to actually get them to open up.  Mr. Neuman suggested we actually bring up the topics we want our kids to talk about.  Here are some examples:

  • “Johnny I saw on the news that a lot of kids drink alcohol at after prom parties.  What are your plans after prom?”
  • “Sophie, I don’t know if you and Tucker are sexually intimate, but I thought we could talk about birth control options for girls your age.”
  • “Henry, I remember when I was about to graduate from high school I felt so nervous about college and the changes it would bring.  I wonder if you’ve felt nervous about next year at all?”
  • “Ellie, I was watching American Idol last night and one of the contestants talked about her parents divorce and how it still makes her sad.  I was wondering how our family’s divorce affects you?”

Mr. Neuman went on to note that we, as parents, need to bring these topics up to our kids time and time again.  By doing so we create a safe, accepting environment for them to talk about concerns – big and small.  Brilliant, Mr. Neuman!  Thanks for the reminder that we need to be active participants in communicating with our kids.

Photo by: George Burns/Harpo Studios

CREATE Mental Health Week – Making a Calendar for Orientation

This is a guest post in the series CREATE Mental Health. All week we will be exploring how different people use creativity to create and maintain mental health. Today’s post is by Melony Bishop. Melony writes the blog, Stamping with Melony.  I love this idea – it blends creativity and function beautifully!  Welcome, Melony!

When my friend Faith recently approached me about creating a special stamping project, I couldn’t help but realize the additional cognitive benefits that were involved in this sweet hand-made gift.  Faith wanted to make a daily calendar for her aging father-in-law  to help him stay oriented to the date each day….  What a simple but powerful tool for this man and his caregivers!  A daily calendar hand-made by his beloved daughter-in-law!  What a fantastic way to “CREATE MENTAL HEALTH” in this man’s life!  (Maybe it’s the Occupational Therapist in me that couldn’t resist this purposeful creative calendar coupled with a cognitve component.)

After many hours, here is the fruit of this “labor of love” for Faith’s father-in-law!  🙂

Notice the details involved!  We designed and hand-made a central month page for each of the 12 months with a seasonal theme.  We then designed coordinating mattes for the days of the week and the date of the month for either side of the month.

Faith used the GoGo Boots Die Cut letters with the Big Shot to cut and adhere the names of each of the days of the week that can be rotated daily throughout the year.
She used the Simple Numbers Die Cuts to die cut each of the dates of the month to also rotate through each of the days of the months.  Both the days and dates were cut from Early Espresso Cardstock and adhered to 4×4 Whisper White squares using 2-way glue.

We hand-made little embellishments for all of the various holidays and special days throughout the year and adhered magnets to the backsides that will magnet onto the metal clips on the clipboard to designate those special days of the year.  :)  We stamped multiple different years as well for the center clip.

We used clear box cases to organize and keep all of the pages safe and handy for his caregiver to swap each day of the year.

Check out the rest of the months of the year that we created……..