Now that Michelle Obama's mother is living in the White House, will the cruel jokes and snide remarks about mothers-in-law finally stop? Will Marian Robinson, as first mother-in-law, be able to pave the way for acceptance, even respect, for this much-maligned branch of the family tree? Only time, and the nightly comedians, will tell.
If you have a new son-in-law yourself, you can use Mrs. Robinson and other successful in-laws as your guides. Let them teach you how to adjust to your new role. It's not easy. Once you've made the final payment for your daughter's dream wedding, you may find yourself relegated to the back burner.
Instead of you, your daughter's new husband is now the one who shares her confidences. After spending the past couple of decades as an active and involved mom, do you now feel like a Lame Duck? Even more important, how can you learn to relate to the guy who is now the center of your daughter's universe? Here are a few tips to get you started with your own son-in-law:
These tips can help you build the kind of relationship with your son-in-law that Marian Robinson has with President Obama. He and Michelle respect her and trust her to help with their children. Embrace your new role of mother-in-law. You, too, have the power to make this an enriching chapter for everyone in the family.
© 2009, www.HerMentorCenter.com
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Nadya Suleman is a 33 year old unemployed single mother who recently gave birth to octuplets, conceived through in vitro fertilization. She grew up as an only child and had always dreamed of having a large family. Reporters, pundits and bloggers have called her irresponsible and selfish, as she already has six children under the age of seven at home. They say it takes more than love to care for eight babies, especially if you don't have a clear source of income or enough support to help raise them.
The doctor who implanted the fertilized eggs is being investigated by the medical board. The risk of such a pregnancy is not only to the mother but also for the babies. There are potential physical problems that will need to be carefully monitored over the coming years. Likely there will be psychological issues to deal with as well.
Even though Suleman loves being a mom, there are 14 children and only one of her. She can’t do it alone. It's not possible for her to take care of the emotional needs of that many growing children. The potential developmental delays and learning disabilities will require adjunctive therapies. And the long term costs will be significant. Meanwhile, the hospital bill alone will run well over $2 million.
Suleman called her childhood dysfunctional and said she didn't feel that she had much control over her environment. Almost everyone has some identity issues or feelings of powerlessness growing up. If you are depressed or need to take better care of your emotional self, begin by following these tips:
1. Notice if you are in denial about your emotional state of mind. What are you doing that may not be in your best interests? And why? For example, if you're thinking about getting pregnant, it could be a short term solution to help lift your spirits. And this could leave you with other longstanding problems for yourself and your family.
2. Honor your body by understanding what makes you feel better, both physically and emotionally. Pay attention to your exercise routine, what you eat, your sleeping habits and what gives you pleasure. Reduce the situations that cause stress and increase the ones that make you feel more relaxed or alive.
3. Forgive others who are important to you for some past wrongdoing. Watch their reaction and see how that makes you feel. That doesn’t mean you have to totally forget about it. If you had a dysfunctional upbringing, try to understand the problems it is causing you now. Learn a lesson from the situation and move on, especially for your own good.
4. Practice what you know about resiliency. Recognize how your character strengths support what you do. Integrate your core values and personal ideals into how you view the world. Notice the effect your attitudes and behavior have on other people in your life. Release tension through laughter and watch yourself begin to bounce back.
5. Knowledge is power. Use it to your advantage. Get information about ways to deal with how you're feeling - explore the Internet or the self-help section of bookstores. Think about the natural and logical consequences of the decisions you are making. Talk about how you are feeling with friends and family whose opinions you respect.
6. Support is a valuable tool - connect often. Accept the changes in your family, whatever they are, even if you feel caught in the crossfire. Find a class or workshop through your local university extension program or mental health center. Join an ongoing group or attend a weekend retreat to share concerns and gain new perspective.
7. You may be confused about what to do next. Don't be afraid to seek out a parenting coach or a family therapist. Although you may see yourself as a natural, this is a unique situation. Learning skills and techniques from experts can make a big difference and talking with someone outside of the family about your concerns and frustrations can be a lifesaver.
All Suleman ever wanted was to be a mom: "I longed for certain connections and attachments with another person that I really lacked, I believe, growing up.” She thinks that motherhood cured her depression. But child birth should not be used as a form of self- medication.
If your feelings of depression stem from a hunger inside that needs to be satisfied or a serious emotional problem, take the time to examine your own life. That will give you the chance to focus on greater personal awareness and your own emotional growth without jeopardizing the wellbeing of others.
© 2009, Her Mentor Center
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Bravery and humility - often at the heart of fairy tales – are qualities that can inspire all of us to be the best that we can be. And, with the doom and gloom of the economic crisis, we were primed and about ready for a miracle. People want to feel hopeful again.
Chesley B. "Sully" Sullenberger III safely landed a US Airways flight 1549 with 155 passengers and crew onboard in the Hudson River when the plane encountered problems after takeoff. Everyone survived. A spokesman for the U.S. Airline Pilots Association says that Sullenberger acted 'very calm and cool, very relaxed, just very professional.' Apparently he was the last one off the plane, walking down the aisles two times to make sure no one was left on board. Now that's a hero.
The challenges you face and crises you endure may not be quite so dramatic. But there are lessons we all can learn from the passengers and crew who stayed calm and pulled together on that Airbus A320 flight:
1. Realize that support is a valuable tool. Reaching out to others when you need encouragement helps you make it through what seems like an impossible situation. In an emergency, hold out your hand to a stranger. Confide in friends and family as you work through difficult circumstances. Getting a second and objective opinion from a family therapist or life coach will provide you with insight and direction. Join an ongoing group or attend a weekend retreat to share concerns and gain new perspective. Or find a workshop through your local university extension or mental health center. Spending time with others will validate your emotions and make you feel better.
2. Express your gratitude often. One airplane passenger, on a rescue raft in the frigid cold, went up to Sullenberger, grabbed his arm and said 'thank you on behalf of all of us.' Those are the moments in life that create a lasting impression. Try it yourself. Say thank you to a family member, a friend or a colleague. You'll see that others will feel more valued and you'll benefit from putting your appreciation into words. Studies show that gratitude helps you attain a better mood, increased self-esteem and a greater sense of connection to the world.
3. Develop stress relievers. If you have endured an extraordinary physical or emotional experience, take time out for yourself. By regular exercise, good nutrition and proper rest, you'll be taking better care of your body. Attend to your mind and your spirit as well. Practice techniques of deep breathing, relaxation or your own form of meditation. Set aside quiet time and do what it is that gives you personal pleasure. Relax and have fun as you bring more balance into your life. Look at it as investing in your emotional bank account. You'll generate positive memories that you can draw on when you need them.
4. Recognize an acute stress reaction. After an event where you could have died, it's natural to have a greater appreciation for life. Subsequent to a traumatic event, on the other hand, an immediate emotional reaction can turn into Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). This is more likely to occur for those who have suffered a previous trauma, a weak support system, a history of addiction or depression. If your symptoms persist - sleep disturbance, sadness, fears, irritability, flashbacks or nightmares – don't hesitate to make an appointment with a mental health professional.
5. Be as prepared as possible ahead of time. Sullenberger was ready – he's a former air force fighter pilot, an expert in safety reliability methods and has 40 years of flying experience. Although you may not need training for an emergency landing, you can be equipped for what lies ahead. If you're making an important presentation at work, setting guidelines for your kidult who can't find a job and is moving back home or talking to your dad about giving up the car keys, learn as much as you can about the issues. Research the subject, write out talking points, get feedback from those whose opinions you value.
As you look back, how have you dealt with trauma in the past? And how has this changed you? Take the specific strategies that you learned and apply the most effective ones again and again. Look at the ways you can continue to build on your internal and external strengths. A double bird strike disabling two engines is a highly improbable set of circumstances. Yet there are many extraordinary situations we cannot predict. Hopefully you won't ever have to brace for a crash landing. But being prepared never hurt anyone.
© 2009, Her Mentor Center
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