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The Tremendous Impact of a Sad Family on an Innocent Child

The Tremendous Impact of a Sad Family on an Innocent Child

One of the truest quotes I have ever heard goes something like “having a child is like having your heart pulled out of your body, then watching it try to navigate through life on its own”. In many ways, this is one of life’s toughest lessons, because children, especially younger ones, are so vulnerable and it is highly instinctive as a parent to want to protect them.[1] It’s our greatest responsibility.

Parenthood can be a long, lonely road sometimes, where the best parent can question their abilities. However, typically wanting to protect a child is a sign of excellent parenting instincts. How to go about doing it is another matter.

The causes of family conflicts vary but their impact is disastrous.

1. Money issues

“One of the most common root issues for intense conflict within families is a lack of money. This is not always the case, though; sometimes people are drawn together in support when there is lack. However, many couples find the strain of trying to meet material needs to be overwhelming, and this can lead to initial tension between two parents.”

Sarah Hill, Advisor, Mums That Work

2. Family dynamics, illness or death

Another root issue is simple family dynamics where personalities become highly incompatible and attempts at conflict resolution fail because parents lack the ability and lose the desire to cope with their mate’s daily problems or issues. This can be triggered by the death of a close family member or child, or the onset of an illness in a partner that overwhelms and polarizes the other partner. Love is forgotten.

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3. Substance or physical abuse

Families that suffer from alcohol and abuse issues face excruciatingly difficult situations on a daily basis, where fear, sometimes outright terror is the daily special.

Family conflicts cause long-term negative impact on children.

1. They feel frightened

Whatever the case, what follows is generally a sort of unraveling of something that is beloved and the safest thing they know, right before a child’s eyes. This can make a child feel frightened and insecure, or angry and resentful.

2. They feel guilty

They can start to blame themselves for the issues their parents are experiencing or they may start to exhibit escapist behavioral patterns such as drug or alcohol abuse.

3. They grow up in a dysfunctional family

In some cases, dysfunction can manifest in lax parenting by one or both parents, because they are preoccupied with their own issues.[2]

4. They do not know how to respect others

An inconsistency in parenting styles can lead to doubt and lack of clarity when it comes to exemplifying how to set and respect personal boundaries of other people – children have a tendency to follow a parent’s example.[3]

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5. They may suffer from mental illness

In other cases, the general dysfunction may manifest itself through the child in depression and anxiety disorders or other forms of mental health issues.[4]

In troubled times, try to keep the children strong.

Whatever the conflict and whatever issues parents may face, it is possible to keep your kids from becoming damaged by them.[5]

1. Create a safe environment

The first priority is to keep them from being physically harmed, which means putting or keeping a roof over their heads through whatever means are necessary, be it moving out with the kids, making the current situation work, or moving to a shelter if the first two options are not viable.

2. Enlist help from those you trust

This is definitely an area where a family member could offer assistance if possible either with voluntary childcare, lending money, guidance or shelter. They may also be able to aid in the initiation of outside help from sources such as shelters, medical, or legal assistance.

3. Try not to overthink

If the decision is to stay in the situation where there’s conflict, relax. It’s important to remind yourself that there is conflict everywhere, all the time. While children are vulnerable they can be remarkably resilient, as long as they know that they are loved and safe.

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4. Show your kids love

Tell your children how very much you love them and show them regularly with love and acts of kindness. You are teaching them to be loving and generous. Remind your children often that you will keep them safe from harm, and do that.

5. Lead by example

Show your kids to respect the boundaries of other people by being respectful yourself. Do your very best to lead by example emotionally because that is generally what children follow.

6. Teach your kids self-discipline

If your children behave badly, let them know you’re not happy about it and make it clear you expect better from them next time. It’s crucial to remind your child about empathy and the golden rule, to actually explain to a child why something is wrong if they don’t know why it’s wrong.

7. Share your knowledge with your kids

“Knowledge is power, and when you share your knowledge with your child and it makes sense to them, they feel empowered as well. They are empowered by the fact that you are communicating honestly, as well as choosing to bond with them in such a way. They can count on you, and you can count on them. Forever.”

Helen Anderson, Single Parent Dating Entrepreneur

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This is an example of a resolved conflict.

“We’ve had a tumultuous courtship, turbulent marriage and triumph journey. We experienced addiction, deceit, betrayal and bankruptcy during our 15 year marriage. My wife, Blair, was shocked to find out that her husband was addicted to drugs and gambling. But she pulled herself together, raised our boys and helped me on my road to recovery. During those tough times, Blair managed to take the lead and ensure that our young boys were not affected by my behavior and addiction. Fast forward to being a year sober and living the life that I imagined, I have my wife to thank for her loyalty, consistency and love. She held our family together and made sure that my conflicts and demons didn’t impact their lives. It’s a difficult task to stay faithful and married to someone with addiction. Each day I am so thankful that she stayed.”

Ryan Critch’ story on Facebook[6]

It’s important to remember, that family conflicts do crop up, and can test even the strongest of family bonds. What matters is how this conflict is dealt with. Whether you are experiencing money issues, relationship issues or a death in the family, the idea is to strike a balance between making your children feel empowered and secure, whilst raising responsible, empathic, and productive members of society who are able to form functional, happy relationships with others.

Out of all of life’s crazy lessons, the most beautiful is love.

Featured photo credit: Stocksnap via stocksnap.io

Reference

[1] Family Court of Australia: Parental conflict and its effect on children
[2] Psych Central: What Causes Codependency?
[3] Institute for Family Studies: How Parental Conflict Hurts Kids
[4] Kathy Eugster: Chronic Parental Conflict: How it Can Be Harmful for Children
[5] Divorce Magazine: 9 Tips for Protecting Children from Conflict during Divorce
[6] Facebook: Ryan Critch

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Last Updated on October 30, 2019

How the Stages of Change Model Helps You Change Your Habits

How the Stages of Change Model Helps You Change Your Habits

Change is tough, there’s no doubt about it. Old habits are hard to shift, and adopting a new lifestyle can feel like an uphill battle!

In this article, you will learn about a simple yet powerful model:

Stages of change model, that explains the science behind personal transformation.

You’ll discover how and why some changes stick whereas others don’t last, and how long it takes to build new habits.

What is the Stages of Change Model?

Developed by researchers J.O. Prochaska and Carlo C. DiClemente over 30 years ago[1] and outlined in their book Changing For Good, the Stages of Change Model, also known as the Transtheoretical Model, was formed as a result of the authors’ research with smokers.

Prochaska and DiClemente were originally interested in the question of why some smokers were able to quit on their own, whereas others required professional help. Their key conclusion was that smokers (or anyone else with a bad habit) quits only when they are ready to do so.

Here’s an illustration done by cartoonist and illustrator Simon Kneebone about the different stages a smoker experiences when they try to quit smoking:

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    The Stages of Change Model looks at how these conscious decisions are made. It emphasizes that change isn’t easy. People can spend a long time stuck in a stage, and some may never reach their goals.[2]

    The model has been applied in the treatment of smoking, alcoholism, and drugs. It is also a useful way of thinking about any bad habit. Social workers, therapists, and psychologists draw on the model to understand their patients’ behaviors, and to explain the change process to the patients themselves.

    The key advantages to the model is that it is simple to understand, is backed by extensive research, and can be applied in many situations.

    The Stages of Change Model is a well-established psychological model that outlines six stages of personal change:

    1. Precontemplation
    2. Contemplation
    3. Determination
    4. Action
    5. Maintenance
    6. Termination

    How are these stages relevant to changing habits?

    To help you visualize the stages of change and how each progresses to the next one, please take a look at this wheel:[3]

      Let’s look at the six stages of change,[4] together with an example that will show you how the model works in practice:

      Stage 1: Precontemplation

      At this stage, an individual does not plan to make any positive changes in the next six months. This may because they are in denial about their problem, feel too overwhelmed to deal with it, or are too discouraged after multiple failed attempts to change.

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      For example, someone may be aware that they need to start exercising, but cannot find the motivation to do so. They might keep thinking about the last time they tried (and failed) to work out regularly. Only when they start to realize the advantages of making a change will they progress to the next stage.

      Stage 2: Contemplation

      At this stage, the individual starts to consider the advantages of changing. They start to acknowledge that altering their habits would probably benefit them, but they spend a lot of time thinking about the downside of doing so. This stage can last for a long time – possibly a year or more.

      You can think of this as the procrastinating stage. For example, an individual begins to seriously consider the benefits of regular exercise, but feels resistant when they think about the time and effort involved. When the person starts putting together a concrete plan for change, they move to the next stage.

      The key to moving from this stage to the next is the transformation of an abstract idea to a belief (e.g. from “Exercise is a good, sensible thing to do” to “I personally value exercise and need to do it.)[5]

      Stage 3: Preparation

      At this point, the person starts to put a plan in place. This stage is brief, lasting a few weeks. For example, they may book a session with a personal trainer and enrol on a nutrition course.

      Someone who drinks to excess may make an appointment with a drug and alcohol counsellor; someone with a tendency to overwork themselves might start planning ways to devise a more realistic schedule.

      Stage 4: Action

      When they have decided on a plan, the individual must then put it into action. This stage typically lasts for several months. In our example, the person would begin attending the gym regularly and overhauling their diet.

      Stage 4 is the stage at which the person’s desire for change becomes noticeable to family and friends. However, in truth, the change process began a long time ago. If someone you know seems to have suddenly changed their habits, it’s probably not so sudden after all! They will have progressed through Stages 1-3 first – you probably just didn’t know about it.

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      Stage 5: Maintenance

      After a few months in the Action stage, the individual will start to think about how they can maintain their changes, and make lifestyle adjustments accordingly. For instance, someone who has adopted the habit of regular workouts and a better diet will be vigilant against old triggers (such as eating junk food during a stressful time at work) and make a conscious decision to protect their new habits.

      Unless someone actively engages with Stage 5, their new habits are liable to come unstuck. Someone who has stuck to their new habits for many months – perhaps a year or longer – may enter Stage 6.

      Maintenance can be challenging because it entails coming up with a new set of habits to lock change in place. For instance, someone who is maintaining their new gym-going habit may have to start improving their budgeting skills in order to continue to afford their gym membership.

      Stage 6: Termination

      Not many people reach this stage, which is characterized by a complete commitment to the new habit and a certainty that they will never go back to their old ways. For example, someone may find it hard to imagine giving up their gym routine, and feel ill at the thought of eating junk food on a regular basis.

      However, for the majority of people, it’s normal to stay in the Maintenance period indefinitely. This is because it takes a long time for a new habit to become so automatic and natural that it sticks forever, with little effort. To use another example, an ex-smoker will often find it hard to resist the temptation to have “just one” cigarette even a year or so after quitting. It can take years for them to truly reach the Termination stage, at which point they are no more likely to smoke than a lifelong non-smoker.

      How long does each stage take?

      You should be aware that some people remain in the same stage for months or even years at a time. Understanding this model will help you be more patient with yourself when making a change. If you try to force yourself to jump from Contemplation to Maintenance, you’ll just end up frustrated. On the other hand, if you take a moment to assess where you are in the change process, you can adapt your approach.

      So if you need to make changes quickly and you are finding it hard to progress to the next stage, it’s probably time to get some professional help or adopt a new approach to forming habits.

      The limitations of this model

      The model is best applied when you decide in advance precisely what you want to achieve, and know exactly how you will measure it (e.g. number of times per week you go to the gym, or number of cigarettes smoked per day). Although the model has proven useful for many people, it does have limitations.

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      Require the ability to set a realistic goal

      For a start, there are no surefire ways of assessing whereabouts in the process you are – you just have to be honest with yourself and use your own judgement. Second, it assumes that you are physically capable of making a change, whereas in fact you might either need to adjust your goals or seek professional help.

      If your goal isn’t realistic, it doesn’t matter whether you follow the stages – you still won’t get results. You need to decide for yourself whether your aims are reasonable.[6]

      Difficult to judge your progress

      The model also assumes that you are able to objectively measure your own successes and failures, which may not always be the case.[7] For instance, let’s suppose that you are trying to get into the habit of counting calories as part of your weight-loss efforts. However, even though you may think that you are recording your intake properly, you might be over or under-estimating.

      Research shows that most people think they are getting enough exercise and eating well, but in actual fact aren’t as healthy as they believe. The model doesn’t take this possibility into account, meaning that you could believe yourself to be in the Action stage yet aren’t seeing results. Therefore, if you are serious about making changes, it may be best to get some expert advice so that you can be sure the changes you are making really will make a positive difference.

      Conclusion

      The Stages Of Change Model can be a wonderful way to understand change in both yourself and others.

      While there’re some limitations in it, the Stages of Change Model helps to visualize how you go through changes so you know what to expect when you’re trying to change a habit or make some great changes in life.

      Start by identifying one of your bad habits. Where are you in the process? What could you do next to move forwards?

      Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

      Reference

      [1] Psych Central: Stages Of Change
      [2] Boston University School Of Public Health: The Transtheoretical Model (Stages Of Change)
      [3] Empowering Change: Stages of Change
      [4] Boston University School Of Public Health: The Transtheoretical Model (Stages Of Change)
      [5] Psychology Today: 5 Steps To Changing Any Behavior
      [6] The Transtheoretical Model: Limitations Of The Transtheoretical Model
      [7] Health Education Research: Transtheoretical Model & Stages Of Change: A Critique

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