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Affluent Teens & Prosperity

We now live in the most affluent societies in history but wealth doesn’t protect children from being at risk. Everyone knows someone whose child has seriously faltered, who has fallen into addiction, depression or a more amorphous sort of “failure to thrive.” Today we look at what affluency can do to an adolescent.

In her research, Cheryl Rampage, PhD, explains how affluence changes from being a protective factor for young children to a risk factor at early adolescence. Teenagers from affluent families have an increased chance of depression, anxiety and substance abuse. Other issues include achievement pressure from their parents (be it academic, social, athletic or physical) and emotional or physical isolation from parents, whether actual distance or simply editing what is told to them.

The following infographic explores the challenge of prosperity on the mental health of teenagers, and how parents can raise successful and healthy children.

The Challenge of Prosperity
Brought to you by Counseling@Northwestern’s Online Masters in Counseling

The Family Institute offers affordable family, couples and individual counseling at our Evanston, downtown Chicago, Westchester and Northbrook locations. Visit our website to learn more.

Alcohol Awareness Month: How Can Couples and Parents Combat and Prevent Alcohol Abuse Issues?

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This month, TFI Talks will feature a number of posts about alcohol in commemoration of Alcohol Awareness Month.

Every year, the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) sponsors Alcohol Awareness month in an effort to increase public understanding of alcohol, to reduce the stigma of alcoholism, and to draw attention to the impact that alcoholism can have on kids, families, couples and communities.

At TFI Talks, we’ll be posting information, insights and tips from one of our expert staff clinicians, Leah Brennan, LMFT, CADC.

Today, Lea Brennan offers tips to help deal with these complicated issues:

For Couples: The number one tip I would offer is to notice your own relationship to alcohol. Think about it and talk about it with your spouse. Talk to one another about any specific concerns you have with your own or with your spouses’ drinking. It starts with conversation. Say: “I’ve noticed changes in your behavior lately that concern me. I want to understand what’s going on.” Hang in patiently, without anger, if your spouse begins with little or nothing to say. Prompt with gentle questions and comments.

For Parents of Teenagers: During your conversations, listen with an open mind to what they say. Be curious about their ideas. Say “Tell me more” before you offer a rebuttal to something you hear that you don’t like. You want to get them talking, sharing all their many thoughts on this challenging topic; you need to know what’s in their minds if you’re going to be able to respond meaningfully.

If your child says that weekend drinking in high school is normal and that everyone does it, you can say: “I know that it seems like everyone at school is drinking on the weekends and that you’ll feel left out. Or that you need to drink to be accepted. Nevertheless, my expectation is that you will not drink. You will be surprised at how accepting your peers will be if you demonstrate an ability to think and act for yourself.”

Make clear, many times and over many conversations, that your expectation is that they will not drink. Walk the talk by not leaving them and their friends alone in the house with access to alcohol. Don’t offer them a drink at your family dinner table. Resist the temptation to extend them wiggle room around this (“…okay, one drink only”). Remember that you aren’t your kids’ friend, trying to earn likeability points. Let them be angry with you if they must. The firmer your stand, the less confident they might feel about giving alcohol a try, and that might slow them down (or prevent them from drinking in the first place).

Be clear about consequences if they do drink, consequences tailored to what you know they value. For example, if driving is important to your teen, determine what amount of driving would be curtailed for each infraction. Cell phones can be temporarily shut down; curfews can be imposed. Discuss consequences as a family now, before a first infraction.

Finally, discuss laws about underage drinking (illegal for anyone under the age of 21) and arm yourself with specific knowledge about the consequences their school levies when students are caught drinking on campus or at school activities (football games, dances, etc.)

Don’t soft-peddle the message. The stakes are too high.

 

To learn more about Ms. Brennan or to make an appointment, visit her page on our website.

The Family Institute offers affordable family, couples and individual counseling at our Evanston, downtown Chicago, Lagrange Park and Northbrook locations. Visit our website to learn more.

Alcohol Awareness Month: The Myths of Alcohol Abuse

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This month, TFI Talks will feature a number of posts about alcohol in commemoration of Alcohol Awareness Month.

Every year, the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) sponsors Alcohol Awareness month in an effort to increase public understanding of alcohol, to reduce the stigma of alcoholism, and to draw attention to the impact that alcoholism can have on kids, families, couples and communities.

At TFI Talks, we’ll be posting information, insights and tips from one of our expert staff clinicians, Leah Brennan, LMFT, CADC.

With a subject as complicated as alcohol and alcohol/substance abuse, there are bound to be myths and misunderstandings. We ask Leah Brennan to weigh in on her thoughts about these issues:

“I think one of the main myths that is being appropriately challenged these days is the idea that alcoholism or substance misuse/addiction is a moral failing or lack of willpower on the part of the drinker or user. It is clear that addiction is a disease; chronic and treatable. Drug abuse changes the way the brain works, resulting in compulsive behavior focused on drug seeking and use, despite sometimes devastating consequences—the essence of addiction. From there, we are starting to look at addiction treatment the way we would look at treatment for other chronic diseases such as heart disease or cancer. When folks get diagnosed with these diseases, we do not shame them or withhold treatment until they “prove” they are ready the way we have done with individuals who seek treatment for substance use disorders.

Substance misuse/abuse/dependence can be looked as a kind of coping mechanism; an unsustainable, maladaptive coping mechanism, but not something that people engage in because they are weak, ignorant or selfish. I don’t know a single client who sought help in changing their relationship with substances who wasn’t trying to manage pain, shame or low self-esteem with their substance use.

Another myth I think we could dispel further is the concept of an addict needing to hit ‘rock bottom’ before they are receptive to any form of treatment. When we decide someone isn’t ready for treatment because they have yet hit their rock bottom, we assume we know what their rock bottom looks like. This myth also puts us as concerned parties into a passive role in thinking that we just need to wait until that rock bottom event happens before we step in to help. I think there are ways to intervene much earlier in the progression of addiction where a better outcome is possible than if we watch and wait for the ‘rock bottom.’”

 

To learn more about Ms. Brennan or to make an appointment, visit her page on our website.

The Family Institute offers affordable family, couples and individual counseling at our Evanston, downtown Chicago, Lagrange Park and Northbrook locations. Visit our website to learn more.

The Challenge of Prosperity: How are affluence and distress related in adolescents?

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Clinical Science Insight from The Family Institute

As part of The Family Institute’s mission, we are committed to using clinical science to improve the effectiveness of our interventions. Clinical Science Insights, a quarterly publication series, distills our research expertise in a way that is relevant to both clinical practice and everyday life.

As we think about financial issues this month, we’re featuring a Clinical Science Insight from Family Institute licensed clinical psychologist and Vice President for Programs and Academic Affairs, Cheryl Rampage, PhD. This white paper discusses issues of affluence in families, and how they can be risk factors for adolescents.

Says Dr. Rampage:

“Current research shows that affluence is a risk factor in adolescent development–not just having money, but how having money can distort values, parenting practices, and interpersonal relationships (Levine, 2006).”

The white paper discusses the specific risks involved, as well as ways and methods for mitigating those risks. Read this Clinical Science Insight in its entirety at our website, and peruse our other white papers.

 

The Family Institute offers affordable family, couples and individual counseling at our Evanston, downtown Chicago, Lagrange Park and Northbrook locations. Visit our website to learn more.

Alcohol Awareness Month: How Does Parental Alcohol Abuse Impact Children?

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This month, TFI Talks will feature a number of posts about alcohol in commemoration of Alcohol Awareness Month.

Every year, the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) sponsors Alcohol Awareness month in an effort to increase public understanding of alcohol, to reduce the stigma of alcoholism, and to draw attention to the impact that alcoholism can have on kids, families, couples and communities.

At TFI Talks, we’ll be posting information, insights and tips from one of our expert staff clinicians, Leah Brennan, LMFT, CADC.

Today, Leah Brennan describes the ways in which children are specifically impacted by their parent(s)’ alcohol abuse:

Evidence indicates that children in families where at least one parent misuses alcohol are more likely to experience the following:

Friendship difficulties (social isolation)
As they cannot predict how things will be at home, such as the presence, mood and behavior of their parents, children from these families will avoid inviting friends over to their home. In turn this makes it hard to accept invitations to friends’ houses. Children may avoid developing and or deepening friendships for these types of reasons.

Division between home and peers (avoidance)
As a child grows older they may deal with the problem by keeping their home and their social life very separate. This strategy may allow a child to socialize outside the home and develop a life away from the family, but carries its own difficulties and stresses. This coping mechanism is likely to mean that parents will know even less about the child’s non-home life and that the child will grow up learning to keep their home and social lives separate.

Other ways to think about how addiction impacts family members differently is to consider the differences between how functional families operate versus families impacted by addiction.

Some basic characteristics or rules of a healthy family system:

  • Self-worth is high.
  • Communication is direct, clear, specific and honest and feelings are expressed.
  • Rules and boundaries are flexible and appropriate to change.
  • It is natural to link and be open to society.
  • Each person has goals and plans to succeed and should be supported by the family.

Characteristics or Rules in a dependent or addicted family:

  • Dependent’s use of drug is the most important thing in a family life.
  • Blaming others, don’t make mention of it, covering up, alibis, demonstrating loyalty to the family by keeping the secret of addiction means the family enables the addict.
  • Nobody may discuss problem outside the family.
  • Nobody says what they feel or think.

Different family members can take on different roles in order to help the family manage and organize around the addict/addiction. Examples include; the Hero, the Scapegoat, the Mascot, the Lost Child, the Enabler, the Addict.

 

To learn more about Ms. Brennan or to make an appointment, visit her page on our website.

The Family Institute offers affordable family, couples and individual counseling at our Evanston, downtown Chicago, Lagrange Park and Northbrook locations. Visit our website to learn more.

 

 

Alcohol Awareness Month: How Does Alcohol Abuse Impact Families?

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This month, TFI Talks will feature a number of posts about alcohol in commemoration of Alcohol Awareness Month.

Every year, the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) sponsors Alcohol Awareness month in an effort to increase public understanding of alcohol, to reduce the stigma of alcoholism, and to draw attention to the impact that alcoholism can have on kids, families, couples and communities.

At TFI Talks, we’ll be posting information, insights and tips from one of our expert staff clinicians, Leah Brennan, LMFT, CADC.

 

At The Family Institute, we believe that the family is the singular most significant factor influencing human identity.

In honor of Alcohol Awareness Month, today Leah Brennan gives insights into the ways in which alcohol abuse impacts the individuals within families, and the families themselves.

Alcohol abuse can impact family functioning in a number of different ways.

Routines
A likely consequence of problem drinking is that the drinker’s behavior becomes unpredictable, making it difficult for the family as a whole to plan anything in advance or to stick to familiar routines. Will he or she be okay to pick up the kids from school? What time will he or she come home, and in what state? This sort of constant uncertainty can be highly disruptive, and it helps to explain a commonly found paradox in the families of problem drinkers: that while the problem drinker may be withdrawing from the family by no longer playing the role within it that he or she did previously, he or she nonetheless appears to dominate it as the family starts to organize itself around the drinker and his/her behavior patterns.

Roles
Alcohol misuse tends to change the roles played by family members in relation to one another, and to the outside world. Most families operate with some form of division of labor – one person managing the family’s finances, the other supervising the children, one doing the gardening, the other doing the cooking, and so on. But as one member of the family develops more of a drinking problem, the other members are likely to find themselves having to take over his or her role themselves. Eventually, one member may be performing all the roles – finances, disciplining, shopping, cleaning, household management, and so on.

Communication
Another area of family functioning which is often affected by alcohol and alcohol misuse relates to the kind of communications that takes place between family members. It may be that the partner with the problem refuses to talk about it, even though it is clearly beginning to dominate his or her life, as well as the family’s organization. Or again, alcohol can itself become the main topic of conversation – has he/she been drinking again, if so how much and with what effect, and who is going to help the individual or the family manage the consequences of the family member’s drinking?

Social Isolation
Many people who have a parent or partner with a drinking problem find talking about it to others to be extraordinarily difficult. The problem is often simply seen as being too shameful to admit. As a result of their reluctance to discuss or expose their situation to the outside world, the family tends to withdraw into itself. The degree of social embarrassment and unpredictability associated with drinking problems constrains family members from extending invitations to others to visit the family home, accepting invitations to visit someone else’s home or other social gatherings. The family thus tends to become increasingly socially isolated.

To learn more about Ms. Brennan or to make an appointment, visit her page on our website.

The Family Institute offers affordable family, couples and individual counseling at our Evanston, downtown Chicago, Lagrange Park and Northbrook locations. Visit our website to learn more.

Alcohol Awareness Month at TFI Talks

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AAAMonthThis month, TFI Talks will feature a number of posts about alcohol in commemoration of Alcohol Awareness Month.

Every year, the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) sponsors Alcohol Awareness month in an effort to increase public understanding of alcohol, to reduce the stigma of alcoholism, and to draw attention to the impact that alcoholism can have on kids, families, couples and communities.

At TFI Talks, we’ll be posting information, insights and tips from one of our expert staff clinicians, Leah Brennan, LMFT, CADC. Ms. Brennan is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor. She received her Master of Science in Marriage and Family Therapy from The Family Institute at Northwestern University, and her current clinical practice includes working with families, couples and individuals who have been impacted by substance abuse.

Look for posts on topics such as:

  • How alcohol and alcoholism impact families’ day-to-day life and functioning
  • The ways in which children are impacted by parental alcohol abuse
  • The myths surrounding alcohol abuse
  • The symptoms of a larger problem with alcohol
  • How parents can talk to their teens about drinking

Stay tuned!

 

To learn more about Ms. Brennan or to make an appointment, visit her page on our website.

The Family Institute offers affordable family, couples and individual counseling at our Evanston, downtown Chicago, Lagrange Park and Northbrook locations. Visit our website to learn more.

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