Tips for Teaching Your Kids About Feelings

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As children mature, they’ll experience all kinds of emotions. Like all humans, they’ll also have reactions to those feelings. Because of their natural responses, they’ll find it helpful to learn to manage their emotions as early in life as possible. You can do a lot to help them with this!

These tips can help you teach your kids about their emotions:

  1. Be open and honest about your feelings in your kids’ presence. It’s important for your children to see you as a healthy, active adult who appropriately expresses their feelings.

  2. How you manage your own feelings provides your young child’s first lesson in how to express his feelings.

  3. Modeling is one of the most powerful forms of teaching behaviors to children.

  4. Show respect. Verbally express your feelings in ways that are helpful and that show respect for others. When you and your spouse appropriately talk about your emotions and share them with each other, kids learn how to do it just by observing.

  5. Use “I” statements followed by “feeling” words when you share your emotions in front of your children.

  6. For example, “I feel really annoyed when you play with your friends on the way home from school and get here 30 minutes late.”

  7. Be mindful of your tone of voice. If you use appropriate tones of voice when expressing feelings, your kids will learn to use them as well.For example, instead of raising your voice when you’re upset, make an effort to keep your voice calm.

  8. Identify your young children’s emotions with them. For very young children, two or three years old, it’s beneficial to label and clarify the children’s feelings in their presence. Especially at six years and under, children usually have little understanding of how their emotions function.

  9. For example, if a three-year-old gets angry and stamps his feet because he wants candy, get down to his eye level and say something like, “You’re angry at mommy right now because you can’t have candy.”
  • Use names of feelings, like angry, mad, sad, happy, pleased, frustrated, and others. You convey a great deal of emotional learning when you teach a child about feelings by using the names of emotions.

  • Sometimes, you may find it helpful to tell a youngster, “It’s okay if you’re mad.” Giving the child permission to feel and express his feelings can be very validating for them, even if they don’t respond that way at the time.
  • On the other hand, if a young child gets frustrated or angry and throws a toy that could hurt someone, it’s advisable to state, “No, don’t throw your toys. It’s not okay to throw your toys.” Separate the actions from their emotions and from them as people.

  • Remember, it’s futile for adults to get frustrated or angry with young children who have a lot to learn about their emotions. Your patience will show them, by modeling, how to keep their cool, even in a frustrating situation.

  • Reward them. When your child manages their feelings appropriately, providing immediate positive reinforcement makes a big difference in how a child learns to express emotions. Emotional management will often manifest in appropriate behavior.
  • Smile and say something like, “Billy, I like the way you sat so still in the grocery cart. You did a great job!”

  • When offering positive comments, state your child’s name and obtain eye contact with him. This will help reinforce the positive behavior.

As a parent, one of the most important lessons you’ll ever teach your children is how to identify and appropriately express their feelings. Apply the tips above to help ensure that your children grow into mature, healthy adults.

What are some ways do you teach your children about feelings? How do you express your own?

Top Techniques to Help You Deal Successfully With Your Anger

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We all get angry. Anger occurs when someone behaves in a way that violates our ‘rules’ or standards. While anger is neither good nor bad, what you choose to do with that anger can make a huge difference in your life.

Anger can be a trigger to motivate you to resolve a troubling situation. Getting angry with your spouse can force issues to the surface so you can find a solution. Anger has led to the development of many charitable organizations. Anger isn’t always a bad thing. That extra energy and motivation can be put to good use.

But anger can also lead you to do something that creates an even greater challenge. Anger has the potential to create a tremendous amount of harm.

Learning new, more constructive ways to deal with your anger can improve your life tremendously.

The best way to handle your anger depends on how you deal with it now:

  1. If you suppress anger, try to recognize when you’re suppressing angry feelings. Burying your anger can lead to low self-esteem, anxiety, and passive-aggressive behavior.
  • Venting your anger in private can help you feel a sense of control without harming anyone else. This should be considered a temporary solution, since you’re not addressing the situation that fueled your anger. You’re just defusing your anger so you don’t magnify the situation.

    • The most important skill to develop is assertiveness. It’s challenging to express your feelings if that isn’t normal for you. Learn to let others know in a constructive way when they’ve upset you. Start with smaller things, and the bigger things will become easier.

  • If you dump your anger aggressively, challenge your unrealistic thinking. Aggressive behavior is commonly fueled by unrealistic expectations. People aren’t going to treat you fairly 100% of the time.
  • Your children aren’t going to listen to you 100% of the time. Your spouse won’t always give you the attention you desire. Accept it and realize that you’re making assumptions when you have unrealistic expectations. The behavior of others isn’t always about you.

    • Replace your unreasonable expectations with different thoughts. Seek alternate explanations for someone’s actions when you find yourself becoming angry. What are some other possible reasons for the situation at hand?

    • Learn to pause and think before you act. If you’re a dumper, you’re probably like a bull in a china shop, wreaking havoc without any thought about what you’re doing. Count to ten, take a deep breath, and then speak carefully. There is nothing stronger than maintaining control over yourself.

You can often prevent situations that make you angry. Do what you can to avoid issues before they get started. If there are people, places, or situations that seem to trigger angry feelings, attempt to minimize your exposure to those triggers.

Dealing with anger is a part of life.

Just because you might have learned unhealthy ways of dealing with your feelings of anger doesn’t preclude the possibility of learning new strategies.

If you’ve expressed your anger physically in the past, it would probably be a good idea to get professional help. You certainly don’t want someone to get hurt because you couldn’t control your anger. Consider what could happen to you, too.

Practice these strategies, get the help you need, and move forward with your life. You’ll be glad you did.

What triggers your anger and how do you deal with it? Please comment below.

A Quick Parent’s Guide to Cultivating Leadership in Your Kids

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Did you know that kids can start developing leadership qualities as early as their preschool years?The sooner children learn to use their leadership skills the more opportunities for success they will have.

Consider the follow strategies to help your children take command of their lives and grow up to be more productive and happy.

Understanding the Basic Principles of Leadership

  1. Develop emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence is the basis for sound leadership. Kids can work on accurately identifying specific feelings in themselves and others and managing them constructively. This way they’ll solve emotional issues more easily, get along better with others and avoid destructive behavior.

  2. Generate compassion. Keep the focus on caring for others. Let your children know that the purpose of becoming more influential is to have a positive impact on society. Life is full of opportunities to serve others and recognize that we’re all connected.

  3. Take charge of your life. Show kids they can take an active role in making things happen. Help them to understand that they create their own outcomes rather than viewing life as something that happens to them.

Leadership Development Strategies for Younger Children

  1. Delay gratification. There are valuable life lessons in learning to plan ahead and work for rewards. For example, help your kids to understand that by going to bed on time, they get a longer bedtime story.

  2. Learn to read emotions in faces. It’s important to become sensitive to non-verbal cues. Play games with your own facial expressions or you can draw pictures. Discuss how someone may look if they were preparing to eat an ice cream cone versus surprised by a loud noise.

  3. Choose your words carefully. Encourage kids to select words that convey their affection for others. Ask them to talk about what they like about their siblings or friends.

  4. Practice teamwork. Demonstrate that it’s fun and effective to cooperate with others. Spend time washing dishes or picking up toys together. Sign up for softball or split up into teams for playing charades.

Mind your manners. Show kids how to act appropriately in different social situations. Praise your kids for mastering basic table manners and acting as gracious hosts when you have guests in your home.

Getting your kids off to a good start with leadership skills can create a better life for them and help them to become a positive influence on others. When children learn to manage themselves and get along with others, they’re better prepared for happiness and success.

And the most important is to be leaders ourselves and teach kids by example!

What are some ways you teach leadership skills to your children? Please comment below.

9 Ways to Develop Daily Discipline

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Discipline is something we all wish we had a little more of. With discipline, losing weight, going to the gym, and flossing regularly are a piece of cake. Goals are achieved, and we feel good about ourselves when we exercise discipline.

You’re also less susceptible to your impulses and emotions when you have a high level of discipline.

Use these techniques to gain the discipline necessary to control your behavior and achieve your goals:

  1. Make your bed. It’s a simple thing, but if you’re like most people, you either don’t do it or you don’t do it well. When you’re rushing around getting ready for work, you don’t feel like making your bed. But when you make your bed, you start out the day with a win, and this can alter the rest of your day for the better.

  2. Take a cold shower. There are health benefits to cold water, and you’ll save a little bit of money on the utility bill. Get under that stream of cold water and take your normal shower. You’ll be surprised how easy it is after a week or so. If you can stand a cold shower, you can take on the world.

  3. Eat a super healthy breakfast. Decide on the healthiest breakfast that can possibly be created within your budget. Now, eat it every day. The healthiest breakfast is the healthiest breakfast. It’s not just the healthiest breakfast you would enjoy. This is the meal equivalent of a cold shower.

  4. Create a to-do list each day and complete it. Avoid making an endless list of items to complete but create a reasonable list. Don’t allow yourself to go to bed until it’s completed. One night with only three hours of sleep will teach you to take yourself seriously.

  5. Determine your motivation for doing something. One way to stay the course is to understand the value in what you’re doing. Going to your night class might be a drag, but if you remind yourself that you’ll ultimately become a nurse and help people, you’ll have the discipline to keep showing up.

  6. Have a plan for what you’ll do when your discipline falters. Suppose you’re going a party and you want to stick to your diet. Have a plan for what you’ll do when faced with delicious, unhealthy snacks. You might decide that you’ll drink a glass of water or eat the apple that you brought with you but have a plan.

  7. Become a master at finishing. Whatever you start, finish. Get the job done. You might feel like finishing the laundry or writing a book report tomorrow, but get it done today. So many people leave things 10% incomplete. Overcome the urge to put it off and just finish it.

  8. Eliminate temptations and distractions. Why make life harder than it has to be? Temptations and distractions can include ice cream, Facebook, or your cell phone. Discipline is easier to exercise when there are fewer distractions.

  9. Brush your teeth at least twice each day and floss. Poor oral hygiene can be extremely unhealthy. It’s a simple thing with great benefits. It’s also boring. Take care of your mouth each day whether you feel like it or not.

How much more could you achieve if you had more discipline? You know what you want and how to get it. With all the information available today, it’s not hard to figure out how to get what you want. The challenge lies in controlling yourself. It’s making the cold calls or skipping the hot fudge sundaes.

Discipline may be the missing ingredient in your quest for success!

What are some things you would like to be more disciplined about? Please comment below.

20 Traits of Adult Children of Alcoholics/Dysfunctional Families

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Janet Woititz, John Bradshaw, Claudia Black and many others have written and taught about issues related to adult children of alcoholics (ACOA) for decades. Nonetheless, as long as there are parents who have addictions, there will continue to be new generations of ACOAs.

Common characteristics of adult children of alcoholics/Dysfunctional Families

1. Are unsure of normal behavior, therefore, they have to guess at it.

2. Experience difficulty with follow through.

3. Often lie when the truth would be easier.

4. Are their own worst critics, judging themselves harshly.

5. Have difficulty relaxing and having a good time.

6. Often take themselves very seriously.

7. Struggle with intimacy.

8. May be rigid and feel a need to control things, including things that are out of their control.

9. Have a high need for approval, acknowledgement and acceptance.

10. Experience themselves as different from other people.

11. Tend to be either overly responsible or irresponsible.

12. Are loyal to a fault, even when it is not in their best interest or deserved.

13. Tend to be impulsive and fail to consider the consequences of their actions.

14. Spend a lot of time cleaning up their mistakes and beating themselves up for bad behavior.

15. Frequently feel self-loathing.

16. Often feel out of control.

17. May also have addictions.

18. Have problems with relationships.

19. May be overly dependent or independent.

20. Have difficulty with boundaries.

(Adapted from 13 Characteristics of Adult Children of Alcoholics, Janet Woititz, PhD)

Any of these sound familiar? What type of dysfunction did your family of origin have, if any? How did that affect you as a child and now as an adult? Any traits that you wouldn’t want to pass on to your own children?

Please comment and follow this blog for future conversations!

Signs That You’re in a Codependent Relationship

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Love is unselfish, but how far would you go for your beloved?

You might be in a codependent relationship if there is an imbalance of power in the relationship. Codependency is when you are dependent on someone else for your own self-worth.

In codependent relationships, one person is generally the “rescuer” and the other is the “rescued”:

  • Rescuer: Finds their self-worth from taking care of their partner. They love to feel needed and feel drained when they feel like they do not matter.

  • Rescued: Finds their self-worth from the attention they receive from their partner. If the rescued does not feel loved, they seek attention elsewhere.

Both the rescuer and the rescued abandon themselves and are “codependent” on each other for their self-worth.

Instead of experiencing real intimacy in their relationship, they are either rescuing or being rescued.

Are you in a codependent relationship?

Consider these signs that you may be in a codependent relationship:

  1. You believe it is your responsibility to please everyone or keep everyone happy.
  2. Cautious so as not to annoy or offend your partner
  3. Difficulty telling your partner “no”
  4. Prioritize your partner over important events like work or family wedding
  5. You put others’ needs before your own.
  6. You worry about your partner leaving you.
  7. Being alone makes you feel anxious.
  8. There are things you would like to change about your partner.
  9. You are tuned into your partner’s feelings, but don’t know how you feel.
  10. In arguments, you blame your partner for the way you feel.

Do you relate to any of those ways codependency can show up in a relationship?

Healing from codependency will require you to tune in to what you need, take responsibility for the way you feel, and accept your partner for the way they are.

Here’s what you can do to change your codependent relationship to an intimate relationship:

One of the most important steps to take when you realize you are in a codependent relationship is to strengthen the relationship you have with yourself.

  1. Build self-esteem. Codependency stems from low self-esteem. Build your confidence so that you no longer depend on your partner or the relationship for happiness.

    Start exercising. Pick up new hobbies. Repeat positive affirmations daily.
  1. Journal. If you are in a codependent relationship, you are probably unaware of your own needs or even how to support your own well-being. Journaling will help you keep track of the way you feel. Regularly include these prompts in your journaling:

    What is important to you? What can you do to support your well-being today? What do you need? How can you give yourself what you need?

  2. Focus on what you can control. You can’t control other people’s words, feelings, or actions. Instead of worrying about those things you can’t control, learn to accept others as they are.

    Focus your energy on things you can control, like your words, actions and behavior.

    Learn not to take things personally.

    Ask yourself why triggering events make you feel a certain way.

  1. Practice saying no. You might struggle with saying no because you fear “no” will hurt someone’s feelings or harm the way they think about you. Before you say yes to something, ask yourself: Am I doing this because I would love to, or am I doing this because of fear?

  2. Accept it is not your job to fix someone else’s issues. You might get a part of your self-worth from rescuing others and fixing their issues. If that’s the case, remind yourself that it is not your job to rescue others.

  3. Take responsibility for your happiness. Do small things to make yourself happy each day. Instead of finding happiness from the approval of your partner, practice making yourself happy.

  4. Accept your partner as they are. You cannot control whether or not your partner changes. Instead of hoping your partner will change, accept your partner for who they are.

Shifting from a codependent relationship to an intimate relationship will be challenging. Prioritizing yourself over your partner might feel uncomfortable at first.

But growing out of your codependent relationship will help you experience a truly intimate relationship that empowers you to grow and thrive together.

Please comment below and follow this blog for more self-discovery posts!

Why You Procrastinate and How to Overcome It

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You procrastinate because the thought of taking a certain action makes you feel bad. There are lots of actions that give us that “Ugh” feeling when we even think about doing them. The unpleasant action could be going to the gym, doing your taxes, making an unpleasant phone call, or scrubbing the toilet.

So, procrastination isn’t really an issue of laziness. It’s an emotional issue. Your brain predicts that you’re going to experience a negative emotion and does its best to help you avoid it.

However, you don’t have to allow your emotions to guide you. They’re merely suggestions you can choose to follow or reject. It’s not easy to take an action that feels uncomfortable, but it can be done.

Even if you procrastinate, you’ll eventually feel even worse about not taking the appropriate action! Why not save yourself some time and drama and just do it now?

Sometimes it’s okay to procrastinate, but there are other times that it would be best to take action immediately.

So, what can you do to mitigate procrastination?

Try these tips to overcome procrastination:

  1. Focus on the physical sensation. When you think about doing the thing you don’t want to do, it creates a feeling in your body. Notice where you feel that negative sensation. How would you describe it?

    1. Focus on the area of your body where you feel the sensation and see what happens to that physical sensation. See how long that feeling lasts.

    1. Once you see how this feeling dissipates in a short time, it will be easier to handle it or even disregard it in the future.

  2. Find an easier way to do the task. Maybe there’s a better or easier way to do what needs to be done. Some tasks are just so big they’re intimidating to even consider.

    Can you do a little each day until it’s done? Is there a special tool you can rent? Hire someone else to do it?

  1. Promise yourself a reward after the task is complete. Maybe all you need is an ice cream cone (pick your favorite fruit instead to feel even better!), a massage, or a new book to inspire you to get busy and take action. A reward can be a powerful motivator.

  2. Think of how great you’ll feel after completing the task. There are few feelings better than completing a dreaded task. It’s such a relief to put it behind you.

    Instead of focusing on how awful it will be to do it, focus on how awesome you’ll feel when it’s done.

  3. Start small. Plan to work on it for just five minutes. Promise yourself that’s all you have to do and then you’ll give yourself a break. You might find that it’s easy to continue after you get started.

    Getting started can be the most challenging part of accomplishing just about anything.

  1. Get help. Do you know someone that can help you? Having some company can make unpleasant tasks more tolerable. Find a friend to help, and you’ll get done twice as fast. Better yet, find five friends and make a party out of it! Unpleasant tasks are less miserable when you have company.

  2. Be tough. There are some tasks that simply have to be done even if you don’t want to do them. Summon your inner gladiator and overcome your resistance. Just get it done.

Everyone has the urge to procrastinate. One thing that separates successful people from the masses is the ability to overcome this urge.

We procrastinate because the thought of doing the task is unpleasant. There are ways to minimize the discomfort of performing a task. Seek out these ways.

Focus on the benefits of taking action, get your work done, and give yourself a little reward. You’ll feel great when it’s over.

9 Things Emotionally Healthy Parents Do

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You know a few emotionally healthy people. Their relationships seem to go smoothly. They get their work done on time. Happiness appears to be their most common emotional state. They don’t have financial challenges. They maintain a healthy bodyweight.

They don’t seem to any more talented or intelligent than you. What’s the difference? Why do they manage life more easily and effectively than you do?

Emotionally healthy people do things that others do not:

  1. Create healthy boundaries. Successful relationships require healthy boundaries. When boundaries are undefined or unhealthy, the relationship will eventually have a negative impact on your life. Consider where you’re vulnerable and create boundaries to protect yourself.

  2. Delay gratification. Whether you want to finish school, lose 20 pounds, or get your work done before 5:00pm, it’s necessary to delay gratification. For example, eating a cupcake now is more gratifying in the moment than declining. But in the long run, forgoing cupcakes will help you meet your goal of losing weight. Those that act impulsively and can’t delay gratification lack the ability to follow through with wise long-term decisions. If you make life easy on yourself in the short-term, you pay the price in the long-term.
  3. Emotionally healthy people can be by themselves. “By yourself” doesn’t mean sitting on the couch with a pizza and Netflix. You’re not alone. You actually have two companions with you. Can you sit quietly, by yourself, with nothing but your thoughts? Or does anxiety about your life create too much discomfort? How much time do you spend distracting yourself from reality?
  4. They are able to adapt to change. Do you go with the flow or does any change throw you for a loop? Emotionally healthy people are able to roll with the punches and maintain a positive attitude.

  5. Deal with discomfort effectively. Those that can’t deal with emotional discomfort lead chaotic lives. It’s only when the discomfort of not taking action becomes so great that they’re finally able to do something. By then, it might be too late. When you can take a deep breath and take effective action in the face of emotional discomfort, life is a snap.

  6. Love others. Only emotionally healthy people can truly love others in a positive way. To care, trust, and attach to another person honestly requires good mental health. Think about your kids…

  7. Take care of themselves physically. Do you only eat when you’re hungry? Do you make healthy food choices? Are you able to get yourself to exercise even if you don’t feel like it? Do you go to the doctor and dentist regularly? If your emotional health is up to par, you can do these things consistently.

  8. Emotionally healthy people are reliable. Can people count on you to keep your word? Fulfilling your promises and obligations is one sign of emotional health.

  9. Act proactively. Are you able to look ahead and see the potential sticking points and then avoid them? Or do you wait until the wheels are coming off before you take action? Living well isn’t just about skillfully dealing with challenges. Ideally, it’s about intelligently avoiding them when possible.

Are you emotionally healthy? Emotionally healthy people do things that unhealthy people do not. The ability to control impulses and deal with emotional discomfort effectively are two of the most important components of emotional health. Do you need to make a change? Work to create habits that support these areas. While it’s possible to make these changes by yourself, getting professional help can be even more effective.

Please share your thoughts. How do you make yourself feel better? Are you teaching your kids healthy emotion habits, or there is something you think you might need to work on?

Generational Cycle

A lot of times our parents pass on wonderful family traditions that we also pass on to our own children. That’s one of the ways to keep our family bond tight–at least during holidays! But we, as children, also inherit character traits, behavior patterns, habits, and even addictions that are not so wonderful (even if they seem ok at first) and can inhibit our growth as individuals and can negatively affect many aspects of our lives as adults, if we don’t actually take a closer look at these patterns and discover what we can do better.

I have been on my self-discovery journey for several years now, and there is always something else that comes up and blows my mind a little (or a lot haha!). There are a lot of good things that my mom and grandma passed on to me, and I will write about that in my next post, but today I will write about 3 things that stood out recently that I had no idea were a part of how I was raised. So here it is:

Need to people please. I was always taught to take care of others’ needs first. Always be nice, right? Make sure to behave so that people don’t think you are not disciplined. Always be polite and obedient to your teachers. If someone offends you, offer another cheek, suck it up and be a bigger person. Welllll, and an obedient girl I was–always praised for being such a good girl by all my mom’s friends, neighbors, teachers, and then bosses. Being praised as a child felt good, so I took it to the next level when I became an adult–always tried to please everyone else and waited to be thanked and emotionally awarded for it. I was always the one people turned to for help, and that made me feel worthy. And if I didn’t get an expected praise?… That’s when I would start thinking that I did something wrong, that I wasn’t enough, that I should have tried harder. I would be constantly beating myself up and blaming myself for not being perfect.

Now I know! I have been a lot better with recognizing this pattern that still comes up once in a while, setting boundaries and saying NO when something doesn’t line up with my needs, my time, or my energy. And let me tell you…life actually got a lot better since then. Now I feel more like my own person, instead of being blended in and dissolved in others.

Scarcity mentality. Do you ever think, Why is it that I can never save money? Why is it that as soon as I have some money, I find something to spend it on or give it away? Why is it that I feel guilty about buying something new that I really like that is a little more expensive, rather than going for the cheapest option? Why do I feel judgmental towards people who have more money than me? The list goes on and on. What I have discovered not that long ago was that my whole life I was telling myself the same story about money that my mom and grandma taught me when I was growing up. And that story was–money is scarce, we were not born into money and will never have it, we have to save money by buying the most essential and cheapest items, we need to save for grandmother’s funeral and our own in the future. And the verse in the BIble that says that a rich man will never go to heaven I took very literally and rejected money or spent it all right away when I got any extra money in my hands. I was also very judgmental towards wealthy people. About 6 years ago, I learned about “scarcity mentality”, how it’s developed, and how it can keep you in the vicious cycle of sabotaging your financial growth. I also learned about God blessing people with all kinds of riches, and that it was not money itself that was bad, but the love of money that one can put above all. Then I learned that when we invest money in our own development, like courses, coaching sessions, college classes, or professional training, it actually opens up opportunities to be earning more in the future and have less financial stress, and being able to not only provide for our families, but also teach our children about healthier money habits. Instead of looking at it as unnecessary spending, I look at it as an investment and expect a nice ROI (Return on Investment).

Alcohol as means to emotional relief. I won’t write in detail about this one because it can take multiple pages, but instead I am including The Laundry List of ACA below (Adult Children of Alcoholics/Dysfunctional Families). The List has 14 main traits, and I have them ALL. I was overwhelmed when I first ran into this information, but excited at the same time because I finally knew why I was the way I was my whole life and what I needed to do to heal and grow, and now I also know what I DON’T WANT TO PASS ON TO MY OWN CHILDREN!

You don’t have to have alcoholic parents to relate to this list. Soon I will write about different types of family dysfunction that you might not even know might have been running in your family for generations. Please take a look below and let me know what traits from The List speak to you the most. If you can relate to at least 3 of them, it is worth taking a further look!

Please Comment and Follow my blog for further discussions on this life-changing and sometimes even life-saving subject! What are the 3 traits that you can relate to?