Dear Feelings Doctor: I am newly sober, and I am having a hard time going out to places again, like bars and the fun places that I would always end up at. My friends say I am being too paranoid.
— Krista in Santa Barbara
Dear Krista: Newly sober, right where you are is a great place to begin. Pay attention to the feelings you are having around the old choices and things that you used to do. Your new behavior and healthy lifestyle needs tender loving care right now — as you do.
Keep going to meetings and hang around your friends who are doing the steps to stay on track, just like you are. This new life that you are creating is one of many blessings. Keep keepin’ on girl.
Dear Feelings Doctor: I have been reading your column for a while, and I am caught in the middle of a similar situation that you have been writing about. My daughter, who is 14, does not talk to me. We don’t share things like we used to at all, and I find myself always arguing with her about everything! Her father works all the time, and I am lost for answers. I can feel her slipping away every day. How can we stop the fights?
— Mrs. B.
Dear Mrs. B: Your teenage daughter is going through changes that need to happen in order for her to grow up and become a woman. But there are ways that the two of you can come together every day, taking baby steps to support each other.
First of all, parents with teens find themselves always talking at their kids instead of with them. There will always be things that you can point out that should have or could have been done differently. Why do that?!
Catch your daughter being good; comment on the slightest thing that she does and acknowledge her for them in a positive way. Have weekly check-in sessions, and make them about her. What new song is she listening to? What is the newest fashion thing she is in to? How are her grades, who is her favorite teacher at school, how are the lunches and, most important, is there anything that you can help her with? Continue to keep her accountable for the boundaries and rules that you and your husband have set in your household.
These are the critical years when our children begin to differentiate from their family of origin (that means grow up and have their own desires and goals), which is what parents pray for. Make sure you keep open arms to hug her and an open ear to listen.
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Imagine This ...
Even in the most peaceful surroundings,
The angry heart finds quarrel.
Even in the most quarrelsome surroundings,
The grateful heart finds peace. — D. Zantamata