Kids and Tech: My Newest Reason to Be Up All Night Worrying

girl on phone

It has been my goal each morning for the last 3 or so years to do all I can to protect my kids, especially my two teenaged daughters.  To protect them from me!  From my Depression and constant Anxiety.  Psychological studies have shown that girls are twice as likely to develop Depression than boys and gender is the strongest predictor of depressive symptoms that scientists have found so far. The second strongest predictor is having a Mother with depression.  So, basically, my illness is the biggest risk to them over which I have any control.  So I do all I can to keep it under control.  We don’t hide it from them though.  After much research into the the benefits of honesty in a case like this, my husband and I decided to be forthcoming about what’s wrong with Mom so that we could do all we could to convince them to come us the very second they felt overly sad or worried about anything at all.  My greatest hope is they stay just as happy and bubbly as they are, but the second greatest is they will come talk to me if they’re feeling bad.  I never had anyone to discuss it with.  And it could have made all the difference.

In my continued effort to protect my girls who are now fully engaged in the on-line world with cellphones and Instagram accounts, I am making it a priority to learn all I can about social media and what the kids are getting up to on their phones.  See, it’s pretty easy to monitor the desktop computer.  No problem.  I have that baby locked down tight.  But the phones…that’s another story.  I had no idea how hard it is to monitor a cell phone even with very expensive monitoring software.  Especially the iPhone.  I’ve been behind Apple in their public spat with the government over security.  But now that their product security is in MY way, I’m thinking of switching my kids’ phones to Android or basically any other phone… which are all much easier to lock down that the iPhone.  Given how easy it is for these kids to hide apps and inappropriate material on the phones, it is a must to have some kind of remote monitoring.  For instance, there is an app out there called “Poof” that just makes other apps on their phone (like SnapChat or YikYak, where much of the worst behavior between our kids is happening) just disappear off of the UI with one push of a button.

I made the “good parental” decision to get a recently published book on teenagers and social medial.  It is a must read if you don’t already have this all under control.  Here is a link: American Girls: Social Media and the Secret Lives of Teenagers.  But what was a good decision for a parent was a very bad decision for an inveterate worrier.  The author interviews girls from all over the country, anywhere from middle school age up to the later teens years.  And many were from a town not too far from where we live.  And it is horrifying to hear to what what these girls are exposed and how peer pressure causes them to react.  According to the author, a full 60% of 13 year old girls in America have been exposed to pornography, much of it depicting graphic violence toward women.  Further, the girls expect that boys will request inappropriate photos or texts from them, and if they aren’t propositioned, many feel girls bad about it.  Sexting is a real thing in MIDDLE SCHOOL.  And most of the girls interviewed ride a fine line between being socially rejected for reacting badly to these offenses (as defined by being angry or upset by them) or for participating, aka reacting like a “slut.”  Apparently “Slut Shaming” is also a thing with girls as young as Middle School.  As if the world weren’t scary enough.  Now these girls are expecting to be sexually objectified by boys and worry about their popularity if they aren’t!

I spoke to my 13 year old about it this weekend.  Simultaneous to my reading this book and becoming ever more concerned, she asked me to buy her a Middle School Formal dress this weekend.  If you had seen her first choices, Holy Inappropriate Batman!  The models on the website she liked ( were not going to any middle school formal, or even prom for that matter.  They all looked 25+ and like they might make it in the porn industry no problem.  And they almost all had DD size fake breasts.  This is the style my daughter wants to emulate for her 8th grade dance!  So I asked her point blank if she’d ever been asked for inappropriate pictures or texts from a boy.  She said no, and that to her knowledge none of her friends had either.  I asked her what she would do, and she said without hesitation she would reject it.  I believed her.  Maybe I’m naive but it was something in her tone.  I said I was proud of her, and I wanted her to come talk to me if it happened and she agreed.

My last words to her on the subject were these:  She has a very high standard by which to judge what is appropriate behavior from boys.  The bar is her Dad.  I said, “Any boy you might get “involved” with should live up to Daddy’s standards…he’s honest, respectful and kind.  To everyone.  And he thinks the sun rises and sets over your head.  If you are with a boy who doesn’t treat you the way Daddy would, LOSE HIM.”  She agreed…for now anyway.  But I’m still watching.  And I’m still losing sleep over that phone.  I will get it locked down even if it costs me a fortune to switch it out.  It’ll be a very small price to pay for their safety and my anxiety.

Kids and Tech: My Newest Reason to Be Up All Night Worrying

Thanks to a Fellow Blogger, Today I will be a good Mom


I think today’s posting will be quite different than the last. I’m feeling out of sorts…well for me anyway…I feel lighter. Today I woke up and read an unabashedly joyful posting from a woman clearly much younger than I, relishing the future possibilities of home and family. And it turned my mood brighter. I left her a post about what incredible optimism she has and, at first, felt a bit sad that I hardly ever see the joy in my life except as someone watching from a distance. That’s the disease…the Depression that dulls my spirit. But after considering my home and my family and how amazing they are despite my constant mood issues, I started to feel rather hopeful myself. I would love to carry this feeling throughout the day with me today, especially to drown out the memories of the last two days.

I research and write about my depression and anxiety for two reasons. First, it is cathartic. I usually write early in the morning, before the kids arise and before I’ve had a chance to let anything upset me too much. I research religiously because I have to learn how to parent through my depression. I have to read any book I can find and any relevant published journal article and frankly any source that I come across that will give me a bit more insight into this dreadful disease that prevents me from looking at my children with unfettered love and delight. But more than that, I have to do my best to create that light in my eyes for them even when it’s being clouded by sadness. They deserve my best effort and I’m admittedly forcing it a lot of the time. Not because I don’t feel these feelings, but because they get pushed away by a much stronger force I can’t always control. My research and my writing is making me stronger. I admit, I’m crawling before I can walk. Taking it slow and being the best I can for them.

It’s not exactly “faking it, till I make it.” It’s more like acting a part. I recently read about Temple Grandin, a famous Autistic woman who is extremely gifted in her field as many Autistic people are, but has social limitations. She now gives talks to huge audiences on the mind of the Autistic and how “neurodiversity,” which is what many high-functioning Autistics call it now, is a blessing we want to keep and not eradicate.   She has been described as saying she had to study and learn the “give and take” of so-called normal conversation and when to use eye contact and other body language appropriate for human interaction. The exact kind of things most of us take for granted just as a part of growing up. After considering it some more, I feel like that is what the Depression is making me do. I watch other Mom’s and even my Husband who is the greatest Dad, and I kind of copy the good stuff I like. Then I practice. Some days I don’t need to fall back on this as much, because I’m feeling good. Today might be one of those days. Some days I rely on my acquired skills entirely.

Like the day before yesterday. I did not do a good job of acting my part. I was completely shut down and didn’t have the time to adjust while the kids were at school. My daughter was home sick. And I had nothing to give. It was all I could do to ask her how she was feeling and take her temperature. Lucky for me, she slept most of the day. My ability to empathize was abysmal. And when I went to bed that night I felt my failure in my bones. I promised to do better the following day (yesterday) and I did. I fell into my role, and I coddled her to the best of my ability. I made her feel taken care of. I did all I could to make up for the prior day. I apologized for failing her. As always she denied it, but I knew it was true. I had a bad day, and as long as I have this illness, there will be bad days. I can’t let them beat me though. And thanks to one of my fellow writers, I think today I will beat the illness. Today will be an UP day. So many thanks to a young woman with a big life ahead of her and enough optimism to share with me.


I’m a Convert to Inner Child Work … Finally

There is in fact healing in mediation and visualization of the child you were before the damage was done to your “self.”  My parents emotionally abused me for the better part of my life, and obviously the younger I was, the worse it was.  It was especially those years between 3 and 12 or so when the verbal attacks created the “split” in my brain between the person I really was in my heart and the person they said I was.  I have had so much exposure to the theories of Inner Child work from various authors as well as clinicians, but I don’t think I ever did the work until now…until the desperation set it because nothing else is working.  I always thought it was silly and that I didn’t need to “meditate” on what they did to me because I know it perfectly well.  They stole my self-esteem and made me afraid of everything.  They made me perform as the “perfect” child or they withheld affection.   My father required this until he died and my mother still does.

I recently told my mother I need time away from her because she is a trigger for my emotional turmoil.  And I’m not sure when I’ll let her back into my “circle.”  This was a decision I made because it was time to stop the ongoing abuse…you see she simply demands her right to say whatever she likes to me despite my being an adult and a parent now.  According to her, I am still her daughter and she has a right to her opinions, according to her.   But I also cut off from her because up until then I had refused to do my own work and it was finally time to do so.  That work is to re-parent that inner child and to re-order her self-conception as it was inflicted on her.   Sure, for years in therapy I rehashed and complained…”They didn’t love me.  They were miserable and didn’t get the help they needed.  They abused me to release their own pain,” all of which is completely accurate.  It is accurate, but only in the abstract because other than the instances of the worst abuse, I have barely any memory of those years that include my parents.  I have memories of the people  who were kind and fun and brought joy into my life, but not of my parents.  So it is accurate to say they abused me for all the above reasons but there was a further truth available to me that is quite helpful and I hadn’t realized it until now.  And it only came about through a deep meditation, which brought up the real feelings of a 5 or 6-year-old girl left all alone most of the time trying to figure out how to make her parents love her.

My first real memory of myself at that age, and most of my memories of that period of life, when I am at “home” (their home), I am alone.  Invariably alone in my room playing.  But not just playing…I am learning to perform.  I am memorizing nursery rhymes so that my parents could put me on display for their friends.  I am teaching myself how to read music and play the organ (we didn’t have a piano at that time) also to provide them with bragging rights.  I am teaching myself how to read books way above grade-level.  The interesting part is no other adult is ever with me in these memories.  And it makes sense.  Because I know from my experiences when I was older and can remember more clearly, that my parent were so caught up in their own lives and with the new baby (who came when I was nearly 6), that no one had time for me unless I was performing.  Unless I was doing something extra special that they could brag to their friends about.  Otherwise, they had no use for me really.  “You are sullen and a cold fish,” I was told.  I didn’t smile enough.  “You have a sour disposition,” my father always said.  I think rather I was petrified that I’d run out of ways to get them to pay attention to me.  I wouldn’t be able to pull off the next “feat of strength” to win their love.  And since I believed him about being sour and that no one would ever love me, I had to make them love me.  Otherwise I’d always be alone.  Performing was the way to do that.  The alternative:  showing my pain, crying, needing something, now that was the worst behavior I could display.  Those methods of getting attention resulted in more abuse and ultimately punishment.  And punishment invariably took the form of isolation.  Consistent isolation for a child that age is torture.  And I remember it viscerally.  I was not welcome.  Only the “perfect” little girl got to leave her room and be a member of the family.  And even she was skating on thin ice.  She had no heroes in that household.  No advocate.  But thanks to the meditation work and the visualization of my adult self in that picture, keeping that little girl from feeling isolated, she is not feeling so alone these days.  She has a protector now.  Someone who thinks she’s amazing and tells her so.  And things don’t look so bleak through her eyes anymore.

Most importantly she is instructing me on how to be a better parent.  I feel almost like I can look out through my children’s eyes now and I know what they expect to see mirrored back at them.  I hope I live up to what they deserve.

I’m a Convert to Inner Child Work … Finally

Parenting while suffering from Depression and Anxiety.

How Do I Prevent Passing these Disorders Down to my Kids?

I am a mother of three.  Two girls, 14 and 12 and a son, 11.  I’ve suffered from Depression, Panic Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder and PTSD since I was a child.  I wanted children of my own so desperately and from my early 20’s made a pact with God (or my conception of God) that I would never parent any child of mine the way I was parented.  I did kind of hope (and this is awful) that I had boys because I was such a mess as a teenaged girl that I thought I could do better with boys.  But there was a different plan for me and now I’m on the cusp of having two teenaged girls in my house going through all that hormonal and brain-growth  related angst at virtually the same time!  When they were born I thought to myself, “OK, here’s my chance to do it over again my way and get it right…I can do this.”  I studied and went to therapy and prepared in every way I could think of.  Dear Lord, if reality could only be as simple as what we imagine in our heads.

When my children were younger it was much easier to cover up the symptoms of my depression and panic/anxiety and to pretend all was well with Mom.  Plus I worked outside the home, so I was out during the most stressful periods of my day…that is until I completely fell apart in 2012.  I’ll save that story for another day.  But at that point I had to give up my career and focus on my health for the sake of the children.  It was a major adjustment but quite necessary; I was simply disappearing into my depression and almost none of me was left to offer them.  So I left work and have been at home since that year.

That first year at home is a blur from all the doctors’ appointments and treatments.  I also attended a full time Trauma Program 5 days a week.  The myriad changes to my meds alone were enough to make me feel lost and almost invisible except for the disease.  The emotions were hard to hide from the children despite them still being pretty young, but we told them I was ill with Fibromyalgia (true) and that was causing me to be tired and “not myself,” (untrue).  My husband and I were blessed to be able retain in-home childcare for those occasions when I was completely wiped out and I truly believe that helped me get over that particular episode of illness without impacting them too badly.

The problem now, or rather I should say problems, is first the intractability of my disorder(s).  It is highly resistant to treatment and I can tell you I have had almost every one accepted by the medical community.  Now I’m into the realm of the experimental.  But I’m going for it because I know that I can feel better.  I can do better and I have gotten back my personality, my empathy and my overwhelming adoration for my children, some of which had been smothered by disease for a while.  I am moving forward.  I am doing a good job and I love my kids.  And this is being the best mom I can be.

The second problem, I cannot completely control.  Some part of this disease is heritable.   There is the never-ending nature vs. nurture debate, which applies to depression and anxiety as it does to so many diseases of both body and brain.  With all the research I could find, there are no exact figures or predictive models out there to tell you what the chances of passing this down are, just simply based on genetics.  Some doctors with throw out a 40% chance for girls and somewhat less for boys that they will inherit my depression.  But these figures are guesstimates and completely situation specific.  I can tell you I intend to nurture my way around those figures if it turns out the reality is even close to that high.

But therein lies core issue really… I have no model of my own for how to be a “nurturer.”  Both my parents were depressed and unwilling to get treatment.  Both had a tendency toward narcissism with its attending underlying lack of self-esteem, which was then turned on me.  They were emotionally and verbally abusive…often cruel.  My father was louder and meaner, my mother passive, sarcastic and always taking his side.  She had absolutely no instinct to protect me whatsoever so I don’t really know what that feels like.  Now that he’s gone, she took over his meanness.   She will never change.  Most never do.  So as I said, I had no model at home for how to nurture my children through their teenage years and into adulthood.  So what do I do?  Well first, I look to my husband, who is kind and compassionate and was the first person in my life to show me nurturance.  He teaches me daily how to be a better Mom.  Plus he thinks the sun rises and sets over his children’s heads, which sure as hell can’t hurt their self-esteem.

Beyond that I visualize the archetypal “good mother” in my head.  She comes to me in hard times and tells me it wasn’t my fault.  She says it doesn’t matter if my own parent’s couldn’t love, that was their problem. She tells me she will protect me and make sure I’m never hurt like that again.  And most of all she tells me I’m a good Mom.  For anyone who hasn’t seriously attempted this type of self-talk and visualization, I can’t do enough to convince you to try.  Whenever I have that twinge of anxiety or guilt about what I’m doing wrong with my kids or if I even know what I’m doing at all, I hear that calming voice (an amalgamation of my grandmother and a family friend I think) and I know I’m ok.  I can do it.  I love those children and that’s exactly what they need.

It’s happens to be exactly what I need too.

Parenting while suffering from Depression and Anxiety.

The Inner Critic vs. The Good Mother

“We internalize the quest for our flaws and watch ourselves in an evaluative and rejecting way.” (Trapped in the Mirror: Adult Children of Narcissists in Their Struggle for Self, Elan Golamb, PhD.

As a depressed and anxiety-ridden parent, I do watch myself and yes, quite often I am severely critical and rejecting of my performance. I have done what so many of us emotionally abused children do: I have internalized the constant parental criticism I received as a child and supply it for myself despite barely having any contact with the original perpetrators. I don’t need them anymore. For many years I still looked at them through a child’s eyes, searching for a sense of my value or worth, and maybe even some compassion. But I gave up on receiving any of that from them. They were incapable of that kind of love. And now what remains is my inner critic. It is the destroyer within who wants me to give up on myself and my own kids because “she” knows I’m going to fail. And for a long-time I’ve listened closely to that voice in my head. It didn’t help that until very recently when I cut my first family off, the voice was merely an echo of what was said in reality as well. But even with them mostly absent now, the voice remains. And is louder and meaner that either of my parents ever were.

Don’t get the wrong idea. I’ve not given up. I am fighting this with every imaginable tool available. Between various therapeutic techniques I use (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Dialectic Behavioral Therapy, EMDR), new drug regimes, Yoga and lots of heavy cardio exercise I feel like I am training to fight and kill the inner critic. It is a sneaky opponent though. It preys on me at my most weak. I hear it in my own frustrated voice, especially at the end of a long day, when my kids aren’t listening and on nights when I just don’t have the energy to fight. It sounds eerily like me parroting my Mother. And the moment I realize that, I shut it down. Because no matter what I do, I will never treat my children the way I was treated. I will never parent them with criticism and punishment, withholding affection and even communication. I will never scream at them as if they ruined my life…as if they were the cause of all my earthly problems.

No. As soon as I feel I’m at that level of anxiety, I’ll excuse myself and go take a hot shower or just lie in bed and breathe. I visualize the “good mother” in me that I’ve been practicing with. She gives me a hug and tells me I’m a great kid, and my parent’s couldn’t love me and that it wasn’t my fault. They were sick. She strokes my head and tells me she’ll protect me from that ever happening again. That I am finally safe. She tells me I am a good mother too. And that I can do this…that I can raise these amazing and (Thank God) happy kids. And that she is there for me when I need her. I have the “good mother” I always wanted now. And she’s on my side. And that fact alone is worth more than the world to me.

The Inner Critic vs. The Good Mother