Resources for Families, Individuals and Professionals

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Raising Empathic Children in a Disconnected Age

Ask the Experts by Bart Bronk

Q: I’m worried about the considerable amount of time my teenager spends staring at her phone, but I also recognize what a powerful tool technology can be. What are long-term impacts should I consider?

A: You are certainly not alone in your anxiety about screen time. Common Sense Media, a leading nonprofit dedicated to helping kids thrive in a world of media and technology, reports that the average teen today spends an incredible 6.5 hours per day staring at a portable screen.

First, let’s consider what your teen is experiencing. Her screen is a veritable Nirvana of the kinds of stimuli teens have always craved: dialogue with friends, interactions with the opposite sex, gossip, games, music, entertainment and, perhaps most enticing, a 24-7 reality show featuring the (heavily curated) lives of everyone she knows.

Read more: Raising Empathic Children in a Disconnected Age

Caring for a Parent with Dementia

Ask the Exerts by Barbara Roden

Q: My mom was recently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s -type dementia. She lives alone, so when I visit she is always very excited to see me. Over the course of my visits, she keeps repeating herself over and over. I tell her she’s already told me that, but then a little while later, she tells me again! How can I help her memory so she doesn’t keep repeating everything?

A: Unfortunately, you won’t be able to “help” her memory. It is a physical change, and currently there is no cure.

What you can change is how you react to her repetitive statements and questions. Repetitive behaviors are often caused by stress, anxiety, frustration, or fear. Your mom may be unsure of what’s happening, where she is, or what time of day it is. You can imagine how unsettling that might be.

Read more: Caring for a Parent with Dementia

Program Offerings from The Family Center

Ask the Experts 1/18/18 

Q. I’m hoping to take advantage of the enrichment and educational programs offered by organizations in our community. Where can I find opportunities to do that?

A: The Grosse Pointe community has a number of helpful organizations that offer various types of enrichment and educational programs throughout the year. You will have no trouble finding something that fits into your schedule and your interest.

In addition to The Family Center, The War Memorial, Grosse Pointe Public Library, Grosse Pointe Public Schools, SOC (Services for Older Citizens), the Neighborhood Club and many other organizations are where you should begin looking for options.

Read more: Program Offerings from The Family Center

Manage Sobriety by Avoiding Relapse Triggers

Ask the Experts by Marilyn Spiller

Q: I have been in recovery from substance abuse for almost a year now. I constantly worry about maintaining my sobriety and want to know how to deal with triggers that I encounter?

A: A trigger is an event that gives someone the perceived justification to return to addictive behavior. These can be internal or external, and both can be equally disturbing to your new sober lifestyle.

In early recovery, it’s best to avoid situations that can be a trigger. If avoidance isn’t possible, plan, in advance, to create a new reward to replace the “false reward” of alcohol or other drugs.

Read more: Manage Sobriety by Avoiding Relapse Triggers

Growing a Business Without Ignoring Your Family

Ask the Experts by Charmaine Johnson-Fuller

Q: I have so much I need to do between business and family, but I don’t feel like I get anything meaningful accomplished even though I’m doing a lot. It’s like I float from task to task with no focus. How can I structure my day, so I get the right things done and feel motivated and empowered doing it?

A: Running a business and operating a family is a challenge. It feels as though you’re either ignoring your business or ignoring your family and feeling guilty about both.

As an active mom entrepreneur, it’s easy to just start writing down everything you feel like you need to do. When you do that it causes you to feel overwhelmed, resentful, and burned out from your daily schedule.

Read more: Growing a Business Without Ignoring Your Family

Play Central Offers Indoor Play Option for Little Ones

Q: My family just moved to this area from out of state and I don’t know anyone yet. I have two toddlers and I would love to meet some other parents with children the same age. Do you have any options?

A: With two little ones keeping you busy it can be hard to get out to meet other people. Your neighbors may be good sources of information, ask about play groups or moms groups, etc. One great local choice many people don’t know about, however, is Play Central. Play Central is a drop-in open play group run by The Family Center, a local non-profit organization.

The program began October 4 and runs every Wednesday and Thursday through May 31 from 9am-11am – for $5.00 per visit for the whole family. Parents/caregivers meet in the gym at Barnes Early Childhood Center. Play Central follows the Grosse Pointe Public School District calendar so holidays and snow days will be observed.

Read more: Play Central Offers Indoor Play Option for Little Ones

Coping with Grief and Loss in the Holiday Season

Ask the Experts by Peggy Nielsen

Q: Our family experienced the recent death of a loved one and now must turn around and face the holidays. How do I help my children celebrate the holidays while recognizing the “elephant in the room,” that we are missing someone?

A: Grief can be overwhelming on any day, and especially difficult during the holidays. First, remember everyone’s grief is unique to them. Encourage honesty about feelings and talk about what you want to do•or not do•for the holidays. Decide what holiday traditions are important for your family to keep, or those you might want to change.

Perhaps there is something new everyone wants to do. Include children and teens in these discussions. Ask for their thoughts and feelings, making all answers safe and important. Make a plan together that works for everyone.

There are many activities you can do in memory or honor of a loved one.

Read more: Coping with Grief and Loss in the Holiday Season

Set the Right Tone when Talking with Your Teen

Ask the Experts by Lisa Kalinski

Q: I am worried that I am not setting the right tone in my home for open communication. I have a 13-year-old and hope that I’m not too late to change that as she moves further into the teen years?

A: It’s not too late to work one better communication and trust with your children. We have a system called pro-active parenting that includes these seven key behaviors:

  1. Show interest in their activities, likes and dislikes
  2. Listen carefully to what your child says without saying what they did wrong or should have done differently
  3. Find ways to agree with them; say “Yes” whenever you can
  4. Focus on the desired behavior, rather than the one to be avoided
  5. Build children’s images of themselves as trustworthy, responsible and cooperative
  6. Expect the best from them and encourage them often and vigorously
  7. Help them understand how their actions affect others

Read more: Set the Right Tone when Talking with Your Teen

Get the Right Boot for Winter

Ask the Experts by David Gilboe

Q: With the winter fast-approaching, I worry about my parents walking on the snow and ice. Do you have any tips for getting them good boots that help with their stability?

A: You are right to be concerned as we all need to exercise caution when we’re walking on slippery surfaces. Just like our vehicles need good tires to weather the challenges of winter, so do our feet.

A good pair of boots give us stability, keep us firmly connected to the ground, and offer us the ability to travel safely. Making sure we wear boots that maximize our safety, however, warrants some thought and consideration.

Read more: Get the Right Boot for Winter

On the Front Lines of Alzheimer’s & Dementia

Ask the Experts by The Family Center

A special Ask the Experts interview with documentary film director, Keith Famie

On December 6, 2017, The Family Center, in partnership with The War Memorial, Grosse Pointe News, Grosse Pointe Magazine and producer/director Keith Famie, will be showing a special long-format trailer for the upcoming documentary film in production “On the Front Lines of Alzheimer’s & Dementia.” Mr. Famie spoke with us about the film and the devastating illness it highlights.

FC: Why did you want to make this film?

KF: Over the years I have produced a three-part series about aging, all of which aired on PBS here in Michigan.

  • The Embrace of Aging: Men – 7 parts
  • The Embrace of Aging: Women – 13 parts
  • The Embrace of Dying: How we deal with the end of life – 8 parts

During these productions I encountered many dementia-related stories and in 2003 I lost my father to Alzheimer’s. I was his principal caregiver and learned first-hand just how devastating this disease is for patients and loved ones. Now at 57 I felt it was time to produce a film that can help the baby boomer generation on their cognitive aging journey.

Read more: On the Front Lines of Alzheimer’s & Dementia