Expert Author Susan Leigh
How many parents say that they are determined not the make the same mistakes with their own children that were made with them. Many of us have a horror of repeating those damaging behaviour patterns that we witnessed as a child in our own up-bringing.
- Favouritism. When one child is a golden child any siblings may feel unimportant and irrelevant. Nothing that they do will ever compare to the favourite child. Other siblings can become de-motivated living in that kind of environment. They may feel invisible or inferior. Children need attention and encouragement and when they are lacking they may well rebel and behave badly. They may feel that whatever they do makes no difference or that any attention is better than none. Or they may retreat into inertia and apathy, as there is no point in trying when no one seems to care.
- Excessive Strictness. Children appreciate fairness. They recognise if they have behaved badly and will usually respect fair punishment. If a parent is excessively harsh or cruel that will be deemed unfair and the child may well become bitter, angry or resentful as a result. These children can sometimes become bullies. They pass on the lack of control and unfairness of their own situations and try to dominate others to compensate for the frustration of their own domestic situation.
- Excessive Leniency. All children need boundaries. They make them feel safe, loved, cared for. Children are supposed to rebel, it is part of growing up and discovering their identity, but at the same time they value a framework of rules and order. So long as they are fair and consistent children will often appreciate them. Too much freedom and children may feel that their parents do not care, are too busy or are indifferent to what they are doing. Children will sometimes misbehave to see if they get a reaction from their parents. Any attention is better than none.
- Revealing too much. Children are often aware of the limits of what they want to know about grown ups. They want to know that things are safe and secure, that their world is protected. But they do not want to know too much personal information about their parents' lives. They do not want to be encouraged to take sides, pass opinions or listen to detail about arguments and disagreements. They do not want or need to know specifics about financial concerns. Children often worry a lot if they fear that things are going badly at home and often feel in some way responsible for the problems. It is unnecessary to include them in that much detail.
Raising children is often a minefield. What is good for one child may not work so well with another child. Having time with each child individually, getting to know them as people in their own right as well as sharing in a joint family arena is a positive way of building good relationships and open channels of communication with the children. It is a good way of allowing them to blossom as individuals as well as members of a strong family unit.
Expert Author Susan Leigh
Some parents agonize about having only one child. They fear that a single child will be lonely and isolated, perhaps become selfish or insular. It is true that whilst some children hated being an only one, many children relished being an only child. They enjoyed being supported and nurtured, with no other siblings to demand their parents attention.
Whatever situation we find ourselves in there will always be someone who found it a good experience and someone else who found it to be a bad or problem experience. Parenthood is no exception. But the majority of parents care desperately to do a good job of raising their children in the best way that they can. Let us look at the benefits of being an only child.
- Love and care. An only child does not have to fight for their parents attention. They are already the golden child, the apple of their eyes. I have worked with clients who had siblings and who remembered being naughty simply to attract their parents attention to themselves. They felt that any attention was better than none.
- Time and patience. One child in a family might have needs that require a lot of time. They may have particular problems or have a time-consuming hobby or interest that requires a lot of commitment and accommodation from the other members of the family. Any siblings may have to fit around those demands. Whereas an only child can be supported with as much time as they require. There are no distractions to take time and patience away from them.
- Support. If an only child is having problems or difficulties they are often quickly picked up on. Sometimes an only child may feel that they are under a spotlight, that everything they do is quickly noticed and discussed but that can be a good thing if someone needs to intercede to stop a bullying situation or if extra tuition is required.
- Balance is sometimes needed to allow a child to learn to stand on its own two feet, to allow them to find their own ways of dealing with problems and difficulties. A child, especially an only child, needs to learn that other children can sometimes be cruel, bullying, bossy. An important life skill is learning to stand up to that situation in an appropriate way, for example through humour or natural confidence, because life is not always kind and we all have to be able to cope with set backs and recover from them.
- Money is often plentiful when there is just the one child. And parents are often keen to ensure that their precious offspring has everything they want and more. An important consideration is in not spoiling the child. Learning to share, that things do not come easy, possessions should be appreciated and treated with respect are all important lessons to stop a child becoming unpleasant and superior.
Parents of only children are often all too aware of the potential for raising a spoiled or difficult child. They are often careful to ensure that their child mixes with other children, from the family, neighbours, friends and perhaps attends nursery school where they can learn social skills and how to accommodate relationships with other children. This then can more than compensate for any lack of experience with other children in the home.
Expert Author Susan Leigh
Abuse is a powerful and evocative word. Many of us may well think of sexual abuse when we first hear the word, but abuse covers physical, emotional and mental hurt too, and can be experienced by any age or gender, by young children or our senior citizens.
Abuse in an adult relationship often occurs as a slow, subtle process. If a person was rude, sarcastic, nasty or aggressive on a first meeting there would be little chance of us agreeing to meet them again. Often the abuser's behaviour is styled as attentive, wanting to help us improve, being keen to take care of us, demonstrating support, and indeed, that may be the case. However here are some ways to recognise an abusive relationship:
- Abuse is often about control, fear of you leaving, not loving the other person enough, not wanting to be with them anymore. Money can be a significant part of their control, buying you treats, expensive gifts, offering to take care of you. It can be a seductive process, being wined and dined, treated as special, especially if this is a new or unfamiliar experience for you. But this behaviour is often a subtle attempt to become an increasingly integral part of your life.
- Having someone else take control of the finances may be a relief at first; not having to worry about bills, knowing that side of your life is being taken care of. But gradually you may find that you're having to justify your spending, being criticized for buying certain things, accused of spending too much, being discouraged from being independent. This can be especially problematic in cases where you don't work and rely on them to provide an allowance, or where all income goes into a joint account which is regularly inspected and complained about.
- Having a job, a career provides a feeling of independence, satisfaction, accomplishment and this can cause your abuser to feel uneasy and insecure about their level of control. They may start to criticize your enthusiasm for your job, discourage you from applying for additional training or advancement. They may become irritated, bored, dismissive if you try to discuss your work, colleagues, problems or achievements. Company social events or training days away with colleagues can gradually become a source of argument and tension.
- Another way to recognise an abusive relationship is when you receive unwarranted criticism about the way you dress, your make up, your desire to look smart and professional at work or when socializing with others. Even your attention to personal hygiene may be treated with suspicion as being flirtatious and attention seeking.
- Personal confidence and levels of self-esteem are gradually eroded by a bully or abuser. This can start with a raised eyebrow, a suppressed laugh, a 'you're not wearing that, are you' or a 'there's no point in you applying for that job', all purporting to sound like concerned, helpful advice but in reality a slow process of intimidation and undermining. Some abusers will try to hi-jack any attempts to improve yourself through dieting, exercise, night school classes by saying they are unnecessary, expensive, inconvenient.
- And yet often abusers are adept at making you feel that this is your fault, that if you were a better person they would not need to be so critical of you. Many abusers are contrite afterwards; they apologise profusely, vow never to behave that way again. This can be a seductive pattern as often the victim feels that if they loved more, tried harder, were more supportive their abuser would be more secure in the relationship and not need to behave so abusively.
- Family and friends are regarded as rivals for your time and attention. They may be ridiculed, dismissed as a bad influence; the questioning and arguments may gradually be seen as too much hassle. Or your partner may consistently offer alternative, exciting or important arrangements that conflict with times when you'd arranged to meet your friends. They gradually start to omit you from arrangements because of your unreliability.
- Turning up unexpectedly or phoning regularly may seem flattering and attentive at first, but over time 'where are you' and 'why didn't you answer your phone/call me back' can become more sinister. You may find that your mobile phone is regularly checked, your phone bill is examined for patterns of calls, the mileage on your car is noted.
- Sex can be a significant part of abuse, being forced to perform unwelcome sexual acts, dress up, be filmed or photographed in ways you regard as unpleasant, humiliating or degrading can all serve to increase their control while reducing your confidence and self-esteem.
The process of abuse serves to slowly alienate you from family, friends, other people and interests. Many of us dislike confrontation, try to avoid it especially if it becomes menacing, scary and aggressive. Abusers are often skillful at presenting their controlling behaviour as love, concern and guidance. Being vigilant about retaining a level of independence and outside support can help keep other options open as to the safest, most appropriate next step for you.
Expert Author Susan Leigh
Recognising the time has come to end a serious relationship is often especially stressful. We may have shared many good and bad times together, grown up with them, certainly loved them for a time. We may even still love them, but not in the way we know we should.
But there can be a lot of distress, confusion and angst over ending a relationship; are we doing the right thing, what if the grass is not greener elsewhere, are we making a mistake, will we ever find someone else, someone who cares fort us as much as our partner does?
What can we do to decide if it's the right time to end our relationship;
- Over time we may gradually notice that we are becoming increasingly irritable with our partner; the things that initially attracted us to them may be starting to wear thin. Their easy-going ways may now seem boring, lazy or aimless. We've become less interested in what they say or do. Perhaps our sex lives have gradually dwindled away.
Some of these symptoms may be due to stress. We may have a busy job, impossible deadlines, be juggling a lot of areas of our lives. Try to identify where the problems lie, take a break, start to spend more quality fun time with your partner and share your mutual concerns. Relationship counselling may be a useful route to follow at this time.
- If you're sure that your feelings towards your partner have changed start to acknowledge that our paths sometimes include special people, but only for a limited period of time. He or she will always be a part of who you are, they've helped to shape your personality, contributed to who you are today. Give thanks for that but also acknowledge that sometimes, at a later time we have to separate and move on in different directions.
- Stop and consider the consequences of staying with someone out of pity, guilt, fear of causing them distress. How humiliated and disrespected would you feel if someone did that to you? Caring for someone may mean saying 'I don't love you in the way you deserve to be loved'. This can be a very painful conversation, but ultimately it may need to be done.
- If you decide to stay in your relationship will you look back in five years time and regret not leaving sooner? Family pressures, financial concerns, emotional distress can cause a lot of pressure but staying with someone for the wrong reasons can result in slowly growing to detest them, become increasingly resentful, maybe even cause health implications.
- Communications are an important part of a good relationship. Falling out of love but remaining good friends can sometimes happen when open and honest channels of communication have been maintained throughout. Talking things through at the time ensures that there are no surprises, both people know how each other feels and, as such, decisions can be shared, understood and agreed together. Listening is a key part of this process.
- Caring for another person means wanting what's best for each other, even if that doesn't include us. And equally, if we come to realise that we've fallen out of love it's about respecting the other person enough to give them the chance to find someone who does want them, will love them as they deserve to be loved.
Holding onto someone out of fear of making the wrong decision, or because of concerns at ending up alone and lonely is both hurtful and disrespectful. Sometimes taking a break or even ending the relationship allows both parties time to miss each other and re-evaluate what it means to them. If you're meant to be together the time apart will enable you to appreciate each other all the more, clear your heads, have a period of reflection and become completely sure about the importance of the relationship in both your lives.
Expert Author Susan Leigh
Sometimes we may be faced with a difficult situation with our partner. He or she may be becoming increasingly anti-social, refuse to mix and meet with our friends or family. We may try to be supportive and understanding for a time but eventually become more and more frustrated with the situation. It can be hard to know what to do, how to handle times like this, especially if we're a sociable person and love using free time to catch up with family and friends.
Let's look at some considerations when dealing with an anti-social partner:
- At first try to explore the reasons behind his or her behaviour. Could he be depressed or struggling with stress; might there be a problem that you're unaware of? Sometimes people retreat into themselves and become increasingly isolated when they feel out of their depth. The thought of being sociable, chatting and laughing animatedly with others can fill them with dread. Pay attention to his behaviour generally and look for clues. Is he sleeping okay, how is his appetite, temper, sense of humour, libido? Changes in any of these areas can signify that there is more to this than him simply feeling anti-social. He may need to consider seeing the family doctor or undergoing counselling or stress management therapy.
- Incorporate activities into your free time and holiday periods that he feels are of value. Some people feel that free time should be used for 'worthwhile' activities like tackling outstanding chores. Agree to spend half a day in the garden or tidying the garage. Then you can both feel that you've earned the lunch at a country pub or going to see a film.
- If there is a backlog of chores that are getting him down might it be worthwhile hiring someone else to help? If you can afford it, it can make sense to pay someone to do the cleaning, ironing, decorating so that you can spend time together relaxing and having fun. When a couple spend all their time working they can lose sight of the friendship side of their relationship and life can become a little humdrum. Remind each other of what is important and commit to enjoying each other's company.
- Could there be other reasons for his attitude towards your friends and family? If he feels uncomfortable with them might there be a valid reason for his feeling that way? Ask the question and then wait for him to answer. There's no point in second guessing his point of view. He may not like your behaviour when you're with them or their attitudes and idea of fun. Give him the opportunity to verbalize his feelings. Then you can discuss what options you both have for the way forward.
- Some people hold very different views as to the best way to spend their free time. For these people there can be two equally valid options to resolve this dilemma. One is to alternate what you do, each taking turns to decide and then agree to participate together. This can bring new experiences into both your lives. The other is to spend some free time apart, each doing your own thing, and then meet up later to share the news about the day's different stories and adventures. Whatever works best is the most appropriate decision for you.
For some couples there may need to be a more serious decision taken about the relationship. Sometimes in life we may have to consider a new start, especially if becomes apparent that we hold completely different views, values and opinions about the way our lives should be spent. Individual or relationship counselling can be an important step in understanding ourselves and each other better, and this may lead to exploring compromises and a way forward.
Expert Author Susan Leigh
Recently I have come across several instances where a new three-way partnership was struggling because of personality undercurrents, poor communications and increasing lack of trust between them. As a result of the tensions their businesses were in serious danger of being wound up.
It was clear that in each of these situations one of the partners was feeling increasingly frustrated about the way the other two partners were treating him. He was feeling side-lined, disrespected, that he was being treated as an employee. I suggested several ways to try to get the relationship back on track. Things that the disgruntled partner could do to bring a more even basis and better communications back into the relationships.
The several options include:
- Start by writing a letter or an email to the other partners. Keep it non-accusatory. Take responsibility for how you feel but keep it factual, non-complaining. Merely state the facts, that the partnership has been in place for some time and it is now time for an assessment of where the business is at, what the short term and longer terms goals are, any issues that need to be addressed. Suggest a date and a time for a meeting with the three of you. Stress that it is important, that having a regular meeting is crucial to keeping everyone included and familiar with developments. Keep the email as a draft and re-read it several times over the following 24-48 hours before you send it. Check that it reads as professional and factual, that everything that needs to be said has been included.
- At the meeting have your agenda of the important facts and suggestions that you feel need to be discussed. In the early days of a new business the original model can change and evolve regularly so keeping in frequent contact with each other in a formal way reminds everyone that it is a serious business. The goal is growth and earning money. Keep the agenda as a reference point throughout that meeting. That shows that you are serious and mean business. It is important to you.
- Insist on a regular weekly meeting with an agenda and maybe minutes/notes written and circulated afterwards. This way the meeting has a formal feel to it, and is documented as a reference point for future times. At each meeting schedule in the next one and if someone has to change it make sure that a new date is arranged as soon as possible.
- Maybe have a coffee together at the end of each working day. When three people are doing different jobs it is easy for two to discuss matters together and feel that they are being reasonable, up-dating each other, maybe even making decisions. Meeting for a quick coffee enables everyone to be acquainted with any new facts or situations that have cropped up. It provides the opportunity to keep everyone up to speed on a daily basis in a light informal way.
- In a three-way partnership often each partner has very different skills sets, one may be an accountant, another sales focussed, the third may be the business manager. Often one person can feel side-lined, running the administration and the routine office based jobs while the other two appear to be in meetings, making the important decisions. Each person needs their role to be treated as equally valuable and relevant to the partnerships success.
- Suggest some sort of training or job rotation so that each partner has a familiarity with every role. There needs to some flexibility and an understanding of each others skills. If one person is involved with the sales side of the business that role is measurable.The other two partners can see how much business is generated, how many orders are placed, how busy the company is. The other two roles are often less easily measurable in terms of results and, as such, each person needs to feel that their contribution is appreciated. A job rotation or training allows the relevance of each section of the business to be understood more clearly.
- Write processes so that each role in the company is detailed. More basic jobs are then documented. It frees up each partner to be more involved in the more dynamic parts of the business. In a small growing business staff take their lead directly from management. If the bosses are unhappy then that mood filters through to staff. Staff will pick up on the mood and wonder if all is well in the business, are their jobs safe, is something bad due to happen. A tense atmosphere de-motivates staff. Good channels of communication between partners may require time to be spent on them, but they generate a positive atmosphere in the business and as such are well worth the effort.
Expert Author Susan Leigh
In business it is important to keep a high profile and let people know that you exist. You are your own best ambassador and the most effective representative of your brand. Circulating, talking about your story and your company, building relationships with other businesses is all part of marketing yourself and your business. Conferences and networking events provide businesses with the opportunity to get away from the work environment for a while and meet like minded professionals in a more relaxed setting.
Often business can be a lonely occupation. Many business owners work long hours and are fully occupied with winning customers, finding new ways to promote themselves, looking for new opportunities. Finding time to meet and discuss the challenges and difficulties, share insights and experiences is a rare event. Attending relevant conferences can provide a valuable opportunity to relax and learn in a supportive environment.
Conferences and industry networking events provide opportunities to meet like minded professionals and attend educational seminars. Often the organizers put together interesting programs covering different aspects of business. New products, procedures and techniques are often introduced at these events. Workshops are often included. Sometimes well known or significant speakers are featured and they can provide interesting motivational lectures, useful handouts and opportunities to brain storm and consider other options for developing your business. Things that perhaps would never be considered in the normal rush of a regular day at the office.
But often the most valuable part is the networking. The coffee breaks where like minded professionals share stories, experiences, ask for advice, compare mishaps. These are the times to mix and interact with colleagues, to put a face to the name, to discuss any alliances that may be able to be formed. Some businesses may be in direct competition with each other, but there will also be some businesses that will be able to forge allegiances based on slight overlaps and synergy. Discovering the connection and the potential is often best done in person in the relaxed setting away from the workplace.
The value of getting away for a day or two, to meet people in similar business situations, to mix, share and interact with each other can pay dividends when you are back in your own business environment. Not just a time to learn new techniques or to think of different ways of approaching situations, but also a time to recharge your batteries and come back to your own business full of optimism, maybe new contacts or friends, new ideas and a positive commitment to invigorate your business again.
Expert Author Susan Leigh
Many organisations regard Continuous Professional Development as mandatory. You have to agree to undertake and make a commitment to ongoing training as part of the criteria for membership and for renewal of professional liability insurance. Every professional person should choose to commit to ongoing development as a way of learning what is happening in their field of expertise, learning new skills, refreshing old skills and sharing time with other professionals in their field.
The reality is, ongoing training makes common sense. For a professional person, being apprised of the latest techniques and developments is an important part of being able to do their job efficiently and effectively and keep pace with the competition. There is no guarantee that someone can learn enough from reading the trade magazines or the mail shots that are sent them from their professional memberships. And even if they do, reading an article may be beneficial and thought provoking, but it is no substitute for a day or two spent in a learning environment with the opportunity to focus, concentrate, ask questions and practice until proficient.
As a full time counsellor and hypnotherapist I value the opportunity to take time to continue my training. Even on occasion repeating training that I have already undertaken is fascinating and really useful. You may hear a different trainers' perspective, or there may be a new slant or interpretation of a technique, or course attendees may ask questions that take the training in a slightly different direction. Sometimes when I have repeated foundation course training that was originally taken years ago I have been reminded of techniques that I have not used for awhile, or I think of a particular client who would appreciate and work well with a certain piece of work. It is all valuable time spent refreshing skills.
Whatever field you work in, ongoing training offers important time away from the office in which to learn new techniques and skills. It provides a safe opportunity to practice them and be fine if mistakes are made or it takes time to become proficient. Sometimes there are useful ways to remember and refresh existing skills and maybe learn new ways to use what you have already learned and are regularly using.
Other course attendees can provide interesting learning opportunities too. They may share fascinating anecdotes and case histories, they may ask challenging, thought-provoking questions in class and often the conversations at break times can be valuable experiences too.
I have been fortunate enough to be able to attend some excellent residential workshops with some of the major names in the field of hypnotherapy. The classroom work and practical applications have always been remarkable. The time to devote to watching a master at work, hearing them relate their experiences and discuss new innovations is more than memorable.
But the break times have always been really interesting too. Discussing problems, difficult cases, even business worries with other professionals in a relaxed environment away from the office is a valuable use of time. Sometimes there is the opportunity to network with other professionals who have different specialisms, perhaps on occasion finding ways to forge an alliance or maybe share some joint business opportunities.