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Old 04-10-2011, 09:40 AM   #1
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Default Kids are disconnected with life

I could not figure out where this went, but this seemed like the best fit.

I am looking for suggestions on what to do. I have had the kids in counseling and the counselor has said they seemed like they were doing as well as they could, and I do not disagree but what I am struggling with is I want to move them forward from the state they are in. The best option I see right now is to get active in a local church, but the kids are OK with going once in a while, but not comfortable going regularly. I feel if I push they will just back away more from religion. I have always had God in my life even though my ex was not godly in any way. I prayed daily that God would bring her around and at times it appeared he had, but in hindsight I can see it was all an act to get me to stop asking her each week if she would agree to take the family to church.

In any event, non of the kids really want to go. My oldest says life sucks and what's the point. She is not suicidal as she tells me her friends who just ball up on the floor and cry. I have urged her to be more positive about hre outlook and that I would do anything to help. I also suggested that attending a church and making some friends who have a happier outlook will be a great option. Her explanation to me last night about how she feels about anything in life is nothing is positive, nothing is negative, she is just numb to feeling. It was very sad to hear and I expressed my sadness and suggested if she just tried in baby steps I was sure it would change. I did not want her life to just be a unfeeling person. She said she will be fine being 85 and alone and dying that way and just reading and writing in between.

My middle one is very upset about the ongoing relationship my ex has. She does not get mom's full attention ever and she feel it. Again, if I can get more female role models in her life I know it would help lower those feelings. She actually told me yesterday that she is doing everything she can to make that relationship fail. She also was upset because mom promised her that if she did not like someone she would listen, and when she mentioned this to mom, mom yelled at her a lot.

My youngest actually seems the best adjusted, but I think that's because his life is basically the same. He plays the computer or watches TV when he is not doing school work. He reluctantly will go with on shopping trips and other outings becuase I've told him I will not let these activities rule his life.

So what I'm looking for are how have you gotten your kids to come out of their shells and be more hopeful about life? Do I force them to go to church or further counseling or what? I see lots of you struggling with what appear to be similar issues with similar results, so perhaps no one has anything that worked, we are all just chasing the same thing.

I told my oldest, that I will spend every one of my days until I die working to make them have a better outlook on life because our past experiences do not need to make us who we are for the rest of our lives. Of course she just looked at me in her numb way and did not respond. I'm hoping that over time this will get better. I have also looked for a divorce group for kids in the area, but the only one I found is ending in three weeks and again it would be dragging them there.
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Old 04-10-2011, 10:53 AM   #2
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Default Re: Kids are disconnected with life

I'm not sure the timing is right. It's only been a little while for them, and they still need to process what happened before they can get past it and move on. Just my $0.02
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Old 04-10-2011, 11:37 AM   #3
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Default Re: Kids are disconnected with life

I tend to agree with BD. It is so new they are grieving, each in their own way. I think if they are sort of prodded into glossing over their pain it will just prolong in and likely come out in more explosive and painful ways. I believe, from reading your posts, that you are a fixer. Being a "fixer" in a situation like this is so hard because you have very little control over how, and how long it takes them to grieve the loss of their family unit. Church was great for my kids but they are also very young. I looked for a church that had a very involved youth program. We also don't attend services on a regular basis but joined a small life group that meets friday evenings, everybody makes a dish and all the kids get to play while the adults tlk, have a study session whatever. It has definately good for us. sports and art activities were good distractors too but not untill they were ready.
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Old 04-10-2011, 12:07 PM   #4
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Default Re: Kids are disconnected with life

Church never helped me at all. I was forced to go to church all my life and hated every moment of it. When I grew up I dropped religion and christanity. Now I consider myself between an agnostic and a buddhist, which horrifies my parents.

My point is, I don't think you can force your kids into anything, especially religion. I think this is a mistake a lot of parents make, including my own. I think the best thing you can do here is make little suggestions of this or that, but don't push anything, just be there. Sounds like you and your family just went though a bad experience, and healing takes time. When you fall down and scrape you knee can it be fixed in a day? No, it can not, it takes time to heal. The heart is the same way when it gets hurt. But give it time, and be there as much as you can for them, let them talk, let them cry and give it time. It will heel.
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Old 04-10-2011, 01:10 PM   #5
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Default Re: Kids are disconnected with life

I agree with everything everyone has said.

Personally I'm not a religious person. I grew up in a catholic family with a mother that had a very 'skewed' way of thinking. (I won't get into that now, cause it's a long story)...as an adult I went as far away from the Catholic faith that I could...I ended up in a similar situation about thinking that maybe if my kids had God (or a higher power) to believe in, that it would help things some.

I called just about every church in my area and spoke with 'whoever was in-charge' and briefly explained my feelings...We found several churches to visit, and found one that was a Christian church...they had all sorts of youth groups, divorce groups, support groups for everything including a single parents group, and a mental illness group. The great thing about this church is that the groups weren't all 'preachy' (for lack of better terms)...Most of the groups we participated in were just support groups that started with a prayer and ended with a prayer...there wasn't the whole "turn it over to God" mentality. They were really there to help, and even though it was a church they didn't "push God down your throat". The groups I participated in they knew what my feelings were about God, and was never judgmental, and still welcomed me with open arms.

It was even this way for the kids groups. My kids really enjoyed attending, and because of all the specialized groups were divided by appropriate age it was really good for the kids to be able to share without having a sibling in the room, and fear they would run back and tell someone else.

The thing is...we chose this church together, and with the kids having a say, really made them want to participate more.

I don't know if you have a church in your area like this...but call around and see what you can find.
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Old 04-10-2011, 03:58 PM   #6
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Default Re: Kids are disconnected with life

I agree and I disagree with what is stated above.

I do agree that you are much further along in your healing process than they are, and it is to be expected. Remember they are grieving..... let them. I think continued therapy, especially for the oldest, is the best.

As for church -- If this is important to you, you should find a church. YOU need the support, not just your children. I can't remember your children's ages beyond the oldest. Let me tell you my story. My parents found Jesus when I was 13. I was skeptical and they made me go to church. For the first year I was miserable, but when I hit high school, I found a place that accepted me when no one else would. To me, the youth group (which was fairly large and active) was my safe place.

My suggestion -- find a large church with vibrant children's ministries and an active youth group. Try to find one near your home, so that there will be people from school the kids know. Change is what they fear the most. And some kids have preconceived ideas of what church is like (dress in our sunday best, boring, serious, hymns... yada, yada, yada) but if you find somewhere that is more relevant that can reach them, I think you have a winning formula.

Make a deal with your oldest -- give it 8 weeks, and if she still does not have friends and does not want to be there -- let her stay home most the time. (And then sick the youth leaders on her! )

The younger ones -- if you find a GREAT children's ministry -- I would bet money that they BEG to go each week. I've seen it happen more times than I can count! LOL.

There is a big difference between setting an example, and searching for a solution and healing for kids -- and forcing a belief system down their throats. I don't force my child to go to church at all -- but you know what? She goes more often than I do. She craves the connections there and the friendships she made. She knew no one until she went to camp last summer. Putting her on the bus was the hardest thing I did because she got on alone, without knowing a soul...... she came home with a ton of friends! Many of whom go to school with her. But, she chose to go..... In your case, give her the opportunity and then step back and see what she does with it. She may find hope where she least expects it.
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Old 04-10-2011, 04:40 PM   #7
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Default Re: Kids are disconnected with life

I agree that finding a large church with awesome youth groups is the key. I don't think forcing religion on anyone is beneficial. I grew up in a Lutheran home and absolutely loved the youth group we had. As an adult, I really don't attend church that much, but I know I have a wonderful foundation because of the youth group.
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Old 04-12-2011, 02:00 AM   #8
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Default Re: Kids are disconnected with life

I think your doing great. My son is only 5, but based on several years experience with older children and witnessing other troubled kids (or talking to successful people that come from troubled backgrounds) change outlooks: it is often changed by finding an inspiring interest--especially one that connects them socially or spiritually.

Some of the strongest influences that come to mind are Summer Camp, Horseback Riding (I heavily endorse,) team-building events/activities such as theater/sports/robotics teams/music/poetry groups...rock-climbing, adventure vacations, zip-lining, ...

Church and my spirituality is an essential source of support for me, though it's not easy for everyone to feel it the same way--especially with so many negative connotations, stereotypes, misconceptions and haughty/confrontational disposition of some individuals in religious settings. As long as you expose them--as much as you feel is productive--to church and spiritual values, then your giving them the best foundation you can and planting the seed to take root when the time is right. Good job not forcing in on them...it turns many people off.

I am familiar with the whole life-sucks and 'numbness'...it usually stems from fear of rejection or not being good enough...finding a goal and then to 'accomplish' it is a huge boost to self-esteem if you can help her find it. Computer/TV/Videogames are often distractions that help keep people numb and from processing their feelings...getting him away from that as much as possible would probably help.

Keep up the good work, growing up--especially teenage-years--as we all know is often filled with those feelings of boredom and is only natural. It is all about trying to feel worthwhile and accepted as an independent individual (often by others but essentially by ourselves.) Find opportunities for them to experience engaging activities (socially, intellectually and emotionally)... especially something new Next weekend, I would see who would be up for some horseback riding
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Old 04-12-2011, 04:14 AM   #9
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Default Re: Kids are disconnected with life

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bubba'sDad View Post
I'm not sure the timing is right. It's only been a little while for them, and they still need to process what happened before they can get past it and move on. Just my $0.02
ditto what BD said

I remember being told that the first year is the toughest, that it takes kids a year or so to see that "life goes on", and from my experience this was like a prophesy it was exactly how it went

they will be sad. There is no way to rush them into happiness. They need to see for themselves : ( that first year or so is haaaaaard. My kids and I shed many tears

Same with religion. If you believe, keep taking them and let that be an option they can choose when their ready. It took a long time until my daughter started embracing her spiritual side
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Old 04-12-2011, 10:01 AM   #10
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Default Re: Kids are disconnected with life

i'm sorry you have to go through this. How old are the two oldest. I'm agreeing with BD too, it really hasn't been that long. I think the therapy is great. you are doing a great job....it'll all be ok
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Old 04-12-2011, 11:30 AM   #11
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Default Re: Kids are disconnected with life

For my daughter the answer was dance. She absoluely loves it has found out she's really good at it, so it has been great for her self esteem. Extracurricular activites can get pricey, but maybe they offer after-school activited that might interest your kids and get them involved in something. It sounds like the older one loves to read and write, maybe you could get her into some sort of after-school creative writing or poetry thing. It would make her feel good doing it, plus might give her an outlet to express herself. I think church was also a fantastic idea, but I understand what you mean about not wanting them to shy away from religion all around. So sorry you are going through this.
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