A Family Contract

contractA contract is a mutual agreement between two parties consisting of an offer, acceptance, and consideration, memorialized in writing and signed to signify competence and adherence to the agreed upon terms. In Human Speak, it’s a piece of paper that says you get this, if I get that.

The point of a contract is to govern each of the parties wants and needs in order to move forward with the actual service or trade. This same principle applies to families, especially those with teenagers. Parents want to keep their teenagers close, protecting them from the harm of the outside world so they can hold onto their childhood just a tiny, bit longer. Teenagers want to “spread their wings” and are excited about inching closer towards complete independence. Thus, the conflict arises.

One such conflict arose during a recent Tutoring session with a new client. See, clients often call me for Tutoring but I quickly realize there is more than just an academic concern that’s creating the conflict. In fact, 80% or more of the time there is underlying conflict between the student and the parent or the student and the teacher, which is contributing the academic problem. So, we must address those relationships first before any book learnin’ can get done! And we did exactly that just the other week. The Parent, Teenager, and myself had a Family Meeting and hammered out the details of what each party wanted. It was cathartic, productive, and most of all sustainable.

The Family Meeting session looked like this:

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Christine Terry, J.D., is the Founder & Owner of Terry Tutors, a Private Tutoring, Family Coaching, and Education Advocacy service dedicated to supporting the whole student. She writes this blog as an effort to help Moms & Dads Navigate Generation Z, Honestly. Want to Know More? Head on over to TerryTutors.com

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Calm with an Om

down-dog-mom-tot I have just returned from a calming, zen-like hour of restorative yoga at my go-to yoga studio, Core Power, where I painstakingly held onto the finite number of seconds left in Shavasana before my mind reupped and quickly realized that I’ve still got seven things to do before the day has truly ended. How to hold onto those teeny, tiny moments of peace in a world run rampant with cell phones chiming, horns honking, and the constant jibber jabber of people around every corner? That elusive calm that we all so desperately seek can be regularly found– not in a store or a spa or even a yoga studio, but rather, within ourselves. That’s right, inner calm is the all important nugget of wisdom that can save us from ourselves. Calm begets clarity and confidence. Without it, we are forced to trudge through the day, perhaps counting the hours, until we can physically go to our peaceful place. The problem with having a place, however, is just that– we can’t always get there, and in the meantime, we’re stuck (metaphorically or literally). When we decide to first help ourselves create mental calmness, however, we can then help others, like our children, spouse, partner, or friend. Have you ever noticed that when you’re faced with a screaming two-year-old on the floor of Target, overtired and starving for apple juice and attention, it is that quiet voice inside of you that says, “Hang on…this too shall pass”. If not, know that your voice is there, it’s just hidden under a list of must-do’s, have-to’s, and don’t-want-to’s. When your inner calm becomes an outer calm, those around you are calmer too– they just may need a sippy cup of apple juice and a long nap. Think of it like this: Federal Air Safety Regulations require you to first put your air mask on before helping your children. Even the government stipulates that we must help ourselves before helping others. All in all, when you find your inner peace, your calmness, others respond to it positively. There is a “breath of fresh air” moment or a quiet resilience forming when a tantrum ensues. Your inner calm becomes your outer peace and those around you slowly recognize there is something different–something great– about you.

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Christine Terry, B.A., J.D., is the Founder & Owner of Terry Tutors, a Private Tutoring, Family Coaching, and Education Advocacy service dedicated to supporting the whole student. She writes this blog as an effort to help Moms & Dads Navigate Generation Z, Honestly. Want to Know More? Head on over to TerryTutors.com

Talkin’ It Out

TherapyTalk Therapy has gotten a bad rep ever since its Freudian days, but I’m a huge proponent of Therapy in all of its forms (ie: art, dance, music, play, group, home-based, and original couch-sitting). I’ve even undergone it myself because– let’s be honest–where else can you talk about yourself for an hour, right?!

As I work with more and more families, I’m finding this interesting trend: parents will openly allow their kids to go to therapy but they won’t see a counselor themselves.  I’ve wondered if this is reflective of our old school versus new school way of thinking about “talking about your problems to a stranger” but then it was pointed out to me by my sister– the Speech Pathologist–that what may really be going on is that parents are hesitant to start sessions for themselves because they believe that every thing their child does (whether appropriate, inappropriate, negative, or positive) is a personal reflection on them. Okay, perhaps mainstream society agrees with that hypothesis but the other side of the coin says that a child’s personality is determined at birth. So although environmental stimuli, norms, and cues will contribute to an increase or decrease in certain characteristics, a person’s underlying personality– that unique x factor that makes us, us–is already ingrained.

Albeit fascinating from a research perspective, on an everyday level parents don’t always have the support they need from one another, their community, or sometimes even their own family members to assess that prospect. Instead, parents oftentimes feel that everything they do is not good enough, especially when a child is having some real struggles. In that case, it’s good to have a neutral third-party, an objective point of view, to talk about the parent’s own concerns and receive guidance and reassurance. When I help parents navigate the IEP process, for example, I always let them know that this process will not only help them learn how to advocate for their child but for themselves. It’s a lengthy process but as the months go by I begin to see Moms and Dads take charge, become more assertive, and willingly stand up for their own rights as a parent of child in need. When those skills are realized, the denial goes away. It’s an amazing transformation.

I love helping families navigate a problem and figure out a viable, self-sustaining solution. This is what therapy, coaching, and talking to a trusted member in your community can do too. A skilled counselor, psychologist,  therapist, or trusted advisor can guide you through a difficult life moment and help you reveal solutions that perhaps you were unable to see due to that murky inhibition. It has to be your choice, but I can promise you it can be a good, eye-opening, positive (and not too scary) experience.

Check out our Family Meeting service, creative outlets that build a child’s self-esteem and confidence, and vetted child, family, and individual therapists and psychologists:

FAMILY COACHING

Terry Tutors: Helping You Open the Lines of Family Communication. Communication is the Foundation of a Strong Family Bond. Our In-Home Family Meeting Service is designed to allow each member of the family to be heard in a positive, productive manner.  With the help of a Family Coach, we teach you how to actively listen to each other and incorporate family rules, family schedules, and age-appropriate communication tools, such as The Feelings Wheel and The Thought Box, to jump start conversation on a daily basis.

CREATIVE OUTLETS

  • 1STAGE Repertory: Nonprofit theatre company whose mission is to immerse children in the arts while building their self-esteem and having fun!
  • Center Stage Dance LA: Dance Studio dedicated to helping children develop success, confidence, and self-esteem
  • Malibu Art Barn: Open art studio,  aiding in the emotional and cognitive development of children. Owned by Peter Tulaney, MFT
  • Ovation Group Productions: Children’s Musical Theatre Company, where differences are celebrated and everyone gets a real part!

FAMILY, CHILD, COUPLE & INDIVIDUAL THERAPY SERVICES

PARENT CLASSES & TRAINING

ASSESSMENTS

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Christine Terry, B.A., J.D., is the Founder & Owner of Terry Tutors, a Private Tutoring, Family Coaching, and Education Advocacy service dedicated to supporting the whole student. She writes this blog as an effort to help Moms & Dads Navigate Generation Z, Honestly. Want to Know More? Head on over to TerryTutors.com