Helicopter Parenting: When Is Parental Involvement Too Much?
As children are growing up they need their parents to guide and teach and pick up the pieces when problems occur. However, successful parenting requires the parent to judge when it is appropriate to help a child and when it is necessary to let them address a problem on their own. No easy formula exists to make this determination because it can vary with the maturity and skill-set of each child.
What we do know, however, is that helicopter parenting which refers to parents who are over-controlling and over-involved in their child's life can be detrimental for children. Examining the psychological well-being of college students, researchers Schiffrin and colleagues (2013) showed that helicopter parenting interfered with the creation of intrinsic motivation which led to higher levels of depression and less satisfaction in life.
Intrinsic motivation is the ability to determine and pursue personal goals and develop a sense of competence based upon an achieved identity. To successfully navigate the stage of development in young adulthood, a college student needs to develop their own identity which requires a period of questioning and even rejecting what they have been taught so as to determine what they believe and what pursuits are important to them. Helicopter parents are threatened by this stage of development and prevent it from occurring by being overly involved in the young adult's decisions. As a result, the child may not develop intrinsic motivation and may not establish their own identity which interferes with cultivating a sense of competence, self-determination, and satisfaction with life.
To help children develop their own identity, the process starts much further back than college age. It requires the parents to gradually let go as their children are able to make decisions that affect the child. Just as a parent allows a child to fall as he or she is learning to walk, developing psychological well-being requires a foundation of self-confidence which means being allowed to learn from mistakes—not being protected from mistakes.
Schiffrin, H.H., Liss, M. Miles-McLean, H., Geary, K.A., Erchull, M.J., Tashner, T. (2013). Helping or Hovering? The Effects of Helicopter Parenting on College Students’ Well-Being. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 23, 548-557.
April 19, 2015
Three Ways to Save on Your Prescription Drug Costs
If you pay more than $4 ($10 for 3 months) for a prescription, the following is for you. By being an informed consumer and being assertive about your needs, you may be able to lower your drug costs. When your doctor makes recommendations for medications, he or she is not usually aware of the costs of those medications. It is your responsibility to check out the differences. Most of the information you require can be found on the internet or by contacting your pharmacy.
1) Generics. Most people are already aware of the difference in cost for generics. However, did you also know that sometimes when a generic is not available, that you can get a generic in a similar medication that may be just as effective?
For example, the cholesterol medication Lipitor (atorvastatin) is available as a generic but even the generic costs more than similar drugs. For some people, the generic form of Mevacor (lovastatin) may be just as effective. However, you need to know your cholesterol numbers, your goal, and the different effectiveness rates. Lovastatin can lower cholesterol 25-48% depending upon the dose whereas atorvastatin can lower it 35-60%. So, if your LDL is quite high you may need atorvastatin to decrease it to less than 70. But, let's say your LDL is less than 115, then lovastatin may be just as effective at reaching your goal. And lovastatin can be purchased for $4 a month vs. more than $25 for atorvastatin.
2) Dosage. Most people aren't aware they are paying for convenience. Some medications are cheaper based on the dosage. Taking one pill might cost you more than taking two pills which would provide the same dose of medication. In this instance, you need to check and see if different dosages vary in cost.
For example, spironolactone, a common generic diuretic and anti-androgen, can cost $40 a month for a 50mg tablet but can be obtained for $4 a month for two 25mg tablets. In other words, you are paying $36 more a month so you only need to take one tablet rather than two.
A similar savings can occur with extended release medications when they are prescribed for the convenience of taking one pill a day rather than one in the morning and one at night. For example, metoprolol, a generic beta-blocker used to treat high blood pressure, can cost $40 a month for the extended release version but you can obtain a 3-month supply for $10 if you are willing to take it twice a day.
3) Combination drugs. Another way you pay for convenience is with combination drugs which is when two commonly prescribed drugs are combined together into one pill. Sometimes purchasing the two drugs separately can save you money.
For example, a commonly used hormone replacement therapy is Prempro which can cost about $140 a month. Prempro contains an estrogen and progesterone. When purchased separately, these drugs can be obtained for $80 a year—a savings of $1600 a year!
Obviously, these savings are greatest for those who do not have prescription coverage. However, most people have prescription plans that are tiered. For example, $10 for generics, $25 for brand names, and $50 for certain brand names (and some people also have a deductible for prescriptions). Even if you are only paying $10 for a generic, wouldn't you rather pay $10 for a 3-month supply and put that other $20 in your pocket? And if you are paying $25 for a convenient dosage or a combination drug wouldn't you rather save $300 a year? If so, you need to let the pharmacy know that you don't want to bill the insurance for that prescription.
However, to save money on your pharmaceutical costs, you need to do the research. Walmart lists their $4 prescriptions online and Costco provides the costs of medications online so you can obtain comparisons. You also might need to look up the differences in medications or ask your doctor or pharmacist if another medication can be just as effective for you. When informed of the difference in costs, most doctors are flexible in their prescriptions as long as the medication can still achieve the doctor's goal for your treatment.
April 17, 2015
50 RULES OF LIFE
Rule 13: You are not that important. But you are valuable.
Think about a single cell of the human body. We have approximately 1.6 trillion skin cells of which we shed a million every day. Each skin cell is not that important in itself. But each skin cell contributes to the whole—your body. Therefore, each skin cell is valuable.
When we focus too much on our importance, but not enough on our value, problems are often created. Such problems include social anxiety, the stress of over-responsibility, worry, and conflict with others. The difference between importance and value is focus. When we are concerned about others' focus on us, we create a false sense of importance.
Some people are stressed by the demands they perceive from others. For instance, for those with social anxiety, believing they are the focus of others' attention creates anxiety because they believe attention leads to criticism. However, recognizing they are not that important helps to provide perspective. Other people are not paying as much attention to them as they fear. And even if they are paying attention, it is usually just a momentary interest. If it is more, it may not be negative, but often is neutral or could be positive. Understanding this helps people with social anxiety reduce their anxiety.
Other people are stressed because they take on too much responsibility. Often believing that a task will only get done properly if they do it, they find it difficult to delegate and rely on others. Although, they may not always view themselves as “important,” others may perceive them as overbearing or arrogant. For this person, it may be necessary to recognize that part of their value can be helping others to take responsibility as well and be valued as contributors.
At the other end of the spectrum are those who believe they are important and “should” be the center of attention. These individuals believe somehow they are better than others and expect recognition and/or devotion from others. For them, understanding that no one is more important than anyone else reduces conflict and resentment.
Each person is valuable. Each person contributes to the overall functioning of the society. However, no one person is that important.
When people initially practice Loving Kindness Meditation they can be confused by the uncomfortable emotions such as resentment that can arise. Logically, it seems that the practice of loving-kindness should be pleasant and filled with positive emotions and wishes for others. However, the practice of focusing on a person and wishing them well may also bring forth the resentments, irritations, frustrations that you have with that person. This reaction can occur even with loved ones but becomes more apparent with someone with whom you have conflict.
For this reason, some people quit the practice in frustration because they wonder what is wrong with them that they can't engage in such a simple practice of focusing on someone and wishing them well. However, the loving-kindness meditation, no matter how simple it seems, is a complex practice with many layers to it. As such, it is a process of self-discovery. And self-discovery means examining parts of ourselves that are unpleasant. People quit loving-kindness meditation, mindfulness practice, and other similar techniques because they may not be prepared for this process and are confused and uncertain when it occurs.
The first step to managing this reaction is to recognize it is normal. Just because you are trying to focus in a positive way on others doesn't mean that negative thoughts won't occur. The next step is to let those thoughts be. You don't have to get rid of the resentments and frustrations to focus on loving-kindness. And actually, that is the point--to focus loving-kindness especially when you are irritated, or hurt, or resentful. It is easy to feel loving-kindness when you don't have any resentments but the practice of loving-kindness is to wish others well when you do have resentments.
Letting the thoughts be doesn't mean you have to dwell on them. You can mindfully refocus back to the loving-kindness meditation. Just don't worry if resentments arise during your meditation.
April 13, 2015
How Can Each of Us Make a Difference in the World?
Empathy, the ability to understand and share the feelings of others, and compassion, feeling others' suffering coupled with a desire to alleviate it, are associated with pro-social behavior. In other words, the more that people feel compassion for others, the more they act in ways to help others which has a positive effect on the functioning of the overall society. The question is how to boost empathy and compassion to increase this effect.
Although researchers Johnstone and colleagues (2014) in an attempt to determine the underlying cause of empathy expected to find that selflessness motivated empathy, instead found that a strong sense of self, not selflessness, is related to greater empathy for others. Conversely, this seems to support the idea that the apparent self-esteem of those who are ruthless and hurt others for personal gain is self-aggrandizing and, in actuality, they have a poor sense of self that needs to be supported by the bullying or destruction of others. Emotionally healthy, happy people who have a strong sense of self are able to relate in a more positive and compassionate way to others.
Therefore, it appears that the more we can improve the individual's self-concept, the more we are likely to see an increase in empathy, compassion, and pro-social behavior. This doesn't necessarily mean we have to focus on changing other people. If we practice meditations such as the Loving-Kindness Meditation and the Compassion Meditation, we are likely to have a positive effect on others. The cumulative effect eventually raises the sense of self for all.
An interesting video of Jeremy Rifkin's talk “Empathic Civilisation” discusses this concept of the evolution of empathy. He proposes as human beings we have expanded our empathy for others from our immediate family associations to our similar racial, religious or geographic groups, and now, we are expanding our ability to empathize to the entire world.
Johnstone, B., Cohen, D., Bryant, K. R., Glass, B., & Christ, S. E. (2014, November 17). Functional and Structural Indices of Empathy: Evidence for Self-Orientation as a Neuropsychological Foundation of Empathy. Neuropsychology. Advance online publication. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/neu0000155
April 12, 2015
How Mindfulness Can Reduce Risk for Alzheimer's and Heart Disease
Loneliness has been shown to increase the risk of inflammatory illnesses such as cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer's, and Parkinson's in the elderly. Most likely the mechanism for this link is the negative mood state. It would seem reasonable, then, that changing the mood state could lower the risk for these illnesses. Researchers at Carnegie-Mellon (Creswell, et al., 2012) have not only shown just that but also have determined the manner in which mindfulness lowers risk. Read more...
April 11, 2015
Blaming as a Way of Feeling in Control
Have you ever blamed someone for something minor even when the back of your mind was saying “That's ridiculous!”? When something goes wrong we want to assign blame. Why is that? Because we want to feel a greater sense of control over our lives. If there is someone or something to blame then we believe that it can be fixed. We don't what to believe “Stuff happens!”
Watch the news or read the blogs when some major event occurs. Immediately, everyone is looking to assign blame. And if the blame doesn't allow for control, then we look to blame something which we can control. For instance, the Sandy Hook shooting almost immediately focused on gun control because trying to control the genetics of someone who grows up to be a killer isn't possible. Or, trying to identify at-risk individuals and nurture their mental health is too much effort. Read more...
April 9, 2015
Mindful Attention to Unhealthy Foods Improves Food Choices
Common sense and mindfulness are often contrary to one another. For instance, if asked “Do you think if you looked at pictures of unhealthy foods for 10 minutes prior to lunch you would be more likely or less likely to choose salad for lunch?” people are likely to believe they would be less inclined to eat a healthy lunch. And they would be accurate if they just looked at the pictures. However, this belief is mistaken if they mindfully focused on the pictures. Read more...
April 8, 2015
Want an Easy and Uplifting Health Practice? Laughing Qigong
Qigong is a simple breathing exercise combined with movement. More and more research shows how it reduces the symptoms of stress, depression, and anxiety.
Recently, Hsieh and colleagues studied laughing qigong with a group of geriatric residents in long-term care and found that twice a week groups for 4 weeks improved mood, reduced depression, and improved memory (mental status). Read more...
April 4, 2015
The Danger of Seeking Happiness: How to Protect Your Children
As I point out in my article The Secret of Happiness: Let It Find You (But Make the Effort) the more we try to seek happiness, the more it eludes us. In fact, those who highly value happiness are more likely to have negative emotional states such as depression. Recent research that expands upon this concept shows that extreme valuing of happiness is not just associated with depression but is a risk factor for depressive disorders (Ford et al., 2015).
To understand what this means we need to look at the concept of “risk factor.” You may already be familiar with risk factors related to physical disorders. For instance, obesity increases the likelihood of diabetes. Or, smoking increases the likelihood of lung cancer. A risk factor does not mean that the illness will occur but that it has a higher than average risk of occurring.
What this means for happiness and depression is that those who place an extreme value on being happy are more at risk for becoming depressed. Read more...
April 3, 2015
Mindful Dating: How Does Mindfulness Affect Satisfaction in Relationships?
Mindfulness is a state of being centered in the present. As such, it is not focused on fears of the future nor does it dwell on uncertainties of the past. This present awareness provides the mindful individual with a strong sense of self not easily influenced by outside concerns.
Recent research shows that individuals who have a high degree of mindfulness also report a greater degree of satisfaction in their dating relationships. The mindful attitude seems to provide a stable base from which the person can approach the relationship without being overly critical or demanding of the self or the other. In such a way, the mindful individual does not become entangled in the emotional ups and downs of the partner because he or she is able to define a personal distance (Khaddouma, et al., 2015). Read more...
April 1, 2015
Husband and Wife Mutual Sulking
Question: I have been searching for the causes of frustration I have been going through with my husband for a while now, and I actually thought I was the passive aggressive one in the marriage because of all the sulking and mutual silent treatments. However it turns out I am only reflecting what is being imposed on me. For example, he does not do things I ask him to do. I am not fond of asking for people to do stuff for me. When I do, it usually is truly necessary that they do it. If I tell him to pick up the table after a meal I cooked and put on the table, he says "I would only do it if you don't tell me to do it." Next time I would not tell him what to do, expecting him to remember, and he just lets the table with dirty dishes sit there for hours and hours. He definitely knows I am expecting him to remove them so he resists me even when I don't say anything. When I become angry and try to tell him jokingly he starts the sulking/anger/resistance telling me I am once again trying to control him. So next time I just silently remove the dishes from the table and I sulk instead. When I sulk it causes him to sulk and we go days resenting each other. I don't understand it: if I don't ask him when I want him to do something, how will he ever know I want them done?