Tag Archives: Children and Families in Life After Trauma

Hiding our feelings from children have consequences…

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Child Observing Military Memorial Service of a Parent…

Hiding our feelings…from children… Encountering America by Jessica Grogan, Ph.D., is the author of Encountering America: Humanistic Psychology, Sixties Culture, and the Shaping of the Modern Self (January 2013, Harper Perennial). She’s also a Licenced Marriage and Family Therapist Associate in private practice in Austin, TX.

Jessica-Grogan

Grogan’s research covers a range of topics related to psychology, psychotherapy, and American culture. She has presented papers on humanistic psychology, American psychotherapy, psychedelics, Alcoholics Anonymous, the philosophy of psychological science, and the relationship of psychology to women’s liberation and civil rights for the American Studies Association, the American Historical Association, Cheiron International Association for the History of Social and Behavioral Sciences, and the American Psychology Association.

Quote from Dr. Grogan’s bio…

“I work individually with adults and kids, particularly those dealing with relationship problems, anxiety, and periods of high stress. My specialization is in couple’s and family therapy, and I’m welcoming of high-conflict couples and families. As a therapist, I’m committed to developing a close, working relationship with clients, and I believe humor, openness, and directiveness,all serve this goal. My strength is in balancing assertiveness and directness with empathy and support.

I tend to view problems as occurring when we get stuck in some way, using ineffective solutions to problems, relying on outdated coping styles, and repeating patterns that make problems worse rather than better. Change is possible when we learn to disrupt these patterns, creating the possibility for more satisfying interactions and deeper connection.”

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As a trauma survivor and lay researcher, author, blogger, and child advocate; my work is very much on the discovery and needs assessment side of innovation, problem solving, and creative solutions.  I relate to Dr. Grogan’s research and work as a therapist very much, and appreciate the focus on humanistic or the “whole person” as a foundation for treatment of post-traumatic stress symptoms.

In the context of “hiding our feelings,” it was a huge relief to find out from my research and therapy that it is okay to be vulnerable and honest with family members, especially kids.  If there is a consistent family conversation and culture of openness at home, the risk of sudden outbursts of angry and potentially harmful escalations can be minimized or negated.  When an entire family suffers from post-traumatic stress, saying nothing about stressful feelings and anxiety was a demonstration of strength.  If you are a military child it is pure hell having a father or mother who suffers from PTSD.  Those who serve America in the armed forces are trained to be emotionally numb as a mandate for survival.  America is learning now that we have to start early with trauma informed coaching for military families and 1st responders.  This is very much an example of a humanistic approach or continuum of therapy designed to help trauma affected families achieve normalcy as smoothly and as quickly as possible.

My research and discovery as a lay person has enlightened me to the extent that healing is now possible in my later years.  I have to work each day to be mindful of triggers and therapy practices to keep a good balance.  Life is not without challenges at any age, but I feel a peace of mind at age 70.  There is joy and happiness each day.  I do much better with down time, living in the moment is so much healthier.  Living with mental health challenges is a work in progress for most.  With a high level of awareness and the access to humanistic therapy alternatives, life is as good as it gets these days.

Steve Sparks, Author, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story and My Journey of Healing in Life After Trauma, Part 1&2… Click the highlighted text for my author page and to order books, etc.

 

 

 

Children of a War Ravaged World…and the generational pain of post-trauma stress!

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Children play at the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan, where more than 120,000 Syrian refugees live. Roughly two-thirds are kids, many of whom have been traumatized by the violence in their homeland. Cassandra Nelson/Mercy Corps

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Mercy Corps organizes games and movies at the Zaatari camp to help children return to more normal activities and routines. Cassandra Nelson/Mercy Corps

Syria’s Grinding War…and the children who suffer for a life-time…

How bad can it be?  Most do not have a clue…

“Alexandra Chen, a specialist in childhood trauma, is on her way from the Lebanese capital, Beirut, to the southern town of Nabatiyeh, where she’s running a workshop for teachers, child psychologists and sports coaches who are dealing with the Syrian children scarred by war in their homeland.

“All of the children have experienced trauma to varying degree,” explains Chen, who works for Mercy Corps and is training a dozen new hires for her aid group.

Her intense five-day workshop is based on skills and techniques developed in other conflict zones, used for the first time here.

“They need to know enough to understand exactly what’s going on in the brain of the children they are working with,” Chen says of her trainees. Her course stresses the science of severe trauma, which can be toxic for the brain.”

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After reading this article today, my heart was sinking thinking about “how bad can it be” for the children who represent our future everywhere, not just in America.  These kids and youngsters everywhere need our attention right now to help them transition to a healthy quality of life as adults.  We can do more!  We must do more!

Please take a look at my new Kickstarter non-fiction project, “I Worry About the Kids!”  The workbook format and structure will guide parents, teachers, mentors, and others in helping kids emerge from a traumatic childhood to a more balanced and productive young adult experience while preparing for life as an adult.

Steve Sparks, Author, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story and My Journey of Healing in Life After Trauma, Part 1&2… PLEASE click the highlighted text for my author page and to order books…

 

 

“Nightmare of Child Abuse!” Kids need trusted teachers & mentors in school and after-school…

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Dr. Wills Neighborhood Podcast click here…

Thanks to psychotherapist, author, speaker and all-around terrific dude Dr. Will Miller, BeAKidsHero now is available as a podcast!

dr-wills-neighborhood-logo-w-convDr. Will has put together an online community of podcasts as part of his Dr. Will’s Neighborhood, where folks can join “the best conversation in town”… and he’s invited BeAKidsHero to move into ‘the hood’! 😉

An impressive lineup of expert guests will join me in discussing ways to protect children from sexual abuse and other types of maltreatment, as well as a host of issues related to child abuse. Parents, teachers and other caring adults will gain greater insight into child protection and exploitation issues that can impact kids of all ages from infancy through their teenage years.  Expert guests will offer insight, advice and tips that can help each of us make a difference and truly improve the world one child at a time.

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Ginger Kadlec, “BeAKidsHero,” is one of my early collaborative friends in our work on behalf of Children and Families in Life after Trauma.  I’m grateful for her support and caring friendship.  Ginger encouraged me to keep writing in my blog, speaking, and authoring books.  Our best collaboration is “The War Within: PTSD” by Ginger Kadlec, published by Project Eve. My years of heartfelt work with www.neighborsforkids.org and the children we serve has been at the center of my own personal growth and healing as well.

Dr. Will talks about “Refrigerator Rights” with those trusted friends, neighbors and mentors outside of the home as a powerful social interaction benefit to help children who become isolated as a result of child abuse and maltreatment.  I certainly recall the loneliness of my childhood back in the 1950’s when our home was scary.  It was even worse trying to talk about it, so we lied to our teachers, coaches, friends and mentors.  We siblings hung on to hope that our toxic life at home was normal and we were tough.  We had very few close friends as we moved so often as a post WWII and Korean War US Navy military family.

Please listen to the podcast, Dr. Will’s Neighborhood with Ginger Kadlec.  This is honest straight talk for parents, teachers, and mentors.  The conversation touched my heart and soul!

Steve Sparks, Author, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story and My Journey of Healing in Life after Trauma, Part 1&2…click the highlighted text for my author page and to order books, please!

SteveSunriver

Steve Sparks, Author, Blogger, Child Advocate

“Higher risk PTSD gay, lesbian, bisexual, ‘mostly heterosexual’ youth” HARVARDgazette

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Dream, Hope, Love…

Higher Risk of PTSD for LGBT Community, especially younger kids and adults…  News from Harvard schools, offices, and affiliates

“We looked at a group of people who are at the cusp of adulthood and found much higher levels of PTSD in sexual orientation minorities compared with heterosexuals. We found that differences in PTSD by sexual orientation already exist by age 22. This is a critical point at which young adults are trying to finish college, establish careers, get jobs, maintain relationships, and establish a family,” said lead author Andrea Roberts, research associate in HSPH’sDepartment of Society, Human Development, and Health. Previous studies by Roberts and her colleagues identified more PTSD symptoms in a group of sexual minorities aged 40-60. Gay men, lesbians, bisexuals, “mostly heterosexuals,” and heterosexuals who have ever had a same-sex sex partner were found to be one-and-a-half to two times as likely to experience violent events, especially in childhood, than the general population and have double the risk of experiencing PTSD as a consequence. (See 2010 HSPH press release.)

The research appears online and in an upcoming print issue of the American Journal of Public Health.

“Traumatic events like active combat, child maltreatment, interpersonal violence, or unexpected death of a loved one can lead to PTSD, a mental illness which is characterized by distressing memories of the traumatic event, avoidance of objects, places, or people associated with the event, emotional numbing and an increased sense of vigilance. PTSD in turn can lead to drug and alcohol abuse, depression, and difficulties with relationships and employment if it goes untreated. The lifetime risk of PTSD in the general population is about 4% for men and 10% for women. Among sexual minority adults, the risk of PTSD is doubled – over 9% for men and 20% for women.”

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I have great empathy and compassion for the often emotional challenges connected with the gay community.  One of my closest life-long dear friends is a gay man, who survived the tragic early circumstances of HIV in the 1980’s and 1990’s.  My friend, Jon, has lived through more painful and tragic trauma for decades than most.  The worst part of his traumatic experience is to watch the slow and painful death of so many loved ones in his life.  I have been through most of this with him as a loving and devoted battle buddy at work and as close friends.  When there are tough times, I listen mostly with a loving and caring heart.  In good times there is so much joy and fun times with Jon, who also worked with me as an outstanding colleague during my career.  He has a heart as large as the moon, a work ethic that sets an example for the best of us,  Jon models the best in all of us along with unmatched resilience to overcome the worst of emotional challenges.  I love Jon as my brother, best friend, and colleague who has always been there for me and my family as we journey through life together.

I will address the LGBT community post-trauma stress topic in a most healing and loving way in my new workbook project, “I Worry About the Kids” to be published during the summer of 2016.

Steve Sparks, Author, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story and My Journey of Healing in Life after Trauma, Part 1&2… Click on the highlighted text for my author page and to order books, etc.

SteveSunriver

Steve Sparks, Author, Blogger, Child Advocate

Boomers Turn Age 70! We 46ers ain’t done yet!

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Kathleen Casey-Kirschling, First Boomer, “You only have the moment. You can’t live in the past, and you don’t know what the future is going to bring.”

Boomers Turn 70!  by Bill Newcott, AARP Your Life… Reference article and website, click highlighted text.

Excerpt from my book, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story, published in 2011…Signalman Publishing, Orlando, Florida

A New Beginning!

Using words like summary for the end of this story seems off the mark. I have a hopeful outlook in writing this book after doing research and connecting the dots. Life can begin again at any stage in life, especially for those of us who are entering the golden years. Writing this story has given me energy, renewed confidence, and a much brighter look into the future. Finding peace of mind has been a huge benefit, but requires continued effort. I believe more now that when one reaches out for answers to big questions and becomes fully engaged in living in a proactive way, we find more peace of mind. My thinking has changed from thoughts of death and dying or old age to planning my next writing project, next adventure, and sharing more romance with Judy. It is never time to sit down and forget about it all. It is extremely healthy for the mind and body to be engaged, to discover, to learn, and to love. Living, learning and loving never ends until the day we actually leave this life for good and go on to the next life, assuming the faith that this is where we are headed.

“Retirement” means transitioning to new beginnings rather than stepping away from all the action. There is really more action in retirement if you are willing to take the leap of faith, and jump in and continue to make a difference in your life and the life of others. The more of my time spent giving to others feels like a gift. Continuing to share my life with soul-mate and wife Judy is comforting and exciting. Finding new friends and building new relationships is invigorating. Getting the most out of participating in the lives of friends and family, including watching my children grow along with the grandkids, is most gratifying. I can say life is as good as it can be as long as my feet stay firmly on the ground. Writing this book clearly represents a new beginning. I am very thankful for having the motivation to tackle this project and the many rewards it has and will produce in the future. I am ready for the next surprise and challenge life has in store for us!

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I didn’t know in 2011 how writing my first non-fiction memoir, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story, would change my life.  It was at that moment in time that writing became a source of healing from childhood invisible wounds.   Kathleen Casey-Kirschling, First Boomer, “You only have the moment. You can’t live in the past, and you don’t know what the future is going to bring.”  These words really hit home for me at this time in my life as age 70 looms on July 6, 2016.  Wow!  This new decade for me was a scary beginning of the New Year until healthy change came into my life and our family.  When it is time for change, it is up to all of us to take action…we own it!  My major action was to clear away my agenda and all commitments that were no longer rewarding or fun.  It was my time and the opportunity to make a difference for myself and to focus on my family, especially my loving wife, Judy.  I set myself free to love more, explore and to innovate.  It is a new day in the Sparks home!  We are busy with new goals, planning, and excitement for the very special years ahead of us.  I feel blessed and thankful for good health and new energy at age 69.  “We 46ers ain’t done yet!”

Steve Sparks, Author, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story and My Journey of Healing in Life After Trauma, Part 1&2… Click the highlighted text for my author page and to order books, etc.

SteveSunriver

Steve Sparks, Author, Blogger, Child Advocate

Leadership! The Magic Sauce of a Successful Enterprise…

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JB Burton Accomplished Defense Executive / Leadership Development /Operations / Strategy / Homeland Security/ CBRNE / CWMD

J B Burton, Essential Elements of Leadership  Reference link.

Taking the queue from the common sense and motivational article by J. B. Burton on leadership, following are the same critical talking points from his perspective, but offered from my own experience and education…  You can contrast and compare, but will find much agreement from many seasoned leaders who thrive on empowerment, entrepreneurship, innovation, and transparency.

IntegrityIndividual and Collective.  Leadership is earned by building a culture of trust and kindred spirits.  From the very beginning of my long career in many roles as a manager and executive, especially in relationships with customers, I took a personal oath to never sell my soul, or to compromise the higher goals and aspirations of the team or each individual in my circle of care and influence.  Power is not swinging your weight around and dictating to others, it is as a facilitator, helping others achieve their personal and career goals…and to have fun doing it.

Inspiration–Leaders are community builders of success.  We know that it takes a team to win.  We know that individual performance counts and must be celebrated.  Leaders behave as coaches, inspiring and teaching others to be the best of the best.  Leaders also learn from team members and love constructive dialog and actions that take the team to a higher level of performance and reward.  Leaders set the tone for ownership of goals and objectives, and never fail to be on hand to help the team as a whole to win, or spend quality time with each team member to inspire a higher level of performance.

Mentorship and Coaching:  Leaders know that organizational and individual accountability are critical success factors in any enterprise.  Working with team members and stakeholders to achieve buy-in for the larger vision, goals, and objectives is crucial to excellence in meeting targets both long and short term.  Just as important is consistent communications on the status of quantifiable objectives and in identifying what is required to fix short falls in meeting targets and expectations. Give and take interpersonal communications and trust are at the center of a consistently improving and high achieving enterprise.  The little things count and add up to winning the big game!

Learning:  Leaders are great listeners and learners.  We do not pretend to have all the answers.  We rely on collective impact and build a culture of learning and innovation. 

Discipline:  Effective leaders practice doing the right things, the right way, and at the right time.  There must be a quality assurance expectation of self and others.  Leaders model discipline in working each task as a critical step in achieving higher goals.  We practice preventative maintenance every step of the way, and promote a look back at lessons learned.

Dialogue–Internally and Externally.  One of the best ways to find out how your organization is perceived from the outside looking in, is ask a customer or a stakeholder.  It is easy to become self absorbed and complacent from the inside.  Build your outreach strategies and programs based on external input and from stakeholders, and from those around you on the inside.  Consistently revisit the question, “how are we doing?”  Look at how your competition does business and learn best practices.

Empowerment–Allow your team members the freedom to make mistakes and learn.  Coach your team and individual contributors to take ownership along the way.  Show them how to manage upward.  Never wait for the phone to ring!  Each member of your team should be a leader in bringing solutions to problems, ideas, and success stories to the top for optimum visibility, to reinforce others, and to inspire.  Confidence as a team and as an individual is critical to success.

Measures of Effectiveness and Accountability— Leaders must be very good at quantifying and measuring results and overall effectiveness.  We must look at symptomatic conditions that either lead to success or sometimes failure.  Fix the larger problem, do not put a patch on a symptom of a larger problem.  Measuring effectiveness should be a natural inclination of any successful enterprise.  I call it the culture of ownership!  We leaders are constantly looking at getting better just about every minute of the day…

I am often asked about the “magic sauce” of a highly successful team that seems to thrive consistently, even under tough circumstances.  It is in the hearts and minds of kindred spirits that make an enterprise the best it can be.  It is in the above points on the elements of effective leadership that represent the custom development of a specific recipe for your brand of “magic sauce.”

Steve Sparks, Author, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story and My Journey of Healing in Life after Trauma, Part 1 & 2… Click on the highlighted text for my author page…

SteveSunriver

Steve Sparks, Author, Blogger, and Community Leader

 

“Rediscovering and Preserving your Family’s War Legacy.” Excerpt from Chapter 7 of my soon-to-be-released book…

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Chapter 7…Rediscovering and Preserving your Family’s War Legacy…excerpt…

“Lost WWII Heroes Discovered in South Pacific…a profoundly healing legacy experience for loved ones… This chapter explores how you can revisit and preserve your proud family legacy from past wars. So much of our war legacy is hidden in the boxes of attics and basements.  We post WWII kids were taught to not ask questions or talk about it. Our parents, especially our fathers and mothers who served America during 20th Century wars, felt it was too painful to discuss. We worked hard as a post WWII society to “go home and forget about it!” Now we know that healing from the horrors and emotional pain of war requires conversation and revisiting the duty, sacrifice and service of veterans of all wars who protected the freedoms we all enjoy. We must preserve, honor and remember to help us all learn and heal from the trauma of war.”

Heroes of Palau…

Palau…Searching for Heroes…  Click on this powerful video clip…worth all 13 minutes!

Published on Nov 7, 2014

“Passion meets technology in the search for downed aircraft in the South Pacific. The BentProp Project is a group of volunteers who search for and help repatriate missing World War II Airmen. Their searches were long and arduous until they enlisted the scientific know-how of Scripps Institution of Oceanography-UCSD and The University of Delaware. What they find is truly inspiring.”

Steve Sparks, Author, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story and My Journey of Healing in Life after Trauma, Part 1…  Click highlighted text for my author page…

“The Wrath of Stigma!” is the first chapter of my new book, My Journey of Healing in Life after Trauma, Part 2.

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Saving your children, family and loved ones from inter-generational Post-Traumatic Stress (PTS)

Following is an excerpt from my new book to be released soon…

“Stigma is a self-fulfilling prophecy,” they say…  “After all the research and writing on the subject of PTS/PTSD, including this blog with close to 800 postings offering tons of information about my own experience, references and resources with the goal to help others, the human condition of STIGMA leaves me stone cold and in a quandary.  It is clear that we should all seek treatment immediately following a moral injury and living with the awful symptoms of depression and anxiety, including panic attacks.  But it would be dishonest for me to suggest to anyone who fears losing opportunities and dreams of career success, especially loving relationships and spiritual growth in life, to ever admit a mental health challenge.

My latest book is dedicated to the 70th Anniversary of the End of WWII.

Steve Sparks, Author, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story and My Journey of Healing in Life After Trauma, Part 1.  Click on highlighted text for my author page…

Mental Health Awareness Month of May… Take advantage of Mental Health First Aid training in your local community…

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May is Mental Heath Awareness Month…  Quote from this website…

For more than 60 years, May has been nationally recognized as Mental Health Awareness Month.

“Mental wellness is essential for peak cognitive and physical performance and ensures the readiness of our service members. This month the Military Health System (MHS) focuses on the mental wellness of service members, their families, retirees, and DoD civilians. We will highlight the tools and resources available for the prevention and treatment of the DoD community’s overall mental wellness.”

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I am pleased to share that Mental Health First Aid training has arrived in Lincoln County Oregon!  I was happy to take the lead to bring the Mental Health 1st Aid training to our City of Depoe Bay, Oregon with the help of Lincoln County Health & Human Services.  We are scheduling an overview introduction to the Depoe Bay City Council, and to the Neighbors for Kids (NFK) Board of Directors during this month.  Near future training for selected staff in both organizations will be schedule.  Following are a few highlights of the training quoted from the website…

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Mental Health First Aid

is an in-person training that teaches you how to help people developing a mental illness or in a crisis.

Mental Health First Aid teaches you:

  •  Signs of addictions and mental illnesses
  •  5-step action plan to assess a situation and help 
  •  Impact of mental and substance use disorders
  •  Local resources and where to turn for help

The State of Oregon is making mental health a top priority going forward with a campaign  slogan, “Can’t We Do More?”  It is the responsibility of local and county government, private, and public leadership to take advantage of this training.  Lincoln County Mental Health offers the availability of two highly trained staff members to conduct training on a selected basis.  I have written previously in this blog about the need to do more in rural communities for mental health awareness... click on highlighted text for more…

You can make a difference during the month of May and all year by taking a look at the Mental Health First Aid program for your own needs as a business, school or public service organization.  Please review the references and resources available and take action.  Mental Health 1st Aid is just as critical as getting training for first-aid best practices in general.  Lives are saved through a higher level of awareness of all health and wellness challenges in local communities everywhere.

Steve Sparks, Author, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story and My Journey of Healing in Life after Trauma, Part 1…  Click highlighted text for my author page…

Vice Chair, Neighbors for Kids & Depoe Bay City Councilor

 

 

Please Help Neighbors for Kids in Depoe Bay, Oregon…overflow parking required by zoning laws…

 

GoFundMe…Neighbors for Kids overflow parking is required by City of Depoe Bay zoning.  Our 7600 sqft community education and recreation center needs additional parking to hold special events for children and families…and for earned income opportunities and fund raising…

A donation of any amount is most appreciated…Thank you!

Steve Sparks, Vice Chair, www.neighborsforkids.org