Benefits of Mediation 

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The Violence Our Children’s World

The tragedy is Miami today only serves to highlight the different world that our children live in today. Anyone who is over 30 years old grew up in a world where there were good times and then there were bad times. So people over 30 years old learned that life has ups and downs. However, for anyone born in the year 2000 or later, this is not their experience of the world.

The majority of people who are under 30 years old have grown up in a world where there has been one tragedy after another. People in this generation have experienced the tragedy of 9/11 attacks, the wars in Iran and Afghanistan, and hearing nightly on the news about terrorist attacks and terrorist threats.

In addition to hearing about terrorist attacks around the world children growing up in the current generation have also had to deal with mass shootings at schools, and shopping centers. No one who is over 30 years old had to deal with mass school shootings throughout the country while they were growing up. Furthermore in addition to the violence that the current generation has had to endure they have also had to deal with the uncertain financial situation of our country. Children in this generation have heard about the possibility of the economy collapsing and in addition many children in this generation have experienced their parents losing their jobs and as a result also losing their homes. Our country has not experienced such a high rate of unemployment and homelessness since the Great Depression of 1929.

What has this done to our children? From my experience as a psychotherapist who works with children and teens, I have seen a devastating impact on children growing up today. Many of the children I work with carry knives with them. They tell me they need the knives for protection. Many of the kids I treat have told me, they don’t know if they will live to be 30 because of today’s violence.

I have also seen an increase an increase in depression. With the violence children experience at school and when their family cannot afford housing or food, they see no hope for a future. Yes in the United States, there are many children who are homeless and hungry. In fact, the rate of homelessness and hunger for children is higher in the United States than some third world countries.

As a result, many children and teenagers are looking for an escape and they are finding ways. The suicide rate in our country has increased every year. Children as young as 8 years old are committing suicide. In addition to suicide, children and teenagers are turning to drugs. We are not talking about marijuana, we are talking about meth, crack and heroin. If you go on to any middle school campus in the United States today, you can find whatever drug you want. As drug use has increased so have the number of children overdosing on drugs. In the United States, approximately 125 kids overdose on drugs every day and the number is climbing.

In addition to these factors, gangs and crime among teenagers are on the rise. Why are they on the rise? The teens believe their fellow gang members will help protect them if someone tries to jump them. Since they have no faith in the economy, the only way to get what you need is to steal it. They see no problem in what they are doing because they feel they are just living by the rules that the adults have established.

This is no way for a child to grow up. They should not have to be afraid of being killed because of their religion, race or sexual orientation. The feelings that I have described above cross all lines in our society. I have heard these feelings from white teens, African-American teens, Hispanic teens etc. I have also heard these feelings from teenagers whose families are very well to do and those that are homeless.

What do we do? We need to take a good hard look at ourselves and our society and decide to work together to change. Even with all this despair, I have seen teenagers pull together and do positive things with their lives and to help others. There are still people who are willing to do acts of kindness for people they don’t know. We can change things but we must work together. We cannot afford anyone who wants to move in a way to make us feel more alone and helpless. Take a lesson from our teenagers, if we work together we can accomplish amazing changes.

I have seen acts of kindness and I see the out pouring of support for those in Miami. There still is good in our world. As the adults we need to band together and show the teenagers that things are not hopeless. We need to point out the positive and ask our teens to join us.

In the meantime, watch your children for signs of depression, anxiety or drug use and if you notice signs you are concerned about get your child therapy.

Dr. Michael Rubino is an expert at treating teenagers and he has been treating teens for over 18 years for more information about him and his work visit his website at http://www.rcs-ca.com

Your Divorce Doesn’t Belong at your child’s graduation

Your Divorce is not Part of Your Teen’s Graduation
With the large number of divorces, brings a lot of new situations in life especially if you have children. Hopefully, when you and your spouse divorced it was done in a civil manner and the children were not put in the middle of the divorce. This is the ideal situation, however, we do not always get the ideal situation. Very often divorces are high conflict and the two of you argue over everything and anything. Usually in these high conflict divorces, the children are put in the middle and used as weapons. The children feel they have to choose between their mother and their father. This is a very sad situation.
This conflict usually interferes with visitations and holidays. Parents argue about pick up and drop off times, how long they have the children for holidays and there is often arguments about can a child bring toys or clothes from Dad’s house to Mom’s house. In short, parents argue about everything and the children become sick and tired of the arguing.
The other factor that adds to this is grandparents saying negative things about the ex wife or ex-husband. This only increases the pressure and stress the children are dealing with after a divorce.

The final stressor is when one or both parents remarry or have a long term boyfriend or girlfriend. Then the arguments about she is not my child’s mother or he is not my child’s father and I don’t want them involved in my child’s life. Also a new girlfriend or boyfriend can cause teens to argue with their parents because they want their parents back together.

In short in a high conflict divorce, children live in a war zone. They become use to arguing about everything and often feel they must choose sides. At times some children do choose sides hoping to end the fighting or because they are so confused.
This type of divorce creates a great deal of issues for children and I cannot cover all the issues in this blog. I would need a book to cover all the issues.
Most the time, teens become sick and tired of the fighting and wish that their parents would stop fighting so they could at least not have to worry about what will cause the next argument.
Graduation is one of those issues. Parents will often start arguing about issues such as, “I paid for everything you needed for high school and now he wants to come.” Or “if your mother shows up, after everything she has done, I won’t be in the same room as her.” And of course there is always the issue of “he better not bring her to my child’s graduation.” What is a teen to do?
They have spent the last four years working very hard in high school and graduation is a day for them to celebrate their accomplishment. They also usually want the people who they love and care about to be there with them to celebrate their accomplishment. However, how does this happen when Mom and Dad and grandparents are stating their terms about how graduation will be because of the divorce.

Your teenager did not get divorced. You and your spouse divorced and even though you are no longer married, you are both still parents for your teenager and you need to act like parents. This means putting aside all your feeling and issues so your teenager can truly celebrate their day, their graduation. Most parents have told their teens to stop being selfish and to think about someone else. Well isn’t it time that you followed your own advice. Stop thinking about yourselves and your divorce and think about your teenager and how you can make your teen’s graduation a happy day for them.

What you need to do is you and your ex spouse sit down together or email each other and discuss how the two of you can put your issues on hold one day so your teen can have a happy graduation. The two of you need to talk with grandparents and other extended family and inform them what will be allowed and what will not. This doesn’t mean you have to act like best friends. You simply need to be civil. If you don’t think you can sit next to each other at the graduation, then one of you sits on the left and one sits on the right. You don’t have to have a joint party either. You can decide to have separate parties. The key is communicating with each other before the graduation and decide how you can do it civilly. This will be the best graduation present that you can give your teenager. If you can allow them to have their graduation day to celebrate their accomplishment without having to worry about what fight will there be. You are also teaching them a lesson about love, being parents and relationships.
The most important thing to do is remember this is a celebration. So let your teen celebrate and allow yourselves to celebrate with your teenager as their mother and father. Remember the divorce ended your marriage not your relationship together as parents

Will We Stop School Violence?

I t has been 17 year after Columbine and the mother of one shooter did an interview with ABC about the warning signs she missed. If it was only that easy, but it is not. A great deal was missed by many and there is plenty of blame to go around.

First in our society, there is a huge negative stigma regarding mental illness and psychotherapy. I see many teens who would benefit from psychotherapy, but the teenager resists because only “crazy” people go to therapy and they are not crazy. The parents often don’t force the teen to go to therapy because, “he is too big for me to force him to come”, or “if he is going to go I want him to want to go. I think forcing him may cause more damage.” So parents are allowing teens to make the decision about psychotherapy because people believe it is not that important unless you are crazy. If their son’s pedestrian said their son needed surgery, the parents would not allow their son to decide about having or not having surgery.

Another issue facing parents is that belief that only crazy people go to therapy. They don’t want their child or family to be seen as the “crazy one or the weird one.” In these situations, I often hear well we will think about it and try changing things at home and if we feel we really need help we will call. Typically, I receive the call when their son is in juvenile hall for a number of crimes. They are calling too late.

The other problem is the school systems. I work with parents who are reporting symptoms of depression and their son feeling overwhelmed by school or being bullied at school. They ask the school for help, but the school acts like the parents are over protective. When I become involved and let the school know the student needs help and will need an IEP (Individualized Educational Plan), the school down plays the behavior or blames the parents. They don’t want to do an IEP because it will cost the school money. I have seen schools tell parents all kind of lies to avoid giving a student an IEP and what the school is forgetting is the help the student desperately needs. Just last month a teacher was fired in San Francisco for having a violent child leave the room. The school district said she could have asked for an individual aide. However, an aide requires an IEP which the San Francisco School District never offered.

Finally, our health care system is to blame also. One Thanksgiving Day, I was paged by a parent I never met. She had been given my number by the County Hospital. She brought her son there because he was suicidal. The hospital told her they had no more beds for suicidal teens and could not help. She had my service page me begging for help. Her son definitely need to be hospitalized. There was nothing I could do on an out-patient basis. I gave her several numbers to hospitals in the areas and told her if all else fails go to an ER room because they cannot refuse to treat.

I have seen this with other teenagers that I have treated. Parents are begging and pleading for help. Their insurance company won’t pay for in-patient treatment or only pay for two weeks when it is a 60 day program. The cost for the treatment programs is often $10,000 a month. A price most families cannot afford. At times when they do receive the insurance authorization, they cannot find an in-patient program with an opening because there are not many of these programs. These parents are doing everything they should but because of society’s view point that mental illness is not real, they find it very difficult to get their children the help they need.

A good example is the shooting at UC Santa Barbara. The parents knew their son had emotional issues and had been trying to get him help. When he went to school in Santa Barbara and his mother found a file on his computer, they knew people were in danger. They called everyone they could think of but were dismissed as over reacting.

An act such as Columbine doesn’t happen because one parent ignored symptoms. An act such as that occurs because parents, friends, family, teachers, school and our mental health system missed warning signs and failed to make the teenager get help. Mental health does deal with life and death situations not just someone crying. It is as serious at what occurs any Friday night in ER rooms in hospitals all over the country.

ABC asked the mother to look at herself, I am asking you to look at yourself and our approach to mental health. Columbine happened 17 years ago and every year since we have had more school shootings and more deaths. I believe so far in 2016 we have had more deaths by school shooting in the preceding 17 years. This is a very, very sad statistic. We need to look at ourselves and ask, what are we going to do to help prevent these senseless killings, not the mother of the Columbine shooter. We as a society must change. The life you save may be your own or your own child’s life.

Dr. Michael Rubino specializes in treating high risk teenagers and their families. For more information on his work or private practice visit his website at http://www.rcs-ca.com or on Twitter @RubinoTherapy.

When Will We Address School Violence?

I t has been 17 year after Columbine and the mother of one shooter did an interview with ABC about the warning signs she missed. If it was only that easy, but it is not. A great deal was missed by many and there is plenty of blame to go around.
First in our society, there is a huge negative stigma regarding mental illness and psychotherapy. I see many teens who would benefit from psychotherapy, but the teenager resists because only “crazy” people go to therapy and they are not crazy. The parents often don’t force the teen to go to therapy because, “he is too big for me to force him to come”, or “if he is going to go I want him to want to go. I think forcing him may cause more damage.” So parents are allowing teens to make the decision about psychotherapy because people believe it is not that important unless you are crazy. If their son’s pedestrian said their son needed surgery, the parents would not allow their son to decide about having or not having surgery.
Another issue facing parents is that belief that only crazy people go to therapy. They don’t want their child or family to be seen as the “crazy one or the weird one.” In these situations, I often hear well we will think about it and try changing things at home and if we feel we really need help we will call. Typically, I receive the call when their son is in juvenile hall for a number of crimes. They are calling too late.
The other problem is the school systems. I work with parents who are reporting symptoms of depression and their son feeling overwhelmed by school or being bullied at school. They ask the school for help, but the school acts like the parents are over protective. When I become involved and let the school know the student needs help and will need an IEP (Individualized Educational Plan), the school down plays the behavior or blames the parents. They don’t want to do an IEP because it will cost the school money. I have seen schools tell parents all kind of lies to avoid giving a student an IEP and what the school is forgetting is the help the student desperately needs. Just last month a teacher was fired in San Francisco for having a violent child leave the room. The school district said she could have asked for an individual aide. However, an aide requires an IEP which the San Francisco School District never offered.
Finally, our health care system is to blame also. One Thanksgiving Day, I was paged by a parent I never met. She had been given my number by the County Hospital. She brought her son there because he was suicidal. The hospital told her they had no more beds for suicidal teens and could not help. She had my service page me begging for help. Her son definitely need to be hospitalized. There was nothing I could do on an out-patient basis. I gave her several numbers to hospitals in the areas and told her if all else fails go to an ER room because they cannot refuse to treat.
I have seen this with other teenagers that I have treated. Parents are begging and pleading for help. Their insurance company won’t pay for in-patient treatment or only pay for two weeks when it is a 60 day program. The cost for the treatment programs is often $10,000 a month. A price most families cannot afford. At times when they do receive the insurance authorization, they cannot find an in-patient program with an opening because there are not many of these programs. These parents are doing everything they should but because of society’s view point that mental illness is not real, they find it very difficult to get their children the help they need.
A good example is the shooting at UC Santa Barbara. The parents knew their son had emotional issues and had been trying to get him help. When he went to school in Santa Barbara and his mother found a file on his computer, they knew people were in danger. They called everyone they could think of but were dismissed as over reacting.
An act such as Columbine doesn’t happen because one parent ignored symptoms. An act such as that occurs because parents, friends, family, teachers, school and our mental health system missed warning signs and failed to make the teenager get help. Mental health does deal with life and death situations not just someone crying. It is as serious at what occurs any Friday night in ER rooms in hospitals all over the country.
ABC asked the mother to look at herself, I am asking you to look at yourself and our approach to mental health. Columbine happened 17 years ago and every year since we have had more school shootings and more deaths. I believe so far in 2016 we have had more deaths by school shooting in the preceding 17 years. This is a very, very sad statistic. We need to look at ourselves and ask, what are we going to do to help prevent these senseless killings, not the mother of the Columbine shooter. We as a society must change. The life you save may be your own or your own child’s life.

Dr. Michael Rubino specializes in treating high risk teenagers and their families. For more information on his work or private practice visit his website at http://www.rcs-ca.com or on Twitter @RubinoTherapy.

Helping Teenagers with Grief

Most people assume the teen years are difficult but also overall they are fun. When people think about teens they think about hanging out with friends, parties and really no responsibilities.

Parents often tell teenagers that high school will be the best time of their lives. We seem to assume that teenagers never have to deal with tragedy. However, this is not true.

Teenagers get hurt and die everyday. The die from disease, accidents, suicide and drug overdosages. When this occurs no one knows how to act because it violates our ideas about the teenage years.

Teenagers have a very difficult time when a friend dies. Again it violates their idea that they are immortal and they are faced with confronting feelings they have no idea how to cope with.

Unfortunately we have experienced this tragedy again in our community. Two teenagers in Pittsburg passed away. Their friends and school are now faced with trying to make sense of this tragedy and deal with their feelings.

In light of the recent deaths of 2 teens in Pittsburg here is an article about teens & grief http://www.dougy.org/grief-resources/how-to-help-a-grieving-teen/. Hopefully this might provide some suggestions that can help the families, friends, teachers and school of these two teenagers.

Dr. Michael Rubino has over 18 years experience working with teenagers. For more information about his work or private practice visit his website at http://www.rcs-ca.com

Teens Need to Feel Loved

It seems that many adults do not really understand what children want from adults. It also seems from what I have seen and heard that many adults do not understand that children are not bad. Children are not born bad, we make them bad by how we treat them. Yes you do have children with loving parents and families who make very poor choices in their lives. As a result, they end up in jail or hurting people. However, these are the rare cases.

The most important relationships in a child’s life is his/her relationship with his/her parents. A child wants love and to feel wanted by their parents. Parents are a child’s safety net. As long as Mom and Dad are okay then they are okay. If their parents are not okay, then a child’s safety and life is in danger. Children cannot tolerate this fear. Therefore, if their parents have a problem instead of seeing their parents with problems a child changes the situation so their parents are great and the child is bad.

I have seen this many times with foster children. Their parents are usually great people and Social Services are being mean to their parents. They can be living is the best foster home in the world and if you ask them if they want to return to their natural parents, they say yes. They are desperate for that validation from their parents.

The problem is many parents do not know how to express love to their children because they never experienced it themselves as children. Therefore, they do the best they can do and feel they are good parents because they are better than their parents. However, when they hear their children asking for more they get mad at their children. They want their children to validate them for being good parents. They do not understand that a child doesn’t have the cognitive abilities to do so.

Therefore, a child tends to feel unloved, unwanted and form a belief they are useless. They tend to hang around people who reinforce this belief. They are afraid of people who might love them. They are afraid these people will discover the truth about them and leave them. They feel safer with the people who tell them they are worthless.

Walking around with this feeling can hurt a great deal. As a result, kids start to do drugs, alcohol and hang out with gangs. The drugs and alcohol help to numb out the pain of feeling worthless while at the same time it reinforces the belief that they are worthless.

Most often these kids act out at school and tend to get arrested for stealing or drugs. Some people try to help but the child pushes people away. It is better to leave someone than to be left. Most people get tired and say there is nothing else they can go and give up. Once again, reinforcing the child’s belief.

These are the children and teenagers who really need our help. The harder they push us away, the harder we have to say we won’t go. There have been many times that I have hint to Juvenile Hall to do sessions. The teen is shocked! I tell them that I told them they can push as hard as they want, but I won’t believe they are bad or walk out. At times this is difficult because they often test me over and over to see if I am for real. If they see I am for real, I am only one person they need other people to stay.

What I have seen in working with teens who act out for over 18 years, is they are looking for someone to say I care and you are important. They prefer that it comes from their biological parents, but once they accept their biological parents cannot provide this, they look to other adults.

Those of us who work with acting out teenagers as therapists, teachers or foster parents need to understand how severely these children have been hurt by their biological parents and the hard work it takes helping them over come that wound.

Extended family such as aunts and uncles, you too need to understand how deep the wound is for these kids. If you are not dealing with your own wounds, they need you to be in it for the long run.

This may seem like I am asking for a great deal, but look at how many teens are dying from suicide, drug overdose, shootings etc. When you see the number of young lives being lost you can see that it is worth the effort.

Yes it takes a great deal of effort but when you communicate to a teen that yes you are worth something, you are love able and I care about you. Watch how they go out into the world and help others and share love with others. So the price is worth seeing a teen full of life and going out and sharing it with the world. Watch some of Challenge Day’s videos on YouTube to see the love teens can spread if we give them love.

Dr. Michael Rubino has over 18 years experience working with high risk teenagers & foster children and is an expert in this area. For more information on Dr Rubino visit his website at http://www.rcs-ca.com or follow him on Twitter @RubinoTherapy.