Take one step at a time and stay positive

I lost my job recently as a security supervisor due to an incident at the company. Due to financial problems, my wife and children had to move in with my in-laws and I am staying with my family. In both situations there are drug houses and gangs all around. It’s really difficult for me as I am worried about the safety of my teenage daughter and my five-year-old son. My wife is also eight months pregnant. I am really concerned about them and feel depressed about my situation.

I am so sorry you lost your job and find yourself in this very difficult situation. I completely understand that you feel afraid for the safety of your children and wife, especially with her being pregnant.

Being the main provider for your family and now having lost your job as well as the cohesion of your family will understandably bring up anxiety and concern about them and how you can be there for, and protect, them.

It also seems that you are a very concerned and committed father, husband and individual.

More than likely you were/are as committed to your work.

Although it may seem that things are totally out of control and that you have lost your grounding and roots, I believe that this is only temporary and that with your attitude of sincerity and commitment, you will be able to find a job in the near future.

Although, at the moment, it seems there is no light at the end of the tunnel, know that this too shall pass.

This is only an “in the meantime” situation and not permanent.

In terms of the safety of your children, instilling them with streetwise skills would be a protective measure.

Warn them of potential harmful situations and how they can remain safe as well as speak to your wife and in-laws about safety issues regarding your children.

It might be reassuring for you to hear from them that they have certain safety measures in place to protect the children in the house and in the area.

Visiting them regularly will also help you all to stay and feel connected and supported.

In terms of your job situation, doing regular job searches and sending your CV out to potential employers as well as a good measure of faith, will help you feel more in control of your life and more than likely you will attract potential work with a more positive approach.

However, to take one day at a time, one step at a time and not losing hope will count in your favour both mentally and otherwise.

I sometimes feel that things are getting so crazy in the world and that nothing is going right anymore. I feel helpless about the way life is becoming.

I hope it helps you to know that many people are feeling this way at the moment and often it is as a result of the current socio-political climate both locally and globally.

Not being able to change the outcome of negative and ongoing external events often makes people feel frightened, overwhelmed and helpless. Keeping up to date with the daily news is also not helpful.

Unfortunately, we are bombarded with regular updates of all kinds of negative occurrences in our communities and across the world.

It is advisable to not listen to news before you go to bed at night as this is not conducive to a good night’s rest.

Many news agencies make their living on delivering the hottest and most sensational story of the day and usually this is about some traumatic event or unethical or corrupt behaviour of certain leaders. Although this is unfortunately “part of life”, you do not have to be tuned into it all the time.

Decide how much news you want to expose yourself to and turn the radio or TV off or switch onto a music station or some similar light entertainment. Also, if you are a sensitive person you may be more deeply affected by bad or negative images and stories and this is even more reason to give as little attention as possible to daily negative news.

Decide what things you will expose yourself to as well as choose to engage more with situations that you do have control over and which are within your reach, such as joining an activist group or volunteering at a local children’s home or NGO.

You can decide how much of your time and energy you are able to offer. This will help you feel that you are participating with others as a community of concerned citizens and that you are contributing towards helping to engender more positive outcomes in the world.

No matter how seemingly small the deed, each kind and generous act helps to make a positive difference to both the giver and receiver.

My children are totally out of control. I don’t know how to handle them anymore. How does a parent get control over their children?

I am left wondering about the ages of your children.

If they are very young, it may be that you need to adjust to them and accept that young children are curious and busy discovering the world around them and that it is vital that the parent enjoys this curiosity and explorative nature as well as sets age-appropriate limits where necessary. This often needs to be said and reaffirmed over and over until they internalise these and are able to manage their own behaviour.

Understandably this can be very exhausting for the parent but this is an essential, though demanding, aspect of being a parent.

Children need love, affection and attention but they also need clear and unambiguous guidelines.

If they are older, setting limits become more challenging and usually it would be preferable when clear and loving parental limits had been established at an earlier age. However, it’s never too late.

If a parent is able to sit down and speak to their child, communicating both understanding of their developmental needs (for example, teenagers needing to spend more time with their peers than with their family) but also clarifying “house rules”, it can make a significant difference in terms of the behaviour of a child.

All children need clear and loving guidance and this is best achieved within the context of a loving, caring and reliable parental relationship.

For more help and support, contact The Parent Centre on 021-762 0116.

Carin-Lee Masters is a clinical psychologist. She will try to answer as many queries as possible through this column or refer you to organisations that can assist.

You can write to her at helpmecarin@inl.co.za Send a WhatsApp message or SMS to 082 264 7774.