Childhood Temper Dysregulation

Within the past several years, I have noticed more young children, adolescents, and teenagers with difficulty managing their emotions.  This behavior quite often takes place when they are tired, stressed out, overwhelmed, frustrated, or told to do something they don’t want to do.  Somewhat like the “perfect storm,” when all this comes together at once, the child will rapidly go into a rage, or have an emotional breakdown.  I’ve seen and heard about rages that can become quite hostile and violent.  For the few minutes of its duration, the child will often “black out” and not recall what they said or did.  This can be an especially crucial time for the child and those around him or her.

These violent outbursts aren’t necessarily the actions of a “spoiled kid.”  These behaviors may be indications of what are termed “temper dysregulation” or “mood dysregulation.”  Without proper professional diagnosis and treatment, these rapid mood swings won’t just go away on their own. If there is a history of a mood disorder on the mother’s or father’s side of the family, then there becomes a strong possibility that the children may inherit these tendencies.  Not too far in the past, we could only diagnose these kids with early onset bipolar disorder.  Now the diagnosis is much more specific and treatable using the term “mood dysregulation.”  When absolutely necessary, psychotherapy and medication management has significantly improved these kids’s ability to manage their emotions.

Drinking From My Saucer: Author Unknown

I’ve never made a fortune, and it’s probably too late now.

But I don’t worry about that much, I’m happy anyhow

And as I go along life’s way,

I’m reaping better than I sowed.

I’m drinking from my saucer,

‘Cause my cup has overflowed.


Haven’t got a lot of riches,

And sometimes the going’s tough

But I’ve got loving ones all around me,

And that makes me rich enough.

I thank God for His blessings,

And the mercies He’s bestowed.

I’m drinking from my saucer,

‘Cause my cup has overflowed.


I remember times when things went wrong,

My faith wore somewhat thin.

But all at once the dark clouds broke,

And the sun peeped through again.


So Lord, help me not to gripe,

About the tough rows I have hoed.

I’m drinking from my saucer,

‘Cause my cup has overflowed.


If God gives me strength and courage,

When the way grows steep and rough.

I’ll not ask for other blessings,

I’m already blessed enough.


And may I never be too busy,

To help others bear their loads.

Then I’ll keep drinking from my saucer,

‘Cause my cup has overflowed.

Author Unknown

Tribute to Grandparents

Recently I am seeing more and more grandchildren being raised by their grandparents.  For the vast majority of these grandparents, I am very impressed by their commitment and love toward their grandchild, or grandchildren.  It certainly raises new issues which weren’t quite so obvious just  10 years ago.  The grandparents do their best, but the generation gap can lead to personality conflicts between them and the child if not properly addressed.  Furthermore, many of these kids came from unhealthy homes and have their own emotional difficulties.

The reasons for grandkids  to live with grandparents are numerous.  But the top issues I see are: the biological parent(s) are using drugs (Meth); are emotionally unstable; or financially unable to raise their own children.  I commend these loving and dedicated grandparents who are making the ultimate sacrifice of love for kids who are desperate to be loved and sheltered.

Clergy Burnout and Depression: Who should I tell?

Who should I tell?

When you are a pastor with depression this can be a serious question.  This often becomes a difficult trap. Let me set it up for you.

If I tell my congregation it shows weakness and the gossips will ruin me. It is not the right example. It would be like a doctor going to his/her patient for counsel. If I trust another pastor how far can I really trust him/her?  He/she may feel an obligation to tell another pastor higher up on the chain and then it may get out and ruin me. Another problem in telling a colleague is that most of them are married and spouses often tell things they shouldn’t. I could tell my wife but I have come to realize that a spouse should not carry all of my worries along with her own. She is not built for it and I need to be careful what role I use her in.  My wife knew I was struggling but she could not be my counselor. I have also had experience with boards and they often just don’t get it. One of my boards thought I was being lazy when I was facing radiation treatments for cancer because I was staying home more (they knew about the treatments). It just never entered their mind that I might be depressed too! I actually had to bring a note from my doctor declaring that I had cancer and depression and needed to be excused from work for a period of time. It was a humiliating experience that left me no privacy.

Then I had to contemplate the big decision. What if I tell my district and ask for help. My district had a counseling hotline and people in place to help. However, previous experience with church officials had left me wary. Could I trust anyone? I doubted it and for a long time this is what kept me from getting help. I figured if I told the district I had depression they would have to do an investigation and would want all the details.  I decided in my mind that this could ruin my career. If I was right then how would I support my family in the future? What further embarrassment and humiliation would I have to go through as well? Have you noticed how many times I have used the word ruin? This is the ploy of the enemy as well as our own self deception that keeps us from getting help.

Anyone who is a pastor would understand the last paragraph and could probably add some other features to this trap in one’s mind. I was there but am I ever glad I didn’t stay in the trap. I finally called the hotline (Most church districts have one). They gave me a phone counselor and helped me find a local one as well. The phone counselor asked me if he could tell my district just enough to get more help. This is where my fear rose up but I was in such distress I finally agreed to let him tell my district. That was pretty scary! Now listen to what happened.

The district never pried into my affairs but they did pray for me. The counselor was able to keep confidentiality and the district paid for most of the bill! I know not all districts are set up to do this but mine was! I was floored!  None of the scare scenarios in my mind had come to pass. I was still free to pastor in my church and allowed to candidate at any church with an opening. I would not have believed it was possible. Yet the most important fact was I finally got professional help for my depression.

Even if everything had not gone as smooth as it had I was still in need of help. That’s the most important point in this blog. When you are depressed for a long season you need professional help! No excuses! I have come to the understanding that all those scenarios were false and amounted to little more than excuses for not getting help. Yes, I am admitting that pastors, like all people, have many defense mechanisms in place. These must be broken down. I am not going to fool you, it takes some true humility and a swallowing of one’s pride but it is worth it. It is also biblical.Pride brings a person low, but the lowly in spirit gain honor” (Proverbs 29:2 NIV).

Interestingly, I now have changed careers (to counseling) so this experience all became a springboard for finding my passion in work. If I had not trusted someone I don’t think it would have happened. I shudder to think of what my inaction might have led me to. Pastor,  if this sounds like anything you are going through then send me a note on this blog. Let’s get you some help!

Office Closed Wed. Feb. 2, 2011

Our office will continue to be closed tomorrow (Feb. 2, 2011) due to the weather conditions. We will contine to check the answering machine if you need to call and cancel an upcoming appointment. Please stay warm and safe.

Office Closed Feb 1st!!

Our office will be close Feb. 1, 2011 due to weather. We will be checking the answering machine and making decisions about tomorrows appointments later today. Everyone please be safe!!

How to Identify Depression in Pastors

It can be tough for pastors to recognize their own burnout and depression. Often the symptoms go unnoticed or ignored.  After all, a pastor with depression is not in keeping with the degree of spirituality that is expected of him or her. If a pastor has enough faith, depression should not even enter into the picture. Yet, as of 2005 it has been reported that 9.5 percent of Americans deal with depression in one form or another (as cited in NIMH, 2007). That’s over 20 million people, and some of those people are pastors and their family members.

I was one of those statistics. Read More…

My Spouse is a Stranger: Adjusting to the Empty Nest

By Debbie L. Cherry, Ph.D.
Author of Child-proofing Your Marriage

Jan sipped her coffee as she looked across the breakfast table at her husband. John was reading the newspaper like he’d done every morning for the past 28 years…nothing different…and yet Jan felt like everything was different. So many things had changed.

Their youngest child had left for college last fall, and she still hadn’t seemed to be able to fill that hole that he left in her heart as he waved good-bye. She remembered when the children were young and she and John would dream about what life would be like when it was just the two of them again. But none of those dreams seemed to be coming true. As a matter of fact Jan wasn’t even sure if John wanted to do any of those things with her anymore. They hardly ever talked and they seemed to spend as little time together as possible. Jan couldn’t help but feel like she was married to a stranger.

Jan is not alone in her thoughts. It seems that more and more couples are beginning to realize how far they have grown apart through the years. And unfortunately this seems to be resulting in some sad statistics that indicate that divorce rates are on the rise for couples who have been married thirty or more years.1 Read More…

Submission: Insights from a Strong-Willed Wife

Debbie L. Cherry, Ph.D
Author, The Strong-Willed Wife
“My husband is just not the leader type. It takes him forever to make a decision. If he won’t lead then I guess I have to.”
“I know my husband can lead because he’s great at it at work. But at home he just lets me do it all.”
“I wouldn’t mind letting my husband lead our family…as long as he does it the way I would.”
Have you ever found yourself making comments like those? If so, it’s very likely that you are a strong-willed wife. There are some amazingly wonderful things about being blessed with a strong-willed personality. And as long as those traits are controlled by the Holy Spirit we strong-willed wives can bring changes to the world around us and do amazing things for the kingdom of heaven. But those same traits can cause some serious difficulties as we are trying to have a marriage that follows God’s ordained authority structure in our marriages. As strong-willed women, we struggle to let go of control and really allow our husbands to take their God given role in our homes. But it is something that we really have to learn to do if we want a marriage that God continues to bless. Read More…

Marriage Under Pressure

Two weeks ago, Tom was laid off. He and his wife, Renee, trust that God is in control and has another job for him. So why do they keep snapping at each other?
John and Mary lost their four-month-old girl to SIDS. They are extremely sad, but instead of crying together, they fight constantly. Worse yet, when they’re not fighting, they avoid each other.
Cherie and Brad have always kept a tight handle on their budget just to pay their bills. But as the prices for gas and food have skyrocketed, they can’t keep up. They feel helpless and have found themselves taking it out on each other.
Regardless of the type of crisis that might be affecting your marriage, you can be assured that it will be accompanied by stress. And as the physical, emotional and financial strain increases, so does the likelihood of conflicts between you and your spouse.
Here are five things you can do to protect your marriage and resolve the inevitable conflicts that come during a crisis: Read More…

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