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The Universal Education Foundation is and has been dedicated to serving youth and families in an inclusive atmosphere for over 33 years. As we move forward, we are expanding our programs and our outreach to families in need. One way is to offer support groups. We are currently offering single parents and parents of teens groups. Through awareness and research, we felt these groups can provide a service to the community.
As of 2016, 23% of the United States children live with only their mother while 4% live with only their father. This translates to many single parents who, often times, need a level of emotional and friendly support.
Before we began our single parent support group, I searched online for any local groups that might be available for them already. There were not any that I could see, aside from churches (potentially).
Many churches offer some support to their single parents, but outside of a religious community, one might find little resources for emotional support. Even for those who participate in church activities, they may not want to share with other members of their congregation (especially if their ex-partner is in the same church). That may lead them and others to our support group.
Our current parent support group is offered one-two times per month in the evening at a local coffee shop. It is a space where parents can share their frustrations, fears, anxieties and triumphs. We currently have 73 local parents in our group, though only a handful attend regular meetings thus far. Our desire is to continue offering support and encouragement to those who are seeking it.
In some families, the difficulty is not in being a single parent, but in raising a teenager. This led to the creation of a support group for parents of teens (Helping Our Teens Navigate Adolescence).
Many of us can look back at our own youth and remember the challenges of our teen years. We have grown up and, many of us, are raising or have raised our own teens.
In our current society and technological advances, raising teens has not become easier. In fact, in many regards, it’s more difficult. Not only do many parents need to question their kids’ friends, but they’re also often times trying to limit their kids’ use of technology and video games and exposure to drugs, gangs, bullying and cyberbullying. Add that to an environment (food, pollution, medications, etc.) that is more toxic than it has been in the past.
Also, many more children are diagnosed with a mental or emotional difficulty than in the past. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), in 2016, 9.4% (6.1 million) of children ages 2-17 have been diagnosed as having ADHD. Of that 9.4%, 2 out of 3 were also diagnosed with a mental, emotional and/or behavioral difficulty. Many children are prescribed medications with unknown (to them) consequences. Our population is growing, while its wisdom is not.
According to “the American Association of Suicidology (AAS), 4,822 youths, ages 15-24, died of suicide in 2011 in the United States” (HealthPlace.com). According to CDC, teen suicide rates continue to be on the rise.
It's becoming more common to read in the news of a teenager or pre-teen dying by suicide after having been bullied.
In addition to the risk of suicide, many youths are exposed to drugs, alcohol and gangs. Then there are many youths who do not engage in those behaviors but do carry much anger and/or anxiety.
The purpose, for the parents of teens group, is to reach out to parents/grandparents/caregivers who are raising teenagers and who are seeking support. At our most recent meeting, one mother discussed how her daughter had been extremely suicidal after having witnessed friends die by suicide. The mother commented that while there are resources for the youth, there are not many for the parents who are also struggling with anxiety and confusion.
At our first meeting (so far), each parent brought their own story of frustration and fear. One of the participants was a grandmother and she shared her fears surrounding her three teenage grandchildren.
At the end of our discussion, I left them with this statement: “Adolescence is temporary, guaranteed. What is not guaranteed is our relationship with our kids after they grow into their adult years. Our relationship with them is never guaranteed and needs to be nurtured. Offer consequences, yes. Have boundaries/guidelines in place, yes. Be strong and know when to say no. But do so with love.”
We look forward to growing our groups.
We also are offering a workshop for young adults: Establishing a Positive Support System. This workshop will be offered at various locations.
We still offer our Bullying Recovery workshop as needed.
The UEF is excited to expand its services to support youth and families in gaining optimal mental and emotional health in a time when dis-ease and pain are seen as normal.
All support groups and workshops are offered free to the public and no facilitators receive monetary compensation.
We thank everyone for their continued support whether it is through words of encouragement, sharing/liking our social media posts and/or through tax-deductible donations.
Our next newsletter, in June, will contain an article by one of our board members. Each quarter, we will send out a newsletter with an article written by a different person. We also hope to have our YouTube channel more active with videos by June as well. At that time, we'll be sharing our channel.
Tami Urbanek-president-workshop developer
Getting Rid of Rotten Fruit
The Tao of Rotten Fruit
When you take a piece of rotten fruit and place it beside perfectly good fruit, what happens? The mold from the rotten fruit spreads over the good fruit and both end up in green, fuzzy, icky mold on them. So, what happens when you surround yourself with toxic individuals? You become just like them.
Do you have a person in your life, where every time you encounter or hang out with them, you feel exhausted, emotionally drained negative? How do you identify toxic people?
Toxic People and Toxic Relationships
What are some characteristics of toxic people? Psychology Today identifies toxic individuals as:
1. Manipulative. These individuals use manipulation to get others to do what they want to do.
2. Judgmental. Their love, their friendship, their relationship with you is conditional. They use criticism to break you down and doubt yourself. Nothing is ever good enough, nothing is ever right.
3. They do not take responsibility for their own feelings or actions. These individuals tend to blame others for their mistakes, misfortunes, or even opinions.
4. They don’t apologize. Everything bad in their lives is someone else’s fault, therefore they don’t feel the need to apologize or own their behaviors. Instead, they blame the world or those around them for any wrongdoing.
5. They are inconsistent. They may change their perspective, attitude, and behavior depending on what they want to accomplish.
6. They make you prove yourself to them. These individuals make you prove your love, friendship and/or commitment to them. Often, they will create a situation forcing you to chose them over someone or something else, even to the point of requiring you to cut off other meaningful relationships to satisfy them.
7. They are not caring, supportive, or interested in what’s important to you. They are not interested in the good things that happen to you or what you think is important. Instead they may be jealous and belittle your achievements or shift the focus on them and their issues and problems.
How to Shift the Pattern of Attracting Toxic People
The first step to getting rid of toxic people is first identifying a person or relationship as toxic. The second step is identifying how or why these individuals are in your life. There are no victims. If you have toxic people in your life that is because you have put them there. On the flipside, if you put them there, you can take them out or at the very least you can control how they impact you and your life.
Why do you have toxic individuals in your life?
Could this be because you are toxic? Do you identify with any of the characteristics above? Do you manipulate? Judge? Blame? Try to prove? Like energy attracts like energy. Even if you don’t engage in
these behaviors with others, do you do engage in these behaviors with yourself? Are you toxic to yourself? How you treat yourself is also how you let others treat you.
Identifying Patterns and Countering Beliefs
You can make a choice to remove a toxic person from your life, but that might not be feasible depending on who the person is, for example a family member, boss, or even your own child. Also, unless you change the patterns that are attracting toxic individuals, you can remove one toxic relationship only for it to be replaced with another toxic relationship. Identify which behaviors and thoughts that you engage in that are attracting negative people and relationships into your life. Once you identify the core behaviors and thoughts, then create counters for each one.
What is countering and how to do it?
The definition of counter is to “speak or act in opposition to”. For example, if a toxic individual wants to blame you for their bad mood or a mistake they made and you recognized that in the past you accepted their blame, then make a different choice. Refuse to engage in the negativity. The same can be said if you are the toxic person being toxic to yourself. If you find that you are judging yourself, then counter that behavior! Make a different choice that does not involve engaging in the painful behaviors.
We can’t change other people. We can’t make someone who is toxic, not toxic. We have no control over others or their behaviors or even how they may choose to treat us, but we do have control over the choices we make and the people we chose to be with. We do have control over how we treat ourselves and how we chose to live our lives. We all have the power to live a life of joy!
Tina Herring, board member-secretary-workshop developer