Elizabeth Hicks

Elizabeth Hicks

elizabethhicks

Elizabeth works for Relate Lincolnshire as a Clinical Supervisor, Couple &
Family Counsellor, Psychosexual Therapist & Sex Addiction Specialist. She
has been trained by the Relate Institute, Institute of Family Therapy and Association for the Treatment of Sex Addiction & Compulsivity. She is a member of the professional bodies of COSRT, BACP & ATSAC. She has worked with a wide variety of clients and has a wealth of experience.


It would be easy nowadays to think that our teenagers know far more about relationships and sex than we did at their age and that we don’t need to add our ‘penny’s worth’ into the mix. However, whilst our teenagers are living in a highly sexualised era, how can we be sure of the quality of information they are receiving?

As young people’s ideas about sex are getting more and more shaped by media, celebrities, social media, internet porn and chat sites, how do they determine what is factual, myth or untruth?

Our young people form important early messages about sex and relationships both through the way we talk to them about it and through how we role model our own relationships.

Teenage friendships and relationships can be intense and volatile and can impact your teenager’s day to day life. We often see the result of this, but are not always privy to what is going on for them as peers become very important for support at this age.

It may be helpful to discuss with them about respect within a relationship and what a ‘healthy’ or ‘unhealthy’ relationship might look like — value and respect their opinions and thoughts whilst having your own view point too. The way relationships are formed and maintained and the ‘norms’ around this are constantly changing both for young people and adults.

Internet porn may inform your teenager’s views about sex. Porn can be unrealistic due to editing, but also places expectations on the viewer as to what may be ‘normal’. It can distort people’s views on what intimacy is and how it is achieved.

Masturbation is a normal part of adolescence, but for some the use of internet porn and increasingly excessive masturbation may become an issue. The internet can encourage the viewer to access more extreme porn over time, which they may not be emotionally prepared for.

It is good to talk to them about the dangers of becoming desensitized or putting themselves at risk. Young people can use excessive masturbation as a means to ‘self soothe’ or relieve boredom. Encourage them to play sport or explore other ways in which they can learn to calm themselves and aid relaxation.

With the use of social media young people can connect instantly and wherever they are to others. The danger of this is that their own personal space can be invaded and responses can be instant without allowing time to calm down or think through. Other people can then also join in and negative situations can arise quickly.

Remind your teen that a good rule of thumb is to not say anything by text or social media that they wouldn’t say to that person face to face and to encourage them to step back and explore different points of view. Discuss with them the impact of negative comments on others; cyber bullying can have a profound impact.

Also look out for your teenager becoming increasingly withdrawn, irritable or secretive and be mindful of what may be going on for them in their cyber world. People also tend to see internet space as ‘not real’ so can take more risks. Remind them that once a message or photograph is on the internet, it can never be fully retrieved and is in the public domain. Think about putting in place rules about having some time, especially late at night with limited or no access to their phone or computer to allow them some space to unwind and relax.

Be interested in them and their friends and use conversations to build up their self esteem and confidence whilst role modelling how to deal with conflict and dilemmas in a constructive way.

Being a parent of a teenager can sometimes be challenging; you are encouraging them to develop their own identity but within boundaries and them testing this out is all part of the process. Arguing is a way of them developing their own opinions and sense of self and they test this out in the family home and within friendships.

If you find it difficult to talk to your teenager or would like some further information or advice around sex or relationships for either yourself or your teenager, two informative sites available online are here and here.

Elizabeth works for Relate Lincolnshire as a Clinical Supervisor, Couple & Family Counsellor, Psychosexual Therapist & Sex Addiction Specialist. She has been trained by the Relate Institute, Institute of Family Therapy and Association for the Treatment of Sex Addiction & Compulsivity. She is a member of the professional bodies of COSRT, BACP & ATSAC. She has worked with a wide variety of clients and has a wealth of experience.

Having a baby is both exhausting and life-changing, so understandably sex can often be relegated to the bottom of the list.

Pregnancy can be accompanied by a sense of wellbeing and a higher than normal sexual libido. However, for lots of women it can be a roller coaster throughout the nine months with sickness, tiredness, aches and pains and feeling less than blooming, all of which can lower her libido.

Partners can vary in their responses, and may find the mum-to-be incredibly sexy and want to be totally involved in the pregnancy. Others may struggle to connect with the pregnancy and have fears about not wanting to hurt the baby or may just feel overwhelmed by the changes occurring. All responses are equally valid and open communication around this is helpful in order to encourage understanding and avoid feelings of rejection.

For some, the pregnancy could also have included procedures such as the use of fertility drugs or IVF, which can be stressful. Sex may have become functional rather than intimate, which can have an impact on the way you experience it.

If your baby’s birth went as you hoped it would, it can help you to feel empowered by the experience of your body taking its own path. Unfortunately, sometimes giving birth can be unpredictable and traumatic; it is a time when women can feel at their most vulnerable and out of control. This can take a while for both partners to come to terms with afterwards and can impact on their sex life subsequently. Counselling or psychosexual therapy can help to overcome these issues and reintroduce intimacy into the relationship.

It is good to be mindful of the physical changes that can occur for the new mum. Pelvic floor exercises are very useful to aid recovery, and it can take a while to recover from any tearing or an episiotomy. As her partner, be aware that she may be fearful about possible soreness or pain, so it is helpful to be patient and sensitive towards her. Wait until she feels ready to make love again and use extra lubrication, taking a very slow and gentle approach. Women can feel differently about their body and it may take them some time to adjust to this, it is good to be sensitive to this and offer her reassurance.

Sex can change from something that was fun to something that lands at the bottom of a long list of things to do for others. If this is the case, re-find sex as something for you. Just like having a bath, a glass of wine or massage, may be a space to unwind to relax, making love also can be too. It’s a chance to reconnect with your partner, relax and unwind through touch and enjoy pleasure – for you.

An orgasm can top up your ‘feel good’ chemicals in your body; boost your immune system; and help your muscles in your body to de-stress. This can all be even better if your partner can take some time to show you how important you are by perhaps organising a babysitter; cooking you a meal; running you a bath; taking the baby for a while; or just taking some time to hear about how your day has been.

The year after baby has arrived is a huge period of change. Nothing can fully prepare you for the intenseness and responsibility of becoming new parents. It can be a life affirming transition but at the same time take you to the depths of exhaustion, lack of sleep and varying mood swings. Be patient, as the transition from being a couple to a family takes some negotiating in order for everyone to find their place within it.

Elizabeth works for Relate Lincolnshire as a Clinical Supervisor, Couple & Family Counsellor, Psychosexual Therapist & Sex Addiction Specialist. She has been trained by the Relate Institute, Institute of Family Therapy and Association for the Treatment of Sex Addiction & Compulsivity. She is a member of the professional bodies of COSRT, BACP & ATSAC. She has worked with a wide variety of clients and has a wealth of experience.

Separation is not an easy time for anybody, but is especially difficult when children are involved. Although you or your partner may have called time on your relationship, you are still potentially going to have to keep on communicating and negotiating around parenting issues, child care agreements and appear socially together for future family events such as christenings, graduations and weddings. Research shows that separating well means better outcomes for all of the family.

It can be a turbulent time for all involved in the aftermath of a separation. Feelings are raw, and you or your partner may struggle to contain this emotionally and with your behaviour whilst you both are coming to terms with the loss of your relationship and navigate around the practical issues.

Although it can be impossible to always avoid arguing in front of your child, try to move on from stuck conversations about previous issues and focus your discussions on practical and parenting issues. If you do have conflict in front of your child, try to reach a compromise point so your child can see you are working towards a more positive place.

Leave “the grown-up stuff” to the grown-ups and allow your child to be a child, rather than a replacement partner, mediator or best friend. Work together towards reaching a place where you can put your own feelings aside for the good of your child, especially around contact issues. Try to be positive about the other parent when talking to your child and give your child reassurance that although the family is no longer together, your child is still very loved by both parents.

If at all possible, try to negotiate on the main aspects of parenting so that your child does not play one parent off against the other. However, part of the change may be in supporting your child through the process of experiencing differences between each parent’s home and two sets of rules and boundaries. If you are struggling to communicate with your ex partner about this on your own, consider asking a neutral third person to help facilitate these conversations or consider mediation.

Be aware that children quickly learn to say what they think a parent wants to hear to avoid hurting their feelings, so try not to use your child as a go between. Your child will also be coming to terms with change, loss and a mixture of feelings. They may show sadness, confusion and anger towards either parent as they start to try and make sense of it. Each child may react differently, within a different time scale and use different coping strategies. If family life leading up to separation has been particularly acrimonious, your child may appear more settled now than before, as continuous conflict or a negative atmosphere can be exhausting and detrimental for all involved.

Consider whether counselling would be useful to either yourself or your child as support through this process. Separation counselling can be useful in helping couples to seek closure on their relationship and working towards healthy communication as parents.

Remember not to forget the importance of grandparents and other family members in regards to keeping in contact and in giving your child a sense of belonging and family.

Sometimes a break up can get very messy – there may be power imbalances, a history of domestic abuse, or safety concerns for either of the parents or the child. In these cases it may be useful to gain support through local services and support groups in order to manage the break up, parental visits and hand-overs in a safe and consistent way.

For advice on all aspects of separation and parenting take a look at the Relate website for further information and signposting.

Elizabeth works for Relate Lincolnshire as a Clinical Supervisor, Couple & Family Counsellor, Psychosexual Therapist & Sex Addiction Specialist. She has been trained by the Relate Institute, Institute of Family Therapy and Association for the Treatment of Sex Addiction & Compulsivity. She is a member of the professional bodies of COSRT, BACP & ATSAC. She has worked with a wide variety of clients and has a wealth of experience.

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