Catholic Charities : Diocese of Des Moines
October 25, 2016

Catholic Charities, along with all of the Diocese of Des Moines offices, has moved to the Ruan Building just a block away and across the street at 7th & Grand! Our offices and diocesan reception are on the 9th floor. Our mailing address will not change and our phone numbers are all still the same!

Temporary Office Address:  666 Grand Ave. (Ruan Building) 9th Floor

Mailing Address:  601 Grand Ave., Des Moines, IA 50309

Catholic Charities Main Phone: 515-244-3761

August 3, 2016

By: Harmony Linden, L.I.S.W.

There are so many issues that people disagree on, sometimes it’s harder to find common ground than to find differences.  In families, this can create conflict.  At its most extreme, people can cut off all contact from one another.

Distancing or cutting off is a response to the need for togetherness in a family.  Family members feel pulled to think alike and share common goals.  This can help people feel connected to one another.  When the desire to think alike is very strong and differences are not tolerated, people often respond with an equally strong cut-off. 

When family members cut off contact with one another they are at risk for isolation and feelings of rejection.  Reconnecting with family members after a cut-off is difficult. The emotions of the original argument might return, regardless of how long the cut-off lasted.  Cut-off in family relationships often correlates with depression, anger, and difficulty with friends and other relationships. 

In the book, “Growing Yourself Up,” Jenny Brown says that accepting people with different views and staying connected to them is an attribute of maturity (18).  She later describes a path toward maturity that includes being in contact with our families without distancing, blaming, or rescuing them (60).   

It can be difficult to stay in contact with family members who have very different views.  Emotional maturity grows when a person can hear different ways of thinking and express their own ideas, without trying to change the other person. 

When learning how to do this, a person might observe themselves to see how long they can listen to someone else’s opinions before they start trying to change them.  A person might also see how long they can stay clear about their own thinking when others are trying to convince them to see it differently. 

When trying to tolerate differences becomes too difficult or overwhelming, having a neutral third person can help calm tension. This could be a priest, a therapist, or another person outside of the family.  Practicing the skills of disagreeing without distancing, blaming, or rescuing enhances emotional growth and maturity.

Harmony Linden is a licensed therapist at the Center for Life Counseling at Catholic Charities.  For more information or to schedule an appointment with one of our professional therapists, visit or call 515-237-5045. 

June 27, 2016

Parenting during Summer Break

By: Harmony Linden, L.I.S.W.

Summer break is a time when children have less structure and routine.  This might lead to more defiance or new problems with behavior.  Sometimes parents feel overwhelmed or anxious about their children when they are out of school. 

It’s tempting for parents to set an agenda for our kids or to keep them busy as a way to prevent behavioral problems.  For some, this works well, but when children resist, the whole family can squabble.  If tension is high in your family while the kids are out of school, you may be wondering how to get things back on track. 

In her book, “Extraordinary Relationships”, Dr. Roberta Gilbert says, “Like all relationships, the ideal parent-child relationship is characterized by equality, separateness, and openness” (152).  She explains that of course the relationship is not equal in terms of maturity or ability.  However, it is a relationship in which both the parent and the child show mutual respect. There is room for each to be their own separate person, while also spending time with one another. 

Moving away from an anxious focus on our children’s behavior, and toward a calm interest is a first step in improving relationships.  This shift ultimately helps our children manage their behavior.   When parents can calmly ask questions about kids’ choices, behavior and interests, it opens the door for a conversation about how to do things differently.  Parents might make a comment or a suggestion to a child, such as, “An adult might do it this way.” It is also important for parents to allow children to experiment with their own way of doing things as a way to learn from their mistakes. 

A second step for improving parent-child relationships is to spend more one-on-one time with each child.  It’s important to develop a personal relationship with each of your children, as the relationship will often influence behavior.  For parents, this might mean letting your child choose the activity that you do together.  Parents can use this as a chance to better understand who their child is, separate from the rest of the family.   

A third way to improve children’s behavior is for the parent to set limits for themselves.  Rather than arguing about doing chores, a parent might say, “I’ll drive you to your friend’s house once the chores are done.”  By focusing on what the parent is willing or not willing to do, children have to think more about how their behavior impacts their own goals for themselves. 

Parents can resolve most behavior problems by staying calm, allowing children to learn from their own mistakes, and spending more time with their children.  When kids’ behavior becomes unsafe or when defiance and arguing get so bad that family members are not able to do daily activities of life, the family could benefit from professional family counseling.  Talking to a therapist who specializes in family dynamics is especially important for children and adolescents, as their behavior impacts the entire family. 

Harmony Linden is a licensed therapist at the Center for Life Counseling at Catholic Charities.  For more information or to schedule an appointment with one of our professional therapists, visit or call 515-237-5045. 

Recent Entries
Dealing with Differences
Parenting during Summer Break
Bearing the Burdens of Those in Need
Welcome the Stranger

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