Category Archives: Parenting

Doing the best you can.

Another 12 Step Program?

IMG_2303OK, at wit’s end again.  How am I supposed to deal with a child with Reactive Attachment Disorder?  And, of course, how am I supposed to deal with an adult child with Reactive Attachment Disorder?  Just as we transition from grade to grade during the school years, we now transition from program to program to help him in the adult years and I’m beginning to believe that we need to transition from therapy model to therapy model to continue.

I knew how to parent…or at least had things to try when he was a child.  There were simply things that a parent could not allow a child to do, but now he is an adult and the line has gotten fuzzy.  Today, I’ve hit a new low and have sought out help from a pamphlet titled, “So You Love An Alcoholic.”  Since nothing else had worked, I thought I’d give this a try.  I ‘ve decided to customize it for Reactive Attachment Disorder.  Again, these ideas are not my own, so credit goes to Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc.

Reactive Attachment Disorder is an illness. The first thing for you to acknowledge, believe, accept is that children who have reactive attachment disorder suffer from a real sickness – a sickness which affects all those close to them.  The AMA and many authorities the world over declare the Reactive attachment sufferer has an illness over which he or she has no control. It is not caused by weakness of will, immorality or a desire to hurt others. Once you have accepted the idea that Reactive Attachment Disorder is a sickness form which compulsive children and those who care about them can find release, you will have no reason to be ashamed of it – no reason to fear it.

Learn the Facts. Wipe your mental slate clean of everything you think you know about it. Then apply yourself to a learning program. You can get valuable first-hand knowledge about RAD by attending an open support meeting. Don’t hesitate because you feel you are a stranger; anyone is welcome who is interested in the problem of RAD. Talk to members after the meeting; you can discuss your difficulties with the people you meet there.

Help Yourself Now. Don’t wait to seek help  Anyone whose family has suffered from the effects of RAD knows the constant emotional strains and pressures and needs help in relieving these.  Nothing will give you greater relief than the understanding and warm-hearted help you will find in a Support Group meeting. There you will, as one member put it, “learn to live again.” The members are compassionate, well-informed and have first-hand knowledge of problems just like yours because they have them too! Conversations with people who share your problems will convince you emotionally – as your investigations may have convinced you intellectually – that RAD is a disease, not a sin. Sharing this knowledge can help you begin your own recovery.

Some Important “Don’ts”

Don’t treat the sufferer like a child; you wouldn’t if he or she were suffering from some other disease. Don’t check up on them to see how much they are offending; Don’t search for offenses; Don’t put temptations away, they can always find ways to get more; Don’t nag them about their issues; Don’t preach, reproach, scold or enter into quarrels.

If you can bring yourself to avoid these things, you’ll be well on the way to a more comfortable frame of mind. All these Don’ts have good sound reasons that grew out of many people’s experience. RADs suffer from feelings of guilt beyond anything the non-RAD can imagine. Reminding them of failures, neglect of family and friends and social errors is all wasted effort. It only makes the situation worse.

The “if you loved me” approach is likewise futile. Remember the RAD is compulsive in nature and cannot be controlled by willpower. Equally useless are promises, coaxing, arguments and threats. Sometimes a crisis can convince the RAD of the need for help- the loss of a job, an accident or an arrest.  Steel yourself against coddling and overprotectiveness at such a time. The crisis may be necessary for recovery. Do nothing to prevent such a crisis from happening. The suffering you are trying to ease by such actions may be the very thing needed to bring the RAD to a realization of the seriousness of the situation – literally a blessing in disguise.

Remember, the whole family may have slips and set-backs Don’t take them seriously. Believe that a firm foundation for recovery has been laid. If you feel that either of you has made mistakes, learn from them and forget them. Let go of the disappointments and setbacks and push forward!

The way ahead is not always easy, but it can be full of rich rewards in a satisfying life for you and those you love.

Oh if I could only heed this advice.  Today, it’s a challenge! In a final attempt to find peace in my day, I turned to today’s date in the One Day At A Time In Al-Anon book. “Does the voice of God have a chance to be heard over my angry shouting? What is the purpose of letting myself fly apart in reckless tantrums? To relieve my pent-up feelings? Today’s Reminder: I cannot punish anyone without punishing myself.  The release of my tensions, even if it seems justified, leaves dregs of bitterness behind. Unless I have deliberately decided that my relationship has no further value in my life, I would do well to consider the long-range benefits of quiet acceptance in times of stress.”

Ouch.  Just Ouch.

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“How shall you punish those whose remorse is already greater than their misdeeds?”

–Kahlil Gibran: The Prophet

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Shaking My Head Again

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Shaking my head again…there are just things that happen that can’t be explained.  The care God and others have over my son is one of them. Yesterday, we were at our river house. The river was high and muddy from some recent rain so my husband and I decided to do some inside maintenance. He assembled bunk beds while I read a good book, but I was only an arm’s length away if he required assistance. (Which he did only once or twice for a couple of minutes.) But anyway, we were inside “working” while Paul was fishing on the dock. That boy loves to fish! He has spent hours this summer with a pole in his hand and a smile on his face.

Right as my husband was assembling Step 7A bolt into step 7A nut as listed on the IKEA instructions, Paul came in and stands at the bedroom door soaking wet.  After my initial, “Move! You’re making a puddle and I’ll slip and fall!” it dawned on me that my kid had been in the swift river.

“What?!”

Paul calmly says, “Let’s start with the good news. I’m safe and I got my chair but the bad news is that I lost my travel mug and ball cap.”

“What?!”

While he was standing on the dock, his chair blew into the water, he jumped in sans life jacket to retrieve it. He was quickly swept away with his chair in his hands (hard to swim when you are grasping your favorite fishing chair.) He realized he wasn’t going to be able to swim back to our dock so he floated downstream and got out at a neighbor’s dock. Aaaaah. Safe. Another disaster thwarted.

“Thank God you are safe. You have angels looking over you all the time buddy, do you realize that?”

“Yeah, but that was my favorite hat. Uncle Gary gave it to me last year from his work and he won’t be able to get another one since the plant closed.”

“Let’s focus on the good stuff. You are safe.”

“And my mug. It’s the only one I’m allowed to use on the bus and I was going to take it to camp this week. Can I borrow yours?”

“Sure.” (I love loaning my stuff to the kid who as you can see takes incredibly good care of all of his belongings. Insert sarcasm here.) Remember, you are very lucky! You are safe!”

“I know, but I think I’ll pout a while about the hat and mug.”

Oh, brother. I return to assisting George when I hear Paul talking to someone in the yard. I go out to see a man handing Paul his missing hat and mug. It seems this man was fishing on his dock about 1/2 mile downstream when the hat and mug floated by. He “wasn’t going to risk his life to go after it, but it went right by his dock” so he grabbed it. Paul’s fishing license was still attached and he said, “Well, I know where this kid lives.” Of course he does! Everyone knows Paul.

Our river house sits on a 1 mile stretch of the river with houses, camps, and campsites 3 deep in some places. We know very few of our neighbors, but the whole stretch knows Paul. Probably from a previous rescue mission.

After the bunk beds were completed, George and I took a bike ride. We left Paul to fish (with a life vest on!) and we took a little ride. On the way back a neighbor about 5 houses away called out to us for a visit. We stopped by and shared our most recent Paul story. John and his wife Chris have many of their own Paul stories. John started sharing some of his experiences with another couple that was there. We laughed. It’s always easy to laugh at these tales after time. (Not so easy to laugh while they are occurring.) John said, “Paul is going to be all right. He’s a survivor.” I commented that he will survive, but will his parents? We shouted out our appreciation to John for friending Paul and that it “takes a village.”

George admitted that a good sense of humor helps. As we were leaving, the new guy said, “I never met him, but I know I’d love him.” Shaking my head and smiling, I was assured of two things. He will get to meet him and he will love him. Everyone does.

As Paul ages, his special needs do too. I think he will always require some aid from others. (Don’t we all?) As he nears 20 years of age, I’ve been struggling with letting go, but meeting the angels who look out for Paul helps. There are so many stories like today’s story. Not just the part of him being kept safe in the water, but the bonus gift of the returned hat.

Paul isn’t’ just surviving as the Maker of Earth watches over him, he is thriving. I think it’s time for this Mom to back up a bit, resign as the Mayor and just become part of the village. I can attest to how God has used the village in the past and I look forward to being a part of it.

This Villager, however, will be enforcing a Life Vest Ordinance more often!

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Last Day!

IMG_4384Tomorrow is my daughter’s last day of elementary school.  Today was mine.  I volunteered at the end of the school year Luau and helped some kids make bookmarks out of paper clips and yarn. I treated myself to a SnoCone in the parking lot and I left at noon. I was talking with some moms early in the day about this being my last event there and wondered when it would hit me that I really wouldn’t be going back to the school. It hit me when I was leaving the building.  I had my hand on the door to leave and I saw the principal unloading boxes in the hall.  I thought about saying “good-bye” but thought I might tear up.  I didn’t want to cry.  What in the world would I cry about? I’m leaving this school building after volunteering there for 24 years! Yes, I have had kids in this building for 24 years. I wonder if it would’ve been so hard if I had only had one or two kids and had only been a part of that place for 7-10 years like most families.  Is this such a big deal because I have walked these halls for so long?

Or is it really a big deal at all?  Not really. It’s been kind of fun having seniority there.  I’ve had many opportunities to watch the 5th-grade band students perform their Christmas concert after only 3 months on their new instruments. It’s been fun attending Open House, Science Fairs, Literacy Nights and elementary basketball games. And, even though we joke about having to hear Hot Cross Buns played on the Recorder annually, today it feels like it will be something I miss. I left the building today and there is a good chance I won’t be going back. At this point, I don’t have hopes for grandchildren attending this school and I honestly don’t know if I’m a good enough aunt to really attend those concerts on their behalf. I have officially signed out of that building for the last time.

Maybe this post is a little premature.  My daughter still has one more day at that school.  There’s still a chance that I will have to go and pick up a forgotten clarinet or her extra tennis shoes. I may even find a library book under the couch that will need to be returned. There is just no way to know for sure.

 

When my daughter comes home from school tomorrow, I feel certain that she will have the confidence she needs to move on to the high school in the fall.  The question is, will I? Lord willing, we both will!

I’ll leave you with an oldie but a goodie:

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.     Jeremiah 29:11 NIV

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I Hate This Shirt…or Do I?

IMG_4020OK, so you all know I’m a Mom and as much as I hate to admit it, I often do such stereotypical Mom things that I’m embarrassed.  My favorite commercial currently is the Progressive Insurance commercial and my favorite line is “Why is the door open? Are we trying to air condition the whole neighborhood?” It just makes me smile to think that we all do share some of the same memories.  Today, though, I may have struck out some new ground of my own…or maybe not.  Do you other parents sometimes make things disappear in your house? Maybe it’s your kid’s cell phone that is overused and you just hide it under a newspaper for a while just to have some face to face conversation? Maybe you hide that last candy bar and say that they all must have been eaten? Do you ever pretend to NOT see the remote for the TV when they are looking in hopes that the kids will find something else to do for a bit? If you don’t, maybe you should give it a try. However, the above tricks of the trade in the parenting business are harmless, but my following confession may not be. Here we go…

Do you ever permanently make clothes disappear? The too short shorts? The too tight T-Shirt? The stained jersey? The handmade school spirit shirt? The one with a beer ad on it (that was “accidentally” worn to church?) and the ever-popular mismatched socks? Well, I do.

Today, the harmless T-Shirt that is pictured above almost met its’ demise. The threat was made the last time she wore it. “I am so sick of that shirt that the next time I see it in the laundry, I will make it disappear!” There is was today. Clean, fresh, appropriately crumpled in the laundry basket. I picked it up, began to fold it and realized that my chance was right there. I could cut it up and make a dust rag or I could throw it in the bag for the Salvation Army. With it in my hands, I paused and then I decided to fold it gently and put it on her pile of clean clothes to put away. What’s the big deal? What is so wrong with that shirt? It won’t fit forever. I’m sure she’ll decide to stop wearing it someday. Why on earth would that harmless shirt be something that I allow to upset me?

We are heading into the teen years. I will need all the help I can get and I need to work now on a relationship that will weather the real storms that we may face. This shirt cannot have the power to upset me and potentially cause a rift between my daughter and me. The next time I see her wear it proudly (which I am certain will be tomorrow when she sees it on the top of the pile,) I will say a prayer that we will be very careful in choosing our battles. I will be grateful for my healthy daughter and the blessing she is.

Now, I think I will go and let down that cuff on those jean shorts that I think are too short…I don’t think she’ll even notice.

Take a minute to be grateful for the battles you choose not to fight and also click on the commercial link above and have a laugh. I hope it makes you smile as much as it does me!

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give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.                                                                                                                         –1 Thessalonians 5:18 

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Fools, Eejits & Gobdaws!

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Fool.  An important word.  It’s so important that the King James Version of the Bible says it almost 70 times!  Proverbs is a book that gives a lot of information on fools.  It has fool mentioned 42 times in 41 verses.  Fools despise wisdom and instruction, spread slander, and the heart of a fool proclaims foolishness. So, as I read about fools, I recognize that sometimes I am thinking of myself and sometimes I am thinking of others around me.  Come on, you know, you have fools in your circle too! We can definitely all learn from fools and from our own foolish ways.

Last week, I spoke too quickly and became a fool (A quick-tempered man acts foolishly. Prov 14:17) and I blurted out and called my son a name when he was acting foolishly. The minute I said it I regretted it.  I not only hurt my child, but I disappointed myself by using a name that is often classified as a swear word.  This would give my child fuel to throw up in my face for decades to come! I hate it when I slip like that! After discussing my error with my husband, he suggested I increase my vocabulary and try to find a new name to blurt out in anger.  He suggested “chucklehead.”  Chucklehead sounded way too kind for that situation, but I will employ it and store it in my memory bank for the future. While I was thinking of my regret and other chooses, I came across two new words used by a British author. Her vocabulary includes the words, “eejit” and “gobdaw.”  Love those!  Though not found in our American dictionaries, I did locate definitions for them.

eejit  –  noun – /ˈiːdʒɪt/ -a way of saying idiot which represents the way it is pronounced by some people.

gobdaw – noun – informal – A foolish or pretentious person.

Those two choices sound so much better than the one I had previously chosen. I personally have heard lots of fool synonyms over the years. Bonehead, dipstick, knucklehead, and bubble brain to name a few. So, there is no shortage of ways to call a fool a fool and though I spent this time researching it, I could actually be a little less foolish by learning less about fools and more about wisdom, (but I don’t think those words would be nearly as entertaining!)

So, if you ever need to avoid the same “foolish” mistake that I made, feast your eyes on the list below. Choose one and go with it.  Or be prudent and remember that the word wisdom is used in the Bible 181 times.  Maybe I should spend a little more time researching that!!!! disegno-floreale-con-bordi-arricciati_318-45888

idiot, ass, blockhead, dunce, dolt, ignoramus, imbecile, cretin, dullard, simpleton, moron, clod; nitwit, halfwit, dope, ninny, nincompoop, chump, dimwit, dingbat, dipstick, goober, coot, goon, dumbo, dummy, ditz, dumdum, fathead, butthead, numbskull, numbnuts, dunderhead, thickhead, airhead, flake, lamebrain, mouth-breather, zombie, nerd, peabrain, birdbrain, scissorbill, jughead, jerk, donkey, twit, goat, dork, twerp, lamer, schmuck, bozo, boob, turkey, schlep, chowderhead, dumbhead, goofball, goof, goofus, doofus, hoser, galoot, lummox, knuckle-dragger, klutz, putz, schlemiel, sap, meatball, dumb cluck, mook;

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Proverbs 26:1-12 (NIV)

1 Like snow in summer or rain in harvest,

    honor is not fitting for a fool.

2 Like a fluttering sparrow or a darting swallow,

    an undeserved curse does not come to rest.

3 A whip for the horse, a bridle for the donkey,

    and a rod for the backs of fools!

4 Do not answer a fool according to his folly,

    or you yourself will be just like him.

5 Answer a fool according to his folly,

    or he will be wise in his own eyes.

6 Sending a message by the hands of a fool

    is like cutting off one’s feet or drinking poison.

7 Like the useless legs of one who is lame

    is a proverb in the mouth of a fool.

8 Like tying a stone in a sling

    is the giving of honor to a fool.

9 Like a thornbush in a drunkard’s hand

    is a proverb in the mouth of a fool.

10 Like an archer who wounds at random

    is one who hires a fool or any passer-by.

11 As a dog returns to its vomit,

    so fools repeat their folly.

12 Do you see a person wise in their own eyes?

    There is more hope for a fool than for them.

 

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Fear!

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It starts as almost a butterfly in your stomach and unless you acknowledge it and deal with it, it will overtake you. Sometimes you think it is just a bit of anxiety or nervousness but then you realize the beast that it is.  FEAR!

Every day he starts with a little disobedience, a little lie, a bit of a bad attitude.  No biggy, but compounded over time you realize that your annoyance turns into something much greater.  You stop being concerned about being disrespected.  You stop worrying that you haven’t taught him enough. You have moved way beyond trying to discipline, you’ve been at that for years.  You realize that you have done your part and now you live in a constant state of fear.  OR, you could if you allowed yourself.

Every now and then, you will be tempted to allow yourself to feel the full weight of the real fear that is there.  You project what the future may look like.  He will start stealing from others and not just from family. He will start lying to authorities and not just his parents. He will misplace his trust in someone who doesn’t love him as he disregards the wisdom of those who do. He may join a gang, experiment with drugs, dabble in pornography. Oh, given his history, any of these may be his reality.  BUT WAIT!  You’ve done all you can.  You can’t allow yourself to go there!

You truly may have done all you can, but what you can’t do, God can. You are not limited by your own abilities, you have a creator and he knows your child intimately.  He already knows the plans he has for her and for you. You are not to fear. I have heard that the Bible says “Fear Not” 365 times, one for each day of the year.  I have found that that isn’t entirely accurate, but how many times should He tell us to “fear not?”  He’s God.  We should listen the first time.

So, dear friend, listen when someone tells you to “fear not.” It really is a waste of an emotion. It accomplishes nothing and it hurts you even more than it hurts your child. Remember, you’ve been afraid before and you will probably be afraid again in the future.  There’s no sense staying there now.

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For God has not given us a spirit of fear,

but of power and of love and of a sound mind.           

                   2 Timothy 1:7 

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Gorgeous Christmas Card Photos

IMG_2442They arrived yesterday.  The Christmas card photos.  Gorgeous families that I am blessed to call friends.  There were no notes, just photos of smiles and Christmas scenery emitting feelings of joy and peace. I know these families.  Some of these families are indeed celebrating the season with joy and peace.  Their children are young and would make every day special.  The twinkle in their eyes is sincere and they will indeed be awestruck come Christmas morning.  The others, though, are not quite as fortunate.  Some of them have been transparent with me this year and have allowed me to know that behind the superficial smile on their child’s face is a deeply troubled soul who causes havoc in the family. These kids have troubles.  These parents have troubles.  But, for an afternoon, they tried to get all the personalities represented in the photo to cooperate and to smile.  I don’t know how much blood, sweat, and tears went into this photo shoot, but I do know that in the end, it was worth it.

The ones who are not dealing with mental illness will laugh at the antics their kids did while trying to get the perfect picture and the ones who are dealing with mental illness will cling to the photo that represents a tiny bit of normalcy in an otherwise chaotic home. I hope that the struggling parents will feel a sense of accomplishment in actually getting a photo that can be sent out to others and I hope the “typical” parents can treasure and appreciate the gift of happy children.

I thank them all for sending the cards to me.  I will display them all season and I will pray for them.  I will pray that the holidays do bring them joy and peace. I will pray the same for my family….with or without a gorgeous Christmas Card photo shoot.

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