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Should We Help Our Adult Children? Parenting Tip #44

It’s been a while since I’ve posted here on Mom of Many because I’ve been busy putting together my DIY program.

But I’m back today with the first in a series – it started out to be a simple set of tips and morphed into a full-blown series because there was so much to say.

Have you ever wondered…

  • How do I tell them “No,” when I can’t help?
  • Am I obligated to help every time they ask?
  • What do I do when I have a demanding or whiny adult child?
  • Am I obligate to babysit every time they ask?
  • How do I deal with unkind behavior from my adult children?
  • Do I support them no matter what?
  • How do I deal with my feeling of guilt if I have to walk away or say, “No.”?
  • What if they keep asking for money?
  • Do I give it or loan it?

Should we help our adult children? {Mom of Many)

                  Mom, can I use your credit card?

 

And the beat goes on. So many questions. How do we know what to do? How do we deal with the emotional implications?

Here I will lie out my experiences with my 15 kids and perhaps show you what works and what doesn’t.

We Are All on a Road

Some by choice, some not by choice, though some would argue everyone is right where they are due to their own choices. But really, let’s be gracious and take the “high road” and realize that sometimes circumstance can throw a curve ball and knock even the stoutest person off their feet.

Four Roads

For the purpose of my illustration, let’s say there are four roads. I define them here:

ROAD TO DESTRUCTION – This is the road that will destroy you, your family, your future, possibly your life if you continue down. It’s hard to believe people choose this road, but they do.

SHAKY GROUND – This is the road that many walk daily. Financial struggles, relationship issues, job/financial woes, health issues, etc., but you are striving to work it out and your desire and choices are eventually going take you to STABLE STREET.

STABLE STREET – This is where maybe you aren’t financially independent, are fighting illness, or haven’t yet realized all your dreams, but you feel happy and confident, your relationships are great and you have a basic satisfaction and can honestly say, “Life is good.” You feel like you are doing well and feel blessed – you have a handle on life.

PROSPERITY LANE – I’m not sure anyone ever makes it to prosperity lane. I suppose some do or think they have, but life isn’t normally a bed of roses all the time. This is where we all desire to stroll. Relationships are fulfilling. You feel you’ve found your purpose in life and can pull out the stops in every area. Financially you are doing great. You are able to give to others. You have the wisdom to make great choices and confidence to advise others how to live. Others look up to you and your kids want to be just like you and appreciate you. Yep. Not sure this is possible, but it is what we all strive for.

One never ‘arrives” until the end of their life.

The final destination isn’t this world. We all are on a journey. That sounds hokey to me because EVERYone uses the word “journey”. But it really does fit. I think that it is very possible that is why we have so many screw-ups in this world. They look around and think they need to arrive and think – “this will make me happy,” “if I only had this I’d have a happy life.” They grasp at straws and never feel like they have “made it.”

*Buzzer sound*

This life is a road we are walking TOWARD a destination. Right now I won’t get into the spiritual aspect because that could be considered a “rabbit trail.” Though, I believe to be living in the Spirit allows us to access the ultimate road map.

Now, let’s define “CIRCLE.”

When I refer to our circle, I mean the realm where we live, where we are influencers. Those people love and respect us, treat us with deference, are there to help when needed, are loyal, and genuinely desire to be a part of our life consistently and faithfully. These are our people. Anyone can be in our circle, but they must earn a place. No one can join our circle over night.

Guidelines. Boundaries. Personal Safety.

Here are the guidelines we use when it comes to “helping” our adult kids. I put “helping” in quotation marks because we need to ascertain first whether stepping in and “helping” is really helping.

Through the years when we parented, many people felt it their obligation to step in when they saw some of our adult kids struggling and advise, give money to and even house them. This isn’t necessarily the right thing to do because it could be classified as enabling. But that’s another discussion.

If your child is ROAD TO DESTRUCTION with no sign of changing their lifestyle or making better choices, if they ask for advice but don’t follow it or just plain turn a deaf ear to the voices of reason all around them, then it should be parental hands off. Prayer and a whole lot of walking down the avenue of hope is our only resort as parents.

Now if they leave that ROAD TO DESTRUCTION and step onto SHAKY GROUND, you have a different scenario. They are cleaning up their lives, striving to improve their situation, looking for and following advice for the most part, and you see a genuine desire for change, then that changes things for you as a parent…maybe.

We must realize that SHAKY GROUND could also be the road of your new adult kids, newly married adult kids or even the road of new parents (grand kids, yes!). To be on SHAKY GROUND doesn’t mean your kids have done anything wrong or made bad decisions, it just means what it says. They are trying to find and keep their feet in the middle of difficult circumstances. Some do well; some do not. But for us as parents, we have to decide what put them there and if our help will actually help, if they need to do the balancing act alone or with you and your resources by their side.

When if your kids make the decision to step from THE ROAD TO DESTRUCTION to SHAKY GROUND, it certainly does change your relationship status. This is where relationships begin to mend but they are still tenuous and will need lots of work to get back on the right road. Should you step in and help at this point? If so, how much? That’s a hard question. Let’s answer a few questions first.

  1. Is your SHAKY GROUND adult child really on the right road or are they just asking for help because they are in a crisis?
  2. What road are you on as a parent? Are you on STABLE STREET or PROSPERITY LANE where you have the resources to help them?
  3. Are you sure that if you help them you won’t be thrown onto SHAKY GROUND or the ROAD TO DESTRUCTION?
  4. Are you sure that if you help them that others who have earned a place in your CIRCLE will not go without or that your actions won’t damage your relationship with your CIRCLE? It’s good to let others into your circle, but not if it’s going to hurt the ones already in there. Guard your circle.
  5. Are they in your CIRCLE?
  6. Does this adult child who is on SHAKY GROUND use gifts (time, money, advice, compassion) wisely and learn by example and through personal experience? In other words, would you be throwing your pearls before swine?
  7. Does this adult child that is on SHAKY GROUND treat you with respect in private and public? Do they show appreciation when you help them? Are they trustworthy?

 

Are you offended yet?

Wait till you’ve read the whole thing before you decide.

Come back tomorrow for more…

Val @ Mom of Many

Parenting Tips {Mom of Many}

#1 in This Series  (you are here)

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Adoption Challenges Family Parenting tips

Stop Apologizing! Parenting Tip #42

 

True Story…

Years ago we saw a rash of food theft in our home. We limited the sugar many of our kids consumed because of their sensitivity, though occasionally we would reintroduce it into their diets to test it out. Within two weeks we’d see such a negative change in their behavior that we’d withdraw it again.

There were some who would sneak whatever they could find when my back was turned – a mom has got to use the bathroom once in a while! One day I came out into the living room and saw one of my kids throw an empty pop bottle into the kitchen bathroom, hoping I’d not see they had taken it out of the fridge.

When confronted, they would not own up to their disobedience even though it was obvious I saw them. When I retrieved the empty bottle,

parenting tips {Mom of Many}
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confirming what had happened, they still would not admit they had done it. “Deny to the death” was their mantra.

There is a meme going around on Facebook that says, “Don’t worry about it… just deny, lie, attack those telling the truth, blame everyone else, and then pretend to be sorry. Works every time.” This quote not only fits the person who denies even when confronted with ironclad evidence of their wrong, but could create a dilemma in the mind of one who does not parent confidently.

I was fortunate enough to have been very confident and tried to always be consistent. My DH was the same and we supported each other. And by the way…BOTH parents need to project a united front. It is important for a child’s emotional security.

If you can get someone to doubt themselves, you have defeated them.

There is a common thread among some of today’s teens and young adults who think their parents ought to apologize for discipline.

discipline
dis·ci·pline ˈdisəplən/noun
the practice of training people to obey rules or a code of behavior,
using punishment to correct disobedience.
“a lack of proper parental and school discipline”
synonyms: control, training, teaching, instruction, regulation,
direction, order, authority, rule, strictness, a firm hand

 

As believers we had a two-fold purpose: to turn out responsible kids who loved the Lord and wanted to serve Him. To do so required a stalwart resolve that colored every minute of every day, every decision, and every move we made. It required a 100% faithful consistency and unwavering commitment.

Parenting Tip for Adoptive Moms {Mom of Many)

We believed that to waiver is to fail.

Parenting Tip for Adoptive Moms {Mom of Many)

That commitment was more important than friends. It was more important than ministry. It was more important than our own lives or welfare. It was more important than sleep, food or money. The kids’ welfare dominated our every thought, our every plan, our every move.

So why apologize?

If the above is true, if a parent can honestly say that they did their best with the best of intentions, then why do we see parents apologizing to their children for being too hard on them? Why do we see children asking their parents to admit they were bad parents and asking them to apologize? Why do parents feel responsible for the bad choices their kids make in adulthood when they were taught to do right? Why are parents feeling guilty? For what?

Disclaimer time: I’m not letting parents off the hook that aren’t doing or didn’t do their best, are or were lazy or neglectful. I’m not condoning the behavior of parents who don’t/didn’t care about their kids and put their own desires and welfare ahead of their kids.

I’m talking about the parents who did their best to provide a good, stable home. I’m talking to the parents who, with great consideration, raised their kids to respect authority, be responsible, care for others, work hard, be consistent, live morally, love God and value family. No one can judge a parent. Only God can judge and only He knows the circumstances and challenges the parent had to deal with.

Since when are parents accountable to their children?

  • God is the giver of life. He alone builds families.
  • God alone knows what is best and what the future holds and which parents each child needs to become what He has planned for them.
  • God knows who were are, what we’ll do, and how we will react.
  • He has things in place to guide and direct us and if we truly desire to follow and please Him, then He will be our guiding Light.
  • God has the power to intervene and will do so when needed.
  • It is not the responsibility of anyone but God alone to judge a parent and He can be trusted to manage and mold anyone or anything into His own perfect plan.

You will not find past generations cowering to their kids immature emotional demands.

Why do parents feel the need to apologize when there is no need? In the story above, in a later conversation that child told me, “It’s your fault. If you would let me have sugar whenever I wanted it I wouldn’t have to steal.”

WHAT?

If I had lacked confidence, I might have bought into that faulty reasoning, or at least re-evaluated my prior decision to do what was best for them and the family.

“Don’t repent of decision in the dark decisions made in the light.”

Children don’t have the latitude to make those decisions because of their lack of maturity, experience and information. That is why God gave them parents. Yet, as they remember back, their incomplete and immature memories corrupt their thought process.

It is important to your kids’ maturing process that they stop blaming others or their circumstances or consequences for their actions and start taking responsibility for their decisions and how they will affect their future. To fixate on what they thought was unfair keeps them looking back. For many this can hinder their maturing process.

All kids have potential {Mom of Many}

Should we apologize for:

  • Providing a healthy lifestyle?
  • Teaching them to clean up after themselves or help with the chores?
  • Requiring they do their homework and do their best in class?
  • Setting a bedtime and requiring them to be quiet and leave everyone else alone?
  • Teach them to be respectful, obedient, and kind?
  • Making them take responsibility and holding them responsible for their actions?
  • Expecting proper dress and language?
  • Preventing them for owning things that would tempt them to do wrong?
  • Teaching them to work, pray or plan ahead?
  • Following through, being consistent or persistent?

It’s not that complicated.

Am I saying we should never apologize?

Occasionally we will run across someone that felt offended or was hurt unintentionally and they will harbor feelings of ill will. If they are not mature enough to put it in the past and leave it there, then is when you say, “I had no intention of offending you, but I’m sorry if you felt that way.” If it was over a good decision that they didn’t like, add, “But I stand by my decision.” This can be applied to our children as well.

If you’ve done your best as a parent because you wanted the best for your child, then don’t apologize. It’s simple. Don’t enable your child if they cling to a corrupted memory of the past. They don’t always remember correctly or may be searching for an excuse for their poor behavior (probably both). If you apologize for good parenting, you only enable their immature thought process and undo all your past work.

It’s amazing the growth you can see in a person when they stop blaming others. Stand firm by your conviction that you were/ARE a good and faithful parent. Make them see the truth through the boundaries that you set – by your confidence in your parenting.

We are amazed and thrilled at how well most of our kids are doing in their adult life and are blessed often with good reports. Hang on if you are discouraged – God isn’t done. We should always have hope our kids will mature and take hold of our faith and lead a responsible lifestyle.

Parenting Tips {Mom of Many}
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Takeaway: Kids don’t respect weak parents.

  • They don’t always appreciate their upbringing until they mature – but that doesn’t mean you were wrong.
  • Give them time to mature, but don’t waiver. Exude confidence.
  • Stand firm and expect to be treated with respect. They need your strength and confidence to have a firm footing.
  • Let them go. If they walk away, just stay put till they come back. Don’t compromise to gain their favor.
  • Wait and pray and always – always, watch out the window for when they come back and meet them on the porch with a hug and a “Welcome home, we’ve missed you.”

Val @ Mom of Many

Join Mom of Many to be invited to our secret/closed M.O.M.s Facebook group where we chat every day about mom stuff. If you need support, a strong shoulder or a listening ear – M.O.M. is here. If you’re interested, let me know!

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The Adopted Kids’ Internal Clocks – Parenting Tip #41

Parenting Adopted Kids {Mom of Many}
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A Sibling Group of Four

When we adopted our sib group of four, the two youngers were together in one foster home and the two older ones were together in another home. This type of arrangement can be most difficult on the oldest because they feel a need to protect their younger siblings. How do they do that when they don’t live together and only see each other at weekly visits? This was the case with our kids.

The oldest was 9 years old and very aware of his family situation. Not only did it affect his outlook on life, but having three younger siblings also in a temporary family situation was a huge stressor for him.

It’s important to learn all you can about the time before you take them into your home because their prior experiences will affect how they adjust to your family. In our case, the younger two had spent most of their lives in foster care, so they had a predisposed thought process that would follow them for months.

Those two thought family was temporary.

They were 2 1/2 and 3 1/2 when they moved in – from foster care. The first time we went to visit them in the foster care workers meeting room, I came home totally freaked out because of their hyper, out of control behavior during the visit. I was wondering if we were biting  off more than we could chew. I was scared to death of a two and three year old!

Once they moved in we had bouts of screaming, fighting and hitting. BUT, they were also adorable, sweet and smart!

We were at a store just after they moved in and the three year old hit our 10 year old son in the stomach causing him to drop to his knees – he had knocked the wind out of him! We later found out the foster mom had taught the little boys to box because she feared they might one day have to move back home and she wanted them to be able to defend themselves. We had a three year old Muhammed Ali!

Understanding and coping with behavior.

Parenting Tip #41 {Mom of Many}
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Within a day or so we had to stand the three year old in the corner for a time out because he was being a bully to the other kids. He stood there and screamed “I’m so maaaad!” His 9 year old brother came out and stood there watching to see how I would respond – he was in big brother protection mode. If I had not known the 3 year old’s “therapist” had taught him to express himself in words, “I’m so maaaad!” I would have been concerned about his temper. But since I knew a bit about them and their past experiences, I knew hoped that eventually we’d win them over and be able to redirect them, teaching them self control, kindness and patience. We also realized that the older brother was exhibiting concern for how I might react – based on past experiences with the adults in his life. Once he was confident that I deal with his little bro fairly and kindly, he was able trust me enough to go on about his playing without concern for his younger siblings.

A Forever Family

These kids have had experiences very different from us and had developed a distrust and fear of adults. The two youngers had moved foster homes every six months so when our six month anniversary for their move in to our home came around, they asked for a suitcase and wanted to know where they would live next. No, they didn’t have a calendar that they checked off and counted the days, they just had an internal clock that told them to prepare to move on. I could not convince them that they were staying with us forever.

Parenting Adopted Kids {Mom of Many}
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They didn’t understand the concept of staying with the same mom and dad more than 6 months. They hadn’t experienced what it meant to belong to a family. Their internal clock took them over and told them it was time to move on.

When dealing with kids who have had a background different from ours, we need to find out as much as possible and use that information to temper our expectations.

Where are all my forks?

The first week the four were in our home we discovered some of our silverware was missing. It took us a few days to figure out what happened to them. The two younger boys were throwing them away because they’d never had metal silverware – they always had plastic ware and threw them away after each meal. The smallest things can be a real eye opener.

We need to be the light in their darkness.

Every day living shapes kids’ minds – not every child has been fortunate enough to start out in a stable living situation. Can you imagine how abuse and neglect can plant negative thoughts into a kids’ mind growing up? How does a child understand, trust or even desire to have a mom and dad if they’ve never had one? To some, the adults that are in charge are their enemy.

It wasn’t until years after we adopted some of our kids that we found out about the abuse that went on prior to adoption. It’s no wonder they mistrusted and even hated us. Some still do because they never learned to love or trust. We tried our best to instill the love of family, but some never got it, though we hope that one day God will change their hearts.

It’s not that simple.

When dealing with their out of control behavior, it’s very difficult to win their hearts. When our sibship of 3 moved in at ages 1 1/2, 2 1/2, and 3 1/2 as foster kids, (adopted 3 years later) I kept a record one day of how often I had to intervene or correct them. It averaged out to every 3 minutes. It can be very challenging to insert warm, loving moments into a day like that!

Add eating disorders, learning difficulties, nightmares and fears, oppositional behavior, etc. and you have issues that can make bonding very difficult for the child AND parent.

Understand but Don’t Excuse

We tried to be understanding and adjust our expectations based on our kids’ experiences before adoption, but we never allowed that to be used as an excuse for misbehavior either. We taught them and insisted on a better way and even if they didn’t accept our way of thinking and were disobedient or oppositional, at least they knew what was right and would know where to find the light when they were tired of living in the darkness.

You can’t always control a child’s actions or reactions, to always be obedient and respectful, but you can make them regret their choices. Each parent must get to know their child and tailor their teaching and discipline to meet their needs. They have a need to learn to respect authority, prefer others, and learn proper behavior. As parents, we do what is necessary to show them the light and be the example they can draw from when they do desire to live properly.

Parenting Adopted Kids {Mom of Many}
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Not everyone will understand or agree.

You will find some who are critical and accuse you of not being fair to your kids, but you still must decide what is right and follow through. They won’t have to answer for your parenting, you will. So do your best to train them, meet their needs and tailor your discipline to their personality and abilities. You might even have children who think you were abusive or evil because you insisted on proper behavior and disciplined them for disobedience. They only remember the pain of the discipline, not what they did to warrant it.

Discipline anyway.

To be able to pillow your head at night and have no regrets, you need to decide what is best and follow through. Parenting isn’t a popularity contest – with others outside your family or your kids. Parenting is deciding what is best for your kids and insisting on it.

If you don’t, they will not learn how to live in society or hear God’s voice. Both are paramount to a successful life.

God calls us to be faithful and that is what we must do – regardless. Then we let Him deal with the rest.

 

Join Mom of Many to be invited to our secret/closed M.O.M.s Facebook group where we chat every day about mom stuff. If you need support, a strong shoulder or a listening ear – M.O.M. is here. If you’re interested, let me know!

I'm In-terested {Mom of Many}

 

Val @ Mom of Many

Parenting Tips {Mom of Many}

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When Your Child Publicly Hates You – Parenting tip #40 (Part 2)

I ended Parenting Tip #40 (Part 1) like this…

Next I will tell you how we handle the publicly declared accusations and hate mail as siblings and parents. God speed and until next time…

Public hatred {Mom of Many}
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So how do we deal with public jabs, attacks and innuendos?

How should we react or address twisting of the truth, stretching, shading or outright lies? Should we react at all?

Should we counter lies with the truth? Should we acknowledge any accusations, stories or public defamation?

This is tough because such public attacks are not only hurtful, but they undermine the entire family dynamic. When a child publicly lashes out, other family members and friends who read it are affected. This type of bitterness damages relationships, casts shadows, and breaks down communication within a family and has no value.

Let’s first look at the WHY.

Parenting Tip for Adoptive Moms {Mom of Many)

Why does the adult child publicize their hatred of the parent? Is there any benefit to them?

  • They have bitterness in their heart that must get out. Bitterness not only blackens the heart of those who carry it, but it must fling it’s slimy sludge all over anyone within arms length and with the Internet, it no longer is limited to arms length.
  • With the lack of maturity that is needed to deal with and eradicate bitterness, those wallowing in dark thoughts think it will make them feel better to lash out at those that they think are the cause. They are mistaken. It will only grow the more they feed it.
  • Bitter people don’t want to suffer alone – they must make everyone else suffer as well. Those who listen to and believe the bitter person’s irrational accusations have a propensity for the darkness as well. Misery loves company, so we should not be surprised when those we thought were friends pat the offender on the head and say, “You poor baby.” It speaks to their hidden darkness and draws it out.
  • Bitterness is poison that needs to grow and destroy by its very nature. Just like happy people who must share their good news, bitter people feel the compulsion to share their misery.
  • Those who are bitter often have a difficult time identifying the root cause because of pride. When there is mental or emotional damage, their pride (self protection and narcissism) takes over and common sense and understanding are not present. “I must feel rotten, and it can’t be anything I did, so it must be “such and such’s” fault. (which usually, MOM = Such and Such)
  • To publicize their bitter thoughts, they are seeking approval. Since there will always be others with emotional issues, they will always find someone to “like” their words. People who are immature, gullible, bitter themselves or given to gossip and disloyalty are their best allies.
  • Those who are hurt often want to hurt others. It is a tough cycle to break.

 

How Should We Respond?

Parenting Tip for Adoptive Moms {Mom of Many)

So what do we do as parents of these kids? Should we do anything?

It is very hard on a parent when they love a bitter child who is caught up in their own foolishness. Unrequited love is painful but when you add foolish behavior a desire hurt others, the whole enchilada is difficult to digest.

Have you ever read the verses, “Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest thou also be like unto him.” (Prov. 26:4)

Uh huh. With foolishness, you CAN.NOT.WIN. God said so.

“Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men.” (1 Thessalonians 5:14)

But we are to warn the unruly, and comfort those who struggle mentally, being as patient as possible. It is our responsibility as friends or family to warn or loved ones when they are on a destructive path, but not to be surprised if our warnings go unheeded. It’s the combination of pride, foolishness and bitterness that builds the impenetrable wall.

Lose the Old Habits

I used to think that if I could just talk to them, explain, make them remember what really happened, remind them of what they were like to live with, what they did, why we did what we did…that it would all be better. Um. No. It doesn’t work. You can talk all day until you are blue in the face and you will NEVER change them.

Now I only give advice when asked and don’t spend a lot of time doing it – that way I know that I have taken care of my responsibility (but I don’t expect change).

Dump Them into God’s Lap

Only life’s consequences and God’s hand can change them. Period.

I used to spend hours on the phone with some of my kids trying to talk sense into them. They would hang up and go right back to the same behavior, belief system and bitter living. I would stress over our conversation for hours or even days – long after they had already forgotten about everything that I said.

It was a waste of time and only caused me to be emotionally drained and sometimes even discouraged.

I don’t do it any more.

I sleep much better.

Dealing with Hate {Mom of Many}
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Learn to Ignore

I do my best to ignore it all (once the kids grow and go) and focus on the kids who are good to me – the kids who love me and bring me joy.

And I wait. I wait for the others to come around. I wait for life to throw them enough curve balls that they finally remember, that they finally realize that all the things that drive their bitterness are not real or at least had nothing to do with us, those of us who tried their best to do what was best for them (and were trying to survive). I wait for God to get a hold of their heart.

Guard Your Heart

Does it hurt? Yes. But I do my best to set it aside. I’m getting pretty good at it after years of practice.

The fact that I’ve seen radical changes in many of my kids makes all the difference – I’m seriously blessed to see the maturity and loving nature of most of my kids who have had so much to overcome. This progress has filled in the holes created by past and present hate and bitterness.

Find Your Happy Place

The fact that I’ve had an armful of kids and grandkids (and a DH) that have ALWAYS loved me has carried me along and kept me whole (kept me from the depths of despair and maintained my sanity, for the most part).

Family Selfie {Mom of Many}

  1. We know God has endured pain and hurt from His people and still has remained faithful and loving, giving us a great example of what his power can do to help us achieve or endure.
  2. We need to cling to the good things/people in our life. To feel fortunate gives us the fuel to get through the tough times.
  3. The children who know and express the love of God make it worth enduring the ones who do not.
  4. To not go on the defensive and counter the attacks allows the door to our home to stay open – we need to maintain our hope that they will one day walk through it. Hope goes a long way.

Hang tight. Patiently wait. Pray God will work. Watch out the window. Keep the door open. Accept them when they do finally walk through. Reassure them you love them. Keep the lines of communication open. If they make things right, start new. Remember we are all imperfect and forgiveness should be immediate when asked for. Hope. Always hope.

SUGGESTIONS:

  1. Buy the book Boundaries by Townsend. Learn to set boundaries that set you free of the pain.
  2. Join the Mom of Many mailing list and be invited to our exclusive M.O.M.s Facebook group where we chat every day about mom stuff. If you need support, a strong shoulder or a listening ear – M.O.M. is here.

Have you ever been hurt by your kids? What did you do about it? Leave a comment and tell us about it.

 

Val @ Mom of Many

Parenting Tips {Mom of Many}

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Adoption Family Parenting tips Things I've Learned

When Your Child Publicly Hates You – Parenting Tip #40 (Part 1)

 

Time to address a very sensitive subject…

For many, this type of conversation is painful – and will possibly elicit anger and a lashing out, but there are so many suffering parents out there that need you to know their reality and be reminded that they are not alone that I must speak out.

Insight into what it is to be a family like ours – to parent children with a difficult past, to invite into our family those who carry around emotional baggage and painful memories will not only help those of you who are on the outside looking in, but it will also help the children and families that that will be represented here. Bringing issues to light is needed.

This is not intended to paint a picture of pain and suffering to gain sympathy but to garner some understanding and support for families like ours who bear the brunt of disgruntled children.

Like many, we are still waiting for part of our family to establish a foundation, to reconcile their past and discover the value of family and reconnect with us. It’s not easy for some, though it may seem easy to us. “Just come home!” we want to shout at them. But it must be their decision. There must be a change of perspective and change of direction.

So we wait… and hope.

Public Hate {Mom of Many}

Do you have a child that publicly hates you?

Do they tell everyone around them stories of cruelty, abuse or favoritism? Do they post nasty comments about their upbringing on Facebook to try to garner sympathy and the “Aww, you poor thing, no wonder your life is a mess.” comments? Do they paint you as a monster that got joy from making their lives miserable? Do they desire to hurt you because their bitterness drives them to it?

In case you are one of many parents experiencing the hate that children who have become adults often dish out, I want to offer you hope. This is a temporary situation and one day they will, with God’s help, have their eyes opened and reconcile those deep seated conflicting emotions.

It’s Not Just an Adoptive Family Issue

Though our story centers around adoption, this issue doesn’t just affect adoptive families. Families are struggling all around us. They need our compassion and support…not our judgement, criticism and too often offered advice.

I ask you to give a little latitude while reading about our personal experiences and the conclusions we have drawn because of them. Unless you were there, and even if you were, you cannot 100% understand or know what it is like to raise “interesting” children.

Do You Think You Have the Right to Judge?

Families are complex entities that cannot be easily measured or evaluated by onlookers. As the heart can only be known by God and is so often misunderstood even by its own flesh and blood owner – families are too intricate and complex to be judged easily or even fairly by anyone but the One who in His infinite wisdom brought them together in the first place.

And if we do, and we realize that God brought the family together, are we not criticizing the One who in His sovereignty deemed it so? Do we in our own eyes and heart assign wisdom to our Maker and then show our lack of belief when we criticize or judge the actions of those who are doing what we are unwilling to do ourselves?

This will be a series…for there is  much to talk about.

Let me make a few statements and lay some groundwork before we begin…

  • We adopted many special needs kids, so some of them at the time of adoption were a bit behind in many areas (socially, intellectually, emotionally, physically, educationally etc.). They ranged from 3 months to 9 years old at adoption. Some came to us individually, some by groups of 3 and 4. Some were easy to raise. Some were not with a capital NOT.
  • We were as their adoptive parents in a precarious position – living down what other adults had done or not done to them and being the brunt of their preconceived ideas and experiences. We dealt with severe fear, distrust, anger, confusion, and bitterness that were firmly planted in their heads and affected their behavior long before we came into the picture.

Do Your Children Publicly Hate You? {Mom of Many}

  • Their prior history and/or disabilities ALWAYS colored their perspective and reactions.
  • Normal discipline seldom worked with the “interesting” kids, so we had to get creative or deal with mutiny. Our feeling of responsibility to craft them into loving, responsible human beings was at times overwhelming. Needless to say, we were not successful with many and had to give them to God to complete the work. Who, by the way, has been wildly successful with most of our kids.
  • It is common for those who are trying to cope, mature, and find their way to blame others with their failings: “Oh no, it couldn’t be MY fault.” It is too painful to accept responsibility and much easier to blame the siblings or parents.
  • We parented the best we knew how without much help from others. No one knew what advice to give when we asked, but many onlookers were critical and judgmental when they had no personal experience or knew all the facts.

Do Your Children Publicly Hate You? {Mom of Many}

  • We adopted most of our children at age 3 1/2 or older. The ability to form emotional bonds usually develops somewhere between ages 1 and 3. Many would say we were doomed to fail. We were determined to be the exception. We knew God could make all the difference and hoped it would be so.

I could probably spend 20 minutes listing all of the conditions/syndromes we dealt with.

I’ll just list the few right off the top of my head: ADHD, FASD, OCD, ODD, PTSD, LD, Dyslexia, Dysgraphia, Dyscalculia, TMI, EMI, RAD, Asthma, Allergies, Asperger’s, DD, BEH, CCD, ED, TS, APD.

If that’s not enough, add in prior abuse and neglect combined with abandonment issues.

Please use a bit of understanding when you try to form an opinion about families like ours:

  • If a child cannot reconcile the things that happened before they came to the adopted family, those feelings will spill over into their new family. There is a saying about special needs adopted kids, “If they can’t hate the one who hurt them, they will hate one they’re with.” We found this to be very true. You could say, “we resemble that remark.”
  • Special needs adults (special needs kids do eventually grow up, though they don’t necessarily mature) seldom remember what they did as children to warrant discipline or sanctions. They only remember the pain of embarrassment, the painful discipline or loss of freedom. Accusations of abuse roll off their tongue without much consideration of the facts or reality.
  • It is common for the hard to raise kids, the ones with behavioral issues, to compare themselves to the other kids in the family who earned freedoms through trustworthy behavior. Jealousy creates bitterness and clouded memories.
  • Children who have a warped view of love will often cause dissension in the family and disrupt or sabotage family events and outings. It is common for them to target the kids already in the family when they first come (and along the way) and the ones who appear to them to be favored.

Are Your Kids Fighting? {Mom of Many}

  • Interesting children tend to be self-centered and narcissistic because of the pre-adoption days when they felt the need to protect themselves, felt unloved or not valued. Their reality usually isn’t the same as ours.
  • The lack of bonding children experience in their first 3 years will affect their ability to form healthy relationships in the future. You will see issues develop with these kids and those they live with and work around. We as parents are not the only ones who experience their less than adorable nature – we just happen to be the ones they blame for it, even thought they brought it with them when they moved in.
  • Kids with immature impulse control, poor reasoning skills, and trouble coping with disappointment will carry that into adulthood. If they have difficulty adjusting to adulthood (which is more common than not) their out of control lifestyle will breed discontentment, guilt, discouragement or depression. ALL of their failures will be blamed on the parents and how they were raised. “If they weren’t so hard on me,” “If they’d only let me do what I wanted,” “If they’d been fair/reasonable/less demanding/accepting/less controlling,” the list goes on in their head. The alternative would be to take responsibility and change – which would require a change of mind. Pride does not allow them to evaluate themselves or their home life properly.
  • Spiritual maturity is key to turning the “interesting” kid into a mature, responsible, loving adult. When you meet an adopted kid that grew to be gracious and compassionate out of a past of turmoil and upset, realize it was the power of God that brought them through.
  • When you hear hateful comments and accusations publicly, realize that a spirit filled mature child would never malign their family or parents. If the accusations were true, they would forgive. If they were not, a spiritually mature child wouldn’t lie to make themselves feel or look better. Consider the source.

Side note: The kids who were raised right along with the “interesting” ones have had issues of their own to overcome –  their family was changed through adoption – which brought uncommon drama into their life. Few stop to think about them and what they had to live through.

Most of the focus by onlookers is on the adopted child and their perceptions, needs and challenges. This only adds to the prideful arrogance of the troubled child who cries foul and adds to the bitterness that the non-troubled child often deals with. It’s the prodigal child/faithful son story all over again. Be careful how you support these struggling kids and adults. Treading on parental authority is dangerous business.

I’ll leave you with that to chew on for a while. Please realize that there is more to the story than what you have been told or think you have witnessed. If you could only have walked a mile in our shoes…you would have run screaming to the next town and cried, “Mercy!”

I’ve said it before and so now I’ll say it again. I love all of my kids and am grateful for those who do love us and desire a relationship. I am blessed. And for those who do not – I still love them too and will always watch out the window for when they decide to come home. Some will scoff, but they must realize that I will still continue to hope they come back home.

 If you are a parent in need of support, please join us and be invited to our exclusive M.O.M.s Facebook group where we chat every day about mom stuff. it’s a safe place to share your concerns and seek advice.

Next I will tell you how we handle the publicly declared accusations and hate mail as siblings and parents. God speed and until next time…

Val @ Mom of Many

Parenting Tips {Mom of Many}

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Challenges Family Parenting tips

Do you stress over your “TO DO LIST”? Parenting Tip #39

TO DO LISTs Only Grow

Wash the clothes, sweep the floor, change the bedding, do the dishes, and on and on.

Moms are probably the busiest people in the world, and the most under appreciated. Unless you’re a mom, you have no clue. Seriously. Even after all the kids leave the nest, Momhood doesn’t end.

Though our nest is empty, I still interact with my kids. Being a mom cannot be described as a full-time job. It doesn’t end at 5:00pm nor does it end when they turn 18 when the world says our job is officially done.

Basically, by having kids, whether by birth or adoption, we are lifers.

Add to that church stuff, work stuff, home stuff…the list goes on – our TO DO LIST grows exponentially as we meet the needs of our family and interact with the world.

The TO DO LIST

For January, I put together MOMentum Calendar to encourage our M.O.M.s group. Each day there is something to do that we often put off because we are so busy. A surprising thing has happened for me as I have accomplished each daily challenge.

January MOMentum Goal Calendar {Mom of Many}

Halfway in I stopped stressing about my lengthy TO DO LIST. For about 2 years I’ve stressed every day because my list has gotten so long and my available time to squeeze in extra stuff has all but vanished. I have no margin and it has caught up with me.

Nearly everyone in our M.O.M. group felt the same way.

I created a January challenge to encourage my M.O.M.s and it ended up encouraging me. Because I accomplish something extra every day that isn’t on my list (like cleaning out a junk drawer), I feel accomplished, have stopped stressing about my TO DO LIST and have finally accepted that I can only do what I can do.

TO DO List Vs. Goal Setting

Have you ever set big goals and then not meet them?

How often have you thought: “I JUST NEED TO GET THROUGH THIS DAY”?

We assume the goals have to be big and life changing to really matter. But the big life changing goals often get set aside because life happens.

Instead of only setting huge goals, we need to set little daily goals too. As the month progresses, the feeling of accomplishment replaces defeat and we become hopeful and less stressed. By setting little daily goals, we work toward meeting our big goals. This is where our TO DO LIST and our goal setting meet. our TO DO LIST basically is really a daily goal planner.

I know. Weirdly simple, right?

Being Practical

So now, realizing that little written down goals are foundational to the larger, I’m designing a multi page M.O.M. planner. I am offering it free to our M.O.M.s FB group. I’m giving you a one page weekly planner sheet today to show you what I’m working on. Just click on it and I will send it to you via email. If you want to receive more pages as they are designed, join our M.O.M. Facebook group.

We need to realize that our TO DO LIST is a tool, not a prison of our own making. We manage IT – IT doesn’t manage us.

We are faithful. We do our best. We just need to see it – every single day.

So we start now. Step by step we move forward – not by beating ourselves up over what we didn’t get accomplished but to  celebrate each small success. We are not defined by how or if we complete our lists; we are defined by who we are and our part in bringing light to the world.

Just Click to Commit

Does your to do list control you? {Mom of Many}<<< Just “click the pic” if you want to do some mini personal goal setting and commit to de-stressing your TO DO LIST by looking at it in a new light. You can fill it out to set your own goals for the week. If you are interested in taking a look at our other M.O.M. planner sheets like a password log, weekly cleaning check list, etc., join our M.O.M. Facebook group. You will have access to all of my planner sheets as I make them – FREE because you are a part of our M.O.M. group.

If you would like to join us in using the monthly MOMentum calendars, click the one above and then watch for the February MOMentum calendar. If you’d like to suggest daily goals for our calendars, email me from the contact page above or join our M.O.M. group and post your ideas.

I looked for years for support and didn’t find it. Join us and find other moms just like you.

 

Val @ Mom of Many

Parenting Tips {Mom of Many}

Categories
Adoption Family FAS Parenting tips

Are you an overprotective mama? 10 Ways to Know for Sure – Parenting Tip #35

Are you an overprotective mom? {Mom of Many}Let’s take the umbrella test…

  1. Do you know your child WELL?
  2. Do you have their best interests at heart – are they your priority?
  3. Do you take the time to get to know your kids’ friends?
  4. Are you a good example?
  5. Are you involved in EVERY part of your kids’ lives – school, faith (church), home, outside activities, hobbies, friends, etc.?
  6. Do you know the adults WELL that are responsible for supervision when you are not around?
  7. Do you pay attention to what is going on in your family, with your kids, and those they spend time with?
  8. Do you talk to your kids – and listen?
  9. Do you supervise well and watch for issues that need to be addressed?
  10. Are you consistent, available and faithful?

If you answer “Yes” to these questions then I’d say you can trust your mama instincts. Too many times I let others’ opinions influence my decisions negatively. It took me years to shut out the whisperings and follow my own mama bear instincts. If you have no one to support you, and you believe your are doing the best you can, then go find someone that you respect, has experience, and can get in your corner.

Stick to your guns.

We don’t like it when people criticize our parenting. But then we stress over their “advice”. We know that if others criticize us then we must be doing something wrong – um, no. Not necessarily. We need to confidently hold our own if we truly feel we are doing what God has appointed us to do. We need to reek of confidence when we deal with our kids too. Why do we cave when our kids throw a fit over our parenting? We need to drip of confidence in order to get our kids to take us seriously and have reason to trust us.

You are not your kids’ friend.

Make it clear that you are the Mom and you will make hard decisions when needed. Let them know that no matter what, you will always look out for them and choose what is best, ALWAYS – even when they don’t agree. If you are a good mom, and if you are reading this I’ll bet you are a stellar mom, then trust your intuition. Ask God for guidance and then do what you think is best – even if others disagree – even if your kids throw a fit.

Learn, grow, ask questions, seek advice.

Keep your eyes peeled, consider, evaluate, follow through. Your kids are counting on you and if they don’t agree, do your mama thing anyway. I do believe we ought to listen to them and consider their wishes, if they present it properly. But remember: they need your guidance even if they don’t want it or appreciate it.

Parenting Tip for Adoptive Moms {Mom of Many)God is your umbrella and you are theirs.

Parenting Tip for Adoptive Moms {Mom of Many)

“When my kids become wild and unruly, I use a nice, safe playpen. When they’re finished, I climb out.”
~Erma Bombeck

Val @ Mom of Many

MomofMany.net

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Adoption Family Parenting tips Things I've Learned

Do you ever wake up discouraged, Mom? Parenting Tip #34

Keep a clear head in crisis {Mom of Many)There was a time about 10 years ago that I couldn’t shake the morning blues.

I’d wake up discouraged even before the day started.

Before I explain how I overcame them, you need to know something. My foundation is not made of concrete or brick – rather, it’s made of rock – The Rock. Since I claim Christ as my Rock, everything that happens to me, in me, and around me is in His control.

Existing. Discouraged. Defeated.

Just trying to get through the day? Yep. That was me.

For believers, there is a solution.

Every night before I went to bed for about two weeks I prayed that in the morning, God would give me an uplifted spirit ready for the day’s challenges – no more dreading the day – no more morning blues.

The fog was lifted the first morning.

The dark clouds that hung over my head were completely gone. Whoa. Months of sadness gone just like that. I didn’t do anything different other than ask God to do it for me.

Are you a discouraged Mom? {Mom of Many}

Duh. Why didn’t I ask Him before?

The cloud was gone. No more morning blues. I’d never thought of it. I had just prayed that things would get better, but they didn’t and I was stuck in discouragement because I’d not thought to ask him to change ME. My thoughts. My outlook.

We can’t always control our circumstances, especially when you’re a mom and all of your circumstances revolve around little sinners who are not led by the Spirit and have no concept of tomorrow, or have any idea of the effects of their actions on others.

I’ve since asked for help in other type of circumstances with 100% success. Good stuff.

Val @ Mom of Many

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Adoption Family Parenting tips

Do you have a saboteur? When Kids Enjoy Trouble – Parenting Tip #31

Definition of SABOTAGE

1: destruction of an employer’s property (as tools or materials) or the hindering of manufacturing by discontented workers
2: destructive or obstructive action carried on by a civilian or enemy agent to hinder a nation’s war effort
3a: an act or process tending to hamper or hurt   b: deliberate subversion

 

Sound familiar? Do you have a saboteur in the house?

This is a very specific issue. A saboteur isn’t the child who is just struggling – it’s for the child who is deliberately choosing to inflict pain or daring his parents in a “see if I care” sort of way.

It can be very discouraging to a mom when a child seems to enjoy trouble, does the opposite of what they are told and repeats the cycle of disobedience in a way that makes you suspect they are purposely trying to hurt the family.

Hopefully they aren’t plotting a planning their own or your destruction (though some of mine tried).

Often this type of behavior is a response to some sort of painful memory or behavioral pattern established from trauma in the past. Self destructive behavior can affect the entire family. They often realize they are doing it – some want to quit but aren’t sure how and others enjoy inflicting pain because they think it makes them feel better – a sort of whacked, “pain loves company” mental state.

One of our kids was sure he would eventually be abandoned or kicked out so he set up scenarios where he would do something that he thought would ensure it or he would decide on his own that he was leaving. Even when we sat down and explored his options (running away meant no home, no food, no family and staying and working out problems meant family support, warm tasty meals, a warm bed, etc.) he still chose to run.

Of course we would veto such decisions but couldn’t always keep a close enough eye on him that he couldn’t slip out. We always got him to come back but eventually moved him into a children’s home. That’s a long story and I won’t go into that now. Just realize that sometimes reason doesn’t work.

Sometimes Discipline Will Work

BUT, in my experience practical parenting must coincide to form new habits and mindsets. In Parenting Tip #21, I talk about supervision. You start there. If you aren’t keeping a good eye on your kids there will be more room for sabotage. Idle hands and minds can get very creative in a short time!

Positive Reinforcement?

See Parenting Tip #22. A mind set of messing with you won’t be easily changed. You’ve got to show them it is in their best interest to follow your rules, be respectful of the family and compliant.

The Big Guns Come in Parenting Tip #6

I give you some practical steps to take with teenagers who bully Mom (usually doesn’t happen to Dad). Some of the bullying is natural growth done the wrong way and it’s up to others to step in and show them how to become a man without stepping all over mom. It’s hard when there’s one parent, especially if it’s a mom. At that point it would help to have the support of a male role model. It could be someone like an uncle, older brother, neighbor, friend, husband of a friend or your pastor.

Let me encourage you.

These kids can wear you down and even make you think the problem is YOU making you think:

  • You don’t love them enough
  • You aren’t meeting his needs
  • You are not patient enough…maybe you need to give them more space
  • You just don’t understand
  • You don’t do enough for them

Um. No. It’s not you. It’s them. Get a grip on these false feelings. Gather your courage around you like a flak jacket and arm yourself with some butt kicking confidence and attack this issue head on. The sooner you are confident, the sooner you will see progress.

Here are some things I learned along the way:

  1. Exude confidence. You must leave off all emotion when dealing with saboteurs. Act like a cop. No crying, begging or upset faces allowed, mom. A matter-of-face face is scary to teens. Scare them with your courage.
  2. Decide ahead of time what consequences will be for each particular behavior, write it down and post it on the fridge. A heads up for the transgressor will squelch many a misdeed. These kids are smart and very much into self protection.
  3. Find their hot button. Do they like computer games, have a fave show or does money speak to them? Get creative and remove or reward behavior. Sometimes rewarding others and leaving the offender out speaks volumes. “Hey kids, let’s stop for fries on the way home! Sorry, Joe, not you this time. Maybe you can reconsider the attitude while we eat our fries.”
  4. Research food allergies – sometimes in extreme instances allergies can create manic behavior. We had a son who went bonkers if he ate corn or in a corn field. Go figure.
  5. Provide a united front. Explain the issues. Clue everyone in. Let the whole family know what you plan to do and ask who is on board. We occasionally had family meetings where we asked for a show of hands. Draw the line in the sand and ask who wants to be on your side. This is serious stuff and you need to let everyone know “I GOT THIS.”
  6. Try to get a handle on their issues. When I discovered one of my sons had Asperger’s all made sense and I totally changed my approach. Do research. RAD is a serious issue that you might be dealing with.
  7. Don’t deal with this alone. We had little support and had to find our way with little help. Find a friend and share your issues – it always helps to have someone who knows and will support you if something goes wrong.
  8. Keep a journal of all happenings – EVERY DAY. You must protect yourself and journals help establish a timeline and important information that might be needed later. See Tip #12.
  9. There may come a time where their behavior is too intense for your family and you must separate them for the safety of all, including them. There are children’s homes and residential facilities equipped for the most difficult cases. This was always our last resort, but we did find the need for some of our kids. Safety is a common issue with RAD kids.

I’m sure there are tons more ideas that would help – let me know if you have any tips to add. We are in this together and no one should ever feel alone or abandoned.

YOU GOT THIS! {Mom of Many}

NOTE: I am happy to say that all my kids have grown to adulthood and have carved out a life for themselves. I am proud of all of them and have a good relationship with most of them. We are hopeful that the others will come around and come back – for they all are valued, no matter what. Our kids have grown tremendously. When you consider how much some of them have had to overcome, you are in awe of their strength. Never give up on them. They are worth every effort.

Leave a comment if you have any to add. If you need support join our M.O.M. group. We get it.

Val @ Mom of Many

MomofMany.net

Categories
Adoption Educating Our Children Family FAS Parenting tips

“He will never learn to tell time.” Parenting Tip #29

 

There is Always Hope

When you parent special needs kids and take them to doctors, psychologists and Neurologists, often you will hear discouraging news.

  • He will never learn to tell time because of his low IQ.
  • Get him velcro shoes because he’ll never learn to tie.
  • He will always be behind a year or two.
  • With his limited abilities you won’t be able to teach him like other kids.
  • He will never be capable of living on his own.
  • He will never hold down a job.
  • He will never see you as his parents, attach to you, or feel a part of your family.

I always accepted those statements as a challenge.

I walked out of evaluations with the attitude, “Bet me.” You guessed it – they did learn to do those things, and went on to learn all the basics.

All kids have potential {Mom of Many}

Be careful of IQ (It doesn’t mean I Quit)

Another one of my kids who was assigned a very low IQ during their younger years  has his own apartment and job at a grocery store. Others who had a rough start have jobs, drive cars, have relationships and speak intelligently – so much so that you need to get to know them before you know they have any disabilities.

Over-educated?

A few years after a depressing evaluation, I took one child to be evaluated at a children’s health center because I wanted to know if there were any programs that would help me with some specific issues. They had a great reputation in our county.

All kids have potential {Mom of Many}

He was in in fourth grade and tested at a 6th grade level with a Kindergarten ability. They couldn’t explain how he knew more than he was “able to learn.” When I explained that I taught him at home, they told me that I had “over-educated” him and that there were no programs for a kids like him.

Hmm. So I took him home and continued teaching him until I knew he had all the basics.

Another one of my kids desired to live on his own when he turned 18. It was hard for him to watch his siblings go off to college and talk about their futures. Since I was concerned about him being out on his own, we found a supervised living program. After a few months he lost a lot of what I had taught him (personal care, housekeeping, etc.) so he moved into the dorms where he could be closely monitored.

He graduated from their college three years later and is doing fabulously.

FASD and Other Labels

Some who live with after shocks of maternal drugs and alcohol use (they are adopted, BTW) have learned to compensate using other skills to fill in the gaps.

  • Those who had trouble remembering information in subjects like grammar and history relied on memorization to get them through the tough subjects.
  • Homework folders and assignment pads helped with daily assignments and teacher communication.
  • The younger kids had older kids as partners to help with daily activities like chores and outside activities.
  • They used check lists, sticky notes and had accountability partners.
  • Our home was structured with a consistent schedule, rules and expectations.
  • We were always nearby and consistent in supervision and follow through.

We have taught our kids to live in spite of “labels”. FASD, OCD, ODD, ADHD, ADD, PTSD, TMI, EMI, dysgraphia, dyscalculia, dyslexia, Asperger’s, APD, PCE, RAD, etc.

Never, ever give up on your kids, accept doomsday predictions on their future abilities, or let numbers set the bar. It is good to seek evaluations but use the information as a tool, not as fact that limits your reach.

Shoot for the moon, but be content if you only reach the stars. It’s an amazing place to live.

Val @ Mom of Many

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