Tag Archives: Parenting

Not My Mother’s Daughter: How I’d Parent My Hypothetical Child

One of this week’s writing prompts from Mama’s Losin’ It asks how you parent your kids differently than your own parents parented you. Now I don’t have any kids, and if I did, I wouldn’t get my way on every parenting decision. After all, my husband would’ve been there too, and, the way he views parenting, he’d be the stricter one of us.

I imagne, if I have to be very honest, that my hypothetical child’s upbringing would be similar to my own. I don’t approve of many of my parents’ actions, but then again they were done out of powerlessness. I imagine, agian being very honest, that I’d be quite permissive to my child but would lose it eventually and become aggressive. This is one reason I won’t have any kids.

Ideally, if I had a child, I’d parent them as naturally as possible. I don’t mean eating all organic food and using cloth diapers, as I don’t believe in this. I mean guiding them through their natural development rather than teaching or training them. For instance, I have some strong opinions on toilet training, which some parents take very seriously. I of course know that the skill of using the toilet is important, but I also think that too much pressure will stress the child out. Having witnessed some incontinent adults being humiliated and pressured, I know I don’t want to subject my child to the same unless it’s absolutely necessary. I originally wrote a lengthy, TMI’ish monologue on toilet training and how I would and wouldn’t approach it, but I’ll leave you to read up on natural toilet learning to find out.

My husband and I have had discussions or debates about what education we’d want for our child. I am a traditonally-educated person and went to an academically challenging high school. My husband has had a less traditional route in his education, though he finally earned a high school diploma at the same level I did. Both of us would choose an education for our child that is different from our own, even though we agree that our child would never go to the posh type of high school I went to. I think if it’d come down to it, I’d want a challenging education for my child too, but my heart screams “No!” to pushing my child’s academic limits.

Now that I think on it, my heart screams “No!” at the idea of pushing my child’s limits in general. This may be one more reason why I’d make a bad parent, though I’m not sure. After all, pushing a child over their limits is different from feeding the fire of their curiosity (be it for academics or otherwise). I don’t know whether this is optimism about a child’s natural curiosity and capacity for learning. It could quite likely be fear of overburdening my child like I was overburdened.

Mama’s Losin’ It

Could God Be Disciplining Us?

“Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” (Hebrews 12:9-11 NIV)

These words from Scripture do not show God as a gentle God, as a forgiving God, as a God who loves man. Or do they? I just read today’s Girlfriends in God devotional, in which Sharon Jaynes reflects on the above Bible verses. She recounts several examples from the Bible in which God punished His own people, as well as an example from her own life.

Now I for one would never choose to use corporal punishment on my child if I had one. Then again, Sharon’s son chose the paddle rather than a wee without his Nintendo. The important message in this text is not that children deserve corporal punishment, however – people vary in their opinions on this. The message is that the child should 1. suffer consequences for their wrongdoing, 2. know why they are being punished and possibly 3. choose their own consequences within reasonable limits.

After all, Sharon’s husband gave their son a choice between five paddlings or a week without his Nintendo. In the Bible, too, many times God gives the people who disobey him choices of consequences. This sort of control over the consequences of one’s wrongdoing is advocated in many parenting books, including those by authors who would never advocate corporal punishment. The message is that the child understands what they’re doing wrong, that they’re being punished and why, and that they have control over their actions and thereby have control over the consequences of these actions. This taches children not just righteousness, but also self-control and flexibility.

Does this too mean that God allows suffering as punishment? Sometimes, yes. People often say that God doesn’t give us more than we can handle, and this is true, but He sometimes tries to drive us back towards Him.

God is, as Sharon says in the devotional, a great parent – the best parent we can imagine. We may not always understand His actions as they happen, or even as we read about them in the Bible. Ultimately, however, we will understand, and even if we won’t, these actions will shape us to become the best us we can be.

Women With Intention

Parent Appreciation: Realistic Limits

“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honor your father and mother – which is the first commandment with a promise – so that
it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.” (Ephesians 6:1-3 NIV)

It’s Mother’s Day today. I am a bit late to post for it, as I couldn’t think of a theme to write on. Then I read Nicole’s post over at One Picky Chick, in which she lists ten reasons why she’s the meanest Mom (and wouldn’t change it) and I thought of the ways in which my parents set rules. The above Bible quote only popped up when I chose a memory verse for a Christian women’s group I’m a co-admin for. My parents are atheists, so they’ll probably not like it that I start a post honoring them with a Bible quote, but it’s fitting. This post isn’t focused specifically on my Mom, as my father was my primary caregiver, but I still want to say I definitely appreciate my Mom.

My parents weren’t perfect, of course. When I was in schema-focused psychotherapy and reading up on the things children need from their parents in their upbringing, I had negative comments on about everything mentioned. However, the last one was “realistic limits”. Though I had some negative experiences with those, most times my parents in fact provided me with good enough realistic limits.

My parents had some non-negotiable rules. School was pretty much the most important thing in life and always came first. We didn’t get to stay home from school unless we ran a fever, because, if we didn’t run a fever, we weren’t sick. Of course, there likely would’ve been exceptions to this rule, but at least it was clear that seeking an excuse to stay home in a slight tummy ache was not acceptable.

What rules like this taught me, is to be quite a rule-abiding person. I only learned in my teens to early twenties that you could actually get away with not doing your chores, but even now, I don’t like to break rules like this one. When I don’t do chores, it’s usually because I flat out forget.

On other rules, my parents were more flexible. When I was young, bedtime was bedtime. However, as I had trouble sleeping, my parents eventually relaxed this rule. I still had to go to bed at a certain time, but I didn’t have to go to sleep right away. Particularly once my sister had moved to a room of her own, this meant a lot less stress and less bothering of my sister and parents (at least at night).

I was an irritable child, but, thanks to my parents’ realistic limits, I didn’t become a defiant child. It also caused me to gradually learn self-determination. For example, the above example about bedtime taught me to regulate myself re sleep. I had my own rules about how much sleep I needed so when I needed to go to bed. I never slept in on school days.

When I think of what I’d do if I were a parent, I think of setting rules in a similar way that my parents did. Some things are non-negotiable and a child will just have to obey. When things are not that important and particularly the child isn’t a threat to themself or others (physically or psychologically), I’d be more flexible. My parents had a hard time with me sometimes, because, though I wasn’t openly defiant that much, I did have quite severe behavior problems. It must’ve been a tough balancing act between giving me too much room for self-determination and not allowing me to develop that sense of self-determination. I thank my parents for setting realistic limits.

Equipping Godly Women
Found Love. Now What?

Relationship Development Intervention (RDI) and Floortime: Two Autism Treatments #AtoZChallenge

Welcome to day eighteen in the A to Z Challenge on autism. Today, I will focus on two behavioral interventions for autism: relationship development intervention and Floortime.

Relationship development intervention (RDI) is a behavioral approach to helping autistic children reach the highest possible quality of life. The intervention was developed by Dr. Steven Guttstein. The basic idea behind the intervention is that dynamic intelligence, which is the ability to think flexibly, is required for a good quality of life. Dynamic intelligence includes the ability to appreciate different perspectives, cope with change, and integrate informaiton from multiple sources (eg. sight and sound).

The most important objectives of RDI are:


  • Emotional referencing: being able to learn from the emotions and subjective experiences of others.

  • Social coordination: the ability to observe and control behavior in order to participate in social interaction.

  • Declarative language: using verbal and non-verbal communication to express curiosity, invite interaction and share perceptions and feelings.

  • Flexible thinking: being able to adjust to changing circumstances and adapt one’s plans accordingly.

  • Relational information processign: the ability to put things into context and solve problems that don’t have a clear-cut solution.
  • Foresight and hindsight: being able to use past experiences to anticipate on future possibilities.


Autistic people usually have trouble in these areas, which leads to their autistic core symptoms. Typically deveoping children commonly learn these skills through interaction with their parents.

RDI uses the parent-child relationship to enable the child to master the skills mentioned above. An RDI consultant teaches the parents to modify their interaction and communication style in such a way that the autistic child will be supported to learn the missed skills.

I used to believe that RDI is the same as Floortime, but it turns out it isn’t. Floortime was developed by Dr. Stanley Greenspan and relies on the idea that, in order to teach a child functional skills, they have to engage with their parents, teachers or therapists. This is precisely where some autistic children have trouble, particularly those who are very withdrawn. In Floortime, the parent carefully intrudes the child’s play, following the child’s lead, and tries to engage the child.

So what is the difference between Floortime and RDI? An important distinction is that, in RDI, the parent takes the lead in engaging the child, whereas a parent who uses Floortime follows the child’s lead. Both approaches require consistency and follow-through, so as a parent, you most likely won’t be able to combine the two.

Growing Up: Autism and the Teenage Years #AtoZChallenge

Welcoe to another day in the A to Z Challenge in which I focus on autism. Today’s post is all about growing up. After all, autistic children grow up to become autistic teens and eventually autistic adults. Growing up isn’t easy for anyone, but it is harder for autistic young people. Last year, I already wrote a post on what it was like for me growing up with undiagnosed Asperger’s Syndrome.

Growing up brings many changes to the lives of autistic young people. For example, social and academic expectations increase rapidly especially in middle and high school. This is why some autistic children don’t get properly diagnosed till they reach puberty and start falling apart. I cannot stress the importance of a proper diagnosis enough, so if your child has difficulty meeting the increased developmental expectations of growing up, it is possible that autism or another neurodevelopmental disorder is the problem and you may want to get them assessed.

Once your child is properly diagnosed, or even if they are not, it is important to support them as they mature. Help them adjust to the changes of puberty. For example, their body will start to change and they will need to be extra aware of their personal hygiene. Since autistics have a hard time handling change, as a parent, you may want to educate them early on about what’s happening to their bodies and how they need to take care of themselves. Unfortunately, due to their delayed social and emotional development, autistic young teens might not feel ready for “grown-up talk”. It is important to seek the balance between overwhelming your child with “mature” information and not preparing them for what will inevitably come.

I cannot begin to give comprehensive advice on parenting teens with autism. There are, however, a few good books available on this subject. For example, Parenting a Teen or Young Adult with Asperger Syndrome (Autistic Spectrum Disorder) by Brenda Boyd is full of tips on parenting higher-functioning autistic teens. Growing Up on the Spectrum by Claire LaZebnik and Lynn Kern Koegel is also a good book.

Communication in Autistic Children #AtoZChallenge

Welcome to day three of the A to Z Challenge, in which I focus on autism. Today, I want to focus on one of the core areas of impairment in autism: communication.

Children and adults with autism have problems in non-verbal and/or verbal communication. Some individuals with autism do not speak at all or speech development is delayed. Others on the surface have great speech with an extraordinary vocabulary, but have problems with the social use of language (pragmatics).

Some common problems with communication in autistic individuals include:


  • Rigid and repetitive language. People with autism may say things that have no meaning in the conversation they’re having. They may repeat the same words or phrases over and over again, or they may repeat what another person has said (echolalia). Immediate echolalia occurs when a person repeats what has just been said, for example, answering a question with the same question. Delayed echolalia means that a person repeats what they’ve heard earlier. For example, they may ask “Do you want something to drink?” whenever they want a drink. Some people with autism use what they’ve heard on television in regular conversation.

  • Talking in a high-pitched, sing-song voice or in a monotonous tone of voice.

  • Being able to talk about certain topics only. Some people with autism can hold lengthy monologues on a topic of interest even though they cannot carry on a two-way conversation on the same topic or cannot talk at all about other topics.

  • >Uneven speech and language development. Some children will not speak at all then start speaking in full sentences. Others will develop a large vocabulary about a specific topic of interest, as I said above. Some children can read before the age of five but do not comprehend what they’ve read (a condition known as hyperlexia). Some people with autism cannot speak but can type.

  • Poor non-verbal communication. Many peopole with autism avoid eye contact, though some can learn to stare at another person’s eyes to fake eye contact. People with autism also often won’t use gestures to give meaning to their speech, such as pointing to objects.

In order to help an autistic child reach their potential in communicative abilities, parents and carers will need to pay attention to a child’s strengths and needs. For example, some children will not use any speech but will be able to learn sign language or learn to communicate using a speech app.

When a child repeats other people’s words, usually at first it has no meaning. However, echolalia can be a pathway to communicaiton, because a child will often ultimately start using repeated word in communicative scripts that do have meaning.

There are many stratgies parents can use to enhance an autistic child’s communication development. For example:


  • Take on the role of a helper and teacher. When a child is still particularly non-communicative, it may be tempting to do things for them without asking whether they need help. It is better to ask whether the child needs help and give them an opportunity to try for themselves first.

  • Encourage the child to do things with others. Again, it is tempting to let the child be completely in their own world, because many parents view this as independence. However, autistic children (and all children!) need interaction to improve their communication. Try to join the child in whatever activity they’re involved in. When the child shows anger, this is a sign that they are interacting and it is better than no interaction at all, so persevere.

  • Slow down and give the child a chance to communicate. Many children with autism are slow to process information, so it helps to slow down. It is tempting to rush, because, after all, as a parent you can’t attend to the child 24/7, but slowing down will ultimately encourage the child to communicate.

  • Give the child a reason to communicate. If you give in to a child’s every demand immediately, they will not learn to interact. It is important to create situations in which the child is encouraged to communicate more than just their immediate needs and wants.


As the child matures and develops more communicative skills, it is important to move from the helper/teacher role on to a role of a partner and to even follow the child’s lead. That way, a child will learn increasing reciprocity in communication.

Acceptance and Autism #AtoZChallenge

Today, for my first post for the A to Z challenge, I want to focus on a fundamental aspect of parenting an autistic (or non-autistic) child and of being a person: acceptance.

Many pro-cure autism parents don’t like the word “acceptance” when used in the same sentence as “autism”. They think that to accept their child’s autism means to like it, or to see it as something that can’t possibly be negative.

In truth, accepting means simply acknowledging what is. I remember I was discussing acceptance with a former therapist and saying I wasn’t ready toa ccept something. At that point she said that I might not be ready to accept the current weather but it’s still stormy whether I accept it or not. It is in the same mindset that I would like to encourage parents and autistic people to accept themselves or their autistic child.

Most parents, even those who would like to take away their child’s autism, accept their child for who they are. In other words, they acknowledge that their child is autistic now. Some obviously don’t, as some parents are in denial and others view autism as something completely separate from their child, but most do. Acceptance does not mean not wanting to change anything. In fact, in dialectical behavior therapy, a common treatment approach for people with borderline prsonality disorder, you are taught that to change something, you have to accept it first.

Let’s face it: your child is autistic. That’s the reality you have to acknowledge as a parent if you even want to begin to change anything about your child. You wouldn’t start treatment for autism, whether it’s behavioral or biomedical or medication treatment, if you didn’t accept your child is autistic.

I can illustrate this with my own life. My family till this day does not accept that I’m autistic. I wasn’t diagnosed till early adulthood for this reason. Then, when I accepted that I’m autistic, I started seeking treatment. I take medication and get counseling. This helped me greatly improve behaviorally. I would likely still have meltdowns everyday if I hadn’t accepted the fact that I’m autistic.

In short, to accept yourself as an autistic person or to accept your autistic child means to acknowledge the reality of autism. As parents, you probably love your child regardless of their autism, too, but that is different from accepting them. Accepting yourself or your autistic child does not mean liking your or their behavior. It does not mean there is nothign you wish to change about yourself or your child. After all, everyone has things they want to change about themselves and one aspect of parenthood is to help your child change.

Four Things I Wish Parents Knew About Neurodevelopmental Disorders

A few days ago, Natasha Tracy of Bipolar Burble wrote an interesting list of things she wishes parents knew about mental illness. I am going to use this list as inspiration and write a list of things I wish parents knew about neurodevelopmental disorders.

1. Neurodevelopmental differences exist. Whether they are disorders, is a societal controversy that you as a family cannot solve. If your child exhibits behaviors that get them in trouble, you may view them as just part of their individuality. That is great! However, please note that your child’s neurology will not change by the way you view it. If your child gets stuck, that’s a sign that they need help whether you like to admit it or not.

2. Neurodevelopmental disorders are not your fault. Your child’s neurology is not something you caused by anything you did or didn’t do (unless you as the mother drank or used drugs during pregnancy). Whether your child’s neurology leads them to get in trouble at home or at school, is related to the interaction between their neurology and the home or school enviornment. You (and the school) can make positive changes there.

Most adults feel their parents did things during their upbringing they would’ve liked to be done differently. However, you probably do the best you can. If you start feeling powerlessness and exhibiting behavior you regret, it is time to seek support.

3. Seeking help is not a weakness. It is in admitting our limitations that we show our strength, in this sense. If your child is unmanageable, it is better to seek help than to treat them harshly or to indulge into their every wish. You are not a bad parent for needing help with your child. Again, the child’s behavior is a result of an interaction between their neurology and the environment. Especially if your child is having trouble in school too, this is a sign that it’s more their neurology.

4. A diagnosis is a label, not a verdict. Your child with an atypical neurology might need a diagnosis because of the need for services. This does not change who they are as an individual. Neurodevelopmental disorders affect children and adults of all intellectual levels and personality types, and there are so many different aspects to neurodiversity that no two children with the same diagnosis are alike.

Because of the way the school system worked when I grew up, a diagnosis for me would’ve been a verdict in a way. I hope this has changed now.

Mums' Days

Teaching Your Child Organizational Skills

Organizational skills are very important in learning for children and adults of all ages. When they are lacking, a person struggles in unstructured tasks or in completing work independently and efficiently. Usually, a child develops better organizational skills as they age, being able to meet age-appropriate expectations. Still, children with even the best of organizational skills may struggle with major transitions, such as the transition from elementary to secondary school.

Other children have difficulties in organizational skills. Some can learn to overcome these as they mature, while others lag further and further behind. I am an example of the latter. In elementary school, I aced most classes, compensating for my lack of organizational skills by my high intelligence. In secondary school, I still did well because I had learned to read faster. I could therefore read the material being tested once at the last moment and still get a decent grade. Academically, my organizational skills didn’t get the better part of me till I was in college, when one reason I dropped out was my inability to plan my work.

Organizational skills are part of executive functioning. If a child struggles with organizational skills despite adequate parenting and teaching intervetnions, it might be that they have a learning disability or attention deficit disorder, but some kids have executive functioning difficulties without a learning disability or ADD/ADHD.

Here are some tips for encouraging the non-disabled child to develop their organizational skills. Some of these strategies will work to an extent with children with executive functioning difficulties too. At the end of this post, I will give some tips for dealing with kids with executive functioning difficulties specifically.

1. Use checklists. Help your child develop a to-do list. That way, the child will be able to visualize what they stll need to do and what they’ve already done. Have your child carry a notebook with them for writing down assignmnets and household chores. Have the child check off items that have been completed. You may need to monitor that they don’t check off unfinished tasks. You can have your child use step-by-step checklists for cleaning their room, too.

2. Use calendars and schedules. On a calendar, you will put all family members’ important appointments. It depends on you and your child how detailed a calendar needs to be or can be. On a weekly schedule, you list each family member’s household chores.

3. Buy your child a planner. Have them choose one that suits them or buy one for them that appeals to them. The child can put activities into their planner, but you’ll need to help them get their planner in sync with the family calendar to avoid conflict.

4. Involve your child in cleaning and cooking activities. Particurly cooking is a fun way to learn organizational skills. A child will need to learn to read a recipe, check steps they have already completed, assemble the right tools and ingredients, etc. Involve your child in meal planning too, challenging them to help you write a shopping list. Cleaning, while not as fun, is a necessary task that also requires organization.

As I said, many of these strategies will work for a child with executive functioning difficulties too. They may need more support while learning to organize their day. Here are some tips for helping a child with EFD to learn to become the best organizer they can be:


  1. Use written and/or visual step-by-step guides for chores and assignments. Incorporate as much detail as the child needs – I needed every step almost literally spelled out.

  2. Have specific tasks on a specific day of the week. Don’t have too many tasks in one day. For example, Monday is for cleaning the child’s room, while Thursday is for organizing their backpack. That way, the child will get into the habit of performing these tasks.

  3. Discuss new or unexpected situations with your child and help them prepare for what might happen.

  4. Repeat, repeat, repeat. Often, children with EFD have trouble learning to automate a skill, so you may need to help them, instruct them and supervise them for a longer time than you would a non-disabled child. Use the same schedules, reminders etc. for the same tasks over and over again.


It is very important to realize that your child with EFD is not being lazy, but they have a disability that makes it harder for them to organie their work. You may need to provide more support for them to complete their chores or homework than you would a similar-age non-disabled child.

Mommy Needs a Timeout Thursday Link-up

Benefits of Mutual Support Between Disabled Adults and Special Needs Parents

On the Preemie Babies 101 blog, Laura Maikata wrote an interesting post on surviving the post-NICU roller coaster for parents of preemies. Indeed, premature birth affects children long beyond the NICU, sometimes lifelong. Getting a new diagnosis, facing a new issue for your child is hard. So is the sometimes long time that passes between you as the parent noticing something and getting the answers to whether it’s an issue to be worried about and if so, what the diagnosis is.

It is important at all stages of life as a preemie parent to get support. When your baby is still in neonatal intensive care, this is seen as obvious, but there is little support out there for parents of older preemies. There is the PREEMIE-CHILD E-mail list and accompanying website, but that’s about it.

I wrote a comment on Laura’s post on the importance of support from people further along on their journey. This includes parents of older children with your child’s diagnosis or parents of older preemies, but I wanted to make clear it includes adults with special needs or former preemie adults too.>/P>

As a former preemie and adult with disabilities, I have found that I have been able to help some parents of special needs or preemie children along their joureny. I am not very knwoledgeable, but i can share my experiences and give parents an idea of what it’s like growing up as a former preemie. I can also share, if I know it, what helped me overcome certain struggles that parents are now facing with their children.

On the other hand, I too have been able to gain support from parents of special needs or preemie children. They have the benefit of their child’s doctors and specialists knowing the latest research on their conditions, and strategies that work for a child with my condition, may also work for me.

I remember in 2003 being part of a group for parents of blind children. The group also consisted of a few blind adults. I was the only blind teen on the list I believe. At the time, I was mostly on the receivign end of support, and the parents and blind adults at the time encouraged me to go to blindness rehab (though if they’d known how low the expectations of rehab were, they’d not have liked it). Now that I’m in my late twenties and have gained a fair amount of knowledge on my disabilities, I am not on that particular list anyore, but am on others. I have, for example, joined a group for parents of blind/autistic children, and though I was more capable growing up than many of these children are, I can still help in some ways.

There is often an attitude in the autism community that adults with autism cannot speak on behalf of children with autism. I understand, if for no other reason then because parents are the legal spokespeople for children autistic or not. But I don’t understand that autistic adults cannot provide any sort of perspective for parents of autistic kids. I think both parents and adults can learn from each other, and it isn’t that one group should speak for the other.