Being Retarded

Source: Being Retarded

Well worth reading this article, especially if you (mis)use the word regularly! Let’s have some respect, shall we.

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Ignorance is Bliss

This is an interesting perspective on what happens when the carer has more knowledge and experience than the professional. Sadly, too many professionals think they know it all. Yet, as mentioned in the article, unless you have lived with a situation, (or your research is extraordinary, and is way above and beyond what is needed to pass exams) you don’t really know it will enough to comment.

Kinship Caring for Beginners

Unless you have lived with, or been, an attachment challenged child you will have great difficulty understanding the needs. This became apparent during a recent consultation with the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service. (CAMHS)

There are obvious signs that Jenny suffers from attachment issues and that was the decision of the Autism Panel. We don’t disagree with that decision, even though we are also pursuing a proper assessment for co-morbid autism. We believe that each condition is affecting the other.

During the discussion with the CAMHS doctor I commented that having a full diagnosis of all conditions would help us to know the best way to handle the various challenges without creating a typical spoilt brat.

Aha! I could almost see a flash of light in the doctor’s eyes as she grasped at the psychological straw that I inadvertently held out to her. I have read about this effect…

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The Trouble With Teachers

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In fairness to teachers, they mean well. Most of them got into teaching because they want to make a difference in children’s lives. Yet it is amazing how parochial they can be when it comes to parental input.

For example, raising children with attachment issues is difficult enough. Yet you would expect teaching staff to at least be on your side. Do they not understand that you live with the problem, all day, every day; that you have done your research; and that you might, possibly know more about this issue than they do. After all, they get a few hours of seminar and consider themselves to be experts, despite the fact that they can walk away from the issue every afternoon. You, the carer, only have to put up with the resultant behaviour overnight and at weekends. Yeah! Right!

So it was refreshing to read Braveheart Education‘s blog post Social Experiment.

The trouble with teachers is that they did their training years ago. Yes, they have to do regular Continual Professional Development courses. But those courses are only effective if they are currently faced with the issues covered.

You, however, as a carer for a child with attachment issues, are constantly researching the issue and looking for all the latest techniques. Why? Because you know that raising a child with attachment issues requires you to keep ahead of the game; that techniques which work today may not work tomorrow, and you need to keep your toolkit sharp if you are going to succeed.

I urge you to read the article, Social Experiment, and share it with everyone. Let’s try to give these kids a fair chance.

Talent? What Talent?

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Watching a talent show, you wonder what the family are thinking when they allow their son, daughter, or whatever, to subject themselves to such public humiliation.

Most of us sing, from time to time; usually for one of two reasons. Either we feel happy, and burst into song, or we want to distract ourselves or others from what is going on around us. Lullabies are a classic example of the latter; a concerned parent tries to distract their child from pain, or send him to sleep, despite the excitement all around. Or a child will sing in a disruptive manner when she doesn’t get the attention she thinks she deserves.

Yet, how many of us really believe that we could make it as the next big pop star? No. We keep our singing to ourselves.

OK. Let’s put this in perspective. There was an advertisement for a famous chocolate bar, many years ago, that showed a new group auditioning with a record producer. During a break for refreshments, the producer says, “Can’t play. Can’t sing. You look awful. (Pause for advertised product.) You’ll go a long way.” Now, that was meant as sarcasm. But it seems that many of the people entering talent competitions, especially the televised versions, think it works. And I often wonder, “Do their families really hate them so much that they would allow them to go through such public humiliation?”

So why does it happen?

1. Hatred. There are several reasons, and overt family hatred is not among them, most of the time. Only the most perverse parent would want to humiliate their child in such a public fashion. Mind you, that doesn’t stop many parents from shouting derogatory comments at their child in public.

2. Don’t Upset Him. One reason is that people don’t want to upset their child, parent, or sibling. So, rather than cause upset in the family, they say nothing, or even encourage the foolish attempt to make it in show business, art, or the chosen talent. Maybe the would-be artist believes he has a great voice, but he also has a bit of a temper. So no one wants to upset him. They forget that he’s going to be upset, anyway, when the discerning public humiliate him.

3. Hatred Disguised as Love. Yet a far more insidious form of hatred is disguised as love. The current trend in parenting says that we should not provide a child with a negative view of himself; always try to find something good to say about his efforts. As commendable as such sentiments may be, do they really help to prepare the child for life? Self esteem is important. But to be valuable it has to be realistic. I once read a comment by a father who said, “If you present a bad report at the office, your boss isn’t going to say, ‘Hey, I like the color paper you chose.'”

Nurturing a positive view of one’s self without good cause is not loving. It is a form of hateful abuse. By nurturing the view that a child can do no wrong, a parent is setting the child up for failure. Children need to learn to be self-critical, not in the negative, self-harming sense, but in the way of having a realistic view of their own abilities and achievements. They need to identify when they got it wrong so that they can have the pleasure of problem solving without recourse to a parent masking the child’s failure. They need to learn to reason on their own work, find the mistakes, and fix them on their own.

The same is true of talent. When a parent, or other significant family member, presents an unrealistically positive view, they are doing their child a huge disservice. Protecting a child from harm includes protection from self-inflicted abuse caused by an unrealistic view of your own abilities. And that can only be achieved by being tactfully truthful.

Children need to learn that the universe does not revolve around them. They need to learn that they can’t be right, all the time. They need to learn that they will make mistakes, but that doesn’t mean that their life is over. The safest place to learn this is in the warm, loving environment of a warm, loving family, with parents who care enough to point out the failings in a gentle, loving way. They need parents who help them to identify and correct mistakes, rather than hiding the child from the consequences of their actions.

While it is important to encourage a child’s self esteem, failing to identify their weaknesses is failing to be a good parent. It produces children who greedily assume that the world owes them a living, and that they don’t have to do anything to deserve it.

Would it not be better to give the child a balanced, realistic view of himself. Maybe, then, they can become better parents, when it’s their turn.

Grandpa’s Way–New Beginnings–Unique Experiences

We left the last article with the thought that everyone involved in raising children has a unique experience, whether they are the parents or the children.


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Each Child Has a Unique Experience

Now think about this: Each of your children had their own, unique experience of life.

Let’s say that you had five children, fairly evenly spaced over a ten-year period. There was only one first child; only one second child; only one fifth child, and so on. The only thing that some of them may have had in common was that the second and third would both have been middle children. Yet even their experience was unique. The second only had one older sibling; the third had two. In addition, by the time you had your third, the first was probably getting ready for school. This would certainly be the situation by the time you had your fourth.

Realistically, though, if you had five children, it is likely that there would be a gap, somewhere along the line. Maybe you thought, like so many parents, that you had finished having children, when the “youngest” was eight, only to suddenly find yourself unexpectedly pregnant, again. So your eldest child could have been a teenager by the time the youngest was born.

Therefore, each child grows up in his or her own environment.

(By the way, so far I have avoided the idea of gender. Please remember that any references to “him” can generally also refer to “her” and vice versa. Any exceptions should be obvious!)

Also, bear in mind that, if you had your first child at age twenty, and the next, two years later, only one child had the experience of having a twenty-one year old father or mother, even if they don’t remember it.

Now, how does this unique experience affect the way each child is raised?

I have already referred to the possibility that your diet, exercise, and rest may have slipped in quality as each child came along. That, in itself, is a cause of differing experiences.

Yet, what about changes in understanding? For example, maybe you were raised with the idea that smacking children was acceptable. So when you had your first couple of children, you carried on in that tradition. However, let’s say that your last child was born after the Child Protection Act (in Britain) became law. Media campaigns would now have made you think about how you disciplined your children. Maybe now you started to wonder whether smacking was appropriate. So you stopped using physical punishment on all your children. Yet, how did this affect your last child; the one who never knew what it was like to feel the sting of a palm on his rear end? We will return to the subject of discipline in a later chapter.

What about advances in food technology, and our understanding of the effects of diet and exercise? Many people in their seventies, today, grew up during the years of the Second World War. They experienced shortages of what many consider to be basic foodstuffs: Butter, eggs, meat, etc. So they learned to eat what they could get. Where I come from, many older people like what is called “bread and dripping.” Essentially, this is bread spread with, yes, you guessed it, the fat that pours off the meat during cooking. In fact, many people in my area would give this some flavour by sprinkling it with salt. I tell you, this is pure cholesterol! No wonder there are so many heart attacks in this area.

When I was in school, I remember the British government sponsoring an advertising campaign encouraging a balanced meal of meat, potatoes, and two vegetables. Today, we are encouraged to eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables, every day, and to cut down on red meats. What effect did this have on the way we raised our children? Then, again, we are heading into the first generation that could see the widespread use of genetically modified foods. How will that affect future generations? We don’t know.

Then there is the matter of hand-me-downs, of course. The first child probably had brand new clothes, even if he did benefit from an older cousin’s cast-offs. The second child probably had fewer new clothes, especially if the first two children were of the same gender.

Still. Each of these changes mean that each of our children grew up in a different environment.

Each Parent Has a Unique Experience

The other aspect of raising children is that each parent has an experience that is unique to him or her and that changes with time. After all, who made all the changes mentioned in the last section? You probably improved your children’s diet; you probably improved your children’s exercise regime; you probably improved your children’s educational experience; you probably improved your children’s life experience.

Consider, though, how your experience changed, over the years. Maybe you grew up in a home where healthy and diet rarely appeared in the same sentence. Maybe you grew up in a family whose most energetic exercise consisted of reaching for the remote control. Maybe you grew up in a family that was almost fanatical about health, diet, and fitness. How much of that have you changed since you left home? How much of it have you passed on to your children? How much of it have you discarded in your own parenting?

So it was that you raised what you would like to think of as responsible children.

And then, they left home.


In the next article we will extend the idea of raising responsible children to the way that grandparents can help their children raise their grandchildren. And we will start to look at the way to handle concerns.

Grandpa’s Way – New Beginnings – Raising Responsible Adults

This is the second in a series of articles looking at the issues faced by grandparents, especially those who find themselves in a position of having to become parents to their grandchildren. You can read the introduction, here.


RoadHome

The birth of a child is probably one of the most joyful events that most families experience. It is so keenly anticipated for such a long time that most expectant mothers get to the point where they hate to hear that ominous question, “So how long do you have left?”

Why do we look forward to the birth of any child, let alone the first? Is it not because of what it represents – a new beginning? Whether this is the family’s first child or its fifth, the family will be forever changed by the birth. The child represents the family’s future. So many hopes and aspirations are bound up in that little bundle of joy.

Conceived at a time when the parents were at their closest, physically, emotionally, even mentally, they rightly treasure the newly-born child. All those months, maybe even years of planning have finally culminated in a hopeful future.

Raising Your Own Children

If you have had the experience, think back to the time when you first found out that you were expecting. How did you feel? Mothers report feeling little flutters in their abdomens. Then again, so do some fathers! If you have yet to enjoy this experience, try to anticipate how you might feel.

For some mothers, the feeling of that tiny collection of cells swaying about inside the womb was a reminder that they were now responsible for a life other than their own. In fact, that very thought may well have caused the fluttering in their partner’s stomach, too! It truly is a heavy responsibility. Just think: You are embarking on a twenty-year project with a view to producing a new, valued member of society who will carry on the great family tradition. At least, that’s the plan.

As we all know, the best-laid plans often come unstuck. Life has a strange way of confusing the issues for us. All that time, attention, and money that you were prepared to shower on your little bundle of joy may suddenly have to be shared between two, three, or more, as further children come along.

A Twenty-Year Project

As you embarked on your twenty-year project, what thoughts went through your mind? Did you think about the amount of alcohol you were consuming? Did you limit your intake, or even cut it out altogether for that critical nine months, or more? Did you decide to give up tobacco products, or even stronger substances? Did you watch your diet and make sure that you ate the “right” foods and drank the “right” drinks? Did you make sure that you ate and drank in the “right” quantities, and at the “right” times? What about exercise? And rest? Did you ensure that you kept your blood pressure in the right band?

Why? Wasn’t it because you wanted to give your child the very best start in life? Didn’t you want to ensure that your baby was as healthy as possible when it exited from its amniotic swimming pool?

Even when further children came along, did you not do your best to ensure that, although you now had toddlers to chase after, you still had the right amount of sleep and the right amounts of the right food and drink? Or did things start to slip? And do you reproach yourself for that? Of course not. By then you had enough experience to know that the “right” things are actually recommendations, and that there is a fair amount of tolerance in the range of diets and activities that will keep you fit and healthy, and give your child a healthy start.

Still, the years rolled by. Suddenly, as you turned thirty, you realized that your energy levels were dropping. As you turned forty, and you still had teenagers to look after, you learned that this project was not going to be so easy, after all. Yet you kept going. After all, you are not one to let the next generation down.

Raising Responsible Adults

The aim of all this work, of course, was to raise responsible adults who would carry on the fine family tradition. Your children were going to be everything that you dreamed they would be. So you made sure that, most of the time, they had a fairly healthy diet; that they had a healthy amount of sleep and exercise; and that they studied the right subjects and did their homework on time.

You recognize, of course, that you were not, and you are not, a perfect parent. No arguments, please. You were not and you are not the perfect parent. Neither was I, neither am I. We all mistakes. Yet that does not mean that we failed as parents. We did our best in the circumstances and with the information, resources, and materials that we had.

Just consider this: Accidents and illnesses aside, did your children make it to the point where they were able to look after themselves? Did they leave home with the ability to cook some semblance of a reasonably healthy meal? On the assumption that they survived the first five weeks living on their own, I think it is safe to say that, yes, you managed to raise fairly responsible children. Okay, maybe that’s an exaggeration. Living on fast food may not constitute being fairly responsible, but I think you get the idea of what I mean. And maybe they still bring the laundry home, once a month, for you to process it so that they can avoid purchasing further supplies of socks and underwear. Still, they have survived up till now.


In the next article we will look at the unique experiences involved in raising children.