Welcome to my life. It's a whirlwind of kids, chaos, pets, people, family, art, and being home (most of the time; I like to get out here and there). We unschool, so the unexpected is, well, expected...

Friday, January 16, 2015

the big bad screen time

In response to a parent who was having a bit of anxiety over their children using their new tablets after Christmas because tablets are screens and represent screen time....

Both of my kids learned to read by using the computer, the internet, playing video games, listening to audio books, and watching TV. They each asked for help to spell things for searches, or chatting, until they could do it themselves. Each of my kids gained vocabulary by talking and hearing and watching stories. Each of my kids learned to recognize words and meanings by needing to know them in order to navigate games. All of those activities are likely to have screens, but it isn't screen time. It's time spent engaging in meaningful activities in which they are learning and having fun.

Do your kids enjoy what they are doing? What else do they enjoy? What kinds of activities were they doing before they got cool new presents? Are they still able to choose among the many options that are being provided? Those are the sorts of things that you should be asking yourself. Kids who enjoy what they are doing, are going to be learning. There is absolutely no way to stop that from happening. Sometimes that learning is invisible to us, as parents. That's okay. It really is.

The point of childhood is to learn how to be an adult. Kids get to learn how to interact with others, learn how to communicate, learn how to acquire specific skills for specific tasks. It matters little what those specific skills are. What matters is that they have the specific skills to match the specific tasks that they want to do. All of those things can be learned by watching TV, watching Youtube, playing games, listening to stories, and whatever else a kid might do with a tablet. All of those things can easily transfer to the actual physical doing of whatever they want to do. It will only happen when there is a need or reason to do so and that time will come, a week from now, or a month from now, or a year from now. It's not a process that can be rushed or quantified or qualified. Schools do that, they rush the process and quantify and qualify and the learning gets stunted and stopped to meet some other bit of "must know" criteria.

When kids are happily engaged, they are learning deeply, about themselves, the world, and what it means to be a person and how they fit into it all. There is no way to rush that process. Even kids in school need to do that, it's simply that the process gets messy in school, it's not seamless and soft. In school there are growing pains because each person is pushed and pulled and stopped and started on someone else's time schedule. It's an extra layer to weed through to find their way as a person.

Marvel in the idea that your children can learn in a way that is seamless and soft and when they come to bumpy bits, they'll be able to move past it in creative and interesting ways.


I'm attempting to write in my blog again. Check in and maybe, if you're lucky, there will be something new to read!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Run away as fast as you can from the abuse cycle!

I've written quite a bit about kids that run away. I'm more convinced than ever that kids NEVER run away without a reason. One time I was surprised by a kid that ran away and even more surprised that the kid stayed in a youth shelter, refused to come home and told the counselor that her mother abused her. I was shocked and soothed her mother.

Her mother was deeply hurt by all of it and blamed it all on her daughter. Her daughter wasn't mature enough, didn't make good decisions, was wildly impulsive, was overly dramatic, etc. I believed her that this was true.

There was a vivid moment where we were standing on the front porch of a mutual friend, the day the daughter ran away. The mom was telling us about the conversation that she'd had with the counselor and the reason that they wouldn't let her come and get her daughter. Since the daughter had accused her mom of abusing her, they had to investigate. I remember saying something about how silly that was and surely it wasn't true. The mother had admitted to slapping her daughter in the face once when she was really really upset and had immediately regretted it and apologized. The mom told us that her husband accused her of abusing the kids all the time and that the daughter was simply repeating what she'd heard. She was lamenting how unfair it was to be accused of abuse and how terrible it was for her husband to say such things. Her husband walked up around this time and over heard part of the conversation. All of us standing there on the porch told him that he shouldn't accuse his wife of abuse when she's not abusive.

We took away that man's voice. He knew. He is the victim of abuse and his wife is abusive. In the process, we took away the kids' voices and we took away the voice of the girl who ran from abuse.

That brings me back to this: Kids NEVER run away from home without a reason. It might seem like trivial reasons, or it might even seem as if there isn't a reason, but there is always a reason! If you are a parent whose child has run away, trust me, even if you can't think of a reason, there IS one. Sometimes it's control and sometimes it's abuse. Sometimes a parent makes a child's life so miserable they simply can't think of a reason to stay where that parent is.

I wish that I never have to deal with, see, hear, or experience another run away situation ever again.

Here's a really great book to read if you want to prevent any of your kids from ever considering running away. Parent/Teen Breakthrough: The Relationship Approach

It's cheap too, at the time of this blog there are books as little as $.13 plus $3.99 for shipping. A cup of coffee and a muffin are more expensive than that!

That book is about how control destroys a relationship. If a parent is abusive, the book can still help, but seriously the best advice for you if you are abusive is to GET SOME HELP! Stop abusing your kids, stop yelling at them, stop hitting them, give them a voice that isn't yours. Abusers have a way of taking away the voice of other people, which is, in part about control.

There is simply no excuse for any of it. It's so much better to find happy ways to live, peaceful ways to live. Hurting others only hurts ourselves. When you hurt your kids, you hurt yourself, you validate the childhood that was likely your own. Find another way. Be kind to your kids, get over your issues. Don't hold onto them. All those things that parents do to their kids are things that were likely done to them as kids. That's why it's called a cycle of abuse. Some parents try to do better, some parents really do better, some parents aren't even aware of what they do.

If you are a parent who experienced a not so great childhood, BE AWARE. Don't pass on that to your own children. It's simple really, if it feels yucky, if what you do causes pain for you or your child, it probably isn't a good thing to do and you should stop doing it. If you get stuck, get advice to do better, accept that you've done something wrong, apologize for it and don't do it again. That's a big part of the equation, don't do it again!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

In the spirit of the season

I've been thinking and rethinking all that has come out about the girl who ran away and where she's at right now and where her mother is at and the heart breaking sadness of all of it. The tendrils of sadness that emanate from the actions of the mother and her own heart breaking sadness reach out and touch others in really terrible ways. I don't fault her, she's very very sad and hurt and human.

At some point we all own our actions whether or not we are aware of them or not. Sometimes it takes life changing alterations to cause us to see our actions and sometimes people get so stuck in their sad lives that they can't at all see how they impact others. Part of me believes that it is selfish and self righteous and part of me believes that because people aren't perfect, that some people really aren't self aware or recognize at all how what they do effects others, and because of that don't care.

So, where does that leave those that have been harmed by others in that place?

Not everyone is going to be happy in life. Not everyone is going to be kind and thoughtful towards others. Not everyone holds themselves to high standards of self awareness, their thoughts and lives are focused elsewhere, and I can't change that about people.

What I can do, is focus my own happy thoughts towards my family and create the life that I want and help my family members do the same. In so doing all of us help others through our thoughts and actions. I always wanted a home that was open to others, a place that people feel safe to be in and enjoy spending time in. I never thought it would be that to dozens of teenagers. I never knew how many teenagers there are growing up without happy homes full of love and peace.

So, in the spirit of the season I will be kind and loving and peaceful. All my actions shall be geared toward that. This is my heart, it has been for years. Sometimes the cruelty of others stifles that, but I am strong and my children are strong and others can NOT change that.

Live in peace, seek joy, and love others openly. In all actions that should be first and foremost. If what I do isn't creating peace, joy, and love, then I should not be doing it. It really is that simple. If my thoughts shift in focus, or get distracted by the many sad things in the world, then I'm not living in awareness. If I don't live in awareness I am not living a life worth living. I want my life to count, I want my actions to count.

I'm so grateful to my Chamille who lives, above all else, an honest life. She's often my reality check. She calls it like it is, doesn't make excuses for the way things are, and while things cause her sadness, she's able to move on and be happy. She lives by her principles and sometimes she lives in a very black and white world.

Margaux is my girl who calls me on my actions every time I exhibit impatience or frustration. All I do is geared toward making her life comfortable and happy and pleasant. It seems like a lot sometimes, but it's really the simple acts that create peace and harmony.

And my husband says so many thought provoking things and gives me another view of the world. He's deeply kind and compassionate. I love him and cannot imagine a life without him.

That is some awesome happy peaceful and loving stuff there! I'm very very blessed! I have wonderful friends and family, and people to confer with in intelligent conversation. What more could I ever ask for? Everything I have is here to share.

So, Live in peace, seek joy, and love others openly, there is plenty to go around! It's always free and easy to share and creates abundance!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

"The price I had to pay for what many people call "good upbringing" was that for a long time I was separated from my true feelings, from myself."

That is a quote by Alice Miller in a preface from her 2002 edition of "For Your Own Good"

Today, we saw the girl who ran away. I thought it was just Chamille being invited to meet up with her, but I found out at the last minute that I was invited too, so I went.

I'm still processing that visit. I love that girl, (I'll call her Alex for this story) she's so vibrant, yet here she sat with most of that hiding away. It was a supervised visit with her mentor/counselor. She introduced herself and told us all about the place where Alex is staying and then moved several tables away to let us talk. We met a coffee place.

In my own thoughts I made note of various things Alex said. Chamille asked if her mom trusted her yet, and her response was that "yes" she did, however we found out at the end of the visit, that the mentor hadn't just given her a ride like she'd explained. Yes, she'd given her a ride, but Alex's mother came to pick her up afterwards to take her home for the holiday weekend. So, really, the only reason the mentor stayed was to babysit. I'm not sure who she was babysitting. Was it because Chamille is so dangerous that she needed to be supervised or was it because Alex really isn't trusted yet. Either way, it says a lot.

One thing really jumped out at me in the conversation. Alex said "I know this is all for my own good. I know that what my mother is doing is for my own good." My immediate thought to that, which I did say, was to be careful with the phrasing "for your own good", it's the excuse that abusers use to continue abuse, and commonly used to control and manipulate others.

I'm glad that Chamille got to see her best friend. She wasn't either happy or sad about it. She really wished she could just hang out with her but was willing to accept a supervised visit.

I know I'll have much more to say, but the visit left me feeling empty. Alex firmly believes at this point that everything was clearly her fault and that she needs to heal from all the pain. She parroted back many things in her wording, things that didn't come from her own thinking. It was painful and sad to experience.

There were a couple of moments where there was a flash and a smile of the real Alex tucked underneath it all. That was worth the whole meeting, just to see that small bit of her still left hiding away. Just like the title and quote. I hope she survives it all!

More to come.....

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The gift of helping your kids feel empowered... it's one that keeps on giving!

Spreading into the world, one person at a time, touching one person here and another there. Changing the lives of our own children DOES change the world!

Here is what comes from being a solid and happy person! I copied and pasted a facebook thread that my daughter was in. She is LunaCandy Bloodstroke, and the other person, G A, is someone I don't know.

The other girl started it with a status update:

I don't feel good enough.. OR pretty enough for him.. :/
3 hours ago

LunaCandy Bloodstroke then feel good, and pretty for yourself :)
3 hours ago

G A ‎://
3 hours ago

LunaCandy Bloodstroke not other people last forever, but you will always have yourself for as long as you are alive.
3 hours ago

G A Yes thats true.. But sometimes I hate myself..
3 hours ago

LunaCandy Bloodstroke everybody has those moments but its best to try and not get stuck there.
3 hours ago

G A Yeah.. :/ Ijust feel like falling apart that's all..
3 hours ago

LunaCandy Bloodstroke well then wrap your arms around yourself and hold everything together.
3 hours ago

G A I'll try..
3 hours ago

LunaCandy Bloodstroke everybody can do it, you just has to be strong. :3
3 hours ago

G A But see thts the thing I'm not..I wis I was..
3 hours ago

LunaCandy Bloodstroke I use to think I wasn't, I use to fall apart really easily, then I just kinda was like, no. I am strong, and I am me. and I can be whatever I want to be. and I can be happy even in the shittiest of moments.
2 hours ago

G A Wow.. I wish I could be like you.
2 hours ago

LunaCandy Bloodstroke then do it. I had to do it in one of the most worst moments of my whole life, and all I wanted to do was kill myself. but I thought of the people who are in my life. and how many more people I could meet in my life aswell.
2 hours ago

I always knew that Chamille had that power in her! I never doubted it for a moment even if she did. And for the record, the other girl, G A, is absolutely gorgeous. I can't say what kind of person she is since I don't know her, but she is really pretty! I do know the guy she's talking about though!

Saturday, November 06, 2010

hmmmm manipulating mothers?

Chamille heard in a round about way that her runaway friend has decided that she's going to try being really nice to her mom so that she can get her life back.

We were talking about that. Both of us wondered why she doesn't try being honest with her mother. Chamille said that it wasn't going to change anything, that she wouldn't get her life back, and she still wouldn't be able to see her, even IF her mom let her come back home from the "bad kid" reform ranch/school. The lack of honest communication is part of what caused all this stuff in the first place.

If a mom's thoughts and ideas are bigger and better than her child's, and she's adamant about them and loud about them, and possibly annoying about them, the child, like the one in this story, might just tune mom out and nod in agreement to get her to just STOP talking already! That poor mom. I have sympathy for her, really. She really believed that her daughter agreed with everything she said, she really felt like she had wonderful heart to heart conversations with her daughter and that they were in wonderful harmonious agreement. What a shock to find out that her child ran away from her wonderful home full of harmony and agreement.

So, now the daughter is STILL not wanting to communicate with her mother honestly, she wants her life back, her friends back, and what little bit of freedom she had before she was put in lockdown at the reform ranch place. I get it though. If the relationship is set up in such a way where one person's ideas always trump the other, the one being trumped will find other ways to get what she wants in life. That person will sneak and lie and hide. For a mom who is so sure that she is doing right for her daughter, that idea will be a hard one to swallow, but it happens ALL the time.

Chamille isn't holding her breath. She asked me why it seems that we are the only ones who seem to see that what they are doing isn't going to work. This girl's other friends are all in favor of her playing nice to get her life back. Chamille is, and always has been, 100% about honesty, even if it's painful or uncomfortable. She wonders why her friend doesn't just talk to her mom honestly and tell her exactly how she feels and what she wants, at this point, what would she have to lose?

How much could a kid lose? At what point is it too much? Why didn't she tell her mom how she felt in the first place? Her mom isn't a bad person really, lacking in parenting tools perhaps, but not a terrible parent like some other parents we know. It seems to me that open honest communication would help both the mother and the daughter. It would be a long hard road, but they could repair all the damage that has been done. If the mother waits too long, her child's childhood will be gone and I doubt very much that her daughter will forgive her any time soon. It's the nature of tearing down relationships through control and power dynamics. It's so hard to sit and watch it happen. It's hard seeing how torn my own daughter is over it, that I can only imagine how horrible it is for her friend, the one dealing directly with it.

I sent the mom an email a while back and told her she was one of the meanest people I'd ever met. A mutual acquaintance had suggested it was a shame that I said that, but it is truly how I felt. Her actions are ones of cruelty, stemming from pain, I get that, but does being in pain yourself ever excuse cruelty towards others? I guess, for me, I can't look at my actions and see that I'm hurting people and casually go about it anyway. That is the heart of self righteousness and a person can't truly heal from any kind of pain while being that way and behaving in ways that hurt others, especially if their actions are intentional. That doesn't even begin to dig into what this mother is doing to her very own daughter, that was just about her daughter's best friend. What she's doing to her own daughter is much much worse and could potentially destroy any chance she has of ever having a relationship with her. It's tragic that the one person this woman cares about, her whole world, is her daughter, yet she's driving a big wedge in between them, so much so, that her daughter is looking to manipulate her instead of getting what she wants by being honest and forthright.

I'm so glad that my own daughter doesn't do that to me. She will openly tell anyone that she likes me and respects me. She will openly tell me anything because I won't judge her. She's free to live her life the way she'd like to live it and I'm here to bounce ideas on and offer support and a little bit of guidance here and there. The only reason I'm able to do that is because I don't attempt to control her. I wish more parents could see that. In order to have any kind of influence on your kids is to NOT control them, in order to NOT control them, you need to trust, trust them to make good choices and trust them to come to you when they don't make good choices and need help.

Life need not be so black and white, right and wrong. Kids are people, real humans with real thoughts and real ideas and here's a news flash... sometimes they just know better than us parents about what's good and right for themselves, even if they make choices that we don't like! You really can be okay with it, really!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Prevent Running Away

I found this list of ideas for parents of kids that could potentially run away. What I find interesting about it, is that if ALL parents behaved this way towards their kids, their kids might not ever run away! What happens when they have already run? Sometimes parents don't get do overs! If your child has runaway and comes back, really really, follow these directions! Kids who run will often run again and stay gone longer and go farther away. Why risk it?

That list is so basic in parenting skills I find it almost appalling that there are parents that don't do these things. Why even be a parent?

The North American Missing Children Association says that developing a strong foundation of open communication with your child is the key to preventing most runaway cases. Try these tips to improve your relationship with your child:

Pay attention. When your child is talking with you, listen. Don't just nod your head while you're watching television, reading the paper or using your computer. Don't just pretend to listen - kids know the difference.
Give respect. Acknowledge and support your child's struggle to grow to maturity.
Understand. Try to sympathize with what your child is going through. Look at life - at least occasionally - from his or her point of view. Remember that when you were his or her age, your ideas seemed to make sense to you.
Don't lecture. All children hate to be lectured, especially teens. But all kids respond to clear information and direction, most of all when they know that the questions they ask will be answered.
Don't label. The throwing around of useless labels will only confuse the real issues that you wish to address.
Discuss feelings. Talk about what you, as a parent, feel and what you need. Allow your child to talk about his or her feelings, too.
Create responsibility. Give your child choices, not orders. Help him or her to understand the consequences of his or her actions.
Give positive praise. Describe your child's positive and negative behavior and how it affects others. Be specific, and give praise to reward good behavior. Do this at least as often, if not more so, than you criticize behavior that you don't like.
Stop hassling your child. Asking your child too many questions often shuts off information. Give him or her the opportunity to volunteer his or her thoughts and feelings while you show a sincere interest, without probing.
Don't always give the answers. You want your child to be able to find his or her own answers or solutions to problems. You can help by not giving your child the answers all of the time.
Use Teamwork. Work together with your child to evaluate the problems and find a mutually agreeable solution.
Provide support. You must tell your child that you will always love him or her, no matter what.

To All Parents of Runaways,

Kids do not run away from homes that are wonderful and full of love and respect! Make your child's life so wonderful that they never want to run from it or you! Don't be cruel or manipulative. Don't yell or nag. Don't lecture and be rude to your children. Be kind and thoughtful and compassionate. Tell your children that you love them, tell them often and then show them in actions. Build them up and empower them, be their mirror that reflects the beauty that exists inside of them, so that they can see their self worth.