Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Special Manners 101 - Siblings Are Special Too

~~ When you are someone with disabilities or are the caregiver of one, you  quickly learn a few simple facts. Not everyone understands simple common courtesies. So as we blog and I think of things I'll include them here. I would love to hear your thoughts and solutions as well. ~~

Special Manners #101

When people encounter a family of mixed abilities, health issues, or behavioral problems, they often either zero in on just the special needs person or the parents. Left behind are the "typical" children. Here's the real rub, those normal kids carry extra burdens because they aren't impaired.

The special needs child may require tons of extra attention from the parents. It doesn't matter to the sibling that the attention isn't all about playing and cuddles. What matters is that they aren't given equal time. As a parent I can tell you that there is no way to balance it all. Less so with each major disability in the home.

There are therapies that often have the disabled child getting a sucker, small toy, sticker or stamp. What does the sibling get? They get to do their homework in the waiting room for an hour while missing their favorite cartoon or time with their friends.

People donate things from time to time and it goes to those with needs. Guess what? Every child has needs, even those with typical abilities. There is no ribbon for them that mom proudly wears to bring them to the mind of others. They don't have a day or a month of recognition that celebrates how much extra work they put in helping their sibling. 

Siblings that grow to feel left out, put out, or uncared for will find ways to show you. Their actions will then cause harm to everyone around them. School grades may drop because they think no one cares. After all mom is too busy learning about IEPs. They may become violent just because they can't voice their frustrations. They may not even realize why they are upset. 

So what do you do?

The Manner: Remember that every child is special and unique, even the normal ones. 

There are little ways to give to the siblings that don't take any extra effort or money. It's what most parents try to do anyway. You can catch the child being good or going the extra mile and tell them what a great job they are doing. Let them know that their help is wonderful and they will carry that with them. Involve them as much as they want to be in their siblings home based therapy, and the cause you are behind. But if they don't want to be involved, don't force them.

If the sibling is younger, then a boring therapy appointment can be made better with a story that they pick, a bit of time at a park that's close by, or some other small "me" time. If you are a friend or family member outside the home you can offer to watch the sibling for therapy time and do that quietly fun thing that makes them smile.

A simple word, small gift, a little bit of attention goes a long way. And as you know I like to say: Balance is key! just like in a typically functioning home.  Don't over shower the sibling with fluff that amounts to buying them to be good. They will catch you and it will become it's own monster.

How do you balance the family? ... Oh and don't forget the spouses.... they can suffer as much as the children do.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

What's Real Love?

"Know love in all it's forms 
and know nothing less then contentment"

I was talking with a friend recently and we got talking about Love. I got thinking about it and now you are stuck with reading about it. I know, I know... you can check out any time you want.... but can you really ever leave?

When most people hear the word Love, they think of the love between a man and a woman. But really, at some point, I think we all reach for a more basic Love. The love that is shared in every type of relationship. Love forms between family members, friends, and even couples that is truer and deeper then the general obligatory type that the label suggests.

Real love is full of simple shared moments. It doesn't have that desperate clingy feel that often comes with the loves that spark hard and fast then burn out. It tends to be steady and reliable even with the bumps that life brings. You know about what to expect and so does the other person. No, it isn't a boring love. There are surprises but not usually the kind that derail the relationship.

Real love tries to understand, shares, guides, but doesn't expect you to always follow. It allows you to be you and loves you all the more for it. Love wants better and more for you but knows that you will do what you need and want to at your own pace. It accepts that. It's even ok with it. And just as importantly, it doesn't judge, hold it against you, or say "I told you so."

Real love isn't easy or really hard. It just is. It rides the tide of life.... some times requiring extra from you while other times giving you an extra bit. You have to give in order to receive but you should give because you love, because it is the right thing to do not to gain. I'm just sayin' 

Real love laughs, smiles, cries, and aches right along with you. It tells you that you can over come, that you've done well, and that it's all good. It forgives. It asks forgiveness. It isn't perfect, may not last forever, but it is a treasure that you will always hold in your heart. 

Accept love, give love... in all it forms. The love from a friend can ease pain and bring smiles. The love from a child can chase away the darkest clouds. The love from a mate can ground you when the world turns upside down. Things happen, life changes, and so does love. It's sad but worth the risk. You will find real love gives you the chance to be the best you that you can be and reaching for more then you knew you could.

Know Love, Peace, and Contentment.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Parenting Thoughts

It often amazes me on how hard people work on things that are of little consequence but then put little effort into family, marriages, and simple raising of children. The article above is one I wrote using the positive approach to parenting. I have found that simple loving respect works wonders.

What's your approach?

Monday, March 14, 2011

Are On-line friendships Less?

The world is different these days. We can know people who live on our block and half way around the world with the same degree of intimacy. There may be lack in physical touch or such, but really even that has been worked around. 

So how should we look at the people we call friends but just know in the box? Are they some how not worth as much just because we haven't flown out to meet them or didn't go to high school with them? If they are sad, hurt, confused are we supposed to click our tongue, say "that's too bad," and move on to the next friend? Or should we say, "what can I do?" 

The reality is that we sometimes share as much if not more of ourselves with our on-line friends. Time isn't an issue because we leave this message and they get back with us when they can and then we get back to them when we can... we can give more because we can do it around the day to day life. 

We notice things about our friends on line, like changes in their type of "speech" as they write, the content they share, and how well it is all put together. We may miss this in a friend we just meet up with for lunch once a month. 

What is our obligation to the on-line friend? Do we owe them the same concern, love, and understanding that we would a friend who lives in the same town? Do we wonder about them when we don't hear from them? 

Time and energy put into any friendship gives it a level of importance. There are folks in your everyday world who could fade away unnoticed and others who you would cry a river for. But what of your on-line friends? We hold some as close as family so why would we not give them the same level of concern and importance as such?

Let's go back to a time when phone calls were scarce, there was space in the west, and people had to write letters to family and friends. Did the people then care less about each other because of the distance? They couldn't offer as much support or know as many details as the family that can now send and receive in a days time what would have taken months then.

On-line friendships and made family ties are as important as the friendships you had in high school. You invest you heart, your time, and sometimes your money in the people you find important connections with. They are no less your friend then the lady you meet for lunch. You also have oblications to them just as you would any other friend.

If you see a friend in need, in danger, or struggling then you offer what help you can. You take them a bag of groceries, you ask if they need to talk, or make some other move to help them. Really, if you are a good friend then it doesn't matter if you know these people just in the box but that they are your friend in the truest sense of the world. And true friends reach out, are there for each other, and look out for each other.

What is of real concern, is how easy some people can shut off that love and friendship. With a click of a button you can take someone out of your world forever. At least in the physical world you have to put a little more effort into it. Some things that can be worked through aren't for the simple reason it requires more work then hitting a delete button.

The world is changing. How people interact is changing. The need for friendship and love is not. Hold tight and honor your friends no matter where you met them. Treat them how you want your friends to treat you. Show concern, laugh, enjoy your friends because it is so much better then being alone.

Be thankful for the people in your world.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Public Service Announcement: THINK!

PSA #100: Nature is bigger then you and will kick your butt.

If you are going to commit suicide don't do it using a tsunami, hurricane or other natural disaster that comes with a warning time before hand.  Yeah, people love the pictures but your mom loves you home for Sunday dinners. 


Even if you insist on getting your 5 minutes of fame from nature's attitude problem, think. There are safer ways to get it done.... think higher ground then the waves, buildings built to fight the winds, and somewhere the lava won't melt your shoes.

Better yet leave it to the people who know what they are doing and have more life insurance.

Common sense and a handle on the native language. No swimming, stay off the beach and get the hell outta dodge all mean what they sound like.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Lost Art of Parenthood

"They didn't choose to be our children,
so we must be the parents they would have chosen."

I am Mom. It's my main name. It's what I'm called more often then the name my parents chose for me. I wear it with the same pride as a soldier wears their rank insignia and with the same sense of duty. But I am afraid of what Mom and Dad are turning into for a lot of other families. 

There are several new "schools" on parenting like the extremely hard line of the Tiger Mother and abandonment style talked about in a friends blog, Zilla of the Resistance. There is a nasty increase in child abuse and murder. And we are all familiar with the fact that single parenting and two working parent homes are more the norm then we would like to see. 

But what about the basic everyday parenting? Children are born because we create them. We decide through our actions that they are to come into the world. They do not owe us for that. They had no choice. Why would we hold them accountable to us for their existence? Our first and most basic responsibility is to them because we forced them into being.

And that doesn't mean we rush them into adulthood to get them out of the way. Kids should be allowed to act like children. The simple pleasures of childhood are almost gone to most kids. They get buried below chores, school, and being perfect little angels or delinquents. Our society is forgetting to balance it all and we are creating monsters.

We want our kids to be well rounded, loving, hard working, fun loving adults when it's all said and done. We want them to have it better then we have it. But we are causing our children to be dysfunctional, rude, impatient, evil.... creeps. No, not all the kids are turning out that way but more then we would like to see.

Chores to teach responsibility, play time to encourage the love of life, the right level of discipline to teach right from wrong; they are part of a parents job description. While I feel that there is no true right/wrong parenting method, I do feel the extremes we are seeing these days are not doing justice for our children. 

It is not the child's job to please us with their every action but our job to find pleasure in our children. It is our job to show them how to become well rounded adults without damaging the core self that they are born with too badly. It is a parents job to show and teach love, right from wrong, and the basic principles we want to see in our society. It isn't something kids are born with but are taught, by us. 

It is the simple everyday things we do with and for our children that will one day play into the adults they will become. If our lives are so taken up by ourselves that we miss their day to day lives then we are doing something wrong. If they turn out rotten because we weren't there, then we are to blame. If they turn out great because they learned early to stand on their own, then we should not get the credit. 

If we are there for our children and guide them with simple love and morals, then we are doing our jobs. Our life doesn't have to be all about parenthood and the children but it is no longer just about ourselves when we bring them into our lives. Balance. In order for us to be healthy for our children, we need to be healthy for ourselves. We need to take some 'me time' and some 'us time' as well as the 'family time'. 

If we want to save the world we need to start looking in our own home and what we are growing. Plant a garden and a tree and you are helping the future. Raise a child and that child is the future. What are you growing?

*special thanks to my Friend MJ for all her help with my blog. Please feel free to read the blogs I will be including on the side bar. I write for Stone Soup with some other very talented writers.*

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

This is YOUR country, city, town, home. Stand Up!

"Time goes by, time brings changes, you change, too
Nothing comes that you can't handle, so on you go
Never see it coming, the world caves in on you
On your town
Nothing you can do."
Our Town by James Taylor

I live in a dying town. I live in a city that everyone is counting out. It was once a huge, beautiful, working city. It is now a corrupt, scary, and vastly empty shell. This is my city. I live in Detroit, Michigan.

There are no jobs. There is no education. There is no safety. There are plans. There are ideas. But there really isn't much hope.

Glenn Beck of Fox News recently compared Detroit to Hiroshima, not of today but of yesterday.  He talked about how Detroit fell because of corrupt Democrats and the Union, how trying to be too progressive helped lead to the city's destruction and how there isn't enough free market. He's wrong, at least in part. 

It is the fault of every crook who took money that wasn't theirs. It is the fault of every drug dealer on the corner. It is the fault of every person who threw trash into streets. It is the fault of government bodies that forgot who they serve. Its the fault of companies that take advantage of the disadvantaged. It is the fault of every person that didn't stand up when their city was falling down. Its my fault. Its your fault.

It can and will happen to your town, your city, your home if you don't stand up for what's right. Don't base what you do or believe on what's popular or the lesser evil. Don't lay down while the drug dealers open a house on your block. Don't leave your garbage for someone else to pick up. Fight to be better then that.

Instead of using Detroit as a poster example against your opponents beliefs and policies, use it to show what we don't want to happen and how to help what already has. People need to look beyond the party and class lines to see that if we keep pulling apart then we, as a whole, as a nation, will fail.

This isn't just about Detroit. Michigan is seeing many disturbing changes. Schools are failing across the country. So before you say that Detroit isn't your problem, look carefully at your state and your town. Look beyond the walls of your home and see what could happen. We are all part of the same country, the same fabric, so when there is a major snag it can unravel the whole tapestry.

A law in Arizona about illegal aliens as the whole US taking sides. Why? What does Arizona have to do with New York, California, or Iowa? Simple, if it (what ever "it" is) can happen there then it can happen anywhere. I would rather the good spread then the bad.

It starts at home, in your home. Raise your family right and don't expect others, like a teacher, to do it for you. Police your family and others won't have to. Tend your yard in a way that makes you feel safe and beautiful.

Watch your block to keep it safe. Be that annoying neighbor that reports stolen cars and abused children. Be that good neighbor that helps out the elderly woman shovel out each winter and checks on her when the heat of summer threatens.

Don't pass the buck onto some label. If your city is in trouble, then become part of the solution. Write letters, vote in every election, even the small ones, and educate others on what can be done. Do the same for your country. Don't stand for other people running your life, ruining your country, and taking your rights. 

Detroit doesn't have to be a place of ruins. It can be a place of growth and rebirth just like Hiroshima. But it isn't the politicians that will save it, it is the everyday people. Like you. Like your children. Like me. Like my children. And it is those everyday people who will either lay down or stand up for America and the rights of everyone living under her flag.

"Main street isn't main street anymore
No one seems to need us like they did before
It's hard to find a reason left to stay
But it's our town
Love it anyway
Come what may, it's our town."
Peace, Love, and Freedom!