March 22, 2013

Parent -- Self Care

Parenting, can take just about everything a person has, to keep up with day-to-day life. Maintaining a standard of living, a clean and organized household, and the added routines of children can become overwhelming, or all consuming. I was a young, healthy 21 year old mother of two biological children in a stable relationship with my husband, and still found that there were stages during my parenting where I was lost to the routing, and consumed with all things Mommy.

There is nothing wrong with putting our whole self into being parents. But, there is something better about being parents who remember to take care of ourselves first. This is even more important for parents with children who have special needs. It's easy to allow the needs of the child to dominate life and the routine of life to be focused only on the special needs of our child. It is probably even normal for parents to become focused on Only the needs of the child, especially at those crisis points, and when changes take place.

When my 9-year old biological son, went to play one snowy day with a friend across the road, I had no clue I would become the mother of a special needs child in an instant. But, I did. He took one more unapproved sled ride down the street and ended up lifeflighted to the hospital that day. His life forever changes with a traumatic leg injury. My life thrust into parenting a special needs child, doing things I never thought I would ever do before. Facing, a future of years of surgery, therapy and pain medication for my baby boy. I still had a family, a husband, daughter and the same obligations in life as I did the day before. It was easy to lose myself during the years of recovery for my son and the grief and trauma of the whole near loss of his left leg.

During the crisis, during the months of non-stop recover or change in life routine it is easy to forget that underneath it all is still the person we are, and it is still our life we live. It is healthy to be there 100% during the crisis our children face, during the moments we must put our needs second because our child is the most important. When the dust settles it's vital we rebuild our own strengths and remain stable and strong.

Often, it does not even require a lot of time as long as we care for ourselves a parent can maintain a healthy balance. I find it's important to take some breaks and also find that DBT (Dialectical Behavioral Therapy) offers some good skills to start with  for Self Care and the Five Senses. 

Related Links:

March 12, 2013

Webinar: Building Bonds of Attachment: Practical, Expert Advice

Deborah Gray specializes in the attachment, grief, and trauma issues of children in her practice, Nurturing Attachments. Her methods of working with children and families reflect her strong developmental and infant mental health perspective. 

Live Webinar Tuesday March 12, 2013 at 7:00PM Central with Q&A: 8:00PM cost is $15.00

Deborah Gray, is an adoption therapist specializing in attachment, grief and trauma issues in children, will provide practical steps that move parents toward building trusting relationships and secure attachments with their child.

Submit your questions for Deborah Gray here or by tweeting them to@adoptiontweet using #ALPAttach13.

March 7, 2013

Solid Foundation

We have heard it a million times--It's an old saying, and a fundamental teaching in nearly all mental, spiritual, religious, and build-you-up, kind of programs.

It all starts with a solid foundation.

For parents it's based on love and respect for themselves and each other, a common vision, and dedication for the long haul.

For parents of children with special needs it may require some special efforts. The most important thing to remember is to always start at the foundation and work our way up. Our personal health and emotional stability can be the root of all success, and failures. Parenting is difficult under all circumstances and a long road. Children with special needs bring into our lives whatever our child's special needs require. The stronger our base, the better able we are to cope and move through the challenges our children add to basic parenting requirements.

Any set of special needs will include a long list of added issues for a parent to be responsible and able to advocate. It may include additional doctor or therapy appointments, additional school evaluations and meetings, additional matters to work through. I have had a child who was perfectly fine one day, and in the snap of a moment physically injured and facing a lifetime of change. Today, I am parenting siblings adopted from the foster care system with prenatal drug and alcohol exposure along with a list of emotional, behavioral, and learning needs. Each situation is very different. Each situation requires the best I have to offer as a mother.

There is a tendency when facing a crisis with our children for some of us to be swept into the whole thing and overwhelmed. It can become all consuming and overtime a parent can become lost in a world of trying to fix things for our children that we simply cannot control. I find, the best thing to do when I cannot control the world around myself, is to control myself.

It is generally, not wise to become lost in the whole situation. As parents, it is vital we keep our own identity and our personal relationship with each other. We need to remember, we are the solid foundation our children need most.

Each of us, have our own needs, and our own areas to work through. As a parent, one of the best ways we can show our children how to overcome their own issues is to set the example and never stop working on ourselves. As much as it seems while we are in the midst of parenting our children--they are the only concern--it is important to remember we need to keep our own identities and remember we are living our lives as well.

We will all have our own unique list of things about ourselves to watch out for, to change, to improve or to keep in mind. For me, it is remembering to keep myself fit and have my hair cut now and then. When I notice, I am lost for motivation or my hair is out of control I realize that I am making a project of my child special needs, and failing to meet my own needs. Yes, there are the times when things are in crisis or hectic and the little things slide. But, for me personally, the moment I notice I am stuck in a project it's time to take a break and tend to my needs.

A strong foundation starts with the parents involved and with effort and thought we can keep ourselves and our relationships while facing the challenges our special needs children bring to our lives.