Parenting is all About Instincts

I am on a kick this week writing about gut instincts, seriously head on over to BrandyEllen.com to read more on dreams and instincts this week. With that being said, I wanted to take a moment to write about parenting and how it is all about instincts. You see, we can read all of the parenting books out there; we can listen to the advice of our elders. We can go on and on trying to be told or determine what we should be doing at parents but at the end of the day, it’s all about our instincts as a parental unit to our child.

Ever wonder what grandparents bring to the table? I was lucky to have great grandparents and still do, but some don't. Here's 5 Reasons Grandparents Matter.

While I am often found lending advice or saying what works for me, how I have seen my autistic son grow with age, this isn’t the case for other parents. We all live in different environments; we all have different morals, values and beliefs. Every single family on this Earth is unique and that is what makes the world we live in so beautiful. In my opinion.

Okay back on topic … parenting is all about instincts.

When you bring this little bundle of joy into this world, you are instantly in love. You want nothing more than to do good by this little bundle of joy and you know that you will always work to be better as a person and a parent each day. The newborn days are tough. You are often tested to see what you can figure out from a simple cry. That baby will cry and sleep very little in the middle of the night yet you somehow figure out what your baby needs. You work through it and you use instincts, believe it or not, to determine what your baby needs!

As your child grows into a toddler, they are more demanding for now they have figured out how to use their voice and you are the lucky one who taught them how to talk. It’s like this catch 22, you teach them to talk and then you want them to stop. Reality is you still have to use your instincts to figure out what is causing your toddler to have a tantrum. You have to figure out what times are best to give the toddler a nap. You have to figure out if your tantrum throwing toddler needs something beyond the immediate moment. Perhaps the toddler needs more positive attention and sure enough they will act out negatively just to get your attention.

Then you get into the days of pre-teens. These are difficult times for the child is shown the path by their peers. They are in school and learning how others interact as a family, what their friends believe in and more than likely they have picked up some bad habits. You have to work with your pre-teen at home to determine where behavioral issues are stemming from. Is there something wrong at school, is your child feeling like they are not good enough? Will your pre-teen talk to you? Maybe, maybe not. You have to again dig deep into that parental gut instinct and know your child to figure out what’s going on.

Parenting is all About Instincts

Last, but certainly not least your role as a parent turns to the raising of a teenager. These years are confusing, difficult and make gut instincts on edge. During the teen years your parental instincts will be tested because you will watch shows, read books and learn more about this stage in childhood. Those teen years could lead you down a path of thinking your child is on drugs because they are anxious, depressed or moody. That’s not always the case. Teenagers are moody, anxious and depressed – it’s their hormones and the stress brought on by high demand of expectations from school.

ParentInfluence How to Get Kids to Do Homework

Eventually you will muster through every stage of parenthood, on your own or with help from loved ones. The children will grow up to tell you what they thought you did wrong and what they thought you did right. You will learn all over again how you were great at following instincts in some scenarios and not so great in others. You will learn that as a parent, you did the best you could fueled by the internal need to keep those children safe. Last, but not least, this process will be repeated all over again when and if you become a grandparent.

Autism Awareness #LightItUpBlue for Understanding and Acceptance

I recently shared a bit about my autism story with my middle child. Diagnosed High Functioning Autistic about 3 years ago or so, it was a new learning experience. With that being said, finally having the diagnosis that now is pretty much Asperger’s helped us to better raise our son. Now when others want to look at him odd or make faces because he isn’t as social as one would anticipate for a 10 year old boy to be, I just say “that’s how he is and that’s okay! He will socialize when he warms up to people but that takes a while.” And I am okay with who my son is and I think he’s pretty darn awesome!

Since April is World Autism Month, I’ve decided to #LightItUpBlue with Autism Speaks to increase understanding and awareness of autism. I have found that more people are aware of autism than ever before. I personally have learned that there are many areas of Autism that make raising autism so tricky. No two parents will have the same child who exhibits exactly the same quirks or personality traits. It’s highly likely that you know someone with autism too since the CDC estimates autism’s prevalence as 1 in every 68 children in the United States.

Autism refers to a range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication, as well as by unique strengths and differences. We now know that there is not one autism but many types, caused by different combinations of genetic and environmental influences.

Why I’m Going to #LightItUpBlue for Understanding and Acceptance

Autism’s most obvious signs tend to appear between 2 and 3 years of age. In some cases, it can be diagnosed as early as 18 months. Autism Speaks encourages parents with concerns to seek evaluation without delay, as early intervention can improve outcomes.

My Son Was Diagnosed around age 8

It wasn’t easy to get an autism diagnosis. First he was said to be ADHD, bi-polar as that runs heavily in the family and at age 2 I even had a pysch try to give him anti-psychotic drugs. I walked out and never went back there! It isn’t easy to get a diagnosis for Autism because the symptoms can be clearly misdiagnosed for ADHD, bipolar and other mental health symptoms like anxiety. There simply aren’t many professionals out there who will look deeper, they prefer to give a quick diagnosis in my opinion and ADHD or anxiety is much easier to say a child has than to take the time to evaluate for autism. Again that is simply based on my own experiences. Finally we met a psychologist who has an adult son who is high functioning autistic – she diagnosed my middle kiddo in a mere matter of minutes. From that day forward my son was no longer on any medications and we worked to mold his household life into something that decreased meltdowns, was routine driven and worked for him.

Never Give UP!

If I had to advise anyone looking to get a diagnosis or answers, I would say DO NOT EVER GIVE UP! You will find someone who gets your child and will give you the diagnosis you and your child deserve. Try to find someone who has a child or grandchild with autism, they are the key to spreading awareness and getting more kiddos diagnosed properly.

Light it Up Blue

The “Light It Up Blue” campaign is about more than awareness — it is about increasing understanding and acceptance of autism.  This includes advocacy and support for people across the entire spectrum throughout their lives. It also includes advancing research into personalized treatments for autism and related conditions.  I encourage you test your understanding of autism by taking this quiz!

Certain medical and mental health issues frequently accompany autism. They include GI disorders, seizures, sleep disturbances, attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxiety and phobias.

My son has GI issues, he has sleep issues and as a younger child ADHD was certainly present. Overall my son still has anxiety and after having his adenoids out he sleeps okay. There’s a tick he has when he is excited and now at age 10 he simply tells his friends that’s what he does when he’s excited, he doesn’t know why. There’s little symptoms he has that you can see if only you know more about autism, the average person may just see him a shy, quiet kid until you get to know him then he’s a chatty Cathy!

Why I’m Going to #LightItUpBlue for Understanding and Acceptance

Make a Difference …

You can help make a difference too by taking the Light It Up Blue Quiz to see how much you know about autism. If you’re moved to do so after visiting AutismSpeaks.org, please show your support for and understanding of the challenges faced by individuals with autism by sharing a photo to #LightItUpBlue for Autism Awareness Month too. Also, check out Autism Speaks’ nationwide calendar of autism-friendly friendly events and activities in April.

3 Ways to Prepare your Child for College Life

There are many tips for your child in high school about college. Guidance counselors work hard to prepare your child academically for college. It’s wonderful that so many high schools now have programs, counselors and resources available for your child to prepare for college. With that being said, there’s more to college life than academics. Have you thought about how you will prepare your child for college life? It’s important to have a few discussions about your child’s future life in college and how things may go with peers, classes and living in a dorm. Here are 3 ways to prepare your child for college life without stressing them out.

Non Academic Tips to Prepare your Child for College

Know your Child

Take the time to think about how college life may affect your child’s mental health. If your child is prone to anxiety and panic attacks, then they must be gently prepared for the abundantly busy hallways of college life. No more will your child have a small high school. They could be in a college with over 25,000 students at once which can be difficult for a child with anxiety. Prepare your child for this influx in people by taking the child out frequently to crowded restaurants, events and other social gatherings to help work through panic attacks. Your child may suffer from anxiety or be prone to panic attacks but that shouldn’t get in the way of their college education. When your child starts getting used to crowds in this way, their anxiety will be lessened during college life. It’s a great way to do some hands on preparation for the large college crowds.

Here's the non-academic approach to preparing your child for college life.

Teach Budgeting Skills

If you have not shown your child how to budget money yet, now is most certainly the time. Your child will be heading off to college as an adult responsible for their own finances. It’s important to take some time to work with your child now on setting a budget, sticking with it and learning how to save for wanted items. Be certain to teach your child how to manage a bank account. If your child plans to have their own checking account, it’s important to teach them how to complete the end of month financial reconciliation form. Take time to learn what your child plans to do with their money, be it in a bank or cash in their dorm. Consider purchasing them a fire safe lock case to have in their dorm if they will be keeping cash on hand. Being a financial mess your freshman year in college will only add to the stress that comes with your first year away from home.

Discuss Peer Pressure

Peer pressure will still happen even though your child is heading off to a college full of adults. Think of your child’s middle school life where it was a difficult transition and your child may have had some social issues. College life isn’t that far off from middle school days, except the students are older. Discuss peer pressure, perhaps have a special code word your child may text you when they are in trouble. Talk about all options in how your child can get out of a bad situation without being fearful or the ridicule. Boost self-confidence best you can because that is going to be a huge personal trait your child needs in college life. Assure your child that they may be tested to go down a bad path, but to remain true to their values and morals at all times. Be an ear to listen and give them the confidence to call you at any hour if they need to chat when away at college.

The reality is college life is difficult for both parents and children. It’s the first time the child is away from their parents, no more do they have someone watching over them. Parents have to learn to let go and it can be rather bittersweet. On one hand you are proud that your child is going to college but on the other hand you know you can no longer immediately protect them. College life can be an amazingly fun time so as long as you discuss all basics and allow them to be fully prepared for life beyond academics.

Positive Parenting Tips for Raising Teens

During the days of raising a teen you will find that your once talkative child now has a bit of silence. Most questions are answered with the shrug of a shoulder or a simple one word reply. The teen years are difficult for both the parents and the teenager.

There is good news though, these trying times don’t last forever and if you adhere to a few positive parenting tricks then you and your teen should survive this stage.

ParentINfluence Positive Parenting Raising Teenager Tips

Positive Parenting Tips for Raising Teens

Choose your Battles Wisely

These days’ parents must fight with technology which brings teenagers closer to stranger danger than ever before. It’s difficult to find that proper balance between rules that encourage safety and rules derived from paranoia. So as long as your teenager hasn’t given you a reason to not trust them, give them more trust and space to figure out whom they are and what they enjoy.

Give all of your teen’s friends a chance

Most parents have enough experience to know which kids are good ones and which ones are headed down a bad path. While you may know one kid that’s friends with your teen is a bad apple, your teen doesn’t quite see it this way. Learn to embrace all friendships your teenager has by opening your home to these friends. Sometimes a bad apple can turn into a good apple simply by being around a more positive environment.

Parents must really learn to work together

Many families are split up these days so teens are caught living with one parent and possibly a step parent while their other parent is merely someone they visit. Often times the parent who sees the teen less have more lenient rules. Learn to work with your co-parent on a middle ground where you both can be united in rules and discipline structure. Teenagers do need some freedom but setting boundaries with firm consequences are a must to keep them safe and in check.

Always have a game plan for bad decisions

Your teen is still your underage child and requires parental supervision to some level. Consider having a code word that your teen can text you when they realize they’ve made a bad decision. This allows you to come save them from the situation without them risking ridicule by their peers. While it is important to your teen to have freedom it’s just as important to know that you will be there, no questions asked when they need to be saved from a bad decision.

Remember that you once were a teenager too

When parenting a teenager it’s best to let go of the desire to want your teen to be better than you and have more options than you ever had. Raising your teenager means that you have a child who is under your care and direction, it’s time to step up and be a parent without any thoughts of your regrettable past. Your teenager deserves to have a life free of the past that haunts you, so be sure you are parenting your teen based on hearing who they are and what they feel they need.

Be There for your Teen with Unconditional Love

Last but certainly not least, just be there to hear your teen out. Often times if a parent stays quiet long enough when their teen is rambling on for hours, they will hear how their child actually talks themselves into a positive direction. Sometimes all our teenagers need from us is to know that we are always here for them even during those times they make bad decisions. A parent’s job is to love unconditionally, the teenage years will test this theory but reality is it’s just your past demons and your emotions that get in the way of expressing that unconditional love.

Work towards a positive parenting approach with your teenager and see how much change happens in the next few weeks, you may be surprised!

Monday Mom Rambles from Mama Bee

Being a parent is the most emotional roller coaster ride I have ever been on. It’s like you love your children even when you should dislike them very much. You get ever so frustrated with them but still you find empathy and love for them. As a mom I have learned to develop patience at a level I never knew existed. I take my job as a mom very serious, well you know with light hearted humor involved too, but it’s the most important job I have ever had that reaps the best rewards ever. Unconditional love from your children is unlike any other love on this planet.

Raising a child with autism is no joke, that’s probably the most difficult part of my mom life. Often times I have to figure out what my son is upset about and quite frankly he could be upset about something that happened two weeks ago. My daughter is now a teen and while she isn’t nearly as rough as I thought she would be coming into the teen years, she has changed slightly even if she doesn’t realize it. Raising a teen daughter has taught me that sometimes we need to bite our tongues, for when I speak sometimes she will shut down when all I was trying to do was converse with her. My youngest child is ridiculously hyper, I am quite certain it is due to his poor food choices. This child is my pickiest eater and as we work to get him to eat new foods, he remains stubborn and goes without dinner.

Mama Bee Mom Ramblings

Being a parent seemed easy when I was a mom to one, I always said that if I were to be guaranteed a child like my first born I would have six children. She really was super easy and still to this day, I have little complaints. Currently I am dealing with the procrastinator side of my teen daughter where she is letting her grades slip but then after much encouraging discussions with me, she gets those grades fixed. I told her just the other night that she is giving me grey hairs with all of this grade stuff in her freshman year of high school. Shake my head.

My middle child, he has grown so much in just the last year alone. Now a 10 year old boy who is diagnosed as high functioning autistic he has found his dry, serious sense of humor that the family often laughs out loud at during our family dinner each night. He doesn’t like school but he works hard to get his work finished. Most recently he had a book report project and was adamant that a crossword puzzle was a word search puzzle which meant I had to remain ridiculously patient yet firm on just taking the project one step at a time. He ultimately got the project done and we will see what grade he gets.

My youngest child seems to be at an age of hormonal fluctuations, one minute he’s a sweet, affectionate boy and the next he’s a miserable little grumpy but. He always keeps me on his toes and Lord knows I spoil him more than I should. A true youngest child by definition, I am working to be more consistent and firm with him while still allowing him to be who he is – a fearless, free spirited, energetic boy.

I don’t think any parent knows what they are doing is right, all they know is what they feel is best. Parents mess up, we make poor decisions and we respond poorly at times. The joy of being a parent is that even during those times that we mess up; our children still find love in their hearts for us regardless of what decisions we make. I am proud to say, at this moment in parenthood, that my children will usually agree that they don’t like my rules, decisions or whatnot, but they do trust I always have their best interest at heart and am being the best Mama I can be.

Being a Parent isn’t for The Thin Skinned

I admit that I am a sensitive person, I can easily have my feelings hurt and be caught crying in the bathroom alone. While I may be a sensitive person emotionally, as a parent I have quickly learned that you must have thick skin. I went into this parenting gig knowing that there would be days my kids may  not “like me” or may think I am the evil Queen of the land. When you become a parent, part of your job is to be this hated person, while remembering that your kids only think they hate you in this moment because they are not getting what they want.

Yesterday, the kids and I went sliding outback. We had hours of fun, laughing so hard I cried, snowball to the face, going down our huge backyard hill face first on a sled and enjoying the new snow tube I had purchased for this school vacation week of fun. The time was wonderful, but the happy times went away once my middle child was forced to ask, rather than demand, use of a sled his sister was on. The middle child proceed to cry as he got all upset and worked up about Mama requiring him to ask not demand to use a sled his sister was on. You would think having to ask is the end of the world, he went from tears to anger and quickly that went into a larger fit of rage with words that a 10 year old should never say.

I immediately told my middle that he was grounded and his reply was even more volatile to me where his siblings sat in shock as they wouldn’t dare speak to me that way, ever. I immediately came inside as I followed my angered son and found out that he felt I don’t care about him. My son felt like I didn’t care about him because I make him go outside on a 50 degree day in the sunshine to interact and have fun with the siblings and me. My son felt I don’t care about him because I refuse to let him demand his way. My son felt I didn’t care about him because he couldn’t sit in front of electronics all day long because “video games are all that matter!”

Being a Parent isn’t for The Thin Skinned

Being a Parent Isnt’ for the Thin Skinned

In this type of moment about 5 years ago, I would have burst into tears. My eyes would have been a watery mess, but I have grown in the last 5 years of parenting a child with autism and have learned that in the angered moment he just spews out words. I took the time to reply to my son telling him that it is okay that he is angry and it is fine to have that emotion, but it is never okay to say bad words, hit people or throw things around. He was entitled to feel like I don’t care, but I made darn sure I explained why I do care about him and that I do love him very much. My words started to hit his heart, as I watched his eyes go from anger to a bit of a softer tone.

I stood firm, even though he calmed I explained that when we do something naughty we have a consequence, that’s simply how life works for every human being. His consequence was pretty simple, as I am trying to teach him to be sorry for his actions. More so, I am trying to teach this son to acknowledge his actions that were wrong, bad or mean and in teaching him this I required that he say sorry, do something kind or anything similar to show he is sorry for hitting his sister and for saying a bad word two times. He wasn’t happy immediately, it’s not like he jumped up and started spewing out the I am sorry’s. No, not at all. This child doesn’t say sorry easily, if at all. This child is better at showing sorry through drawing of a photo, as he has done since he was little.

Eventually my son did what was asked of him, on his own. I waited patiently and continued on in the day with making polymer clay crafts with his siblings as he sat there watching us in a daze. My son is stubborn, but so am I. I have learned to stand firm with a compassionate, yet steady tone that doesn’t get too loud or intimidating (that type of tone only encourages more anger). When I stay firm, do not cry and explain that I do care about him and here’s your consequence because I do care about you, he seems to eventually get it. Autistic children can hang onto things for weeks, months and years allowing those negative feelings to become something larger, I have learned through parenting this child that I have to remain firm yet compassionate while I work to teach him the necessary skills and consequences of actions any parent is supposed to teach their child.

 

Day two of #schoolbreak we went sledding for couple hours and did #crafts with our #polymer clay! #childhood #momlife

A post shared by Brandy Ellen (@brandyellen1) on

Overall, we had a beautiful day but don’t ever forget that you are the parent and your job is not to befriend your kids to let them get away with bad behavior, regardless of how much of a point they make. Once you set a consequence stick with it, even if it takes that child hours to do what you have asked of them. Be strong, parents must always be compassionate yet strong! Cheers to raising your kids with a thick skin and unconditional love!

Co-Parenting Tips for Divorced Couples

Joint custody arrangements after a separation or divorce can become quite stressful. Each parent will have to learn how to let go of the desire to have their child all of the time. Sharing children after a divorce or separation is a matter of fact, unless there is a case of abuse to the children or ex-parent. More often than not the court wishes to have the two parents create a parenting plan that will work for them and their children. The court systems will usually try to get each parent to communicate, most states require the parents to take a child impact seminar that is geared towards teaching co-parents to parent together, treating their relationship much like a business.

Parent Influence Co-parenting Tips for Divorced Couples

Co-parenting isn’t easy because it’s never easy to have to communicate and share children with the person you no longer wish to be with. This is the number one reason why a divorce or separation should always be well thought out, be certain the relationship is truly dead or else co-parenting can become quite a nightmare when either of you start to date again. Now that you have become a divorced or separated parent, it’s time to learn a few co-parenting tips that can help two parents raise happy, healthy children without drama.

Separate Feelings

When you are co-parenting the situation becomes less about emotions and more about a business arrangement, the business of raising children. Feelings don’t have any place within the co-parenting structure, learn to set your feelings of protection, hurt and anger aside to ensure you can co-parent in a way that is best for the children. Your feelings and your ex-partner’s feelings no longer matter as it pertains to each other. The only thing that matters is that the children’s best interest is at heart and that you two can communicate to make easy transitions for the children without feelings getting in the way.

Only Discuss Children

Now that you are divorced or separated, it’s important to remember that your conversations should be strictly about your children. Even if you had an amicable divorce, discussing each others date nights or woes in life may not be a good idea. Learn to keep the topic of discussion on children only as a means to avoid the hurt feelings or drama that can be created when you talk personal or start pointing fingers about the hurt feelings stemming from the broken relationship. Keep an unspoken rule, if you will, that any conversations heading away from children will not be discussed and stick to it.

Parent Influence Blog - Co-Parenting Tips for Divorced Couples

Think Before Speaking

There will be times your ex-parent, known as the co-parent now, will make you angry. It’s normal to have moments of intense rage or hurt feelings in moments with your ex when co-parenting together. Remember you two aren’t married any longer for a reason! Your children shouldn’t have to pay for these moments, keep any negative thoughts to yourself. If you must discuss how you feel about something, talk to a friend in a place where the children will not hear you. Children need to feel safe, secure and confident about loving both parents without ridicule from the other parent.

Use Written Words

If you and your ex-partner are simply not able to come to a peaceful place of communication there are ways around it. Have a family member exchange the children, learn to communicate in email only unless an emergency arises. Often times making it a requirement that if one of you has an issue with something it is emailed or hand written in a letter to the other co-parent creates a more peaceful, business-like approach to co-parenting. When we take time to write down what we are feeling in a high emotional moment, we tend to relax and sometimes realize the issue isn’t stemming from a current date scenario, it’s past feelings getting in the way of co-parenting.

Remember it’s About the Children

Keep in mind, at all times, that co-parenting is no longer about you and your ex-partner. Co-parenting is strictly about raising your children in a way that allows them to thrive. Co-parents will not always have the same rules at both households nor will they always agree on how to raise the children, this is perfectly acceptable. Remember that unless your children are truly in danger, how the co-parent chooses to raise the children while in their care is their right. Learn to respect each other as co-parents who have the best interest of the children at heart.

May each of these co-parenting tips for divorced couples help guide you back to reality and cope with the world of co-parenting in a positive way.

3 Tips for Shopping with Kids

The joys of shopping with kids, it’s such a wonderful experience! The kids walk behind you in two, happy to be bored for the next couple hours as you shop for whatever it is that you need. Oh wait, this only happens in dreamland or occasionally when the kids want something … here in the real world kids aren’t so fun to shop with all of the time.  Today I am going to share a few tips for those of you who are shopping with kids in tow.

3 Tips for Shopping with Kids Parent Influence Blog

Shop Online

You must have realized that I was going to advise against you going out into the store with the kids, right? In all reality shopping online has become widely popular. It’s easy to do and you can do this while the kids sleep. No more dragging the kids during their nap times to the store or requiring the whole family to hop into the vehicle to head to the store. You can even get online savings with Target coupons and more when you shop online! I advise you to shop online whenever you can to avoid the store with kids any chance you have.

Go During Good Time of Day

Every parent knows the best time of day to take their kids anywhere. The good times of day to take your kids shopping usually are earlier in the morning right after they are awake or right after a nap. All too often parents take their kids shopping at a horrible time of day for the kids and then get stressed because the kids are acting amuck! Learn to work around your kids schedule the best you can and go shopping during the good time of day.

Communicate Expectations

I am super famous for this third tip, communicate expectations. Prior to heading into any store to shop with kids, inform the kids of your expectations regarding behavior and what consequences will happen if they don’t behave. When you set clear expectations immediately before entering the store for your shopping trip with kids they are more apt to behave as you have initiated the conversation immediately before the shopping situation.

You Can Survive Shopping with Kids

It’s really easy to have a tolerable experience when you have to go shopping with kids; my number one tip of shopping online really goes a long way. In this day in age of technology, there’s no reason why you can’t start shopping online for a lot of your needs. If you must enter a store to shop with kids, then be certain to set the proper time to leave and communicate with the kids. When you follow these tips I have shared today, you will soon find that shopping with kids isn’t as bad as it used to be.