Child Abuse In The Disability And LBGTQ+ Community

With the current laws being enacted in Florida and Texas as well as other conservative states to stop the LBGTQ+ community from being able to live their lives, it got me thinking about how I used to believe some of the same things until I started really listening to these people. I have many friends in this community now and I am heartbroken over how they are treated.

Many LBGTQ+ children are kicked out of the house when they come out to their parents. Some are subjected to horrible “conversion therapy” to try to “convince” them that they are not gay or transgender. These children are very likely to be abused and murdered by their family or people in the community who don’t want to understand that they are people too.

“Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) young people are over-represented in foster care, where they are more likely to experience discrimination, abuse, neglect and the risk of harm. A 2019 study found 30.4 percent of youth in foster care identify as LGBTQ and 5 percent as transgender, compared to 11.2 percent and 1.17 percent of youth not in foster care.”

https://www.childrensrights.org/lgbtq-2/

In Texas, a law was recently passed making it “child abuse” for parents to give their transgendered children care that would allow them to have the body that their brain is telling them they are. As of now, a judge has partially blocked the law. I believe that the exact opposite is true. It is abusive NOT to allow these children to have the gender affirming medical care they require. They are at a high risk of suicide for not being allowed to have transitional gender affirming medical care and psychotherapy.

People like to shrug off the suicide issue of transgender children, but according to Forbes from 2021, “52% of all transgender and nonbinary young people in the U.S. seriously contemplated killing themselves in 2020. More than half thought it would be better to be dead, rather than trying to live with rejection, isolation, loneliness, bullying and being targeted by politicians and activists pushing anti-trans legislation.”

https://www.forbes.com/sites/dawnstaceyennis/2021/05/19/terrible-time-for-trans-youth-new-survey-spotlights-suicide-spike—and-hope/?sh=712121d2716e

These children have to deal with so much discrimination from conservative policymakers. They are banned from using the correct bathrooms with which they identify. What do we think happens when a trans girl is forced to use the boys’ bathroom and vice versa? They look like the gender with which they identify.

And banning them from playing on the team of the gender with which they identify because people think they have an advantage over the other team is wrong. We might as well ban anyone “different” from playing sports because I can guarantee that transgender children don’t have any advantage over their peers. Everyone is talented in different ways!

Finally, the so-called “Don’t Say Gay” law in Florida enacted by Governor DeSantis is horrible! As an early childhood professional, sex and gender identity isn’t a main topic in the curriculum unless we have a child with gay parents or a child who is struggling with this issue. These children deserve support and compassion. Teachers need to teach children to accept these differences. The LBGTQ+ community is in no way trying to get children to be something that they’re not. They are just trying to get acceptance and support to stop the horrible discrimination they face daily. I believe in having developmentally appropriate discussions and books that include the LBGTQ+ community in the classroom.

I am so grateful that President Biden is taking action to try to help protect everyone in the LBGTQ+ community by taking executive action to stop the use of conversion therapy and help keep the rights and lives of this group as safe as possible. The amount of bigotry from the religious, right wing is absolutely disgusting! And it’s only getting worse!

There’s another group of children and adults who live with a higher than average risk of being abused: The disabled.

“Child abuse and neglect is reported in 3% to 10% of the population with disabilities. The rate of child abuse and neglect is at least 3 times higher in children with disabilities than in the typically developing population.”

https://publications.aap.org/pediatrics/article/147/5/e2021050920/180813/Maltreatment-of-Children-With-Disabilities

Children with disabilities have higher needs and require more care. They often have unique behavioral issues that typical children don’t. For some children with disabilities, these behaviors may last well into adulthood because their brains aren’t able to mature like typical people. They are so reliant on others for care and help that they are prime candidates for all types of abuse.

As someone with a severe disability, I can attest to the abuse. I was physically, verbally, and emotionally abused by my dad because I couldn’t control my muscles. I was emotionally and verbally abused by other family members and people at school. Just because life with a child who is disabled can be very stressful and frustrating at times doesn’t excuse abuse.

Like LBGTQ+ children, there’s a stigma that comes along with being disabled. We live in an ableist world. For a long time, people with disabilities, starting in young childhood, were locked up in institutions and forgotten. These institutions were absolutely horrible and many children died from abuse and inadequate care. There even used to be laws that prohibited people with disabilities from being in society. Similarly with the LBGTQ+ community, the disabled have a higher risk of being murdered.

Here’s an excellent article about the history of ableism.

As the article above points out, many religious groups believe that disabilities are due to “sin,” thus, causing people to treat them badly and abuse them. Let me be clear: No disability is due to sin!

Another thing that the article on ableism points out is that the medical community often treats the disability as a “problem.” But people with disabilities have absolutely nothing “wrong” with them. They are just different and deserve quality medical care, and yet, they often don’t receive it. The cost of medical care is even higher than that of typical people and people with disabilities also usually require adaptive equipment and therapy to be able to live the best life they can!

Unfortunately the Americans with Disabilities Act hasn’t helped all that much because most public places only do the minimum requirements. Many employers don’t want to have the responsibility of helping people with disabilities work in their work places. And people with disabilities don’t get “free money.” If they are on SSI, they can only have $2,000 if they are single and $3,000 if married. We’re trying to get this changed.

Being told by parents, teachers, employers, and society in general that “You’re worthless, a burden, a problem, a liability, and your life doesn’t matter” leads to isolation, anxiety, depression, and suicide.

Covid has really bought out just how ableist the world is, especially the United States. Many people feel that their lives are more important than others who are still vulnerable to serious consequences of getting Covid. It’s all-too-often just laughed at while believing that it is perfectly fine for people who are high risk to remain locked up for the rest of their lives. This is going back to the days when children and adults were forced to remain locked up and out of society. This is abuse!

There is no excuse for abuse of any child or adult, especially if they are different. We are all equal and worthy no matter our race, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, and/or disability. We need to stop going backwards and start moving forward to become a kinder, more accepting world. No child should be hurt. It is also abuse and ableist to expect any child to be someone that he/she isn’t or to expect children to be able to do things that they are not yet able to do!

Open Butterfly Wings

March is Cerebral Palsy (CP) Awareness Month and the butterfly is the symbol for it. It makes sense because we are butterflies but our wings are usually clipped by society. Sure, we have limitations. For me, I have a lot of limitations because of my CP but I don’t like to focus on them. I like to live life. However, I have seen just how much humanity can clip wings with their ableist views on a virus that is killing people, especially us with cerebral palsy, who are high risk due to the muscles in our mouths, throats, and core that negatively affect swallowing and breathing. Even though I have become a “shut-in,” I truly try not to think about what I can’t do. It’s a bit harder, but this is not something that I choose to feel sorry for myself.

I do, however, try to relate to people why we are the way we are in this current situation. I require care 24/7. My husband does it all with zero help even if he is really sick or really hurting. He has no choice. Here’s a post I wrote about cerebral palsy last year.

It isn’t just now that society has clipped my wings. I had to prove myself from Day One. They didn’t think I would live (and really, I shouldn’t have with not breathing for 40 minutes), and if I did, I wouldn’t amount to much. I was in the NICU for almost two weeks.

Growing up, I had to prove myself to teachers and my peers. I was always the first person with severe cerebral palsy to do anything. I was finally allowed to be in regular classes when I was in 3rd grade. Even into college and grad school, I had to prove that with the correct accommodations, I could successfully complete the early childhood education program.

Even though I have spent most of my 40 years in school to have a career helping children and families, I still have not been able to get that career going like my peers have and I do have some shame and anger about this. But I’m refusing to give up.

Also, most people have no idea that the adaptive equipment I need isn’t cheap. It’s extremely expensive and I remember my parents fighting with their insurance companies that I had a medical need for a toilet chair or a bath chair or a wheelchair. Now I’m forced to pay for these things out of pocket and I had to have a Go Fund Me for my wheelchair in 2014 after my 19-year-old chair was so worn that the plastic was hurting me with no more padding.

There’s so much of my life that people don’t see and I want to be seen as a competent person who has unique needs. I still have to prove that I am a competent person because some people automatically assume that I am intellectually disabled. I love how children freely ask me questions and want to understand what is going on. Young children don’t judge me. They are curious. Older children can become bullies and I want to prevent that. Then there are a lot of “little me’s” that need another book that they can read and look at the pictures.

For me, growing up, the only book that I could relate to was called, Howie Helps Himself. The only problem was that they had him in a standard wheelchair, and at the end of the book, Howie pushes the wheels of his wheelchair to make it move. It kind of made me feel bad because I never was able to push myself.

My book shows my wheelchairs with my supports. It shows how I am able to do some of the same things that everyone else can do like love and feel and be a friend. It also shows real life things that I deal with every day such as knocking stuff over, being fed, falling over and needing help to get back up, people treating me as a “child.”

I truly believe that this book will help teachers and families teach children about disabilities and differences as well as similarities. It will also give hope to children with cerebral palsy as well as their parents and families.

Unfortunately, people like me are prey for people who think they can manipulate and use me until they reveal their true colors to me and I, and they, walk away. Thus, I have been ripped off twice now trying to get the book illustrated. I am an honest, caring, trusting person and I paid for each illustration as I approved them. All of the illustrators were people we felt close to and truly trusted. Lesson learned.

For Cerebral Palsy Awareness Month, I am asking for more people to help open butterfly wings by participating in a CP Awareness Month Facebook event and to please share as well as donate to my Go Fund Me page to keep raising the money we’ve lost in order to pay my new illustrator. I don’t know the illustrator and the contract is extremely specific. I have learned to guard my heart and my wings because I’m a free spirit. The illustrator will be paid after everything is completed and approved.

I want to open more wings despite the limitations.

Cerebral Palsy and Abuse

March was Cerebral Palsy (CP) Awareness Month and April was Child Abuse Awareness Month, and I have been wanting to write this post for a while now. This post will cover CP and abuse and mental health issues as May is Mental Health Awareness Month.

Cerebral palsy is a neurological disorder that affects the brain causing difficulty in movement. It can be mild, affect one side of the body, or severe. I have severe cerebral palsy and I can’t physically take care of myself at all. I didn’t breathe for 40 minutes after I was born and they almost gave up on me. I was in the NICU for a couple weeks and I wasn’t expected to live. But I did! I will be 40 in September!

But the lack of oxygen caused the brain damage that led to the CP. I can’t control my muscles and have spasms which are involuntary contractions of the muscles and involuntary movements. I am typical cognitively. I type with my nose and write books and these posts with my nose. My children’s book about my life with CP will hopefully be out at the end of the year. Getting the right illustrators has been hard but I finally found the perfect people to do it and they are doing a wonderful job with it!

Having a severe physical disability is hard but I refuse to let it ruin my life. I am a survivor and I hate pity! I crave acceptance and to be seen as a person! Sadly, many people are not able to see the real me. They see me as a child or subhuman instead of a competent person. I am so much more than my disability.

I prefer person-first language. I am a person with a disability, not a “disabled person.” I am a person with cerebral palsy! I refuse to be defined by my disability. Words like “handicapped,” “cripple,” “retard,” and “spaz” are very offensive to the disability community. We are people who deserve respect and rights and support. But again, despite making progress in this country, some people just refuse to accept and see us.

Children with disabilities are more likely to be abused and bullied. I was. Children that didn’t know me would make fun of me at school. I was also physically, mentally, emotionally, and verbally abused by my parents. As I have written in another blog post, I truly believe that both parents are/were narcissistic which is confusing because they did fight for me for the services that I needed and did care for and loved me, but there was also abuse at home. Some of the abuse that I experienced I recently found out through professional therapy that it was abuse and that I wasn’t protected like I should have been and have been put down even through adulthood. I am now protecting myself from those people and my husband does a wonderful job with helping me.

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What is sad is that in a Facebook group my abuse was questioned by some of the parents and these parents claimed that adults with CP are harder on parents. There’s no evidence that this is the case and all the people I know with CP have wonderful relationships with their parents because they weren’t abused by them. Never ever question the abuse of someone!!

Due to the lack of being able to do what typical children and adults are able to do combined with the abuse and trauma I have suffered, I battle anxiety, CPTSD, PTSD, and depression every day. Sometimes I have it pretty together and other times it is a struggle. The pandemic has heightened everything and I am struggling to get out of it again. I will though. Therapy is helping me.

Having CP is just something I live with like my mental health issues. I try to use my pain to help people. If I can stop one child from being hit or otherwise abused, I will keep advocating and educating people who are willing to learn. My pain and abuse doesn’t define me either but it is something that I live with.

I wish there was more acceptance for people with disabilities and mental health issues. I also wish that people understood that how we treat children will affect their mental health. If one isn’t a white, rich man, it’s still hard to get along in this society and this must change. There should be no stigma for the abused, people with disabilities, or people with mental health issues.

Let’s raise our children to be more aware and accepting. I hope my children’s book that will hopefully be out by the end of the year will help with creating a more zombie accepting world.

Unconditional

How many things are truly unconditional?  It’s almost Christmas and we tell children that Santa will bring them presents if they are good.  We put Elf on the shelf so that they know he is watching them for Santa.  I know that some families play games with this toy but many people don’t.

Love is supposed to be unconditional but it often demands things from others or it’s removed when the child misbehaves—no matter how old he/she is.  Christian doctrine teaches that God is love but one must say the “right prayer” to avoid going to “Hell.”  I feel like true unconditional love is rare. I have seen both in my life and now it’s even more apparent with the pandemic.  Love for our neighbors means doing everything we can to protect them from COVID-19 by wearing masks, social distancing, washing hands frequently, and staying home for Christmas with immediate family.

And children should have presents just because they are loved; not because they were good.  The real St. Nick gave to the poor and helped the oppressed because he was kind and loving.  He didn’t expect anything from them. Here’s a wonderful video on the history of Santa.

Have you ever just given something to someone without telling anyone or given something to a complete stranger who needs help?  These have been the most rewarding experiences for me.  This is loving people unconditionally.

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I believe that respect is earned but love is not.  Love, especially for children, should never ever be earned.  This doesn’t mean that we have to be involved with toxic people.  Love them by walking away from them.

I understand that some people have very high-needs children and it is really hard but they should love their children for who they are.  Speaking from my own experience of being a very high-needs child as well as having a parent ask in a Facebook group about what to do to prevent damage from not being able to meet every single need, I believe that it is more important to explain to the child that we are trying our best and validate the child.

However, coming from an abusive, narcissistic home and struggling to come to terms with my own mother being narcissistic and and that she will never be able to be a good mom to me, what hurts is parents not talking about it in a healthy way.  I have severe cerebral palsy and even my husband can’t meet every emotional need I have and sometimes he gets frustrated which is human but it triggers me. The difference is that he is truly trying and admits to his shortcomings.  I do the same.

But with narcissistic parents, they don’t care and won’t admit that they are falling short.  In these cases and other abusive situations, the love is not unconditional.  I think as long as one has a good connection with his/her child and teaches healthy coping skills, the child may need help later on in life, but he/she shouldn’t have the same amount of pain and damage that us who were abused by our narcissistic parents have.

Accepting that one’s child is different than the parent is unconditional love.  When this happens and children have very different personalities than the parents, the best thing that parents can do is accept it and support the children.  Get involved with at least one activity that the child enjoys.  And share each other’s interests with each other knowing that it’s ok to be so different.  Yes, it is hard at times but the key is to validate and accept.

This Christmas, with so many people sick and dying from COVID-19, let’s remember the little Baby that came to Earth to try and teach us what unconditional love is.  Or if you don’t celebrate Christmas, please think about how you can make this world better by loving people instead of being selfish.

Have a peaceful Holiday season.  We remember all who we lost this year.  May 2021 eventually be a better year!

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Covid-19, Black Lives Matter, Mental Health, And Helping Children.

The past few months have been really difficult for me with the Covid-19 pandemic and being super high risk. It has made me struggle with dealing with my own trauma, trying to do what is right and safe regarding the trauma of having a mother who can’t give me what I need, but still wanting her and my other biological family to remain safe. I have felt isolated and anxious and depressed. Being so high risk due to my asthma and severe Cerebral Palsy (CP) has made me angry when I finally realized how serious this virus is for many and seeing how people just don’t want to do what we need to do to be safe!

Life with CP is limiting and even though we find a way to do stuff that I want to do, it’s not easy like typical people who are able to just jump in the car and go. My state is in Phase 3 of reopening and I got my first non-essential, non-medical outing this week to my tattoo artists and chosen family to finish my Samoset kitty tattoo that was started before the outbreak and lockdown started. I was only able to do it because they locked the door and my husband and I were the only ones in there besides the artists. Masks were worn and sanitizer was used even more.

844129F8-4D70-4689-83DD-2AC66EF7AA15 Samoset tattoo by Todd Bass at Triphammer Carbondale.

Throughout this pandemic, I have been aware of all the different aspects of it. My mental health as well as others have suffered due to isolation, people are losing everything, suicide is up. There’s so much to this pandemic and it is so sad that some elected officials are not doing everything they can to prevent this from being so out of control.

I know children and parents are struggling. I think the best thing to do for children is to create routines that are flexible and, if they are old enough, allow them to have a say in the routines. And as I’m sure you have already heard, answer questions honestly but briefly depending on their age and development.

This is scary for the children too. They have lost a lot and they may not be able to understand why. So I have heard a lot of regression in children’s behaviors have been happening from parents. This is so hard because I know parents are stressed out too. I recommend reassuring the children and finding an activity such as meditation or reading or yoga to help calm stress and fear. This is not an easy time for anyone.

Now we have a horrible murder of a black man, George Floyd, that has set off protests and riots in the midst of a pandemic. It is so scary and sad. Racism has got to stop!

I used to say “all lives matter” and even wrote a blog post in which I used “All Lives Matter” for the title of the post that covered every race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, and, of course, children mattering.

Having a severe physical disability made me question, “what about other minorities?” I was a Republican slowly making my way towards Libertarianism at the time. I am now a Libertarian and while I still love Jesus, I’m no longer into mainstream Christianity anymore due to the legalism, bad church doctrine, and abuse, and hate.

I now understand the Black Lives Matter movement and right now this group of people desperately need our support, validation, and LOVE! Saying “all lives matter” doesn’t do this for black people who are hurting badly. Jesus immediately went to the people in desperate need no matter who they are. Jews didn’t hang around Samaritan people but Jesus did.

I know many Christians and conservatives won’t hear me because I was the same way about this topic and I had to figure it out for myself. But I am embarrassed by my ignorance even though I was trying to be fair and supportive and was trying to validate everyone but I was wrong. I support Black Lives Matter and peaceful protests except for the Coronavirus concern. I hope my story helps someone moving away from ignorance to validation and love over being “right.”

Our children are watching everything and need to be taught kindness and acceptance for all. There has also got to be a major change because most black families experience so much pain and violence in their lifetimes and parents of black children are even more likely to spank/hit and harshly punished because they fear that if they don’t teach strict obedience to authority that it could be their child that is murdered by a bad cop. But this spanking and hardship make the children more likely to act out and get into crime.

And while police lives also matter, it’s important to keep in mind that there are many good cops of all races and they don’t deserve to suffer. On the other hand, white cops need to remember that at the end of the shift, they are like everyone else. But black people still have to deal with the racism and can’t hide from it.

Please be safe and get tested for Covid-19 if you participate in the peaceful protests and quarantine yourself because we can’t make change can’t happen if we’re sick and in the hospital or dead.

May we strive for kindness and love and create this in our children. May peace, love, and light reign in our world!

Jesus Hates Religion. Spirituality vs. Religon.

Note: Life has a funny way of taking over.  I started writing this post in December and am just now finishing it.  Thank you so much for your patience.

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas or whatever holiday you celebrate.  Happy New Year!  I am writing this post because I no longer consider myself a religious person even though I still believe in Jesus.  However, my belief is no longer the traditional religious belief that mainstream Christianity makes Him out to be.  I am incorporating other spiritual beliefs in my belief system and I am open to everything.  Feel free to read Why I Am No Longer An Evangelical Christian. Plus, Drag Queens And Kings Are Cool!

I recently shared this meme on my professional Facebook page and I got one nice lady who ended up being a joy to talk to because she tried to use Non-Violent Communication principles.  We both admitted to being not perfect and struggling with it.  We’re both open to learning.  I love people like that because another “Christian” called me a “hypocrite” for sharing this meme and then wishing my Jewish friends a “Happy Hanukkah.”  She was swiftly blocked and banned because I have been called so many names that I absolutely will not tolerate it.  But her comment proves that this is right in many instances.  Then there are people that just want to argue just to argue.

Here’s the meme:

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I agree with this because religion does brainwash people of every age, makes people angry (How many wars have been fought over religion?), and promotes a “better than thou” attitude.  Believe me, I was a part of this for a decade and a half and used to gasp with disgust or surprise when a fellow believer would do something against the religious teachings of the church.  We’re supposed to be humble but instead we look down on people who don’t believe what we do.  It’s disgusting and sad, really.

Not all religious people are like this.  But some just blindly follow whatever the established organized religion teaches. Much of the Christian church doctrine is toxic with a bit of love and compassion occasionally sprinkled in.  For children, more of the doctrine is spiritual abuse because even though I still believe that children are created to believe in Jesus and/or a Higher Power, when they are allowed to freely explore, they can create a positive belief system.  Unfortunately, many children aren’t given that freedom and are taught that they are inherently evil (which I rejected after much research) and are told to obey or else they’ll get spanked or go to Hell.

Telling children the above is spiritual and emotional abuse.  It’s not ok.  One of my best friends experienced this as a child and now rejects religion but is still a spiritual person.

I, too, cannot support religious doctrine.  I consider myself a spiritual person even though I still believe in Jesus. I am using other spiritual beliefs to create a positive spiritual belief system because when we open our consciousness, we see that there’s so much we don’t know and that doctrine often doesn’t add up to what we experience.  Plus, trying to have enough faith to be approved by whatever God you’re trying to please isn’t easy and makes one feel like a failure.  Also, fear is often a huge part of many religions instead of love!  After all, many religious sects and cults tell us that we’re going to go to Hell for not being a part of their religious group.

Merriam-Webster defines religion as:

1a: the state of a religious

A nun in her 20th year of religion

b(1): the service and worship of God or the supernatural

 

(2): commitment or devotion to religious faith or observance
2: a personal set or institutionalized system of religious attitudes, beliefs, and practices
3archaic : scrupulous conformity : CONSCIENTIOUSNESS
4: a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith”  (https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/religion#synonyms).
A website called ReachOut Australia says that spirituality is:

Spirituality: This is more of an individual practice, and has to do with having a sense of peace and purpose” (https://au.reachout.com/articles/what-is-spirituality).

Now many religious people can be spiritual but it seems like they value the rules and man-made doctrines over truly seeking Truth and God or Whomever one wishes to call Him/Her.  I hear all the religious people gasping after reading this sentence. It wasn’t that long ago that I would have gasped as well.  However, the more one gets away from church doctrine and actually begins to seek the Truth, the less judgmental he/she becomes because we’re all one.  Unless someone practices evil, we really are connected in so many ways with love being our main priority!

Spiritual people are usually more positive, accepting, open, and loving.  They wish to be able to get along with everyone.  Even if they don’t “believe” in Jesus, they are ok with people that do as long as those people respect their beliefs.

And yes, spiritual people do participate in rituals and even some religious ceremonies to help them grow spiritually and they are always learning.  They just don’t subscribe to an exact doctrine, or if they do, they don’t try to push it on others.

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Source: reddit.com

Even Jesus Christ was against religious people and hung out with everyday people. Look at what Jesus said to the Pharisees and Teachers of the Law:

“Matthew 23 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

Pharisaism Exposed

23 Then Jesus spoke to the crowds and to His disciples, saying: “The scribes and the Pharisees have seated themselves in the chair of Moses; therefore all that they tell you, do and observe, but do not do according to their deeds; for they say things and do not do them.They tie up heavy burdens and lay them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are unwilling to move them with so much as a finger. But they do all their deeds to be noticed by men; for they broaden their phylacteries and lengthen the tassels of their garments. They love the place of honor at banquets and the chief seats in the synagogues, and respectful greetings in the market places, and being called Rabbi by men. But do not be called Rabbi; for One is your Teacher, and you are all brothers. Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. 10 Do not be called [b]leaders; for One is your Leader, that is, Christ. 11 But the greatest among you shall be your servant. 12 Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.”

Jesus preached LOVE AND ACCEPTANCE!  Yet, “Christians” can be some of the most hateful people I’ve ever encountered along with Muslim extremists.  You don’t say that someone should die because they are homosexual and you disagree with them.  People shouldn’t blow people away because they want their religion to take over the world.  I believe that religion creates a form of narcissism.  “My church is right and yours is wrong.”  I used to be like that, but there’s much grace and freedom in “agreeing to disagree.”  Yet, I have always hated how children are treated in many religious sects.  They shouldn’t be taught how “bad” they are and shouldn’t be taught to remember every sin so they can repent for them to avoid going to Hell.  And they should NEVER BE TAUGHT THAT GOD WANTS THEM TO BE SPANKED/HIT!

Healthy spirituality is what we all need to aim for.  There’s a Light in all of us.   I believe that satan wants to blind us to this and think that we have to do special prayers and other things to be closer to God/Goddess but we can learn to listen for Them ourselves.  Certain natural medicines are also helpful for some adults to gain more awareness of the spiritual world that is completely and always surrounding us.

After all, love is the greatest of ALL!

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4 Key Tips for Gentle Parenting When You Have a Disability By Ashley Taylor

Another post from Ashley Taylor about gentle parenting with a disability.

Being a parent is never easy, but when you have a disability, several aspects of the job can become a whole lot more complicated. For the approximately 4.1 million parents with disabilities throughout the country, the usual questions of parenting are compounded by worries about how they will keep up with their child, keep them safe, and educate them. Whatever your disability, the following tips can help you deal with these questions as they arise.

Focus on Home Safety

As a parent, one of your most important jobs is keeping your child safe and healthy within your home. Parents with disabilities have to be particularly careful, as they are not usually able to keep up with a small child’s energy or react quickly enough if something dangerous is about to happen. Therefore, the key to parenting is prevention.

There are a few key safety modifications that can make the everyday tasks of parenting easier and safer. These can include adaptable products such as chairlifts, modified sinks, and adjustable furniture such as changing tables and toilets. When you have a small child, a child safety gate can be invaluable, as it keeps them out of dangerous areas and can help you keep track of exactly where they are at any given time.

Learn to DIY

Any piece of furniture or kit you can think of for raising a child has a wheelchair or disability-friendly version out there. However, these can often be very expensive. For example, cribs for disabled parents that open from the front can cost about $2,000, but if you can DIY (or know someone who can), you can easily make one yourself.

Another area where DIY helps is food. Opening baby food jars can be difficult for people with cerebral palsy, arthritis, or similar disabilities. Making your own can be both healthier and easier as long as you have a good food processor. These recipes can give you some inspiration.

Teach Them Compassion

Your children will experience a rare benefit from growing up with a disabled parent: They will automatically develop empathy and compassion for those who are differently abled. However, you should still actively teach them about these matters as well.

This article by Parent Map outlines the ways in which parents can speak to non-disabled children about disability. While it is written from the perspective of a non-disabled parent, much of the advice still applies, such as being open to answering questions and teaching them that not all disabilities will look exactly like yours. 

Also, you can use your disability to teach them about compassion in other areas of life. Growing up with someone who is considered “different” will help them see the many ways in which “difference” is used to mock, bully, and demean people. You can use this to start a conversation about bullying and how they can prevent it, both in themselves and the people around them.

Know Your Rights

Parents with disabilities will sometimes run into problems with social services or the law because people wrongly believe that they are unable to take care of their children. This isn’t necessarily likely to happen, but it is still a good idea for you to be informed of your rights as a disabled parent. This toolkit by the National Council on Disability is an invaluable tool for this.

Parenting with a disability doesn’t necessarily mean everything is suddenly harder, but it does mean you have to think about certain matters more carefully than other parents. You will have to plan your everyday life in more detail and remain aware of how your experience is shaping your child’s world view. However, a disability will never stop you from having a beautiful, supportive, and loving relationship with your child — if anything, it can sometimes bring you closer.

 

True Unconditional Love: Letter To My Possible Future Child.

I’m not pregnant and not adopting yet, but I have been thinking a lot about unconditional love and thought I would write this since it is almost Valentine’s Day and every child deserves true unconditional love.

 

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Dear my precious child,

I wanted you since I was a child myself and you are a dream come true.  I promise to try to never make you feel unwanted.  If I do, please tell me and I will make it right!

I will always love you unconditionally!  Nothing will ever change that!  If you ever question my love for you, I will do everything I can to help you feel my love for you!

I know I am going to make a million mistakes while we work together to get through this life but I promise to always apologize to you and truly mean it!

I will teach you how to handle your big feelings and I will always do my best to validate your feelings.  I will have my own feelings and may mess up by not remaining calm, but I will always apologize for yelling or saying anything that hurt you.  I hope you will always feel safe enough to see share all your feelings with me.

Yes, you will have appropriate limits and boundaries that you won’t always like.  I will do my best to be appropriately flexible with you.  Sometimes I will have to hold firm in the limit but I will always listen to you.  If you want to do something differently, I will be open to that.

Our relationship will be built on mutual respect and trust.  I will always apologize if I disrespect you or break your trust in me.  Of course, the same will go for you too.

I will allow you to have self-expression as long as it’s not hurting anyone.  I may not be into something you are,  but I will never put you down for being yourself.  Be yourself!

I will never ever punish you by hitting/spanking you, time-out, taking away your stuff arbitrarily, or shaming you.  I will apologize if I do.  There will be natural consequences for you and I will help you understand them.

You’re always welcome!  I will want to see you!  You always come first!

I will never manipulate you for any reason.

My precious child, this is a cruel world sometimes.  You’re heart will be broken and my heart will break every time yours does.  I am here for you.  You will know how loved you are by me, your dad, your Heavenly Father, and others.  It’s ok to protect yourself from toxic people and relationships. But please don’t lose your loving, vulnerable heart.  It’s worth it to love.  I will help you through this.

I won’t be a perfect mom.  Just know that you are my world and I will do everything I can to love you as you deserve.  You’re a beautiful person.  Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise!

Love you,

Mom

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Christmas, Bullying, And Raising Kind, Compassionate Children.

I can’t believe it’s Christmas time again. Well, it was when I began writing this post.

If you’re anything like me, you enjoy helping others in need all year-round, but especially this time of the year.  There are so many people in need and we are called to help them.

Unfortunately, this time of year also brings out the greediness in many.  You usually see this on Black Friday (which starts on Thanksgiving night now) and just before Christmas when people fight over the products that they must have.

Our children are aware of all of this.  They are also aware of when we are unkind to each other and them. Conversely, they’re also aware of our kindness and compassion for each other.

This is why I was sickened and angered by this dad who forced his daughter to walk to school which is miles away while he videotaped her in order to punish her for bullying.

Punishment is also a form of bullying because it teaches children how to force people to do what they want.  It is a temporary, ineffective solution to any behavioral issues, but especially for bullying.  Most bullying is the result of bullies feeling powerless because there’s either too much control in the home, i.e. authoritarian parenting (very controlling and punitive), or not enough care and acknowledgment, i.e.neglectful and permissive parenting. Some children (and adults) are so desperate for control and power that they will target seemingly weaker people. They push and push until they get the reaction they want and then they feel powerful being over the other person.

While I completely understand the seriousness of bullying as I have been bullied and made fun of my whole life, and I just dealt with a cyber bully, I feel like the dad just reinforced the bully mentality by making his daughter walk to school and video it. 

What did it teach her about kindness and respect? NOTHING! And his demeanor was very punitive and bullyish. Forcing her to walk in the cold while he followed her in his truck and videoed the whole thing is punishment, not a consequence of her actions. And SHE was also bullied herself. Think maybe she was trying to exercise power over others like they had done to her? There is no excuse for bullying, but you have to understand all the reasons why a child is behaving in a certain manner so that you can work with him/her and teach him/her.

Children learn what they live.  As I said, I just recently had a cyber bullying incident that I had to report to Facebook.  Both children and adults get behind their screens and say things that they usually wouldn’t ever say to the other person’s face.  I have not been a bully but I have been harsh online and have had to apologize for my behavior.  Saying anything cruel and calling names is bullying and verbal and emotional abuse!

It’s very important to realize that people of any age that act poorly usually feel poorly.  If one feels good about oneself, usually they don’t have the need to exercise control or get a reaction from another person.  There’s no need to purposefully hurt another person when you have healthy self-compassion.  Bullies are trying to get/do one of two things:

  1.  Exercise control over a weaker person to feel powerful and inflict pain so that someone else can feel the pain that they are feeling.
  2. To get a negative reaction from the victim as well as attention from others.

I would be very upset if I had a child and my child ever bullied another child. Social media and other media outlets are showing bullying to children. So the first two things I would ask if my child was being a bully is “What have I been doing to contribute to this?” And, “Why is my child feeling like he/she has to bully?” There is a reason for all unwanted behaviors.  I would work on the connection between my child and me.

I would limit screen time for my child and insist on knowing every account they have.  Many children and adults have secret accounts for bullying and other inappropriate things that they don’t want anyone else to know about.  It is crucial to be an active participant in our children’s online activities.  We need to stop cyber bullying and teach children that cyber bullying is also never okay.  If they see online bullying, they should put an eyeball 👁 emoji in the comments.  And cyber bullying must always be reported!

I would have many long discussions with my child about why it’s NEVER ok to bully. I would read books with him/her about people who were bullied. I would role play to teach kindness. I would have him/her do community service with me.

Teaching children unconditional kindness is so important.  Unconditional kindness is when we do something kind to someone without expecting any type of reward or credit for it .  This is true kindness.

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Another critical thing I would do is teach my children about all different people and not do anything to criticize differences.  When disability, culture, religion, age, race, and sexuality differences are understood, there’s less bullying because children learn that we’re all humans and we deserve equality and respect no matter what!  This is why I wrote my children’s book about my cerebral palsy which is currently being illustrated.  When we understand someone very different than us, it leads to kindness and compassion (unless the person is mentally ill and unable to be kind).

Finally, I would take the child to and from school and check in with her/his teacher until I could trust him/her again. Gentle parenting is more work than just punishment. Most parents don’t do anything because they don’t know how.

This is an excellent article about helping bullies become more empathetic and compassionate with others.

Understanding what drives bullies is crucial to both stopping and preventing it.  Teaching children empathy and compassion is so important. And Christmas time is a great time to really teach this so it will continue year-long.  When children see and are involved with more giving than receiving, they’re taught about empathy for people who aren’t as well off as they might be.  It also teaches gratefulness and that they are not entitled to get anything.

Christmas and New Years’ is a time to get involved with different charities.  It’s also a time to reflect on our relationships with our children and other people.  Children need our love and a deep connection with us.  They need to see healthy relationships with people.  This is vital for teaching empathy, compassion, and love towards others. They also need us to teach them healthy coping skills for their negative emotions.

I believe most bullies can be reformed if they are worked with for a while.  It may not happen overnight but we have the power to show them what empathy and compassion looks like. We can soften a harden heart by helping them deal with their own pain that is causing them to bully. We can teach them gently that greed and entitlement are bad.

Here is another excellent article about how to deal with bullying.

Children who witness bullying should always report it to a trusted adult.  If they are being bullied, they should do their best not to react and walk away to report it.  I believe teaching children self-defense is also important.  Taekwondo and karate are wonderful ways of accomplishing this!

This Bible verse came up in my devotional recently during my cyber bullying incident. It comforted me and applies to everyone even if one isn’t a believer.

“But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men” (Luke 6:35, NASB).

As we enter the new year, may we use gentle parenting to prevent bullying and raise kind, compassionate children!  I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas and will have a happy, healthy, blessed New Year!

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Disappointment, Competition, And Community. The Value In Learning About All Three.

Being an author, artist, athlete, or any other professional in which one is forced to compete is not an easy thing. As an author, I continue to have to deal with rejection and disappointment.  And sometimes, as a part of business, I must reject and disappoint others.

Writing books and finding an illustrator for my children’s book about my life with Cerebral Palsy has turned out to be much more difficult than I thought.  I hope to be able to contractually secure an illustrator for my children’s book this summer and still have it published in the fall, but nothing is guaranteed.  I may be disappointed again and/or have to disappoint someone else if the samples of illustrations don’t fit my vision of my children’s book.

Since this is a children’s book about me, it’s an absolute requirement that the cartoon character depicting me both as a child and adult is accurate.  I want young children to see what severe cerebral palsy looks like while showing them how much one can accomplish despite the disability.  I also want other children with cerebral palsy to be able to relate to the book.

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All of this got me thinking about disappointment, competition, and community.  I am 36 years old and I still don’t handle disappointment as well as I would like, yet we expect young children to deal with it better than we do. When they have a meltdown due to disappointment, we punish them instead of helping them learn to cope with disappointment.

And, at times, we even set the children up for disappointment by expecting them to do things that they are not ready to do like compete at a young age or go to a candy store without getting any candy when we know they can’t control their impulses.

Children are put in sports or other competitions and are expected to compete.  Even going to school has become a competition to see who can get the best grades and who can be the most popular.

While there’s a movement to give everyone trophies in competitions, I’m not sure if that’s the answer either.  I absolutely hate the way many conservatives talk about this; that giving everyone a trophy is turning them into “snowflakes (too sensitive).”  Yet, this culture and life requires hard work and earning things through hard work and talent.

Plus, children should be able to enjoy the journey towards their goals and accomplishments.  It is often the journey—whether or not it results in success or failure—that teaches us all important lessons.  We should not take this away from children by making everyone a “winner” or trying to shield them from all rejection and disappointment.

I love this meme from Calm:

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I believe that learning to work hard and how to cope with disappointment is very important for children. I also think for young children, there’s nothing wrong with getting a certificate of participation for participating in an event.  Teaching children that while everyone may not be able to be the best and win, it’s still important to be inclusive.

Then there’s community. Community is very important to teach children.  Having a communal attitude can go along way in helping this society to be more united. Children must be taught that, in basic human terms, everyone is equal no matter what!  Celebrating individual talents is fine but that doesn’t mean anyone’s “better” than the other when it comes to simply being a human being.

In many other countries, the culture is alll about community and putting others first. Children learn this from a young age and have been known to run together to reach a prize and then share it.  The children don’t believe that one can be happy if the whole group isn’t happy.  This is another great argument that children are not born sinful!  They act how they live. We are their teachers.

I recently attended an event with my husband and friend which was very community oriented. Everyone was happy, loving, and peaceful. It was very refreshing that there was no judgment or anything negative. We did play a game but it was all in fun and we were happy for the people who won.

I guess there’s a time for disappointment, competition, and community. However, we must teach children how to cope with disappointment and not push competition on them. Playing should be fun while teaching children about teamwork which is community. Disappointment is a part of life. We must teach them how to deal with their big feelings in a kind, compassionate way.

I must also point out that the Church is failing in community because the Church tends to pick and choose who they allow to be a part of the Church. The Church has been known to reject, be oppressive, and even abuse weaker groups of people of all ages.  Yet, Jesus calls us to love, help, and include everyone in the community.

But most of all, may we teach children community and inclusion. That looking out for everyone is what truly matters.  Working hard together and understanding that everyone has different talents is more important than anything else.

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