A Mishmash Of Thoughts

This post may be all over the place but it’s based on things I have experienced this week. It was a rough week as May 2nd was the one year anniversary of my dear grandpa going Home. I have really struggled with his passing. He and I were extremely close and he was a wonderful grandfather who never intentionally hurt me.

Since my family has not had any “official” services for him yet and I won’t be able to go to them due to financial issues and a cat who has chronic diseases and is not yet ready to die, I had my own private funeral service on Tuesday May 2nd that included getting a beautiful tattoo.

I kept thinking “goodbye grandpa” during the tattoo which is on my upper right arm.  The tattoo came out perfectly!   Parts of it hurt like heck as the inside of one’s arm is much more sensitive, but my tattoo artist and my husband encouraged me during the tough parts and I breathed and laughed my way through it.  I cried when it was done.

I’m not letting go but I finally feel so at peace that he is physically gone. I miss him and my mother-in-law so much, but I just couldn’t get comfortable with Grandpa being gone until until I got this memorial tattoo.  Plus, he deserved a detailed tattoo. I LOVE my first tattoo which is for him but I was feeling guilty that everybody else has detailed tattoos and he didn’t. So now that I know I can get detailed tattoos, I’m happy I got one for him and the jacket that was his. She made it look like a watercolor.

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However, I have been experiencing some things that prove how important respect is. I haven’t felt very respected and that has made me lash out. I didn’t repay evil for evil, but I could have done better.

When adults and children don’t feel respected and heard, it makes them angry. That’s why children usually act out.  They need connections and respect.  But it is so hard when you’re doing your best to be respectful and the other person doesn’t respect you. Children don’t mean to be disrespectful as they are still learning how to respect.  But adults should know better.

I also feel like, based on my own experiences as well as observations, people of all ages tend to want to control and manipulate others that they feel are weaker.  These people usually have emotional problems that make them need to feel powerful and in control by manipulating the weaker person.

We see this all the time with the parent-child dyad. The parent finally has someone they can control and manipulate after they were controlled and manipulated as children. They may be doing it unconsciously, but they do it nonetheless.  Others are fully aware of what they are doing.

But another group that is often controlled and manipulated, sometimes even by family, are people with disabilities.  I have severe cerebral palsy and I often feel like people don’t respect me. No matter how old I get, I often get treated as a child.  Of course, anyone who knows my story knows that I was physically, verbally, and emotionally abused by my late dad. I was also emotionally abused by my school aide.

In addition to dealing the my grief of losing my mother-in-law and grandpa as well as dealing with my beloved kitty going downhill and other life stresses, I have felt very disrespected.  Trying to have boundaries and protect myself while remaining Christ-like is not easy.

Of course, this makes me think of children. We need to respect their personal boundaries as we set our own boundaries with them. It is such a helpless feeling knowing that someone you love is trying to control, manipulate, and make you feel guilty for something that you didn’t do. I’m 35 and I’m really struggling with it and I don’t always handle it as well as I should.  It’s no wonder that children have meltdowns and anxiety and feel so out of control when we try to control, manipulate, and shame them. I can relate so much to the feelings children have.

I am at peace with the loss of my grandpa and I am thankful for that. At the same time, it comes to light that we all need to be respected by the people we love no matter what our age is. I don’t believe that elders deserve respect just because they are older.  I believe respect is earned. It must be mutual. It cannot be forced. If it is forced, it leads to strong resentment.

I guess that is my mishmash of thoughts. I hope it helps someone else dealing with similar things. I also hope it helps parents to see how important it is to respect their children. Only through respecting our children will they learn to respect others.

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Another Tattoo, Cerebral Palsy, And The Ongoing NeedTo Prove Myself

A week ago I got another tattoo for my mother-in-law. Again, due to how I have been treated throughout my life because people always underestimate me and have even put me down, I felt the need to prove that I could handle a much more detailed tattoo. See here to read about my first tattoo.

Thankfully, some of my family, including my mom and my husband, have always been supportive of me.  My mom wanted to be here to help with my second tattoo, but she lives in Kansas.  I missed having her there as she is a tattoo person too.

I am beyond happy!  I did even better than last time. My tattoo artist began easy by retouching my Mickey. Then she gave me 3 fonts to choose from for the “big hug” that I added to my grandpa tattoo, and I immediately picked the middle font. We decided to put it at the top of the grandpa tattoo!  That went so well!  We were a bit worried about doing font with me due to my startle reflex that I have no control over.  The significance of adding “big hug” is that from the time of AOL instant messenger, my grandpa and I chatted every week if at all possible since it’s very hard to understand me over the phone as my speech is very slurred because of my severe cerebral palsy. So at the end of EVERY chat, we’d say, “Big hug! I got mine! Here’s one back.” It satisfied us until we got to see each other again and get the real hug!  Oh my, I’m crying again.  Now “big hug” is forever on me and I will NEVER forget that very special thing between us until I see him again and finally get many big hugs for eternity! I love you, Grandpa!  So now my grandpa tattoo is complete!

Then it was onto my tattoo for my beloved mother-in-law. The cardinal is my sign from her in Heaven. She was like my second mom and accepted me into her family! We were very, very close. Her birthday is on Halloween so my husband came up with the jack-o-lantern idea. Then my artist  added the harvest moon and hazy clouds. I was nervous about the details, but it went better than I could have ever imagined!!

Eventually my startle reflex quit.  I took the same medications as last time to slow down my spasms.  My husband strapped me all up in my wheelchair, including my arms since we didn’t have my mom there to help as we did last time. My husband sat on the floor and held my leg.  I can’t believe how well it all went.

To me, the shading hurts less than the outline. And my artist and my husband talked the whole time and I talked some, but I didn’t want to move too much. She said that I really did a great job!  I only took one break to get a drink of orange juice. Everyone loved it at the shop!  I am so proud of myself for doing so well with the pain, but I ended up getting used to it. And the conversation was so cool and interesting that it kept me distracted.

I’m always second guessing myself in everything that I do.  The voices that told me throughout my life that I would never amount to much are always somewhere in my head despite my, thankfully, strong will.  This is why I hate that many Christians believe that they must break their children’s wills. They are really doing a great deal of harm to their children because it often takes a strong will to do what is right in God’s eyes and not what others think is “good.”

I again hugged me tattoo artist afterwards!   My tattoos are the most beautiful things ever!  It was sore like a sunburn but it was worth everything!  It all took 2 hours!   I was tired but so excited!   Another huge accomplishment for me!  Thank You, Jesus!  It felt so good walking out into the cool air when we left the tattoo shop because I was hot from all that!

I sat here at home for a while with my sweatpants down and just looked at it!!  I cried!  There is so much symbolism behind these tattoos.  Symbols of love and acceptance by family members.  Symbols of remembrance and the hope of being reunited with them some day thanks to Jesus’s amazing gift of grace and forgiveness!  Symbols of being able to overcome, with God’s help, the negative messages that were put into my head from the time that I was a small child.

My next tattoo is January 27th to get my first kitty, Sara. I’m doing it on the 10 year anniversary of her going Home!  I’ve wanted tattoos for so long and never thought it would work with me but I proved that wrong!!  I feel like I can now get through this horrible grief because I got through the tattoos with flying colors!!  Thank You, Jesus!

Children need to be taught how to believe in themselves and to trust God. Only through gentle discipline is achieved. I will probably always struggle with believing in myself and totally trusting God no matter how much I continue to overcome. I wish all children could have what I didn’t growing up.

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My grandpa tattoo and my mom-in-law tattoo.

God’s Amazing Forgiveness!

Note: This was originally written on November 22, 2016. I always have my husband edit my posts.

God is good!  So many Christians believe that He punishes us when we sin. He definitely corrects us which isn’t pleasant, but He doesn’t spank, hurt, or smite us down or I really shouldn’t be here as I have been really sinning in my anger lately. Today is an example of God’s love.

We went grocery shopping today and got stuff for Thanksgiving. With everything we’ve been going through with grief, our cat being in the beginning stages of kidney disease, and other stresses, my husband asked me this morning if he could just make turkey and his mom’s amazing oyster dressing, and mashed potatoes because he just wasn’t into making the whole feast with sweet potatoes and green bean casserole. Of course, I said that was fine because we’re both at our limits. Maybe Christmas we’ll have the whole feast. We’ll see.

So we get everything at the store and come to the van. My husband puts me in the van and I started freaking out. I cussed. My Sara ring, the ring he bought me on the first birthday without my beloved first kitty Sara, was GONE!   I didn’t feel or hear it fall off. I was so upset and sick to my stomach. My husband looked ALL over. It was nowhere to be found.

On the way home, I had a meltdown. I yelled at God.  I said some very hateful things, and called Him names I’m ashamed of.   My angry outburst was not as intense as the other night when I said some even more horrible things to God due to fear and anger about the possibility of losing our cat after having lost my mother-in-law and my grandpa all in the same year, but still, it was very nasty and I felt Him being sad. But I was so angry that I didn’t care at the moment.  I got defiant and said that I would just go buy a new ring. I just really let Him have it.

When we got home, my husband looked again for the ring. Gone. I felt sick. I couldn’t cry. I just felt sick. He called the store to let them know that I had lost my ring. But I had no hope. It’s gone.

After putting stuff away, he takes me to the bathroom. As he was getting me up, I saw the ring in my underwear. I couldn’t verbally get it out that my ring was in my underwear due to having to focus on standing and holding on to my husband. It fell out and I said, “my ring, my ring!” He thought I was talking about another ring.

So he gets me back in my wheelchair where he can understand me easier and I told him that it was my Sara ring. It was in my underwear and fell by my “potty chair.” He went in the bathroom, and sure enough, there was my Sara ring!  We both thanked Jesus!

Then I got on my iPad and checked my messages and my tattoo artist asked if I wanted to get tattooed next week. She broke her ankle right before my appointment in October to get my memorial tattoo for my mother-in-law and couldn’t do it, so I have been waiting and praying for her. I was concerned that she might not be up to it until after Christmas.  I had gotten my first tattoo in honor of my grandpa the day after my birthday, and I wanted both tattoos before the holidays to keep my grandpa and mother-in-law close to me as the holidays will be tough again this year.  See here to read all about my first tattoo.   I was going to ask next week to see what she thought, but I will be getting tattooed on Tuesday!!  Yay!  Thank You, Jesus.

Finally, I received a message from Safe Families, a local Christian organization that helps children and their families during crisis situations, and they said that want to see if they can figure out how to partner with me for parent coaching. Thank You, Jesus!

After being so awful to Him again, He blesses me and let’s us know that He is here!  He forgives. And maybe He disciplines us in a manner that truly humbles us through blessing because I didn’t deserve any blessings at all!

And perhaps, we should be mindful of the way He disciplines and forgives us as we discipline our children.   He definitely loves us no matter what and fathers us gently! 

Just re-reading this brings me to tears. I don’t deserve His love.

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Fear Of Failure, Cerebral Palsy, And A Tattoo!

I just got my first tattoo last week.  I was so nervous because I can’t control my muscles at all due to my severe cerebral palsy and I hate pain. But I am now the proud owner of a tattoo in honor of my grandpa who went Home in May.

I know some people believe it’s against the Bible to get a tattoo but when you study the cultural and historical context of the Bible, pagans were doing it for other gods. Plus, it wasn’t sterile or at all like it is now if you go to a reputable tattoo parlor.  Here is a great article about the cultural and historical context of the Bible when it comes to tattoos.

I felt God with me the whole time and He put the verse, “I can do all things through Him who gives me strength” in my head that morning and while she did it. Plus, I feel closer to my mom having a matching tattoo with her! The whole thing has been wonderful and all good things come from God!  And my tattoo comforts me every time I miss my grandpa.

I have wanted a tattoo for years but didn’t think I could stay still for it, especially since pain and anxiety make me move more.  So the first thing I did once I decided I was definitely doing this was to Google “people with cerebral palsy getting tattoos.”  I was very encouraged to find many people with cerebral palsy have tattoos.  Even so, I was still anxious about whether or not it would work for me.

After researching this thoroughly, my husband and I went in August to meet with a tattoo artist at our local tattoo parlor which came highly recommended.  I was very nervous when we went because I figured that they would see my involuntary movements and reject me.  I am terrified of rejection because I have been rejected so many times throughout my life.  Rather, I was met with total acceptance!

The guy we met talked to me like everyone else and listened when I talked. That means A LOT to me since some people look at my severe disability and assume that I am mentally disabled.  And my speech is very slurred making it difficult to understand me if you don’t know me well.

I immediately told the tattoo artist that I can’t control my muscles so I was worried if it would even work. He asked where I wanted the tattoo and I had him feel my thigh so he knew how the muscles would contract. Of course we explained that we’d make my feet straps tighter and that my mom would be here to help hold me.  I also took medicine to help control some of my spasms.

I was so excited for the next three weeks. I was also very nervous because even though the artist and the shop owner didn’t think there would be any problem with doing a tattoo on me, I was terrified that I would fail.

Ever since I was very young, I have been terrified of failure. As you can read in this post and this post, many people would look at me and not believe I could do things.  I learned from a very early age that I had to always prove myself to people.  Plus, I was verbally abused by various people growing up and I saw how my dad reacted angrily when my older siblings didn’t live up to his expectations. I still feel like this today. So I felt like I had to prove that I could handle the tattoo.

I can’t stress enough the importance of building our children up.  They need to learn how to believe in themselves.  This does not mean we make them proud as humility is a virtue.  But humility does not mean feeling like you never measure up or always have to be afraid of failing.  Humility means that you put others before you and you don’t think you’re better than everyone else.  But feeling poorly about yourself is not humility.

Nobody should have to struggle with anxiety like I do due to how I was treated as a child and throughout my life by certain people. Thankfully, my husband and mom had complete faith in me as did many of my friends.

Well, the night before my tattoo appointment my artist who was supposed to do my tattoo contacted us because something came up and he couldn’t do it the next day.  Yes, I had a little panic attack but he made sure someone else could do it. The lady we got was wonderful.  She has done tattoos on people with cerebral palsy and multiple sclerosis. That helped put me at ease.

The day of my tattoo, I was so nervous. Again, I was afraid that I would fail. That the pain would be too much for me and I would move too much.  But Candace immediately put me at ease.  She was quickly able to figure out my spasms and work around them. Every time she initially put the needle down, my startle reflex would make me jump.  But once that happened, she knew to keep going and I was fine.  There were a few “ouch” moments where I made my husband  talk more and I had to distract myself more but it wasn’t bad. I now have a BEAUTIFUL purple Mickey Mouse outline and a BEAUTIFUL red Corvette outline in honor of my dear grandpa! She was gentle and it was over before I knew it! I hugged her as I was so happy with her work.

The significance of my tattoo: Mickey Mouse is because when I was 15, Grandma and Grandpa took me to Disney World over my Christmas break. We saw the Christmas parade, rode on rides, and they arranged a private meeting with Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse and Goofy and other characters. I believe in signs from people in Heaven and ever since Grandpa went Home, I’ve seen Mickey everywhere despite Hello Kitty being more popular than Mickey nowadays. The Corvette is because my grandpa LOVED Corvettes.  He was never without one since I was born. He was a mechanic and worked for BF Goodrich and loved working on cars. So he would buy Corvettes, fix them up, enjoy them, then sell them. My mom is a Corvette owner after 50 years, so getting the red corvette honors him for both of us AND is fun to have matching tattoos with my mom!

I have a major sense of accomplishment and I’m grateful to God for helping me through it!  I loved watching my mom get her matching Corvette in honor of Grandpa who was her dad.  And whenever I miss my grandpa, I just look at my tattoo!

I don’t know if I will ever be free from my fear of failure.  But I do know that God wants me to use my pain to help others.  Children deserve nothing but respect as do people with disabilities. Just because I am severely disabled does not mean I can’t live a “normal as possible” life.  We just need more assistance. If you are reading this and want a tattoo that is meaningful to you and you’re disabled, I’m living proof that you can do it!

We can do all things through Him who gives us strength!

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My tattoo in honor of my dear grandpa (April 1, 1928-May 2, 2016).
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my mom’s and my matching tattoos.

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Make Your Children’s Memories Of You Happy

This was a rough week for my husband and me.  I dealt with the three month anniversary of my beloved grandpa going Home, the first year anniversary of my husband’s beloved mom going Home, and today was the 13th anniversary of my abusive dad going Home.

Having these hit all in a row made it obvious to me that I would much rather feel the pain of losing my mother-in-law and dear grandpa because I have happy memories to think back on.  The reason I miss them so much is because they loved me!  They never intentionally hurt me.

I believe in signs from Heaven and it is a joy when I get one from my mother-in-law and grandpa.

But with my abusive dad, it’s a totally different feeling.  An emptiness.  A dark feeling even though I forgive him and have hope for our relationship to be restored in Heaven, I just feel like I want so badly to miss him but I don’t.  Instead I still feel angry and I just can’t muster any good feelings about him.  I so wish that I could.

Losing two people with whom I was extremely close has put this stark contrast between grieving for the loving people versus my dad. And I must say it sucks!

Therefore, as I’ve gone through this week of grieving for the loving relationships I’ve physically lost and the yucky one I never had, I wanted to make a meme to try to explain how I feel. I hope this helps parents understand better what it feels like.

May parents love their children because having wonderful memories is MUCH better than abusive, hurtful memories even if in Heaven, that will all be wiped away.

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Validation And Distraction

As I am once again plunged into the dark place of grief since I just lost my grandpa only nine months after losing my mother-in-law (I was extremely close to both of them), I am confronted with well-meaning people trying to distract me in order to make me feel better.  I’m also confronted with people who are not compassionate at all towards my deep pain.  I had no idea I would have the latter problem.

But with this post I want to focus on validation and distraction.  From the moment infants are born, many well-meaning people tend to distract infants when they cry instead of validating them and telling them that they will meet their needs.

I mean shushing the infant and saying, “You’re okay.” is not validating them. They are crying for a reason and it’s up to us to validate them and figure out what they need.

Unfortunately, this tendency to use distraction over validation occurs throughout life.  People just aren’t comfortable with anyone of any age showing negative emotions.  And yet, the Bible says:

Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15, NASB).

The Bible also says:

Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2, NASB).

We can rejoice easy enough with people, but when it comes to weeping and mourning with them, many run the other way.  I believe this is due to being taught distraction from birth.  It’s easier to say, “You’re okay,” and try to make someone smile and laugh than to sit down with them and listen to their pain and cry with them.

I find the most peace when people tell me that everything I am feeling right now is normal and to take my time. After all, to truly semi heal from great loss is to feel the pain and let it pass.  God never distracts us from our pain.  He is right here feeling it with us and comforting us.  Encouragement is also so helpful to anyone of any age.

All this being said, I believe there is a place for respectful distraction.  But it must always come after validation.  Offering a young child something to do after he/she has pretty much worked through his/her upset is fine as long as the child can refuse it.  Sending a funny video to a hurting person is okay as long as it is preferenced with “I know you’re having a hard time.  I thought this might give you a smile.”  Offering to take a grieving person out is okay as long as you are ready to hear them talk about the pain and maybe even see him/her cry.

Hurting, upset people of all ages need validation over distraction!  Yes, taking a break from our pain is important, but without the support and validation of others, it makes the healing process take longer.  It also causes children to learn that negative feelings are unacceptable and that they should repress and deny their pain.

If there is physical pain then validating it should still come before distraction.  I use distraction as a coping mechanism but I recognize that I must feel the pain too as, unfortunately, pain is a part of this life on Earth.

May we always validate each other so that no one must carry their pain and burdens alone.

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Fast Cars, Bullheaded, But Gentle As A Lamb

The above describes my grandpa!  I am broken-hearted as I write this because Grandpa went to Heaven on the evening of May 2, 2016.

He loved his cars, especially Corvettes.  He always took me riding with him. Most of the time you could find him in his garage working on one of his cars, but he always made time for me.  I enjoyed sitting in the garage, listening to music, and playing with the vice he had on his work table.

He played board games with Grandma and me.  He watched tv with me.  He read “the funnies” to me on Sunday mornings when I was there.

My grandparents took me to DisneyWorld. They dragged my wheelchair across the beach to watch the sunset over the ocean. Grandpa took me in the ocean for the first time and a wave almost knocked us down.

He truly loved caring for me. As a child I slept with him and he would make up the best bedtime stories before I fell asleep.  He made me feel safe. I was never ever ever afraid of him because he never intentionally hurt me.

When other family members rejected my now husband, Grandpa accepted him and watched for thirteen years that my husband meant it when he told my grandpa that he would never get tired of caring for me and divorce me.

Grandpa cheered me on through college, grad school, and writing my first book.  He was the best Grandpa I could asked for.

He called me his “tiger.”  It wasn’t until yesterday that I really understood why tiger is a huge compliment!  Tigers are strong, courageous, and beautiful.

If you have been following my blog, you know that we lost my husband’s mom nine months ago. Losing two people I was very close to me has been unbearable.  But the legacy they leave behind is wonderful!

Grandpa, you truly were the BEST GRANDPA EVER!! I am proud I got to be your “favorite granddaughter” because as I would say, “I’m your only granddaughter.” I miss you so so much already! But you are finally free from the pain you have dealt with for so long! I love you! Your “Tiger.” 💜

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My grandpa. April 1, 1928-May 2, 2016 See you in Heaven someday, Grandpa!

Teaching Expression Instead Of Repression

Happy New Year 2016!!

This Holiday season was a bit rough for my husband and me as it was the first Holiday season without his mom. But we experienced many joyful moments along wih the grief.

As the five month anniversary of his mom going to Heaven approaches this week, I’ve been, yet again, reflecting on how society treats negative emotion and grief. I’ve been surprised that even well-meaning friends seem to want us to hurry up and “move on.”

It’s during our darkest hour that we find many scattering when we need them the most.

Thank You, Jesus, that You never scatter when we need You. You quietly sit with us as we cry, scream, and even cuss. I’ve been doing that a lot lately as I continue to process my emotions of loss.

“Get over it.”  “Life goes on.”  “Stop focusing on your grief.”

That’s what I hear from others around me. If only it was that easy.

I have been looking for and finding joy amidst the pain. I have redirected my thoughts. And with the help of my best friend, I made a memory photo book for my husband and sister–in-law for Christmas. I knew this would be a hard Christmas without their mom. So I wanted to honor her and bring joy. They loved it. I have done productive things with my grief.

I like using my pain for good whenever possible which is why I wrote my book, Gentle Firmness, and why I’m working on a children’s book and a book for adults about my cerebral palsy. It’s also why I finally started blogging.

I want to help children and their families. I also want to glorify God. 

So, this post is another of many about teaching expression instead of repression because our first instinct with both children and adults seems to be “Oh, you’re ok.”

Well, what if the child or adult isn’t “ok?”  Shouldn’t we be like Jesus and sit quietly with them as they express their negative feelings?  Why do we pressure people from birth to repress their negative emotions?

Yes, at times, even I have been guilty of this.

If you have been following me or have read my book, you know I feel strongly about validating children’s emotions from birth. I explain in my book as well as in many posts on how to help children appropriately express and cope with their big, negative feelings.

Teaching and encouraging expression is vital to emotionally healthy people. I know many adults who were taught to repress their negative emotions. Some were even punished for having negative feelings. These adults now struggle to deal with stress and upset in a healthy manner. They also sometimes pressure people to “hurry up and get over it” because they either feel so helpless that they can’t do anything to help the person–young or old– and/or they are triggered by the person’s emotional upset and pain.

I am not one to repress my emotional pain. I need to reach out. I usually do so online since my family and close friends live all over the country. I find that if I express my negative emotions appropriately, I usually heal faster.

This grief is taking me longer. After all, it’s only been almost five months. And she had only been gone a few weeks before special days for our family hit…And then the Holidays.  And while I’ve lost many humans to Heaven throughout my life, my mother-in-law was the first close person to me that I’ve lost.  She truly was like a second mom to me.

I have found with my husband, his sister, and myself that when we try to repress our emotional pain, it ends up building and building until we blow up.

I have found that to be the case with children too. The more we ignore their feelings, the worse they behave.

It is truly better to encourage a hurting child or adult to express their negative emotions. Children will require guidance and discipline (teaching, not punishing) to learn appropriate ways of expressing themselves, but it is so much healthier for them.

Also, boys have the same right to cry and be emotional as girls. It is NOT “manly” to repress any negative emotions!

May we do our best to encourage expression rather than repression. Believe me, children and adults will be forever grateful if you validate and quietly sit with them as they do their best to process their big, negative feelings.

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Making Thanksgiving Enjoyable For Children Too

As we prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving, let us be mindful to make sure the Holiday is enjoyable for our children as well.

Young children cannot sit quietly for long periods, so let them play before they eat as well as after they finish eating.  Bringing crayons and coloring books can help keep them occupied.

Encourage them to try new foods, but don’t force them to eat stuff they truly don’t like.  Try to have one thing that they like at the meal.

Model good manners to your children.  If they are old enough (3 years and up), have fun practicing good manners before Thanksgiving.  Just don’t expect perfection from young children as they are still learning and developing fine motor skills.

Let them participate in ways they can enjoy. Allow them to engage in conversations.  Ask them what they are grateful for, and talk about being grateful all year.

For young children, being in a new place and/or having a lot of people around may overwhelm them.  Be prepared to help your child take a break from all the activity.  Explain to guests that they need to respect your children’s personal space if your children aren’t comfortable hugging and kissing.  Suggest something less invasive that your children may be more comfortable with such as giving high fives.

Do your best to stick as closely to your children’s routines as possible.  Help prepare your children for changes by telling them what to expect beforehand.  When new transitions come up on Thanksgiving, be prepared to help your children get through them if they tend to struggle with transitions.

Finally, plan family activities that everyone can enjoy to encourage bonding with relatives that the children may not often see.

A few simple steps and some planning ahead can help make Thanksgiving enjoyable for all!

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good;
For His lovingkindness is everlasting” (Psalm 118:1, NASB).

“Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name” (Psalm 100:4, KJV).

*A special note: Some of us will be grieving on Thanksgiving and throughout the Holiday season as we’ve lost loved ones.  Please acknowledge, validate, and express that grief.  There is joy amidst the sorrow.  Take the time to feel the pain if needed and remember loved ones.

May everyone have a blessed Thanksgiving!!!

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