Guest Post: Did Having Children With Autism Ruin My Life? By Daniel Smith

Note: Daniel is a wonderful Christian gentle parent.  This post really touched me as I have severe cerebral palsy and I always really appreciate when parents let people know that having children with disabilities is tough, but also very rewarding!

Going to tackle a tough question that comes up from time to time.

Has having children with autism ruined my life?  Is this the worst thing that could ever happen?

The answer is an emphatic no!

Aizen’s needs in particular have posed some tremendous challenges to us to understand and learn — and honestly there would have been a time I may have answered yes to this question. Age five, before we were getting support and help, was a particularly rough time because he was biting and aggressive and we didn’t know what to do. He also wasn’t talking which made things extra challenging.

But did it ruin my life?  No — I have had to grow significantly and I had a lot to learn. I have gained skills, understanding, empathy, and knowledge I would never have gained otherwise. Aizen has shown me the world in a way I would never have observed it without him. He has changed the way I perceive behaviours in other people and taught me patience and empathy in stressful situations.

Has this ruined my life?  I’d say the opposite — what I have gained would be enhancements. I am also a bereaved parent and I stress that Aizen is alive, gaining skills, observing and experiencing the world — he’s not broken, damaged, a burden or a problem. The worst thing that can happen — and I know from experience — is your child passing away and having plan their funeral.

He’s a good polite kid who has worked extremely hard for every skill he has acquired — he’s someone who should be celebrated.

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Guest Post: Remaining Connected With Children As God Does With Us By Amanda Hughes

Note: Amanda is a very good friend of mine.  I was saddened that the Facebook group in which she originally posted this kicked her out for promoting gentle, Christ-like parenting. The Church is very broken indeed.

I posted this on a Christian homeschooling page and it got lots of likes in response to a few common parenting challenges. I got a few likes so I figure I would share just my own words here:

I think a lot of it has to do with perspective of children and God.

I have been asked before about what I do with talking back…And I wonder if my kids have ever done it. I just never thought about it or viewed what my children say as talking back. I think it is communication. So maybe they have, but I just don’t view discussion as talking back. I don’t expect first time obedience because at the age of 41.999999 I am not first time obedient to my Lord. So I “talk back” to Him. I go kicking and screaming sometimes to what God tells me to do. Yes, I talk back to him, I communicate and let Him know what my priorities are and what my hoped outcomes are. He never silences me. He is always so patient. He understands that I am just human and I often consider my wishes. But as I mature I talk to God about working His will in my life, but yes I still share my concerns. He is Abba. He loves me. He wants to hear my thoughts.

Yelling is hard because I think it is normal for children. They want to be heard. And it drives me crazy sometimes. So I start whispering to them. They think I am crazy. Maybe they yelled so much I went crazy. But *I* set the tone…*I* lead the home. So I cannot yell and then expect them not to. And I am not a yeller, I just need to be heard as my words are a priority as the mother. I am in charge. So then I start whispering and ask different kids about something that interests them. I give them attention so they know they are heard. And I think it is hard sometimes for our kids to be heard, particularly when we have many large familes like mine. So we need to hear them just when they speak, or whisper and acknowledge what they are saying. They don’t need to yell to be heard.

I have a son I had such a hard time with until I figured him out. I remember we went to Target and I just needed a birthday card. But he wanted to look at toys. He threw a fit!!! We had to get to the birthday party though. So finally I spoke with him face to face. I said I so much loved looking at toys with him, even when it is just to look. I enjoy seeing what he likes and it was always special time with him. I wanted to be clear with him that I heard him, I understood him, I agreed with him, I loved him – but this one time we could not make time for it. I hoped next time we would have more time to just look at the toy section together and we could see really cool things. Just like that, perfectly calm and compliant. He has a need to be heard and understood.

So I could do the “Because I said so..” route. Or I could connect, hear and acknowledge. And yes it took some time, but it went so much better without ruining relationship. Ruining relationship wasn’t the goal of my quick Target trip.

Disobeying is back to the idea that it is not realistic. Obedience cannot be achieved until a person has accepted Chirst and has been gifted the Fruits of the Spirit. If they do not have self control, they cannot obey. The Holy Spirit works within them, maturing them into a more Christlike being where the spirit of Self Control can overcome a child’s egotistical nature. If a child doesn’t feel like their needs are met, their wants are heard – they cannot consider what others are asking of them.

So I compare it to the mission field. We are in the mission field as homeschooling mothers. When missionaries are trained they are not directed to FORCE tribal people to maintain their moral code or else. They are told to go and meet the needs of the people, learn their culture and language. They work on clean water, medical needs, building a school, etc. They help them before they witness to them. And they need to accept Christ before they can be “expected” to maintain the Christian moral code. It isn’t that the missionaries put tribal people in time out or spank them if they do not meet their standards. No, they meet their needs.

Through the process of relationship building. Teaching that each person’s needs matter. And being the authority because you meet all the needs, keep them safe, teach them (discipleship), feed them, etc – they know you are the one in charge and what you say is to be followed.  They trust you!

My kids do not want to disappoint me. They know through my servant leadership, grace, mercy and forgiveness – that is not only how people are treated because that is all they have ever known. They know that I love them, and they do not want to let me down, because I have never let them down. It is all about relationship. And even though I do not focus on obedience, my kids are obedient. Obedience is a heart issue, not a physical – follow what I say or else – God works on their hearts and they are becoming more Christ like. I focus them on God not me. He is high and holy and I am not. The result is obedient kids.

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Guest Post: What Happens When Children Become Numb To Their Fear And Alarm System By Hannah Klassen

I’ve had this realization: When people are defending spanking and they commonly say that they never feared their parents, they are right. They didn’t and don’t feel the fear. The emotion is the energy and the feeling is the consciousness of that energy. They were numb to their fear, so since they can’t feel it, they make the assumption that it isn’t there.

So when we understand that when the brain perceives danger and alarm is activated in us, we are first to be moved to caution and if that isn’t possible, we are to be moved to tears and if that isn’t possible, we are to be moved by courage. When we become numb to our feelings of alarm, then instead of caution, we are moved to be reckless. You see that with children and adults who are adrenaline junkies, dare devils, and danger seekers. They are numb to their fear. Thus, they are called fearless.

Courage is not the absence of fear. It is the mix of fear and desire.

So when the parent becomes a source of alarm to a child, in order for the child to hold on to the relationship, the brain has to numb their fear. Which puts them in a dangerous position. Because what if they also put themselves in harms way with other people, because they can’t feel their alarm. So that little voice, that sensation that warns of danger, can’t be heard because they have become deaf to it.

Parents should never be a source of fear and alarm to a child! They need to be a source of safety. A place where natural fear and alarm can be, understood, supported, and empathized with.

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Guest Post: Gentle Parenting May Have Saved My Children’s Lives By Donia Varnon

I tell the story of both of my kids in regards to running into streets/parking lots to a lot of people because that question comes up so often. I found peaceful parenting when my first was about a year old. We don’t do any punishments or rewards with our kids. I don’t yell at my kids and I don’t use the word “no” very often. It’s not that I let them do what they want (we have some pretty firm limits on certain things), but I had learned that children will begin to tune out the word “no” if they hear it to often so I try to use different ways to tell them when we can’t do something. 

So anyway, when my first was a little over two, we were leaving a building and my hands were full. She was always great about walking with me but this time she took off out the door running towards the car, (which was parked right outside the door) but she was headed to the back of the car because she knew I was putting stuff in the back. It’s a little used parking lot but at that moment someone came tearing into it at a rate of speed not really appropriate for a parking lot and it scared me to death that she would run out from behind our car, the other driver wouldn’t see her, and he would hit her. There was no way I could catch her. I shouted “STOP!!” She immediately stopped, turned back to look at me, and came straight to me.

There was no fear in her eyes, only trust. She knew I wasn’t going to hurt her and she also knew that mom never uses that voice to talk to her so this must be super important. At that moment, I was so thankful that I don’t yell at or spank my kids.

Fast forward a few years and I have another crazy little toddler (also two years old, also being raised without punishments). We had to leave somewhere and she wasn’t happy about it so she was crying and sat down on the curb with her arms crossed because she was angry. I was standing just a few feet from her giving her a little space to calm down. In typical unpredictable fashion, she jumped up from the curb and took off into the street but on the opposite side of a car from where I was. She was angry and there was a car coming down the busy street that I knew had no way to see her in between the parked cars and was going too fast to stop. I was even more frightened because this kid is so hard-headed and persistent but there was no way for me to reach her so I did the same thing. “STOP!!

Exact same reaction as my first daughter. She immediately stopped, turned to look at me and came to me. I don’t know if the result would have been the same had my parenting styles been different. Maybe it would…..but I have my doubts. I think peaceful parenting saved my kids’ lives.  I also think that even if spanking would accomplish the same thing, why use it if a peaceful alternative works just as well or better?

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Guest Post: What’s The Alternative If You Don’t Spank? By Dara Stoltzfus

People who spank seem to believe that if they don’t spank, the only other alternative is to let the kids run wild, rule the roost, and become tyrannical delinquents.

But for those of us who have stopped spanking, we know how hard it is to “do” something without hitting.

Just recently my 10 y/o and my 8 y/o had a conflict. The 10 y/o was mostly at fault. She’d called her little sister a name and pushed her. When things like this happen, it triggers the old spanking circuits in my brain. Everything inside me wanted to scold her, yell at her, and punish her…to make her suffer for having done wrong.

So I called her to come talk to me and gave myself a quick “pep” talk as I waited for her.

I resisted the urge to scold and punish…and chose…to discipline instead.

I asked her questions about what happened and I gave her examples I hoped she could relate to.  She told me her little sister, “was being rude and irritating me so I called her a baby.”

I asked her if calling her a baby helped the situation.  I asked her if when she got mad at her little sister for being rude to her, if calling her a baby was polite.  I asked her if calling her a baby taught her little sister not to do what she’d done to irritate her again.  And I asked her why she did it. Her answer was typically childish. In her mind she did it because her little sis had irritated her. (I know grown-ups who think this way).

So I asked her if she could have done X, Y, and Z (different examples) instead of calling her a baby.  I used some funny examples too that made her smile. But with the examples of other choices she could have made, I helped her then to see that because her sister did something, it did not make her make the choice she had to call her sister a baby. SHE made the choice after her sister irritated her. She could have made 1,000 different choices but she chose to call her sister a baby. She chose to be mean.

At the beginning of the conversation she thought, “I called her a baby BECAUSE she irritated me.” At the end of the conversation she understood, “I called her a baby because I made that choice when I felt irritated by my sister.”

As we talked, tears came to her eyes several times usually when I asked the right question and I could see she came to the right conclusion. But the whole time her eyes and attention remained focused on me.

Then she told me some things that have been bothering her about what her older siblings have done to her, and more tears came. We talked about those things and I encouraged her not to follow their examples.

It took 10-15 minutes to get through this conversation and in the end…she sat down on my lap and hugged me, thanked me for helping her, gave me a kiss, and told me, “I love you.”

A few minutes later…all on her own…I heard her tell her little sister in all sincerity, “I’m sorry I was mean to you.”

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THIS is what happens when you don’t spank your children.

Had I still been a spanking parent…this would have ended in 30 seconds with a few whacks of a paddle, resulting in tears of pain and an obligatory apology. But instead it took 10 minutes and ended in tears of thankfulness and understanding.

NOT spanking is more painful for the (usually busy) parent in that it takes a lot longer to handle things…and takes a lot more mental energy, willpower, maturity, thoughtfulness, and creativeness on the part of the parent…but the results are worth the effort.

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Guest Post: To The Mom Needing To Hear This Right Now By Christina Driggers

There is a mom today reading this and needing to know: You don’t have to hit your child to make them obey and listen to you. In your heart you *****know***** it’s not right…your instinct is telling you it’s not right, but the teachings your church or your family or whomever is pushing you to act on tells you to cause your child pain so that they will know that God loves them or so that through hitting your child, your child will obey you and God. I could go on and on all the reasons because in my past, I was that mom.

I was that mom who began as an attachment parent (though in the mid 90’s I had no clue that’s what it was called).  I just knew I didn’t want to spank my kids like I was spanked and hurt. I didn’t want that for them. However, I had no clue what to do otherwise and there was no internet, there was no support. Spanking in the south is the thing to do. You are a bad parent in the south if you don’t spank. So, I succumbed to hitting my child and calling it “discipline.”  But it did not work.

My child still had unwanted behavior. The book, To Train Up A Child, was suggested to me and I tried the things in there…breaking the will. All I remember about the day I tried to do that was:

1) I didn’t want to spank my child so much and so hard that it would hurt him and leave bruises.

2) How can parents actually spank their child so hard and so long that causes their will to break?

3) My child was still looking at me with confusion and hurt on his face. And this momma could not take it any longer.

I could not do what ‪the book, To Train Up A Child, told me to do. I could not hurt my child like that. My heart was telling me it was wrong. I had all the ‪doorpost charts and books…but it was the same thing. None of it worked.

I would have been spanking my kids 20 times a day according to their advice. Their teachings, and many like them that are touted as “Biblical and Christian,” and they required escalation of hitting and punishment.

I have found a better, loving, gentle, respectful, and truly Biblical way. My 4-year-old is not spanked and we have not spanked. Sure he’s a normal 4-year-old with lack of impulse control and all that, but overall, I have none of the behaviors with him that I had with my oldest.

When I began to view his unwanted behavior as a need not being met, and it was up to me to meet the need, it changed my view of him completely.

I am so thankful for all this awesome information and so grateful for how it has changed me and the tone in the home. It’s funny because I used to be that mom who mocked peaceful parenting and touted all the arguments that pro-spanking parents use. I quoted all those Bible verses in support of spanking kids. There is not one single Bible verse or one single argument a punitive Christian parent can tell me that I have not believed and used in the past.

And I’m going to tell you this: You have been lied to. We have been lied to. We have been misled. It’s wrong. Those beliefs are wrong and I’m putting my foot down and calling them out because I have seen too much damage in families by these so called Christian teachings.

Beating your child and leaving bruises and welts is NOT God’s love. Hitting your child and calling it discipline is NOT God’s love. Demanding instant obedience from your child is NOT God’s love. Demanding that your child speak only when spoken to is NOT God’s love. Telling your child they have an attitude when they are trying to be heard is NOT God’s love. Controlling your child is NOT God’s love.

What is God’s love? It’s supposed to be I Corinthians 13, but I see so few Christian parents actually practicing it towards their child. We all have choice. I’ve been on both sides and for real…Peaceful parenting wins hands down!!!!!!!!!!!!! It produces the Fruit of the Spirit without hitting, without anger, without frustration!

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Guest Post: A Walmart Story By Elaine Murphy

Just got back from the Walmart. My husband and I heard a child screaming in what sounded like pain. I’m ignoring it realizing that I’m in Walmart and that’s a common sound and I don’t want to go off on anybody because one of these days, I’m going to be killed during one of my “parenting” interventions. The crying went on and on unabated. I was having a panic attack and told my husband that I had to find this child obviously in distress and no doubt being abused.

In the frozen food aisle, there they were. A beautiful toddler boy with long brown hair being cradled on his young mother’s lap as she sat on the floor rocking him back and forth telling him that she’s sorry that he’s upset. She also told him, “I’m sorry it’s not here. We’ll talk to the store people and see if it will be in soon.”

Then, an older girl about ten walked up and said, “They said it won’t be here for a couple of days.” As she rubbed the little boy’s head.

The mother looked annoyed at this information, thanked her daughter and told the little boy again, “I’m so sorry.” The little boy nodded his head as he made a valiant attempt to choke back his tears.

The mother placed him gently back into the shopping cart and they went on their way. I walked over to the section of frozen food that was causing all of the distress and guessed by the empty section that is supposed to have a particular brand of vegan hot dogs that this may be what upset the little toddler.

What a great, loving, peaceful mom and big sister!

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Guest Post: Kinderen Van Mijn Hart (Children Of My Heart) By Hannah Klassen

They twist the words, thus, making us out to be fools.  They are very good at their verbal gymnastics. I fall to the floor; the grief within my heart weighs down on me like a boulder. Tears flow down my cheeks, like a river.  I weep for thousand years.

Oh, *Kinderen van mijn hart, they hurt you, and they confuse your minds, they make you believe that you deserved it, that it was love that drove them to do it. Oh my dear little ones, so young, so trusting, and they twist that and warp that.

Oh beloved Papa, the darkness consumes and devours, distorts and destroys. How dare they use Your name!  How dare they say it’s Your will and Your command!  For what they do is of great darkness. To wound a child like that.  It is not just the body they harm, but also the heart, soul, spirit and mind. They say that they do it out love, but what kind of love would force a child into a helpless position and strike them, inflicting pain and fear?

While within their hearts, they have great love for their children, but what drives them to slap the buttocks is not love, but fear.  It is fear that drives their hand.  Fear of what will happen if they don’t.  Fear of what others will think if they don’t. Fear of what God will do to them if they don’t.

Oh, what a twisted web of deception, those who sit on their thrones and tell us what to do, that their way is the right way.  Why have we made them our “gods,” and obey them without question?  They are mere humans, like us.  So why do we take their words as if they are holy?  Just because their kids appear to be wonderful, productive, and responsible citizens. We know that things aren’t always what they appear.  How many times have horrible crimes become known and we cry out in shock, because we really bought the act that person was playing.  We say, “how could they have done that?”  They were such a good person and we list off all the things that we believe makes someone a good person.
Are spankings from God?  Does spanking cause a child to fear?  Is there fear in love or does love cast out fear?  Does it cause a child, when they have done something wrong to lie, hide and escape a spanking? Does spanking soften a child’s heart or does it harden it, thus, they have less compassion for their sibling who gets spanked too?  Does it produce life, light, and love?  Does it produce peace, gentleness, kindness and compassion for others?  What is the fruit of spanking?

As I explained, and article explains, spanking isn’t violence! You obviously have no clue! My mother was spanked, her mother was spanked, I was spanked, I never felt threatened, I never felt unloved, I never felt abused, neither did my mom, or hers! And their generations where better behaved,more Morgan’s, respect and values, today people are raising spoiled rotten brats who feel privileged and manipulate and get bribed! That turns out thugs and brats! Spanking is not hitting, a big difference! Hitting is in anger, uncontrolled and teaches nothing.”


“It’s kids today who are more violent and harsh and less sympathetic! Back when I was a kid, kids where kind and we all got along, a bully was humiliated and kids stood up for bullied. The generations before where respectful and kind and had more values. Kids today are rude and brash,curse and ignore authority and rules!”


“And I work with kids! Even in early nineties/ late eighties they where better behaved! Today you can get cussed out and assaulted by a three year old! Oh….and mommy doesn’t spank so kid will never empathize because he doesn’t know what it feels like!”

When I read these words, my heart becomes broken.  If this person is the posterchild for a properly spanked kid, then we all should weep until there are no more tears to shed. When Jesus was here on earth and was with people, who was the people He hung out with?  The very people this person is calling names.

Our Papa does not see any of His children in this light.  Yes, He sees all of our brokenness and wrongdoing. But, that doesn’t cause Him to despise us, rather, it moves His heart with compassion. Tears fall from His eyes, for He feels our pain and empathizes with our struggles. When we’ve really screwed up and feel like a piece of (expletive deleted), what does Papa do?  He embraces us, holds us in His arms, and tells us over and over again that He will love us forever and ever and there is nothing we can do that will ever change that. He pours His love upon us, with eyes so soft and caring, with a face of such affection, this is our God, this is our Papa.

*Kinderen van mijn hart (children of my heart).

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Guest Post: Pro-spankers And Their Verbal Gymnastics By Hannah Klassen

What so many pro-spankers fail to admit is what spanking truly is. They use all kinds of verbal gymnastics, to avoid explaining spanking as it really is.
The intent of the parent is to use physical pain to make misbehavior undesirable to the child. They say that the are motivated by love, and they believe that justifies their actions. Though, it will never change the fact that they are using their size and strength to put a child in a helpless position, so that they can slap the buttocks, thus causing enough pain and fear, in the hopes the child will never repeat the misbehavior again.

And that statement that they don’t leave a mark, how does one determine what that means. Is bruising, leaving a mark? Is causing redness, mean leaving a mark? Where is the line, and when does it cross into abuse?

I believe, while not all spankings can be classified as physical abuse, they all are a clear violation of a child’s physical boundaries. I would say that “loving” spankings would actually be more classed as psychological abuse, because it forces a child to choose between calling their parent out as a liar, or submitting to being hurt and forcing themselves to agree with their parents. And it’s even worse when parents bring God into it, saying that God commands them to do it. Thus the child wouldn’t just being going against their parents, but also God. That’s a very difficult position to put a child in. How many adults would be able to stand up and disagree, when the stakes are so high?

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