No Mud, No Lotus

 

For my birthday, I got a beautiful hand tattoo which, is in and of itself, a major accomplishment for someone who has severe cerebral palsy, with the phrase, “No mud, no lotus.”  I really wanted it on my hand in order to always be able to see it and take comfort in it.

This tattoo is especially meaningful to me after everything I’ve been through.  There has been so much darkness and pain, and yet, I am growing and fighting my way to the light out of the mud. This phrase was part of a recent meditation session and it really hit me hard because that’s how I feel. I am growing and changing; doing my best to become a better person while acknowledging that I am far from perfect. I’m learning to love myself and get away from toxic relationships even when it hurts.

I’m trying to be like Christ without all the religious stuff. Without the mud (darkness and pain), there’s no beautiful lotus. I’m trying to get to the blooming flower and I AM getting there. There’s always going to be be pain and darkness throughout life, but it can always eventually turn into something beautiful!

For the Christ-followers, bad things happen in the world because sin and satan are in it. We are not born evil.  God is the Author of only good things.  Children really need to be taught this so they don’t think they are inherently bad or that God causes “bad things to happen.”

 

Since today is mental health awareness day, this morning’s meditation session was wonderful!   I still struggle with anxiety and PTSD. This week has been especially rough for my bathroom anxiety.

It’s sad that physical pain is widely acknowledged and supported, but when it comes to mental health issues, there’s still a stigma which can, and often does, make people feel isolated and alone. Nobody expects you to “get over” physical illness or pain, but they certainly expect you to hurry up and “get over” emotional pain.

I truly believe emotional health begins at birth or even before. Children are able to pick up on our vibes. Therefore, they definitely require responsive, respectful care to be able to have a better chance at emotional health.  After all, emotional health is just as crucial for a healthy society as physical health is.

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Calling A Spade A Spade. Sometimes The Truth Hurts.

Jesus said:

“…and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free” (John 8:32, NASB).

As I mentioned in my last post, I have had people get angry for labeling my dad as abusive.  However, when we look at the definition of labeling, we see that describing his behavior is not “labeling.”

Here’s the definition of labeling:

“assign to a category, especially inaccurately or restrictively.”

“children were labeled as bullies” (Google Dictionary).

I believe that the key word here is inaccurately.  I hate labels, especially when it comes to children.  There are no bad children.  I have constantly been labeled inaccurately as “retarded,” “heretical,” and a “drama queen” by people who don’t even know me and judge me wrongly.  Frankly, I’m guilty of judging others and labeling them inaccurately as well.  This is something that I continue to work on.

 I also had another run in with a “Christian” pro-spanker who became more and more insulting to me and others as we tried to point out the Truth that Proverbs was not meant to be taken literally when it comes to the rod verses that seem to advocate for corporal punishment.  I don’t know where he gets his Hebrew and Greek definitions, but I do not believe that they are from accurate resources.  Of course, he thinks the same thing about me.

I assure you all that I get my definitions of the Hebrew words and Greek words from Biblical scholars and always link to them.  Here’s a wonderful article about the accuracy of the Bible.  I take accuracy very seriously because James 3:1 states:

“Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment” (NASB).

I don’t fear God, as in being afraid of Him, but I am reverent towards Him.  Thank the Lord that God is love and forgives.  The pro-spanker tried to say that the Hebrew word for fear the Lord means to be scared of Him.  It made no sense in the context of 1 John 4 where the Bible describes God’s amazing love for us and that fear has to do with punishment.  I’m sorry but love and fear cannot co-exist.

Well, things got heated and I described what I was seeing in his comments.  With both my dad and this pro-spanker, I have been thinking a lot about labeling and have come to the conclusion that it’s not “labeling” if you are describing behaviors you have experienced and/or observed.  

Here’s the definition of describing:

“1. give an account in words of (someone or something), including all the relevant characteristics, qualities, or events” (Google dictionary).

There’s nothing wrong with pointing out negative behaviors in an appropriate manner which can be difficult in the heat of the moment. My dad was physically, verbally, and emotionally abusive to me and my siblings whether they want to admit it or not.  To keep quiet about the abuse is to make it ok. It’s NEVER ok to hurt a child in any manner.  There’s so much victim blaming and gaslighting from people who don’t want the abuse exposed. I will never be able to pretend that this abuse didn’t happen even when I have forgiven him.

The same goes for pro-spankers who become insulting and un-Christian like.  A person can only take so much before he or she explode. Being mean, insulting, and hateful just sends people—adults and children into fight or flight. They cannot hear the person any more and will eventually either lash out or shut down.  I imagine that this is what most of these people who resort to being mean and hateful want—a reaction from the person trying to be kind and respectful and explain our viewpoints.   If these people  must inflict pain on children, then I can see why those people also must inflict pain on everyone else.

Children grow up and some become trapped in the horrible, abusive doctrine that they were raised in.  Or get stuck in believing that an abusive pattern is fine.  People like me who were traumatized by the abuse find their voice and must speak out for the children.  I don’t think I’m better than anybody.  I just want people to know and experience the true, beautiful love of Christ and to STOP children from being hurt due to man’s traditions.

Plus, with children we teach them by describing what they are doing and asking questions.  Gentle parenting describes emotions and helps children work through them appropriately. During a conflict between two children, we describe what is happening in the moment to help each child see the others’ point of view and come to a resolution.  Without describing, learning would be difficult.

I must point out that diagnosis of a disability or disease is fine and necessary. However, diagnosis should not become labels that are used against children and adults.  I have severe cerebral palsy and it doesn’t define me. It just affects how I live my life which is not easy but I am blessed with a wonderful life.

In conclusion, it’s necessary to call a spade a spade. Sometimes the truth hurts when we humble ourselves and realize that we are wrong.  However, the Truth (Jesus) will sett us free if we allow Him to do so. What a wonderful message to teach our precious children!

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Vulnerable People Aren’t Weak!

This is a short post but I had to write it.  Overall, my emotional health has really improved since we adopted our new kitten, Samoset.  He doesn’t replace YP, but he is sure helping us on a number of levels.

However, this has been a rough week for me due to the 8th being the third anniversary of my mother-in-law going Home and the 9th being the 15th anniversary of my abusive dad going Home and some really don’t like me talking about the abuse.

This post, which was written a couple of years ago, describes how it feels to go from honoring someone who never intentionally hurt me to acknowledging my dad’s going Home anniversary.  I will write about  the idea of labeling in a later post.

I always seem to make myself vulnerable to people as I am a very emotional person.  Today’s meditation session on the Calm app was about being vulnerable with others and how it is a good thing.  I really needed to hear that and it made me cry since I have been feeling vulnerable all week.

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I will be honest, while I totally agree with this meme from the meditation session, it can be very easy to just shut down so people who prey on the vulnerable can’t hurt us.  From conception to death, power hungry people love to prey on the vulnerable. Children especially.  This fact makes me angry.

Except these power hungry people were usually hurt as children themselves which is why they behave the way they do. This is yet another reason why I advocate for the respectful treatment of children.  Respected children usually grow up to be empathetic, loving, joyful, vulnerable, and resilient adults.  They don’t need to have power over weaker beings or feel the need to act like they know everything.

I’m grateful that in spite of my pain and dealing with people who just don’t understand, I am able to stay vulnerable, empathetic, and loving.  I’m far from perfect but I do my best to advocate in a respectful manner. I am learning how to become less reactive to people and respond. And I am also learning to love unconditionally from a distance to rid myself of the toxic relationships in my life.

I believe vulnerability is a gift from God. It also allows us to be humble and rest in the peace and joy of God.  May we treat our most vulnerable with respect, empathy, and compassion.

“Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13, NASB).

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Cancer Free And Trauma…Plus Some Potty Training Tips

I haven’t been up to really writing this post even though as of January 2nd, our beliefs were finally confirmed after a biopsy, that I am indeed cancer free.

You see, except for mild pneumonia, from which I was able to recover at home, this was my first medical scare that required a hospitalization, a MRI under anesthesia, and a procedure in the OR all within 3 months.  Going to an oncologist also isn’t fun even though nobody ever really threw around the “C-word.”

This is unusual for people with severe cerebral palsy.  I’m very blessed to not have needed surgeries to fix joints and other things that can come with having severe or even mild cerebral palsy.

But after over 2.5 years of trauma due to the three major losses in our family, this pretty much sent us over the edge. I felt guilty at first for not being as happy that I was cancer free like everyone else because, for me (and my husband since he has to care and comfort me), it isn’t over.

Plus, because I’m unable to walk around like typical people and I have spasms, it takes me longer to physically heal.

As one of my good friends says, it’s actually satan-induced anxiety and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) that I have.  They are not mine to own.  Going to the bathroom can still be scary for me.  Sometimes certain things that happen in the bathroom or in my body send me into a panic attack or PTSD episode.

I want to talk about PTSD for a moment especially with this recent school shooting.  As I said in my previous post, people in this society don’t take mental health issues seriously.  They worry about the physical well-being of people, and only and/or repeatedly argue about objects that hurt and murder people when they are in the wrong hands.  Keeping them out of the wrong hands is crucial but also almost impossible because if someone truly wants to do something bad, they will.

That’s the sad truth. So learning how the young mind works and about mental health issues is one of the best ways to stop some or most of these horrible tragedies.

What is PTSD?

“Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a psychiatric disorder that can occur in people who have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event such as a natural disaster, a serious accident, a terrorist act, war/combat, rape or other violent personal assault” (American Psychiatric Association, 2017, https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/ptsd/what-is-ptsd).

This video also describes PTSD very well.

I am working very hard to overcome this. My abusive background doesn’t make it easy because there’s PTSD from that as well.  However, through medication, including medical marijuana, meditation, professional counseling, writing positive notes to remind myself of all that’s good in my life, my small support group, and spending time with the Lord, I am slowly getting better.

It’s quite a process and I have to learn to be okay with however long this takes.  I have to learn how to not berate myself every time I perceive a “setback.”  Even learning self compassion is extremely difficult for me.

Why?  Because I grew up with a dad who was abusive, and school personnel putting me down. Plus, my disability has occasionally been treated as a “burden.”  Or at least this is how I felt as a child sometimes.

Children are very sensitive to their parents.  Everything we say to them is ingrained into their brains FOREVER — even if we don’t think they are listening.

Potty training for children is one of those crucial times when parents either remain patient, compassionate, and encouraging or become angry, punitive, and sometimes even abusive.  In both cases, most parents mean well but some understand gentle parenting and the consequences of not being gentle while others do not.

Bathroom trauma is REAL.  I found this article to be very informative about bathroom trauma in children.  It’s so important that young children have positive associations with going to the bathroom.

Here’s what I tell parents regarding potty training their children:

*Wait until the child is showing interest in the bathroom to slowly introduce him/her to the potty.

*Let them lead the way.

*Read fun books about going potty.

*Let them pick out their new underwear.

*Give them plenty of choices for what potty they want to use.  Some children like the small, portable potty chairs and use them while watching tv or wherever they are most comfortable.  Other children want to use the toilet with a small seat on the toilet and a footstool to put their feet on.

*Allow them to experiment with going back and forth between diapers and underwear.

*Expect many accidents and don’t overreact.  After all, we ALL have accidents.

*Gently remind children to go potty many times as they are often so into what they’re doing that they miss the signals that they need to go until it’s too late.

*NEVER force potty training.  Don’t punish or reward them.  This shouldn’t make them feel as if their whole identity is contingent on being able to go potty. You may celebrate by doing the “potty dance,” saying, “Yay! You did it,” and giving high fives.

*Poop is the hardest for young children to master when it comes to potty training. Give them plenty of liquids to keep their stools soft. Hard, painful bowel movements often make young children (and even some adults) afraid to go to the bathroom and then they hold it too long.

*Be careful with flushing the toilet in front of the children. It could startle them. And children can view poop as “a part of them” for a while and will get very upset when it’s flushed down the toilet.  This won’t last long.

*Use correct terms for body parts.

*Make the potty routine fun.  Read books, splash and/or run water (it helps them pee), sing fun songs, have special “potty toys,” and do whatever else you can to make going potty as fun as possible.

*Finally, feel free to set limits on the type of talk and behaviors that are only for the bathroom.  Children don’t have filters and exploring new language and body parts is so fun and funny to them. Give them a safe, private place to do this.  This is an excellent time to also reiterate body consent and who may and may not touch certain body parts.

If these basic guidelines are followed by us, most children will master potty training by the age of four.  Please be gentle during the whole potty training process even if it’s really hard sometimes.

Having experience with PTSD, abuse, and trauma, I truly implore anyone reading this to place more importance on, and time into, creating healthy human beings from conception on. They are our future.

Every child and adult reacts to trauma in very different ways and that needs to be fully explored and parents should do their best to look for warning signs as should others in the community.  It still takes a village to raise children.

Mental illnesses usually are rooted in childhood trauma.  Here are two excellent books that explain how trauma can affect children:

The Boy who was Raised as a Dog by Dr. Bruce Perry.

Ghosts from the Nursery: Tracing the Roots of Violence by Robin Karr-Morse and Meredith S. Wiley.

I truly believe that by respecting children from conception on and providing compassion to them in the worst of their moments is the way to a healthier—both physically and emotionally—society.  Compassion matters!

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Meekness Matters!

Here are some quotes that have been going through my head lately.

“You say you want a revolution
Well, you know
We all want to change the world
You tell me that it’s evolution
Well, you know
We all want to change the world
But when you talk about destruction
Don’t you know that you can count me out
Don’t you know it’s gonna be alright
Alright, alright
You say you got a real solution
Well, you know
We’d all love to see the plan
You ask me for a contribution
Well, you know
We’re all doing what we can
But if you want money for people with minds that hate
All I can tell you is brother you have to wait
Don’t you know it’s gonna be alright
Alright, alright, al…
You say you’ll change the constitution
Well, you know
We all want to change your head
You tell me it’s the institution
Well, you know
You’d better free your mind instead
But if you go carrying pictures of Chairman Mao
You ain’t going to make it with anyone anyhow
Don’t you know know it’s gonna be alright
Alright, alright
Alright, alright
Alright, alright
Alright, alright
Alright, alright” ~Revolution by The Beatles.

Also:

Romans 15:1-7:
“We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up. For even Christ did not please himself but, as it is written: “The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.” For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.
May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.”

And:

Proverbs 26:20-27:
“Without wood a fire goes out;
without a gossip a quarrel dies down.
As charcoal to embers and as wood to fire,
so is a quarrelsome person for kindling strife.
The words of a gossip are like choice morsels;
they go down to the inmost parts.
Like a coating of silver dross on earthenware
are fervent lips with an evil heart.
Enemies disguise themselves with their lips,
but in their hearts they harbor deceit.
Though their speech is charming, do not believe them,
for seven abominations fill their hearts.
Their malice may be concealed by deception,
but their wickedness will be exposed in the assembly.
Whoever digs a pit will fall into it;
if someone rolls a stone, it will roll back on them.”

There’s a lot going on in the world today and I’m finding that people are drawn to arguments, hate, aggression, and even violence.  Nobody truly wants to hear each other.  We take our sides and to heck with anyone who dares to disagree.

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I must admit that I am not innocent in this.  I used to regularly go on the attack (without meaning to) with pro-spankers as well as other political topics that people disagree about with me.  Yet, I always tried to draw the line with personal attacks because as a Christ-follower, I am called to love.  I have had to do a lot of apologizing though.  I am far from perfect.  I mess up constantly.

But I do try to be respectful to everyone.

I have learned over the years that trying to force change doesn’t work!  It only makes the other side tune us out and dig their heels in even more.  It certainly does with me.

The Bible talks about this a great deal.  Here are a few more verses:

“A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Proverbs 15:1, ESV).

“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear” (Ephesians 4:29, ESV).

“So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. …” (James 3:5-12, ESV).

And Jesus said,

“From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force” (Matthew 11:12).

Clearly, God does not want us to force things with anyone. It’s perfectly okay to be passionate about topics.  Anyone who has been following me for a while and has read my book knows that I am extremely passionate about treating children from conception to adulthood with respect and gentleness!

So when an issue arose on my Facebook page where I was trying to be respectful and still stand by my belief that all circumcision is hurtful to baby boys, and yet still respect the Jewish religion, I was taken aback by the amount of hate and force in the comments.  All of the hateful comments were deleted.

During the writing of this post, I discovered that the original post shared by one of my admins on my professional Facebook page that upset a Jewish person was in no way inflammatory.  Sometimes we can’t win either way, but read on to understand how to reach more people.

You know, human beings are reading your comments and have feelings too.  I believe the majority of anti-circumcision comments were from gentle parents as we don’t like anything that is harmful to children.  Yet, a Jewish friend of mine had reassured me that the way they do it minimizes the pain and trauma of the baby boy. Most of the anti-circumcision comments claimed that this was totally untrue.

However, I’m well aware that every Jewish ceremony is different.  I was not condoning circumcision, I was simply trying to show respect for the Jewish religion. I may have even been given misinformation after reading some of the respectful information that was placed on the thread. 

I have since learned that some mohels do use topical anesthesia to help with pain relief during the circumcision while others do not.  They do not remove as much skin as the medical community does nor do they use the same equipment as the medical community which is supposed to make the procedure less painful than the hospital circumcisions.

This being said, from what I understand, every mohel removes a different amount of skin from the newborn’s penis.

Being a tattoo person now, I’ve discovered that different areas hurt more than others. But being poked with needles, even though they don’t go deep, hurts everywhere on the body. So I just don’t understand how anyone can say that cutting the baby’s penis doesn’t hurt much. Plus, unlike adults, infants cannot prepare for the pain!  We can take deep breaths to deal with something painful.  But out of nowhere the boy’s penis is cut.  He has no way of preparing for the pain.  And after anesthesia wears off, he will have soreness.

I do understand that circumcision is a commandment; if one still lives by the Law, he/she must obey the commandment.  I encourage all Jews to come to know Yashua HaMeshia.

Click here for why circumcision really isn’t necessary.  And click here for resources for Jews as some are choosing another ceremony that does not involve circumcision.  And for Christians, click here and here to see that we live by grace and absolutely do not need to circumcise our sons.

“For neither circumcision counts for anything nor uncircumcision, but keeping the commandments of God” (1 Corinthians 7:19, ESV).

Galatians 5:2-11, ESV:

“Look: I, Paul, say to you that if you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you. I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law.  You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace.  For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness.  For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.

You were running well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth? This persuasion is not from him who calls you. A little leaven leavens the whole lump. I have confidence in the Lord that you will take no other view, and the one who is troubling you will bear the penalty, whoever he is. But if I, brothers, still preach circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been removed.”

I also know many people who regret circumcising their sons. Like with spanking or cry-it-out, some just don’t know any better. Know better, do better.  I also believe that stuff that permanently change children’s bodies should wait until they can give consent.

I don’t think parents who have had their sons circumcised are bad or abusive.

There’s a meme going around that says, “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor” by Desmond Tutu.  While I agree with this in many, many situations, I actually believe that sometimes we need to be a bit more neutral in order for people to truly hear us.

For example, anyone who is familiar with me knows that I am hard core against spanking/hitting children!  I believe that it is abuse!  That said, sometimes I share less aggressive posts about spanking in case a pro-spanker is on the fence and a less aggressive stance on spanking may change his/her mind and lead him/her to gentle parenting.

Do I agree with these posts?  No.

Do I wish that they were stronger in their stance against corporal punishment?  Yes!

But the fact remains that people are more likely to actually listen to us when we present information in a non-inflammatory manner.

Also, as gentle parents, we know, or should know, that when children are upset, stressed out, having a meltdown, or needing a physical or emotional need met that they cannot learn whatever lesson we may want them to learn. Their brains are literally overwhelmed and we must wait until they are calm and receptive to us before we can really teach them.

The same is true for adults.  I have had this experience myself.  In fact, I’m, unfortunately, again dealing with fresh grief and when anyone comes at me with information, especially if it’s in a hostile manner, I just get so overwhelmed and have to walk away.  That’s exactly what I did when my Facebook post got so out of control with mean, angry, accusing comments.  I tried to reason with people on both sides but when it became clear that most people didn’t want to discuss, but rather shame each other, I walked away.  I’m very grateful for my other admins on my page who took over for me and deleted and banned the haters.

Meeknes A.K.A. gentleness matters. Our children are watching us constantly. If we truly a more peaceful world then we had better start treating everyone in a peaceful manner or walk away from the haters. Hate, violence, cyber bullying, aggression are NOT okay.  Peace and change begins with us!  Let’s stop using our screens to hide behind in order to attack others and start engaging in true conversations with each other.

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Clarifying Respect And Age

A while ago I wrote a post in which I stated that I don’t believe people should be respected solely because they are older and that true respect is mutual.

Beka from “Climb A Tree With Me” created this meme from that blog post.

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Some people had a hard time with this, so let me see if I can explain. I know not everyone will agree with me because we still live in an age where “respect your elders” is shoved down our throats from birth and if children dare assert themselves in a way that is deemed “disrespectful” to their elders, they are punished.

If you spend time reading my blog and book and other social media outlets, you know that I am a huge advocate for respecting everyone from conception to death. I don’t see age as a requirement for automatic respect. Everyone deserves basic respect, kindness, and courtesy.

The problem is that some people abuse their position as an authority figure or as an older adult to demand respect. As I pointed out in my blog post to which I linked at the beginning of this post, this often occurs in the parent-child relationship.  The parent demands respect from the child, but doesn’t treat the child with the same respect.

A child who is not raised with respect will not respect the parent.  He/she fears the parent and then becomes rebellious and/or resentful.  How can we expect children to respect us when we treat them as second-class citizens?

Childism is alive and well in our society. Here’s the definition of childism:

“Childism is defined as ‘a prejudice against children on the ground of a belief that they are property and can (or even should) be controlled, enslaved, or removed to serve adult needs'” (Gold, 2012, https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/child-in-mind/201201/understanding-childism-are-we-prejudiced-against-children).

This comes in the form of abortion, cry-it-out, demanding things from children that they are incapable of doing, yelling at them, saying harsh things to them, shaming them, spanking/hitting, grounding them, not listening to them, not taking them seriously, and just acting as if they are far below us.

The worst thing is that children have no voice!  Every other minority group has formed groups to give them a voice and change the way they are perceived and treated, albeit we have a long way to go in how minorities are perceived and treated in this world, but at least they have a voice.

Since children don’t have a voice, it’s up to people who see them as the beautiful human beings that they are to speak up for them. As someone who wasn’t always treated with respect by my elders, I am even more passionate about this. And due to my severe cerebral palsy, I still often get patronized and disrespected by adults of every age.

And, as I pointed out in my original post about this, sometimes disrespect continues in family relationships as the stronger one tries to bully, shame, and manipulate the “weaker” one.  When this happens, the most respectful thing to do is to set boundaries and/or walk away.  I have had to do this many times throughout my adulthood.

Unfortunately, children cannot “just walk away” or set boundaries.  Children are stuck in that relationship until they are adults.  This is not fair.

Children are born social beings who love unconditionally!  They are just learning about everything and we are their teachers. We teach respect by being respectful to them.  This does not mean we don’t set limits and boundaries or don’t discipline them.  It means we discipline them without punishing them and without being harsh.

Yes, everyone deserves respect. The elderly deserve respect. But just because we are a certain age doesn’t give us the right to demand and force respect. Respect is earned by being respectful and apologizing when we mess up.  

This world is becoming less and less respectful. It’s not because we’re not “disciplining aka punishing” children, it’s because we are treating them with less respect.  

Respectful children have been raised with true respect, and thus, offer true respect to their elders.

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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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Encouraging Self-Expression

Lately I’ve been thinking a great deal about self-expression because if it veers off from the norm, then children are punished for it and adults are harshly judged.

I love my tattoos and my rainbow hair.  Children also have their own ways of expressing themselves.  Of course, if it is harmful to anyone, then appropriate alternatives should be given to the children.  We have to teach them right from wrong.

But when a child has a different way of expressing him/herself, it should be encouraged.  Instead of punishing reactive children, validate them and give them appropriate outlets for self-expression.

If you have a clown at home, encourage ways of being a clown.  Expect the child to do stuff at school that may not always be at the appropriate time because children just don’t always have the ability to control their impulses.  Good teachers will gently but firmly steer the child in the right direction without having to punish.

If you have a shy child, encourage the little attempts of putting him/herself out there.

My friend’s almost 9-year-old daughter recently wanted rainbow hair.  At first she wanted it all over, but my friend had to bleach her brown hair and she said she’d do the bottom layer to show the child how it would affect her hair.  Once her daughter understood that it will take 3 years for her hair to grow out as brown again, she agreed to just color the bottom layer.  My friend helped her daughter see the consequences of permanently changing her body instead of just saying, “No, you can’t have your whole head colored.”  The meme below shows how her daughter’s hair turned out.  Beautiful!

It just feels like the world is so controlling, harsh, and judgmental.  We punish children for the silliest things.  We punish them for being children and acting their age.

I’m not saying that we should let children do whatever they want.  But we should give them plenty of room to be who they are instead of punishing them for not being who we want them to be.

I don’t know if it’s just me but I have never felt the need to put down somebody’s style just because it’s not what I would do.  When I started getting tattoos, I was suprised at how a few people had to tell me that they were not into them.  Ok, but I am. It is a very personal style.  We shouldn’t judge each other over style.

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My rainbow hair and most recent tattoos.

Finally,  if your boy likes dolls, encourage that in him. God may be preparing him to be a teacher or a pediatrician. If your girl enjoys playing with trucks and dinosaurs, encourage her. God may be preparing her to be an archeologist or a missionary that drives trucks full of supplies for poor and needy people.

Let’s respect individuality and personal style as long as it’s not hurting anyone else and respect our children for the people that they are!

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“Do Not Repay Evil For Evil.”

“Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men” (Romans 12:17, NASB).

“Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing” (1 Peter 3:9, ESV).

I have been going through a great deal of things recently.  I was badly hurt by some people.  Believe me, I have been tempted to repay evil for evil, but that is not what God wants us to do.  I am far from perfect, but I am really doing my best to not repay evil.

I have learned a few things as I continue to work through the hurt, anger, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and anxiety from the recent incidents and they also apply to gentle parenting.

1. Scolding harshly just shuts children and adults down.  It’s true. Scolding anyone of any age just makes them feel angry, defensive, small, and helpless.  This is especially true when a child has not even done anything wrong.  And often harsh scolding is abusive and/or shaming, which is very harmful and hurtful.

“A gentle answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger” (Proverbs 15:1, NASB).

2.  People of all ages act badly when they feel badly.  This is a common idea throughout gentle parenting.  Realizing why a child is acting out is so important because he/she is usually feeling badly either physically or emotionally or both.  When we stop to see behind the behavior, we see a whole new picture that changes, hopefully, the way we respond to the child.  The same is true with adults.  Being lashed out at by an adult is harder for me to deal with than if it was a child.  Yet, when I am really hurting, I tend to lash out too.  But I have learned that trying to be quiet and not lash out is always the best way to go.  Easier said than done, though.

3.  Mutual respect is key for healthy relationships.  From the moment a child is conceived, he/she should be respected.  Teaching respect means being respectful by not doing anything to the child that you know will intentionally hurt them such as cry-it-out, saying harsh words to them, manipulating them either physically or emotionally or both, and spanking/hitting them.  I often feel like people don’t truly respect me and that’s so hard when I’m trying to be respectful.  Again, I am far from perfect, but without mutual respect, one person will be walked all over by the other person.  The only way I know to encourage mutual respect is to teach it to children.  And just because someone is disabled or different doesn’t mean they don’t deserve the same respect as everyone else!

“Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor;” (Romans 12:10, NASB).

“and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ” (Ephesians 5:21, NASB).

4.  PTSD, anxiety, and sensitivity are real and not weaknesses. Due to being abused throughout my childhood by my dad and a school personal aide, I have all of these things.  When people I am close to say “mean” things to me–whether it’s intentional or not-– it triggers my anxiety and PTSD.  I’m left debilitated for a while.  For children, saying mean, hurtful things will only tear them down and may lead to anxiety and PTSD.  Some children, as I was , and still am, are quite sensitive.  Unfortunately, being sensitive is often looked down upon and seen as a weakness.  Then people try to use this to manipulate and control these children and adults.  This is not ok!  If everyone was sensitive and empathetic, the world would be a much better place!

5.  Despite the common Christian doctrine that we’re born selfish, selfishness is a learned behavior.  Children raised with respect, compassion, empathy, and love usually learn to be the same.  These children are more competent in social interactions and have a lower rate of anti-social behaviors.  People raised with selfishness can learn how not to be, but many remain selfish until the day they die. If we want less selfishness in the world, we need to learn how to be selfless!  And we must teach our children how to be selfless by modeling it to them daily.

Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves;” (Philippians 2:3, NASB).

6.  We must forgive while not allowing people to walk all over us.  Boundaries and limits are a must for children and adults in our life.  Children usually cooperate with boundaries and limits when they understand the reason behind them.  Adults, however, can be more complicated because they don’t always respect the limits and boundaries.  Sometimes all we can do is to put more space between us and them to protect ourselves. I’m still figuring out how to do this.

Also when we forgive, we should never throw stuff back in their faces when we are upset with them.  That isn’t fair.  We don’t forget but we move on if we can with the relationship.  Otherwise, it might be better to get out of a toxic relationship.

7.  We can’t control others but we can control ourselves.  The best thing is to focus on controlling our responses to others.  We are the only one that we can control.

I’m still working on all of this.  If everyone would do their best to work on these things, I truly believe that we’d have healthier relationships.

 “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 7:12, ESV).

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Respecting The Body And Teaching Consent

For Valentine’s Day I surprised my husband with a beautiful tattoo that symbolizes our love and our Christ centered marriage.  I got this tattoo on my lower left arm.  This was my first arm tattoo, so I was a bit nervous about how it would go with my spasms due to my severe cerebral palsy.

If you have been following me for a while, you know that this is my fourth tattoo.  My mom was here again but after she helped us figure out how to strap my arm down tightly, she was able to enjoy watching her daughter get another detailed tattoo.

I feel like I need to write about my tattoo experiences because I know I went searching for other people with severe cerebral palsy who had successfully gotten tattooed when I first made up my mind that I was going to do it.  I needed to know that others like me were able to do this.  So I am putting my experiences out there for anyone else that is like me and wants tattoos.

Plus, there’s always an element of getting a tattoo that relates to parenting and respecting children which is something I am obviously very passionate about.

To read about my first three tattoo experiences and how they relate to parenting, click here, here, and here.

For this tattoo, I took the same medications as always for my spasms and we strapped my arm down to my arm rest of my wheelchair in two different places.  Then my husband held my hand down quite tightly.  My tattoo artist is a miracle worker and did an excellent job!  While there was slightly more movement with my arm than my legs, within twenty minutes my body stopped reacting so much to the needles and I was fine.

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My beautiful tattoo for my husband symbolizing our love and Christ centered marriage. The lettering is our special way of saying “I love you!”

Since I had to be strapped down and held down again for the tattoo, it got me thinking about respecting children’s bodies and teaching children consent from birth.  We’ve all seen it and maybe even have done it.  You see a cute baby and just have to touch him/her.  But what if the baby really doesn’t want to be touched?  This is especially true if you’re a stranger.

Let’s face it. We don’t respect children’s bodies.

Even before they are born, many people think its okay to dismember the baby’s body if the mother doesn’t want the child.

Then after birth, infants are touched, poked, tickled, squeezed, scooped up, gently pinched against their wills.

Then there’s the issue of corporal punishment.  Sadly, many pro-spanking advocates tell parents to even sit on the child to spank/hit him/her.  Even when children submit to spankings, they are being forced to do so out of fear, guilt, not wanting multiple spankings, and needing acceptance from their parents again.  But they really don’t have a choice as they learn that their parents will make them submit.

Even older children are touched by complete, albeit well-meaning, strangers against their wishes.

Here’s a recent story from my dear friend, Meagan Longest, about an experience with her daughter at a store:

“An old man patted Wynnie at the grocery store today. She was holding onto the side of the cart. She looks up at him, almost cries and then runs to me at the back of the cart.
Wynnie: He touch me mom. Whyyyyy?
Me: I know, honey. That’s not okay.
Wynnie: That’s MY body, mommy.
Me: You’re right. It’s your body and no one should touch it without YOUR permission (While giving an evil eye to the old man and his daughter who was starting to get pissed).
I almost lost it.
Moral of the story- start teaching consent at birth. And don’t effing touch a child without their permission.”

Sure, that old man probably didn’t mean any harm, but in today’s world, we just never know.  And how would you feel if a stranger patted you out of nowhere?

I guess I understand this more than some people do because well-meaning people get in my personal space and touch me without my consent.  Due to my very slurred speech, I can’t just say, “Please don’t hug me.”  “Please move out of my face a bit.”  It’s very uncomfortable and I just sit there and deal with it so I don’t hurt people’s feelings.

The reality is that we all have the right not to have our personal spaces invaded by anyone without giving our consent.  We need to respect each other’s bodies!

You may be asking, “What about needing to restrain children for care and/or medical procedures?”  When a child is given shots, I strongly believe that they should be held in their parents’ laps.  There’s never a reason to hold a child down on a table for shots.  If your pediatrician doesn’t encourage you to hold your children on your lap for shots and even other simple procedures, then please find another doctor.

As far as giving care, if you must hold them against their wills, always talk to them about what you’re doing and why.  Validate their feelings.  Say, for example, “Oh I know you don’t like me holding you right now but we have to get your diaper changed.  Can you help me by lifting your bottom?”

It helps to try and make sure the child is ready for the transition into care. It also helps to be playful about it when you know your child may resist.  The key is teaching children that you respect them and always try to wait for their consent before moving forward. Even for newborns, this can be done by telling them before you pick them up and waiting for some clue that they are ready to be picked up. Moving slowly with infants also helps to teach them consent and that we respect them.  Please see this post for more information about respecting infants.

As children grow, it’s so important to teach children that no one should ever touch them without their ok.  Even people they know should always ask before touching them.  It’s just basic respect.  We invite people in and out by our body language most of the time, but children are not skilled at this and many adults ignore them anyway, so allowing children to say, “No!” is very, very important!

Also, teaching children to respect others is equally important.  Teaching them to not touch someone that doesn’t want to be touched helps them to respect others.

The majority of sexual abuse and assault cases happen with people that children know!  This is extremely scary!  If children are taught to obey their elders no matter what, it’s really setting them up for potential sexual abuse and assault.  We can’t allow this!

If people don’t understand why you are allowing your children to give or not give consent, just explain that you want them to have control over their own bodies.  Tell them that you don’t just let people touch you, so why should children have to allow people to touch them when they don’t want anyone to touch them?

Children are human beings and deserve respect.  I consented to being strapped down for tattoos, children should have the power to consent to being touched.  It’s about respecting each other’s bodies and personal space no matter what the age is.

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