Why I Share My Story Of Abuse

April is Child Abuse Awareness Month and anyone who knows me or has been following me or has my first edition of my book, Gentle Firmness, knows that child abuse is something I am extremely passionate about.

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Tattoo by Candace Lyon

I am a child abuse survivor.  I was physically, verbally, and emotionally abused by my dad and various other adults until I was 17 years old and finally told people that I was being abused.   All abusers make their victims feel shame and guilt.  One often thinks, “If only I did better,” or “It’s all my fault.”  I still struggle with this and have recently learned of additional abusive behavior that I’ve continued to endure as an adult that I was either unaware of and/or denied it was real.  Unfortunately, I continue to get confirmation that this abuse and manipulation is real and am putting a stop to it.

Mental illness runs in my family most likely due to the horrible cycle of abuse.  Genes may also play a part in the mental illness of my family.  My Adverse Childhood Experience (ACE) score is a 7, which is pretty high, and I struggle with anxiety, PTSD, and depression every day. But every day I work towards healing and helping people.

To not share my story and pain would be like not sharing something that, unfortunately, is a part of me.  It would be like denying that I have severe cerebral palsy.  While I don’t allow either of these things to define me, I have wounds and scars from my trauma and I believe in using my pain to help others—others who were abused, others who are trying to break the cycle with their own children, and others who need to know that we’re not alone in this. And if I can prevent one child from abuse and heartbreak from the people who are supposed to love them, then it’s all worth it.

Another reason I share my story is to show that there is hope even when it doesn’t always feel like it.  Some days are harder than others for us survivors, but we are survivors.  There is no shame in getting help professionally.  There’s no shame in creating healthy relationships to support you.  Abusers and their defenders will make you feel like a horrible person for opening up about your abuse but don’t let them win.  This is typical abuser behavior.  Unless the abuser gets help, nothing will ever change.

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I hope also try to help people understand that even “normative spankings” are abuse in that corporal punishment can make children at a higher risk of being physically abused.  When a parent spanks/hits a child and the child doesn’t obey, the parent may decide to spank/hit even harder.  This is a risk for physical abuse even if one doesn’t consider corporal punishment as abuse.  No child ever deserves to be hit.

And countless other studies show that corporal punishment is harmful to children and it often includes emotional and verbal abuse because the child is told how “bad” he/she is and how he/she “deserves the spanking.”

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My dad hit me because of my spasms, which are involuntary muscle movements due to my severe cerebral palsy.  He also hit me for other things.  He was verbally and emotionally abusive as well. He passed away in 2003.  

After extensively researching narcissism as well as conferring with a colleague that knows more about this mental illness than meI do, I now believe that both of my parents very likely had/have this disorder.  In addition to refusing to admit they were/are wrong, they exhibited/exhibit other key characteristics of narcissism such as a lack of empathy, “an inflated sense of their own importance, a deep need for excessive attention and admiration, troubled relationships” (Mayo Clinic, 2019).

I have been over-analyzing my own behaviors because I am absolutely terrified of getting this mental illness.  It’s important to realize that it’s human nature to occasionally be selfish and self-absorbed.  It is also human nature to want recognition for accomplishments or to not to want to always admit when we are wrong.  Sometimes, like children, we want our own way and lash out when we don’t get our way.  This is not narcissistic as long as we recognize these tendencies and can admit that we do some of them occasionally.  I know I do these things sometimes but I always admit it.  I will always apologize if I am in the wrong.

To have Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD), one must exhibit at least 5 or more of these characteristics to an abnormal level and not be able to admit that he/she is doing any of this.  People with NPD will deny that they have it and will make their victims believe that it’s the victims’ fault, not theirs.  And as with any kind of illness, there is a spectrum wherein each individual lies.  Some people have narcissistic tendencies and some have NPD.  Unfortunately, because people with narcissistic tendencies or NPD will absolutely not seek help for this mental illness, it’s very difficult to diagnose.  These people usually seek treatment for depression or anxiety but not narcissism (Bressert, 2019).  In addition to this, NPD and other personality disorders can have the same kind of characteristics.

It has also been suggested that the stigma of mental illness can be associated with narcissism (Arikan, 2005, https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/aadd/5cd265bcaeeaff77d9ce4fe16abf4ad39dc8.pdf).

I forgive my parents and other abusers and their defenders, but I cannot remain silent.  This is now a part of my story and I will tell it in a respectful manner.  Because people with NPD or narcissistic tendencies are masters at manipulation, one must put up strong boundaries and stand firm.  Otherwise, through manipulation that isn’t always obvious, these people will break the boundaries.  Walking away from them is the best way to protect oneself and hopefully get them to get help.  But nothing is guaranteed with this mental illness.

One can and must forgive his/her abusers because the forgiveness is more about setting oneself free from harboring anger and resentment towards them.  However, this does not mean letting the abusers off the hook.  I can’t do this myself.  Forgiveness also does not mean that you have to reconcile with them.  It just means you are able to work through the pain and heal.

I also don’t believe that all abusers are narcissistic or have a mental illness.  The cycle is so hard to break especially when the community is actually encouraging the abuse and the silence of the children and adults.   I’m aware of many abusers and/or pro-spankers that have realized that they were wrong and have apologized for it.  They change the way they parent or interact with their grown children.  Change is possible!

I am learning how to not be in toxic relationships with people who continue to hurt me.  This is far from easy but having healthy relationships is crucial for healing and recovery.  Getting psychotherapy is a must.  And I heal from getting tattoos so I recently got the tattoo below.  It was very emotional for me but reminds me that I am a SURVIVOR!  I need this on the days that feel impossible to get through.

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Narcissistic survivor tattoo by Todd Bass

Gentle parenting is prevention for child abuse. If parents understand typical child development, then I believe that they are less likely to spank/hit or otherwise abuse their children.  Therefore, I will never stop sharing my story.  It is a part of my healing process.  I don’t do it out of spite.  I do it because I understand the pain and struggle after trauma and abuse.

May we value children and stop child abuse someday for good!

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References:

Arikan, K.  (2005).  A Stigmatizing Attitude Towards Psychiatric Illness is Associated with Narcissistic Personality Traits. Psychiatry Relat Sci Vol 42 No. 4 pp. 248–250

Black, R. (2019).  Personality Disorders: A Guide to the Ten Different Types.  Retrieved https://www.psycom.net/personality-disorders-10-different-types/

Bressert, S.  (2019). Narcissistic Personality Disorder.  Retrieved from https://psychcentral.com/disorders/narcissistic-personality-disorder/

Goodtherapy.  (2018).  Adverse Childhood Experience (ACE).  Retrieved from https://www.goodtherapy.org/blog/psychpedia/ace-questionnaire

Psychology Today.  (2019).  Narcissism.  Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/narcissism

Mayo Clinic.  (2019).  Narcissistic Personality Disorder.  Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/narcissistic-personality-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20366662

 

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

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

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

Focus on Home Safety

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

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

Learn to DIY

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

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

Teach Them Compassion

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

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

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

Know Your Rights

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

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

 

The Story Of Samoset

Actually I emailed this to close family and friends over a month ago.  He is now 6 months old and things are continuing to progress slowly but surely.

On July 11th we adopted the sweetest, craziest kitten ever. Ever since our sweet boy, YP, went Home, on top of other 2 major back to back losses, we’ve been in a dark place and trying to get out of it.  I know very few people understand the depth and love we have for our kitties, but, for us, they are our kids.

After an almost adoption went terribly wrong last October, we had agreed that Patches, our 12-year-old female calico, would be our only kitty until the horrible day she crosses the rainbow bridge into Heaven.  I grieved that loss of hope but accepted it until late this spring. Even Chip started talking about getting another kitty but was in absolutely no rush!  And I mean no rush. 

I respect my husband so I did my best to let it go. I stopped looking at shelters and told people not to send us kitties who needed homes…Until sometime in May when I started occasionally looking at shelters but Chip wouldn’t really look at anything, yet, he kept talking about getting a new kitty and what age Patches would be more likely to accept. We were quite concerned about Patches adjusting to a new kitty despite getting along great with YP except for after the vet she’d get mildly aggressive with him for a day or so until the vet smell subsided.

Well, as YP’s first anniversary of going Home approached (July 5, 2018), the desire for a new life started to grow to the point of desperation and I was confused, angry, and really hurting.  Losing YP just absolutely devastated us like losing Sara, my first kitty did! But YP was special in the way he loved us. He was/is one of our soulmates.  I thought I would eventually lose the desperate desire for a new kitty after we got through his first anniversary but it didn’t subside.  It only got worse and Chip started talking about getting one in the fall.  That confused me and even angered me.  Grief is so hard and weird.  So I started researching the different local animal shelters just for the heck of it.

I would look at kitties and think, “sorry, not for us.”  THEN on June 28th I was looking at all the pictures of adoptable kittens and found this picture of Samoset and immediately started laughing at his nose and felt a HUGE connection.  I tried to show Chip, but he barely looked at it and I emailed it to him asking him to pray about if God and YP might be sending him to us.  Yes, I truly believe that there’s so much more going on in the spiritual world than we can even imagine, and I believe Sara and God sent us Patches because I didn’t want another girl kitty back then because I didn’t want to replace Sara in anyway but they didn’t give me a choice.

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The picture on the shelter’s website.

I tried to put him out of my head so hard but ended up asking the shelter if he was still available and he was. “Great! That was so stupid of me,” I thought with a few expletives.  I prayed he would get a good home. I meditated to try to let go. But I couldn’t!  I was in love with him.

Finally the Monday after YP’s first anniversary of going Home, I blurted out that I was in love!  Chip said he’d think about it and finally actually really looked at the picture and he said maybe Thursday we can go see him and talk to them about helping Patches adjust. I cried but then I was worried about him being adopted before then, so later, I explained that this is a very bittersweet, emotional thing and we should not try to combine it with other errands. I got him to agree to go that Wednesday.

That day you would have thought I was having some major surgery or something.  With my brain/emotional make up, I knew I could easily get my heart broken again and I was extremely anxious about Patches adjusting to him if he did choose us. I don’t believe in forcing cats to come home with you if there’s no connection. There was a very real possibility of him either not liking us (some kitties are afraid of me due to my wheelchair and involuntary movements because of my severe cerebral palsy.), already being adopted, or the staff not recommending this with Patches being an older cat (12).

So I had Chip talk about weird things to distract me from my anxiety.  But then signs from loved ones in Heaven started occurring. Again, there’s so much more to the spiritual world than we can ever understand on Earth. First, we had music on and Chip’s mom’s favorite song, “What A Wonderful World” by Louis Armstrong played which I thought was weird and I acknowledged Mom2 in tears.

Then heading to the van to leave, I looked up and there was a heart shaped cloud in the sky.  I asked Chip, “Is that a heart?”  He agreed. A sign from God.  Obviously, signs were happening but I didn’t know what they meant.  I didn’t know if they were good or trying to comfort me.  I now know it was both.  Then we go by a bright red corvette. Grandpa!

We arrived at the shelter and I was having a little PTSD because it was the same shelter we adopted Patches and YP from, and flashbacks of YP confidently locking eyes with us and walking across the counter into our hearts and arms flooded my mind, so I kept focusing on my breathing to keep calm and telling myself that I was gonna have to accept whatever was going to happen.  But my husband, who had to be dragged to the shelter, started acting goofy and excited. I was like what the heck is up with you.

Deep breath and in we go. They greeted us and said that we could go in the cat room and meet him but that they had been sick so the kitties were confined in their cages. I started to freak out a bit because I needed to get him out of the cage to make sure he wasn’t afraid of me and they said he could get out but not on the floor.  Yay!

The second I found him and we made eye contact, for a split second, it was like I was looking at YP again. Samoset gave me that look of pure love and immediately started to come to the door to get to me/us.  I cried.  Unconditional love is major for me due to being abused throughout my childhood and rejected and hurt by people throughout my life.

He got on my table, did a nose kiss to my nose, and bit on my glasses.  I cried again. He snuggled with Daddy too.  Of course, he jumped on the floor before we could catch him but Chip apologized.  He’s a fast little booger.  We have so many nicknames for him already.  So we told the staff about Patches and her mild aggression with YP after vet visits and that she is 12. They said it would take her longer to adjust to him but if we move slowly, she will eventually get there. One staff member told us about her experience with adopting one of the kitties and there was howling and fighting for over a month and she was afraid she was going to be one of the people who relinquished the animal after adoption, but she covered the crate and eventually it stopped and they are fine.

They still had our adoption applications from Patches and YP which is over 11 years old.  They were so sorry about YP going Home.  We filled out a new application for Samoset, known at the shelter as “Katio,” and they called Lakeside, our animal hospital where the vet is, for a reference and he was ours. Yes, I cried.

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They wanted us to take him home that day which we thought he would have to go to the vet first like YP and Patches but that’s not the policy anymore since he was already neutered. We just had to get him to the vet within 7 days so if he had any life altering diseases, the shelter would cover the vet care for that.

Unfortunately, we didn’t have a carrier nor any kitten supplies so we said that we could get him the next day.  They were fine with that. We told him we would be back tomorrow but he looked sad watching us leave the kitty room.  Patches looked like that as did YP leaving them. Animals have feelings and know more than we think they do.  Just like children. We underestimate the innocent so much.

I had to shut my emotions off and just focus on him both that day and the next day because the room was full of kitties and even some in the lobby.  Please adopt from shelters and spray/neuter your animals to help stop the overpopulation problem.  Thankfully, there are more and more no kill shelters but healthy animals are killed just because there’s no room for them. I’m grateful all the shelters here are great about not killing animals and finding foster homes for them and making sure they are adopted.

I wish I could have adopted all of the kitties in there so I just acknowledged them and focused on my new baby!

On the way out to the van after adopting him but not bringing him home, a yellow butterfly fluttered at Chip’s hand. He almost waved it off until he saw it was a butterfly, YP’s sign from Heaven. More tears and a whirling mind with emotions and thinking what we needed to go get at Petco. On the way to Petco, the funeral home had a sign about the shelter needing food.  Ok, we get it God.

It’s been wonderful having him here. We did the separation of kitties for quite a while then with a gate and now he’s out of the bathroom a lot of the time but he still goes in there to sleep at night and then when we cannot watch them.  They’re slowly adjusting but we just had a little incident because he wanted to go to the top perch and Patches was in the second level and didn’t like his tail flicking in her face so he is getting fed in the bathroom and time to let them chill.  They’ve had other incidents but he is out here almost all the time and they eat together. Gentle parenting works for kitties too.

Overall, he loves to snuggle, sleep in my arms, and play. He’s hilarious.  Patches is coming around but I will be happy when alpha kitty is established. Plus, the age difference is harder for her to adjust but we’re respecting them so we’ll get there. He’s getting better at sleeping out here but still sleeps soundly in the bathroom so when he is pushing it, we know he is getting overtired.

He plays and runs and attacks us. He’s learning not to bite hard and limits. He’s smart but still a baby. Yes, gentle parenting works for kitties as we don’t believe in spanking/hitting animals either or even punishment. We just remove them while saying “No” firmly and redirecting him. Sometimes I bop them due to my spasms and even Chip has accidentally stepped on them and then we immediately comfort them and apologize. They just know more than we give them credit for.

Thankfully, he is afraid of outside and is being good about getting away from the door. He loves to run into other rooms like Patches does and YP used to but not outside.  Yay. Kitties are safer and healthier indoors only.

I still get anxious about Patches as stress isn’t good for older kitties, and I still feel like leaving YP and Patches at the vet, even though they get excellent care at Lakeside, for over 2 weeks when my grandpa went Home could have gotten YP’s diseases going. I know, it’s probably unlikely, but it still haunts me so we won’t be leaving them for more than a week at a time. They’re our babies.

Before I end this, how did we pick the name Samoset?  All my kitties are somehow connected to each other and I picked Patches after the name of Sara’s favorite toy which I had named Patches as a child as Sara ripped the eye off one of my pound puppies and my mom sewed a patch over its eye so I named Patches Patches. YP was named after a ham radio friend who encouraged us to adopt 2 kitties when we were ready after Sara went Home.

With Samoset, we watch the Charlie Brown Thanksgiving show and used to be goofy and give each other roles. Most years YP played Samoset so we decided that our next boy kitty would be named Samoset.

Samoset was an Abenaki sagamore and the first American Indian to make contact with the Pilgrims of Plymouth Colony. — Wikipedia

I strongly believe that animals should be a part of every child’s life even if it’s a fish. Having a life to help care for teaches children responsibility and teamwork because the animal is a family member.  It also helps teach children kindness and empathy as we help our children learn to respect the animal and treat it gently.  Lastly, pets provide another source of love and support for the children as they can talk to the pet and love on them.

Anyway, that’s the story of our new wild man, sweet baby boy like YP. He’s a lot like YP so we know God and YP sent him.  I’m so grateful for new life and experiencing happy firsts instead of sad firsts after 3 years of fresh grief. Please keep praying for them to co-exist more and more.

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Art Print for Children and Parents Carl Reichert A by elvistudio

Connection Leads To Independence

I recently read this article and it made so much sense.  So many times our children act up because they are feeling disconnected from us.  In this technological age, we are usually attached to a screen most of the day.  Sadly, this is disconnecting us from each other more often than not.

A few of my friends have grown children who have moved out.  They truly enjoy being with their children and always made time for them.  I also know of grown children who are not doing as well because they were harshly parented and they knew the parents didn’t always want to deal with them.

Starting at birth, children are extremely sensitive to our vibes.  They know if you don’t want to be with them.  I have observed many times that children who have parents who do their best to remain connected with their children and truly want to be with the children have more independent children.

Why?  Because when children get their fill of our love and attention, they are free to enjoy times when we aren’t able to be one-on-one with them.  They know that if they need us, we’ll be there.

The Resources for Infant Educarers (RIE) Approach recommends starting this deep connection at birth.  Infants require so much care that we should be using this time to really connect with them instead of rushing through daily care activities.  This means being fully present with the infant during changing diapers and clothes, feedings, bathing, and nap time and bedtime routines.  When we are fully present, we are making deep connections with the child that fill their social-emotional needs.  Then they can do brief sessions of independent play more easily.

As infants become toddlers and preschoolers, many outbursts and meltdowns have their roots based upon feeling connected with us.  Spending at least 15 minutes twice a day one-on-one with the child can help fill his/her connection bucket.  And in situations where we can’t be fully present with them, doing simple things such as making eye contact, smiling at them, touching them, nodding to acknowledge them can make a huge difference in their behavior.

I know pro-spankers and other people who believe in harsh parenting will ask, “Doesn’t this make them more clingy?”  What these people fail to understand is that forcing children to be independent before they are ready is what makes them “clingy.”  Sure, you can spank/hit them to teach them not to “bug” you when you don’t want them to, but you’re actually breaking connection which usually backfires.  Even if they don’t bother you, they will do things that are wrong just to get attention from someone.

Then when they are adults, they may have trouble with their relationships.  If they’re never taught how to truly connect with others then it will hurt them throughout their lives.

I love parents who are able to be there for their children even when they are socializing with adults.  For example, at a party I witnessed a mother who was fully engaged with her adult friends but the minute she thought she heard a child say, “Mom,” she paused to see if the children were in need.  The children played with each other as well as came in with the adults without being rude.  They didn’t interrupt.  They were very respectful.

 I think part of the “problem” with “today’s children” is that they are not getting the connection they need.  Then they get punished for acting up.  We need to put down the screens and the demands of life and do our best to connect with our children.

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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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Using Time-IN Instead Of Time-Out

Many parents use “Time-Out” to punish their children, especially parents that do not want to spank/hit but feel that they must punish or “discipline” their children somehow. While I would rather have parents that are bent on using punishment with their children use time-out over spanking, time-out is still very harmful to young children when it is used as punishment. As with spanking, time-out is most often used with very young children.

The youngest child that I have witnessed with whom a time-out was being used was eighteen months old. Like being slapped, eighteen-month-olds do not understand why they are being forced to sit alone for one minute. And like spanking, it very temporarily stopped the behavior, which means multiple time-outs for toddlers that lack impulse control. This is not good and sends the wrong message to children.

Time-outs require that children sit alone, sometimes facing the wall, quietly for the amount of minutes corresponding with their age. For example, if the child is one, they sit for one minute; for a two-year-old, it’s two minutes; for a three-year-old, it’s three minutes, and so on.

What’s even worse is if the child gets up, talks, or even cries during the time-out, then their time starts completely over until he or she “successfully” completes the time-out. This can mean a five-minute or more time-out for a toddler that cannot fulfill the requirements of a time-out.  And this inability to sit quietly for a time-out often leads to the child getting spanked/hit.

As with physical punishment, I’m afraid that whoever came up with the time-out and its associated rules did not understand child development, nor did they understand our loving God. Christ never banished anyone. So why should we banish our children when we can’t deal with their behaviors?

Young children cannot sit still and quietly with nothing to do for very long. And they are not sitting there pondering why what they did was wrong. Time-outs are totally developmentally inappropriate for young children and sets them up for failure.

In fact, research shows that time-out is just as harmful to children as spanking is because being forcefully isolated activates the same areas of the brain as spanking does. We were created for human connection.  This is especially true when we’re upset about something.

My husband and I have been going through some hard times lately, and I am still grieving for my grandpa and my mother-in-law.  Sometimes I feel very alone because of everything that we’re going through and I have found that feeling isolated only makes my depression, grief, and anxiety worse.  The comfort and support from my husband and family and friends are what helps me feel better.  Isolation is truly the worst feeling ever!

My parents sometimes put me in my room during a meltdown.  It only made me feel really angry and I would scream even louder and say, “I hate you.”  I never sat and thought about my behavior during those times.  I only thought about how angry I was and how unfair they were being.

Trust me, children do not think about their behavior during time-outs.  They’re totally focused on their own feelings and being upset.

Now, I totally understand and agree that there are times when children are just having a hard time and need to be removed from the situation in order to calm down and deal with their big feelings.  This is where time-in is very helpful.

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Time-in, unlike time-out, is not punishment. To use time-in with young children, set up a “comfy corner” in the most lived in room of your house but away from the action.  Put a couple pillows and a blanket in it.  Depending on how your children cope with their big feelings, you can have a few books in there, soft music, or some paper and crayons.  Just don’t fill it up too much as the idea is to limit stimulation and help the child calm down.

There is no quiet rule, no set time for them to remain in time-in, and they can choose to have us come with them or not.  If we don’t come with them to time-in, then we sit nearby and are available to help them if they need it.

Connection and healing are the main goals for time-ins.  Young children have so many big feelings about everything and they just don’t know how to express and deal with them.  Many times when children are acting up it means that they are feeling very disconnected from us.  They need us to bring them back into our connection and help them regain their control over their bodies and feelings.  They need to be heard and validated.

If we use time-in consistently without forcing the toddler to go to his or her “comfy corner,” the toddler may begin to ask to go there when he or she senses his or her big feelings welling up. Toddlers learn that their feelings matter to their parents and to God. This is such an important step for teaching young children self-management skills because their feelings are validated and respected, and they are given appropriate choices for dealing with their feelings.

Of course, it’s perfectly okay for parents to take a few minutes to calm down if their children are having a particularly rough day.  A parent “time-out/in” is very appropriate for these types of situations so that you don’t lose it with your child. This is not punishment for either the parent or the child. All parents need a break from their children.

Just be sure to tell your children that you are feeling really upset and need a moment to calm down.  Children will appreciate knowing that sometimes Mommy and Daddy need their own time-in.

Dealing with meltdowns and upset children is never easy.  But our goal throughout parenting our children should always be maintaining a strong connection and trust with them.  Believe me, you will be grateful when your children are teenagers and feel free to come to you about anything!

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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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Setting And Enforcing Realistic Limis With Young Children

It is very important to set realistic limits with children, but most parents don’t understand what a realistic limit is for a young child.  I start with three main rules from which all limits should be derived.  The rules are the following:

  1.  Respect for others.
  2. Respect for ourselves.
  3. Respect for property.

These rules are the basis for all relationships to thrive.  The reason why we should only have three basic rules on which to base limits and boundaries is that giving children too many rules to follow, especially at a young age, will only frustrate and overwhelm them. These basic rules are easy to understand and will make sense to children, though young children will require much guidance and reminders to help them cooperate with these basic rules.

It is important that while boundaries and limits are a bit flexible, that they are also consistent and hold firm. Some parents may set boundaries and limits based on the three basic rules, but then they allow their children to break right through them.

We must remember when setting limits and boundaries with our children is to make sure the limits and boundaries are logical and reasonable. If the limit does not make any sense to the child, he or she is more likely to fight the limit. Most children will cooperate with the limit, though they may test us at times even if they understand the reason for the limit. An example of giving a reason for a limit would be, “Please walk in the house so you don’t trip and fall.”

How many of us heard our parents say, “Because I said so,” when we wanted to know why they were either making us do something or not allowing us to do something as children?  Did it make us want to cooperate?  For me, it didn’t make me want to cooperate.  It just made me angry.  I believe that mutual respect dictates that we provide a simple reason for our limits.

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Many times, we as parents, get into the habit of saying, “no,” “don’t,” and “stop,” so much that our children begin to tune us out. I mean, who wants to constantly be told what they can’t do?  This doesn’t help young children learn how to interact appropriately with others. I have found that saying, “Be gentle with your baby brother,” is often more effective than saying, “Don’t hit.” Another example is saying, “Walking feet,” instead of saying, “Don’t run.”

Even if we have no choice but to phrase something negatively, it is very important to follow it with something positive that they can do. For example, say, “You may not draw on the wall, but you may draw on this piece of paper.”

More examples of setting realistic limits are:

“You may have a cookie after supper.”

“Please pick up your toys so nobody trips over them.”

“I need you to finish up so we can get ready to go.”

“Please sit on your bottom so you don’t fall.”

“You may not hit Jack, but you may hit the pillow.”

“I need you to use your words.”

“I need you to poop in the toilet.” (Not in the closet.) 😊

Many parents say, “You need to…” but the child is probably thinking, “No, I don’t need to brush my teeth and go to bed,” so it’s better to say that we need them to do things.  Another thing is that it’s easy to give the limit in the form of a question.  For example, “Do you want to get ready for bed?”  Most young children will say, “No!”  Therefore, if it isn’t a choice, then it’s better to say, “It’s time for bed.”  Or, “I need you to get ready for bed.”

Also, giving children lead times will help make it easier for them to cooperate. Say, for example, “In five minutes it will be time to clean up and get ready for bed.” Be sure to get on the child’s level and say this. In fact, getting on children’s level whenever a limit or boundary is being set will help the child feel respected, making cooperation more likely.

If possible, when setting limits, give children choices such as “Would you like your Hello Kitty pajamas or your Mickey Mouse pajamas?”  Or, “Do you want to walk to the bathroom or would you like me to carry you?”  “Do you want to race to clean up with me?”  Anything that gives children some control over the situation is a good thing.

Now, what if you set a limit and the child won’t cooperate?  Simply say, “I see you’re having a hard time cooperating, so I will help you.”  Giving help or making a choice when the child isn’t able to make up his/her mind isn’t punishment.  Children need to learn that there are times when we must do things that we don’t want to do.  Just be sure to validate their feelings when they get upset about the limit.  Please see here for posts about validating feelings.

There’s never a reason to punish a child for not cooperating as he/she will experience the natural consequences of his/her behavior.  See here for tips on using natural consequences.

I will be writing a post about using time-IN instead of time-out soon.

It’s important for me to point out again as I close, children are NOT “little sinners” that need the “devil beat out of them” as so many Christians continue to believe. They’re beautiful human beings that God created that need our help to navigate this world. Jesus drove demons out verbally. He befriended and corrected sinners. Then, amazingly, our Almighty God chose to suffer and die on the cross for all of humanity’s sins. He was sinless. Grace, mercy, gentleness is for children too. Jesus even held children up as an example for *us.* So may we discipline children in the way that Jesus disciplines us through setting realistic limits.

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“You’re Different. I Hate You. You’re Going To Hell.”

Lately it seems to have become “cool” to be hateful, insulting, and mean to anyone who has a different opinion or is promoting love in Christ’s Name.  This appears to be especially true of many “Christians.”  Many of my gentle parenting friends have noticed that it is getting worse and a great deal of  “Christians” tend to take pride in it.  To be fair, I must say that many liberals tend to be quite hateful as well and I have been attacked many times by them for my conservative beliefs.

Basically, you are attacked by the opposite side of what you believe AND by both sides if you happen to fall in the middle of issues.

This hatefulness is happening mostly among the conservative Christian Right with topics such as gentle parenting and transgender people with regards to them using public bathrooms and locker rooms.  I feel the need to cover the transgender issue, as rare as it is, these children and adults are committing suicide at very high rates.

In fact, “41% try to kill themselves at some point in their lives, compared with 4.6% of the general public. The numbers come from a study by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and the Williams Institute, which analyzed results from the National Transgender Discrimination Survey” (Ungar, 2015, http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2015/08/16/transgender-individuals-face-high-rates–suicide-attempts/31626633/).

And having a transgender child means that gentle, Biblical parenting is even more important.  After all, gentle parents never force anything on their children.  They allow them to be who they are while still teaching them Biblical values.

Before I get into the transgender issue, I want to cite an important verse.

“‘Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?’  And He said to him, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’ ‘This is the great and foremost commandment. ‘The second is like it, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ ‘On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets’” (Matthew 22:36-40, NASB).

Jesus says that the greatest commandment is to love God with all our heart, mind, strength, and soul.  AND to love our neighbor as ourselves.  This means to love one another.  No matter what!

As I write this, I understand that as a Christ-follower, I must love while holding steadfast in His Holy Word.  I do not want to fall into sin.  But as this post points out, His Word is also the Holy Spirit speaking to us.

I also realize that Christ-followers get in trouble for calling “sin” sin.  This post is to show that many “Christians” are actually sinning, perhaps unintentionally, by making a big deal out of something they don’t understand.  I was guilty of this.  Also, I truly believe (because I used to be this way and sometimes still am) that some “Christians” are so afraid of sin that they reject stuff without trying to learn more about it. They stand firm “in the Lord.” They think, “How dare you say transgenderism is biological and real?” “It’s of satan!”   This type of attitude hurts non-believers who are watching us trying to figure out this Jesus thing out.  Fear is not from God (2 Timothy 1:7).

That being said, let’s get into the transgender issue as there are many misconceptions about it.

I think that when most people think of transgenderism, they immediately think of the Rocky Horror Picture Show.  I know I did for a long time.  But transgenderism and transvestism are very different.  Transvestites are people, usually men, who dress up as the opposite sex.  I do believe transvestism is a sin according to the Bible because men do it for mainly sexual pleasure and don’t truly identify with the female gender.  Despite me saying that this is a sin, I do not judge them.  What they do in their private life is none of my business as long as they’re not hurting anyone.

This goes for homosexuals as well.  Homosexuality is a sin according to the Bible, but they are free to live how they choose and I love my homosexual friends.  If my child turned out to be gay, I would love them unconditionally and wait for God to work in them instead of trying to change them.  I also no longer believe that the government has the right to enforce this type of morality since it’s not hurting anyone else.

On the other hand, transgender people are born truly identifying with the opposite sex.  This is rare!

Take Jazz from the show I Am Jazz for example.  Jazz explains it as she has a girl brain that somehow got stuck in a boy’s body. And, she insisted she was a girl since she was young, despite her parents raising her as a boy.  Sadly, I guess some parents push transgenderism on their children, which if this is the case, it is wrong. Children should never be forced into anything!

Yes, God created us male and female in His image.  However, God is not in control. Sin is in the world. Stuff happens during pregnancy that alters the brain and parents have a baby boy. In Jazz’s case, she was raised all boy for the first few years of her life. Her name was Jarrod.

But she kept insisting she was a girl. She loved girl things from a young age. In fact, she had nightmares from a very young age about developing male characteristics such as a beard and mustache, deep voice, and an Adam’s apple.  She has two older brothers and an older sister, so she was exposed to a lot of boys and girls things. Her parents found it strange she naturally gravitated to the girls stuff. No one forced anything on her!  If anything, they made her go to preschool dressed as a boy because they didn’t understand exactly what was going on.

Here is a link to the first episode of I Am Jazz where all of this is explained very well as to what it was like for all of them.  I highly recommend watching the whole season.  I understand some of you may have reservations as I did when my husband first wanted to watch it because I thought it was going to be just a bunch of liberal garbage. Boy was I ever wrong!

As I said, her parents waited, figuring it was the typical phase all preschoolers go through, but she kept insisting she was a girl so they researched it and saw that this was real for a minority of people and suicide rates are sky high for this group because of the intolerance.  Therefore, they allowed her to be who she is.

And, sadly, transgender people are highly likely (“The Human Rights Campaign report documented 21 transgender homicide victims so far in 2015, almost all of them transgender women of color, and likely an underestimate due to the difficulty of tracking the homicides. Among all 53 transgender murders from 2013 to 2015, not a single one was prosecuted or reported as a hate crime, the report found.”) to be murdered and hurt, so I don’t see why so many people are so concerned about them committing crimes.  Sure, there are bad people in every group, but when I tried to Google “crimes committed by transgenderism,” I came up with very few stories.  The rest were about crimes committed against transgender people.

I think that thinking transgender people will attack others is just a fear people have who don’t understand this. I used to be one of them until we watched I Am Jazz. She is a wonderful girl trying to be who she is and gets called names, judged, and even has had death threats. Most are from “CHRISTIANS!”

Also, some people say that transgender people are mentally ill and schizophrenic.  Research shows that a low percentage of transgender individuals do indeed have schizophrenia.

“A relationship between two distinct disorders can be inferred if they cooccur at a higher level than would be expected by chance. According to recent estimates, the prevalence of schizophrenia is approximately 1 to 8 per 1,000 population [6], and that of GID is even lower, estimated at around 1 in 10,000 for male-to-female GID and less than 1 in 25,000 for female-to-male GID [7]. Their cooccurrence would therefore be expected to be rare: a crude estimate, obtained by multiplying prevalences, would be less than 1 in 1,000,000 individuals.

Hospital and clinic-based studies of individuals with GID have found rates of schizophrenia far in excess of both this estimate and the general population prevalence; however, comorbid mental illness is likely to have been overrepresented in such samples. A Dutch survey of 186 psychiatrists evaluating patients with GID found that 31 (16.7%) reported seeing patients with comorbid GID and psychotic disorders, including schizophrenia [8]; however, it was not possible to calculate the percentage of patients with schizophrenia from the data provided by the authors, and the study has been criticized on the grounds of response bias, low external validity, and lack of a standardized means of confirming the diagnosis of psychosis [9]. A second Dutch study compared 20 patients who underwent gender-reassignment surgery and 27 in whom this treatment was deferred or delayed; no patient in the former group had schizophrenia, while 2 in the latter (7.4%) received this diagnosis, and a third was reported as having “psychotic episodes” [10]. An earlier clinic-based study obtained similar results; in a sample of 51 individuals with GID referred for psychiatric evaluation, 8% were found to have schizophrenia [11]. An unusual clustering was reported in African-American women with GID at a clinic in the United States; two of these five subjects (40%) were diagnosed with schizophrenia and a third was noted to have a “schizophrenic character” [12].

More modest but still significant results have been obtained in population-based samples. A recent study from Ireland found that 8 of 159 patients with male-to-female gender dysphoria (5%) had comorbid schizophrenia, as opposed to none of 59 patients with female-to-male GD [7]. Psychiatric evaluation of 230 self-referred applicants for gender-reassignment surgery in Spain, after excluding patients with psychosis but no clear diagnosis of GD/GID, identified six cases (2.6%) of psychosis, with equal rates in male and female subjects [13]. Though these figures are lower than those of the referral-based studies, they are likely to be closer to the true prevalence in this population and are still far higher than would be expected by chance alone. A study of Taiwanese students which measured symptoms, rather than diagnoses, found a strong correlation between symptoms of GID and schizophrenia in male students [14], also suggesting an effect of gender on this association.

Taken together, these studies provide indirect evidence for a link between schizophrenia and GID, on the grounds of their greater-than-chance cooccurrence. However, not all studies in adults or adolescents have been positive. A study of 579 subjects with GID from Japan found only one case of schizophrenia (0.17%) in a female-to-male patient, a rate which is comparable to the lower bound of general population values [15]; however, another publication involving the same sample makes it clear that five subjects with schizophrenia were excluded from the first paper, yielding a corrected prevalence of 1.02% [16]. A study of 435 patients attending a gender clinic in Texas found only four (0.92%) cases of schizophrenia [17]. In a sample of 83 Iranian patients with GID, no cases of schizophrenia were reported [18]” (Rajkumar, 2014, http://www.hindawi.com/journals/schizort/2014/463757/).

So to worry about all transgender people being schizophrenic is totally unnecessary.  Yes, rates may be slightly higher than the general population, but this study still shows that the numbers are low.  If you read the entire study, the author points out limitations of the research as well.

I truly believe that forcing Jazz to be a boy would be sin. She is leaning toward liking boys as this video shows.  But even though her sexuality is something she is still exploring as most teenagers do, making her be a boy would highly possibly make her be gay because she would have to live as her physical body dictates instead of her brain. Her brain is all girl. She didn’t choose this. Her parents didn’t choose this. It just is. So saying, “No, you are a boy and that is how you will live” means forcing her into a sinful homosexual lifestyle. I don’t think God approves as He warns us not to lead children into sin (Matthew 18:5-6).

Also, our struggle is not against flesh and blood, therefore, these people are probably the gender that they identify with to the soul. Just like my soul is not disabled but it’s stuck in a body that is disabled. For all we know, people who were too scared to come out when they are alive are the gender they identified with in Heaven. It’s not for us to say, “You must be a girl because you were born in a girl’s body.”  It is between the person and God.  God is more than capable of working with them to do His Will.

Of course, if my child started insisting he/she was the opposite sex than what he/she had been assigned at birth, I would listen and wait and if he/she kept saying it beyond 5 or 6 when that phase of exploring is over, I would listen and let him/her be who he/she is. I don’t see it as a sin. I see homosexuality as a sin. Far be it from me to force my girl to be a girl who is a really a boy and likes boys thus making him be gay.

This article is interesting regarding the biological differences in a transgender brain.  Sadly, many people who do not understand this believe that parents should just wait until puberty sets in and see if that “fixes” the “problem.”  These people, including some doctors as this article shows, believe that simply putting the children in psychotherapy will “fix” them.  This could not be farther from the truth!  Even when I was at my most legalistic stage of my walk with Christ, something about these therapies and “camps” to “fix” homosexuality just never set well with me.  In fact, research shows that psychotherapy does more harm than good for these children.

“Some right-wing religious groups promote the concept that an individual can change their sexual orientation or gender identity, either through prayer or other religious efforts, or through so-called “reparative” or “conversion” therapy. The research on such efforts has disproven their efficacy, and also has indicated that they can be affirmatively harmful. Beyond studies focused solely on reparative therapy, broader research clearly demonstrates the significant harm that societal prejudice and family rejection has on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people, particularly youth. Furthermore, there is significant anecdotal evidence of harm to LGBT people resulting from attempts to change their sexual orientation and gender identity. Based on this body of evidence, every major medical and mental health organization in the United States has issued a statement condemning the use of conversion therapy.

Psychiatrist Dr. L. Spitzer, who once offered a study on reparative therapy, has since denounced the practice and has apologized for endorsing the practice….

American Academy of Pediatrics

Clinicians should be aware that there is no evidence that sexual orientation can be altered through therapy, and that attempts to do so may be harmful. There is no empirical evidence adult homosexuality can be prevented if gender nonconforming children are influenced to be more gender conforming. Indeed, there is no medically valid basis for attempting to prevent homosexuality, which is not an illness. On the contrary, such efforts may encourage family rejection and undermine self-esteem, connectedness and caring, important protective factors against suicidal ideation and attempts. Given that there is no evidence that efforts to alter sexual orientation are effective, beneficial or necessary, and the possibility that they carry the risk of significant harm, such interventions are contraindicated.   Parameter on Gay, Lesbian, or Bisexual Orientation, Gender Nonconformity, and Gender Discordance in Children and Adolescents” (Human Rights Campaign, 2016, http://www.hrc.org/resources/the-lies-and-dangers-of-reparative-therapy).

Maybe for children who are not truly transgender, it may help, but I would be extremely careful with it.  This is so much more than just a “moral” issue.  It is a biological one.

And waiting until after puberty sets in is very emotionally dangerous for transgender children because they will get all the characteristics of the gender that they do not want to become.  This makes transitioning to the gender that they do identify with much harder.

Some may argue, “How do we know this is definitely what the child wants?”  Every transgender child has ongoing psychotherapy as he/she progresses through the process of blocking the hormones of his/her biological gender and goes on hormones of the gender with which he/she identifies.

“Physicians usually require that any transgender client who wants a medical intervention be assessed first by a mental health provider. A letter may be requested stating that the client’s mental health would improve from a gender transition. “Over the last two to three years, a number of medical associations have made statements about the medical necessity of transitional care for transgender people,” says dickey. While still somewhat stigmatizing, a diagnosis of gender dysphoria ensures that more services for transgender people will be covered by health insurers.

It is standard practice to treat the client for any psychiatric conditions that might be present before starting a medical transition. After that, medical treatment may include hormone therapy to diminish unwanted secondary-sex characteristics and produce or enhance secondary-sex characteristics of the desired gender. A 2011 study led by Colt Meier, a psychology doctoral candidate at the University of Houston (Journal of Gay & Lesbian Mental Health) showed that hormone therapy was associated with lower levels of depression, anxiety and stress, as well as increased quality of life in a sample of more than 400 transgender men.

In addition to hormone therapy, transgender people may opt for surgery to alter breasts, genitalia or other sexual characteristics. Other transgender people may choose a “social transition” that involves only cosmetic changes in dress, grooming or name, for instance, and no medical intervention.

Psychologists help clients in transition by providing guidance on how to pace the process through small steps so as to make adjustments easier for themselves and the people they live and work with, Bockting says. He stresses the benefit of linking transgender clients to support groups or online communities where they can learn from others who have taken the same journey. Providing resources and counsel to families to help them understand and accept a transgender relative ultimately benefits the client, too, he adds. Other clients appreciate a therapist’s help in navigating the frustrating barriers of changing a name and identity documents after a transition, he says (Glicksman, 2013, http://www.apa.org/monitor/2013/04/transgender.aspx).

Doctors take the treatment of transgender children very seriously.  They go slowly to make sure that the teen is responding well to the treatment.  They make sure that this is still what the child wants.  If at any time the child changes his/her mind, doctors can stop treatment and reverse what has happened, though the earlier they do that, the easier it is to reverse the process.  This is precisely why waiting for the child to complete puberty is dangerous because it makes the transition to the opposite gender much harder.  

“In the prepubertal population, there is an additional treatment possibility: the suppression of puberty using continuous gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) agonists, which have the effect of blocking the release of follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH) from the pituitary gland. This, in turn, prevents the secretion of endogenous sex hormones (testosterone and estrogen) from the gonads, halting the progression of puberty, including the development of secondary sex characteristics. During this time, patients are medically monitored and receive regular psychotherapy. Giordano says that the fundamental benefit of this treatment strategy is that “children gain time to reflect over their gender identity, without becoming trapped in a body that is experienced as alien” [5]. The bulk of this reflective process occurs with the help of a psychotherapist, who oftentimes asks the child to have a real-life experience living as the other gender (i.e., in dress and behavior) to help determine whether or not he or she desires the transition [6].

The importance of preventing development of secondary sex characteristics during this period cannot be overstated. Once these children, who are already experiencing considerable distress over their gender incongruence, undergo the pubertal development of the “wrong” sex, their psychological well-being deteriorates significantly, and many develop depression and suicidal ideation [7]. They can experience alienation and harassment at school if they are unable to participate in cross-gender activities or use cross-sex restrooms. They can be bullied and abused. Such circumstances can lead these youths to drop out of school [8] and develop significant psychiatric morbidity [9]. Because these risks can be so great, the need for medical and psychological intervention is paramount. Suppressing puberty and allowing children the opportunity to explore their true gender identities decreases their risk for suicide [10].

A child who decides to change his or her sex then starts cross-sex hormones. Because puberty was arrested before development of secondary sex characteristics, the child will achieve a “more normal and satisfactory appearance” after the transition [5] than if he or she had waited until adulthood, in which case many irreversible features (e.g., height) or solely surgically reversible features (e.g., breast and genital development) would have formed. Giordano also believes children who have been treated before puberty have better psychosocial outcomes, such as greater comfort with their physical selves, better social adjustment, and fewer psychiatric complications. Should they decide not to change sex, ‘puberty suppressant drugs can be withheld and development restarts as normal'” (Lambrese, 2010, http://journalofethics.ama-assn.org/2010/08/jdsc1-1008.html).

The research shows that while there are always risks to medical procedures, the physical risks do not outweigh any emotional and psychological risks of not allowing these children to have the correct biological appearance of the gender with which they identify.  The struggle these children and parents face is very real!  They don’t need us giving them grief over a very difficult decision they have made.  This isn’t for us to judge!

And we want everyone to come to the Lord but if all the child hears is how angry God is at him/her, how is the child ever going to hear His voice?  There have been cases where transgender people went back to their biological gender because that was what God wanted them to do.  Our job is to make sure we are showing God’s amazing love to them.

As I stated above, I am not promoting sin!  I am not promoting transvestism.  I am not promoting homosexuality.

I am promoting authenticity, love, and acceptance of all people of all ages!

I am also promoting love for a small group of children who are born in the wrong body.  And for “Christians” using the verses about not wearing the clothes of the opposite gender to say that transgenderism is “sinful,” by forcing a girl to be a girl when every bone in her body is saying that she is really a boy, you are causing him to sin by being a girl instead of the boy he is.

Now onto the ridiculous bathroom issue that Christians and conservatives are fighting over.  They are not being loving at all.  I saw a hateful video by a “Christian,” and it was posted by another “Christian” on Facebook.  I will not link to it because it is too hateful.

People are worried about men using the ladies bathroom, which is understandable.  But how many times have guys walked into the ladies bathroom?   Not many.

Yet, I am not hearing much about transgender woman who identify as men using the men’s bathroom.  Why?  Why are people so freaked out over transgender men who identify as women using the women’s bathroom?  I think that says a lot about how society views men.  They are viewed as big, hairy animals that let their penises guide them.  That is sad.  And if men dare to show emotions, they are labeled as “weak.”

We should value both genders!  Not all men are monsters.  And women are actually strong because we can carry babies in our womb for nine months and give birth and nourish our babies with our breasts.  Men can protect and provide for their families while still being nurturing to their wives and children.  Both genders are equally important and have equal value and can be whoever God wants them to be.  Instead of stereotyping and limiting the genders, valuing them can help with whatever gender confusion may be going on in our society.

You know, evil people will do evil no matter what. I don’t believe that true transgender people should have to use the bathroom based on their genitals. Can you imagine the violence that would occur to a man that truly identifies as a woman going in a men’s bathroom?  She would be ripped apart and/or worse. I honestly don’t know why this is a problem.  Why not freak out about gay people using the bathroom of the same sex that they are attracted to?  I guess some do freak out over lesbians use the women’s bathroom if they dress more male.  Sad!

Also, many have voiced concern about their little girls seeing male genitalia.  In my 34 years of life, I have never seen nakedness in the ladies bathroom.  I asked my husband if the same were true for the men’s bathroom and he said there has never nakedness in the men’s bathroom in his life.  Yes, it does happen but it is rare.  Again, Google shows no real results when I Googled “indecent exposure in public bathrooms.”  And being attacked by a transgender person is even rarer in public bathrooms.

Also, the majority of sexual abuse child victims know their abusers.  That being said, there are pedophiles everywhere.  They come in all races, ethnicities, genders, sexual orientations, and religions.  I understand that people are nervous about this fact.  Parents must be diligent about watching their children.  We’ve heard horror stories of boys being sexually abused by their priests or girls being sexually abused by women even though it is a bit less often than men.  My point is that being with the same gender doesn’t necessarily mean that children are safer.

As someone with a severe physical disability, my husband must take me to the bathroom which is always a pain without a family bathroom as someone must make sure all the ladies are out and guard the door while he takes me. Heaven forbid I ever have an emergency, we will have no choice but to barge into the ladies’ bathroom!  Many caregivers of people with disabilities have the same problem with taking the person they are caring for to the bathroom in public if they are of the opposite gender.

“Anyone, who is caring for a seriously impaired person, who is his/her opposite gender, will also experience hardship from the passage and enforcement of segregated bathroom laws. I often think, when some nasty stranger feels compelled to judge, snark at me, or yell at my son, isn’t our life complicated enough?  Perhaps we should instead get some understanding and help instead of dismissal and condemnation.

I’d say the same for what the vast majority of transgender people have endured their entire lives – the dismissal and cruel attacks. What ever happened to live and let live? Must so many people who are different dread something as fundamental as going to pee in a public restroom? Is it more a sign of the degradation of society, that we make exceptions to the rules of segregated restrooms for some people who are different or differently abled, or is the true degradation that the bigotry of some against “other” is so pervasive that we’re reduced now to making laws about where people urinate?

It is crucial to understand that passing strict gender segregation laws not only demeans and endangers our transgender brothers and sisters, but also puts severely disabled people with caretakers of the opposite gender in extreme danger in many cases.

It’s for the safety of people with disabilities and transgender men and women, who are much more likely to face danger when they walk into a restroom which doesn’t seem to visually correspond with their gender, that these laws must not pass. I see this as a life or death issue, not a punchline, not a “distraction issue.” I hope someone doesn’t have to get harmed, assaulted, or killed before the rest of society wakes up to what can happen if these laws are passed and enforced.

It’s not just federal law that public facilities must accommodate my son’s needs, it is also the moral thing to do” (Tidd, 2016, http://www.lgbtqnation.com/2016/04/how-do-the-new-new-bathroom-laws-affect-kids-with-special-needs/).

I truly believe that family bathrooms are necessary for a variety of people.  They simplify things for parents with children of the opposite sex who don’t want their children to go alone, people with disabilities that need help, transgender people, and people who don’t like going in a multi person bathroom.  What is the harm in accommodating everyone??

Jesus said to love one another. I wish more Christians would just love. It’s a major reason why my husband and I don’t call ourselves “Christians” anymore. Love. Reject sin but love because we’re failing at showing The Light to a very dark world.

We are also supposed to be humble and consider others as more important than ourselves.

Romans 12:3-8 (NASB):
“For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith. For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith; if service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching; or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.”

May we truly follow Jesus’s example when it comes to dealing with people.  After all, Jesus forgave and loved the Samaritan woman at the well!

There came a woman of Samaria to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give Me a drink.” For His disciples had gone away into the city to buy food. Therefore the Samaritan woman said to Him, “How is it that You, being a Jew, ask me for a drink since I am a Samaritan woman?” (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.) Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.”  She said to Him, “Sir, You have nothing to draw with and the well is deep; where then do You get that living water?   You are not greater than our father Jacob, are You, who gave us the well, and drank of it himself and his sons and his cattle?”  Jesus answered and said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again;  but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.”

The woman said to Him, “Sir, give me this water, so I will not be thirsty nor come all the way here to draw.”  He said to her, “Go, call your husband and come here.”  The woman answered and said, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You have correctly said, ‘I have no husband’; for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; this you have said truly.”  The woman said to Him, “Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet.  Our fathers worshiped in this mountain, and you people say that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.”  Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe Me, an hour is coming when neither in this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father.  You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers.  God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”  The woman said to Him, “I know that Messiah is coming (He who is called Christ); when that One comes, He will declare all things to us.”  Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am He” (John 4:7-26, NASB).

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References:

Bianco, M.  (2015).  Statistics Show Exactly How Many Times Trans People Have Attacked You in Bathrooms.  https://mic.com/articles/114066/statistics-show-exactly-how-many-times-trans-people-have-attacked-you-in-bathrooms#.ZHkggaq6X

Flaherty, L.  (2014).  Do you know the difference between transexual, transgender and transvestite?   http://campus.ie/surviving-college/personal/do-you-know-difference-between-transexual-transgender-and-transvestite

Glicksman, E.  (2013).  Transgender today.  American Psychological Association.  April 2013, Vol 44, No. 4  Print version: page 36. http://www.apa.org/monitor/2013/04/transgender.aspx

Human Rights Campaign. (2016).  The Lies and Dangers of Efforts to Change Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity.  http://www.hrc.org/resources/the-lies-and-dangers-of-reparative-therapy

Kitschmix.  (2016).  Lesbian Forcibly Removed from Women’s Bathroom by Police.  

Lambrese, J.  (2010).  Suppression of Puberty in Transgender Children.  AMA Journal of Ethics.  August 2010, Volume 12, Number 8: 645-649.  http://journalofethics.ama-assn.org/2010/08/jdsc1-1008.html

McHugh, P.  (2015).  Transgenderism: A Pathogenic Meme.  http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2015/06/15145/

National Center for Victims of Crime.  (2012).  Child Sexual Abuse Statistics.  https://victimsofcrime.org/media/reporting-on-child-sexual-abuse/child-sexual-abuse-statistics

Rajkumar, R.  (2014).  Gender Identity Disorder and Schizophrenia: Neurodevelopmental Disorders with Common Causal Mechanisms?  Schizophrenia Research and Treatment.  Volume 2014 (2014), Article ID 463757, 8 pages.  http://www.hindawi.com/journals/schizort/2014/463757

Russo, F.  (2016).  Is There Something Unique about the Transgender Brain?  Scientific American.  http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/is-there-something-unique-about-the-transgender-brain/

Sanghani, R  (2015).  Female paedophiles: Why women sexually abuse children.  http://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/womens-life/11899484/Female-paedophiles-Why-women-sexually-abuse-children.html

Stafford, Z.  (2015).  Transgender homicide rate hits historic high in US, says new report.  https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/nov/13/transgender-homicide-victims-us-has-hit-historic-high

Stoltzfus, D. (2011).  Written vs Living Word.  http://everythingisknowable.blogspot.com/2011/12/written-vs-living-word.html

Tidd, J.  (2016).  How do the new bathroom laws affect kids with special needs?   http://www.lgbtqnation.com/2016/04/how-do-the-new-new-bathroom-laws-affect-kids-with-special-needs/

Ungar, L.  (2015). Transgender people face alarmingly high risk of suicide.  http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2015/08/16/transgender-individuals-face-high-rates–suicide-attempts/31626633/).

Using Detective Work To Meet Your Children’s Needs

Gentle parenting looks at the whole child instead of just the behavior. Children often act out in order to communicate a need to us.  So many times parents focus solely on the unwanted behavior and ignore the fact that the child is trying to communicate.

We need to understand that there is usually an unmet need behind unwanted behaviors. Once we can figure out that need and meet it, the unwanted behavior usually disappears. For example, a child who is getting sick may exhibit more aggression. If a child has a more serious condition such as a sensory processing disorder or Autism, they may exhibit more unwanted behaviors.

Instead of thinking that a child is being defiant or manipulative and punishing the child, we need to understand he or she probably has an unmet need. A little detective work can help a great deal in stopping unwanted behaviors.

That detective work includes something called tarry time. Tarry time is when we give children ages birth to five a few moments to process verbal stimuli. The young brain takes longer to process new experiences. Giving children time to process and respond to us is very helpful.

For example, waiting ten seconds before repeating a request can allow the child to cooperate. It is developmentally inappropriate to expect young children to always respond immediately. In an emergency be prepared to help the child cooperate.

Parents and caregivers may find tarry time is beneficial for them too. When confronted with a stressful situation, taking time to count to ten can help us remain as calm as possible.

Understanding that all children have needs is crucial for treating them with respect.  Ignoring a need and/or punishing the child for having a need will only make the child act out more.  Listen to your children.  Validate their feelings and try to meet their needs as much as possible.  You will find that your children will be more respectful to your own needs.

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