Skip to main content

by Julia Cameron on Mar 23, 2023

Our job as parents is to appreciate the process that our children go through rather than trying to correct it into a more rigid form. For example, if you have a child who draws a green pony, you say, "Oh, a green pony! That's wonderful," instead of telling the child that ponies aren't green.

Perfectionism is probably the biggest creativity block I run across. When we speak of perfection, we actually are reaching for an unattainable goal, because as human beings, we aren't perfect. If we look to perfection to judge our work by, we will always fall short, so it's very important to model that it's OK to be imperfect and that there are such things as rough drafts. 

For children to realize that practicing imperfection over and over again is moving a little bit at a time toward an ideal, is a much kinder way to go than demanding that the first job or the first attempt be perfect. That can stop a child's or anyone's creativity in its tracks.

What is one thing you do well in how you are raising your child? How can you reframe your goals to be able to celebrate your mini-milestones?


Oh a green pony

by Kandace Wright on Mar 16, 2023

Jackie informed me yesterday that, when she has her own children, she will never tell them "no." Never. I smiled and wished her luck with that. Today, after coming home from school, she informed me that she thinks she might sometimes need to tell them "no." Sometimes.

Jackie is a healthy, mostly happy 11-year-old child with special needs. What makes her unique is that she has pervasive developmental disorder. While this may look different in every child, for Jackie it means that she has some autistic features mixed with a possible mood disorder, though some days I wonder if her mood swings are more related to her approaching "coming of age." (I do not believe there can be anything more emotional than impending menstrual cycles for a young pre-teen. Sigh. When did I become the mother of a pre-teen?)

Over the years, I have learned how to be more responsive and more intuitive to Jackie's needs. My husband and I can often sense what she needs from us and her environment, which is key to our preventing meltdowns and struggles.

We also feel strongly that we help her by having a support system for ourselves. We rely on a support team of family, friends, and people from the school system who work with Jackie. Sometimes we need respite care, an extra set of hands, or a parents' night out. 

Our sitters are well trained to work with children like Jackie, and all of our kids look forward to the special playtime. We enjoy coming home relaxed and rejuvenated, knowing we are in a better place to cope with any challenges that might arise.

One of the hardest challenges with raising a special needs child is trying to keep people, including us as her parents, from attempting to force her into being a "typical" child. Jackie is different. She will always be different, and I celebrate that difference.

That said, it's not all roses. There are some thorns. We have struggled with defining what Jackie needs in her school environment. We have also struggled with therapists and psychiatrists who have tired a one-size-fits-all approach to Jackie's challenges, including the use of medication.

We resisted using any medications for a long time, despite the pressure to do so. When we had our fourth child, things really bottomed out for Jackie. She was in such emotional pain. We decided it was unfair to not at least investigate medications. We started out with high hopes.

We tried half a dozen medications over the course of 18 months. I know some children receive relief from medication, but Jackie never did. In fact, they had a negative effect on her. She seemed even worse. It was heartbreaking. We ended the trial and weaned her off all medication.

Jackie hit a new low while weaning from the medications. After a month, she seemed herself again. She become more in control of her emotions and behaviors, and her humor returned. I hadn't quite realized how much I had missed that. She seemed settled. I cannot quite explain it, but she just seemed more like the daughter that we knew and loved, quirks and all.

It's been about six months since she quit the medication trial. Jackie continues to improve. She takes two steps forward, one step back. (Sometimes it's more like two steps forward, three steps back.) She was recently able to transition from the special needs school bus to the regular school bus, which was an important milestone for her. Jackie continues to improve, even though the path is never a straight line but one step at a time.

No matter how much we attempt to prepare her to be confident, as she gets older, there will always be the pull to be more like the "typical" children. She will always want to be "normal." We embrace Jackie as she is. We have taught all of our children that each person is unique, and we encourage them to be accepting of others, even those who face challenges that may make them difficult to deal with.

How do you allow your child to be different? How do you allow yourself to be different from other parents?


Different is ok

by Leyani Redditi on Mar 07, 2023

I never felt like I could get angry as a child. My parents sure did, but I got the message loud and clear that I was supposed to keep the peace, be good, and above all, never ever lose my cool. As a parent, I found myself getting angry at my child for being angry.

That was a red flag.

I felt helpless when she was upset. I wanted to fix it, fix her, just make it better. 

I felt resentful. How could she be unhappy, when I was working so hard to make her world wonderful?

I heard myself using words to try to shut down her anger. I gave lectures. I offered new activities. I reminded her of good things, fun things. And sometimes, I got angry back.

It was time to do some work, on myself. I've found the Nurturings community so valuable for this kind of support. There is always someone who can share a book, an experience, or a shoulder. 

This time, the book and surrounding conversation that hit the spot was Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids by Dr. Laura Markham: What if I let my daughter be angry? What if I just listened and empathized but didn't try to fix it? 

This was going to be tough, but I made a commitment to try something new.

The next time my daughter felt angry was when it was time to turn off the TV. This time, I just stayed still. In the past, her anger was my call to jump into action, but this time, I just watched.

It felt very strange not to be saying or doing something.

She stomped around the house. She yelled. She scowled. She yelled some more.

I tried some empathy: "It sounds like you are very frustrated that we have to turn off the TV now."

It's not FAIR!!" she yelled.

I tried again: "I know you don't like that the TV is going off, but we had an agreement about how long you can watch."

"It's just not FAIR!!" she screamed again.

Here is where I did something really new: I gave her some pace, just let her be. I walked to the other side of the room and started puttering. I have to admit that my heart was pounding. I really, really, really just wanted to turn the TV back on, give her ice cream, or yell back at her. But I just kept organizing the crayons.

After a while, my daughter picked up a book. I puttered for a little bit longer and then sat down next to her with my own book. We sat side by side for a long time, just breathing.

"I love you when you're angry, you know," I said, pulling her close. She looked at me with disbelief.

"I love you when you are angry. I love you when you are happy, sad, mad, glad, bored, excited, sleeping, awake, home, or somewhere else. I love you, no matter what."

Our kids give us such opportunities to heal and to do things differently. Old patterns are strong. We have to work, not on our kids, but on ourselves.


I love you when you are angry