Self Care for Parents

 

No matter how you became a parent (biological or through adoption), the journey can be tough at times.  Don’t get me wrong!  I love my two children, but there are some days that I find myself drained from the consistent routine of being the cook, maid, chauffeur, counselor and referee.  Parenting requires mental and emotional endurance.  In order to stay the course, parents need to build in time for self-care.  I know what you’re thinking.  “How on earth am I supposed to do that?”  I’m going to give you some things to consider.

  • Self-care is not selfish.

We’ve all heard the saying, “you can’t give to anyone else if your tank is on empty”.  This also applies to parenting.  As a mom, we seem to make sure that everyone else is happy and well taken care of before we care for ourselves.  This does not make you a bad person; however, if this is a consistent pattern, man your battle stations for burnout.  Please know that we must prioritize ourselves and our needs.  I know it’s hard to do when your toddler is stuck to you like Velcro, but you must make time for yourself.

 

  • Create and maintain a network of support.

Family, friends, church, local support group, therapist…all of these are examples of folks who will support you should you have any parenting struggles.  Leaning on others when we feel like we are struggling as parents is a great way to find comfort and seek guidance.  Personally, I’ve leaned on my mother, sisters, cousins and co-workers for advice.   Most importantly, I’ve asked the Lord for guidance.  Matthew 11:28-29 says “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest of your souls.”

 

  • Put it in writing.

Carve out time in your schedule for yourself.  Don’t wait for an hour to two to magically “open up” on your calendar.  We all know how hectic our lives can get—church, volunteering, soccer game, swim lessons, work obligations, etc.  Before we realize it, we’re heading into Saturday exhausted and irritable.  The message is clear—physically schedule time for yourself.  Ask your spouse or babysitter to watch the kids so that you can spend some time away.  Head to the park, the movies, a great book store, the nail salon or anywhere that recharges your battery.

 

Start with carving out just 20 minutes a day for yourself and go from there.  You’ll soon see the rewards (for yourself AND your family) of how crucial “me time” can be. 

Behavior Management for the Aggressive Child Part 1

So what do you need to know in order to manage aggressive behavior? First you need to adopt a philosophy of behavior management, then provide consistency and create a predictable and therapeutic environment.

It is important for the child and the family to be fully involved in planning their “system”. All aspects of the child’s “system” must be able to be understood by the child himself. Realize that all behavior is an attempt to meet a need and therefore has meaning. Relationships between the child and parent should provide opportunities for him/her to learn and practice appropriate ways to express feelings, manage daily tasks, and get needs met. Remember, children are best served by parents and families who practice teamwork.

Blending

What is Blending? Blending is a concept, which uses the strengths of the family, child, and the community.
  • Physical Blending = force with force/passive resistance
  • Verbal Blending = using non threatening and supportive language
  • Non Verbal Blending = using non threatening and reassuring techniques

Let’s have a look and get a better picture of Verbal and Non-verbal blending and become familiar with the roadblocks to these types of blending.

Here are some examples of Verbal Blending below:
  • Call the Child’s name and pull them to the side rather than redirecting them in front of their peers
  • Get information by asking questions
  • Use appropriate voice, tone, and volume
  • Use non-judgmental statements or questions
  • Use “We” statements rather than “You” or “I”
What are some common Roadblocks to Verbal Blending?
  • Ordering
  • Threatening
  • Excusing
  • Lecturing
  • Preaching
  • Prying
  • Diagnosing
  • Judging
  • Yelling
  • Arguing
  • Blaming
  • Condescending
Here are some examples of Non-Verbal Blending
  • Maintain a neutral and respectful facial expression
  • Be aware of your child’s spatial preferences
  • Walk away to avoid power struggles
  • Keep your arms out front or at your sides with your hands open
  • Look at your child, but don’t stare
  • Take slow, deep, easy breaths

What are some common Roadblocks to Non-Verbal Blending?
  • Eye rolling/Neck rolling
  • Disrespectful or disinterested facial expressions
  • Pointing, crossing your arms over your chest
  • Talking to your child while engaged in another tasks rather than giving them the attention they need

Realistic Expectations

Let’s talk about realistic expectations. What are our expectations of our children and are they realistic? There can be a danger in having too high of expectations as well as having to low of expectations. See some of the effects of both below.

Danger! What happens when my expectations are too high?
  • My child feels like failure
  • I feel frustrated
  • My child’s self-esteem is eroded

Danger! What happens when my expectations are too low?
  • My child may begin to doubt all abilities
  • I may see my child as lazy or irresponsible
  • My child may cease to grow in one or more areas

Now, with all that said, let’s stick to keeping expectations realistic! How do you do this?—by understanding adolescent development and how it affects behavior, modeling through my behavior to match expectations, and adjusting my expectations to match my child as a whole.

Avoiding the Misuse of My Power

As parents, the misuse of your power can render a child powerless, feed adolescent impulse control (aggression), and aggressiveness in the child—power struggles emerge, child becomes passive or over compliant, and depending on the aggressions, resulting in them being institutionalized.

Keys to Avoiding the Misuse of Your Power
  1. Be aware of your own stress level.
  2. “I will not say “no” when “yes” is just as easy.”
  3. Analyze your own use of power.
  4. “I will not use my power as a last resort to win a struggle with my child.”
  5. Some questions to ask when faced with a struggling child.
  6. What are you doing?
  7. What are you supposed to be doing?
  8. What’s going to happen if you keep doing what you are doing?
  9. Do you want that to happen?
  10. What are you going to do now?

Is Egg Freezing the Only Solution?

Egg freezing may be used to preserve future fertility for women. Mature oocytes (eggs) are harvested from a woman’s ovaries, flash-frozen (vitrified), stored, and are later thawed to create embryos using in vitro fertilization Recently, we came across a very informative video series in which a 29 year old woman records her egg freezing experience.

It has only been recently that researchers have become more confident in successfully freezing human eggs. More women are considering it for a number of reasons:

  1. Cancer or other medical treatments: Certain medical treatments — such as radiation or chemotherapy — can harm egg numbers and quality. Egg freezing allows women to potentially have biological children in the future.
  2. IVF: After an egg retrieval cycle, some of the eggs may be fertilized for a current pregnancy attempt and other eggs may be stored for future pregnancy attempts. Embryos are created on an as-needed basis.
  3. Fertility Preservation: A woman may choose to freeze her eggs when she is young, unmarried, and just beginning her career. Then when she is ready to begin having children, eggs will be thawed, fertilized, and transferred.

The last reason is becoming more popular. One of the most important factors in successful egg freezing is the age of the woman. Egg quality declines as women age, so the earlier they are frozen, the more likely the eggs will survive the freezing and thawing process.

But is the process, expense, time, and risk involved worth it?

Egg freezing is costly, both financially and emotionally. Each egg retrieval cycle takes several months and some women may have to complete more than one retrieval in order to secure enough eggs for future use. The procedure to harvest eggs from the ovaries costs about $10,000, which does not include the cost of the medication and hormone injections the woman has to take for several weeks to stimulate her ovaries. After the embryos are frozen, there is an annual storage bill, averaging $600.00 a year. And when the eggs are thawed, fertilized, and transferred to the uterus through an IVF cycle, the cost ranges from $5,000 – $12,000.

Of course, there is no guarantee a woman will be able to have genetic children in the future if they freeze eggs now.

Are there other options?

Yes! There is another successful option for achieving a pregnancy in the future without incurring the expense of egg freezing. It is called embryo adoption. Embryos that have already been created IVF cycles are made available to for adoption. The adopting family uses the embryos to achieve a pregnancy and give birth. There is no expense for egg retrieval. No painful procedures. It’s affordable. It’s proven successful.

Anyone considering freezing their eggs should be aware of this option for future pregnancies. To learn more about embryo adoption, visit www.Snowflakes.org.

What is an Open Adoption Plan?

Is contact with placing families important in an embryo adoption match? How do you establish an open adoption? The Hendersons and Gassmans are embryo placing and adopting families who were matched through the Snowflakes Embryo Adoption Program. Listen as the two couples tell their open adoption story and the steps they purposefully made to build trust and love into their new family tree.

There is much fear and uncertainty regarding choosing an open adoption plan. These two families share with you their determination to overcome fear, resulting in great relationships for their children and for themselves.

Ways to Stay Sane During Infertility

Infertility is stressful. It impacts a couple on every level; emotionally, physically, spiritually, financially, and relationally. When it feels like everyone around you has children, are talking about having children, or are pregnant, you feel alone. Normal everyday things like going to the grocery store can take courage.

Here are three things that you can do in the midst of the storm of infertility to stay sane.

  • Find at least one friend that you can be completely vulnerable with. A friend who will pray for you when you’re having a bad day and who will listen as you vent your anger and frustrations. A friend who will be an encourager to you when you’re deeply devastated because of another negative pregnancy test. One faithful friend is better than many acquaintances.

 “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.”

Proverbs 17:17 

 “A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” Proverbs 18:24

  • Find something you enjoy and do it often. Whether it is having a cup of your favorite coffee, binge watching that Netflix show, or spending time outside. Find something simple that brings you joy which you can look forward to once per week.
  • Give yourself grace. You need to do what is best for you. At times that might involve opting out of a family function, baby shower, or birthday party. Don’t feel guilty for knowing your limits.

Remember, your identity comes from Christ, not in your ability to bear children. The Lord has good plans for you, lean into Him and allow Him to guide your steps. He loves you more than you know!

 “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18 

“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.” Hebrews 4:15

“Answer me when I call, O God of my righteousness! You have given me relief when I was in distress. Be gracious to me and hear my prayer.”

Psalm 4:1 

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Birth Parents: Brave & Intentional

 

All members of the adoption triad play a profound role when considering any child’s adoption story. Birth parents are an irreplaceable piece to the puzzle, no matter what type of adoption being considered. They give life to children who, for whatever the reason, they are not parenting. Birth parents making an adoption plan for their child are brave, selfless, courageous, and, most of all, intentional. When many of us think about adoption, the word “orphan” is often one of the first words that comes to our mind. In many instances and for many reasons, sweet children who are waiting to be adopted do fit under this umbrella, and God has miraculous plans for them. There are no unwanted children, and while they may be earthly orphans for a time, they have a heavenly Father who never fails to see them or choose them. However, in most instances, little ones placed for adoption by birth parents are not orphans. Birth parents do not consider their children orphans, and birth parents who hear the word “orphan” in reference to the child they place for adoption often disagree, as these strong and honorable birth parents are purposeful and intentional about making a plan for their sweet little ones.

Birth parents making this decision do not take it lightly, wherever they are in their life. They not only have the courage to make the first contact with the adoption agency, but they also spend time considering the best openness plan for them and their child, the qualities they desire in an adoptive family, and the specific family who will raise, love, support, and nurture their child. The impact and magnitude of this decision is not lost on birth parents, as they search through families’ profiles books and videos and pray for their heart to point them in the direction of one family or another. No matter the amount of time a birth parent spends creating her adoption plan for her child, it is called a “plan” for a reason. Birth parents give life to little ones and choose to place them in another family’s arms, heart, and home.

It is no secret that adoption exists because of brokenness. When speaking with adoptive families and birth parents, I often refer to it as a “beautiful mess” as we make a plan for the little ones to come, and they truly appreciate the analogy—as we are all human and make mistakes on the journey of adoption. It is a beautiful, messy, sensitive, and somehow perfect ride as adoptive and birth families come together to make plans for little ones. Jody Landers’ popular quote about adoptive parenting paints a profound picture of adoption: “A child born to another woman calls me mom. The magnitude of that tragedy and the depth of that privilege are not lost on me.”

Birth parents are brave, and most importantly, they are intentional.