Degrees: Basic Art Degree; Art Institute, Milwaukee
Continuing Education: Certifications: Uncommon Knowledge, Law of Attraction (LOA)
Awards: As Director of Ruffner Mountain Nature Center I worked with colleagues to develop new Environmental Education Programs which were named to the Environmental Success Index by Renew America Foundation, Wa., D.C., the Best Environmental Education Programs by the Center for Environmental Research and Service at Troy State University, First Prize-Education in the CIVIC Category of the 1990 TAKE PRIDE IN AMERICA CONTEST. Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Development of Artist Skills-featured inILLUSTRATOR Magazine.
Activism: Helped establish and served on the Board of Directors of The Hillcrest Aftercare Association to aid those in prison and half-way houses, Published works in the One Voice; a Catholic Newspaper, The Shooting Star; quarterly newsletter to members of Ruffner Mountain Nature Center, the American Poetry Anthology; available in Colleges around the Country, the Publication of my first book of poetry.
I am a Freelance Writer, Researcher, Artist, Activist, Entrepeneur, and offer hypnosis sessions.I also wrote two instructional programs, for professionals like myself, to help children who have or are suffering(i.e., trauma, death, divorce, etc.) When the programs are used correctly, individuals will gain a greater insight on how to teach children relaxation, meditation, and the use of hypnosis so they may have the opportunity to learn or relearn imperative 'life skills', lost (due to trauma, etc.)during various developmental stages. Adults who suffered as children also benefit greatly from hypnosis. You can retrain your brain as well as change your thinking. It is only spontaneous "thoughts" we have no control over. How we "react" or "act" on those thoughts is what we can change.
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This blog is for the Primary Care-givers of children born in the 1990’s. These future leaders baffle many who come from the post-yuppie era; the pro-creators of this generation. At present, what is to come for America’s future looks more like a throw-of-the-die, other than a thought out plan. It saddens me to say that we have an upcoming-populace of individuals who avoid anything that threaten their personal space. This thought-process directly affects the morale of the family unit; changing a stable future for Americans’. With thirty-plus years experience in raising, fostering, and adopting children, I have obtained enough certifications to wallpaper my study! This documentation will serve a better purpose than to create aesthetics in my work-area; I will be able to share my knowledge with others’ who are overwhelmed and struggling through this ongoing recession. I will use all of my resources, offering online advice and counsel. Reaching out to others via the internet with experience and credentials; I will help you navigate your way through this oftentimes troubling life, giving you skills needed to make sound choices for your future.
My goal with this piece, is to offer coping skills to young parents who have a self-centered way of parenting. This lacks empathy, understanding, and an inability to meet the needs of their child. Many children born to this generation, share responsibility of raising their children with others. There is nothing wrong with this theory as it can, and oftentimes, benefits the child. There is an adage “It takes a village to raise a child“, when this was popular, communities where much more involved in life, not just living life. There is a huge difference; 1. You can allow life to lead you or 2. You can control where life leads you. It is best to teach control, this will help their children navigate circumstances otherwise out of their control. Growing up in these turbulent times is challenging for adults, can you imagine how it feels to a child? At present, many children are born with a “job” and that is to please people, which may include but not limited to; a birth-mother, birth-father, step-mother, step-father, grandparents, step-grandparents, teachers, coaches, babysitters and nanny’s, each one with their own rules and/or agendas for the child. In addition, many babies are born from children, some as young as twelve years old, this would unfortunately add to the “job” the child has been born with. Before you read further, think about this; imagine yourself in their situation.
Grandparents are increasingly playing a “parent” role with no laws to aid them if either birth-parent were to decide they wanted custody. If this happens grandparents, who oftentimes invested years in the welfare of their grandchild, are left broken-hearted with no lawful recourse. This unjust and prejudicial attitude of our current justice system is quickly becoming the status quo. Even with the best of intentions, on the part of either birth-parent, these circumstances cause distress for the child as well as the grandparents. The only humane way to handle such a difficult and unpredictable situation, and avoid an impasse between all devoted parties, is to go through this process slowly, explaining to the child what is taking place. How the child responds to this, directly relates to the bond established between him and his grandparents. Under NO circumstances should a child be taken suddenly, with no explanation, the damage this could propagate may very well prove irreparable.
I could not put into words how I would feel living with the constant uncertainty of what each day is going to bring. Expecting a toddler to navigate through such circumstances, with no coping skills, is begging for trouble. The fact that this generation has adopted an unreasonable assumption that their children will “adjust” to whatever decisions they make, is absurd. In generations before us, a child followed the lead of two individuals, a mother and father, with extended family members playing an integral role within their support system. At present, we have children who are required to understand and distinguish the differences of various “raising-techniques” from whomever they are with on any given day. Now, while this last statement attempts to simplify the child’s situation; there is no possible way we can disregard the fact they are living out their young lives in a constant state of confusion!
Let us surmise that the following script is the “norm” for a child today, from birth to four years:
A baby is born from a sixteen year old child, brought to one set of grandparents who love and raise him for the first three-plus years of his life. Shortly after giving birth, the parents would visit their new son; this was due to work schedules and/or no desire to bond. As the child began to grow and because of the birth-mothers’ age her perception of him was more of a “play-thing” than a “child”. Often, after coming in from outdoor play, she would tell him “You stink” (always speaking before thinking). These would be his visits with his mother, teasing him about his smell, his looks, constantly texting (making no eye contact), etcetera. Creating a wall between them and forcing a stronger bond with his grandparents. So many times he would run in the house lingering with the aroma of dirt, sweat, and baby lotion, which created an exquisite, unique earthy scent only a child captures, after a day of mud-pies and acorn ice creams! And when he wrapped his arms his grandparents, they cherished every second; breathing in the sweet smell of youth while smothering him with kisses and hugs. This is one example of how easily a child receives a“mixed messages”. What would he be thinking? His mommy hates his “odor” but his grandparents love it. Children “feed” off adult behavior (their reactions, tone of voice, words, etc.) and oftentimes the child will feel “at-fault” if an adult is not pleased with them. These are guilt and shame induced feelings that should never be forced on a child. Many times the birth-mother, unknowingly humiliated him, if she felt his hair was cut too short. This seems to be a trigger for her as she would often ask him, “What happened to your hair?” This would make him feel as though he has done something wrong and has displeased his mother. This can also cause the development of a low self-esteem. Making fun of any child may seem like a joke to some adults, in reality it only serves to add to their current “state of confusion“. Whenever he experiences any type of what he determines to be a “failure”; he will always holds these feelings in, reserving them for his grandparents to deal with. Children will always go to those have been their most consistent care-givers for comfort and validation of their feelings, after being hurt. There was a process, that he would repeat, each time he returned “home” to his grandparents; it always takes times for him to overcome any guilt-ridden feelings he carries home. His way of dealing has always been to repeat a question, rephrasing it, until his needs are met and he comes to some understanding. For him it is usually his hair; he will ask a number of questions like “When will my curls grow back”, “Will my curls ever come back?”, “How long before my hair grows, sixteen days?.” Living in a society where looks are everything, who wouldn’t be bothered by derogatory remarks about their looks or being made fund of? When presented with such questions, from a four-year old, your first instinct may be to smile, as the way he questions you is adorable. There is however, nothing “adorable” about this type of negative coercion. When questioned by a tiny child with eyes the size of saucers would, many times, prompt a smile; it is difficult to respond seriously to the kind of innocence only a child can disclose. These children need “validation” of their thoughts, feelings, and a lesson on how to react when they are put in this “state-of-mind”, immediately following a visit from someone you know is be ill-equipped in raising a child. I am often perplexed at how teenagers, and some young adults, do not have the wherewithal to understand the power their words have, especially when it comes to children. Words can celebrate or humiliate a life, something we all need to consider whenever responding to our children’s feelings, actions, etcetera. Societal rules have changed, I have witnessed people become egoistic, rude, and judgmental, especially towards loved ones. Any feelings which would confuse him would slip-out during a time I refer to as “the readjustment period“- or simply put, the time it takes a child to readjust to his normal routine. This period usually takes one to two days, depending on who he has visited and what transpired during this time period. You will always <strong
With his father at home more often, due to a job change, the dynamics of his young life would change also. As Daddy took on the role of disciplinarian this forced his toddler to juggle the differences between how he had grown up, with mild disciplinary actions on the part of his grandparents, to a much more inflexible method of discipline. This is enormously confusing to a toddler for example: if he made a mess at the table prior to his daddy’s “new job” he was told “It is ok, all children make messes while learning to eat” – verses a new reaction from his daddy being “Do not make messes at the table, now you must clean it up”. Do you understand how a child can be confused? Think of this situation, for a moment, and then apply the same mess-at-the-table and how you would envision others in his life reacting… Are you beginning to understand more of what a child goes through?
Soon his dad met a young woman who also had a child and within two months the were living together, his son however remained with his grandparents. This young, growing and soon to be tenacious adolescent, was now living full-time once again, with those he held the closest bond with and who enforced little discipline. Days following, he would begin spending a couple nights a week with his father, a strong disciplinarian and it soon became evident he was very fearful of leaving; throwing “fits” (even hiding) from his birth mother when she came to pick him up; crying desperately when he saw or heard his father coming! It was decided, during this time, that if his daddy was to take the relationship to a deeper level and propose marriage, that the transition of moving his son into a new family, would transpire slowly. Unfortunately this did not happen, by the end of a four month tumultuous relationship between his father and soon to be step-mother, he would find himself residing with them full-time. This transpired on one beautiful afternoon while we were painting in his “play-room” when his daddy showed up, packed some of his clothes and toys, and left with him. This was a rash and highly unnecessary decision which, needless to say, did not make his son happy. What happened with the grandparents? They were quickly “replaced” and offered weekly visits. As is his pattern, when he is trying to make sense of his life, he began asking his daddy “questions”. He started with “when can I go home?”, which quickly became a nuisance to the now-married couple, resulting in punishment’s for his “bad” behavior. The way in which he questioned would change, yet it was always the same question. This only served to further aggravate his father and step-mother. The grandparents are now at the mercy of his dad as to when he can “visit”. His questioning of wanting to go “home” remains constant as do the punishments. This story continues to develop and grow as the child’s “nanny”, on the birth-mother’s side, has entered the picture. Her need to “bond” with him has consequently added additional stressors.
School is soon to come where he will encounter other adults he must please, learn to socialize and make new friends, while remaining in a place he is trying to feel at home in. We cannot forget the “new” set of grandparents who have entered this picture also, those related to his step-mother. This relationship was short, giving him time to begin “bonding” with these strangers before they decided to leave his life. They seemed to leave as suddenly as they appeared, without explanation. I am certain, he felt a sense of failure; children often blame themselves for adults’ mistakes. Where does this leave a four year old child? Some of you may be thinking of how resilient children are, this is true but they are not super-human, they cannot read minds, and they have no control over their surroundings or living conditions.
The above is the true ongoing saga of one little boy. The result of all the stressors and pressure this child has undergone since birth, are beginning to show. He will continue to have adults entering and leaving his life as he grows, this is the natural order of life, my hope is that his father will give him the comfort and security he so desperately needs. The only stability this child had, was taken from him very quickly, within a one-day “transition”. His father’s expectations were not wrong, how he went about transitioning his son was wrong. It is highly possible this child lives with thoughts like, “how long will I be here?”, disrupting his ability to trust, cope, and grow into a healthy happy adult. The following is a list of adults he has had to “please”, at any given time, since birth (four years ago):
A part-time Mother (1)
Grandparent on the Birth-mothers’ side (with a live-in boyfriend and subject to change, 2 people)
Any new boyfriend and/or friends of the Birth-Mother (continual change, anywhere from 2-10 people)
Grandparents on the Step-Mothers’ side (now disowned by them, totaled 2)
Additional family members of the Step-mother(2-4)
Sunday School Teachers(1)
Babysitters(could range from 2-16 different individuals-at various times)
Close Family Friends of the Father and Step-mother(2-6)
The above totals, a minimum, of eighteen people, that is the low number.
Where is the logic is this? Where’s the sanity? The empathy or sympathy? No one can answer these questions because sadly their are no answers. And a little boy, who never asked for any of this, will pay the ultimate price, his childhood, because he was not a top priority.
He is no longer happy-go-lucky as he once was. People are too busy with their personal lives, separating themselves from their children, thus making it a long and difficult road before learning what “family” is all about. This is the excuse I have been given most often by family, that they have just been too busy, to [care]? It is wrong to use this as an excuse with friends and family, let alone children. I have seen the transformation of this little boy, he is now fearful of change and scared of the unknown. He has a wandering young spirit, full of life and love, yet no place to land. He has a thousand questions with no answers.
I put faith, in the empty promises of people that this would “play-out” differently, my “faith” was sadly misplaced. I knew this transition was coming as it was an inevitable and necessary change. So how could this have transpired in a healthier way for the child?
1. By putting the child’s needs first.
2. Transitioning slowly.
3. Containing the desire of creating a “perfect” family unit. This is a slow process where “trust” must be established.
4. Understanding that children are not “property” or “play-toys”.
5. Having the wherewithal to know children are “gifts”, the most precious of gifts, lent to us for a while to nurture, love, enjoy, respect, and grow together.
6. Allowing a child their personal “space” and giving them feelings of security where their unique expression can flourish, through word, thought, voice, and action.
7. Not jumping to conclusions; they are purposely causing “emotional” upset or pain, when they need to act-out what they do not understand.
8. Punishment is for grievous offenses and always “age-appropriate”, it is not for misspoken words or actions when they are trying to cope with their life.
9. Dropping adult expectations that are set far too high for their age level, as these are impossible for toddlers to meet.
10.Begin teaching, at the youngest age possible, coping skills and how to be independent.
11.Give constant reassurance that their not to blame for anything regarding their circumstances, that there are not bad people, there are bad “actions”.
12.Their situation is out of their control now but there will come a day when they will be in control.
Due to my studies, work, and fostering, I am no stranger to the dynamics of how children react to certain stimuli. I have spent my days, since he was born, teaching him to be independent, to do things for himself, making him into a strong individual. Telling him that the day will come when he will decide where he wants to be and how long he will be there. My friends, this alone gives him hope which seems to sustain him until our next visit. He has been taught well; his numbers, letters, books, music, dance, what love is, feelings, understanding the importance of proper hygiene; specifically how to wash himself, brush his teeth, dress himself, etcetera, and the medicines he needs. I have taught him to care for his “things” as these will be his most prized possessions and some will follow him for many years to come. Starting at a very young age he began attaching himself to his “items”, yet he never accepted a pacifier, carried a baby blanket, stuffed animal or anything of the like. He has been a strong bold young little “man” and whenever we part he wants to take NOTHING. So he is, in his mind, keeping his treasures in his most treasured places and they are not to be disturbed. He is extremely smart but if his emotional needs are not met and he continues to have to “stuff” them, I fear for his future.
It is nothing unusual for people to feel inadequate at times, especially parents. These are natural feelings that we all are faced with, forced to work through, and come out smiling, right? Life is always ready and waiting to throw that “curve-ball”, just at the right time…when we least expect it. That is the very reason I wrote this blog, to offer answers to some of you who might be searching. Raising a child is the hardest “job” you will ever undertake; you are raising an adult. Dr. Phil assures us when he says, “You cannot prepare the future for your children, you can prepare your children for the future”, this is perfectly stated.
Giving your child the gift of understanding as well as how to recognize their feelings, is one of the greatest “coping” skills you can teach them. I describe these in detail in my next blog which includes pictures they can identify with. Accomplishing this together, with your child, will enable them to cope better with the constant changes now and in the future. It will help them while navigating so many different situations and circumstances they will encounter. Identifying feelings also helps as they begin to make friends, learn social skills, and most important, understand themselves. They will begin to connect their feelings with their thoughts, emotions, and actions which will give them a good chance for their future goals and dreams. Once they have connected; thoughts=feelings=emotions=actions, it is then they will finally begin to feel some self-control, a part of themselves they most likely lacked for years. Whether you are loving grandparents, concerned parents, or primary care-givers, the power to prepare them in order to handle their lifestyle is in your hands. Helping them to make the right decisions now and to follow their dreams, will set them up for a favorable future.
Final thought: There is no no such thing as a “bad seed”; there is “bad Parenting”