Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Therapeutic Parenting Resources

(christineparentcoaching.com)
I have been working very hard the last few weeks to reorganize the things I have learned over the past six years, when it comes to parenting. My goal has always been to share. However I can.

As you would suspect, as my life has been pretty messy, my sharing has been pretty messy. Scattered. So, I have been putting a very deliberate effort into organizing and re-presenting it in a way that can be more easily searched and utilized.

On my coaching site, you will start to see all of my little nuggets show up under the "Blog" tab. If you've read me for some time, you will see some repetition of things I've posted in the past. However, I will be combining and fine-tuning much of it so that my site will be more of a clearing house for all things therapeutic. Over here at this blog, you will continue to read allllllllll about the rest of me. The sex. The violence ... heheheheh. Okay, just the sex. And the self-love and all that jazz.

In my spirit of sharing, I also want to point you toward some big changes I was able to make this month. Starting my own small coaching business has saved my sanity. I dream of being able to give myself away. I really do, because I'm muddling through the same stuff the rest of you are. I understand how it drains your brain and your finances. But the more I was giving myself away, the more I was suffering and exhausted. Therefore, my home was suffering. So, I have been able to function as a small business for over two years, continue to support people yet do so in a way where my own life and home do not suffer.

Great, right? Well, it has become even greater. I spent September trying out some new resources that have greatly decreased my work load. And what happens when the one-man-band doesn't have to spend so much time on the administrative/business side of things? They get to decrease their prices!

So, I am extremely happy to announce that I have a new fee structure. You can find it at ChristineParentCoaching.Com.

I want to continue to be one of the pieces of this giant puzzle, working to help our kids heal and live happy, productive lives. The experts keep saying that the true therapy happens at home. That means the caregivers must have support, and it has to be accessible and affordable! If you can ask for it, ask for it. If you can provide a piece of the puzzle, step out and provide it. We are changing our world, one home at a time. One child at a time. And it starts with those of us who are guiding and parenting them through it.

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Open up that October door!

(photo by Kate Northern; used
with permission)
October.

It's the most wonderful time of the year in my house.

Halloween ... and National Coming Out Day!

I remember a time in the 80's when there was a big hub-bub in our little town over Halloween. A group of people became very vocal about the dark side of the holiday and were pushing parents to stop participating in the costumes and the trick-or-treating. Of course, my friends were the ones showing up at school with the "Save Halloween!" shirts. I did not wear one. I had already gotten my pastor-father in enough trouble a few years before wearing giant peace sign earrings. Did you know that meant I was walking around displaying broken crosses on my ears? Mm hmm. So obviously I was all about the satanic juju. Not peace.

Whatever. Let's be honest. I was all about Madonna.

I now love the ying and yang that October holds. One holiday built around dressing up, and another around being fully and authentically yourself. Both have a history of some voices protesting.

I became much more public and vocal about my support for equal rights, before I ever had any idea that my family would end up as a giant bowl of the alphabet soup.(side note for later viewing: it's all so much more beautifully complex than simply your orientation!) In fact, I began to be so vocal and so supportive that many people assumed I was most likely a closeted lesbian. Like ... many. Or several? Not sure the exact number, but I have most definitely had more than two people address it with me head on. I actually found myself in an argument with a woman one day over my orientation. Really.

Now, I do absolutely understand that there are some people who talk about this subject very openly to vet the people around them and determine who will be a safe place. That is true, and thankfully becoming less of a necessity as our society shifts. I also discovered there is sometimes a reaction that is meant to instill fear. "If you keep talking about it so much, people are going to assume you are gay!"

To which I would say, "Actually, I think you meant to say they will assume I am a sexual minority." *smiley face*

Alright. So, why did I start to talk so openly and fervently about equal rights, gay marriage, love and acceptance for all people regardless of their sex/orientation/gender/attraction? Why would I put myself out there like that not even knowing at that time that my own family represented the entire spectrum?

Because people.

I knew a lot of people. I saw a lot of pain. I experienced what it was to be a safe place. I saw the beauty and hope in being a part of the support network to help a human fully embrace who they are without shame. I understand it. I do not land perfectly within a black-and-white construct of attraction. And in my teeny tiny little corner of this, I found it confusing and I questioned whether or not it was safe to say that to anyone in my life.

Teeny tiny.

I saw what it was like for those who weren't landing in a teeny tiny corner as far as society was concerned. I would not allow them to stand alone. I want to stand with them.

Because people.


"Many of you may be offended by all of this, I fully realize. I know this may be especially true if you are a religious person; one who finds the whole topic disgusting. 
As you’ve been reading, you may have been rolling your eyes, or clicking the roof of your mouth, or drafting familiar Scriptures to send me, or praying for me to repent, or preparing to Unfriend me, or writing me off as a sinful, evil, Hell-bound heretic… but with as much gentleness and understanding as I can muster; I really couldn’t care less. 
This isn’t about you. This is a whole lot bigger than you." - John Pavlovitz

I have had people write me because I am the only person they know, for sure, in their world who is a safe space. I will take the negative reactions. The comments meant to induce fear. I will take it so others do not stand alone. My experience is nothing - nothing - compared to the confusion and pain that far too many people continue to experience.

I am proud to stand in the alphabet soup. If you do not feel safe and supported to Come Out on October 11, or ever ... that is cool. I've got your back. I celebrate you. Fully. Completely. From right here.

Friday, August 15, 2014

And then you blink and it's September

I can't say the last two months flew by. It has been a challenge, and has also been the very best summer for all of my kids. The list of activities was a gift to one child, in particular. Juggling four high schoolers and all the friends and activities has my head spinning some days. But we did it. About to usher in a year with two seniors, two sophomores and a sixth grader. 

eek.

If you are looking for a boost as school starts, here are some things I'll be participating in:



The Attachment and Trauma Network is providing a free online Summit in the fall called "Educating Traumatized Children." It will be 10 days long and include over 20 interviews from educators, parents, child welfare professionals, etc. For more information, visit their registration page.

Starting Monday, I will be doing several weeks of tips and tricks for helping your children find their happy! I am basing this series on my 2011 blog posts on the things happy people have in common. This will not be on my blog, as they will just be one short blurb each week (followed by plenty of Pinterest boards for more ideas). You may keep up with this series by joining my email list.

By joining the list, you will also receive information on my fall coaching discounts. A few times a year, I offer discounts on specific days. This gives you a break on cost, while helping me fill my calendar on normally slower scheduling days.

On Friday, September 12, I will be speaking to foster parents at A World for Children in Brownwood, Texas. My If you are a foster parent in Texas and would like to attend, reach out to your agency and ask them to contact the Brownwood Office at (325) 641-1055 for more information. This presentation, "You've Got This," will include my personal secrets for keeping my cool when I feel stuck or triggered.

You do, ya' know. You've got this. It's hard, but you are already doing it. School is starting, and we're going to all walk through it together again.

Sunday, July 06, 2014

Summer time, when the living is ... *deep breath*

I am experiencing something right now that so many of you do every year. However, it is brand new to me. I have a child attending public school, so this is my first "have them home all summer" thing.

Normally, all of my kids are here all the time, and you just learn to pace yourself. I've written before that we needed to make some changes for everyone, and this was a great decision. No regrets. It is beneficial to the entire family.  However ... summer.

All of the benefits we reap from a team of people in the life of a child are just gone. *poof* Like that. For three months.

You have to acclimate to the constant again. It's showing me just how much I do this naturally with homeschooling, and just how well I got used to the "new normal" in our home.

Thankfully, we are surviving with very few tears and I have yet to pull out all of my hair.  Which is good, because mine would come out very quickly, seeing how most of it is stuck together.  Thought I would share my gems that have made a huge difference for us.  It's simple, really.

I have a really long list (40-50 things) of things my child can do at anytime during any day of summer. It is posted in a prominent place. It involves some electronics. It involves movies and shows. But that is not where I have seen the biggest help. That list is chock full of lots of messy things. Stuff like fingernail polish, paint, makeup, face paint, craft sticks, glue and Sharpie markers. Messy stuff.

I have some boundaries on these things (mainly where they can be used). Other than that, the only thing I ask is that the last thing be put away before you start the new thing. I have to remind my kid of that regularly, and they have been fine to comply. Mainly because they are super excited to be moving on to the next thing.

This particular child has ADHD. Like, has ADHD so severely that it took a trained professional to point out what was going on because what I was seeing did not fit the stereotype in my head. As we have treated it in multiple ways, I have discovered that so much of their behavioral and social struggles are a part of a mood disorder, sure.  However, the ADHD is lighter fluid on that flame. This list thing has been wonderful. And they truly enjoy all of the many ideas and options about 85% of the time.

I have also been practicing "yes!" a lot.  If it's not going to hurt a person or a thing, I try to say yes. It is the summer of mess, but it is also the summer of peace and joy. It is the summer of creativity.

It is the summer of removing polish and repainting nails four times a day.  "Mom, I don't like how I painted my nails this morning. Can I paint them again?" I sat and thought and then let out a, "Yes!" I also helped them buy their very own polish remover, cotton balls, and makeup remover wipes with their allowance money. All theirs. No one else can hog them or use them up, and they can use them all day long if they want to.  Put it on, take it off. Paint it on, take it off. Repeat, repeat, repeat.

It is messy, but I created areas where the mess is fine and encouraged.  Why, yes, their clothes are covered in stains. Permanent stains.  Many on the butts of their britches.  Uh-huh.  Look at me all not caring! Just gonna' buy ALL new things before school starts again. Someone give me a ribbon!

I was taught a lesson a year ago from a therapist who has issues with attention:  kids with ADHD don't often feel overwhelmed, they actually tend to feel painfully bored to tears. Out of all the things on the list, I'm seeing about the same six activities repeated most of the time. The choice gives feelings of control. The mess factor gives feelings of creativity and again with the control aspect. I made sure to put a little novelty in there, like "Eat a meal outside."  Who knew? I've never once said you CAN'T eat outside. However, after putting it on that list, my kid has eaten breakfast and lunch out there almost every single day.

A list. A long list. Of lots and lots of ideas. And me embracing and encouraging mess. It is saving our summer.


(I have since created a Pinterest board of most of our Summer Fun list)


Follow Christine's board Summer Fun List on Pinterest.

Saturday, June 07, 2014

Immediacy and Impermanence

This week I participated in beautiful and ridiculously lengthy Facebook thread, birthed by burners. It was full of snark and brilliance. Within minutes I had fallen madly in love with people I have never met, and wanted them all at my party.

Also, I wanted to plan a party.

It erupted quickly and the comments multiplied for the better part of the day. No, really. It was insane. Hundreds of comments.  Notifications going off non-stop: ding, ding, ding. I actually crawled into bed that night and thought, "I hope a bunch of these hysterically genius wonders of humans don't stay up late and post a bunch more funny. I'll miss it and have to catch up in the morning!"

I did.  I totally thought that. I was serious.

The next morning, I woke and immediately grabbed my phone to see what I missed. Here is where I learned a big, painful lesson.

The thread was gone.

It had been deleted by the person who started it, because ... why not? It was so funny to begin with and why not just remove it?  *poof*

It was perfect and it also pissed me off (while some people actually posted they were pissed off, I played it cool and said nothing - even when feeling pissed off, cause I was so funny in my comments).  I sat there and felt like the last picture of my grandmother had been lost in a fire. Yes, that is ridiculous, but that is how I felt in that moment.

"Impermanence may be heartbreaking, but it’s also kind of awesome! It means that we get to remake the world in every moment." - Steve Bearman

It does seem like such a little thing, but it forced me to think of how all change affects me.  It's one of the ten principles that continues to challenge me and I'm radically resistant. I know why I struggle with it. I hold onto things too tightly. I place value in things, for fear that if the thing is gone, the experience has been erased. I have my own reasons for this, and you have yours. I figure I have fine-tuned this throughout my lifetime, so the change will continue to be slow and steady. "A journey, not a destination" and all that crap.

"Instead of resisting, allow change to unfold and try to understand what’s transforming and why." - Vishnu (go read this whole article and just sit in the middle of it for a good, long while)



Tuesday, April 29, 2014

There is no magic pill, right?

If you are like me, you are an animal when it comes to seeking out help for your kids.  From struggles with learning, to finding clothes that fit right as their bodies grow and change, to learning about all the therapy options for mental and emotional health issues ... we advocate for the little and the big.

(photo by Tibor Fazakas; used with permission)


I touted mindfulness mediation almost a year ago when I wrote: "Meditation ... not just for the woo-woo hippies anymore." I knew it was a good thing for me to be doing. I had read the stuff and knew the studies. I did it for me. All that time I knew if it was good for me, it would be good for my kids. I thought that. I didn't do anything about it. Until February.

One of my children worked with me and their therapist, and took a one-month challenge to meditate and list gratitudes every day. We saw a definite change in their ability to self-regulate and an improvement in their sleep. They also started to enjoy meditation, and then led their own group on Facebook for the month of March.

And I knew. I knew I needed to add it to the day of another child. This kid has struggled deeply and greatly over the last few years. We started a treatment plan that included medication and play therapy. We continued with good diet and sleep habits. Yet, there were still some definite daily struggles ... waking up angry and miserable every single day. It was hard to watch and frustrating to see it continue, regardless of the steps we had taken. So, we started daily meditation. This child is younger, so we kept them short and geared toward children.

Oh. my. holy. cow.

Is it a magic pill? No. This child is not free from all of their struggles. However ... however, we have seen daily improvements in sleep, mood and an increase in genuine happiness and joy. We have seen a very obvious decrease in negative behaviors that were not affected by medication and therapy alone. For the first time. Ever. This child will continue to battle some things, but the daily meditation has removed so many clouds from their "sky."

You can read more below. You can google search and watch resources. Do your own legwork. Or trust me. Give it a try.

I am so happy with how it has helped my children and myself, I am going to offer a way to help you give it a try. You see, we do guided meditations we find online (note: NOT just sitting there still and quiet for ten minutes!). For the month of May, I am hosting a Facebook group where I will provide these daily meditations you can just stream online and do alongside your child.  Nothing fancy. Just meditations we have found online that work for us. This will be geared to grade school and younger. To join this group, head over to "Meditation May!"

My daughter is going to host another month online for teens and adults. This keeps her accountable and is helping her practice her leadership skills. You can find that group at "Love Me, Choose Me, Pick Me." Why, yes, we do love Grey's Anatomy in our house. Please note:  if you join her group, she expects participation. She's 14 and leading the way. The adults better keep up!

I triple-dog-dare you to try this with your kid for one month. Give yourself and your kids little weekly rewards when you knock out another seven days, if you need the extra push. I dare you to just give it a good, solid try. It's free. It's simple.

And I'll be doing it with you.

Now for links and research and what-not.

************************************

Dr. Bruce Perry is touting the unbelievable impact of rhythmic activities: yoga, meditation with deep breathing, singing, dancing, drumming, etc. Read more at "Perry:  Rhythm Regulates the Brain"

"Recent studies from Massachusetts General Hospital have shown that eight weeks of MBSR can actually produce thickening in particular regions of the brain important for learning, memory, executive decision-making and perspective-taking: all important functions to have at optimal levels when you are under stress or experiencing pain. Also, certain regions get thinner like the amygdala, which involves threat and fear circuitry. If the amygdala is getting thinner after you’ve been practicing mindfulness for only eight weeks, I find that pretty amazing." Read more at "Q&A: Jon Kabat-Zinn Talks About Bringing Mindfulness Meditation to Medicine"

"For years the research results have been pouring in: anxiety, depression, high blood pressure, and heart disease respond to meditation. The latest study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, shows that a practice that incorporates mindfulness meditation can boost attentiveness and improve mood while lowering stress in less than a week. After just five days of 20-minute sessions, students who meditated outscored their peers (who were practicing a form of guided relaxation) on tests of attention—and reported feeling less angry, anxious, and depressed." Read more at:  "A 3-Minute Dose of Meditation"

"From eight types of potential benefit identified by the study’s authors, those rated as most important by the students were stress relief and enhanced school climate, including through improved teacher mood. Although further study is needed, these results indicate that high-risk adolescents can sense the benefits of mindfulness meditation after just brief exposure to the practice." Read more at "Research Roundup: Mindfulness in Schools"

"Several experts likened the current state of mindfulness to the way people approached yoga a few decades back. These days child's pose is part of everyday language, but not so long ago yoga was seen as kooky or, worse, some odd religious practice. Like yoga, mindfulness is rooted in contemplative religious practice and like yoga has been secularized and is used as a complementary medical treatment for many conditions, as well as in schools." Read more at "Mindfulness mediation at school gives kids tools for emotional expression."

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Six years

(November 2010 - Elizabeth Knox Photography)


Six years ago today we became a family of seven.

It has been the hardest six years of our lives. For all of us. We share this - the struggles, the pain, the very difficult memories.

It has also been the greatest six years of our lives. For all of us. We share this - the healing, the joy, the love that was proven day after day and the family.

We are a family.


(May 2013)


My children are my heroes. They deserve this. They deserve family and hard, hard, hard work from their parents.

I talk with a lot of parents to help them learn and stay present in a way their kids need. I've never experienced anything more challenging than the person I have had to try to become over these last few years. It is hard. It is so hard.  

Ultimately, though, is not about us. The parents. It is about our kids.

Today read this and remember who has the hardest job in all of this.

Our kids have it harder than us.

Our kids did not ask for any of this.

Our kids want to do better and be better, but desperately need someone to help them.

Our kids cannot and will not be able to do it on their own until they have been re-parented through their gaps.

Our kids have been hurt in ways we cannot fathom.

Our kids deserve the insanely radical efforts of therapeutic parenting.

Our kids deserve parents who take good care of themselves so they can wake up and try again.

Our kids deserve love and loving acts, even when no one is feeling warm, loving feelings.

Repeat one of my mantras with me:  the only thing harder than parenting them is being them.

Celebrate your kids today. The fact that they still wake up and breathe. They are so strong and so scared. They are more strong and more scared than us. They are brave and weary. They are more brave and more weary than us.

I invite you to use our day of celebration (with some pain mixed in) to look at your kids in the way we forget to do. Their whole being. Their whole story.



******************************


To my kids,

I love you guys. All of this, everything we've all done, is for you. Because you deserve it. It's not about us, and it's not for us. It's for you. You are so amazing and worthy. I am so sorry that I have had many days of being messed up and human, and I know my words and voice and face have told you otherwise. I know there have been times that I have reflected back to you the very people who brought you pain earlier in your life.

None of the bad is your fault. On those days it is my problem, and I am letting my own issues spill over on to you. What I do know is that you have slowly and steadily responded to the work we've all done. Because that is who you are, in your core and in your very being. People around you did things to bury that and make it feel impossible to truly be your beautiful self. But with some help, the real you has come to the surface. I'm not surprised. You are light and love. And you deserve space to still struggle and still keep working. I will keep working to be what you need.

You are so very worth it.

You have been such a gift to me, and taught me so much about life and being brave. I will never be the same because of you.

It is an honor to be your mother.  I love you.

- Mom

(December 2013)

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Help with the day-to-day



I have used Facebook much more over the past two years, and it has replaced a lot of my information sharing I used to do on this blog.  I like the immediacy of it and the ability to engage in conversation.  It also makes more sense to send out quick links to articles on my Facebook coaching page than to create a blog post for those small items.

Unfortunately, due to continued policy changes, fewer and fewer (as little as 5% - 10%) of those who follow my coaching Facebook page actually see the content I post in their newsfeeds.

I have created a solution.  For those who would like parenting tips, challenges and ideas (and occasional coaching discounts) without having to check my page, I now have an email list.  Remember, as well, that the things I share are positive and effective for all homes and all kids.  You don't need a child with a history of trauma to find benefit in being playful, accepting, curious or empathic!

My promise is:  no more than one inspiring or ass-kicking email a week.  No more than one discount email a month.  You may unsubscribe at any time.  Easy peasy.

You will have to verify that you signed up.  So, please don't SPAM your friends and put them on the list without permission ... much less your partner/daughter-in-law/neighbor, insinuating they need parenting advice.  Not cool, man!


Parenting Tips and Coaching Discounts from Christine Moers

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Help and Support for Parents for $3



I am very excited to tell you how you can have instant access to "Chaos to Healing: Therapeutic Parenting 101," day or night, for just a $2.99 rental fee.  Since its creation, this video has been utilized by therapists and foster parent organizations across the globe.  It continues to help parents and other caregivers learn a new way to help children with deep struggles and challenging behaviors.

When Billy Kaplan and I created this video resource, our goal was to make something for parents and professionals that was affordable, practical and full of quality information based on the PACE parenting model of Dan Hughes.  We did just that.  In case you were not aware of it, we can also add "easily accessible" to the list!

For just under $3, you can rent "Chaos to Healing" through Amazon instant video.

We also encourage you to share this with your adoption and foster care agencies as well as parenting groups you are a part of.  This adds another wonderful resource for training and continuing education credits.  It makes their job easier, and it's something you can watch at your convenience instead of trying to find childcare and get to another class scheduled at a difficult time across town.  It is such a privilege for Billy and I to be adding a valuable and extremely affordable tool to the "toolbox" all of those who are providing homes and safe spaces for the children who need it most.

You can cut and paste the following link to this post and simply forward it in a text or email (or use the the email button below):  http://goo.gl/TGDhLw

At the bottom of this post, you can also find the buttons to post it to your Facebook page or other social media sites.

Dan Hughes, himself, has viewed "Chaos to Healing."  He had this to say:

“Billy Kaplan and Christine Moers have produced a wonderful video that describes the basics of therapeutic parenting. They don’t rely on special video effects to convey their knowledge and ideas. They simply sit and and have a conversation with us, with empathy, respect, interest, and a clear desire to be of help. 
First they help us to understand the tremendous challenges that children face when they are given the chance to live in a safe home with caring and committed parents, after first having experienced neglect and abuse at the hands of their original parents. Then Christine and Billy let us know that they 'get' the tremendous challenges facing parents who are trying to raise these children. 
They do not give us magical techniques or parenting cookbooks. They direct our minds to the basics: an attitude of playfulness, acceptance, curiosity, and empathy (PACE) along with the value of developing a home that provides these children with safety, supervision, structure, and support. They offer no quick fix: Christine speaks of the need to interact with your child, again, and again, and again ... However, they leave us with hope and renewed energy to provide these children with what they desperately need.” 
- Dan Hughes, Ph.D.Quittie Glen Center for Mental Health

SPACE Conference in Illinois


Once again, I will be attending and speaking at the Parenting in SPACE Conference, April 12-13 just outside Chicago, Illinois.  The registration costs will increase again on March 25, so I wanted to put it in front of you one more time, in case you've been putting off your decision to attend.

Lindsay Crapo and I will be hosting the pre-conference for moms.  This will be a relaxed time to connect in a smaller group, receive some encouragement and develop some wonderful friendships which will carry you throughout the following year.

The two of us will also be doing a break-out session during the conference.  I'm very excited about this one:

101 Reasons Not to Do Therapeutic Parenting  
Christine Moers & Lindsay Crapo
This therapeutic parenting gig is hard. When you look at it on paper, it makes sense. You might almost feel empowered. However, doing it in the moment can feel impossible. What we all discover is that we do not like it. Not one bit. It is HARD. In this session Lindsay Crapo and Christine Moers will share their real, raw stories, ways they have done it WRONG, and the things they keep learning along the way. They will remind you that you're not supposed to be perfect, and you are already doing a great job. Even when you are pretty sure you are screwing it all up.

Check out the entire conference schedule and then see if it is something you can make happen. It's more than a conference. The House Calls staff are available throughout most of the weekend for you to pull aside, ask follow-up questions and fill in the gaps we all tend to have after your average conference. It truly has a personal touch in a way I've never experienced in any other similar setting. This is why I push this thing so hard every year, and I am so proud to be a part of it. It is the brain child of Billy Kaplan, and his goal every year continues to be, "How can we better support these parents?"

I know, right? Amazing! I hope to see you there.