Parenting An Out of the Box Child – Part 2

New here?  Click here to read Part 1 of this series.

I. Was. Lost. in my parenting journey and I found myself wondering all the how’s and why’s that come with ADHD.  Frankly, I still feel lost in my journey most days.  Is this ADHD thing my fault?  is it her fault?  Is she just reacting to my failure to discipline enough? or to discipline too much?  Could I have prevented it?  Is it totally neurological? Behavioral? Environmental?  It sure seems like God handed me something I could NOT HANDLE and I couldn’t figure out why.

Just like my out of the box child cannot be so easily contained, no one formula or strategy will work exclusively in my ability to parent her.

My every move – at times – seems to be counterproductive more often than not.  Boundaries are very difficult to establish with her.  Consequences are difficult to not only dole out but for her to respond to.  Reactivity – of which both she & I are guilty – is our worst enemy.  Knowing which battle is worth fighting – and which is worth letting go – is never easily identified.

The truth is:  some days, loving her is hard.  

And the guilt that courses through me when I think that, let alone say it, is devastating.  I don’t mean feeling affectionate for her. Or being willing to throw myself in front of a bus for her.  I mean being willing to lay down my life in the daily living so she can know how much I love her.  And even more so how much God loves her and has a plan for her.

Loving her is exhausting.  Draining.  And more often than not, I feel like I fail her miserably.  My ugliness shoots straight to the surface in the face of her defiance. It bounces right against my tightly-stretched nerves – and I lose myself in an avalanche of impatience.  And fatigue.  And fear.

This child that wants to go toe-to-toe with me over which shoes to wear to school is really desperate for something steady and sure.  And many days, that’s. not. me.  I am so broken by this realization.  In the rare moments of quiet I am able to snag in my hectic days, I cry out to God to make me better for her sake, but only after I beg for more peace and less chaos for my sake.

And more often than not, I hear Him whisper to my wildly-beating heart that HE has a plan for her.  It may not be the plan I envisioned or imagined for her – but His plan is to take her strength and use it for HIS glory.

This scares me to my bones.  Some of the godliest people I know have a wild, spirited child who was raised to know and love God. But the child grew up and made different choices.  And as an adult, that child wrestles with substance abuse.  Crime & prison terms. Broken lives.  Broken bodies.

Not every case.  But more than I am comfortable with.  My heart is wrenched for the possibilities.  For all three of my children.

Because I have no guarantees in this parenting business.  The reality of parenting children is harder than I ever possibly imagined it could be.  And God is teaching me in this parenting journey, as much as He desires to teach them.  And to speak to their hearts Himself.  Dying to ME is the hardest part.  Dying to me and letting God become my child’s steady and sure is like watching her climb a tightrope a bajillion feet above the ground with no {apparent} safety net.  And it is as much a test of my FAITH as a test of my love.

I don’t always know what that means.  I don’t always know what it looks like.  I don’t know what it will look like 10 minutes from now, let alone 10 years from now.  I want a formula that FIXES our problem.  But there isn’t one.

I just know that I have to desperately lean harder into God so she can see that He is MY steady and sure, too.  That in my weakness, HE is where I go.  He is where I turn. And He is always there for me, even when I fail.  It is exquisitely painful.  To be broken out in front of my children.  And when I struggle to yield to Him, it is even more painful for them.

I get Sarah Mae’s statement:

ultimately, the most important thing is laying our children at the foot of the cross and praying that Jesus will call them to Him.

And there is the ultimate sacrifice in parenting.  Not learning methods or means to raise a child, but learning how to lay each child down at the foot of the Cross and LEAVE her there to hear the Savior’s call…

Do you struggle in parenting an Out-of-the-Box-Child?

Parenting An Out of the Box Child – Part 1

My friend, Christie, recently posted a (long) list of books on Facebook that she is reading during the month of April.  She was doing it to request a little bit of accountability.  She got some encouragement.  She got some criticism.  But she listed the book, Desperate: Hope for the Mom Who Needs to Breathe by Sarah Mae & Sally Clarkson – and I told her I would read along with her. I’ve read it before and even posted a review, but as I began reading it again today and this evening, I couldn’t believe how much differently I could relate to it now from the first time I read it. I had many lines and sentences highlighted already.  But then I came across a section that just rang SO TRUE with me.  The phrase that started it all was “out of the box child.”

I totally related to that phrase.  And it made me think about “the box” and what that represents, which made me think about a Jack-In-The-Box.  The thing about a Jack-in-the-Box is that it is fairly predictable.  You turn the handle on the side, the melody plays, and just at the right moment, up pops Jack with a loud bang, generally to the amusement of most people.

With an Out-of-the-Box child, though, things are very different.  And Life is NOT like a childhood toy.  It is not always so easy, not so predictable.  And some children are born just fresh

Out of the Box.

Me?  I’ve got 2 of them.  Well, 2 so far.

My oldest girl, my sunshine girl – she was born bright & bubbly.  Smiles a mile wide. Happy go lucky.  Sweet natured, yet determined.

My youngest girl, was born just as beautiful, but less bubbly & bright.  She smiled & laughed, but she also screamed for 2 hours at a time.  Sometimes just with ME, and not anybody else.  She is my sensitive soul.  Sensory-soul. The one who feels like she is going to explode if her socks don’t feel right.  If music is too loud.  If anybody in our family is upset about anything.  My husband & I decided early on, that our #2 girl was always outside-the-box.  It’s how she operates.  If you say the sky is blue, she sees it a different color.  Not to be disagreeable, but because she sees a different color.  She would prefer to dance around the dinner table as she eats.  She doesn’t mind getting down in the dirt to love on a pet.

When you live in a “Stay-In-The-Box” world, it can be really hard to be an Out of the Box kind of kid.  or her parents.  Let me be clear, I am not complaining. We have likened her somewhat to the character “Phoebe” on that show we used to watch called FRIENDS.

But a few years ago, our sweet, spirited, outgoing #1 girl – became defiant, loud, chaotic, angry, uncooperative, fearful, withdrawn.

I was not so prepared for this change.

Fairly quickly, her dad recognized some of the behaviors and changes, and eventually she was assessed and diagnosed with ADHD.  This was, of course, after one pediatrician told us he didn’t “believe in ADHD and that it was really a discipline problem.”

huh.  discipline problem = parenting problem, right?

We adapted our parenting skills and strategies, and watched her grades start to slip.  Watched her attitude shift.  And watched her body react to the stress she was feeling.  She was unable to focus.  She was unable to communicate her feelings with words.  She became angrier and we became more frustrated and it was a vicious cycle.

The next pediatrician quickly assessed her and acknowledged her ADHD and we began a journey with medications and varying parenting skills & strategies – that would often work well one day and then not-so-well the next.  My husband, being more educated and practiced in the parenting strategies, has had to coach me (and still coaches me) as much as parent our child because I have been at a complete loss.  I was desperate to help her but didn’t know how and I felt like every day I was losing her more and more.

And I have struggled to put into words this journey – both because I didn’t want to embarrass my child and because I had not yet mastered my ability to parent her…  I didn’t want to air “dirty laundry” and yet I felt alone in so much of this and I didn’t know how to even wrap my head around most days.  Can I tell you that just writing this so far, has really given me courage to keep writing.

So I will.  I will write and share this journey.  Because it is important.  And I am most likely not the only parent who feels this way about parenting an out of the box child

{I will continue this series in my next post.  You can sign up to receive my posts by email in the sidebar!}

Natural Options for ADHD {Naturally Tuesday}

I’ve been spending a lot of time researching naturally-derived alternatives for a variety of things for my home & family – both medically, nutritionally, chemically, etc.  If you know me or have followed my blog for awhile, you know I have had a history of finding alternatives that use less chemicals and more naturally-derived ingredients.  It is a journey.  I am not a crunchy gal per se, but I definitely want to be a healthier gal and provide a healthier home for my family.  So, I’m launching Naturally Tuesday, where I will write about this journey, my discoveries, my questions, and changes I make.  If I write about this subject, it will be on Naturally Tuesday posts!

Due to some recent changes in our family’s insurance, the meds that our girls have been using for several months are no longer covered.  AT. ALL.   Our girls have been using meds for their ADHD mainly to help them in school and to be able to work through homework without a lot of challenges.  The surprise change to prescription benefits left Roy & I flustered, and our kids dealing with a sudden medication change.

It has been a pretty difficult and challenging experience, despite my husband’s familiarity with medications and their effects, as well as my experience working in the insurance industry.  I spent hours looking through our insurance benefits to see which medications would be covered, which ones wouldn’t, and all the alternatives the insurance suggested.  ugh.

In addition to researching the insurance benefits, I also began researching alternative options for medications.  There are ways to approach the physiological and emotional aspects of ADHD with things other than medication, but since some people don’t even believe in ADHD, there is a LOT of conflict and misinformation.

Through this research, I read several articles and blog posts that recommended a few options like using essential oils, going gluten-free, and adding Omega-3’s to the daily diet.  There are also supplements designed specifically for ADHD, and essential oils and EO blends that are also designed for both the hyperactivity and challenge in focus that is present for many kids with ADHD.  All these suggestions are in addition to behavior modification / disciplinary practices, which even some doctors think is the only REAL option for handling ADHD.

WHATEVER.

We started adding Omega-3s for the girls and honestly, we have seen a difference in their behavior.   It seems as though they are calmer, even with the drastic change in medication.  The medication change happened first, but we were seeing some rebounding effect.  It does seem that the Omega-3s have reduced this rebound effect.  Despite the capsules’ very large size, Curly is actually excited about taking them and I think she feels better for doing so.

We have also been using some Essential Oils (EOs).  Frankincense and Lavender, individually or used together, have had an almost immediate settling effect.  It has taken some practice figuring out that simply applying it to the soles of their feet, and big toes, brings quick relief.  I have used these oils in a diffuser in the room where we are spending time – or doing homework – and it has really helped.  My research indicates that other oils also help with the symptoms of ADHD and I will be trying some of them, too.

NOTES:

  • When applying EOs to children, it is recommended to dilute the oils with a carrier oil like olive oil, fractionated coconut oil, or almond oil (just examples).  Using 2-3 drops of an essential oil along with 10-30 drops of a carrier oil (depending on the EO used) does not reduce the strength of the EO, it just stretches it out!
  • Some essential oils are “hot” and can actually burn the skin when applied directly, so using it with a carrier oil is necessary.  It’s important to learn about EOs and how they can be used, and children usually require some dilution simply because their skin is more sensitive.
  • EOs come from plants, so if you have allergies to specific plants, it is best to avoid their EOs.  Just because they are naturally derived, does not mean you can’t have an allergic reaction.  Using EOs requires some self-education and awareness.

Going Gluten-free is going to be a whole different journey, but one that I am starting to prepare to take.  It requires a different pantry and ingredients for cooking, so will take longer to implement, but we are moving in that direction.

While we navigate the muddy waters of insurance coverage and exclusions, I’m really thankful for some natural alternatives which are even more cost effective.

Disclaimer:  I am NOT a physician.  I am a mom who wants to do what’s best for her kids.  I cannot diagnose or treat any medical or mental health conditions.  I can only share the experiences I have as a wife and mom trying to provide a healthier life for her family.  If you or your children have any medical issues, please consult with your primary care physician.  The EOs I use are doTerra brand, but I am not a representative for them, and I am researching a LOT about essential oils in general, not just one brand or company, because I want to know more about them.  Just like medications, essential oils can have adverse reactions and side effects.  I just prefer to find more naturally-derived products as opposed to synthetic.