Parenting an Out of the Box Child – Intro

When you first become a parent, it is natural to have hopes and dreams for your child.  Some of those hopes and dreams guide decisions and choices as a parent, and some of those hopes and dreams fade away.

Once we get to know that tiny bundle that comes home with us – hopefully, we learn how to adapt our personalities, bents, and inclinations to the personalities, bents, and inclinations God has given our children.

Being a parent is hard.  Parenting an Out of the Box Child, though, can present a whole different horizon than ever imagined.

An Out of the Box Child, for my intent and purposes, includes a child who might:

  • Be labeled “Strong Willed” or a “Discipline problem”
  • Be Diagnosed with a neurological condition such as ADHD, Asperger’s or Autism
  • Have a physical condition which presents challenges in the regular activities of daily living
  • Just like to dance on the outside of any regular or “normal” lines that are deemed acceptable in general

An Out of the Box Child may or may not have any specific condition, but may just flutter or charge through life with an outlook that completely puzzles, overwhelms, or mystifies his/her parents, teachers, siblings, and others.

God has created a whole wide range of personalities.  I’ve seen them categorized into 4 broad generalizations (choleric, sanguine, melancholy, and phlegmatic, for example).  I’ve also seen them arranged in a more detailed list including up to 16 psychological types (In this case, I am an ENFP).  Even this is just a reflection of parts of me, and does not define me as an individual…

The idea is that we are each individuals with strengths and weaknesses, flaws and virtues, styles and preferences.  When we marry, it can be a challenge to meld those individuals together in a peaceful life of harmony.  And when those two individuals are blessed with a child – who looks like one and acts “just like” the other (or both), it becomes a whole different challenge to parent that child well.

With love and fairness. Without unrealistic expectations or unfair demands.  With a desire to train them to know and love God, while understanding the individual personality and responding accordingly.

That would explain the thousands upon thousands of books with parenting advice, parenting plans, parenting styles, and stories of parenting “failures” and “successes.”  But I am still early on in my journey and although I have learned a lot – I still have so much to learn.

Parenting is about being who I am and becoming who I need to be in relationship to each child God gives me.  Parenting is about each individual God has blessed me with to raise – as both an opportunity to bless and be blessed in this relationship.  And to bring blessing to the world.

I was inspired to write about this topic by reading Sarah Mae’s Desperate: Hope for the Mom Who Needs to Breathe again.  And then after I wrote this (but before this post was actually published), I read Sally Clarkson’s blog post about her son Nathan and smiled because it is exactly WHY I am writing this…

I will have more posts on this topic next THIS week.  (Really.  They are written.  And scheduled).  And will continue to write about this subject because it is part of the journey God has led me on, and I know I am not alone…

Adopting a Gluten-Free Diet {Naturally Tuesdays}

There is always hype about some new diet fad, isn’t there?  Whether it’s a certain metabolic-affecting supplement, or specific food plan, or exercise videos – there is always a lot of attention and some people like to jump on board every new wagon that comes along.

ahem.

I know that much attention has been given to gluten-free eating.  And for good reason.  Celiac disease can cause a lot of painful, uncomfortable symptoms and has an effect on the nutritional effects of the food that is eaten.  But other people just have sensitivities to gluten and find that eating less gluten is better for them.

Why Gluten?

Gluten is what causes grain-based doughs to become elastic.  It is a combination of two proteins, and is found in wheat, specifically.  It can also be found in rye and barley, and is produced in so many of the common foods we buy at the grocery store.

When people who have celiac eat gluten, their body immediately begins an immune response that can prevent the absorption of the nutritional elements in food.  They might as well eat cardboard (blecch!).  The food they eat – even whole grained food – actually causes their body to NOT reap the benefits of eating and fueling the body!  Because we live in a modern world with so many pre-packaged foods, gluten is very commonplace, and many people who have to avoid or reduce their gluten intake have had to adjust their eating and go back to more whole foods.

Gluten & ADHD

People are beginning to see a link between gluten sensitivity and increased symptoms of ADHD and other developmental disorders.   Scientists are still studying this link, but parents who decide to limit or eliminate gluten in their children with ADHD report a reduction in the behavioral symptoms of the disorder.

An interesting link to this particular aspect of gluten-free eating, also suggests that a casein-free diet be incorporated as well.  This means wheat based and milk based products may have detrimental effects on a child with ADHD, Autism, or other developmental disorders.

The more I read about these things, the more evidence I find to support a change in my family’s eating habits.  With our ADHD, eczema, and even some characteristics of the autism spectrum in one or more of our children (no diagnosis has been made and probably will not be, as the criteria is not entirely met [*see my note at the end of this post if you are concerned about what I am writing about my kids here]), I am finding more reasons to commit to a gluten-free way of life.

Going Gluten Free

But can I tell you this?  I already struggle with menus & meal planning.  It is OVERWHELMING to me to think about having to avoid wheat or dairy altogether.  Due to Little Man’s lactose intolerance, we always have lactose-free milk in our house.  But casein and lactose are 2 different elements of milk, so the thought of eliminating ALL milk in our house is kinda challenging.

WE. LOVE. CHEESE.  And yogurt.  And ice cream.  And butter.  and most alternatives I’ve ever tasted are well, disgusting!

Our other factor here, is the fact that Little Man has to watch how much rice he eats, due to the nature of his Hirschprung’s disease.  Rice is one of the most common alternatives to wheat when looking at a gluten-free way of living.

So, what this really boils down to is going to back to a whole foods way of life.  Fewer pre-packaged foods.  Fewer quick meals thrown together from a box.  More vegetables.  Select grains.

And since I LOVE to bake, it means replacing the easily-found and less-expensive wheat based flour with other flours which typically cost more.  Which again means simpler eating all the way around.

I know there are a lot of ways to eat out there – and gluten free is only one part of that.  But for the health of my family and myself, it’s something I have to seriously consider and learn how to manage.  I’m glad the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle included information about gluten-free meals.  I am also considering buying the current “bundle of the week” which is all about Gluten-Free eating (the ad is in the sidebar for you to sign up for a newsletter to the Bundle of the Week if you are interested in that at all.  If you subscribe and buy a bundle, I’ll get a little bit of change to buy a cup of coffee.  Which of course, IS gluten-free!!!)

Do any of you eat gluten-free (whether out of necessity or choice)?  How has your journey been?  Please feel free to share in the comments below!

*Okay, so on a personal note, I’m going to talk about Autism (which includes Asperger’s syndrome and Pervasive Developmental Disorder) here.  We have actually had one of our children briefly assessed for Autism/Asperger’s by a physician.  Roy is a therapist licensed to diagnose such disorders, and I have studied autism and disorders of the autism spectrum.  We both had enough concern that we felt s/he should be assessed.  Because our child does not meet ALL the necessary criteria for autism s/he  cannot be diagnosed as such.  However, when a child meets 3-4 out of 5 criteria, s/he can be considered to have “features” of autism.  That’s where our child falls.  S/He is a brilliant child with some quirks, but Roy & I both notice how dietary intake has an effect on the symptoms of ADHD/autism and a change in our regular diet is going to become necessary for all of us.