positive parenting strategies and tips

As I discussed in my last post, positive parenting stresses the importance of children understanding parents’ expectations and rules. This is done so kids develop good morals and values. When children misbehave, parents are encouraged to have empathy and find the cause of the misbehavior. The focus of this post is how to implement positive parenting strategies and tips.

Positive Parenting Overview

Positive parenting focuses on children learning the importance of appropriate behavior. Parents and children show one another respect, and there is open communication. When speaking with children, it is important to use positive language and positive reinforcement.

Expectations should be age and developmentally appropriate. They should also be given in advance to prepare children for upcoming situations and set them up for success. When possible, children are given the opportunity to learn from their mistakes through natural consequences. Discipline in the form of logical consequences needs to be reasonable, related to the action, and respectful.  Consequences also need to be consistent. As opposed to yelling, parents should speak firmly and clearly. To get more detailed information about positive parenting click here

10 POSITIVE PARENTING STRATEGIES AND TIPS

 

(1) Model appropriate behavior

Our kids look to us to see right from wrong and appropriate versus inappropriate behavior. We cannot expect our children to follow the rules and emotionally regulate if we aren’t displaying healthy behavior. Therefore, it is important to model:

Understand that kids deserve empathy too- Just as we will have bad days and bad moods, so will kids. If your child is struggling, allow them to express their feelings. Give them an opportunity to explain why they are acting out, or if they are young, try to help them through their outburst. Young kids don’t have the ability to communicate and so they get overwhelmed and frustrated. It is important to help our children to deal with their emotions rather than rush to consequences. Encourage them to come to you and to identify their emotions using “I feel_________.”

There are times when your kid will have to ride out their feelings (just like adults), but other times there are strategies (example- breathing exercises, drawing a picture) that can be used to deal with their emotions in a healthy way. There also should be designated areas that your child can go to if he just wants to scream or cry or process feelings alone (parentingforbrain.com, 2020)

(2) Stay calm

I know this positive parenting tip is a very difficult one for many of us, myself included. However, I know from personal experience that if I begin a conversation with my husband or my child when my emotions are already elevated, it will inevitably turn into a very heated discussion/argument.

If your child has acted out and everyone is feeling upset, it is best for everyone to get some space and decompress individually. Your child should be told to go to a space that is designated to process feelings and help to calm down. Instead of a time-out being seen as a punishment, it should be used as an opportunity to take a break and come back together with a calmer headspace. Your child will be more receptive to having a conversation when given this time.

My daughter has a beanbag chair in her room with other toys that help her to emotionally regulate (a squeeze ball, a toy that you blow air into, a weighted blanket). She is asked to go to her “calming corner” as opposed to me calling it a time-out.

There are times when a time-in is necessary. If I see my daughter is upset and needs help to process her feelings, I may ask to take a break first so I’m in a better position to listen to her calmly. Once I’m calmer, I’m more equipped to help her through her feelings and process what is bothering her.

It is important to understand that being calmer doesn’t mean that people don’t still feel emotions. I can be calmer but still feel angry or hurt. However, giving ourselves an opportunity to process our own emotions first before speaking with another is always a good rule of thumb.

Depending on the expectations set in advance and the cause of the behavior, consequences may be given. However, it is important to give your child the opportunity to calm down first and process his/her feelings.

(3) Prioritize connection with your child

prioritize connection with your child

Children do not need materialistic things to feel loved. They need time with YOU. We all have busy lives and are juggling endless responsibilities, and I know it feels like we are being pulled in a million directions all the time. However, even 15 minutes of quality time with your child a day does wonders for their well-being. When your children feel that they are getting attention and that your time with them matters, it strengthens your bond with your child. This in turn helps them to feel loved and safe, and to feel that they can come to you with their feelings.

I have mentioned in prior articles that I implement what I call “fun-time” with my daughter. For a minimum of 15 minutes a day, I play with daughter without my phone or any other distractions. She has my undivided attention. Furthermore, she gets to pick the activity we choose to ensure that it is something that she will truly enjoy. She looks forward to this time together and knows that no matter what is going on, it is something she can count on daily. Quality time should never be taken away as a form of discipline.

Positive parenting is about teaching and helping our children to learn and grow, but part of parenting is having fun with our kids. Attention should be given emotionally as well as physically and verbally. Tell your child often that you love them. Give hugs and kisses, but be respectful if they are not as affectionate and follow their lead. Laughing and playing with our children is important for their development and it is a beautiful part of parenting (ptaourchildren.org, 2019).

(4) Allow kids to make decisions

Children from a very young age try asserting their independence. It is important to give them opportunities to have input or make a choice. Would they like an apple or an orange for a snack? Would they like to wear the boots or sneakers? What book would they like to read? The more opportunities kids have to voice their opinion, the more empowered they feel. This lessens the likelihood of power struggles. Additionally, it helps foster independence, self-sufficiency, and self-confidence.

(5) Pick your battles

A positive parenting strategy is focusing on all the ways your child behaves instead of their negative behaviors. When it is possible to ignore a negative behavior, do so. That doesn’t mean to turn a blind eye to behavior that is unacceptable. Rather, ask yourself if it is a big problem or a small one. Sometimes ignoring unwanted behavior will get a child to stop doing it rather than giving them attention for it. If it is necessary to point something out, try to keep the feedback to a minimum. Save the more lengthy acknowledgments for positive behavior. Kids want attention and will act out to get a reaction, as a negative reaction is better to them than no reaction at all. If you react more to the positives and less/as little as possible to the negatives, they are more likely to behave in a positive way.

(6) Encourage kids to be self-sufficient and figure things out for themselves

encourage your child to be self-sufficient

As much as it hurts us to see our children struggle, there are times when we have to take a step back and let them work through their own problems. Teaching self-sufficiency is a crucial component of positive parenting.

For example, my daughter lost her shoes a week ago. I often help her find her stuff because she tends to misplace her things regularly due to her difficulty with focusing. However, I realized I am doing her a disservice by not allowing her to look for her own stuff. I told her that she is capable of finding her shoes. When she started to get frustrated, I suggested she retrace her steps and kept encouraging her to look for them. She eventually found her shoes, and the look of accomplishment on her face when she found them was priceless.

If your child is struggling to do a math problem or to tie his own shoe, give them an opportunity to do it themselves. Don’t rush to step in and help. Even if your child doesn’t figure it out, they will learn the importance of trying to do things themselves. It also teaches a valuable lesson that we aren’t perfect and that trying is what matters.

(7) Find opportunities to say yes

There are times when there needs to be a hard “no,” and I am by no means encouraging indulging our children’s every wants and requests. However, when possible, try to say “yes” instead of “no.” This encourages children to respect and honor our boundaries when we save our “no” for the important matters. If your child asks for something that can’t be done at the present time, offer an alternative or redirection. For example, “I would love to go to the park! Would you like to go tomorrow or on Thursday?” or, “That looks like a really cool toy. Let’s add it to your wish list!” If we say no to everything, it loses its meaning and importance.

(8) Give warnings

We want to set our kids up for success and increase appropriate behavior. Therefore, try to give warnings to allow kids to be prepared and to help with transitions. Before my daughter has to leave somewhere, I try to give her a fifteen, five, and then two-minute warning. My daughter has difficult with directions and time management, so giving numerous warnings is helpful for her. The amount of warnings you give will vary based on the age and/or development of the child.

(9) Have patience

positive parenting strategies and tips

Positive parenting strategies and tips don’t result in changes overnight. When we aren’t using a more forceful means of parenting our child, our child may not cooperate at first. We need to understand that behavioral changes will not take place overnight. It is an adjustment for both parent and child, and parents need to give themselves compassion and understand we might feel more emotionally charged at first using this type of method. Having patience for ourselves and our children will help to make this type of parenting change.

(10) Be open to what your child is saying

Rules are meant to help our children and keep them safe, but with positive parenting, it is important to allow our child to have input. There are times when things are non-negotiable, but children should be allowed to offer their perspective. This gives them a voice and makes them feel like their opinions matter. There are times when my daughter has made a valid point and I’ve changed my mind. Other times I listen to her, but kindly and firmly tell her that my decision stands. Encouraging our children to state their opinion and speak up for themselves does not mean parents should allow children to dictate or be argumentative. However, the goal of positive parenting is for kids to understand why parents are setting rules and expectations so they can learn for themselves how to make proper choices.

 

 

Implementing positive parenting strategies and tips is not easy.  Quite the opposite. Positive parenting takes a lot of patience, understanding, and open communication. However, the benefits of positive parenting are instrumental. Our biggest responsibility as parents is to raise our children to be well-adjusted, kind, self-sufficient individuals. Positive parenting encourages parents to model healthy coping mechanisms and prioritize their own well-being, allowing both parents and children to thrive.

positive parenting solutions and tips

Not all children are the same, and what works for one child may not work for another. Even if all aspects of positive parenting aren’t best for your child, you can select which positive parenting strategies and tips work best with your parenting style. Tailor your parenting to your child, and remember that parenting is fluid. Learning different parenting styles and strategies help you make informed choices, and that is essential for parenting.

what is positive parenting

I vividly remember how I felt when I first saw my daughter. The love I felt for her was all-consuming. I knew I wanted to be a good mom, but I wasn’t sure how I was going to go about doing that. Every child is different, and therefore each child needs to be parented differently. This post will explain the different parenting styles and provide a guide to positive parenting.

The Four Types of Parenting Styles

4 types of parenting styles

In 1966 the developmental psychologist Diana Baumrind came up with four types of parenting styles. These styles explain how a parent interacts and disciplines their child. It is important to keep in mind that parenting is never clear cut. Elements form multiple styles of parenting may be used, or different styles might be used as different times throughout a child’s life (verywellmind.com, 2020).

1- Authoritarian parenting

There are high expectations and low amounts of nurturing with this parenting type. Parents use their authority to set rules and expectations, and do not allow questions or input from their children about these rules. As a result, the communication is usually from parent to child. They expect obedience and typically use yelling, spanking, and shaming to discipline their children. Punishments are used to deal with negative or unwanted behavior.

2-Permissive Parenting

This parenting style is the opposite of authoritarian parenting. There are low expectations and high amounts of nurturing. The relationship between parent and child more resembles a friendship than a parent and child relationship. Children are given complete freedom to make their own choices as there are no limits or boundaries. Parents give love and affection and communicate with their children, but there is a lack of guidance or rules.

3- Uninvolved/Neglectful Parenting

Low expectations and low nurturing characterize this type of parenting style. There is limited communication and parents are uninvolved in the child’s development and choices. Parents primarily ignore the child’s behavior and use no means of discipline.

4- Authoritative Parenting

There are high expectations and high levels of nurturing. Parents have open communication with their children and encourage verbal discourse. There are clear rules and expectations, and children’s feelings and well-being are prioritized.  Parents provide a warm, loving environment. Discipline is provided, while explaining the importance of rules and their consequences.

GUIDE TO Positive Parenting

Positive parenting falls under the umbrella of authoritative parenting.  The goal of positive parenting is to teach appropriate behavior rather than focus on negative behavior. The priority is placed on open communication so that children develop a good internal moral compass. As opposed to blindly following rules, kids are encouraged to understand the reasons behind these rules.

Advantages of Positive Parenting

(Parentingforbrain.com, 2021)

  1. Kids are more confident
  2. Children have more mental health and wellness
  3. Kids are more self-sufficient
  4. Children have better problem solving skills
  5. Kids develop healthy coping mechanisms
  6. Kids are more well-adjusted
  7. Children have more morals and values
  8. Kids have less behavioral issues
  9. Kids are more resilient
  10. Children have more academic success
  11. Kids have better social skills
  12. Kids are able to emotionally regulate and have self-awareness

ways to be a positive parent

guidelines FOR POSITIVE PARENTING

Look at the cause of the behavior

(positiveparentingsolutions.com, 2019)

When a child is acting out, there is often a reason behind it. Positive parenting stresses getting to the root of the behavior and having empathy in the process. For example, the next time your child is misbehaving, ask yourself what the cause could be. Did your child miss her nap? Is he hungry? Did something happen at school, with a friend, etc.?

There are other possible causes for misbehavior. A child needs to feel that he/she is getting attention/quality time with their parents and that he/she is encouraged to make choices. Power struggles often ensue when a child is not given the opportunity to assert independence.

Speak respectfully and firmly to your children

Positive parenting stresses that respect should be given to both the parent and the child. Using words such as “please” and “thank you” set a good example for how your child should speak to you and to others, while also giving them respect. Although parents who use this type of parenting speak in a kind way, that does not mean that they are not setting rules or boundaries. 

speak firmly without yelling.

Yelling is something many of us do as we were yelled at as kids. There are going to be times we lose our cool and yell. However, the situation will usually then escalate or the child will reacts out of fear rather than learning a lesson from the situation. When possible, try speaking in a calm, but firm voice.

There are two things to keep in mind when speaking with your children:

  1. Positive language– Instead of telling your kids what NOT to do, try stating what they should do. For example, instead of saying, “Don’t run,” try saying, “Please walk.” Instead of saying, “Don’t throw your shoes,” say, “Please put your shoes in the shoe rack.” Explain what to do as a positive statement instead of a negative one.
  2. Positive Reinforcement– Just as positive language should be used, it is important to acknowledge positive behavior and reinforce it. Often we see our kids behaving in ways that we like, but we tend to mention the unwanted behaviors instead of all the ways that they behaved appropriately. Some examples of positive reinforcement are: “You’re working so hard on solving that math problem!”, “You were so helpful when you loaded the dishwasher!” “I saw that you were about to jump from that step, but you stopped. You should be really proud of yourself!” Try being as specific as possible by avoiding generic statements such as “Great job!” or “That’s wonderful!” Commenting on a child’s specific positive behavior shows that you noticed what they did and illustrates the exact behaviors that should continue.

There are two Types of consequences in positive parenting

(mother.ly.com, 2020)

  1. Natural Consequences– If a child is rough with a fragile toy, it will break. If a child does not put on warm shoes when it is cold outside, their feet will get cold. When homework is handed in that is incomplete or done incorrectly, the child will get a bad grade. Through natural consequences a child can learn how to make better choices. We can explain to our children why we think there is a better option, but there are times when we should allow our children to learn from their mistakes. This avoids you having to battle with your child, and your child is given the opportunity to figure things out for themselves.
  2. Logical Consequences-. When a consequence is given, it needs to be logical. Consequences should be given in advance as much as possible so that a child understands the outcome of their choice. It is okay to give a warning first, but there should also be a reminder of what will happen if it happens again. Some examples are: If your child leaves his toys on the floor when he is told to pick them up, those toys get taken away. If your child does not ask permission to turn on the TV, your child isn’t allowed to watch TV. There is no dessert if your child refuses to eat his food. If your child is not listening when having a playdate at a friend’s house, your child has to end the playdate.           
Logical consequences should be respectful, reasonable, and related.

Speak respectfully when giving a consequence. There is no need to say, “I told you so,” or to make the child feel shame. Additionally, consequences need to make sense and be directly related to the action. Lastly, consequences should not be extreme, such as telling your child they have to go to bed early for a month for going to bed a few minutes passed their bedtime.  If consequences are done in an unreasonable, disrespectful, or unrelated way, the child will not learn from their actions.

Expectations and rules need to be age and developmentally appropriate and clear

It is important to make sure that your child understand the rules of the house. Rules should be simple, with consequences stated ahead of time. For example, before going to the store, your child should know to stay next to you and that they are to keep their hands to themselves. Make sure that your expectations are clear and ask your child to repeat them back to you to ensure they understand.

It is important to keep the child’s age and development in mind when setting expectations. If you have a child with poor impulse control and hyperactivity, asking your child to stay next to you while you do a full grocery shopping is unrealistic. If your child will stand next to you while you pick up a few items, then state that as your expectation.  

Explaining the expectations in advance allows kids to feel prepared and ensures that everyone is on the same page. This lessens the likelihood of outburst or negative behaviors.

Additionally, the amount of language you use should vary based on the child’s age and development. Try to keep your instructions to a couple of words with a young child. It is also helpful to get down to your child’s eye level when speaking with them.  

It is a good idea to explain why you have these rules. For example, “I want you to keep your hands to yourself so nothing gets knocked off the shelves,” or, “Washing our hands before dinner helps us to stay healthy.” If your child understands the importance of these rules, they are more likely to comply.

Be consistent

Do not give a consequence unless you are willing to follow through with it. If there is a lack of follow through, it minimizes the importance of your rules and sends the message that you will continue to set consequences and not implement them. This will only increase the likelihood of unwanted behavior. You deserve to be respected and taken seriously, and therefore consistency is crucial.

positive parenting is timeless

 

 

Positive parenting is about helping children to figure out the appropriate way to behave. This type of parenting does not take place overnight, as both parents and children need to adjust. However, when working with our children, instead of combatting with them, we can build a stronger parent-child relationship. Positive parenting gives parents and kids the tools they need to flourish. 

 

 

grieving the loss of my mother

I wrote a post about grief to explain that there are many stages to the grieving process. However, this post is about the grief that I experience daily. I experience what is known as ambiguous loss. I am grieving the loss of my living mother.

AMBIGUOUS GRIEF AND LOSS

The theory of ambiguous loss was pioneered by Dr. Pauline Boss. It is used to describe a loss that is unclear and lacks closure. This takes place because the loved one is physically present but psychologically absent (for example, someone with dementia, chronic mental illness, or someone who is in active addiction) or it can be a loved one who is psychologically present but physically absent (for example, a missing person, military deployment, children leaving the home, divorce) Both types of losses are not losses in the traditional sense (Adaptedtrom Boss,P., The Contextand Process of Theory Development: The Story of Ambiguous Loss. Journal of Family Theory & Review, B, pp.269-286, 2016) .

loss types and examples

Although people who experience ambiguous grief may go through the Kubler-Ross grief stages, there may also be an added element of “hope” to it because the person is not dead. Hope can be a good thing when you are able to see the lessons you learned from your pain.

However, it can also add to your grief when you cling to false hope.

Examples of this can be hoping that a person who is an addict will become clean or that a person with dementia is going to recognize you.

I believe parents experience ambiguous loss as we adjust to the changes that come with our children getting older. We are in a sense losing the child that once was as we continue to love the person they are and will become. This unclear loss is a loss, nonetheless.

I experienced ambiguous loss/grief when my husband was drinking and taking pills. At the time, I did not realize the grief that accompanies loving someone who is an addict. In retrospect, however, I know that there is a huge sense of loss when the person that stands before you acts like a completely different person. My husband was the same physically, but he was not the man I knew. I was now married to a stranger as I gave birth to his baby and raised our child. Having to cope with that is grief in every sense of its meaning.

GRIEVING THE LOSS OF MY LIVING MOTHER

The most recent ambiguous loss that took place in my life was when I went no contact with my mother almost three years ago. My mother is alive, but she is no longer in my life. I made a decision to terminate contact with her. As a result, I am now grieving the loss of my living mother.

I explained in my prior post that I made this choice because of the childhood abuse I endured at her hands, as well as the psychological and emotional abuse that continued to take place when she would have nothing to do with me or my child as she saw fit.  

Although I made this choice, I still grieve for this loss. I grieve the loss of my mother in my life. I may hate what she did to me, but I still love my mother. I simultaneously grieve the loss of my living mother while grieving the absence of the mother I never had and so desperately wanted and needed.

ambiguous grief

The biggest struggle I face with this type of loss is that it is harder to recognize as grief. When someone dies, there is a sense of closure, no matter how painful. It is clear that person is gone. As result, the pain and various emotions that come from this loss are recognizable and more understandable. With ambiguous loss, it is indeed ambiguous. It is harder to recognize the feelings as one of grief.

Often one isn’t sure how to process or experience a loss that isn’t concrete.

There is understanding, support, and knowledge about traditional grief. There is usually some sort of spiritual or religious belief that guides us through the death of a loved one. Jobs offer bereavement leave to give people the time they need to mourn. Mourning the death of a person is also something that is considered normal and there are support groups and/or other means of professional help.

With ambiguous loss, there is a lack of knowledge and support because there isn’t a person who died. There is not a religious or spiritual process and there is no bereavement leave due to grieving the loss of your living mother. There is a lack of support and services out there to help process this loss. 

When a person’s parent dies, there is usually an outpour of sympathy and condolences. I have never received such words. There has never been any acknowledgment of the pain and loss that I feel. I have grieved alone.

People do not see my loss as a true loss because my mother is still alive.

As much as I understand the pain that comes from losing a parent, I know my grief is of a living parent. When I find out about a person’s parent dying, I want to offer my support.  I want to let them know that I feel that pain too and that they are not alone. However, I usually don’t say such things out of concern that the person might find it offensive to compare my loss to theirs.

What I feel it is crucial for others to understand is that just because a person is alive, does not mean that we do not grieve deeply. I did not sever ties with my mom over something trivial. I had to walk away from the only mom I will ever have out of necessity. That does not mean that it is not painful.  The conflict between my head and my heart is something I wrestle with constantly. Grieving the loss of my living mother means simultaneously knowing I did the right thing while still experiencing profound grief due to that choice.  This is merely one type of inner conflict that takes place with someone who experiences ambiguous loss and grief.

MY AMBIGUOUS GRIEF WITH MY MOTHER

My mother has sent me emails since going no contact. One was to tell me she was suing me for grandparents’ visits, one was to retract that threat since she cannot do so based on the legal requirements where I live, and the rest were various forms of telling me I was responsible for keeping her granddaughter away from her. None of these emails contained any acknowledgment or responsibility for what led to my decision.

With each letter, I feel various forms of grief.

grief process model

I initially feel hope that perhaps this email will be different than the others. Perhaps she will finally love me enough to want to make things right. This is the type of hope that is common and often detrimental to a person experiencing ambiguous loss. Coming to the realization that she is who she is and will never change was the hardest thing for me to accept in my life. Each letter only makes that wound of loss deeper.

After I read her letters, I feel waves of sadness and anger. I often cry and feel rage simultaneously. All of the pain comes rushing back to me. I then use every ounce of strength I possess to not respond to her email. My impulse is to explain how much it hurts me that she won’t admit that she abused me. It rips me apart that she won’t acknowledge that it isn’t okay to say that she doesn’t like me and wants nothing to do with me. I want to scream at her that I don’t understand why she doesn’t miss me enough to make things right, and why she is willing to miss out on watching her granddaughter grow up.

There are so many things I want to say, so many things I have said before, but things I know will never be understood by the woman I call my mom.

My mother is getting older, and the time will eventually come when she will leave this earth. It is then that others will say their condolences- or will they? Will I ever be seen as someone who is grieving their mother when I chose to not have her in my life while she was living?

The truth is, we all grieve. We grieve in our own ways and for our own reasons. Some types of grief are more understood than others. What I hope I have conveyed to each of you is that whatever the reason may be, grief is grief, and loss is loss. Just as we should respect and validate others’ feelings, it is important to respect and validate someone’s grief.

Loss is a void that never gets replaced. With time it becomes our new norm, but that absence is always there, and it is never forgotten. I live with that void just as much as any other person who has experienced loss. There is no competition for who grieves more or experiences loss more, but people with ambiguous loss deserve to have their grief recognized too.

I am grieving the loss of my living mom, and I kept that pain to myself for too long.

grieving the loss of my living mother closure

I hope my story provides support and understanding to those who are also experiencing ambiguous loss. I want you to know that your pain is real, and it deserves acknowledgment. First and foremost, you need to acknowledge it yourself. The person you love may not be dead, but you still need to grieve. 

Ambiguous loss is a confusing concept, but that doesn’t mean you have to grieve alone. Reach out to friends or loved ones and explain to them how you are feeling. Do not keep your feelings to yourself, and do not allow anyone to minimize your feelings. Allow yourself to feel whatever it is you are feeling without permission or approval. I hope you show yourself compassion and understanding as you ride the waves of these emotions just as you would any traditional loss.

 

living life like a child

 

Being a parent has been an eye opener for me in so many ways. I have had the privilege of watching my daughter grow. It is amazing to see how my child views the world. Whether you are a parent or not, I believe we should all try to use a child’s lens more when living our lives.  This article illustrates the power and freedom of living life like a child.

WHAT IT MEANS TO LIVE LIFE LIKE A CHILD

 

(1) Kids don’t judge

They look at everything with an open mind and heart. They do not have any preconceived notions or opinions. As adults, life has jaded us in many ways. It is understandable that our prior experiences have shaped our views. However, if we try to not judge a book from its cover, perhaps we can embrace new experiences and people rather than judge them.

(2) Kids are curious

Kids want to learn and understand everything around them. They ask questions because of a genuine interest in everything. Although trying at times, it is wonderous to see how much they want to learn. As adults, we often assume we have all the answers or don’t have the time or energy to seek out information. What if we took the time to discover why the sky is blue? There is so much each of us don’t know and imagine how much there is to discover.

(3) Kids have endless enthusiasm

I laugh as I write this one, because this is something that every teacher has said about Brielle. My daughter is excited about the simplest of things. A balloon! A box! Having a playdate (since COVID I think anyone would be excited about socializing, but I am referring to once upon a time when we could socialize without fear of a deadly virus)! Living life like a child means being excited about all that life has to offer. The little and simple stuff in life is not so little and simple to a child. I think we all could learn a thing or two about that.

(4) They are innocent and without prejudice

Innocence is a difficult subject for me. Some children have no choice but to lose their innocence at a young age for reasons beyond their control. I grew up in a toxic environment, and therefore didn’t get to stay innocent for very long. I am referring to children that grow up in loving, stable, healthy environments. Living life like a child means hatred and prejudice simply don’t exist to them.

I remember the first time my daughter saw a man in a wheelchair. She asked me what it was and why he was using it. The man saw her looking at him and asking. My first thought was that her questions were making him uncomfortable. It took me a few seconds to realize that wasn’t true. I was the one who was uncomfortable.

I realized that if I shied away from her questions or told her not to ask them, it was sending her a message that others that are different than us are to be avoided. Worse, it could portray that differences are something to be disliked or feared.

I learned that people are happy to answer your questions if they are coming from a place of innocence. Brielle learned that some people aren’t able to use their legs the way that we do. She has since asked and learned about hearing aids, skin tags, Tourette’s Syndrome, muscular sclerosis, and autism.

I recall the first time my daughter met a person of color. She was very young and a man came to our house to do some construction. She said hello and immediately asked him why he was dark. He got down to her level, smiled at her, and told her that not everyone has the same skin color. He then told her that all those differences are what makes the world special. My daughter, wide eyed, nodded and took in every word. She then gave him a hug. I have never forgotten that moment.

My initial embarrassment that she asked that question turned into gratefulness. I was grateful that her innocence allowed her to learn something that I wish everyone knew and understood. I once again realized that my discomfort could have prevented her from such a profound experience.  The prevention of asking and understanding differences is what brews ignorance, and ignorance is what breeds hate. Living life like a child means embracing differences and not avoiding them.

(5) Kids find humor and joy everywhere

Living life like a child means laughing all the time. My daughter finds humor in pretty much everything. Her laugh is contagious, and I find myself laughing. There isn’t a day that goes by where she doesn’t burst into giggles or hysterical laughter. She finds joy and humor in the simplest of things.

My silly faces make her laugh, a chapter from a book makes her laugh, pumping her legs on the swings makes her laugh, and rolling down a hill makes her laugh. She sometimes laughs at her laughs. It isn’t a teasing laughter; rather, it is a laughter that comes from the heart. What a wonderful world this would be if adults laughed more at ourselves and found more humor and joy in life.

(6) Kids don’t care what others think

I am often self-conscious. On the contrary, Brielle laughs, shouts, giggles, dances, sings, and is herself without constraints. She lives her life like nobody is watching, and more importantly, she wouldn’t care if they were. Some kids are shyer than others. However, living life like a child means that when they are doing something, they aren’t worrying about what other people think. Imagine how much more enjoyable life would be if we all lived like that.

(7) Kids love to play

Adults are consumed with responsibilities. Kids, however, play. They focus on having fun and enjoying themselves. Living life like a child means connecting with others and learning through contentment.

Understandably, kids are able to enjoy themselves more because of their lack of obligations. However, kids don’t feel guilty for doing things that make them happy. They don’t feel selfish because they take the time to do things that bring them joy. Adults (myself included) should take a page from the kid handbook and incorporate hobbies and other forms of self-care into our lives without guilt.

(8) Kids feel their feelings without reservations

When a kid is happy, it is obvious. Likewise, when a child is feeling frustrated, mad, or sad, their emotions come pouring out of them. Meltdowns and temper tantrums are common among young children because of their frustrations at being unable to properly communicate or express their emotions. Children want to share how they are feeling.

Adults, however, feel the need to often hold back our feelings. Many of us were taught at a young age that it is important to “be strong” or “not cry like a baby.” Those words shaped our perceptions and in turn, many of us grew up burying our feelings. Living life like a kid means that it is okay to not be okay. Kids will freely express their emotions without reservation. It is only when adults try to constrict those emotions that kids do otherwise.

I am certainly not saying that parents shouldn’t try to calm a child down when they are having a temper tantrum. However, if we take the time to understand why a kid is behaving a certain way or struggling, it will help them to be better equipped to deal with those emotions. Most importantly, teaching them healthy coping mechanisms to handle their feelings rather than sweep them under a rug encourages kids to continue to embrace their feelings.

Kids are authentic with their feelings and emotions. We should try to live life like a child and allow ourselves to feel more and restrict ourselves less. Life would be more authentic, genuine, and real if we all freely expressed ourselves.

 

 

Kids are an example of all the things we once embodied. Their innocence, curiosity, excitement, and pleasure in the simplest of things are a reminder of how much beauty there is in this world. If each of us made a vow to try to live life like a child, we would be opening ourselves up to a world of possibilities.

There is a lot of pain and cruelty in this world, and I am not suggesting that all bells can be unrung. However, there are things right in front of us that can bring us joy, if we allow ourselves to see it. We are no longer children, but we can try to view life through a different perspective.

Lay in the grass or jump in a puddle (it really is fun!). Sing your favorite song on top of your lungs. Learn something new. Take a moment to appreciate something simple, but that brings you joy. Try to be open to something without judging it first. Living life like a child will make us better adults and better people.

bridgeway academy homeschool cost
Last year, my husband and I decided at the last minute that I was going to homeschool Brielle. After discussing several options, we decided to enroll Brielle in an online school called Bridgeway Academy. This article is a review of the online school and the cost of the Bridgeway Academy Homeschool programs.

BRIDGEWAY ACADEMY HOMESCHOOL COST AND PROGRAM OPTIONS

Bridgeway serves grades PreK-12, and they have multiple schooling options.

The first option is individual learning.

You can customize your child’s education with different publishers for different subjects. You are also able to customize to your child’s learning style: visual, auditory, and kinesthetic. There is the ability to choose different learning styles per subject as well.

The price varies depending on the specific customization you choose, but generally the Bridgeway Academy Homeschool costs are between $750-$1200. You can check out their different options here:https://www.homeschoolacademy.com/home-school-programs/elementary/grade-level-kits/enroll/ (elementary);https://www.homeschoolacademy.com/home-school-programs/middle-school/grade-level-kits/enroll/ (middle school); andhttps://www.homeschoolacademy.com/home-school-programs/high-school/grade-level-kits/enroll/ (high school).

The major con for this program is that it is NOT accredited, which means they do not keep track of grades or give you a report card. As a result, your child would need a placement test to determine their grade if you chose to re-enroll your child in public or private school.

The second option you can choose is the actual Bridgeway Academy, which is the part of the school that is accredited.

There are four options you can choose: Total Care Textbook, Blended program, HOPE program (which helps children with learning disabilities), and Records and Support.

bridgeway academy homeschooling

(1) The Total Care Textbook program

is primarily textbook learning. It is the program I chose for my daughter. There are some Elephango resources (addendum lessons that are online) for certain subjects, but that is the only online learning children do. You are responsible for grading all tests and papers for your child and inputting them onto their system. You also are responsible for submitting a physical education log with a minimum of 3 times per week and 30 minutes per day of physical education. The cost for this program starts at $2,045 and increases as you go through middle school and high school. You can view more information here:https://www.homeschoolacademy.com/private-homeschool-academy/elementary/total-care-textbook/ (elementary);https://www.homeschoolacademy.com/private-homeschool-academy/middle-school/total-care-textbook/ (middle school); andhttps://www.homeschoolacademy.com/private-homeschool-academy/high-school/total-care-textbook/ (high school).

(2) The Blended/Total Care Online program

is a combination of online and textbook-based learning. With this program, your child will work online for lessons across all subjects, while also continuing text-based learning. With this program, your child advisor will grade all tests and papers, but you will still have to upload their physical education time. The cost for this program starts at $2,595 and increases as you go through middle school and high school. You can view more information here:https://www.homeschoolacademy.com/private-homeschool-academy/elementary/total-care-blended/ (elementary);https://www.homeschoolacademy.com/private-homeschool-academy/middle-school/total-care-online/ (middle school); andhttps://www.homeschoolacademy.com/private-homeschool-academy/high-school/total-care-online/ (high school).

(3) The HOPE program

is the same as the blended program, with the addition of Healing Sensory Therapy. They assess your child to determine their learning disability. Then your child gets 9 months of individualized learning disability therapy 4 times a week from Essential Learning Institute along with the blended/total care curriculum. Each session is 45-60 minutes long. The cost for this program starts at $4,490 and increases as you go through middle school and high school. You can view more information here:https://www.homeschoolacademy.com/private-homeschool-academy/elementary/hope-learning-disabilities/ (elementary);https://www.homeschoolacademy.com/private-homeschool-academy/middle-school/hope-learning-disabilities/ (middle school); andhttps://www.homeschoolacademy.com/private-homeschool-academy/high-school/(high school).

(4) Records and Support- 

This option allows you to use a homeschool program of your choice (from any program), and Bridgeway will keep your records, provide support if there is a technical issue, and give full accreditation. The cost for this program starts at $950 and increases as you go through middle school and high school. You can view more information here:https://www.homeschoolacademy.com/private-homeschool-academy/elementary/records-support/ (elementary);https://www.homeschoolacademy.com/private-homeschool-academy/middle-school/record-support/ (middle school); andhttps://www.homeschoolacademy.com/private-homeschool-academy/high-school/record-support/ (high school).

ONLINE HOMESCHOOL REVIEW

As I previously mentioned, with any of these options you can customize your child’s program to fit his or her learning style. Bridgeway Academy also allow you to have several different payment plan options, which you can view on their website in the links above. Each curriculum also comes with a list of electives, and you pick up to two of them. You have the option of whether you want the electives to be graded, but they still provide your child with additional educational opportunities.
After much discussion and research, we decided on the Total Care Textbook package for Brielle. With the blended program there was too much screen time, which Brielle did not respond to well. Before you get to discuss your child’s curriculum with your advisor, your child first needs to complete a placement exam. This exam is online and is done in two parts: math and language arts. It is a progressive test. For every question your child gets right, it gets harder and harder. If you get most of them correct the test will take approximately 2-3 hours to complete, but your child can take as many breaks as he or she needs.
After the test is completed, you see the results and set up a time to speak with the advisor. During that conversation, your advisor will go over the different options you have for math, language arts, science, and social studies (as well as electives). Since Brielle had extremely high scores in math, we decided to have her take the second-grade math and the other subjects were for first grade. Additionally, there are two publisher options to choose from for all major subjects.

After choosing your curriculum, it takes approximately a week for your materials to arrive at your house.

The package contains all books, manipulatives, and a selection of novels your child will read throughout the year. As I mentioned earlier, the main difference between the Total Care Textbook program and the Blended program is that in the textbook program, you are responsible for keeping track of your child’s progress and submitting grades. For the blended course, their online system keeps track of your progress and grades.
For both programs, the instructor guide and lesson plans come with daily work for each subject. It also includes additional support/alternative lessons you can do with your child. Every week or two your child will have tests in math, science, and social studies, as well as writing assignments and tests that need to be graded in language arts.
I personally felt that the Total Care Textbook program worked very well for the most part. There were some initial struggles at the beginning with figuring out how to navigate the Bridgeway system on the computer, but once Brielle and I got into a groove, it went smoothly. Homeschool lasted about 2-3 hours every day, and the rest of the time was devoted to play time. I made up a daily schedule (that I give for FREE when you subscribe!) to provide Brielle with structure, which kids need desperately during such unstable times. Brielle is a kinesthetic learner, so having manipulatives was extremely helpful along with the textbook.

The major pros to Bridgeway Academy are that you have the flexibility to teach your child on your own schedule.

You can decide how much time to devote to each subject, and you can decide the pace for your child. We were able to finish the curriculum by the end of April, and we took off for several weeks to accompany my husband on work trips. That convenience is a big plus. Another pro is that the cost of Bridgeway Academy is more affordable than many of the other online accredited homeschool programs.

In my opinion, the one major con with Bridgeway Academy is that there is no instructor led option.

You can purchase elective classes that meet one time per week for approximately two months, but those are offered at an additional cost. You are responsible for being the full-time teacher. It is your responsibility to teach your child all the subjects. There are NO teachers that support your child’s needs or give you a break.

This year we had more time to plan which homeschool program we would use for Brielle. We enrolled her in Georgia’s online public school, Georgia Cyber Academy. It is free, which is a huge plus. They also have teacher-led online instruction, but the amount of computer-led instruction is an issue. We are trying to work something out with the teachers where the screen time will be more limited. If Georgia Cyber Academy is not a good fit, it is comforting to know that I have the option of enrolling her in Bridgeway Academy again.

I hope you found this information helpful! Remember that each homeschool journey is unique and there is no right or wrong way. Give yourself compassion and grace while homeschooling. Also remember that it takes time to adjust to a new way of teaching and learning.
UPDATE: We pulled our daughter out of Georgia Cyber Academy.  They were unwilling to make any accommodations regardless of her IEP. Brielle is now back at Bridgeway Academy.
living in the moment with your child

One of my biggest parenting challenges is living in the moment with my daughter. To be fully transparent, I always struggled with my daughter’s current age/stage of life. I spent most of my child’s life either staring in the rearview mirror or looking ahead.

I WASN’T LIVING IN THE MOMENT WITH MY DAUGHTER 

When my daughter was a newborn, I remember feeling so exhausted and overwhelmed. I had to put my daughter’s pacifier back into her mouth throughout the night in addition to breastfeeding. I wanted her to be able to put her pacifier in her own mouth.  Also, I wanted her to be able to sleep for longer stretches without needing milk. It felt like my world had completely turned upside down.  There was no room for me or my needs because taking care of her was so all consuming.

When she started sleeping for longer stretches, I still didn’t live in the moment. I wanted her to get a little older so she could communicate with me. I thought parenting would get easier when she was more verbal and also more mobile.

When she became a toddler, I couldn’t wait until she was potty trained. I was tired of changing diapers and her endless response of “no” to everything I said. I thought that once that stage was over, I would then be able to live in the moment.

Her Sensory Processing Disorder(SPD) was diagnosed at 4, and by then I already suspected she had Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) .  I understood why independent play and impulse control were challenging for her, but it didn’t make it any easier for me. 

I yearned for time to myself when I wasn’t constantly getting tugged, grabbed, pulled, Called for, Whined to, and needed.

constantly being grabbed

Despite all the years of wanting her to get older, at the same time, I cried every year on her birthday. When she became an infant as opposed to a newborn, I cried. Each time she was about to turn a year older, I cried. I both wanted to reverse and fast forward time, but never could embrace the current time.

When my daughter started school, I was a complete mess. Despite wanted some breathing room, I was beside myself that now my child had an entire new world separate from me. We had done everything together, and that was no longer the case. I cried when she went to school three days a week part time, and five days a week part time. When she went five days a week full time, I was inconsolable. I got what I thought I wanted all along, but it turned out that once I got it, I wanted nothing more than to give it back.

When Brielle became school-age, I started dreading her getting older.  I remember her eating cheerios in her highchair, jumping in her jumperoo, and holding her arms out to me and saying “mama” for the first time. Truthfully, I would give anything to be able to rock her to sleep in my arms one more time.

I am haunted by how the years seemed to fly by.

I want to yell at myself that I didn’t cherish it more. My daughter is going to be nine years old, and the things I used to complain about are now the things I miss so deeply.  It is the ultimate cosmic joke.

The expression that comes to mind is, “Be careful what you wish for.” Not only do we fail to live in the moment with our kids, we fail to embrace whatever stage we are in in our own lives. As children, most of us wanted nothing more than to get older and to feel like an adult. Once we were adults, we wanted nothing more than to stop aging. Not only do we fail to see that life isn’t greener on the other side, we make the mistake of thinking that reversing time or moving time forward will make us happier. Spoiler alert: it is not the case.

I NOW APPRECIATE WHAT IS IN FRONT OF ME, EVEN THOUGH IT CAN BE DIFFICULT AT TIMES

the present is living in the moment

I spent too many years not living in the moment with my child. I’ve realized that I need to savor the joys that come with whatever stage of life she is in currently. My daughter will never be a baby again, but she also will never be this age again. I have to appreciate what is right in front of me because the present time is indeed a present.

Embracing the present does not mean that you are going to love every second of it. Far from it. It is perfectly okay and normal to be cranky and want more sleep when dealing with a screaming baby. It is okay to have the desire to put cotton balls in your ears if you hear your toddler whine one more time.

Each stage of life has its challenges, but it is also important to appreciate the beauty of each stage.

Take the time to savor the moment when your child is sleeping peacefully in your arms. When your child wants nothing more than to be with you, remember that there will come a day when friends, significant others and the outside world will compete with you for that leading role. It is difficult and frustrating to be needed so deeply, but it is also such a privilege. Learning to hold space for both is the key to living in the moment.

As for me, I am doing my best to learn from the error of my former ways.

I strive to live in the moment. I appreciate the benefits that come with having a child who is not yet a pre-teen, but not a little girl either.

Now I can have deeper conversations with my daughter. She is more self-sufficient, but she wants to be with me and still looks to me for comfort and safety. My daughter is learning to rely on herself, but she still needs me.  

She is currently homeschooled, so I get to have extra time with her.  I still struggle with lack of free time, but I appreciate that I get this time with her.  When she went to school, I felt that by the time she got home, had a snack, and did her homework, it was time for her to get ready for bed.

Now we have all the time in the world together, and I am trying to live in the moment and appreciate that as much as possible.

Brielle now loves reading, so she will sometimes sit next to me on the couch as we each read a book. Other times she will sit with me and I’ll read her a book or we take turns reading to each other. She also loves writing, so I got her a journal and we will each write in our own journals. My daughter still looks at me lovingly and tells me that I’m the best Mommy in the world. I cherish that, as I do all the benefits that come with living in the moment.

Parenting at this age is not a piece of cake, as she is more defiant and argumentative. However, the truth is that every stage of parenting is going to have challenges. For every obstacle you get passed in one stage, a new one inevitably pops up in the next stage. The truth is, parenting will always have its challenges. Those challenges simply change with time.  Learning to accept that allows one to embrace living in the moment as opposed to trying to change it.

I will always look back wistfully at the years passed.

mother and daughter bond

I will sneak a peek at her baby books and cry at old photos. However, I am now taking the time to savor  all the benefits that come with loving and accepting exactly who my daughter is currently. I can miss who she was, but I wouldn’t change who she is now for anything. With that acceptance I have found a peace of mind that I never had in parenting prior. I cannot control the passing of time, but I can control how I choose to spend my current time. I hope that is something that resonates with each of you so that you too can live in the moment and embrace it.

things i want my daughter to remember

As my daughter gets older, I often reflect upon her childhood. Growing up with an abusive mom, I understand the significance of my role as a mother. I know that her upbringing will shape her values, beliefs, and perceptions about herself and her relationship with others. My hope is that when my daughter grows up, she will look fondly upon her childhood. I hope I will instill in her morals, kindness, and self-confidence. These are the things I want my daughter to remember about me:

(1) She received my full attention

Life can pull all of us in many directions, and as mothers we have to juggle quite a bit. However, I always set aside quality time to spend with my daughter. No matter how hectic my day was or how many outside distractions, I was intentional in my time with her. I want my daughter to remember that there wasn’t a single day when she didn’t receive my full attention. The amount of time might have varied, but we always did something together without me looking at my phone, checking my emails, or thinking about something else.

I implemented “fun time” with her, which is a minimum of 15 minutes a day together doing something of her choosing. We played tea party, teacher, house, teacher, tic-tac toe, hangman, etc. Whatever it was, I gave her my undivided attention. There were many times throughout the day when I couldn’t give her my full focus. However, during fun time she had all of me.  I hope she will remember that when she grows up.

(2) I cared about what she had to say

I want my daughter to remember that her thoughts mattered to me. When she spoke about Frozen for the 100,000th time, I listened. I listened to every single word of her conversation with her imaginary friend. When she told me that she wanted to be a horse trainer when she grew up, I listened. I cared about every hope, every thought, every dream, every feeling. No matter how big or small, I want my daughter to remember that I wanted to hear what she had to say. 

(3) I made her feel safe and comforted

I cry as I write this one. Of all the things I want my daughter to remember about me, this one is of utmost importance. I did not grow up having a mother who made me feel safe, and I wanted that more than anything. Being the person who makes my child feel safe is such an honor and a privilege, and it brings me so much joy to know that I was able to give that to her.

I am the one she goes to when she is afraid. She comes to me when she feels hurt. I am the one who reads her books about not being afraid of the dark and teaches her belly breathing. I am the one who helps her relax when she has a hard time sleeping at night. She reaches for my hand when she needs comfort.  I am the one who wipes away her tears, kisses every boo-boo, and wraps my arms around her when she needs reassurance. I am her safe place.

(4) She is loved unconditionally

unconditional love

While I’m crying, I might as well write about this one too. Again, this was something I lacked growing up, and it was something I vowed to give to my daughter. I want my daughter to remember that no matter what, she is always loved. There is nothing she could ever say or do that would change that.

When I am feeling angry at something she said or did, I always make sure to tell her that my feelings of anger do not take away from my love for her. If we have a difficult night and she is giving me a hard time at bedtime, I always make sure to tell her “I love you” as the last thing I say to her for the night. There are many uncertainties in this world, but my love for her is not one of them.

I have no doubt that the conflicts between my daughter and I will only intensify as she hits puberty and teenage years. I want my daughter to remember that no matter our disagreements or frustrations, my love for her is unwavering.

(5) Our bedtime routine

I have put her to bed almost every night since she was born. I want my daughter to remember that our bedtime routines have changed with age, but we always have one. When she was younger I would rock her in the rocking chair and sing her lullabies. Now, I read her the next chapter from whatever book we’re currently reading, kiss her stuffed animals, and then we kiss each other’s hands and forehead. We always say our bedtime prayers and “I love you.”

(6) WE DID THINGS JUST THE TWO OF US

We have a secret handshake, we like to snuggle together in the bed and talk about our day, and we listen to yoga music and put our legs up on the wall for ten minutes (it’s very good for relaxation). We also take walks around the block when it is nice weather, and we will stop and look at the lawns, the flowers, and the house on our block that frequently changes its outside décor. While walking we also like to play a game. We quote a line from a book we’ve read together, and the other one has to guess what book the line came from. I want her to remember all those little things that we did, and that they were special because we did them together.

(7) I homeschooled her

homeschool

This is the second year that I’ve homeschooled my daughter. During this time, I want my daughter to remember how much she has grown and learned. I want her to remember that she is capable and that her Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) do not define her. 

My hope is that she looks back fondly upon this time. For example, during lunchtime I sometimes take out a blanket and spread it on the living room floor so we can have a “picnic lunch.” I made up a funny song when she couldn’t remember the definition of “antonym”, “synonym”, and “homonym.” To reinforce what she’s learned in math, sometimes I’ll set up chairs around the blackboard and she gets to be the math teacher for me and her stuffed animals. She gets to take frequent breaks and jump around and “shake out her wiggles”. When she feels like she isn’t able to figure something out, I show her another way of learning it. Sometimes it clicks and sometimes it takes days or even weeks, but I want her to remember that learning differently does not mean she can’t learn. The sky is the limit for her.

(8) Our family traditions

I want my daughter to remember the hearts taped on her door on Valentine’s Day, the balloons with little notes stuck inside them on her birthday, and the decorations all over the walls. I hope she remembers how we would change the décor in the house for every season, and how she would help me put the old décor away and set up the current ones. When she grows up, I hope she remembers how we all (me, my husband, and my daughter) sat down together every night at dinner and talked about our days. I want her to remember how we had movie nights with popcorn, how we snuggled under blankets and lit a fire when it was cold outside, and how we drank hot cocoa with marshmallows. 

(9) Our Jewish traditions

I want my daughter to remember the role that Judaism played in our lives. Some of these traditions include how we lit candles every Friday night for the Sabbath and had a special dinner. We played dreidel and ate potato pancakes on Hanukkah, we sang our hearts out when we had our Passover Seders, and we said our prayers every night before bed and prayed every Sabbath. I hope she continues to have a love of Judaism and her faith helps her throughout her life.

(10) Cooking together

I want my daughter to remember all the times we spent cooking together. Whether it was making granola, preparing a special meal for Daddy’s birthday, or making cookies, we each wore our aprons as we cooked together.  I taught myself to cook, and it was important to me to teach her how to cook. She has sensory issues and didn’t like her hands to get sticky. When cooking she had to put her hands into the ingredients at times to mix  (e.g., granola mix).  As a result, she now doesn’t have that problem. We always have fun together in the kitchen, although she is never a fan of the cleaning up part! My hope is that my daughter remembers those times.

(11) Being silly together

We have always danced together. When she was a baby, I carried her and danced (and once almost tripped over my pants that were too long!), and as she got older she would hold my hands and dance. Now we crank up the music, shake our booties, and act like complete fools. We also sing together (and not well, may I add) and tell each other jokes. I want my daughter to remember that I wasn’t afraid to be silly and make a fool of myself in the name of fun.

(12) I was her biggest cheerleader 

daughter's biggest cheerleader

I was fortunate to be able to stay at home so I could witness all her firsts (e.g., first smile, laugh, sitting up, crawling, walking, etc). When she went to school, I attended every school event, volunteered in the classroom whenever there was an opportunity, never missed a Friday school service, and literally cried the one time I didn’t know the school invited parents to participate and therefore I wasn’t there.

When she took dance class I watched on their TV every class she took, watched on the bleachers every gymnastics class, and cheered every soccer game she played. I taped every time she received a new taekwondo belt and clapped (probably a little too loudly, but I clapped for all the other kids too). I want her to remember that I was her biggest cheerleader and supported her every hobby and passion. Most of all, I was so proud of her for trying, regardless of the outcome.

(13) I was her biggest advocate

I want my daughter to remember that I was her biggest advocate. When her kindergarten teachers suggested that she wasn’t capable of doing the work the other kids were doing, I wouldn’t hear of it. I took a home video of her doing the very work they claimed she couldn’t learn. After my meeting with the principal consisted of him checking emails instead of listening to my concerns about my daughter’s lack of support, I pulled her out of the school.   

I found out she could get an Individualized Education Program (IEP) through the local public school. I emailed and fought with the support team to get an initial meeting and subsequent evaluation. Then I did intensive research and made sure they tested her on all areas of concern that I had. When it was time to write up the IEP and they showed up with all of two goals, I spend the next two weeks coming up with all the goals and recommendations that she needed. They are now in the IEP.

I have kept the door open to her returning to school. We are looking into private schools, but I will not send her anywhere until I know that the school will implement the IEP completely and will give her the support she needs too thrive. 

(14) I made mistakes and I owned up to them

I actually want my daughter to remember that I am not perfect. I want her to know that when she grows up it is okay and normal to not have it all figured out. Motherhood isn’t a walk in the park, and I won’t always say and do the right things. I also want her to know the importance of taking responsibility for your mistakes, and that there is no shame in saying you are sorry. She may be my child, but she deserves an apology no matter her age. In doing so, I hope she will understand and remember that I did my best and was always willing to admit wrongdoing.

(15) It is okay to not be okay

I do not discuss my adult problems with my child. However, I want my child to remember that it is normal and healthy to not always be okay. I have tried to teach her healthy coping mechanisms and ways to work through her feelings. In addition, I model for her that it is crucial to allow yourself space to feel whatever you are feeling. I want my daughter to remember that I encouraged her to talk about how she was feeling and not bury those feelings. My hope is that she also remembers the importance of honoring those feelings instead of judging herself for them.

(16) I took my role as mom seriously 

daughter's role model

It is my job to guide and teach my daughter. From the time she was born, I have taught her through play things such as language, numbers, writing, and reading. Even more importantly, I teach her the importance of being a good person. I want my daughter to remember that my priority was to teach her morals and values, not to be her buddy. We have fun together and I love spending time with her, but I am her parent. It is up to me to let her know that she should be picking up her toys, taking her schoolwork seriously, and showing respect and gratitude. I want my daughter to remember how seriously I took the role of being her mom.

Part of my job is to encourage her to believe in herself. My daughter struggles with playing independently. I have encouraged her to be her own friend and figure out ways she can enjoy her own company. Although I am her source of safety and comfort, it is also my job to teach her to be her own source of safety and comfort too. She needs to love herself, and I am not a replacement for that.

(17) I encouraged her to be her best self

As a recovering perfectionist, I am very mindful of not instilling a perfectionistic mentality into my daughter. I want my daughter to remember that I encouraged her to always try her best, but I did not compare her to others. I want her to always strive for growth and to be the best version of herself that she can be. That said, perfection is not a goal nor an option.

(18) We always Read together

From the day she was born, I have read to my daughter. Now that my daughter is older, she reads to me as well or we rotate reading pages to each other. I still make sure to read to her every night. She is an avid reader, and I want my daughter to remember all the wonderful memories surrounding reading together.

(19) She could tell me anything

I want my daughter to remember our talks. When something was on her mind, she would often tell me she wanted to have a “meeting”. We would go into my room, sit on my bed, and she would tell me what was on her mind. I tried my best to offer comfort, advice, or just listen, depending on what she needed. I may not have always gotten it right, but I tried. As she gets older, it is important to me that my daughter knows that she can always come to me. There may be times when I feel it is important to state my opinion because I want her to make informed decisions. Regardless of her life choices, I will always be there for her and try my best to support her.

(20) Life is what you make of it, and it is often unfair

I want my daughter to know that life will knock her down. It is up to her if it keeps her down. My daughter doesn’t know any specific details of my childhood now, but one day I will tell her. I want her to know that despite my struggles I kept trying.

She knows she has difficulty concentrating and has difficulty controlling her impulses. When she asked me why some things are harder for her, I told her that life is often unfair and there isn’t always a good answer. I want her to remember that I always encouraged her to play the cards she was dealt. Most of all, I want her to know that her mother was a fighter, and that she is a fighter too.

 

 

I am sure I will add to this list as my daughter gets older. My greatest wish is that above all, she remembers and believes that I was a good role model. I hope she looks fondly on her childhood and wants to instill the same kinds of memories with her children. One thing she will never have to remember, though, is how deeply and fiercely she is loved.

 

life through my eyes

I was asked by a reader named Sarah to write a post about life through my eyes. Although I welcome suggestions, this topic is one of the hardest ones I’ve ever had to tackle. I have written many posts about my struggles, but describing what life feels like for me is incredibly difficult to articulate.

I am very much an enigma. Although I have self-awareness up the wazoo, implementing that self-awareness is challenging. I have a strong sense of who I am, but I still struggle with codependent tendencies and seeking validation from others. My personality is one of an advocate (INJF),  and I will vehemently stand up for what I believe in. However, I am incredibly sensitive, and my feelings are easily hurt.  I know I am strong because I have survived a lifetime of abuse and trauma, but I still feel weak.

The truth is, we are all comprised of a series of contradictions. Our lives and experiences have formed and shaped our way of perceiving the world. For many of us, we are our own worst enemies. We go into the ring with the sense of self that knows better versus the self that is consumed with pain. Life through my eyes has been that constant internal battle.

LIFE THROUGH MY EYES

I spent my childhood in survival mode. As a victim of emotional and psychological child abuse and severe neglect, I grew up having no sense of safety or stability. I did not know what if felt like to be loved unconditionally. I was extremely codependent on my mother, who was my abuser. It was engrained into me that I was worthless, helpless, and incapable. Nothing I did was good enough to make my mother love me, so I concluded that I was broken and unlovable.  

This way of thinking was the voice of my inner child, and that way of thinking never went away. Our inner child is the child within all of us. It is based on the thoughts and experiences that took place during your childhood, pre-puberty. Every single one of us has an inner child. Your childhood will determine the perspectives, needs, and thoughts of your inner child. Due to my trauma and abandonment issues, my inner child views the world through a lens of fear, loneliness, and terror.  

For a very long time, my inner child was my primary sense of self.

It was hard for me to detangle who my inner child was versus who I was as an adult because my way of thinking never changed.  As an adult, I still saw the world through her eyes. As someone with C-PTSD and anxiety that is often debilitating, I still felt like a helpless, scared and fearful girl.

inner child

LIFE THROUGH MY EYES: MY ADULT SELF VERSUS MY INNER CHILD

Since I couldn’t save myself as child, I believed I could not save myself as an adult. I jumped from relationship to relationship, wanting the person to “save me”. I felt that I was not whole and could never be whole due to the damage done to me. However, I thought that if someone finally loved me, it could fill that void. The truth is that that void can never be filled by another person, and I kept experiencing that painful truth time after time and relationship after relationship. I was like a parasite by creating a sense of self and wholeness from another person. When the relationship would end, I crumbled along with it.

When my husband started abusing alcohol during my pregnancy, my inner child was up front and center. The man I had chosen to start a family with, the man who was supposed to love me, was not someone I could count on. I was alone again, but this time, I was about to bring a living being into the world.

How could I be a mother on my own when I still felt so very much like a helpless child?

My husband turned to pills soon after he stopped using alcohol. He spent the first four years of my daughter’s life MIA emotionally. Even after he became sober, he struggled to use healthy coping mechanisms to deal with his pain and to communicate his feelings.  Meanwhile, I had a daughter who depended on me. I promised myself as a child that the cycle of abuse would stop with me.  Therefore, I knew I had to stop viewing myself as that lost little girl. After years of being abandoned by my mother, I came to the realization that I was guilty of abandoning my inner child as well in adulthood. I had to give myself the support and love that I hadn’t received as a child.

I now had my own little girl, and her safety and well-being were my responsibility.  

Having my daughter helped me a long way towards realizing that I had a sense of self separate from my inner child. It was my job to take care of my daughter and step-up as an adult. In doing so, I learned that I could stand on my own two feet. I had an obligation to teach my child that she is in control of her life and that happiness is in her own hands. Therefore, I had to start practicing what I preach.

I still vacillate between seeing life through the eyes of my inner child and the eyes of a woman who is a survivor. There are instances when I am triggered, resulting in me lashing out and feeling out of control. I know in those situations that that scared little girl within me feels frightened and scared, and that my inner child is reacting out of fear and feeling unsafe. I know my inner child is in survival mode because she had no choice but to do that growing up.

However, I am learning that through recognizing the needs of my inner child, I am showing her that she is safe.

inner child safety

By listening to her and honoring her feelings, I am giving her the love she needs.  She isn’t being abused anymore. She isn’t in danger anymore. There is an adult who can care for her, love her, and make sure that she is protected. After years of looking for someone to rescue me and my inner child, I am learning that I am the person that needs to proudly take ownership of that role. I am my inner child’s source of safety and support.  It isn’t easy to stare your pain and your past in the face, but I now know that my inner child deserves to be loved. I now know I deserve to be loved too.

I am by no means “healed”, and truth be told, I don’t I don’t think anyone is ever fully healed. 

We all have wounds and bruises. Some are merely knacks, whereas others are deep. Some are physical in nature, and others are invisible, but oh, so potent.  We are all damaged, but being damaged does not mean that we are broken. 

Living life through my eyes means that I will always struggle with anxiety. After being thrown out of my house from the time I was 8, I am very much shaped by the message etched into the recesses of my being that the outside world is a scary place. Although I am aware of why I feel that way, it doesn’t change those feelings.

As a result, I feel fear doing things on my own.

I feel tremendous anxiety making phone calls, going on errands, and even going to a doctor’s appointment for a check-up. Additionally, I do not drive on the highway and will try to drive somewhere in advance to make sure I know where I am going. I also have social anxiety.

That said, I have driven without practicing in advance when it is last minute, I have taken my incredibly hyperactive daughter on errands, and I have had in-depth phone calls with my daughter’s pediatrician.  Although I don’t think my fears will ever go away, I still try to face them. I will fight to be the best version of myself until the day I die.

I used to feel a lot of shame about my anxiety, and most people don’t know the extent of it. Outside of my husband and my immediate family, nobody knows that I have debilitating anxiety. However, I spent too many years feeling shame about those feelings and judging myself for it. I now know that my anxiety is a by-product of my abuse, but anxiety doesn’t define me. 

I spent too many years staying in inner-child mode, instead of incorporating her into my life.

There will always be someone who will judge me for my struggles. They won’t understand why a grown woman has these difficulties.  However, I also know that I am a warrior for getting up every single day and fighting. It is a daily internal fight to not allow my fears to define me. I fight daily to be the best mom, wife, and person I can be. I also fight daily to not let my past control my present and future.

There will always be things that others do easily that are incredibly difficult for me. I now accept that. However, I am determined to show my daughter that bravery isn’t measured by success, but in having the courage to face your fears and keep trying. It is a lesson I have to remember and implement every single day.

MY BALANCING ACT

my adult self versus my inner child

I now try to view life with a balance between grown-up Randi and inner-child Randi. My inner child will always be a part of who I am, but she isn’t all of me. I learned that it is not okay to stay trapped in the past, but I need to honor the feelings of my inner child and hold space for her. I am proud of my inner child, and I remind her of that daily.

My inner child is here to stay, and I now embrace her.

I am able to see the world through her eyes, while also noting when it is time for me to remind her that it is my job to step-in and protect her. I didn’t get the love I needed as a child, and there is nothing I can do to change that. However, I can now give that love to myself and to my inner child.  I keep that knowledge in my mind and in my heart as I view the world and my life through both pair of eyes.

the hypocrisy of parenting

Our job as parents is to support and guide our children through life. That is no easy task. We are constantly questioning what is best for our children. However, despite our best intentions, there are times when we do not follow the golden rule of treating our children like we would like to be treated. This is where the hypocrisy of parenting comes in.

I believe that we are all guilty of unintentional hypocrisy. We may send mixed messages, ignore our child’s opinions, or have a separate set of rules for ourselves than our children. These actions can make children feel confused and unsure of how they should act in the world. 

Before I go any further, I want you to know that this is something that every parent does.

I am by no means trying to make anyone feel badly about themselves or their parenting skills. Parenting is hard enough as it is. We are often consumed with guilt, which only gets amplified because of a world that often shames our choices. That said, we can always strive to learn and grow as parents. My hope is that this article brings awareness to allow some room for growth. No mom shaming is being written by me. Ever.

I am guilty of many (if not all) of the examples written below. With that said, our children are very much aware of the double standards that we set for ourselves and for them. We will always make mistakes as parents, but my hope is that we can learn from those mistakes, while giving ourselves compassion.

The Hypocrisy of Parenting: 8 Confusing Messages We Send Children

 

(1) Kids aren’t allowed to have bad moods.

There isn’t a person on the planet who hasn’t had a bad day. Sometimes there is no explanation. Other times it is situational. It may be that we didn’t get enough sleep the night before. Our boss was unfair to us. Our spouse didn’t appreciate the effort we put into cleaning the house. A person stole our parking spot. We all feel cranky sometimes.  Sometimes it just has to run its course.

Children are no different. They will experience bad moods, frustration, crankiness, and/or acting ornery. This is where the hypocrisy of parenting comes in. We expect others to show us compassion and empathy when we are feeling “off” or when we had a bad day. Yet when kids get cranky,  we usually tell our children to stop. We inform them that it isn’t okay to be grumpy. If there is a cause, we may try to help our children through it, but eventually we will reach a point where we tell our kids that enough is enough. We are not going to put up with their attitude.

Just as we need to sometimes ride the wave of whatever it is we are feeling, so do our kids. Kids are allowed to have bad moods and bad days, just like us. The hypocrisy of parenting is when we don’t give our children space to feel that way.

(2) WE INSIST OUR CHILDREN CLEAR THEIR PLATE WHEN THEY SAY THEY ARE FULL

As adults, we are able to stop eating when we feel full. Yet there have been many times my daughter says she is full, and I insist she eats everything before getting up from the table.

I understand that some kids will claim they are full as a tactic to skip dinner and go straight to dessert.  That is a different story. However, if a child insists they are full and doesn’t want any more food (dessert or otherwise), why do we tell them they need to keep eating?

It is important to keep in mind that not allowing kids to make these types of decisions can lead to problems in adulthood. In fact, this hypocrisy of parenting can lead to obesity for children when they get older because they develop an inability to control their apatite properly (dailymail.co.uk, 2020) . 

(3) We don’t try to understand why our kids are acting out of control.

emotional regulation

It is often difficult for kids to express themselves. As a result, children are prone to temper tantrums due to the frustration of being unable to articulate their feelings. They also lack the skills to emotionally regulate themselves. If you think about it from their perspective, wouldn’t you get out of control if were unable to explain how you were feeling? Heck, many adults struggle with expressing their emotions. 

Temper tantrums are grating on even the most patient of people. However, if we take the time to understand WHY our toddlers are throwing a tantrum, it can make it easier for both parents and children. Instead of trying to get our children to stop, what if we took a moment to take a deep breath, and tried to understand what the cause was of the tantrum? Perhaps it was exhaustion. Perhaps they felt frustrated because they lost their favorite toy. Whatever the reason, young children or children who have difficult expressing themselves have the same feelings as we do- they want to feel understood.   

The hypocrisy of parenting takes place when we don’t take the time to understand why our kids are acting out. As grown-ups, if we get extremely frustrated, we want empathy.  We want the people we care about to take the time to understand why we are feeling triggered. In fact, a huge part of marriage is taking the time to understand our partner’s triggers and hold space for them. Even if we don’t agree with why someone is acting a certain way, we do our best to respect their feelings. Children deserve the same treatment.

(4) We rush to judgment.

let your child be seen and heard

I get angry when I feel judged. I am sure you do too. We all deserve the opportunity to be heard. Children deserve that opportunity as well.

Raise your hand if you have gotten mad at your kid for doing something without giving them an opportunity to explain themselves. I’m raising my hand too. What if we didn’t rush to judgment and  saw if there was a reason for those actions? We are guilty of the hypocrisy of parenting when we jump to conclusions, but we don’t want others to rush to judgment about us.

Again, if your child is doing something outright dangerous or inappropriate, I am by no means advocating that behavior. What I am suggesting is that we are often black and white with our children. There is right and wrong, but we forget that sometimes we need to allow a little bit of grey. Before we jump in to correct or critique our child, perhaps we can give them some space to explain things from their perspective.

I remember a particular time I was guilty of this.

My daughter is not allowed to use paint without permission. I came into the play room and found my daughter painting. I felt my blood boiling that she disobeyed a rule. She was told to immediately put away the paint. After giving me me the saddest look, she put it away and walked into her room. She said nothing.

A few minutes later she came back downstairs. My daughter was crying and told me that she wanted to surprise me with a special picture on a canvas. She tried markers first, but it didn’t look good. She knew she was supposed to ask permission to use the paint, but she couldn’t because then it would ruin the surprise. Let’s just say that I felt like something that should be scraped off the bottom of a shoe after she explained herself.

Did she break a rule? Yes. However, I was quick to rush to judgment and assume she was being defiant. She had very sweet intentions, but I was quick to make assumptions. Had I given her the opportunity to explain herself, I would have handled the situation differently. I would want the chance to explain myself, and she deserved the same.

(5) We don’t let our children openly speak their minds.

As adults, we are supposed to use our voice and be our own greatest advocate. We are guilty of hypocritical parenting when we expect our kids to blindly follow what they are told.

I want to stress that there is a line between arguing/debating versus giving your child a chance to share their perspective. Some things are absolutely non-negotiable in life for all of us. However, as long as a child is being respectful, I believe we should encourage our kids to speak their minds. I think teaching our kids to blindly follow anyone of authority is a very dangerous and slippery slope. If we don’t allow our kids to speak up now, how can we expect them to use their voice as adults or if they are in a compromising situation?

I went to a private school that served pizza on Fridays. In third grade, I realized that they were giving us extremely small slices, yet charging us regular price. Although the people doing this were in a position of authority, I felt what was going on was wrong. I decided to start a petition that we should receive bigger slices. Unfortunately the school did not comply with my request, but I was proud of myself for standing up for what I believed in and taking a stand. Even though I was a child, I felt (and still do) that I should speak my mind.

There have been several times when I have said something to my daughter and she has suggested or said something that changed my perspective. There are other times when I will listen, but tell her that I am standing by my decision. I want her to know that I care about her opinion, while understanding that giving her a voice doesn’t mean that she dictates how I parent.

(6) We expect our children to immediately drop what they are doing for us.

I do not like to wait for my daughter. When I tell her she should get off of her iPad, finish an activity, etc. I expect her to immediately comply. However, I am absolutely guilty of hypocritical parenting because if my daughter wants my attention, I will usually tell her she has to wait for me.

I’ll take it one step further. When my daughter tries to get me to stop what I’m doing, I will get angry at her for demanding. I am in the middle of something, and I expect her to be patient and wait. So why do I not allow the same for her?

What I’ve started doing is giving her notice that I’d like her to finish up what she is doing. Obviously if there is an urgent matter, she is expected to stop immediately (just as I would do under the same circumstances). Otherwise, I let her know in advance and will give her ten minute, five minute, and one minute notice. Similarly, I will typically ask for ten minutes to finish something up. If either one of us need more time, we let the other one know.

(7) We Don’t Let our children make their own decisions.

let your child make some of their own decisions

For example, many of us enroll our kids in extra-curricular activities. Have you ever enrolled your child in an activity without asking your kid which one they’d prefer to do? 

I had a neighbor who loved baseball. He told me he dreamt of being a professional baseball player, but he wasn’t good enough. From the time his sons were young I would watch him practicing with his sons in the street. I remember one day commenting to the older son that he must really love baseball. His response was, “Not that much, but my dad really does”.

Some of us are guilty of thinking that just because we like something, we think that our children should feel the same way. We forget that our children are their own individuals with their own likes and dislikes. Just because our dream was to be a doctor, doesn’t mean our children are going to be doctors. We should not project our hobbies and aspirations onto our children.

(8) we trivialize their feelings.

If something is important to me, I want my opinions and feelings to be acknowledged. However, if we feel our kids are upset about something that we deem “silly”, we will often minimize their feelings and say it isn’t a big deal.

We need to remember that kids deserve respect too. They deserve to have their feelings validated no matter what. We sometimes fall into the hypocrisy of parenting when we feel our kids are blowing something out of proportion, so we tell them to let it go. Our kids deserve to feel that it is safe and encouraged to express their feelings no matter what. We may think they are blowing things out of proportion, but we have no right to tell our kids how to feel. I know I wouldn’t want to be told my feelings were silly.

 

 

The hypocrisy of parenting is something we all are guilty of doing.  So often, we do not treat our children the way we would want to be treated. We must stop holding our children to a higher standard than we can attain ourselves.

how to tell if someone is a narcissist

How can you tell if someone is a narcissist? Narcissism is a topic that comes up quite frequently. It seems that everybody knows a person they’ve deemed a “narcissist”. That word is commonly used to describe a person with an inflated ego whose focus is often on themselves and their own well-being.

CRITERIA TO TELL IF SOMEONE IS A NARCISSIST

Unfortunately, the term of being a narcissist gets thrown around often and sometimes recklessly. True narcissism goes way beyond someone monopolizing the conversation at dinner. It causes someone to have an extremely inflated sense of self-importance, a pattern of self-centered, arrogant thinking and behavior, and a lack of empathy and consideration for other people.

It is not easy to tell if someone is a  narcissist. However, there is a criteria to determine if a person actually has Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD). According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), a person has NPD if they exhibit five of the following criteria (ncbi, 2020):

  1. Has a grandiose sense of self-importance (e.g., exaggerates achievements, expects to be recognized as superior without actually completing the achievements).
  2. Is preoccupied with fantasies of success, power, brilliance, beauty, or perfect love.
  3. Believes that they are “special” and can only be understood by or should associate with other special people (or institutions).
  4. Requires excessive admiration.
  5. Has a sense of entitlement, such as an unreasonable expectation of favorable treatment or compliance with his or her expectations.
  6. Is exploitative and takes advantage of others to achieve their own ends.
  7. Lacks empathy and is unwilling to identify with the needs of others.
  8. Is often envious of others or believes that others are envious of them.
  9. Shows arrogant, haughty behaviors and attitudes.

NPD usually develops either in adolescence or in early adulthood. It is very common for children and adolescents to display personality traits that resemble NPD, but such occurrences are fleeting and register well below the clinical criteria for a formal diagnosis of NPD. True symptoms of NPD are apparent in many different social situations and are extremely consistent over a period of time (psycom.net, 2021)

The 4 Different Types of Narcissism

types of narcissists

Narcissists are very charming and charismatic. Therefore, it is very easy to develop a relationship with one unknowingly. For purposes of deeper clarity, there is research that labels narcissists with different types and subtypes. The DSM-5 doesn’t group narcissism into different types, but some experts classify narcissists into four different groups:

Grandiose

This is typically what we think of when a person is described as a narcissist. These people perceive themselves as superior to others. Grandiose narcissists are extremely entitled and expect special treatment. They are desperate to maintain this illusion of grandiosity and will do anything to maintain their perception in the eyes of others.  They display arrogant behavior.

Vulnerable

This type of narcissism is hard to spot, because it is more subtle and less recognized.  With that said, it may be the most common types in younger generations (Millennials, Gen Z and Gen alpha) (psychologytoday, 2020). Vulnerable narcissists feel constantly victimized because they believe they are superior and the world fails to recognize their superiority.  They prefer to receive attention from selected people rather than be the center of attention. Vulnerable narcissists often suffer from child abandonment issues and because of that they tend to exhibit codependent behavior. They will also pretend to be selfless to get the admiration of others.

Communal

Communal narcissists get their validation from helping different groups of people (e.g., charities). They get involved to feel needed, and they want to be liked and appreciated. However, their intentions are impure. They do good deeds to receive validation as opposed to caring for others.

Malignant

Malignant narcissism refers to a very specific, but less common version of NPD. This is considered the most severe type and the one to cause the most harm to others. They are highly manipulative and will exploit others with no remorse. The symptoms of malignant narcissism overlap with antisocial personality disorder (APD). To be considered a malignant narcissist, those individuals need to be diagnosed with both features of NPD and APD (verywellmind, 2019).

Malignant narcissists are paranoid and are sadistic while taking pleasure in the pain of others. Sociopaths are an example of malignant narcissists, and they are very hard to spot. These individuals believe they are exempt from normal societal rules and are cold and calculating, which often makes them very dangerous.

The Toxic Subtypes of Narcissistic Personality Disorder

subtypes of narcissism

Falling under each type of narcissism are two subtypes that classify how these traits appear to others dealing with a narcissist.

Overt vs. Covert

Overt narcissism is what we think of when we imagine the typical narcissist. They are usually the most confident and arrogant person in the room. Overt narcissists dominate the conversation and bask in the attention that they receive.  They demand admiration and charm their way through life with false intimacy to those they want to impress. Overt narcissists are prone to rages way beyond normal anger, and they may ridicule and mock others. Grandiose and communal narcissists will always be overt (psychologicalhealingcenter.com, 2020).

On the other hand, the needs of a covert narcissist are much less obvious. A person with covert narcissism might come across as shy and withdrawn. Covert narcissists are still self-absorbed and believe that they are better than everyone around them.

Since covert narcissists believe they are superior to others, they may avoid situations or tasks that they feel are beneath them and challenge their sense of superiority. They are hypersensitive to criticism and will become defensive very easily. They can act in a vindictive or passive-aggressive way if they feel slighted by another person. Additionally, they have delusions of victimization and may cry on cue to manipulate others, as well as stage a crisis to gain attention. These individuals typically have a long history of depression and anxiety and are likely to experience other personality disorders, such as borderline personality disorder (medicalnewstoday.com, 2020). Vulnerable narcissists will always be covert, while malignant narcissists can either be overt or covert.

Somatic vs. Cerebral

Narcissists as a whole are either somatic or cerebral. In other words, they feel superior based on their bodies or their minds.

Somatic narcissists obsess over food, weight and their appearance. They will spend a lot of time talking about activities like going to the gym and dieting. Somatic narcissists are very sexually active. Since they gain their self-esteem from sex, they have a very hard time remaining faithful in their relationships. They can’t stand criticism, but will constantly criticize others based on their appearance (mindbodygreen.com, 2020).

Cerebral narcissism is found in a person who feels superior based on their intelligence. They want to be the center of attention and need to feel smarter than everyone else.  They have a vast array of knowledge and tell stories (either real or make believe) that illustrates how smart they are. Also, they will point out others’ failures, and will often show a great amount of hatred and disdain for those people they feel are not as smart as they are.

Like somatic narcissists, cerebral narcissists enjoy having power over others. However, they gain that power with their mind rather than their body and charm. Since cerebral narcissists derive their self-esteem through intellect, they often lack an interest in sex.  Therefore, they can remain faithful and be in romantic long-term relationships (thenarcissisticlife.com, 2019).

My Relationship with Narcissistic Personality Disorder

As I mentioned earlier, it is very hard to tell if someone is a narcissist.  With that said, a relationship with one is usually very damaging to your mental health and self-esteem.

I spoke HERE about the relationship I had with my mother. She meets the official criteria for having NPD. I tried to (unsuccessfully) have a healthy relationship with her. Throughout my childhood and most of adulthood, I tried very hard to gain her love and approval. It took years to learn that this was an impossible task. I realized that if a person is unable to have empathy or recognize that their actions are unacceptable (in my case, abusive),  that person cannot meet your needs and/or respect your feelings and boundaries. As a result, I went no contact with my mom 3 years ago.

Over the past 3 years she has sent me several emails. She has never acknowledged or admitted fault for the hurt she caused me. All she talks about is the perceived wrongs done to her, and how I am at fault by not allowing her to see her granddaughter. She has no empathy for the pain and abuse that she inflicted upon me or my child.  Each email speaks about herself and her delusions of trying to do the right thing by emailing.

It is a hard pill to swallow that your own mother does not love you and care about your feelings.

I now understand that narcissists are not capable of admitting they have done anything wrong. They are also completely unable to show compassion for the hurt and pain they cause other people. It is that knowledge that has helped me to realize that my mother’s actions are not a reflection of me. I used to think it was my fault that she didn’t care about me and treated me so terribly. I now understand that narcissists are experts at making others feel they are to blame for the pain they cause.

SIGNS AND BEHAVIORS TO TELL IF SOMEONE IS A NARCISSIST

Narcissists don’t have many long-term friends. If you are in a relationship with a narcissist, they will lash out if you want to hang out with your friends because it damages their fragile ego and sense of self. 

Another agonizing aspect of being in a relationship with a narcissist is that they think they are right about everything.

They will never admit wrongdoing and will never apologize. You can’t debate or compromise with them. Therefore, it is important to avoid negotiation and arguments with them. Narcissists love being in control.

People with NPD value themselves over others, and will typically disregard the wishes and feelings of anyone else.  They expect to be treated as superior, regardless of their actual status or personal achievements.

Narcissists are very charming and will do almost anything to get what they want. That is one of the many reasons why it is difficult to tell if someone is a narcissist. Narcissists think that they deserve to be with other people who are special, and that special people are the only ones that can appreciate them. With that said, once you do something that disappoints them, they will turn on you. It can be subtle at first, but over time you will start doubting yourself more and more. This will often cause you to feel like you aren’t good enough and can’t do anything right to make the other person happy. Your self-esteem will begin to strip away, and you will often walk on eggshells in order to try to appease the person.

It is extremely difficult to tell if you are in a relationship with is a narcissist because of all the manipulation and gaslighting.

The most popular tactic used by every type of narcissist is gaslighting. Gaslighting is a manipulation tactic that makes victims question their perception of reality. Their behavior turns your world upside down so much that you no longer know what to believe. Narcissists are typically emotionally abusive and cannot have a healthy relationship with others. This includes romantic and non-romantic relationships. 

Do not hesitate to reach out to a professional to tell if someone is a narcissist (healthline.com, 2019). When you’re in the middle of a relationship with a narcissist, few things make sense and your world is never stable. You will not feel supported or validated by a narcissist. Therefore, seeking outside help and support is the best way to deal with being in any type of relationship with a narcissist.

I understand how difficult it is to walk away from a narcissist. However, I am proof that ending a relationship with a narcissist is possible. Remember to value your well-being and happiness. If a person disregards your feelings, ignores your boundaries, makes you feel badly about yourself, and doesn’t prioritize you, it is necessary to walk away. It might be difficult at first, but loving yourself means removing toxic people from your life.