What are YOUR kids sending?

We need to work as a team in our community to promote the best from our young people… No parent should be being singled out as the only strict one. 

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Shock horror… Another post about SAFETY… But I seriously am shocked by what I am reading and I’m questioning whether other peoples young people are frivolously getting away with communicating with their peers without any monitoring?

At what age does that become OK?

Mummagrizzlybear usually uses this blog predominantly to offload about her childs SEN/disability  experiences and the topics can be somewhat controversial if not at least thought provoking. There is only a small audience and the writing is mostly for a therapeutic release and to connect with the #virtualvillage of a support network. However, today is different. Today I want to write with the aim of the post being shared far and wide to bring fellow parents and schools together to address a growing concern. 

Our children today are ‘growing up’ with far more at their fingertips than we ever had accessible. Whatever your families personal reason or justification for your child/tween or teen having the means to communicate via technology, we as parents need to recognize our role, rights and responsibility around granting the young person this priviledge.

The 3 Rs.

It is a parent/adults ROLE to teach their young person about using devices safely. Talk and show their young person how to keep safe. Help the young person understand legalities and master the unfathomable concept that once they have ‘sent’ something it is out there forever and no longer their property! 

It is the parent/adults RIGHT to monitor and protect their young person. Whether we are accused of over protective parenting or not, we have a right to balance privacy with protection. We are caregivers not best friends. Best friends might ‘cover up’ the wrong doing of a pal, caregivers show they care by taking an interest, giving guidance and setting boundaries. Set some parental controls.

It is the parent/adults RESPONSIBILITY to ensure that their young person is operating in a respectful manner in line with rules and regulations. Age restrictions are in place for a reason. A parent overlooking these is simply communicating that rules do not have to be adhered to and subsequently putting their child at risk of being vulnerable. It is a parents responsibility to protect their own child and the others their children are communicating with.

Mummagrizzlybear is a self confessed winging-it parent. I do not profess to have all these parenting issues nailed but I’m passionate about raising my babybears to become decent, respectful and competent adults. My work role often intertwines into my parenting style. As a counsellor I’ll promote ‘communicating’ and listening and as a domestic abuse specialist I’ll advocate ‘healthy relationsips’ and absolutely educate young people about unhealthy ways of operating. I can therefore not just sit with the knowledge that young people in our community (and every other village and town) are sending disgusting messages. I have chosen however to not name-and-shame these young people as I believe that would be just as abusive. Instead lets increase awareness and talk more about tge taboo… I do believe these young people need further guidance and supervision and I believe it is our job as parents to provide this. These young people cannot be stereotyped… They are from every type of family background you can imagine. They include the children you picture as trustworthy as much as the story tellers. The children you know to be reliable as much as those who are terribly misguided. The children who have parents with high expectations as much as those who are neglected. It is potentially all of our children. As they grow, they are learning and testing out their own boundaries as well as those of their caregivers and people in authority. We need to work as a team in our community to promote the best from our young people… No parent should be being singled out as the only strict one. 

Some things some adults haven’t even grasped… Do your children know that…?

Once a msg has been ‘sent’ it can never fully be deleted

A msg sent has potentially been screen shot and forwarded to a new audience

A sent msg is no longer your property, it can be used by anyone as evidence

Harassment includes unwanted, persistent communication. It does not necessarily have to be explicitly unkind.

Bullying can be underhand and less than obvious

Abusive msgs are still abusive even if they are not directly sent to the victim of your jokes

Receiving abusive/unkind material makes you an unfortunate recipient, not challenging this makes you a part of it and joining in with it, laughing about it or responding to it makes you just as abusive as the initial sender

3 things I’m proud to see 

“Please stop”

“That’s not funny, don’t send me that”

“My mum reads my msgs, please don’t use those words”

Mummagrizzlybear has strong morals. In our household we have boundaries and expectations. We talk about it… A lot… My children, however are not angels. They are learning. I cannot possibly help them grow if I am not monitoring the things they are exposed to. Are you aware of the things your child is sending or receiving? 

5 things I’d like all parents to discuss with their young person.

  1. What does being respectful in communication mean 
  2. How to set themselves and their mates boundaries ‘don’t send anything you wouldn’t want your parent/teacher or employer to read’
  3. Things that are considered abusive
  4. Ways to stand up for what they believe is right
  5. When to talk to a grown up for help 

If you have read this post and are passionate about promoting a safe and kind environment for young people to be communicating in then please do reflect over your own practices. Think about how you are monitoring your own child’s interaction with others. Revisit the conversations you may have already had about safety and what’s appropriate and respectful. Support your young person to know how to challenge anything inappropriate and how to ask for adult help. Actively be involved with your young person and the social media world. 

We cannot ask everyone to set the same boundaries but we can be part of a community talking about promoting safety and respect amongst our young people. If you do discover your own child or their peer is communicating in a style you are not comfortable with think about your options. If safety of a child is in question, do not hesitate, be the whistleblower and take control. If its a question of supporting your child to implement boundaries, guide them. If perhaps you find that certain friendship choices require more supervision than you first expected then cover that. Where you feel it is necessary consider contacting the young persons caregiver direct but be mindful that they may not share or appreciate your views. 

In all cases, take responsibility for what you can influence from within your own home. 

What the SENCO said…

mummagrizzlybear’s poetic reflection on composing her representations about the draft EHCP

In amidst the filing, the paperwork and meetings, you can find a forceful mumma with info that’s stopping her from sleeping.

She’s sat up til 4am with a draft EHCP, offloading all her thoughts, determined to detail all the specifics that simply were not caught!

She’s taken on board advice from the SEN team, SENDIASS and IPSEA, she’s visited provisions and she’s desperate for the LA to understand her.

Rewriting her sons plan, was not a task she took on lightly, and all too well she recognized that the council might frown upon it slightly.

All that effort detailing exactly what he needs, a manual if you like for supporting her boy, that’s what she pleads.

Taking away ambiguity, cross referencing sections ‘B’ and ‘F’, begging close professionals to write supportive statements and the rest!

Then its all in an envelope, the 15 days are up, she’ll swallow deep and hold her breath and await to find out what the LA will discuss.

Again a ‘panel’ of people who do not know her son, will gather all the evidence and determine his fate and deliver this to a mum.

A mum. Not a super hero. A woman who has had to learn quickly. To teach herself the SEN law and legal rights all of which have made her feel sickly.

She took her representations to the SENCO and an advisor, who sat aghast at all the work she’d put in with no support beside her.

The advisor took her pen and smiled “there’s nothing I can add”,if the council will approve it, she’s certain this is a great plan for my lad.

The SENCO looked across the table and smiled reassuringly, then announced in her opinion ‘there was a career in this for me’…

And this statement has stayed with me far into the night, I’ve had to become an expert but I’m still so scared about this fight.

Its not a career path by choice, or a past time I enjoy, I’m fighting all I can to get the right things for my boy!

There is no disputing from the people who know him best, that I have found him the right provision but because of the ‘cost’ the LA cannot rest.

They’ll no doubt pick holes in the representations I have raised, I’m anticipating further frustrations and dismay.

When will it be our turn, to have it easy, and plain sailing? After all, all we want is for my sons education to not be failing.

No our school preference is not a section 41 and the LA will want to spend their funds wisely, but there are 10 places, it meets his needs and if you have a suitable alternative that will surprise me!

Fellow sen-parent warriors, send us up a little prayer, its in their hands, I’ve done all I can, please let the outcome be fair. 

Protecting time

Setting aside a space to not-be-ok is therapeutic and protecting that time is your responsibility

On a day that started emotionally charged, having barely slept due to dreaming about matters far out of my control, I noticed the anguish I was putting myself through by stressing about things outside of my power. You may too, know what this feels like and whatever the underlying cause, I’ll hazard a guess that if someone offered you their wise suggestions of “just let it go” or “don’t stress” or “try not to worry”, you’d probably wish you could respond with something unpleasant. Those offerings don’t help. As if by being told not to stress, we somehow miraculously stress less… If only. 

So is there any function to this seemingly unhealthy behavior? I believe there is. I genuinely think I gain something by allowing myself to suffer; to temporarily torture myself with all the what-ifs, the what might be’s and berate myself over the what I could and should have done etc etc. But it has to have a cut off point. A boundary. A time to stop. The emotional stage of ‘stressing’ allows a release. A release of all the irrational thoughts, ideas and negativity. A release of fears. A release of my most introverted genuine side that is 99% of the time concealed by my logical, sensible, hold-it-together self. Even the most level headed beings surely cannot hang on to their shit and keep it all together all of the time?! It has to come our somewhere and if we do not protect ourselves a time and space to unleash it, I’ll hazard a second guess, that the consequence can be far messier. Those of us not allowing ourselves the freedom to be stressed and overly emotionally responsive for a specific period are probably those of us driving with road rage, snapping at their kids, spilling the milk, breaking a nail, getting shitty with colleagues, barking at their partner, neglecting their self care, comfort eating, escape drinking, sending out a cold-front or simply missing out on the days good bits. All because, they’ve held it all in and not crumbled. They’ve kept a stiff upper lip. A stern silence. The broad shoulders approach and above all else they pretended they did not need to burst!

Setting aside a space to not-be-ok is therapeutic and protecting that time is your responsibility. Having a boundaried approach to this is where the power lies. If you are unable to make a start and finish time for ‘unravelling’ then you begin treading over dangerous ground. After all, losing your shit 24/7 is something you could be sectioned for at the extreme but without a stopping point we certainly risk becoming more vulnerable, we risk hurting others and we risk negatively affecting our health. 

Asking yourself some questions.

So what do you need? An hour? A day? Only you will know. 

What needs to happen in this protected time frame? A good cry? Do you need to yell? 

Who do you want to allow into this space? Do you need a friendly ear? A shoulder? The support of a stern say-it-how-it-is friend? 

Design your protected time with a clear beginning and end. During this time you do not tend to children (either you or them need to be out the way!) or housework, you do not go to work and carry on regardless, you do not respond to others needs, you do not answer that call or start deflecting by zoning in on other peoples lives via Facebook… you focus in on you. You’ll see here why its so important to plan this in. Protecting your time is not as easy as it sounds but its certainly achievable.

My most recent episode of protected time went a bit like this.

Shit nights sleep. Grumpy. Over thinking. Procrastinating start to the day. Noticed I needed a release but was just embarking on my mum-to-do-list before I should have been working from home. I was emotional and stressed and each task I started got interrupted in that unproductive way. So after asking myself what I needed, I prepared myself some time. On this occasion it was an hour. I wanted to offload, I needed a cry and a listening but reassuring ear. I muted my work phone, I pushed the lap top aside, and shut myself in a room away from the distraction of washing, hovering and the rest of the real world. My stopping time was set. I had a plan for after. I’d move on to a constructive uninterrupted 2 hours of work before squeezing in an hour watching a documentary I had been meaning to watch all befire mum duties recommenced. To begin with I offloaded with a couple of necessary but fiery emails. This was quick. I then called my Nan and cried as she’s a stable figure in my life, someone strong enough to not cry with me because on this occasion I didn’t need sympathy, just reassurance. The call did the trick. I then sat in complete silence. Taking huge lung fulls of nurturing refreshing deep breaths. I cleansed my face. I brushed my hair. I sat still. 

My protected time was done. I genuinely felt lighter, more ready to focus and less overwhelmed. I’d gained perspective and more or less rid myself of the niggling worries. Through letting it out I’d arrived at my rational viewpoint. I was back in control of me.

My protected time often gets a blog post started or finished. My protected time can be a middle of the day bubble bath or a 30 minute run. Sometimes I plan in my protected time a week in advance, not necessarily knowing I’ll be stressed about anything particular but conscious that a jam packed week will leave little time for Me to attend to me. 

Unlike so many parents, I am not sorry. I am not guilty. I value myself enough to do this for myself. In doing so, I am more likely to enjoy my time with friends and family more genuinely. I feel less pulled between pillar and post and I am able to attentively cross things off my to do list instead of half heartedly complete a task. I support clients week in week out who claim they are unable to find time for self care but then wonder why they feel so overwhelmed. So many of us are accustomed to western society beliefs that a parent must prioritize their child or that we show good manners by putting others first. 

Bollocks.

I protest. No one can look after another to the same degree they could if they first took care of themselves. Its the whole airplane scenario with oxygen masks. Please see to yourself before assisting anyone else. 

Protect your time. Design it. Create it. Make it happen. Let go. Just be. Enjoy. Then move on. 

Mental Health and Special parenting

On mental health awareness day i’m reaching out to those not yet ready to ‘share’

Parenting for the most of us, is not plain sailing. It’s the biggest learning curve I’ve ever embarked on and the only thing I’ve ever looked back on and chuckled, ‘shit, I was so not ready for this’… But many of us ‘knew best’ and became parents anyway and some of us joined a special kind of parenting journey without a choice. Now I am not ‘blaming’ motherhood for mental health issues world wide, but I am sure as hell able to acknowledge in our household, where parenting stresses have played a part. Sure, there was a susceptability to mental health issues prior to becoming parents and there are other factors always influencing a persons stability, resilience and general wellbeing, but still MY KIDS, have a lot to do with my mental health! I’m fortunate enough to have a super support network, a reasonable knowledge about psychology, a passion for wellbeing and a weird sense of humour, so for me, my journey on the mental health rollercoaster is one where at least I have a harness. Others don’t. 

Today’s the day we see brave folk all over the media speaking out about the taboo topic of mental health. This is a great concept. I too have used ‘awareness’ days to test out what it feels like to share the cold hard truth. It was my own experience that got me thinking. I can remember years of seeing ‘braver’ mums than me sharing their pregnancy loss stories, lighting candles publicly in memory and connecting over social media about a heart wrenching topic that kept me silent and isolated. I remember dismissing the prospect of sharing my own story because, ‘it might upset my family’, or because I’d not know what to say if someone confronted me to talk about it, or simply because by sharing, I might just break, and somehow despite the hurt, I’d not yet shattered. These fears kept me silent. I’m sat here pondering just how many of us are keeping quiet in much the same way about the state of our mental health. Afraid that if we share it, we might just crack, or that our families might not be able to handle the stark truth or simply that despite it being mental health awareness day, we couldn’t possibly imagine how to talk about it face to face and reveal the chinks in our armour. We’d be more vulnerable right? 

Something shifted in me last year. I noticed what ‘not talking about it’ was doing to me. A vicious circle was feeding my isolation, for everyone capable of talking about it made me feel more inferior for having not found the strength. I’d berate myself for possibly not being as loving and compassionate as other mums. The anxiety I felt about speaking out ensured that I knew I’d just be “crying out for attention” if I began to help others see what pregnancy loss can be like. Noticing the trap I was in, I made a very conscious decision to “jump”. It’s a known habit of mine when I’m faced with something I fear. I either avoid it altogether and believe me I’m good at that… Or I jump straight in. There’s no dipping a toe with me. I’m a all-or-nothing kind of girl. So publicly I joined the masses with my lit candle and my story, raw and true. What I discovered at that point was not short of amazing. My isolation was undone… Instantly. For a whole evening I connected with similar stories, unique experiences and a sense of shared hurt, but it felt good. The only time my hurt had felt good. I didn’t even know it was possible. I do not now need to on a daily basis deal with being confronted about it face to face as I had feared I might. My family rarely bring it up but I know now that they have a better insight into how I was feeling and I am still in one piece, maybe even wholer as a result, perhaps ‘sharing’ was the glue I needed.

So today, on mental health awareness day, I urge anyone not feeling ready to share, to not berate themselves, your time will come, its a unique journey and if you are holding it together silently, simply knowing that you are not alone may be enough for you today. Perhaps next year, you’ll feel a little closer to being able to jump right in and connect, even with just one other person about your experiences. It doesn’t have to be public. Speaking out can be between just you and just one other. And if you are not an all-or-nothing kind of person, perhaps your journey to sharing will be in baby steps. That is fab too. Whether we jump or tiptoe, with mental health issues, there’s always a step forwards with ‘recognizing’ our symptoms. A further step forwards with ‘accepting’ (instead of dismissing) and a further mahoosive step, when we are ready, in ‘asking’ for help. 

Reducing the isolation that comes with forms of depression or anxiety is important to me. On a personal level I see parents in particular to be vulnerable, cautious about ‘showing’ their inadequacies or failings, needing to upload a perfect family shot to remind the world and themselves that they’ve got their shit together. If you’re a special needs family, that shot may be even harder to come by. On a professional level, im conscious of the impact that domestic abuse has on mental health and passionate about supporting people to work towards a more empowered position through the group work I do. The isolation is debilitating, whatever the cause. It is a vicious circle because in being cut off or not understood you learn to protect yourself by staying clear of those who just don’t get it, and so you are more alone and deeper into isolation. By being alone, you can feed your anxiety gremlin all it needs to keep you from ‘jumping’ and asking for help. Social media can be a bitch. But it can also be your saviour. I’m still trumping the #virtualvillage card… If your support network is small or non existent, find a forum where you can expand your village. Fill your village with positive influences, follow a blog, tap into online support groups countrywide, build your village with the support you need. You have the power to undo the isolation you might feel. Get connected, but in your own way. Raising awareness has huge plus points, but don’t let it overwhelm you today. Because, whatever your issue, you can reach out and connect anytime, anyway, when you are ready, your way. 

Mummagrizzlybear tips for today…

  • Recognize what your body is telling you
  • Practice accepting yourself for just who you are right now
  • Notice the ‘good’ and bank it in the memory jar
  • Move on from a ‘failing’ with as much kindness to yourself as you would afford others, mistakes are evidence of you trying
  • Set a small achievable goal each day and celebrate what you achieve
  • Offload. Lighten the burden in your head or heart. Write. Paint. Run. Talk. Whatever works for you
  • Give yourself the time you need without comparing your journey to others
  • Work on identifying your qualities
  • Accept that ‘good-enough’ is far healthier than perfect and allow yourself to be proud of doing your best
  • Do whats right for you today

    A visit from the scary side

    Night terror wakings are something quite extraordinary, they unleash a whole other persona

    If you’ve ever encountered a true night terror, you may have met those eyes. The strange and distant aloofness with tears welling, out comes the scary side.

    A breathless scream, a shout for mum, it sounds just like my son. But as I approach, without a doubt, I’m greeted by the other one.

    For you, on odd occasions, have another voice and look. I’ve met you only once in daylight, but of the night times I could write a book.

    Holding your hand for comfort but keeping back from smothering too, I’ll call for help from daddybear as mumma can see this isn’t her usual ‘Roo’.

    Often there will be no rhyme or reason, perhaps something startled your rest, supporting you when you’re in full flow has always been a real test.

    Your tearful plea asking for help, telling me you’re petrified, in a mix of sleep and wake you’re shaking, confused and unable to recognise.

    You turn your head in that horror movie way and utter words that make me shudder, I love you so desperately and seeing you like this makes me feel a bad mother.

    Without real understanding we seem to be past the worst, it could be illness, you might now rest, but at least tonight no one got hurt.

    Those eyes beg out ‘protect me’, “I don’t know who I am”. In those sleep dazed wakings I’m always worried if I can.

    Tonight you are safely back in bed and we’ve giggled through our reflecting, but night terror wakings always arrive when we are least suspecting

    Keeping calm and low key seems to help, we move you when we are able, anything we can to keep you safe, comforted and stable.

    Tomorrow you will not recall a thing, I’ve learnt to not raise the topic, it’s scary enough when it’s happening with not knowing how to stop it.

     

    Relentless

    Autism journeys can seem ‘relentless’ … a tired mummas poetic offering to connect with those who feel the same and those who we wish would understand… but its not all bad 💖

    As I pen a post that will help you see, just what these weeks have been doing to me, I’ve got a word that is stuck in my head, it sums up each day as I tuck into bed…

    Relentless

    Some days I’m ‘up’, I’m feisty and strong, then the next thing I know a day is too long. There is this word that describes the ‘fight’; the battle that continues far into my night…

    Relentless

    Each new ‘meeting’ is a rollercoaster ride, as one professional closes another arrives. The word that describes the feeling you get as fresh involvement once again needs the ‘history’ and scene set…

    Relentless

    The quirks, the noises, the rolling on the floor. The objections, avoidance, anxiety and much more. The word that should be added to Autism diagnosis, for parents to know what will challenge them most is…

    Relentless

    I can be proud of your achievements, no matter how big or small, but all success feels undone as we hit another brick wall. A word that explains the journey we are on, to get a child help from a council so withdrawn…

    Relentless

    The frustration inside that squirms like a sharp knife, reminding me I’m a mum to more than one and a wife. That word uttered often to describe the tasks of your day. Its simple, unchanging and depressing to say…

    Relentless

    Appointments, reviews, calls and meetings, where nobody knows what we should be achieving. I’ve got a word that makes me want to cry, I must attend though I want to run and hide…

    Relentless

    To look after children with all this info buzzing round my head, hold down a job, keep a home and not end up dead, is the definition I’d like added to sum up the word of forever begging and not being heard…

    Relentless

    A bedtime story and you ask “what’s wrong mum?” As we read I wonder what this word means to my son? “Relentless?” I ask with quizzical inquiry. “Unstopping” he says and we both are smiling. Gently I bid him all his sweet dreams, and for hours I ponder what ‘unstopping’ means.

    I had relentless shaped negatively in my brain. The thesaurus offered ‘unceasingly intense’ as the same. Now I think of my love, our care and devotion, aspirations and goals and our ‘keep going’ notions…

    I’m grateful for ‘unstopping’!

    #PDA Diary day 8

    A mummabears plea to the ‘team around my child’

    I wait at the window, waiting just to see, a glimpse of the boy I so wish to be happy. Have they kept you safe today? Have you held it altogether? Did you need your mummgrizzlybear to make anything better?

    I’m desperate for the the day to come, where you skip out of the cab, excited to tell me about the day you’ve had. If I can get the team around you to understand your needs perhaps this is an outcome in the future we will achieve.

    Preparing for the meetings I’ll exhaust myself with research, writing down my mumma-thoughts that might save you and I from new hurts. I know my son can do ‘well’, its not a myth, we see him do it, all I have to do, is ensure you get the conditions that let you thrive and show it.

    Keeping my anxiety at bay, is far easier said than done with the history that we’ve so far made. I hold myself accountable for squeezing for too long, our square shaped peg into the systems round holes but for you I will be strong.

    They will hear me for your sake. I will be much more than just ‘mum’. I will be assertive and demand what’s important for my son. The taxi will arrive and we will start a new, discovering what things, I need to help make right for you.

    I’ll remain calm and positive and try not to overwhelm, despite being hungry for the details to reassure my curious frown. We can take each difficulty as a learning curve today, and tomorrow I will educate them on your experiences and not dismay.

    I do not accept poor behavior from either of my children, I do however seek to understand their challenges and support them to overcome them. Today the report might be about language or lashing out, tomorrow I’ll request the ‘antecedents’ driving you to scream and shout.

    Heres hoping that tomorrow, we will agree the support that’s needed to make school life positive and for all involved to feel we’ve succeeded. The environment must be modified and natural consequences may be key, but until the system bends, this mother will fight relentlessly.

    I’ve played with you attentively, we’ve kept cool and burnt off steam, a heavy muscle work out in the garden really works a treat. I’ll try and transfer my knowledge to team that cares in school and believe me when I say this, they’d better not take me for a fool.

    I’ll power dress for confidence, arrive prepared and well slept, I’ll wipe the floor with airy fairy responses to my quest. I need the team around you to do more than understand, they have to get on top of things to let me release you from my hand.

    I’ve kept you close and supported you at home for a long and tiring summer, we’ve mastered new skills, grown and come to understand each other. From here on in, my new goal for you just has to be, to find a way to allow you to feel safe; safe when without me.

    Dear team around my child, please hear my plea. An education is important but there’s other things we need. Make it a priority to become a friend to my son, he’ll cooperate and ask for help if he trusts you like he does his mum!