Thankful for 20 Years

It’s that time of year – to reflect and be thankful. As the 20th year of my parenting journey begins, here are 20 things I have learned.

  1. Like nearly all parents, I know my children best – even when not using fancy words or technical jargon.
  1. I care deeply about my children – as I have seen in countless moms, dads, grandparents, step-parents and other caregivers.three-boys-in-a-tub
  1. I’m not a perfect parent. Yet I’ve grown stronger from my mistakes.
  1. Eventually, I learned to be on own worst critic – because I could become a better parent by listening. First to my children and then to others. While my children are unique, their challenges are strikingly similar to thousands of other children.
  1. Adoption is trauma. My children had a life before they came to me. So many unanswered questions for them. How easily people forget!
  1. Triggers are real. They can easily re-traumatize children of all ages. Because I know my children best, I also know their triggers. And my daughter taught me an important lesson. I can become her worst trigger, if I don’t remain mindful in my parenting.
  1. Each morning the slate is clean. Today is a new day that begins with hope – not the negativity of yesterday.
  1. All kids don’t do that. Please don’t patronize me. Support me instead. I will happily answer most questions about FASD and early childhood trauma.
  1. Simple is always better – and that includes birthdays, holidays or any celebration.fao
  1. Spending time with my children was a priceless gift. Spending time doing “their” thing rather than “my” thing brought me closer to each of them.
  1. My children can be right – when I am wrong.
  1. Triangulation – the ugly process of my children pitting other adults against me – happened. Way too often! It’s a huge part of trauma and never goes entirely away.
  2. Middle school was a disaster for my kids. We need more K-8 elementary schools where our kids can feel safe and included – with fewer teachers and rooms to navigate.
  3. High stakes testing crushes the self-esteem of far too many students – including my own. No test ever told me – or any involved teacher – what we didn’t already know.
  1. Therapy can be over-rated – because highly trained therapists are in short supply. Some of the best therapy happened at home when a teachable moment appeared. Just me and my kid.
  1. Without question, my children’s therapists did more for me than they did for them. They validated my worth and gave me perspective.
  1. For some of my kids – but not all, the right medication was essential. Along with an empathetic psychiatrist.
  1. Self-care needs to happen every day. I learned the hard way. A down-and-out parent is an easy target for most kids, especially a defiant teen seeking independence and control.
  1. I often told my kids during the turbulent teen years, “Even as an adult, I relied on my parents. You might not like me today, but you will want me around later.” No doubt, they appreciate me more
  1. When I thought my children weren’t paying attention, they were watching my every move – and learning from my example. Years later I finally saw the results. For that alone, I am truly thankful.  DCP              

    Craig Peterson publishes EACH Child every Tuesday. To subscribe, open this link and “Like” the page. EACH Child is Special: Working Smarter Not Harder to Raise Every ONE

    To follow Craig’s journey in raising his six children with special needs, click here: Adopting Faith: A Father’s Unconditional Love

    To follow my son Andrew’s inspiring story, “Like” his special Facebook page Andrew Peterson Goes for the Gold

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