Saturday, January 17, 2015

Our Parenting Journey

(This is also cross-posted on the "Respectfully Connected: Journeys in Parenting and Neurodivergence" blog, available HERE.)

How do I write about my parenting style? It has become so intuitive that though I know it's different, I don't really know how to describe it. Yet I know it's important to, and I will hopefully find a way.

I do recognize it in others when I encounter it, such as with the wonderful ladies who are also involved with this blog. Though we are all unique, there are many shared beliefs and characteristics among those of us on this journey; those of us who have chosen to taken this "unconventional" approach to parenting.

So I have asked myself what does it mean to me to be a "connected" parent? What does it mean to respect my children and to be intentionally responsive to their needs?

It doesn't mean that I am a perfect parent, as I am far from that. It doesn't mean that I am not still learning and growing. It doesn't mean that I have all of the answers.

It doesn't mean that I don't have expectations for my children, that I don't offer meaningful supports, that I don't challenge them, that I don't encourage their progress.

It does mean that little of what I discover about the latest parenting trends, and/or what I read and hear about the "proper way" to "deal with" children with disabilities seems to make sense to me, or to apply.

It does mean that we do things a little differently. It means that we choose to be flexible. It means that we do not allow convention to dictate how we live our lives. It means that we prioritize the children's needs, share in their interests, value their strengths, and respect their limits.

It means that we go grocery shopping at night, when it's quieter. That we eat certain foods often that the children prefer. That we only attend certain schools (that are accommodating and accepting). It means that we encourage stimming and even join in.

And for us personally, it also means that child-directed play, baby-wearing, natural hair, extended breast-feeding, co-sleeping, and affirming language is how we roll.

It means that there is no place in our home for stigma, for "hating" disability, for stereotypes about cognitive abilities, or for shame.

Sometimes our family life is fun. Sometimes it is challenging. Sometimes it is exciting. And sometimes it's downright boring. But as parents, we always, always strive for it to be respectful.

I hope to share more about our lives in the days to come.



Photo credit: Respectfully Connected FB page



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