Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Parent of the Week: Stacy

Stacy in a word: AMAZING. Read for yourself. As always, If you would like to be featured as an Avant Garde Parent of the Week or have someone you would like to nominate, please email me at deluna.jamie@gmail.com. I look forward to hearing from you! 
Hi everyone! I was honored when Jamie asked me to be a guest blogger, although I admit I was a little stumped about what to write. What would be interesting to you, her readers? Then she asked me a simple question, and suddenly the floodgates opened.
What was the question? I’ll tell you soon, but first, let me tell you a bit about myself.
I’m Stacy. I’m madly in love with my best friend and have been married to him for the past 8.5 years. He recently re-enlisted in the Army after being out for over a decade, so I am now a new Army wife. Together we have a 6 year old daughter who is a miracle in every sense of the word. After being told by doctors that we would never have kids, God surprised us with our sweet girl. She lives with Asperger’s Syndrome & Sensory Processing Disorder, and we are homeschooling her in Kindergarten this year. We are also currently foster parents to a sweet 7 month old baby boy. My personal hobbies include taking tons of pictures, learning about photography, writing, reading,& learning to sew. As a family we love to go camping, enjoy the outdoors, and one day will get back into SCUBA diving which is how I met my Hubby in the first place. I am a Christian and a follower of Christ. I know that I could not do anything without His strength, and I am so thankful every day that He trusts me enough to raise my daughter and our foster children, and so glad that He gives me just what I need to do it.
So, back to the question Jamie asked me. She actually asked me a few.
Do you dance in the car? No, I don’t dance in the car, but I do sing in the car. A lot. Thankfully it’s usually only my children and God that can hear me and they both think I can sing well!
What surprised you most about parenting? I thought I would be the one doing most of the teaching, and didn’t realize how much I would learn from my daughter at such a young age. Also, that one-size-fits-all does NOT apply to parenting. Those books, that advice, that knowledge…it’s only great if it actually applies to YOUR kid. So often, it doesn’t. They aren’t carbon copies, they are one-of-a-kind original models!
What one tip would you give to other parents or parents-to-be? Study your child and pray to see the world through their eyes. We miss so much trying to show them stuff without stopping to look at what they see. More on this in a minute.
Then, the question that opened the floodgates…
How have you had to be Avant Garde, or innovative, as a parent? Oh, let me count the ways!
As a parent, I have had to learn to see the world through my child’s eyes. I’ve had to realize that as much as I like a schedule and a plan, that I must be flexible enough to put my child’s needs first. Not her “wants” mind you, but her needs. Sometimes that can be a fine line. I’ve also had to figure out a way to stay structured & keep a predictable routine because my daughter needs that, while still allowing for the flexibility that is demanded from time to time.
I’ve come to understand that I don’t need, or even want, to conform my child to be like everyone else. Instead, I need to educate everyone else on my child’s needs. I’ve learned to pick my battles. To embrace the uniqueness that is my child. To focus on what she IS, rather than what she is NOT.
I recently wrote a post on the Dallas Moms Blog about studying your child, and how we homeschool in our pajamas because that’s what works for my daughter. Is it a little unconventional? Maybe. Or maybe it’s just fun and cool!
Something else that was innovative to me personally, even if second nature to others, was changing the words I used to describe my child – even out of earshot.   A couple years ago I read a book that changed my life! It is called, “Raising Your Spirited Child” by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka and I highly recommend it to every parent.  She talks about how many of the qualities about our kids that frustrate us now, will be valuable to them as adults.  Have you ever referred to your child as “stubborn”?  Yet, think about an adult as “persistent”.  See, being persistent is a valuable quality that can make someone very successful in whatever they are trying to do.  They won’t take “no” for an answer.  They’ll find another way.  My daughter doesn’t really argue with me.  A lot of it has to do with being a rule-follower and she knows she’s not supposed to.  What she does do, however, is try 15 different ways to get what she’s wanting.  “What if I do this?”, “Could you do that instead?”, etc.  She’s persistent.  She’s honestly not trying to argue, so I have to be very careful to commend her for not quitting (something we teach), but kindly let her know that it’s not going to happen in any way, shape or form at this time.
Would you rather me describe you as “easily distracted”, or “perceptive”?  Maybe “good with details”? My daughter notices EVERYTHING.  Everything.  It can take 10 minutes to get down the hall to the bathroom because she stops so many times.  Only instead of scolding her, I try to redirect her or even compliment her on noticing things and then remind her that right now I really just need her to focus on one thing. 
It changes my mood and my attitude toward her when I change my words.  Even when you are speaking to your friends or your spouse about the child and they aren’t around, it affects your attitude toward the child.  Try it.  Say it aloud.  “He’s being so stubborn today!” vs. “He has been very persistent trying to get me to let him have a cookie”. 
Give it a try this week.  Listen to yourself as you talk about your child and see what words you use.  Then think about if you would like to hear someone describing you with those same words.
Thanks for letting me be a guest here!  I hope you’ll check out my blog too at www.midlifearmywife.com


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