Posts for parent education

Parenting While Human, OR Things I Tell Myself When My Kid Throws a Fit in Public

Self-care - Allison Kenny - September 14, 2016

You know the moment. When your child’s eyes glaze over and they gear themselves up to throw an epic fit in Target…in the grocery store…at a friend’s house…on an airplane…and there you are: heat rising up the back of your neck, cheeks flushed and mind racing as all eyes turn on you. What’s she going to do? The adults nearby want to know. What’s Mommy gonna do? Your kid wants to know. What am I going to do? You want to know too.

These moments are the stuff mothering is made of. What happens next? For me, my thoughts turn quickly into action, so I’ve learned to pay attention to what I tell myself during tense parenting moments, especially when I’m in public.

Wanna know the things I say to myself when I’m embarrassed about my mothering in public? Check out the post I wrote for Rookie Moms  this week! So honored I got to be a guest writer on this awesome site and give an adoptive mama’s perspective.

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Dear Kids at School

Forever Family, Go Girl! - Allison Kenny - August 30, 2016

Dear Kids at School,

I know that when you see my little girl, you notice all the ways she is different from you. You see her glasses and her funny walk. You notice that she talks fast and loud, that she grabs the stuff from your hands without asking, how she sometimes tells everybody what to do. You see that it doesn’t take much to make her cry or make her mad or make her break the rules.  You notice that she is different than you. A different race. Has a different kind of family. Gets pulled from class for special ed. Why is she so weird…right? That’s what you want to know. Why is she so different?

Well, these aren’t the only things that make her unique. If you look closely, she has other qualities that might be harder to see. When you say hi, she’ll never ever ignore you. She’ll never leave you outside her house and say you can’t come in to play. She’d never ever want you to feel forgotten. In fact, my girl goes out of her way to make everyone feel special all the time. It’s her superpower. At home, she likes to put the toothpaste on the toothbrush for me and leave it out. A little surprise for me to find at bedtime. She leaves me notes and treasures and drawings of hearts that I find all over the house.  When our dogs were scared of the doggy door, she invented a contraption to hold it open for them. The first time she rode a horse, she petted it and kissed it and thanked it for the ride. You see, my girl’s heart is bigger than the heart of most people. That’s what actually makes her different. She’s sweeter than most. We could all learn something from her.

Another superpower she has is courage. She’s braver than most. Did you know the school you all go to is her 5th school in 4 years? She had to be brave and start over with new classrooms, new teachers and new kids every time. She did the same thing with families. Can you imagine walking into the house of brand new parents when you were 6 years old? Seeing your new room for the first time and wondering what this life would be like? Learning to trust brand new mommies and let them take care of you? That’s what my girl did. She had the courage to start a whole new life in a brand new town.  She had to say good-bye to everyone and everything she knew before. These are big good-byes. She had to have the courage to feel all those sad feelings and let her heart break so it could start to heal.

I can’t end this letter without talking about how hard my daughter works. You know that math packet you just got for 2nd grade homework? The same page of problems that takes you 15 minutes, takes her an hour. Oh no…it’s not because she is dumb. It’s because she was born 4 months early. Totally not her fault! But when kids are born early, their brains don’t get enough time to grow so they learn differently. Can you believe she never gives up? She doesn’t get to. She just has to work harder and harder- yes, harder than you so that she can learn the same things. She also works hard at making friends. She didn’t get to see people being good to each other when she was little, so she didn’t learn about things like sharing or taking turns like you did. She works very hard at this. She has a coach who comes every week and helps her learn to play well. She’s getting better and better at it. She has to work harder than most kids to do things like chew her food, tie her shoes, or even understand directions the teacher gives her. Pretty much all day, she’s working super hard to do things that most of you can do with no problem.

Wouldn’t it be great if you could cheer her on? What would it be like if she knew you were rooting for her instead of teasing her or leaving her out? What if you could see her sweetness, her courage, how hard she works?  What if you could help her along instead of push her down? I bet you’d feel good about yourself then. You could be so proud to know you were a good friend and accepted someone who is different than you. It would mean the world to her and  you…well, you would get a lot out of it, too. When we open our hearts and act kindly, we get to be happy. We get to be connected. We get to have more fun. How does that sound? You with me?

I can’t wait to see what you decide to do.

All the best,

Allison
Go Girls! Co-Founder
Kidpower Instructor
Mama

P.S. Speaking of having more fun,  join me in Berkeley on Sept 25th and see me perform live on stage. I’ll be celebrating magic and power we all have to be ourselves. Go Girls!  New to my blog? Follow me on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.

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10 Ways to Respond When Your Kid Disrespects You

Forever Family, Go Girl!, Self-care - Allison Kenny - August 22, 2016

Ever feel like a punching bag in your own home? When I’m faced with eye rolling, furniture kicking, hands over ears, screaming in my face or a disgusted tone of voice, I do my best to respond without throwing a tantrum myself…which is not easy for me. Here are the phrases I practice and use like a script to keep from throwing my daughter’s toys in the trash or cursing like a sailor.

“I wonder why you’re not listening to me…”

“I’m turning my ears right off to that.”

“I don’t listen when people talk to me that way.”

“Wow. You seem really angry. Please don’t take it out on me.”

“I’m sorry you’re mad, and stop.”

“I’m happy to listen when you’re calm.”

“I’m starting to get angry. I need some space to breathe and get calm.”

“I won’t listen when you’re yelling.”

“That was rude. Would you like a do-over?”

“Please try that again with a respectful voice.”

I want my daughter to feel powerful and know how to stand up against violence. But when she uses her power to yell, kick or fight back when I’m simply asking her brush her teeth, it’s a misuse of her power. I believe it’s my job to teach her how to treat me and others. I try to be super flexible in all other areas of my parenting, but this is a battle I will pick every time. She cannot disrespect her parents. Period.

How do you keep your girls strong and ready to fight for themselves while also keeping the peace and expecting respect?

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6 Ways to Welcome an Adopted Child into Your Extended Family

Forever Family, Foster/Adoption, Parenting - Allison Kenny - June 7, 2016

So, last week we packed up our little Squirrel and hit the road. By now, we were old pro’s at traveling together and navigating the potential stress of hectic airports. She had her stuffy. Lollypop in her mouth. Mama Lynn’s hand. Special snacks in tow. We were ready. What I was not ready for was how beautifully, generously, and authentically my AZ family would embrace her when we arrived. Here are 6 things they did to make my girl feel like their girl…even if they aren’t related by blood. Continue Reading

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A Squirrel-Sized Breakthrough

Go Girl!, Self-care - Allison Kenny - May 13, 2016

Maybe it’s the scent of summer in the air: talk of Go Girls! Camp, family vacations, and lots of time in the pool. Sometimes with trauma, a season change is enough to snap us out of fight or flight.

Maybe it was Mothers’ Day. We created an altar to celebrate and integrate the idea that 4 different mothers all belong to our little Squirrel. Maybe this ritual healed some part of her.

Maybe it was meeting her sweet doppleganger—a 6 year old boy that our best friends are adopting. She got to feel competent—like, “I went through that,”—and access her big sister self. She got to feel part of a club of kids with gay parents; kids who have past lives no one really understands. “I think maybe he’s my new brother, Mommy,” she said.

Maybe it’s the neurofeedback sessions we started. When crazy levels reached an all time high, we decided extra nervous system support was the way to go. Twice a week we go together, getting side by side treatments in hopes that our bodies can find some sense of peace.

Maybe it’s taking a forced break from a friend who she’s been fighting with at school. Their dynamic went from intense to a little toxic and the school has been supporting them beautifully to take space. We navigated conversations with the other girl’s parents with respect and a mutual concern for their emotional safety.

Maybe it’s that Lynn & I didn’t give up. We cried and tried every single thing we could think of to help this little girl feel loved. Maybe after months of testing us, we finally convinced her that she is safe here. That we are not going anywhere. (Even though we fantasized about it…Mexico anyone?)

I have no idea which of these interventions helped shift the tide of panic in her little system. Maybe all of them wove together like the blankets my Mom made each of us when we were little.

All I know is that this morning there was laughing instead of screaming. Last night, there were kisses instead of thrown objects. All week was filled with love songs and imagined mermaid dance-offs. Pet names and giggling. Piggyback rides and birthday parties for her bunny. We have our daughter back. I don’t know how long we have before trauma steps in again and steals her away from us but my plan is to soak up every precious moment we get.

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10 Reasons Why Every Mom Needs a Nap Every Day…and How to Get It

Foster/Adoption, Parenting, Self-care, Tales from the Maxi Pad - Allison Kenny - May 2, 2016

Daily naps? Oh, please. Who has time for that? Well, I will tell you that my stress levels got so high that I didn’t have time NOT to take them.

We ALL deserve daily naps because…

  1. We’re f%@king tired. We don’t sleep well enough at night.
  2. Depth of processing. We are taking in information at the speed of light. We are thinking 2 steps ahead of our kids. This is exhausting.
  3. Our houses are cluttered. And that’s okay. It’s part of the deal. But it creates visual overwhelm. And we’d rather play with our kids than clean it up.
  4. We make so many decisions. And decision fatigue is a real thing. Choosing how to respond to the 35 questions a minute wears us out.
  5. We are constantly learning new skills. Each phase of parenting brings new issues to wrap our brains around. Perpetual learning curves take a ton of brain power.
  6. We’re tracking other people’s needs as well as our own. Tuning in to the needs of those depending on us is draining. And it’s what makes us amazing.
  7. Empathy. We feel what our kids are feeling. We model emotional language and coach them through the roller coaster of their hearts. It’s depleting.
  8. We solve problems. In our homes, in our families, in our own lives…all day long.
  9. We forget to feed ourselves. I’m talking food and non-food hungers. We forget to play enough, laugh enough, have enough sex, or take enough adventures. If we’re starving for the things we need, we don’t have enough energy.
  10. We are overstimulated. By the sounds of cartoons and crying, kid songs and light up toys. Our phones are buzzing and our Facebook feed is blowing up. Our brains are fried.

So what do we do about it? For me, finding answers had a sense of urgency. When I’m exhausted, I’m irritated. When I’m tired, I’m yelling. When I’m overstimulated, I truly believe that mothering is too hard for me to do and I better find some way to quit. Not possible. But napping is.

Every day, for somewhere between 10 minutes and an hour, I put on sweatpants (if I’m not wearing them already), turn off all the lights and climb into bed. I turn off my phone. I ignore any mess or anything I have to do. I just close my eyes in the dark and breathe. I don’t usually fall asleep but I lie there and just let my brain relax. I enjoy the silence and the solitude. I truly, deeply rest. Even on days that feel too hard to do. And it’s changing my relationship to stress.

If my kid was too little to go to school, I’d nap during her naps. If she didn’t nap, I’d let the TV babysit her so I could. If I worked out of the house everyday, I’d curl up in my car in a sunshine patch and nap on a lunch break. On the weekends, I ask my wife and daughter to excuse me while I go nap and explain how I am not be interrupted.

Can you see where I’m going with this? Nap at any cost! That’s my fierce belief. Maybe you are not an introvert or as highly sensitive as I am. Maybe you are invigorated by all the stimulation, adrenaline, and multi-tasking. If that’s the case, please offer to take the kids of friend for an hour so they can nap.

Honestly, I value this time above all else because it makes me a saner, happier, more flexible, more playful, and more peaceful version of myself.  Everyone in my family likes this version of me the best. They know Mama’s gotta have her naps. Go get yours!

 

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Why Holding Onto Pleasure is Important Even With So Much Suffering in the World

Self-care - Allison Kenny - December 7, 2015

IMG_1692All I want to do is go pick out a Christmas tree with our little girl. In Santa hats. Like 3 goofy holiday girls. I want milk punch with a splash of bourbon, an enormous hipster ice-cube and nutmeg grated on top. I want to blow off work and buy beautiful glass ornaments and stocking stuffers for My Boo. I want to sing Mariah Carey over and over and over. I want to make Martha Stewart’s cookie recipe and deliver them to every single person I’ve ever loved. I want to read my book by our fireplace after Squirrel goes to bed. I want to dress my dogs in Christmas sweaters and snuggle them while watching Elf for the millionth time. I want to hike in redwoods and listen for their messages, to wear cozy scarves, and to take hot baths. I want quiet. And play. And connection.

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Have Squirrel, Will Travel

Forever Family - Allison Kenny - November 23, 2015

wreathHere we go! Holiday travel time.

We cannot wait to see our family in Texas. Squirrel is dying to play with her cousins and we’re all looking forward to time off and a change of scenery. The only trouble is, travel can be really hard on little Squirrels and the Mamas who love them.

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Post-Adoption Wonderful

Forever Family, Love Wins - Allison Kenny - November 19, 2015

Post-Adoption Wonderful
Sounds like…

Okay Mommy

And

I love you, Mommies

And

Please can Mama Lynn come in for one more hug and kiss

This is different
New
Defenses down
Deeply relaxed for
Maybe
the first time
Ever

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I said F&%K to My Kid This Weekend—Here’s Why!

Go Girl! - Allison Kenny - November 16, 2015

"Jenga" Mara Tr.

The Scene: A 7-year-old girl and her new adoptive mommy are sitting on the carpet, playing Jenga in their pajamas. Puppies are sleeping on the couch nearby. Mommy is thinking of getting up to take a shower, when the little girl says…

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