Parenting… the hardest and longest job on this earth

This blog is for parents who are struggling with life…with parenting… with understanding their world ….and/or their childrens’ world. Parents who are looking for answers that are not readily accessible, real answers for real struggling parents. These answers are ones will find nowhere but here and they describe a reality of todays world that few have experienced personally that are equipped to write about professionally.

If you are an awesome parent, and you have awesome kids, and you think your doing great parenting then this particular blog spot is likely not for you. My advice to you is be happy and find other things to read that encourage and sustain you. I am more of a broken voice to those who are broken and struggling…those who feel like they cannot go on… those who are lost…wounded…broken and yet they need a reason to go on, they need to understand why they are where they are at this point in their life and they need what I can give then HOPE.

To those who can relate to feeling broken, wounded, rejected …You are my target audience. I hope to bring you understanding, hope, peace, and victory in your struggle. Finally, a blog spot with real answers to real questions, answers with the potential to really change your perspective and transform the reality of your life.

Lets just explore the possibility there is truth in the value of this sentence: We all do the best we can as a parent? Do you feel this is true in your life? Are you doing your best? Can you apply this to your  perspective on how your parents raised you? Often what we expect our kids to see in us, unfortunately, we can in no way see in our parents….until that is …we are broken by parenting.

Does good parenting really produce good kids or good people? What is the measuring stick of good?  Success? Independence?   Inter- dependance?  Happiness?  Education? Achievement?  Career? Religion? Behaviors?

What if you found out  nature was more predictive than the nurture? Would you nurture and continue to nurture if you knew your child would become a killer like Adam in Sandy Hook? Is it his mothers fault he loaded those guns and attacked his childhood school? Could she have done anything different? What can we glean from these tortured  parents (labeled  with horrific children)? This blog is written to parents like her, parents who did all they could and it availed nothing. This blog may help  Peter Lanza who publicly said: ‘I wish Adam had never been born. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/10851714/Sandy-Hook-killers-father-I-wish-Adam-had-never-been-born.html at least according to media (which for many reasons I believe very little of anything in print today…a different blog. Poor soul(check out that blog) Peter he just did not get it!

How can good parents have bad kids or good kids have bad parents? What makes one a good parent- the child’s perspective, the parents perspective,  families perspective, the communities perspective, the churches perspective? Who is to say what GOOD is?

What is the whole point of parenting anyway and when does it end? This is what I will attempt to explore in this post so stay with me for a different perspective and a crazy journey into reality according to Julia Jay.

I have been  a social worker, parent, adoptive parent, foster parent, children and youth worker, host home and residential placement counselor, and adoptive counselor.  I have attained 33 years of experience raising children and helping others parent difficult children and I have the boldness to actually say what few professionals dare (some due to inexperience but most because of fear of vulnerability).

Parents with nonproblematic children usually have tons of advice on how we could do things better, discipline, time management, affection, diet, behavioral charts, positive reinforcement, ect… they can easily reiterate things that “have worked for them” to create  the awesome kids that  they are proclaiming they are blessed to raise.  Ya, that is not what I have to report from my findings of real people, in real life who struggle with real parenting.

The fact is most our parents, more than likely, did the best they could,  and maybe a small percentage didn’t. However, you really can not judge their parenting unless you have walked the road they walked. Often our struggles with our own kids is to create an understanding and relating to  or compassion for our parents …dead or alive. This understanding is a journey that often is the only way in which we humans can learn(read my RIP BLOG ).

Teenagers have all sorts of opinions on what their parents do wrong and how they would ideally have raised themselves. Prolonged adolescent and postponed parenting ( later in the 30’s) is epidemic in this generation with advice from people who have had no experience and have no practical application but have lots of advice on how to parent. However, until you are actually a parent or are amidst 24 hours a day child rearing, its just an opinion with nothing to substantiate your findings or validate them. If you have a compliant child…big deal who can’t raise one of them(read the girl in the white shirt post..when I complete it)

You can voice your opinion, and opinions have value, your opinions are part of who you are and they are part of who you strive to become…we all have a need to practice our opinions to substantiate who we are and who we want to become. You  also can blame, or you can claim the results,  and/or come to acceptance with where your journey has taken you. My goal is to give you insight on this journey and compassion to endure the extended journey you are going to travel…one way or another…this is your journey….there is no alternative, even running from parenting cannot stop the consequences. Its coming just you wait and see. My seven are raised thank God …and yet I still continue to parent and they do not like it one bit.

What is more important the toddler years, teenage years, twenties , thirties?  We all know the saying give me a child before the of 5 and you will have formed a personality. Consider this: Have you really formed a human being or does the human being you created form you?

These are all questions I struggle  to explore through my blogging. One thing I do know is parenting is lifelong. I continue to need my mom and I am in my fifties. But parenting is part of YOU, who you are, who you want to become, and how you want to be remembered in life. It is not the child whom is the focus, rather, “how you” handle the child regardless of their IQ, intellect, potential… that is what creates YOU.

You are the point…not the child. The more you know about YOU, the more you will understand the struggles of parenting and how children affect YOU. If you can teach your children this concept they will struggle less with all the ” what if’s”.

One thing is for sure: we learned from how we were parented. Another thing for sure is …we all have ability to learn and train   and change ourselves. However, we can only influence others: we can change noone ( other than ourselves). Without that potential understanding…. parenting is going to leave you void when your nest becomes empty

Case in point: I had awful parents- my dad struggled most of his life as a drug addict, my mom suffered from mental illness all her life: yet- all of us 5 siblings turned out pretty amazing. I know many such examples of clueless parents who struggled to just make it through: minimally provided food on the table and somehow their kids developed, achieved and turned out fine. Was that parenting or resilience in our personhood? If we truly understood the purpose of parenthood and how it forms us, we could cope better and actually attain understanding regardless of the behaviors of our children. When we get that …. we become unique individuals…. through relationship and through parenting influences.

I know many many awesome parents – missionaries, ministers, professionals, and somehow their kids are conscious-less. How can this be?

Parentings focus has always primarily been ” product”  ” results” ie “How the kids come out”.  Would we really do all the work of modeling, disciplining, rewarding…..if we really knew it had little to no effect. Frankly I think, “Not”!  Most parents think the work they are doing is meaningful and will produce effective results. For some, maybe it does. However, results appear to be the most important thing parents are concerned with, consideration is usually not what it felt like to be ” in” that situation and/or how “that” parenting situation forms us as individuals.

Why is that? Feelings are extremely important, don’t get me wrong, how you have stored that memory (in the mental file box secured to access it later in life). Often our selective memories really predetermine deficits that we will personally struggle with through on our journey in life (ie- desiring unavailable or emotionally abusive partners ect.) What we gleaned from our childhood usually determines how we navigate parenting. So the question is not’ how you do parenting’… rather how ‘ parenting does YOU’?

In the midst of us creating a person (childrearing) many Christians assimulate the truth that we are Christs representative to their world (the world is in some sense all our children and all of our responsibility). God gave us a human symbol, mentor, person, to emulate love- by giving us the Person of Christ! What a gift- we need look no further- even though Jesus had no children biologically he became the source of example for all personhood. He continues through each generation to be  the primary representative to show all mankind how to love all the world. Jesus never focused on only his 12 followers ..though He did spend more time with them personally- Jesus was raising the whole world :teaching us what really matters, here and now and for eternity. My best advice: follow HIM. He knows eternity past, our present and eternity future! GOD gives us living examples to relate to this world. Those parents who struggle with addictions can easily relate to addictive parents, those parents who have experienced loss and grief are best equipped to help comfort others who know the pain of loss.

Parents are the primary way children learn, they do not learn through Jesus but they learn Jesus through us, its our actions, our representation, thats just how God created things to work.  WOW what Authority… to think the Creator of the Universe chose us to make things right, or to comfort when things go wrong, for the next generation- and the next generation and the next. Imagine the hugeness of that journey and the responsibility that comes along with it.

Who do we have in media to look to for guidance? Nanny 911, Dr Phil?

The governmental foster care system: a joke.’The media: even funnier and sadder.

Authors like James Dobson? Well, yeah if your raising normal kids in a normal environment. I have yet to see that normal in my life or my practice. Everyone I know has issues, some just more hidden then others. I call my parenting mentor Dobson the preachers preacher. I love Dobson, he was my sole guidance to raising my 7 amazing kids. If you  married a Christian man, and have a few Christian supports, you can take his advice to the bank, but in the dysfunctional family…the interest on it only yields a few cents on the dollar.

I have read everything Dobson has ever published and when it comes to the basics he is right on! However, he, like my many favorite pastors, was raised by a Christian mom, lived a Christian life, married a Christian wife, and had all accessibility (through his own means lets give credit where credit is due) and besides seeing a patient 1 x a week he is clueless when it comes to experiencing family generational dysfunction. He likely knows how to do relationship: but has he done relationship with difficult people? Maybe to some extent he has done relationship restoration and/or just retention but he definitely does not have the experience to answer to this generation of dysfunction.

This is the real quality of a persons professional skills, will it work for you? Does it apply to your current personal struggle? If it does, read away, I support him wholeheartedly. If you, on the other hand, have extenuating circumstances well ATOP may be able to provide the help you need. If you have a situation where sexual molestation, sibling exploration, foster care system mandated reporting, suicide, dug abuse, abortion, autism, these are the tough thinks not usually addressed in books or blogs.

ATOP That’s where I come in. I offer a touch of peace. No, I cannot bring anyone peace! No, but in this world I can offer you a touch. A personal touch of peace, a fellow struggler to struggle alongside you. A wounded, deeply wounded, healer who has found the source of all healing.  I am a dysfunction expert. Born and bred – a generational thoroughbred- so it may take you a while for you to catch up or catch on but this web page blog is a place to start. I not only have read all the books, practiced the profession, but I have lived the life, changed the life, engaged in change, and saw the real potential of change (and sorry to report the potential is not much and its definitely not the ride you expected!!!) Sorry to report the change did not happen in my kids…it happened in me…All of them still have alot to learn, and hopefully they will get it when they have children of their own to deal with and walk a mile in my shoes…until then I wait and I continue to work on me.

So if you really want the best dysfunctional parenting advice ever, one hot off the presses (not really ….the book form is a ways yonder lol). Believe me if I knew of another place to refer you to for this kind of help I would just guide ” my following” there.

KISS- Keep it simple stupid. Do what you can to cope today, do the best you you can today. This is the hard work of parenting, perfecting ourselves. Like the illustration of oxygen on a plane: we do not adjust others oxygen safely on board until our own is securely in place. Coping is about “you” not about your kids.

I use the example of water when I try to explain why hurt people do what they do. We are all vessels, similar to a water pitcher. We all receive wounds in life and sometimes it punctures our container with holes. Some of us have tiny pinholes and some have gaping holes. Regardless, of the amount of water poured into the vesse,l it cannot overflow because the holes leak the liquid before it ever reaches the point of overflow. the more you pour into (trying to change others… they are unable to retain or give out of overflow) the more leaks out.

Until we fill those holes nothing changes, people try all  different techniques, mentors, family, love, education, but to no avail. Behavior can be contained in our presence but once those wounded vessels are out of our site…off ‘our’ discipline plan,  released into adulthood, they are still just leaky vessels.

When we learn to take control of our pain and heal our wounds, it is then we can hold the deeper concepts and truths of life, it is then we realize we are all capable of healing. When we are healed and only when we are healed and then we are filled: can we  possibly overflow to give to others. Without this work we are just pouring into lives unable to retain love, affection, respect, self-discipline. We are continuing to feed feed feed and noone will ever be self-sustainable, our children and our parents will never learn to fish life for themselves successfully especially if we just keep fishing for them and feeding them our fish. This is how we get 50 year olds still mooching off their parents, it is an unending cycle.

This is why the most important lesson you can learn and apply as a parent is to heal those wounds in your own pitcher. The wounds of your own generation, your own parents, your own kids. Only then can you truly give out of overflow…expecting nothing in return, receiving nothing in return, unconditional love…the true mark of a parent.  Consider this, as my seven kids are all adults and were raised in a great home(according to me anyway) they never stop wounding me, seriously more and more, deeper and deeper. I have come to the conclusion its a learning cycle, a life cycle that we maintain: filling our holes, giving, loving, accepting and grievingunconditionally alongside one another.

Momma if you go down- everything goes down. Same goes for those Dads committed to raising a family. Find out what you are doing and why you are doing it,  explore what you were suppose to learn from your past journey, what is expected of the future, why you went through what you did.  If life gave you lemons- make the best lemon-aid possible! If you were given avocados, darling by all means use them to their potential guacamole.

Don’t be who you are not, or pretend to be, the real you far surpasses anything you could find on the adventure of life. Being someone you really aren’t , an imposter replicating what your parents expectations are, just to spare them the much needed disappointment, that will in turn, allow them to comfort other hurting parents.

I was a good mom. Just saying I do not know many- very few- OK…. I KNOW noone who has traveled my journey!!! Seriously, really I know not a one person who did what I did and lived to write about it- if you do please hook me up would love to meet a sojourner.  I was a good enough mom (different blog different chapter), I read all the books and integrated all of psychology into my parenting, I was out to prove I could produce the best!!!! Only later did I realize the hypothesis was faulty!

I think being a mother can come natural. Some people can naturally mother many kids, while others can barely maintain their own offspring. For me I was a natural, Lord knows I got nothing handed down from any parenting genes historically.

As far back as I can go in my family of origin, I have yet to even come across a couple in my familytree that even wanted to be married, out of anything other than necessity, let alone wanted all the kids they got.

Anyway I know I was a great mom- now I had many people who judged me and still do (my results have proven my methods though not in positive correlation as one would think lol) . Yet, I have not heard much in the area of compliments coming back from my kids(oh well glad I do not live to please them LOL). The reason I know I was a great mom was not in the outcome, nor in the opinion of the kids (many who still have yet to parent), but because I always worked on me. I never gave up on me. I will never give up on the journey of creating me. I learned alot and I hope through my experiences I can bring hope to YOU regardless of the area of parenting or life you are currently experiencing.

Also I always worked on my marriage first before my kids ( 35 years and counting…attending at least one marriage seminar a year). It was and remains lots of work, I always worked on relationshipsbonding of the familys (yeah one can only do what one can do), I always educated myself, cared for my body, cared for my soul, cared for my community, cared for the homeless… the orphans. I always aspired to be me! The best me I can be! These are all chapters in my upcoming book. Anyway, real experience is found in all the little things of life not one BIG solution

This is why you should consider my advice, I never stop learning and I actually apply what I learn to create a new me everyday.

I mess up everyday and I succeed everyday.  I am human.  My words are not fb posts that sound practical and wise. Rather my words are a lifetime of application.  The creation of  A Touch of Peace (ATOP) is my means of giving back for all I have been given.

ATOP is a place of resources.  I provide, the resources you need to help you change your life. I offer to mentor and educate people who want to invest in themselves to change from what they had given to them- to become the person they always wanted to be.

I prefer not to see people as diagnosis, but rather my work focused primarily on  V codes which are relational issues.

An example is DSM-IV-TR Diagnostic Codes:

\V61.9 Relational Problem Related to a Mental Disorder or General Medical ConditionV61.20 Parent-Child Relational ProblemV61.10 Partner Relational ProblemV61.8 Sibling Relational ProblemV61.81 Relational Problem.

These relational problems can be effectively treated using brief, problem-solving cognitive therapy. These issues unfortunately are not insurance eligible so I work on a sliding scale fee affordable to each client.

The first and most important relationship you need is becoming one with oneself.  Next, only after comprehension of self, you can perceive the potential of relationship with your Creator,  and then one with ones family, ones friends, ones community, etc- all in order of importance to you. If you really do not know “you” then well, it matters not the numerical relationships you have, because they are built on a lie. Too many people focus on what others will think, how to impress others and becoming what the media…their parents, their pastor, their friends ect. think is a good person or a good parent.

You are the person you are. Period!  You are the person you are today at this very moment in time. If you die tomorrow, sorry but you will have remained that person(your true self…. not your potential or process self). Our only hope is to be renewed daily, to make a you a work in progress and to work on this process, which again results in “the work of change”.

If you want to be a different person only “you” can change that. It will take work…lots of it.

We have the power to change no one but ourselves!

We are responsible for only choices we make (which is plenty to be responsible for).

We have no business changing others, especially if we accepted them for who they are, good and bad, and we chose relationship with them when they have never been anyone other than the person they presented themselves to be. Obliviously, if you are not happy with others, You are the one that moved (another reason to learn the tools of attraction)

I do not claim to know everything, only what has been effective for me and that was only learned  through trial and error. Most professionals can give you tools to cope with life…we all use the same tools only with slight variations, however, before you decide to waste your money on advice I would look at their personal life application.

Like the marriage counselor who is divorced or has been married 5 x. Boy I bet she has learned alot….but better invest in the one who has one healthy marriage and has maintained that for  many years if you want that kind of yield for your investment.

My qualifications for others helping me are simple:

DO they apply these tools to their personal life, is that working, if not , those tools are probably do not prove effective or applicable. So why would you invest reading my advice on parenting? Did all or any of my kids come out like I expected…projected…fantasized….No not a one. I have raised dozens of kids and no not a one came out how I expected! You should listen to me because you too will someday have to acknowledge and accept that you did do the best you could and how they come out …that is “their journey” not yours.

I apply all my tools to me first, and I work them until they work for me. They have worked for me in the journey of becoming who I am..I am not who others want me to be , nor should you strive for others expectations.

I am finally past learning parenting skillsets and now I am learning on the grandkids and parenting adult children skill sets…itys been an equally painful ride. SO if I am a skillset ahead of you, come along on a journey and lets learn from one another’s successes and failures. After all that is exactly what community and family and ATOP is all about.

If you want a little more journey check out my RIP post on this site and my “do you really need therapy” http://www.atouchofpeacejuliajay.com/do-you-need-it/”