Look at Me – NOT

I had the privelege a few months ago to listen to a panel comprised of teens and young adults with ASDs speak to a large group about what it is like for them to be autistic. The audience consisted of parents, teachers, and other teens and young adults. MJ, my 12 year old with AS began participating in some of the panels over a year ago.

During the question and answer portion of the presentation, a woman stood up and said, “I work with very young children. Can you give me some tips in helping them to make eye contact?”

I laughed (but not out loud) and rolled my eyes (I was in the back, so no one saw). I then smiled and thought about how far I’ve come since I said to the boys “Look at me”, in an effort to engage them. Five years ago, I might have even asked the same question as this woman.

It was Dr. Steve Gutstein who first pointed out the hilarity of asking for eye contact when what we really wanted was ‘joint attention’. My perspective on eye contact began evolving the day I first heard him speak.

After hearing Dr. Gutststein, I dropped the phrase “look at me” from my vocabulary. I didn’t replace it with anything for a long time and instead took sole responsibility for determining if I had my sons’ attention.

As the boys grew, I wanted them to take more responsibility for their part in interactions. Instead of reintroducing “look at me”, I began to use the phrase “listen to me”. I gradually replaced that with “I need you to show me know that you are listening to me” and “I can’t hear you well when you face away from me when you talk.” There are lots of ways for them to show me joint attention besides direct eye contact.

I still occasionally coach them to face me and reinforce the value of looking toward someone when you are speaking or listening. But I don’t think I’ve said “Look at me” in years.

Posted in General, Parenting | 7 Comments

Fitting In With Friends and Family

This past holiday weekend provided a reminder that the places in which our family fits in has changed over the years. Fortunately, although one changed for the worse, another changed for the better.

We attended a large party on Saturday and MJ was looking forward to it all day long. This was not a typical family picnic, but was a very large party with tents, an inflatable slides and a trampoline for the kids and a band for the adults. MJ was very excited, until we got there. When the band started, it got very loud. Strike 1. We knew some family and a few others at the party, but not many. MJ was unable to connect with the cousins and family friends that were running around playing (or maybe he didn’t want to) and was mostly standing around, looking bored and lonely. Strike 2. Lee and I spent almost all of our time watching MJ and SJ. SJ was playing but, for safety’s sake, we didn’t want to let him out of our sight. Strike 3. We did not fit in here. We went home and had a ‘movie night’.

On Monday’s holiday, we faced a choice of what to do. We have extended family with a house on a lake about 40 minutes away. The lake has always been a gathering location for family on the three summer holidays. When MJ’s meltdowns became an issue a few years ago, we began staying away, knowing that the being closer to home in a more controlled environment was for the best. Since then, MJ has matured, and the number of people gathering at the lake have diminished as kids have grown and moved away and some of the older generation has passed on. We decided to try it again.

What a joy it was! We packed some food, I got down my kayaks from the racks for the first time in three years, strapped them car and off we went. We found a welcoming group of about 20 when we arrived. The boys wanted to kayak immediately, so I sat SJ in the kayak with me and put MJ in his own. We paddled for a mile or so, stopping to walk barefoot on an island across the lake. SJ took a few tries at paddling and MJ made the whole trip with enthusiasm and absolutely no complaints about the physical work required. When we returned, the boys swam and played in the water. Their older cousins took them out on a pontoon boat, patiently giving them each a chance to drive. We shared snacks, caught up with family and introduced Stitch to ‘the lake’. The boys were enthusiastic and the others around them were accepting. It was a beautiful day. I wish I had a picture of us returning from our kayaking excursion as being out on the water with MJ and SJ was the highlight of my summer. And to top it off, we had place on shore where we ‘fit in’.

Posted in Parenting, Personal | 3 Comments

The X-Men Epic Morality Play

I finally got to see X-Men: The Last Stand (the third movie of the series) last night. I was never a big comic book fan but I’ve always loved a good epic story. The X-Men movies, and even the few episodes of the animated TV series that I’ve seen definitely fit the bill of an epic. Brett Miller wrote several posts on his 29Marbles blog about the movie last year and includes references to some other sites as well. He includes a good summary of the movies in one of the posts.

The general premise of the X-Men series is that many humans are born with a mutated gene that makes them “different” than the rest of the population. The difference generally includes a special ability or power. Themes addressing “being different” run through all the movies. It is this theme that has generated comparison with autism. The comparison between the X-Men and autism can’t be taken too literally but the beauty of the themes comes through in the details. The creators have done a wonderful job of letting these details shine in the ambiguity of the moral choices that run through the movies.

In the third movie, a cure is discovered to reverse the effects of the mutant gene. Some mutants want to destroy the cure while some want to take it. Some neurotypicals (I mean non-mutants!) want to force the cure on all the mutants, and others simply want to make it available. The parallels between the perspectives on a cure for autism are obvious.

There were two parts of the movie that I found extremely thought provoking (Spoilers ahead!) In one scene, we find one of the characters injured and her power is left in control of her subconscious, rather than her conscious mind. This leads to destruction and death as the subconscious mind lashes out with little control. One of the leaders tries to heal her by altering her mind by building walls between her conscious and unconscious mind. Another character intervenes as he perceives it to be an attempt to change her from who she is, even if she is injured. The scene speaks to me of the dilemma of using any type of neurological medication, and how the intention can be anywhere along the spectrum of curing, healing, helping, changing, or destroying part of a person.

The second theme that struck me was the one that impacted mutant characters who considered taking the cure. We saw characters make both choices and saw two of them struggle while coming to terms with a choice. It’s too simplistic to assume one choice was right and another wrong. Perhaps each choice could be made for the right or wrong reasons by anyone. At what point is it right to accept our abilities and limitations and at what point is it right to change them for other abilities and limitations. We can make these changes, to varying degrees, through medication, education, psychotherapy, diet, exercise, surgery, and a variety of other choices available to us. Are some choices good and others bad? What are the criteria for deciding?

If you haven’t seen the movies, and stories based on comic books do not sound like your type, consider watching them anyway. The theme of diversity runs through all movies from the opening scene in the first movie where one child watches another taken to a concentration camp because he is “different”. It’s an epic, it’s a morality play, and it’s way beyond what most people expect from a comic book.

Posted in General, Personal | 1 Comment

A Blogging Binge

My blogging is always been erratic, but I feel a writing binge coming on. I’m going to ride out this desire to write while it lasts.

The binge has it’s roots in many places. The past two weeks with the boys have been incredible. I finally saw X-Men III. Posts that I’ve had in my head since I started blogging over two years ago. Katie. The yearly planning of the parent support group my wife and I run. Emails I’ve exchanged with other parents this summer. A much needed break from focusing on my job. A sense of reflection stemming from an upcoming birthday (A Pirate Looks at Forty-Four).

The first post of the binge goes up before I go to bed tonight, before the pirate turns forty-four.

Posted in Blogging, Personal | 2 Comments

3 Things I Don’t Miss

I’ve written before that parenting, at it’s core, is not much different whether you are parenting a child on the spectrum or a neurotypical child. However, parents, like ogres, have layers and some of the outer layers are very different depending on the type of child you are parenting. Here are three aspects of neurotypical parenting that I don’t miss:

Birthday Parties – kids on the spectrum don’t get invited to as many birthday parties as their peers. I don’t mind because far too many children’s birthday parties turn into incredible exercises in excess. There’s too much sugar, too much parental indulgence, and too many presents. There are exceptions, but no where near enough. Interestingly, while MJ and SJ have been invited to fewer parties, the ones they’ve been invited to have been more low key.

Little League – I had a lot of fun coaching LJ and MJ in little league. To clarify, I had a lot of fun until the players’ parents started getting emotionally invested in how their child performed. That transition for parents begins around age 8, and once a few parents go down this slippery slope, the fun begins to get sucked out it. I once saw a coach climb an 8 foot fence (his players were blocking his way out of the dugout) to run onto the field yelling because an 8 year old player on the other team appealed a play to the umpire. I saw another coach come onto the field and argue a call with an umpire after a close play at home plate. The coach was lucid enough to point out the marks left by the opposing player sliding into home but not lucid enough to recognize that the player was still lying on dirt next to home plate, injured. Having the call go ‘his way’ was more important than the health of the player. There are a lot of parents that make child’s sports a learning opportunity, but there are nowhere near enough of them.

Adolescent and pre-adolescent fashions – A comfortable t-shirt (no tags!) and some sweat pants or other athletic style pants or shorts are about all that’s needed for MJ and SJ. Back to school shopping does not involve any trips to abercrombie or Hollister or long hours at the mall. MJ and SJ are largely oblivious to logos, name brands and other fashion statements. My wife and I actually need to put a little bit of work into the clothes selections so the clothes don’t stand out too much (in a negative way).

Posted in Parenting, Personal | 2 Comments

Little Red Schoolhouses

We took the family to Washington DC for a few days last week. Our hotel happened to be across the street from the US Department of Education (DOE). Considering all the work that we (and our sons’ PPT members) put into education, I was very pleased to see such obvious signs that the DOE is doing their part to help all of our children.

Their efforts can be seen in the pictures below. They have spent both the time and money to erect two little red schoolhouses at the four entrances to the DOE building. They even had the inspired vision to write No Child Left Behind on a fake blackboard over each entrance. Yes, that’s eight little red school houses, all helping to improve education for our children.

I feel so much better now.

Entrance to the US Department of Education Building

Entrance to the US Department of Education Building - Close Up

Posted in Education, Sarcasm | 4 Comments


Bullying is alive and well in our school districts but the nature of the bullying has changed. The administrators have
turned the tables. While they have instituted ‘zero-tolerance’ policies regarding bullying of students, they have institutionalized another type of bullying. Many administrators have become the bullies and their targets are parents of children in special education.

What is Bullying?

Bullying is not about fighting, it’s about power. For this discussion, I’m defining bullying as using power to intimidate and dominate someone with less power. Special education administrators regularly use their power to get their way, at the expense of the children that they should be serving. I’ve heard enough stories over the past few weeks from my fellow parents to confirm that this bullying goes far beyond a few isolated incidents.

Springtime in Connecticut is PPT time. The season when all special education programs are reviewed. The school year, excluding summer, is 180 days with 6 hours of school a day. A child will spend over 1,000 hours in the educational program. Each spring, the school district will schedule a meeting with parents, devoting an entire 60 minutes to the development and planning of the program for the student for the upcoming year. Yes, a whole hour! Meetings are scheduled back to back to back, and there is little time for discussion and collaboration. If everyone is on same page ahead of time, it works out fine. However if there is any disagreement or complications, there is often a push from the administrator to just ‘get it done’. Get an IEP on paper and move on to the next kid.

My description of the administrators’ behavior as bullying is based on recent stories from parents relating their experiences in this process. The stories come from many school districts and involve many administrators. They come from wealthy districts as wells as those that are not as well off. The stories are told by parents with children just entering the school programs and they are told by parents who have been in the special education system for many years.

How They Bully

The administrators that engage in bullying are never mean, and are rarely loud or unprofessional. The exert their power in more subtle ways.

The most common method of bullying is to not tell parents about services that are readily available in the district. The administrator will tell the parents about the services they want to provide and nothing more, withholding any information that could cause the administrator to lose power. When asked direct questions such as “Can you tell me what services you are currently providing to elementary school age students with autism”, they’ll hide behind “Let’s focus on what’s appropriate for your child and not programs that are designed for students with different needs”. Parents have told me that school districts have never mentioned summer services in the PPT meeting even when children with similar needs are attending summer programs. One parent said they were happy the district was providing a half day summer program for their child, until they found out that other children with similar needs were receiving all day programs.

Another common bullying tactic some administrators use is lying. I’ve heard several stories over the past few weeks of administrators telling outright lies to parents. In one situation, a parent asked a district administrator if their child could receive services over the summer. The administrator told the parent that the child was not eligible because the child is verbal and the summer programs are only for non-verbal students. This district is, in fact, providing services to verbal children over the summer. In another situation, a parent asked if a provider from outside the district could be brought in to provide a specific service. The district administrator told the parent that they don’t ever do that. The parent knew the administrator was lying, as they were networked with other parents and knew of a situation in which the district brought in someone for the exact service they were requesting. An administrator in yet another district told a parent that a child was not eligible for special education because their academic level was adequate (in kindergarten). They ignored the significant emotional and behavioral difficulties the child was having.

School districts also bully parents when they insist on identifying a child’s disability as something narrow such as Speech and Language Delay rather than something broader such as Autism. I know parents in several districts that encountered this problem. It’s a tactic used to control services. A child with a Speech and Language disability would be unlikely receive services from the school psychologist or occupational therapists. However, label a child as autistic, and most educational experts would agree that these services should be part of the child’s program. Some administrators have told parents “the label doesn’t matter” but insist on using the one that is consistent with less services. Others have said “You don’t want your child to go through life with a label of Autism do you?”

There are plenty of other less subtle ways that administrators try to exert power over parents. I know of one administrator who always sits at the head of the table, firmly establishing a position of power. This administrator has made other PPT team members move in order to have the ‘power chair’. I know of an administrator that dominates meetings so completely that they have refused to allow discussion on specific topics. Such discussion could result in consensus around an idea the administrator does not support, resulting a loss of power. The administrator controls the meeting in a way as to not lose power.

I suspect that much of the bullying by the district administrators is targeted at specific groups of parents. You are more likely to bullied the first year your child qualifies for special education, primarily because you are probably not experienced enough to advocate effectively. I believe districts are also more likely to bully lower income parents because they are likely to be less educated about their child’s disability and appropriate programming. Lastly, districts target parents that are not assertive and not strong advocates.

Why Bully?

I don’t believe that most administrators set out to be hostile and mean. The bullying stems, in part, from the expectations placed on them by the districts. They are not rewarded for providing appropriate programs and the progress of children under their supervision. Instead they are rewarded for getting paperwork in on time, coordinating and services without problems, and finding ways to provide services at a low cost. Many are self-motivated to get this done with the least amount of effort, and the least amount of stress (for themselves). For some administrators these motivations are so strong, they don’t mind resorting to a little bullying and lying if it gets the job done.

What to Do About Bullying?

I grew up before the age of political correctness and zero-tolerance for bullying. I personally learned that the best way to handle bullying is to stand up to it. Provided you were strong enough to do it, or had friends that would back you up, this usually ended the bullying, permanently.

We parents need to do the same and stand up to the bullying. We must be strong enough to stand up to it and when needed, connect with other parents to make us stronger. I could write an entire post about the ways we can stand up to it for the benefit of our kids. Instead, I’ll offer a short list of suggestions to consider if you’re being bullied:

  • Invite another parent or an advocate to the PPT meeting (it’s within your rights).
  • Find out what other services are being offered to other students.
  • Research special education complaints and resolutions at the state level (in the US at least).
  • Go to an advocacy class,
  • Attend a PPT meeting for another child to help another parent and learn something yourself.
  • Attend meetings with families outside of your school district.
  • Read up on IEP law.
  • Learn what the procedures are for filing a complaint.
  • Take detailed notes about everything (it helps to catch lying).

I seem to be making a habit of quoting lyrics from songs in my posts. Today, I’ll close with some wise words from the late Bob Marley:

Get up, stand up: stand up for your rights!
Get up, stand up: dont give up the fight!

Posted in Advocacy, Education | 7 Comments

People I REALLY Want to Write About

I wrote this post about two months ago, during Autism Awareness Month. My blogging hiatus got in the way of the heavy editing that all my writing requires. I originally intended to title the post “Beyond Oprah”, but the current title fits better with the unbalanced attention that a particular family is getting these days.

While I’m always glad to see autism get more attention, I’m disappointed when the media gives poor coverage. Even Oprah’s recent one hour show covering autism was, in my view, superficial. Fortunately there are other media outlets that are stepping up.

First, and briefly, Oprah’s coverage did not do much to raise awareness other than reaching a very wide audience. Oprah’s show may appear to be an hour, but commercials take it down to about 42 minutes. Subtract the ‘fades’ into and out of commercials, the passes between speakers, introductions and credits, and there’s probably less than 30 minutes of time left to actually talk about autism. Additionally, most of the guests participated in the Autism Every Day video last year. More diversity is needed in efforts to raise awareness.

Step in WNPR – Connecticut Public Radio. While Oprah was presenting information many had already seen a year earlier, the Connecticut NPR stations took a different approach. Over a two day period, WNPR dedicated two 1 hour episodes of the show Where We Live to focus on autism and what’s happening in Connecticut. Fortunately, on NPR an ‘hour’ means about 50 minutes rather than 30. Additionally, the producers sought out some wonderful Connecticut residents to tell the story. The story told was far more engaging than Oprah and I suspect it would be so even for those that don’t live in Connecticut.

Where We Live sought out 4 people, and one “special guest” to tell the story. The first episode was the more traditional ‘awareness raising’ approach. The guests were Dr. Ami Klin of the Yale Child Study Center and Dr. Marianne Barton of the University of Connecticut Both are doing internationally known work in the autism field. Dr. Klin presents a very holistic view of autism, and ties it in with a lot of the research that is currently being conducted. Dr. Klin’s reference to the breadth of the spectrum by describing it as “many autisms” resonated in it’s honesty about how difficult it is to ‘define’ autism. Dr. Barton has been working to improve early identification and is one of the developers of the Modified ChildHood Autism Testing Scale (M-CHAT) based on Simon Baron-Cohen’s original tool. Dr. Barton and others have been tracking the effectiveness of the M-CHAT over a period of years. While the studies are not complete, the tool has become one of the primary methods for autism screening for toddlers in the US.

The second episode included guests that have had a more direct impact on the lives of many autistic people and families in Connecticut. They are also all people that I have the honor of knowing personally. Ms. Stacey Hultgren is the Co-Director of the Connecticut Autism Spectrum Resource Center (CT-ASRC). The ASRC grew from a local parent support group into an organization that serves the entire state. Ms. Hultgren and her organization put an extensive amount of work into building a repository of information on services to support autistic people in CT. The final product, The Autism Spectrum Resource Guide is a 400 page volume covering almost every aspect of services available in the state. CT-ASRC facilitiates parent support groups, groups for autistic adults, and an advocacy course series that I wish I could find time to attend. Interestingly, Ms. Hultgren and the ASRC have accomplished all of this without affiliation with any national organizations.

Ms. Donna Swanson, was the second guest on the final episode. Ms. Swanson runs the Focus Alternative Learning Center, a mileu program for older children and teens on the spectrum. The Focus program is based on teaching skills in a ‘natural’ home-like setting rather than in an artificial setting such as a social skills group. Many of the staff members are young adults that were formerly participants in the program. MJ has been participating in the program for almost two years. Focus presents an advocacy panel discussion called “The Spectrum Unplugged” in which a group of teens and young adults present their experiences to an audience in various settings. The panel has been incredibly popular in the state and has been presenting about one or two times a month for almost two years throughout Connecticut. The Spectrum Unplugged deserves a post of it’s own one of these days.

The special guest on the final episode was Mr. Lucas Hoffstatter. I expect that he’ll be embarrassed that I refer to him as “Mr.” but he deserves the respect of a title as much as anyone else that I’m writing about in this post. Mr. Hoffstatter is a young adult with Aspergers, a former participant in the Focus program, and currently a Focus staff member. As team leader of the Spectrum Unplugged, he does a wonderful job of articulating both his own challenges and successes. Each time I see him speak publicly, I’m impressed by the mix of personal qualities that Mr. Hoffstatter presents. Each time this mix of qualities leaves one word resonating with me: leadership. I’m grateful that MJ has him as a mentor, even if MJ hasn’t yet figured out what a mentor really is.

I’m also grateful to WNPR to raising awareness in a way that Oprah could not. Each of the people who participated have accomplished far more than I could describe in a paragraph. These are the people that are doing far more than simply ‘raising awareness’. They are making a difference.

The links to the shows in the post above are to the WNPR archives where you can hear the shows in their entirety.

Posted in Advocacy | 2 Comments

A Top 10 List for the Wrights

If I were the kind of person to give unsolicited advice, I’d offer some to Bob, Suzanne, and Katie Wright. If I were that kind of person, I’d probably post it on the internet and make an attempt to mix witty humor with philosophical insights into the human condition. I’d make sure that most of the advice was appropriate for many people, not just the Wrights. I’d probably organize the advice into a list because lists are so neat and tidy. Of course, I’d have to number the items on the list to give it the impression that some items have more value than others, as designated by a higher or lower number. I’d have to present it as a “Top 10″ list, both because it’s been funny for David Letterman for 25 years and also because all ‘best’ blog posts are Top XX lists (just check digg). I’d title my list Shawn’s Top Ten Pieces of Advice for the Wright Family. But I would only do this if I were the kind of person to offer unsolicited advice.

Shawn’s Top Ten Pieces of Advice for the Wright Family

10. Breathe In, Breathe Out, Move On

9. Remember that the term “Dysfunctional Family” is redundant. For all of us.

8. While I normally welcome events that may slow down the ongoing assimilation of the world by Autism Speaks, family fights are an exception. I’ve seen and experienced family relationships severed, temporarily and permanently, over similar disagreements of principle. The losses are always tragic. Make sure yours are only temporary.

7. Your issues are not much different from any family running a business. The needs of the family and the needs of the business are not always in agreement. When this happens, choose wisely. When you or someone in your family chooses wrong, refer back to item 10.

6. Your 15 minutes are over. Please exit stage right.

5. Money doesn’t buy happiness, and wealthy grandparents can’t always ‘fix’ things. Besides, the most important things to fix are inside ourselves.

4. I’m really glad the New York Times doesn’t consider the disagreements in my family newsworthy. (OK, that one wasn’t advice, but I really meant it.)

3. When it starts to feel like everyone is against you, you are probably your own worst enemy. I’ve been there and done that. Refer back to item 10.

2. The African proverb “It takes a village to raise a child” is dead on. However, don’t stand around waiting for the village to help your child. Instead, participate and help someone else’s child. And fund raising alone doesn’t count as participating in the village.

1. Don’t pay any attention to the advice of bloggers.

Posted in Blogging, General, Parenting | 3 Comments

Parenting: Its Not That Different

Several months ago, Kristina posted a series of questions in a post at Autismland. One of the questions resonated with me and I’ve thought back to it regularly. Her question, and I’m paraphrasing, was “What’s different between parenting a child with autism and a neurotypical child?”

My initial response to this particular question is exactly the same response that I would give today: “It’s not that different.”

Parenting, at it’s core, involves two primary responsibilities. I’ll refer to the first responsibility as providing and second as nurturing and I’ll describe them in more detail below. Effective parenting stems from balancing the two. The process of balancing these responsibilities is the same whether the child is autistic or neurotypical.

The first responsibility, providing, is more complex than it sounds. It encompasses not only providing for physical needs such as food, clothing, and shelter, but also emotional and intellectual needs. It also includes protecting our children from harm in all of the realms. It means keeping them healthy and educating them. It also means protecting them from making big mistakes, sheltering them from dangerous situations, and advocating for them in a variety of situations.

The second responsibility, nurturing, is similarly complex and also covers the physical, emotional, and intellectual realms. Nurturing is how we help our children grow so that, over time, they depend less and less on others to meet their physical, emotional, and intellectual needs. Nurturing means teaching our children to eat, use the toilet, dress themselves, and interact with others. It also means teaching them to make decisions, and to live with the consequences of those decisions. It includes developing their skills to assess risk in new situations and to advocate for themselves in a variety of settings.

Balancing these two responsibilities is complicated no matter what the child’s strengths and weaknesses are. Almost every choice we make as a parent implicitly includes a decision about this balance. We make these decisions dozens of times each day. The decisions varying from the trivial of ‘should I let my child win while playing checkers?’ to the more significant of ‘What is the best school setting for my child’.

I’m a parent to both autistic and neurotypical children and can say from experience that the decision making process does not vary from child to child. The variation is in the parameters upon which the decision is made including:

  • What are my child’s capabilities in regard to this particular situation?
  • What are the possible negative outcomes and what are the risks that go along with these outcomes? Is the impact of a negative outcome a short term one or will it be long term set back?
  • What are the possible positive outcomes and how significant is the benefit of these outcomes? Positive outcomes can include both the obvious successes as well as the learning that comes from making mistakes.
  • What are the possibilities for me to step back if things go better than expected or intervene if things go worse.
  • What are my own capabilities to provide and nurture in this situation?

Because the paramaters vary, the appropriate balance between providing and nurturing will vary from child to child and from one situation to another. But the process is the same and it is the process, not the outcome, that defines parenting.

Since reading Kristina’s question, and continuing to reflect on my response, I find that I now continually make decisions in the context of striking the appropriate balance. I’ve always considered this balance in an indirect way, but it’s become more of a conscious, rather than subconscious, part of my decision making. I consider this balance when SJ walks through a parking lot from the car to a store and does not want to hold my hand. I think of it when I ask MJ to do something that he doesn’t enjoy. It comes to mind when LJ discusses his plans for work and college. I think of it when I decide how to introduce a new activity or responsibility any of the boys. Basically, I think about it all the time.

Posted in Parenting, Personal | 5 Comments