Tag Archives: Family

Parent Judgement

This is a Melt down.

Did the adult in this situation, based on limited data available to the casual observer, make good parenting choices? Maybe not.

I  would like people to consider that they do not have all of the facts and that it is likely unfair to judge. I  say this coming from experience with a kid like this. I’ve experienced major melt downs. Ones where I feared for the safety of anyone near my kid. One where I felt the safest choice was to call for police assistance.  More than one where I felt helpless and could only cry. Many, especially in the early days, where I made poor parenting choices. Many where I’m sure someone judged me poorly.

My only point is that we have a very brief glimpse into this family’s lives. Please don’t judge.

Mid-Life Baggage

The question:

We all have complicated histories. When was the last time your past experiences informed a major decision you’ve made?

The answer:

The closer a person is to middle age, the heavier their baggage becomes.  Hence, the mid life crisis – that stage in life where couples who appear to be happy or to have it all end up divorced.  That is where I am – a middle aged divorced woman navigating a dating world she has been away from for 25 years.

I have not had any major decisions since my divorce, but I pay attention to the small signs in my new relationship that provide hints on how compatible we are.  That is the primary reason my ex and I are divorced, we weren’t really all that compatible – especially once kids were added to the mix.

Following are three areas in which my ex and I struggled and how I’m paying attention with this new guy to see if he is more compatible with me.

Communication I look for signs that my new guy can handle difficult communication.  We are in the very early stages of romance, but have at least had one small bit of conflict.  I was pleased with the way he handled it.  He let me state my frustrations (initially via texting), did not feel the need to defend himself – just listened (or read), and then when I sent a bitchy text he called me so that we could clear the air.  Not dramatically different than the way it would have gone down with ex, but ex would have defended himself or reasoned with me when all I wanted to do was state my feelings and be heard.

Family values was another area where my ex and I differed too much.  Family is important to me and I will spend time doing something with family that I may not have done on my own – just so I can be with them.  When my parents would visit, the only thing my ex wanted to do with them was eat.  Again, I am in the very early stages of the relationship with my new guy, but I look for clues in how important his relationship is with his family.  So far I’m pretty impressed.  He has no living parents, so can’t speak to that.  He seems to put emphasis on his kids, not only in spending time with them but in understanding them.

Hobbies and entertainment was an area where the ex and I struggled a bit, but not to a degree as great as the above.  Ex liked hobbies that weren’t very kid friendly and disliked things that the average kid enjoys.  Our kids love being in the water and we had a couple of different seasonal pools in the yard over the years.  Not only did ex not want to get into the pool with the kids, but he didn’t want to have ANYthing to do with the pool.  To a very extreme degree.  I look for signs that my new guy finds interests that he can share with his kids.  Some examples include: fishing, swimming, hiking, camping and many more family fun activities.

In response to Baggage Check daily prompt.

Reason to Believe?

In response to Reason to Believe.

For me it is the belief that there is always room for improvement, a belief that I can learn something new, a belief that I can make changes that will allow me to be happier, a belief that I have some level of control over my future.  I will boil this down to the most simple form:

I believe because the alternative is bleak, like the bare branches of the background of this tree.

Embed from Getty Images

I need hope in my life. I need to be able to see the potential in a bleak situation and my belief helps me do that.

I will not give up on my youngest son.  I support him and believe he has a reasonable chance to be happy and productive in his adult life in spite of Autism.

I did not give up on my marriage when we were having difficulties.  It was very difficult at times, but I always believed that we could improve – and we did.  No – we’re not perfect but that wasn’t the goal.

I did not give up on my oldest son when he was depressed and anxious beyond what a 10ish year old should ever be.  I believed that he just needed help coping with the stress of having a special needs brother, help that I wasn’t able to provide myself because I also needed help.

I did not give up on myself when I reached an all time low and was eating frosting for the sugar high.  I believed that there was something better for me and that I just needed help to change my mindset to be more positive.

Had I not believed, I would be a divorced mom of two boys with constant worry that one would end up in jail and the other would engage in self-destructive behaviors to handle his stress.

Here are some thoughts from others:


Choose a Reality

I’ve been thinking about happiness for quite awhile now.  Being gracious, thankful, happy, etc.  I want that.  It’s not that I’m unhappy, but that things can always improve.

I’ve read (but never finished – truthfully) several really good books on the subject:

I am currently working through Before Happiness and will be blogging about this in an effort to get these concepts to stick in my head.

Working on Choosing a Reality

Recognize Alternate Realities

This is simple, recognize that what you initially perceive as reality may not be the only reality.  If you land in a potentially negative situation, there may be an opportunity hidden in there somewhere.

Vantage Points

Shawn Achor’s books are wonderful.  It is amazing how much input our minds receive moment to moment.  How do we decide which input to focus on?  We can only focus on 40 bits of information per second out of over 10 million bits we receive.  Shawn talks about recognizing alternative realities.  With that much information pouring into our senses every second, we need to learn how increase our likelihood of seeing these other realities.  He talks about vantage points.  You’ll have to read his book for the details, but I see this as “looking at the BIG picture.”

I’ll use a floundering marriage as an example.  If you are only focusing on your unhappiness, you may not see that you are truly loved by your spouse and that she is showing it in ways you may not recognize.  Maybe you wanted her to be the entertainment planner but she’s focused on making sure the house is clean so that you don’t need to worry about that when you get home.  In order to see that she really is showing her love, you need to look at things from different angles.  This might involve learning more about love languages (there’s a book for that: The 5 Love Languages, by Gary D Chapman) and learning how to communicate with her about what makes you feel loved.  It might involve studying other couples to consider the various ways they show love.  Or if you’re really brave, maybe it would involve reading a love story, keeping in mind that the situation in the book will be so over the top that it will knock you back down into what is real.

Pursue Valuable Reality

Now that you can see different realities because you’ve added vantage points, it is time to learn how to pursue the reality you feel is most rewarding.  This part is less clear to me, so forgive me as I muddle through.  Shawn talks about the positivity ratio, which I’ve read about before (especially in How Full is Your Bucket? by Tom Rath and Donald O Clifton, PhD).  For every negative in a work relationship, there should be 3 positives to maintain a positive work environment (engagement, sales, productivity, low turnover).  In marriage the ratio is 5 positives to 1 negative.

Next Shawn moves on to talking about overcoming blind spots.  I see this as an effort to gain perspective, gather data / information, and consider multiple view points.  This relates it to his next topic in the pursue the reality you feel is most rewarding section – Embracing Multiple Cultures.  Discuss things with a variety of different people: male, female, American, European, Chinese, executives, professionals, etc.  To me this is just a continuation of vantage points, but maybe that is because I have more difficulty with the abstract than the concrete.

Ultimately, the difficult part is to recognize alternate realities – not to choose one that is beneficial.

Stay tuned for the next chapter, Mapping Your Success Route.

Gratitude on my Birthday

Yep – today is my birthday!!!

It is Eilene's B-Day!

Today I am especially grateful.  You see, I am married to a wonderful man who has made a lot of tough changes in his life recently so that we could be a happier couple.  I don’t tell him nearly enough how much I appreciate him.  I hope he sees these words and mentions it to me!  I am thankful to still have him in my life after 20 years of marriage.

I am thankful for all of the caring effort that teachers give to educate my youngest son.  He is not easy to handle and constantly gives us all a run for our money.  Yet every time I meet with them they have positive things to say about him.  They truly care about him and want to help him succeed.

I am thankful that my almost 13 yr old son is still OK with showing me how much he loves me.  He sometimes says, “Wait, wait!” as I’m leaving for work and then runs to give me a hug.  And I love how he sometimes comes into my room at night as I’m reading, sometimes with a furry friend, just to give me a night kiss!

Take a moment today to tell the people you love that you are grateful for all that they do for you.

Life is Good

Weekend things that I’m grateful for:

  • We had an awesome family therapy session.  Younger son was very participative and open about working on his problems.  Older son participated in a way that did not distract (not too much anyway)!  Husband was in a good mood and participated nicely.
  • We went to see Girl on Fire as a family.
  • I ran (mostly ran – anyway) about a mile and a half.
  • We went to the grocery store as a family and everyone had a good time shopping.  Ended up with a lot of sweets though!
  • I can still say I’m in my early 40s and it will be almost true – for another day.
  • Although I’m not perfectly healthy in every way, I am not entirely unhealthy!  😉

Exhale – It Really WILL be OK

In response to Daily Prompt: Exhale

Tell us about a time when everything seemed to be going wrong — and then, suddenly, you knew it would be alright.

I have not had one singularly dramatic moment when I knew everything would be OK.  Rather, I have many moments where I force myself to believe that everything will be OK.  It is a slippery slope, my confidence, so up I go and down I slide.  Over the last two years – especially the last one year – I believe I’ve gone UP the slope more than down the slope.

Some of these moments:

  • My boys generally don’t get along – like most siblings.  Knowing this is true of most siblings does not make me better able to accept the fact.  So when older son scooted close to younger son and said “Of course we’ll be OK because we love each other” and then proceeded to hug his brother – I knew it would be OK.
  • My husband and I went through relationship struggles through 2012 and partly into 2013.  When he shows me his big grin and lets his silly side show – I know everything will be OK.
  • When you parent a child with Asperger’s, you need to learn to recognize the small victories that lead to everything being OK.  When he recognizes a characteristic / behavior that he has causes him problems, that means that the first step of resolving the problem is complete.  Recognition / ownership of the problem.

Daily Prompt: Mirror, Mirror – Who Am I?

In response to Daily Prompt: Mirror, Mirror, On the Wall.

Think of your blog as a mirror: what does it reveal? Consider your blog name, theme choice, design, bio, posts… what does every element tell you about yourself?

Theme: I chose the Ocean Mist theme and put my own header image in.  I liked the simplicity of this theme.  Things are not cluttered because clutter confuses me. I changed the header image yesterday because I recently started following someone who also has this theme.  The photo I chose is from a vacation a few weeks ago, when hubby and I went to the Smoky Mountains on the Motorcycle.  We were riding along one of the many beautiful mountain roads that is set up with plenty of overlooks, and were being bombarded by HUGE bugs.  Turns out they were butterflies.  It was a bit hazy that day, so it wasn’t all that worthwhile to take yet another picture of the fog, so I focused on the butterflies in the beautiful flowers.  This picture makes me remember the wonderful time we had together, all relaxed and stress free.

Posts: This is related to the name of my blog as well, Randomness Expressed.  I knew that I wouldn’t be able to stick to a focused topic, hence Randomness.  My blog is pretty new, but my top topics I’ve used (according to my tags) include: Daily Prompt, Kids, Parenting, Autism, Self Improvement, and Motorcycle.  My most popular post: Daily Prompt from 8/13/2013.  I’m slowly gaining an audience and the Daily Prompts aid in getting people into my blog.  My most popular non Daily Prompt post is School Lockdown, also from yesterday.

About Page: Here you will learn that you might like my blog if you aren’t looking for too much focus.  I give you an idea of what I’ll be writing about.  You’ll also see a picture of me and my family and learn that I have a special, special needs kid.

I hope you’ll stop by and learn a little more about me.  And I’m looking forward to reading more about the rest of you!

Family Relationship Health

Circumplex Model
Circumplex Model

How healthy is your family relationship?

How cohesive is your family relationship?  Are you disengaged, enmeshed, or somewhere in between?

How flexible is your family relationship?  Is it chaotic, rigid, or somewhere in between?

If you have a guess to these answers, how can you know if that means your family relationship is healthy or needs some level of rework?

Why should you care?

  • Understanding your family’s location on this model can help you target specific areas for improvement.
  • When you are having troubles with teens, evaluate the level of cohesiveness and flexibility.  Are you disengaged but have strict rules and family roles? Perhaps growing your relationship with your teen would make those rules seem more acceptable.
  • Are you and other family members slowly growing apart from each other?
  • Is one or more family members feeling squashed and in need of more “Me” and less “We?”
  • Is someone in the family desperately lonely?
  • Are the kids confused about who is in charge?

My Family 3 Years Ago

We were not in a happy place.  Our youngest had been diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome (Autism – basically).  I was obsessed first with finding a cure (although I didn’t realize it at the time) and then with finding ways to help him.  Communication between hubby and I was like communication between roommates – not like two people in love who share parenting.  We were firmly planted in the Structurally Disengaged section, which is not the healthiest but also not the worst.  That spot works well for some families and not so well for others.  It was not working for us.

Room for Improvement

So, what was NOT working for us?  Were we too structured or too disengaged?  Where did we want to move on this chart?  We never sat down and specifically talked about that, but your family may like that approach.  Based on LOTS of conversation over the past 8 months or so, we determined that we were too disconnected.  We were two independent people with little loyalty and little closeness.  This left the door open for major family and marital problems to happen.  We needed to move into the Structurally Connected or the Flexibly Connected section.

Where are we now?

I’m not entirely sure, but I do know that we are no longer Disengaged.  It started with hubby and me moving more and more into the connected realm.  I would put the 2 of us in the Structurally Connected region.  We spend a lot of time together now, whereas 3 years ago it was me & the kids and hubby took off for various hobbies on his own.  We have a much higher degree of loyalty to each other because now we talk about things instead of pretending nothing is wrong.  We make a LOT more decisions together now, especially regarding family.

Where We Are Moving

We may never move out of the Structurally Connected region, but we still have work to do on where we are as a family.  We are slowly working on our individual relationship with our kids and working on whole family relationship.  We have a significant amount of time where we are unplugged in the late afternoon and a large chunk of the weekend.  This helps us do more things together, thereby increasing our connection.  Here’s pictures from a recent rocket launch we had as a family.

The Boys!
The Boys!
Rocket Prep
Rocket Prep
Post Landing Recovery!
Post Landing Recovery!