Parenting a Person With ADHD: Chapter 6

This post may contain affiliate links. Please view our affiliate policy and our terms and conditions here. I am not a mental health professional, all the opinions in this post are my own and reflect what has worked for me. None is of this is given as medical or professional advice. Please seek professional advice in the matters of mental/physical health should you or a loved one need it.

This will be the final post in this series. If you have not already, please read the previous chapters to get an in-depth view of each category. Also feel free to go back and look over the skills, it takes time and practice to hone them.

This post is gonna be short and sweet! The links for the previous articles are above and you can reach out to me or your therapist with questions.

I started this series with the intent to spread some love, understanding, and skills to parents like myself out there who are trying their best. Even though this series is geared towards being a parent of a defiant child, these skills can be applied to many aspects of life and to other kids who you have close connections to.

There are lots of helpful books out there, but I’d like to share the one’s we found to be most useful to us.

  • Mindful Mantras: This is a group of 8 books total (they may have added more since then) and we love them! My son loves to read them out loud himself too. They are simple, encouraging, and have a different defined message clearly implied from the title.
  • Mindful Monkey, Happy Panda: This is one I found to even be helpful for me. It keeps mindfulness simple and explains it in a way everyone can understand.
  • Angry Octopus: This one is extremely helpful to teach kids that they are in control of their bodies and it shows them how to do that through progressive relaxation that is both engaging and relaxing. It also has a fun journaling/coloring book with prompts geared towards getting feelings out and relaxation.

I hope that you gained some insightful tips on this journey with me! Until next time, be well!

Parenting a Person With ADHD: Chapter 5-It Takes a Village

This post may contain affiliate links. Please view our affiliate policy and our terms and conditions here. I am not a mental health professional, all the opinions in this post are my own and reflect what has worked for me. None is of this is given as medical or professional advice. Please seek professional advice in the matters of mental/physical health should you or a loved one need it.

The saying “It takes a village to raise a child” means so many things to me. But for the purpose of this article we’ll focus on the direct hands involved in your child’s life. These could be parents, aunts and uncles, cousins, babysitters, grandparents, counselors, teachers, sports leaders, religious leaders, and so so many more. The people who are directly partaking in the development and growth of your child.

In this chapter I’ll be discussing how to include other adults in the changes that you are making for your child’s life structure. If you are new here and haven’t read up on the previous chapters in this series, please do so! The links are provided below for each.

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Integrating other adults in your child’s new plan can seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. You are the parent and you hold a majority of the power when it comes to decisions about your child’s needs.

When we implemented the ticket system we didn’t include the school in it right away. We mastered it at home first, made it a consistent daily part of our lives and then, when it became apparent an additional tool was needed at school to help modify negative behaviors, we brought in tickets to be given to our son after successful parts of the day.

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We broke up the day into 3 separate categories: beginning, at recess, and after recess. He could earn a ticket during each portion as long as he kept safe hands and feet, kept his saliva to himself, and had listening ears. It was hugely successful.

This strategy can be easily started at a daycare or grandparents house or any other facility that you may use for your child care. The tickets must retain their currency though, so don’t allow anyone to get too ticket happy. The child must do the work to earn the reward.

Sometimes you will come across an adult who does not use the system when they are around your child, whether it be difference of opinion or down-right sabotage of the situation, my point is it does happen. You need to be prepared for those times.

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Remember boundaries from the previous chapters? This is one of those times you set your boundaries and you stick to them with this other adult, regardless of who they may be in your life. You are allowed boundaries and deserve respect as a parent (and a person) to decide what works best for you and your child.

If you are working with a professional and making safe, effective changes and someone else comes in with their own idea of what should be going on, don’t hesitate to yeet them out the door (politely but assertively, of course).

This is not only important for yourself, but also for your child to see that when you set a boundary you expect it to be followed and that you produce real consequences when it is not.

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It’s important to remember that if you do come across an adult who doesn’t agree with your parenting technique: be kind, be assertive, and move on. You don’t need to waste energy and focus on this. Most of the adults in your child’s life will likely see the benefit of making certain changes and be totally on board with all that’s required to keep it going.

It’s also worth noting that having these other adults involved with your child is very important for your kiddo. If you are the only one laying down new laws, it can start to feel like a dictatorship to some kids (especially defiant ones). But when there are other grown-ups saying and doing the same things as you, your child starts to see this is just how the world is and they adapt to it.

It can really make all the difference having a supportive team on your side while rearing your kid. And kids benefit from having all that much more love in their lives!

The next chapter will be the last in this series! Stay tuned

Parenting a Person With ADHD: Chapter 4-Deep Breathing and Other Tools

This post may contain affiliate links. Please view our affiliate policy and our terms and conditions here. I am not a mental health professional, all the opinions in this post are my own and reflect what has worked for me. None is of this is given as medical or professional advice. Please seek professional advice in the matters of mental/physical health should you or a loved one need it.

Holy heck it’s been awhile since my last post! Needless to say, life got rather crazy there for a little bit but that’s a story for another time . Without further ado, let’s get into it and back on track!

If you haven’t read the first parts in this series here are the links:

This post is going to focus on tools/skills to be used in the heat of the moment. These are helpful for adults to learn themselves and teach to kids. These also work best when you the adult are doing these with your own emotions and stressful moments.

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By far one of the most helpful skills we utilize (with ourselves and our sons) is deep breathing. We use it when the energy is too high and the kids are bouncing off the walls; when any of us are getting upset and starting to loose our patience; and we use it in both the calm down corner and time-out.

I have to say it’s extremely gratifying to hear your kiddo using their deep breathing exercises (that they used to fight you on) all on their own while they are seated in the calm down corner or on time-out. We had that success roughly a year into working with our counselor and implementing these tactics, which seems like a long time when you’re in the thick of it but looking back, that year flew by quickly.

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There’s a ton of variations on how to do deep breathing and make it fun for kids (your counselor may have some books that make it fun too! See Chapter 6 for some we used) but our kiddo likes the “snake breathing” the best. You take a slow deep belly breath in through the nose then you breath out making a “SSSSSS” sound while keeping your breath controlled and steady. Do this at least 3 times, I find 5+ is best, and see who can make the sound the longest!

We often do this right before bedtime, and it helps set the mood and mind for the next steps (usually lullabies) of the nightly routine.

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The other tool we used was the S.T.O.P skill. It’s ultimately an acronym for: S-Stop what you’re doing, stop engaging, stop moving, just STOP. T-Take a step back, both mentally and physically, to pull yourself out of the situation and get out of your emotional state. O-Observe, how you are feeling, how others are feeling around you, put yourself in their shoes and try to see how they are experiencing this interaction. P-Plan what your next step is now that you have removed yourself from the heat of the moment, gotten some perspective, and seen the situation from all sides.

For our son this was some pretty advanced stuff and he worked with it like a champ. The reality is, we just introduced this skill to him to start the process of learning and practicing it. Because that’s what this is all about! We all have heard “practice makes perfect” but there is no such thing as perfection, it’s an illusion. I prefer “practice makes permanent”. The more you do something the better you know it and how to do it and are more likely to do it in the future.

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Sometimes there are outbursts that my son has where I just kinda have to to let him come down on his own. His therapist described it as “letting the train get through the tunnel” and once he’s able to see the light on the other side and rejoin the rest of us, I’m then able to use the skills above or talk about how he got to that high level of anger or whatever other feeling he was having. We usually end this discussion with a hug it out session .

Sometimes the best thing you can do for your kid….is nothing. And it’s not doing nothing and acting like you don’t care. You’re doing nothing while still being available; you’re giving them space (and respecting their individual needs) while keeping the boundaries in place and showing that you are consistent and can be counted on to be there once they chill out and need a hug or snugs.

What’s your go to skill for calming yourself or your little one down? Tell me about it in the comments.

Next time: Parenting a Person With ADHD: It Takes a Village

Parenting a Person With ADHD: Chapter 2-Reward System

This post may contain affiliate links. Please view our affiliate policy and our terms and conditions here. I am not a mental health professional, all the opinions in this post are my own and reflect what has worked for me. None is of this is given as medical or professional advice. Please seek professional advice in the matters of mental/physical health should you or a loved one need it.

This is the 2nd chapter in the series “Parenting a Person With ADHD”. If you have not already, please read the prologue here and chapter 1 here.

Now onto the reward system and the correct way to do positive reinforcement. Because yes there is a wrong way…in fact I’d say there’s lots of wrong ways.

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When we first tried positive reinforcement we did the typical sticker chart but we really didn’t have a true set system, let alone a successful one. Some thing we did implement (that was terribly wrong, at least for our kid) was taking the stickers back if he earned a negative consequence from poor choices. This was confusing for him because the positive choices he made weren’t getting fully rewarded and instead were getting wiped out by negative choices. So the focus still ended up on the negative, not the positive. On top of this, the rewards weren’t the most tangible or as instant as he needed at the time. He needed to be able to have literally instant results. A lot of kids who struggle with defiance need this approach as well.

When we started seeing the counselor, she had us use tickets (you could also use marbles, hence the photo ) that he gets to put into a jar and he can use them to earn prizes. The important part here is that the tickets need to have currency for the kid! They have to feel valuable to the kid in order to be effective. That value comes from the prizes or rewards they can get using the tickets or marbles!

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The prizes we did initially were coupons (homemade or bought, either are great, one is simpler ) with things like “Have a pajama day” or ” You pick dinner” or “Get out of one chore”. At one point, we opted to make an actual prize box that our kiddo picked items from, but it didn’t seem as motivating for him. Currently he uses his tickets for screen time and other special to him things: watch his favorite show, use his tablet, go to the park, choose a family activity or game night. He still enjoys the coupons for special occasions or once in a blue moon.

For older kids they can use their tickets for trips or treats such as a trip to the ice cream parlor or the beach or for a slumber party (if you do those) or whatever else they enjoy and is feasible for you to give/do consistently. Alone time with you can also be a reward they earn; they pick the activity for you both to enjoy and use however many tickets to do said activity.

Be cautious with how large you make the goals. They need to be attainable in a small amount of time when starting out (like 5 or 10 tickets for a prize) and you can slowly increase the number of tickets needed as time goes on and your child’s skills improve. You want them working for those rewards, not having them handed out like candy on Halloween.

It’s also important to really give tickets for EVERY positive thing you see your child doing in the beginning. “I noticed you stayed calm when it was time to go, here’s a ticket” or if you’re not there yet “You did a great job keeping your hands and feet to yourself when you were upset” or, my personal favorite “Thank you for not peeing your pants while on time-out, you made a good choice. Here’s your ticket”.

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Yes I’ve said every single one of these and more. So. Many. More. Eventually you will get to the point where you work on specific things you want your child to do differently. Like brushing teeth without yelling, or listening the first time (I still have my hopes up for this one), or not talking back. As time goes by they will have to work harder to earn the tickets to get the prizes. Just start small and find the positive, no matter how little it may be.

Next time on Parenting a Person With ADHD: The Calm Down Corner

Parenting a Person With ADHD: Chapter 1-Ignoring The Negative

This post may contain affiliate links. Please view our affiliate policy and our terms and conditions here. I am not a mental health professional, all the opinions in this post are my own and reflect what has worked for me. None is of this is given as medical or professional advice. Please seek professional advice in the matters of mental/physical health should you or a loved one need it.

This is the 2nd part in my new series “Parenting a Person With ADHD”.

In the prologue, I went over how we as a family got to where we are today and briefly discussed some of the tools we used. In this chapter I will be going over in detail the first tool: ignoring the negative nonsense.

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To actively ignore someone takes skill, patience, and practice. To actively ignore your own offspring while they are attempting, very hard, to REGAIN your attention….well that takes the above things and some direct, frequent support. Either from someone who’s been through it or a professional skilled in managing cases like this. Someone whom can give you reassurance. Because this one skill is probably one of the most important and effective.

We started living by the rule: if it wasn’t hurting someone or something, and wouldn’t lead to undesired behaviors later, it could be ignored.

To achieve this can sometimes be tricky. There’s a lot of behaviors/actions that fall into a grey area. I’ve found the easiest way to sort out some of those in between things was to ask ourselves “Is this an actual problem or do I just have a problem with him doing this?”. For example, he used to love being upside down on the couch. I had to readjust myself and learn to be ok with him having his legs up in the air. My only rule was his legs had to be still-no kicking or squirming as that becomes dangerous to others. Now, he doesn’t sit like that anymore. I let it go, and so did he.

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You may be familiar with the saying you get more of what you pay attention to and that is quite true. Especially for a child with ADHD who is defiant and/or has ODD. They like to know they can get a rise out of you, it gives them a sense of control in a world where they have very little control. They like being in control (I don’t blame them, so do most of us) and have a hard time when they are not. Ensue melt down.

The way to break this cycle is to take your own control back…by not giving into the cycle in the first place. When you actively ignore your child’s negative behavior they will (eventually) see they no longer effect your mood/actions with how they choose to act. So they will stop, because the norm has changed. Then they will learn to re-set their brain into active choice making rather than instant response.

Now, keep in mind this will take time. Sometimes a long time. And you cannot, I repeat CAN NOT, give up anywhere in the middle of this transition period. Otherwise you will have just reinforced all over again that they can get a rise out of you, and it will be that much harder to get them, and yourself, to make lasting and meaningful change. This is really a time when consistency counts.

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This is usually the most exhausting part of parenting a defiant child for many. You don’t have room for many mistakes and you don’t have the luxury to throw in the towel. For our son we still have to do this every so often! He’ll be turning 7 this year and we started this when he was 5, just to give you an idea of the road ahead. But he rarely ever needs this now, and he never throws fits like he used to. But the reality of raising a person with ODD or defiant ADHD is that these issues will never fully go away; these skills will always be needed.

Stay tuned for the next chapter: Reward System

My Child Has ADHD

This post may contain affiliate links. Please view our affiliate policy and our terms and conditions here. I am not a mental health professional, all the opinions in this post are my own and reflect what has worked for me. None is of this is given as medical or professional advice. Please seek professional advice in the matters of mental/physical health should you or a loved one need it.

I feel like there’s a lot of misinformation out there regarding ADHD and it’s symptoms. I was guilty of it myself. I thought it just meant the person was full of energy and had a hard time sitting still. Boy was I wrong. ADHD can present itself in a number of ways, only one of which is the hyperactivity it is so commonly associated with. There’s also time management, distractibility, defiance, difficulty controlling emotions, difficulty in school, difficulty in making and keeping friends, low or zero impulse control, and so many more. Just like each person with ADHD is unique, so is the ADHD itself.

I also feel like there is a lot of stigma against those with ADHD. You get pegged as difficult to work with, hard to be around, and troublesome. None of this is inherently true. Those with ADHD want to do well and be accepted. They are great people, who do not always have control over something they did not choose for themselves. As the parent of a child with this condition, I find that sometimes other parents aren’t so keen to view my child with understanding eyes.

On a typical day, with medication, you wouldn’t know my son has ADHD and ODD (his teacher literally just told me this earlier this week). He listens, plays pretty well with others, is intellectually engaged, and overall well behaved. If you are a new adult to him, he will listen to you and show you respect. However, without medication or if he’s having an off day, the tables are completely turned. He’s defiant and mouthy, he throws fits at literally every possible moment, he struggles to be kind to others, and he tries to manipulate the situation, so you can forget about even trying to do anything that’s out of the normal routine for the day.

I have to remind myself in those times that it’s not him, it’s his condition. It really can be easy to forget that he doesn’t truly hate me when he’s yelling it as loud as his vocal cords will let him. However I also know that he makes choices, and the only way to guide him into making better choices on a consistent basis is to have appropriate consequences-both negative and positive-for his choices. So no, I can’t let him get away with anything-like EVER. It’s a fine line between “pick your battles” and “don’t let him forget who’s in charge”. A VERY fine line.

What makes it all the harder is that he has ODD on top of the ADHD. This was a diagnosis that…..scared me…half to death, if I’m being honest. I still have the unsettling fear that my son will follow in his biological fathers footsteps*(this is an article I’m not ready to write yet), but I am working daily to let that fear go because it’s not mine to own. You can read more about ODD here but to simplify, it makes him push back against authority. AKA me. I am the main caregiver, parent, nurse, chauffer, chef, PE teacher, counselor, and maid to both my boys (and also my husband, shhh ). Meaning that my son and I are together whenever he is not at school or asleep.

This makes it harder, I find, for him to continue respecting me and my authority *said in a Cartman voice*. He pushes more against me than he does his dad (step-dad for those of you keeping track). He seeks time away from me frequently but as soon as I leave the house to do something solo, he misses me. I’ve come to realize that’s because I am his security. He pushes against me so willfully because he can count on me pushing back, reminding him just where those boundary lines are. And for someone with ADHD, ODD, and anxiety (because why not genetic lottery!) they need that reminder and consistency to feel safe; it helps him know his place in the world.

I have a long way ahead of me, being a parent of someone with ADHD, and a lot more to learn as the chapters in both our lives unfold. But I hope to those parents out there who like me, have a little something extra on their plate, you will discover that the struggle isn’t always a bad thing; and in fact can be what keeps you close with your child. Read more about the struggles here.

Helping Your ADHD Child Succeed

This post may contain affiliate links. Please view our affiliate policy and our terms and conditions here. I am not a mental health professional, all the opinions in this post are my own and reflect what has worked for me. None is of this is given as medical or professional advice. Please seek professional advice in the matters of mental/physical health should you or a loved one need it.

I think most parents would agree they want their children to be successful, whatever that may look like to each of us. However raising a person with ADHD comes with it’s own set of challenges on top of those that are already standard struggles for parents. There’s the disorganization, difficulty with time management, distractibility, defiance, and of course emotions getting “too big” and causing a meltdown.

These are some key points we utilize in our household to help manage some of those symptoms.

Make charts for daily tasks

This is probably my most favorite go to. This is what got me off my son’s back and gave us both some room for peace. He likes that I’m not reminding him to get his clothes on because it’s been 15 minutes and he’s still just dinking around on the floor with his jammies half off; I like that all I have to say is “Go do your list” and he does! Quite successfully and quickly no less. We keep on him about time management and got him a watch and regularly use kitchen timers as needed to help him understand what 5 minutes actually feels like. He also knows that he doesn’t get to move onto anything else more fun until his list is done and he will be redirected back to the list as many times as it takes. Me being able to say 4 words helps with not engaging him too much because that just becomes fuel for his defiance. Lists have done a lot for my household. He actually has 3 lists; one for morning, one after school, and one evening. They each have there own set of things and I made them in order to help him learn how to manage that later in life (you don’t get your shoes and jacket on until you’ve gotten dressed sorta thing) as I see him struggle with it currently. You can check out what all are on those lists here!

Plan ahead and do ahead

This ties into the list . Mornings are rough for everybody not just our family, but if he/we don’t do stuff the night before we will NOT make it out of the house on time. Part of my son’s list entails him to get stuff done ahead of time for the next day; i.e. laying his clothes out, making his lunch, prepping his backpack, planning for anything he needs to bring to school, ect. This also sets the tone for the evening and helps wind him down prior to bedtime. We’ve essentially created a very productive routine that tells his body “Hey it’s time to chill, bedtime is soon”.

Always allow an extra 15 minutes, better early everyday than late

I’m a type-A personality so not only do I live for organization, I feel my body tearing itself apart if I am late anywhere. Now because my darling child will occasionally have meltdowns in the morning while all the goings on are happening, I have opted to get him up a wee bit earlier so that it is now on him and less on me. By that I mean if we have extra time (because he didn’t loose his $#*!) then he can spend a little bit of time watching TV or playing with LEGOS or pillow fighting his younger brother. This helps ease my mind and helps take the stress off both of us and it’s literally only 15 minutes! This can also be applied to other functions. Kid hates going to the doctor? Just give yourself that 15 minute grace period. So what if you have to wait in the car or sit on the bench outside calmly while they scream. Let ’em. It doesn’t bother you until you allow it to.

Find a compromise for a task that is a struggle

My son hates making his bed. Like cries and tells me “You’re the worst mom ever” when I ask him to do this. And hey, I get it! He doesn’t like to struggle or feel unaccomplished and fitted sheets are the perfect storm for that, even as an adult (I haven’t told him yet that they don’t go away ). So we compromise. I help him with his bed and he helps me with my bed, or some other chore I’d like his assistance on. It has us working together as a team to achieve a goal, he gets the practice and gains some confidence and then he gets introduced to another chore and the theory “I’ll scratch your back, you scratch mine”. You meet him in the middle and he will kinda be forced to do the same if he wants the help. But skills still have to be used! No whining or being rude or I walk out and remind him when he’s ready he can come get me. And I wait until he is actually ready-not that half sneaky smile pouty face ready. Good ole’ manipulation attempts *sigh*.

Schedule down time and self reflection time

This one is something we still are working on. He finally seems eager to do this and gets excited about it on his list. I got him a gratitude journal awhile back and so far he really enjoys it. This one is geared for younger kiddos but they certainly have lots to choose from for all ages. I liked this one because it was simple, straightforward, and still had room for drawing about your day. Meditation is slooooowly coming along. I really love meditation myself but he doesn’t like to be still for so long (hmmm 6 year old with ADHD, can’t imagine why). However he DOES enjoy progressive relaxation in book form at bedtime. This is the book we use here. He feels like he’s just getting a story read to him and he gets to move his muscles a bit but it’s actually helping him to gain self awareness and control over his body. Plus its extremely calming. If you’ve never tried it, I highly recommend doing so. It’s beneficial for all ages.

Daily outside time, regardless of weather

This is huge for people with mental health conditions and frankly for ALL people. We need nature. I notice a night and day difference in my kid if he hasn’t been able to play outside. It’s centering for him, as it is for me. Even if he’s not “doing” anything in particular, just being in the fresh air and hearing the birds and feeling the wind helps his brain have multiple things to do with itself and thus calms him. I also feel it’s important to get your kids used to all types of weather. I believe it helps them become more resilient, because some days are crumby and some days are shiny but all days exist and you can make them into better days if you choose to.

“One task at a time”

This one comes straight out of his therapists mouth. And it seems so simple but sometimes I think we all need that reminder. When he’s trying to eat a snack and play on his tablet and talk to grandma on the phone or watch his favorite show, I remind him “One thing at a time, you need to pick one”. This also helps him learn prioritizing, which is the most important or what do I actually want to do right now. It helps him slow down and think in a world that gets so caught up with do, do, do!

Weekly clean outs for room, locker, backpack

I am ashamed to say I let this one drop recently. I put it on his list and thought he was doing it completely! Until I happened to put something in his backpack for his teacher and found pencil shavings, pencils, an opened sharpener, and his empty pencil box in there….So I helped him clean it out, no biggy. Until I tried to put the pencil box in the front pocket and found….FOOD! Old food from at least 2 weeks prior . There was a SB&J (S is for sunbutter) with the butter smeared around the inside of the pocket, and carrots that luckily weren’t growing a biology experiment, and stale pretzels. Thank goodness there wasn’t a funky smell yet! I had him clean out that particular pocket solo. Now I check on a daily that this task gets done so there’s no surprises. We also go through his room with him roughly once a week. I don’t usually put my foot down in his room as long as stuff is where it belongs but he likes to stash stuff under his bed. Including trash…and food. We’re working on it…

Responsibility in the household living duties

I may refer to chores as such on here since that’s what most people know them as but at home I prefer to use the term “living duties”. Why? Well because everyone who lives has duties unto themselves and the other members of their household. You like to eat? You learn how to cook and wash dishes. You like to be clean? You learn how to wash yourself properly and do laundry. Plus members of the family might throw a fuss if your personal fragrance is emanating from you at 3 feet away. I am a firm believer and supporter that my kids will one day leave the house and not come home for mama to wash their clothes. And I’ll be damned if my boys think it will become their partners responsibility. No. It’s on them, they need to know how to take care of themselves. And myself and my husband will be the ones to teach them. Make no mistake these baby birds don’t have instinct, they need skills before they can fly. That’s what I’m here for. I intend for my kids to know how to cook, clean, launder, sew, iron, fix, repair, wash, dry, screw, and unscrew just about everything for themselves by the time they are ready to leave my nest. It’s my responsibility as their parent to provide them the tools and skills they need to succeed and the knowledge of where to find the information if they don’t know it.

What are some things that work for your child to be successful?