Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Addendum to "All arguments are NOT created equal"

Tonight, after reading a post from a member of one of the groups I belong to, I happened to look up what was meant by PACE Parenting and I tried to find out what a PACE course involved.

Well, I was fairly gob-smacked when I started reading to be truthful!

The description resonated so strongly with me that I felt my breath catch. How had I not heard of this?!

It was describing exactly how our house functions when we are all trying our best! These letters and the principles they represent are our conscious goal as a family.

I genuinely thought that what I do is just called 'parenting'. Apparently not! Which led me to thinking about how that could have happened.

How I could have such a minority idea of what 'parenting' is that it requires teaching to other parents?

To be honest, I pretty much always feel 'controversial' when discussing parenting with people...although, I am meeting a fair few super mums these days who are on the same page. You know who you are! ;-)

In truth though, 'parenting' is itself a far too complicated a word. It can be (and often is) easily manipulated by the mass media/culture depending on the last 'research' (see below).

There is always a new 'trend' that parents 'must' conform to or else they are risking possible isolation and/or ridicule because of their lack of  'parenting' skills. Sigh.

I do not subscribe to many things that are considered 'mainstream' and for me, 'parenting' simply means loving unconditionally. That's it. Simple right?

Well, guess what? Loving unconditionally is what PACE describes and that is what I tried really hard to explain in my last post (even though I'm not sure that I really did)!

I don't have to worry now though because here is an excellent description of PACE

By the way, I think the term PACE is now becoming widely used because the term 'attachment parenting' (that's the term I may use sometimes to talk about our ideas and philosophy) has become somewhat disparaged and is perceived to be a little 'fluffy' in modern times (*cough* thanks to the main stream media *cough*).

Well, not to worry because now here comes the latest 'parenting' trend in the form of PACE! Excellent stuff! It can't come soon enough.

Let's spread the love! <3

Not sure I should type the next paragraph because my Aspieness is confused about social convention (no shit right, please see above) and it is now too late to call Cara and ask her for her advice, so here goes nothing!

If any of you reading this would like to contact me to talk about how this works for your little people, with or without complex needs, please do get in touch, I'd love to think it through with you.

I guess you could say it was my 'gift' (as someone on the Autistic Spectrum) to be able to see these principles and apply them (fairly) easily to my own family.

Anyways, if anyone is still reading, thanks.

Take good care,

N x


All of the courses I am finding about PACE appear to be aimed at those who are foster carers or adoptive parents, or people working in child protection fields and therapeutic and supportive roles etc. Very few courses are targeting actual biological parents. This is because the focus of 'attachment parenting' in these instances is NOT related to special needs children, nor even children in the 'majority'.

PACE is being 'sold' by people working for adoption agencies/fostering agencies to Local Authorities in order to support their fostering/adoption processes. Obviously, this is great news for all those children.

But, once again, I am left thinking that for some reason, the 'establishment' are perhaps hesitant to give these skills to everyone, sorry, I mean every parent as well as to everyone 'becoming' a parent if you know what I mean.

Imagine a world where the birth parents of all these children who find themselves in foster care were taught the principles of PACE? Surely it would have had a positive effect in at least some of the cases? Hopefully one day we will find out.

I am so sad right now because I know my children do not have any attachment issues (I parent using PACE principles already, doh) but what they do have are complex special needs governed by their senses and neurological conditions (causing me to parent this way in the first place if I'm being truly honest, they taught me everything I know) and if other parents don't know any of this yet (that just loving, accepting, understanding, listening, empathising etc etc works miracles) then they need to be told too!

So, please, fellow parents (and especially those of you with children with special needs), do not feel that you are being criticised by the mainstream and do not feel that you have somehow 'caused' your child's special needs just because so many of their difficulties cross paths with those who have suffered some kind of attachment malfunction.

What has in fact happened is that you now know that your child was born with these 'special needs' in order to teach you these important principles themselves...for free! Voluntarily! Not via some crazy expensive, mostly inaccessible course! Aren't we lucky?!

Kids ALL need showering with the principles of PACE (playfulness, acceptance, curiosity and empathy), shit, all ADULTS need some extra loving from the PACE principles too!

Go on, try it.

N x

PS - I really am going to sleep now.

Monday, 10 August 2015

All arguments are NOT created equal!

Just a quick thought really (I'm sleepy).

Not all arguments are created equally.

Sometimes my kids and I argue/bicker/fight/disagree and any other adjectives you can think of for being of opposing views.

These events can manifest in many different ways. Shouting. Stomping. Slamming. Throwing. Screaming. Stand(ing) off (or is it stand offing). Hitting. And probably more I'm sure. You get the idea right?

But sometimes, just sometimes, they (we) are arguing in a way that is different to the ways listed above.

They (we) are actually having a discussion about something outside of their (our) own lives. It is incredible to witness (be part of) and I am sure that these discussions become more coherent and more structured the more of the 'less desirable' types of scuffles they actually have! To have a discussion, the more information you have to draw from, the better things are for you. My kids are learning this as they move away from violence and frustration towards discussion and negotiation.

It is more than just opinions, gossip, finger-pointing, name-calling, childish disagreements etc. It is 'grown-up' (eurgh) and 'mature' (eurgh) arguing!

I'm not sure whether or not this phenomenon (at ages 8 and 6) is brought about by us being in a different environment to most (accepting, familiar, comforting, safe, loving) or whether or not most 6-8 year olds do this too? I sure do hope they all do! It is so interesting to be a part of and really bodes well for the future.

But, when my middle two children disagree, it can go every which way and therefore, sometimes, thankfully, does go the way of adult (eurgh) discourse (picture Sorkin, the Wachowskis etc). It is civil, structured, to the point, well reasoned and interesting to listen to. They ask one another poignant questions. They use persuasive language. They negotiate every little detail. They are always on the lookout for the catch!

I'm not sure any of this will work in their favour in the short-term to be honest, given how patronising adults are in general towards children, but, for the time being at least, they are articulate and curious and learning lots...yay!

Maybe that is why we love our unschooling so much? Having got rid of any preconceived ideas that because I have been alive longer, I know more, the children's arguments all become 'valid'.

By the time my kids make their way out properly into the world they will simply have learned to accept and be themselves because they have been allowed to be (without fear of further reprisal maybe because my house does not endorse 'punishment' for punnishments sake)?

My house teaches you that no one knows more about you than you do.

If you know yourself, you're more than capable of disagreeing calmly and patiently and this is because you do not feel threatened in any way. You know who you are and you are competing with no one but yourself from yesterday.

You are not attached to the thoughts/opinions that you may have formed over the years. You understand that they are transitory.

You are simply attached to your right to have those thoughts and opinions and your right to articulate them.

If new information arises, great! More to think about and consider. Win win situation so long as you are not too attached to your existing thoughts.

So in my opinion, all arguments are not created 'equal' but they are all valid forms of expression which clearly serve a purpose.

They move you towards self-knowldge.

Food for thought.

N x

PS - Just in case you are going away with the impression that my kids (and I) argue a lot, let me put it into context.

We are together pretty much 24/7.
We are awake and co-operating for approx 14 hrs per day. every day.

The things we do change. The people we see change. But, we mostly do things together, barring the times D does not join us (he needs far more quiet time than us as you already know).

There is a fight of some description probably every day, yes.

There are 5 of us in our house (one of them being a 6 month old baby who is obviously always reasonable and easy to deal with), plus a carpet-destroying cat (don't even get me started) and an incontinent elderly American Bulldog (urgh..laugh if you like but you'd hate it too). Things can get hectic!

But, I reckon, if you a divided the number of fights by the number of hours spent together, and then compared that number to a more typical population, we'd look pretty impressive.