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Differently Wired: Raising an Exceptional Child in a Conventional World, with Debbie Reber

 

Right now, millions of children are growing up in a world that doesn’t respect, support, or embrace who they inherently are.

These are children Debbie refers to as “differently wired”—the kids with neurodifferences such as ADHD, giftedness, autism, learning disorders, and anxiety, as well as those with no formal diagnosis, who are being told day in and day out that there is something wrong with them. And because their differences are for the most part invisible, these kids are stuck trying to fit into a world that wasn’t designed to accommodate their unique way of being.

Their challenges are many. But for the parents who love them, their challenges are just as hard. They’re the parents frequently fielding emails from frustrated teachers and dealing with glares when their children behave inappropriately in public. They’re the exhausted moms and dads pushed into nonstop advocacy mode, the ones whose kids people think twice about inviting to their child’s birthday party. They’re overwhelmed, misunderstood, and isolated, which is ironic considering their kids are in every classroom across the country. Debbie knows this because she is one of these parents.

DIFFERENTLY WIRED lays out a new vision for not only redefining the way neurodiversity is perceived in the world, but shifting the parenting paradigm so parents raising extraordinary kids can do so from a place of peace, joy, and most importantly, choice.

Each chapter in the book centers on one big tangible idea—or as Debbie calls them, “Tilts”—that will shift parents’ thinking and actions in a way that will change not only the family dynamic, but will allow for these unique children to fully realize their best selves. By making these shifts, parents everywhere will be rejecting what’s broken in the status quo. And that leads to moving the world closer to a place where difference is genuinely seen and valued.

Debbie Reber moved her career in a more personal direction in 2016 when she founded TiLT Parenting, a website, top parenting podcast (more than 250k downloads), and social media community for parents like her who are raising differently-wired children. Debbie’s newest book, Differently Wired: Raising Exceptional Kids in a Conventional World, was published by Workman Books in June 2018. She currently lives with her son and husband in the Netherlands.

Visit Debbie at www.debbiereber.com

Sometimes we all need a little taming of the ego…

One of the greatest gifts mindfulness has given me is the ability to watch my ego roar and not take it too seriously. 

Sitting in meditation while watching thoughts go by again, and again, and again… seriously lends itself to understanding how wacky the mind can be. 

However…last week, a book talk I gave at Google on Mindful Parenting went live on YouTube. This is exciting right? Well….it was until I saw that the only three comments posted were fairly unkind. Not only that but some people had clicked “thumbs down”. Ouch! 

I was having a perfectly productive and lovely day until I read those three comments…then….BAM…the inner critic went into overdrive. I had been hijacked by my own mind. 

 

Here are how my ego thoughts went…. 

Oh man…that talk wasn’t very good

I flipped my hair too much…why do I do that? What kind of weird habit is that? 

That outfit is all wrong. I need to get a stylist.

Those people are just mean trolls…. but what if they are right?n

Who do I think I am giving a talk at Google anyway? 

 

You get the point right? So here is what I did…. I stopped, marched myself over to my meditation cushion and sat with all of it. Let me tell you this was not pleasant. My mind was going wild. I was reminded of something Pema Chodron said in her book The Places That Scare You. “When our emotions intensify, what we usually feel is fear. This fear is always lurking in our lives. In sitting meditation we practice dropping whatever story we are telling ourselves and leaning into the emotion and the fear, thus, we train in opening the fearful heart to the restlessness of our own energy. We learn to abide with the experience of our emotional distress.” 

So I watched all the ego inner critic stories and saw clearly that I was simply afraid of not being good enough. Was this true? Nope. I’m perfectly good enough thank you very much. Next, I reminded myself of my dedication to practice, integrity, and connection to purpose. That tricky ego critic was squished and my heart was again open. I offered myself some self compassion for being human, put on my big girl panties, and did what I needed to do… email my soul sisters! I sent an SOS to the women in my life who I knew would support me. This sisterhood flung into action, watched my talk, liked my page, and left comments reflective of who they know me to be. Being held by my community in love was just what the ego doctor ordered. And yes…I get the irony of their comments feeding my ego a bit. 🙂

This process all took place over a few hours. Reflecting back I was able to watch in slow motion how I was hijacked and how I came back to love. (Of course I did also have the help of my soul sisters…)

We can all expect the ego hijack from time to time. Dare I say this can happen quite easily at home with our families. Hopefully we are ready with the sacred pause, the leaning into our emotions and fear, and a willingness to reach out for connection and support. 

May you meet this moment fully. May you meet this moment with kindness towards yourself and others. 

 

The 4 Telltale Signs of a Good Enough Mindful Parent

A mindful parent is wise, calm, and always knows just what to do in any given parenting situation. Right? Right? Maybe not so much.

I began focusing on parenting mindfully about eight years ago, and at that time one of my main goals was to stay calm and not get angry. How do you think that worked out for me? Well…I pretty much ended up feeling like a failure every time I didn’t feel calm and got angry. For the record, I don’t recommend stuffing anger in the name of mindful parenting.

As the years went on, I came to understand that mindful parenting is more about allowing the messy parts of our lives to wake us up moment by moment. It’s the anger and other uncomfortable feelings, emotions, and reactions that actually lead us to our mindfulness.

The more awareness we bring to our struggles, the less of a vice grip they have on us.

Our children are masters of presenting these struggles to us in regular doses (for our own good as it turns out). They offer up a steady drip of where we have yet to grow. Can you see how our children are our master teachers? They trigger us in all the right ways to point us towards our greatest possibilities for personal growth, if only we can view our triggers through this lens. Easier said then done I know…but no one said it was going to be easy. Stay with me…

So what can we expect to see from the Good Enough Mindful Parent? Ready for the four things?

#1 The “Good Enough” Mindful Parent takes the time to practice mindfulness (the more the better but we are going for good enough here). We notice the water on our skin while in the shower, name the emotions we are feeling throughout the day, and sit in silence for a few moments (or hours) just noticing our breath. We don’t beat ourselves up when we loose our mindfulness and trust it will come back. In fact, simply noticing that we are not mindful IS mindfulness. You did it!

#2 The “Good Enough” Mindful Parent works to view difficult behaviors through the lenses of emotions and needs. We identify the emotion present in our children; such as they are angry, frustrated, exasperated or sad. We then identify which one of their basic needs is not being met, such as the need for connection, safety, play or freedom. From this perspective we can soften around our children’s (awful) behaviors and move right into deepening connection with them. Perhaps we hold out our arms for a hug or offer them a snack to counteract the blood sugar dip that had caused the awful behavior. On the days we are completely spent and barely have any patience we immediately forgive ourselves and move on to #3.

#3 The “Good Enough” Mindful Parent takes care of their body, mind, and spirit. You have heard of this idea yes? Self Care. The whole “put on your own oxygen mask first” thing. We simply can’t be aware, perfectly present, and unwaveringly patient when our tanks are on empty. Although a spa day would be lovely, we are going for good enough here remember. Wash your hair, take a walk, practice yoga, or call a good friend. Whatever fills up your tank do that.

#4- The “Good Enough” Mindful Parent expects to make mistakes. And I mean make mistakes daily! What our children need most is help from us to explore their own inner worlds. When we completely blow it is the perfect time to help our children grow (while subsequently crawling out from that pile of guilt we are hiding under). The trick here is to calm down before moving forward. After the amygdala hijack in your brain is over and your cortisol levels have lowered, talk through the blunder with your child. It might go something like this…”Wow, I really screwed up earlier. I should have noticed how angry I was getting and stepped away to take a few breaths. I wish I had caught the anger monster before it exploded. I’m sorry. Are you willing to tell me how my anger affected you?” On the days we are too spun around to admit to our mistakes we get a good nights sleep and start over tomorrow.

So there you go…let go of the idea of a perfectly mindful parent. They don’t exist. The Dali Lama doesn’t have children. Just saying.