You Don’t Have to Solve Your Children’s Problems For Them. By Dr. Mary Reckmeyer


Everyone knows a kid like my nephew Tom.

Tom was the 2-year-old who threw a temper tantrum, just because. Maybe it was because his mother looked at him the wrong way, or he wasn’t allowed to put the sugary cereal in the grocery cart, or he didn’t want to take a bath.

He became the 8-year-old who was afraid of dogs — even really small ones. Later, he was the teenager who wouldn’t touch the gourmet meals his mom prepared and who thought fast-food burgers were the only food worth eating. He was the high school student who often found better things to do than attend all of his classes.

Tom’s issues are common — but how much time and energy would you put into “solving his problems”?

When a child like Tom is someone else’s, parents know exactly what needs to happen. Ground him, call the counselor and make him attend aversion therapy. But when he’s your child, you wonder what the right answer is, and you can become consumed with these issues and define him by his problems.

Parents want to be the best they can be at raising happy and productive children, but unfortunately, there is no “easy button” that applies to every family and every situation. With an array of parenting advice lining the bookshelves in bookstores or delivered to your screen via your favorite online search engine, only one thing is clear: There’s no one way to raise a child. There is no “right” way to raise a child either. Blanket parenting advice just doesn’t work for everyone. Parents have their unique strengths, and each child has his individual personality. The variations in innate abilities, strengths and environmental factors are endless.

(To read more of this article, please follow the link below…)

10 Powerful Truths About Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) That Will Change Your Perspective, by Mike Berry


For the majority of the world, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) is misunderstood and often judged. But, there are powerful truths that can change your life when you understand, and embrace them.


That’s the word that comes to mind when I think about FASD. Anger.

I’m angry that my child’s birth mother would make the selfish choice to drink during her pregnancy, angry that the claws of addiction dug deeper than the conviction of pre-natal care, angry at the numerous therapists, doctors, and authorities who’ve downplayed or disagreed with my child’s diagnosis over the years, angry at a world that judges before seeking the truth, and angry when I think about the missing pieces of my child’s life.

The child I chose with love.

Most of all, I’m angry that he will never have a normal childhood. A part of his brain is absent thanks to a stupid choice, a lack of self-control, and an unwillingness to guard his precious life before he took one peek at the world. I know this sounds harsh but this is the stuff I wrestle with often. Sometimes it eats at me, grinding away at my soul like a jackhammer grinding away at concrete. Other times, it’s sadness. A deep longing to go back in time, before his conception, and beg his birth mother to not make the choice she would eventually make.

Yes, we reel in pain over this disease. After all, that’s what it is. It’s brain damage, and the worst kind too, as far as we’re concerned. We live with the devastation of our child’s violent outbursts that have brought trauma on our family so deep that we’re not sure we’ll ever heal from it. We wrestle but, we’re hopeful. In the midst of our life, which often looks more like a pile of ashes than a life, we have a hope and a belief that our child, our son, will succeed. It began a while ago, when we embraced some powerful truths about FASD…

(To read more of this article, follow the link below…)

Dyspraxia, A Parent’s Perspective, by Tania Broadley

Dyspraxia Collage

I have four children, all girls.  Katie is 10, Emma 6 and my younger twin girls, Jamie and Alyssa, have just turned four. Three of my girls have dyspraxia.  Emma also has ADHD.  Jamie does not have dyspraxia.  [For more information about ADHD, attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, see The Forever Years post at the following link:  ]

Dyspraxia is one of many “hidden” special needs.  It is a neurological (brain and nerves) disorder in which messages from the brain to the muscles are disrupted, thus effecting physical and gross motor skills– movement and co-ordination.  Early intervention with occupational therapy, physical therapies and sometimes speech therapy help children with dyspraxia to reach their potential. [Source: Medical Questions and Answers, Australian Women’s Weekly, New Zealand Edition, February 2014].

Bringing up children with unique needs is mentally, physically and emotionally draining for me.  On the good days it can be very rewarding.  I feel a real sense of achievement when I overcome challenges.  Katie was diagnosed as having dyspraxia at the age of five and Emma at about four years old.  Alyssa is under Vera Hayward [Children’s Support Programme] and at this stage her dyspraxia seems to be mild.  I did not realise that Emma had dyspraxia until I was pregnant with the twins!

Some days can be overwhelming, juggling four girls, hospital appointments, dyspraxia and ADHD.  Other days I feel relaxed and confident.

My husband and I used to avoid a lot of social gatherings with the girls, because we found it too stressful and we felt judged because of their behaviour (like outbursts of temper).  Meeting other parents in similar situations to ours has given us the confidence to go back out on family social outings again.  It is also very comforting to know that there are other families out there with multiple (twins, triplets or more) children and unique needs, like ours.

Our girls are a true blessing to my husband and I.  I look forward to seeing what journey they each take in life.  They have made me a stronger, more confident mother and I’m so very proud of them all.

Thanks to Tania Broadley for sharing her family’s story with “The Forever Years”.

Dyspraxia 2 Collage

Some Further Information about Dyspraxia…

Developmental Dyspraxia (also known as Developmental Co-ordination Disorder and the Clumsy Child Syndrome) is a neurologically based disorder of the processes involved in “praxis” or the planning of movement to achieve a predetermined idea or purpose, which may affect the acquisition of new skills and the execution of those already learned. More specifically, it is a disorder of praxis, or the process of “ideation” (forming an idea of using a known movement to achieve a planned purpose), motor planning (planning the action needed to achieve the idea) and execution (carrying out the planned movement).

Dyspraxia may affect any or all areas of development– physical, intellectual, emotional, social, language and sensory– and may impair the normal process of learning, thus it is also a learning difficulty.  It is not a unitary disorder (like measles or chicken pox, where all those affected share a common set of symptoms) and affects each person in different ways at different ages and stages of development and to different degrees.  It is inconsistent, in that it may affect the child one day, but not the next– as if information is sometimes put away “in the wrong drawer”.

Dyspraxia is a “hidden handicap” as, under normal circumstances, children with dyspraxia may appear no different from their peers, until new skills are tried or known ones are taken out of context, which is when difficulties may become apparent.

In many affected children, dyspraxia occurs with or as part of other neurological conditions, so defining common symptomsdownload may be confusing.  Therefore a diagnosis, naming the disorder is often very difficult and sometimes the closest may be “shows some dyspraxic tendencies”.  A major international, multi-disciplinary conference on dyspraxia was held here in Aotearoa/ New Zealand in 1997, making it easier for parents to find a professional who is confident in making a diagnosis. If you think that your child exhibits some or all of the symptoms of dyspraxia, talk with your GP or peadiatrition about your concerns.

The following is information for teachers and others interecting with children with dyspraxia to be aware of…



Related Links/ Information

New Zealand Dyspraxia Support Group:

Australian Dyspraxia Support Foundation:

Dyspraxia USA, resources:

Dyspraxia Foundation, UK (has some great film clips about living with dyspraxia for adults and for kids:

Dyspraxia Association of Ireland:

Facebook Support Page for families:



Some Things Worth Knowing About Sibling Rivalry (and Strategies to Help), by Jennifer Shroff Pendley

Fighting Siblings Collage

About Sibling Rivalry

(Originally Published on Kids Health… see link below…)

While many kids are lucky enough to become the best of friends with their siblings, it’s common for brothers and sisters to fight. (It’s also common for them to swing back and forth between adoring and detesting one other!)

Often, sibling rivalry starts even before the second child is born, and continues as the kids grow and compete for everything from toys to attention. As kids reach different stages of development, their evolving needs can significantly affect how they relate to one another.

It can be frustrating and upsetting to watch — and hear — your kids fight with one another. A household that’s full of conflict is stressful for everyone. Yet often it’s hard to know how to stop the fighting, and or even whether you should get involved at all. But you can take steps to promote peace in your household and help your kids get along.

Why Kids Fight

Many different things can cause siblings to fight. Most brothers and sisters experience some degree of jealousy or competition, and this can flare into squabbles and bickering. But other factors also might influence how often kids fight and how severe the fighting gets. These include:

To Read more, follow this link…

Children Who Experience Early Childhood Trauma Do Not Just ‘Get Over It’, by Jane Evans


Humans are relatively adaptable beings which is why we are thriving and not dying out like other species. Horrendous disasters such as the Philippines typhoon, the Boxing Day Tsunami, the nuclear disaster in Japan, the major wars of our time, and horrific famines see great suffering, but these events also inspires survival through adaptation. It turns out we possess a strong survival mechanism in our brains directly linked to our bodies, fight, flight, freeze, flop and friend (fffff).

In fact, the survival part of our brain, which is primitive yet effective, is the first to develop in utero starting at around 7 weeks. It regulates our breathing, digestive system, heart rate and temperature, along with the ‘fffff’ system which operates to preserve our life.

If we have to dodge a falling object, jump out of the path of a speeding car, keep very still to avoid being seen, run for the hills from a predator, or get someone potentially threatening ‘onside’ we need this to happen fast. If a baby is scared, cold, hungry, lonely, or in any way overwhelmed this triggers their survival system and they cry to bring an adult to them to help them survive.

Read more by following the link below:

“If You Look for the Goodness in Your Children, Good Things Will Happen”, by Linda Petersen

After marrying young and giving birth to a son who was legally blind (and who went on to earn a PhD on full scholarship), Linda Petersen and her husband adopted four more special needs children and fostered many others. This book is the story of their journey.

Raising 5 Kids With Disabilities and Remaining Sane Blog

My dear friends and readers,

Please excuse this commercial interruption of your regular reading.

My book, with an actual cover and pages with WORDS on them in between, has just been published!!!

The Apple Tree: Raising 5 Kids With Disabilities and Remaining Sane
Authored by Linda Petersen

(Review by Dawn Raffel from Readers Digest:)
Her story begins not with her children but with her own childhood spent traveling the country in the backseat of her parents’ car (her perpetually restless dad had post-traumatic stress disorder from WWII), often with very little money and few provisions. Where someone else might have seen deprivation and isolation, Petersen viewed her unusual childhood with a sense of wonder and gratitude. After marrying young and giving birth to a son who was legally blind (and who went on to earn a PhD on full scholarship), Petersen and her husband adopted four more special needs children…

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Where are the rights of children with disabilities? By Latifa Daud



Latifa Daud is currently a student at the University of Auckland, Aotearoa/ New Zealand, who has been permanently wheelchair-bound for the past 6 years.
She has no formal credentials as yet, except for seeing the world from a unique stand-(or should I say ‘sit’)-point on a daily basis, which she writes about in her blog, “The Daily Blog”.
As a result, this has caused her to hold strong opinions about the structure of society, as well as the negative connotations held by many regarding ordinary, everyday people who just happen to be differently-abled.  In this article she explores some of the differences between rights for children with and without disabilities and the resources available to their carers. (Click link below to read article).

Where are the rights of children with disabilities? « The Daily Blog.

Chemical Weapons and Future Generations

Reblogging this, as there is now a great video clip (attached below) from a film about “The Friendship Village” in Vietnam. I knew Suel Jones, one of the veterans in this interview, during my three years living in Hanoi, Vietnam’s capital and I visited the Friendship Village a number of times (see article). (Kirsteen McLay-Knopp).

The Forever Years


By Kirsteen McLay-Knopp

The following article was originally published in the “Otago Daily Times” newspaper, May 1-2, 2004, about six months after I returned to New Zealand from Vietnam. Such stories are always relevant to child advocacy: the choices of our past and present (particularly in situations of war) can continue to affect those born long afterwards. Before continuing to my article, I would like to include some information from Wikipedia about attempts so far to prevent the use of chemical weapons, as well as a further article by Rania Khalek about recent use of chemical weapons in Gaza and a picture with text from


The following is from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

The Chemical Weapons Convention

Intergovernmental consideration of a chemical and biological weapons ban was initiated in 1968 within the 18-nation Disarmament Committee, which, after numerous changes of name and composition, became the Conference on…

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Avoiding the Bumps in the Road: Essential Tools and Tips for Parenting Children with Health Issues, by Lisa C. Greene

bumps-ahead FY

Reblogged from:

Parenting isn’t for the faint-hearted! Raising kids throughout their developmental stages is tricky enough; parents of kids with health issues have to face additional challenges along the way. When we know where the bumps and potholes are, it becomes a lot easier to avoid them! So let’s take a look at some of the challenges parents face when raising kids with medical issues. As you navigate family life with a child with health issues, keep these tips in mind. They are in no particular order.

images (2)Treat your child with medical issues the same as your other children.Medical advances are progressing rapidly. People with a wide variety of health issues are living longer, happy, rewarding, productive lives. Don’t let discouraging statistics today cause you to lower your expectations for your child’s tomorrow. Set high (but reasonable) expectations for schoolwork, chores, sports, extracurricular activities and good behavior.

Model good problem solving, conflict resolution and coping skills. Children learn to cope with hard times by watching and learning from their parents. Parents who cope well, manage their frustration, communicate in healthy ways and express optimism are far more likely to raise kids who are confident, responsible, resilient, and hopeful.

Take good care of yourself. Not only is this important to avoid burnout but again, it sets the model for the children. This means that parents must take the time for date nights and self-care. This also means that parents do not tolerate disrespect from the children (or from each other). They set healthy boundaries around the many demands that come with raising a child with special healthcare needs. Learning to say “No” to requests for our time and energy is an important skill to use and model.

Learn effective parenting skills. It is crucial that parents and caregivers have good, effective parenting skills to rely on. There is no substitute for knowing how to defuse an argument, setting limits without causing power struggles, sharing control in appropriate ways, engaging in mutual problem solving and properly communicating about difficult issues. Nagging, yelling, bribing, threatening, lecturing, and punishing are not effective, especially where medical care issues are concerned.

Do your best not to show frustration. Of course you will feel frustrated over and over again on your “parenting journey.” And that’s just fine! We’re all human. The trouble starts when we show it with anger, threats, warnings, and nagging. Charles Fay, author of Love and Logic says, “Anger and frustration fuel misbehavior.” So learn how to respond appropriately in frustrating moments. Everyone will be happier and more relaxed, especially you!

downloadMake sure your child has accurate, age-appropriate information about his or her medical condition. Give honest answers laced with hope when asked difficult questions. Your child will pick up on your emotions–both positive and negative–so be sure to get your own feelings of worry and fear under control before you discuss difficult issues with your child. If your child doesn’t ask questions about his or her condition, take the initiative to teach about it including the possible consequences of poor self-care, delivered gently and age-appropriately. At some point, your children will stumble across difficult information and it is best if they’ve heard it from you first: presented matter-of-factly, lovingly and optimistically.

Don’t make your child with special medical needs the focal point of the family. Your child is a partof the family, not the family. Don’t revolve completely around any one child. Make sure all family members are appreciated for their unique talents, gifts, needs, and contributions to the family.

Don’t overcompensate for feelings of guilt. Keep your home a “guilt free” zone. Some parents try to “make it all better” with overindulgence. This includes “too much”: too much attention, too much nurturing, too much freedom and too much stuff. This creates more problems in the long run when children who have gotten “too much” just can’t seem to ever get enough.

Do not overprotect your child. Don’t limit the activities of a well-functioning child with special medical needs out of fear or worry. Telling children or teens that they “can’t” do something because of their medical condition is likely to invite rebellion or depression down the road, especially if the forbidden activity is a popular one with their peers.  Allow your child to learn to set his or her own limits based on their unique abilities. Guide and empower your child; don’t stop them from living a full rich life to the best of their ability.

imagesTransition begins when your child is old enough to spit peas from the highchair! Transition is the process of preparing your child for independence in the real world. Many parents think that the teen years are the time to begin transition. Waiting until then can make transition difficult and stressful. Transition isn’t an event; turning 18 is. That’s when your child will move into the adult medical system and be expected to take full responsibility for his or her own care. However, your child needs to learn good health habits and personal responsibility much earlier. So start early! The earlier you start shifting the responsibility for good self-care in small, age-appropriate doses, the more prepared your child, and you, will be for the big event: the eighteenth birthday party!

Focus on thankfulness and the positive. Nurture a spirit of respect, cooperation and appreciation for each other and the blessings that are present in all of your lives. Make it a habit to count your family’s blessings together each day: jobs, a roof, food, good doctors and medications, advances in medical research, freedom, friends and family, compassion, love, faith, and hope.  Always focus on hope because:  “Hope sees the invisible, feels the intangible, and achieves the impossible. – Author unknown


Lisa C. Greene, M.A., CFLE is a public speaker, parent educator and mother of two children with special medical needs. She is also the co-author with Foster Cline MD of the award-winning Love and Logic book “Parenting Children with Health Issues.” For more information, see

“I have Autism and the world treats me different”, by Tracey Dee Whitt

In light of World Autism Awareness Day, April 2nd, “The Forever Years” felt this was an important article to share.

I have Autism
I have Autism, and the world treats me differently.

If your child has Autism, you know what I’m talking about. The stares, questioning looks, noses stuck so far in the air you’d think they were preparing for a dental exam, questions, comments, avoidance, accusations, recommendations, and rarely, smiles.

There are a variety of ways others respond to our Autistic children. A persons perceptions are sometimes based on their previous experience with Autism. This can be problematic because every child with Autism is different, they all have varying abilities.

If someone knows a person who has Aspergers (a form of Autism), they may expect another child with Autism to act the same way, trying to fit them in a peg hole. For example, our son, Jeremiah, has nonverbal Autism and has struggled developmentally, he is nothing like a child who is on the other end of spectrum. Some people assume…

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