8 Ways Emotional Abuse Traumatizes You

Working From Home with Teens and Remote Learning Success Tips - Personal Experience

Remote learning is challenging enough for children so why make it worse without a plan or consequences when children fall short.  Working from home doesn't go over too well with many workers because they simply don't know what to do with their children.

For well-over a decade, I worked virtual gigs with young children in the home.  At one point, there were all the following family members under one roof:  Needy Newborn, Curious George in diapers, a hyperactive "Wannabe Superstar" elementary school student, one "Don't Bother Me" child headed to middle school with a speech disability and a father well if you have been in someone's life for a really long time, well you know (sigh).  Meanwhile Dad was working sometimes over 10 hours five days a week.  I had no choice but to run a tight ship.

by Sharon McCutcheon

I will be the first to admit, with right hand raised, yes, I was and still am strict at times and not the least bit ashamed of it.  As sure as God is my guide, without Him, I or those children would have surely been on the evening news! 

This year (2020) the new challenge, like most parents with school-aged children, was remote learning with two of the youngest children (the other two are grown and out the door--lol thank God!)  You would think easy breezy because the children are now 12 and one just turned 14 not that long ago.  Well at times, it hasn't been easy.  

When I decided to be at home on a regular basis, rather than chase dollars for over eight to ten hours a day away from home like I had been doing, I noticed why they felt like they could be disrespectful at times, covid 19 had forced them to grow up a bit faster than I had expected.  They were at home since March, until the school district could figure out some things.  Then when their dad had announced that they would not be attending classes in-person for the new school year, there were attitudes--big time! 

There dad is in a high risk category as explained in media about those more likely to come down with the illness, so with him making that decision, they would be doing their share of objecting.  I realized the seriousness of what everyone was saying, so I stepped in.  I made the sacrifice to be at home rather than send them off to school only for them to be sent back home.  

The covid cases even to date are steadily climbing in our school district.  So yes not too long ago, some classes went from in-person to virtual yet again.  I wouldn't be surprised if malicious children, who were forced to attend school but didn't want to, was doing their share of germ spreading just because (sigh).  Sorry school, I can't afford anymore doctor bills or to be sick--been there done that already with coworkers--we all said back in January we had colds or flus, hmm. As for their grades, that spiral downward last year, well why not be home, it turns out while everyone was working, the younger ones didn't think it was important to work on their grades last school year.  So they were surprised when they didn't see me all dressed up and ready to drive off to work--lol.  Their expressions should have been on a TikTok!

Two of the four sons are the ones who enjoy their personal screen time a little too much.  It was difficult at first to get them on a schedule since the teachers quite frankly didn't know what they were doing initially when covid was gaining momentum back in the spring 2020.  They were struggling with balancing their own family responsibilities and working from home since they weren't use to it.  Now things are a bit better.  However, I still have to check in frequently with the newbie middle schooler and the newbie high schooler, even though their rooms are not that far from my home office space. Sometimes our personalities do indeed clash!  Here are some of the things I have done so that most of the time we do not have issues in my household concerning completing schoolwork.

Alarms are set daily on school nights.  We know better that most children just miraculously get up especially when they are busted looking at cell phones under covers the night before.  "Hand it over..." says Mom.  "Okay, I'll put it away." says son.  "I'll be back to check and if that phone is off it's charger, you will be getting an old school clock with a loud alarm, capice?"  I already did it before, I will surely do it again.

 Bedtime schedules are enforced.  Same time to bed most nights for the children--no exceptions on school nights.  When they decide they don't want to do as they are told, guess what?  The gaming consoles are removed until all school work is done the following day.  They come to my room and request their items only after they have completed their school work the following day.  If they take their sweet ole time getting to bed, they lose their gaming console again.  This continues to happen until good ole fashioned common sense kicks in which recently it did.  What child wants to lose their favorite gaming device more times than none?  Write a note or set a reminder Parent that tells you to follow up at least 30 minutes before bed time to ensure they are "working on it" says one child when getting to bed.  My reply, "Work a little faster!"

Class break times are observed. They are for completing school work, eating food, drinking a beverage, or retrieving a snack not gaming consoles or sitting on cell phones playing games, watching movies...  You know what happens even with us adults, you lose track of time.  So they know that the break time is best used for essential tasks not "Do as I wish without rules."  They will have plenty of that time when they are paying bills under their own roofs--wonder how that philosophy will work when they have to report to work one day soon?  They might as well learn young--lol.

Chores are expected to be done and the same consequences apply, say goodbye to your gaming time if not done.  They have been given money and gifted far more than most children, so the allowance is done and over with as this year comes to an end.  There are two birthdays in December and my income has reduced so they know better than to ask for more--we had that discussion already.

The chores are simple household responsibilities that all family members participate in.  The boys have two days a week for their deep cleaning chores and the rest of the week is just light maintenance such as: take the trash out, clean off the countertops in the bathroom, kitchen and table after dishes are put away and placed in dishwasher (one child does morning and lunch and the other evening), meal preparation (once a week per child), vacuuming, disinfecting light switches, door handles and knobs, and mopping floors.  

Responsibilities are rotated at times and sometimes they are doing nothing because the adults have already completed most tasks.  "Doing nothing" doesn't happen often.  Outdoor tasks are considered the deep cleaning chores and they are also rotated like: sweeping the garage, entrance ways, cleaning outside doors or patio windows, etc.

 A little afternoon, evening and night R&R is earned.  Notice how much free time a child really has when you think of it?  After the work is done, then the play begins, not the other way around.  

It might all sound so harsh in writing, but it really isn't when they are shown why it is very necessary for all family members to take part in maintaining the household not just the woman!  It comes naturally to be clean and organized for boys and young men when they see parents take value in where they live.  

My older sons, who are now on their own, report back that they understand why I was particular about them learning things about life from organizing your dwelling to paying your bills. My requests have been reasonable.  This is why these two young men are doing quite well out here in the real world.  We not only had schedules for them, but we also went over what they wanted to do after high school.  We prayed, planned and executed on those plans sometimes not without consequences.  

Remote learning had continued to occur long after the school bell rang with my eldest and the same holds true with the youngest sons.  My class was and still is "Life Lessons."  Sometimes our family meetings were four hours long complete with videos, worksheets, and practical, real life experiences by taking them out and about and pointing out some things and participating.  

If we call ourselves parents and we want what's best for our children, they can't be parented on autopilot.  Someone has got to get in the cockpit and navigate that plane, so it might as well be you, Parent!  

Fly smart, fly safe!  God bless.

Nicholl McGuire is the author of Know Your Enemy the Christian's Critic and When Mothers Cry.

Common Health Problems Babies Have - Personal Experience

Every baby that I gave birth to had their share of common baby health problems.  If anyone says, "My baby never had any problems." Simply put, they either forgot or are in denial so as to appear like they had the perfect baby.  The word "problems" sounds negative and no parent wants anyone to think that their baby had any health problems.  Whether minor issues or major problems, babies aren't like those ones who appear on television always smiling while lying peacefully on their backs moving their legs around and wiggling their toes.  Crying is inevitable and when babies cry they are telling anyone around, "I have a problem and I need you to solve it."

I had four sons and each one had one problem that stood out and needed to be addressed.  Their baby health problems were temporal and didn't last long.  However, I noticed that there were more health woes the first two had who were born on the east coast as compared to my other two who were born on the west coast.  The climate did play a part in their bodily changes.  For instance, with the first two I was concerned about bringing them out in cold weather and the other two I was cautious about taking them out in the year round sun for long.  Each one had their share of colds, coughs, fever, and vomiting depending on what the cause might have been. 

1) Colds

I found that they had less colds as babies, but all had more colds once they got outdoors more often and were around other children particularly in daycare and school.  Us parents also got more colds too when they were old enough to attend school.  We treated their colds with baby over-the-counter medicines.  However, when symptoms lingered such as a bad cough or a fever that didn't seem to go away, off to the doctor's we went to get a prescription.  Humidifiers were common in our household.  They helped with stuffy noses and the dry air in the winter time produced from the furnace.

2) Coughs

These showed up due to seasonal changes and sometimes lingered during and after a cold.  I also noticed that if they were around smokers, they would cough more.  This is why their father and I didn't let them visit relatives who smoked frequently.  Even though they would go in another room or outside to smoke, the children were still negatively impacted by the smoke traveling throughout the vents and window screens of their homes.  We rubbed babies' chests with vapor rub made for babies.  We used humidifiers and air purifiers just in case the coughs were also occurring due to any environmental allergies.

3) Fever

Sometimes vaccinations caused a mild fever, other times they might have been dressed too warmly or out in the hot sun too long.  A cold, pneumonia, sore throat or ear infection would also bring on a fever.  Out of all of my sons, one had a serious health problem related to fevers when he was a toddler.  His fevers would cause seizures.  I talked about fibral seizures on this blog.  This would happen unexpectedly at least a few times a year until he was five.  He had been seen by doctors and his father and I were instructed on what to do when this would happen.  We would remove his clothes down to his undergarments, place a cold ice pack on his forehead, and give him infant Tylenol to bring down his fever.  The other boys rarely had fevers as babies, but when they did, children's infant and children's Tylenol were always in the medicine cabinet along with a thermometer that would be placed under their arms to get their temperatures.  Sometimes there were warning signs with all the boys that something was different about them prior to us discovering they had fevers such as: not being as active, sleeping more, frequent whining, bodies were warmer than usual, and their foreheads would perspire.  

4) Vomiting

When the babies vomited it usually involved something they ate.  Starting a new food, new formula or when they started table food was typically the culprit.  I also was very guarded about people holding my baby, because I saw how other parents handled their babies such as bouncing them or tossing them up into the air.  I also saw when those babies would end up throwing up later too. When one of my sons were a toddler, he suffered due to pizza he ate earlier while healing from a cold.  His stomach wasn't quite ready for the red sauce.  Another boy experienced the same thing as a toddler.  We learned as they are healing from colds better to serve light meals rather than the typical favorite foods.  After the babies vomited we kept them upright, because just in case they vomited again we didn't want them to choke on it while lying down.  We gave them water or Pedialyte once they settled down.  

There were more things we did when they experienced the above.  The medical websites were our go to and we spent time putting in key phrases in the search engine like, "what to do when a baby..."  We now have a tween, a teen, a high school graduate, and a twenty-something young man now.  All of the boys are doing well.  I strongly believe how you care for the babies early on in life has a lot to do with how healthy they will be as they get older.  Healthy meals, exercise, vitamins, and being cautious who the babies are around will make a difference and will lessen some of these common baby problems.

The Parenting Struggle is Real But You're Not Alone

Raising children isn't easy and anyone who says that it is, they aren't doing as much as they should for their children.  When we think of all that goes into parenting boys and girls, it is overwhelming.  From their basic needs being met to their wants, we are cautioning, encouraging, saving, hoping, praying and more.  Good parents want what is best for children which includes saying "No" sometimes.

When I put together the following audios and videos, I thought about a parent struggling like I once was trying to figure out what was most important in a child's life besides toys.  I also had to discover how to parent them effectively based on their personalities, interests, and bodily strength.  As they grew up, I didn't want them to remain in a time where they were stagnant.  I knew that they were curious about a lot of things and wanted to do more than just sit in a room and play.  So I sat down and had meetings with them talking about all sorts of things and asking them questions about their likes, dislikes, fears, worries, and other thoughts.

1.  How are you today?  Are you happy, sad, or mad?

2.  What did your teacher talk to you about ____________________________(fill in the blank with child's interest, ongoing problem, etc.)

3.  What was the best part of your day? (Provide examples).

4.  What would you like to eat? (List some options).

5.  What don't you like to eat? (Mention things you already know, but there maybe some new ones).

6.  What fun thing did you do at ______________________________(fill in the blank with the relative's title, name of friend...)?

7.  Did you go to _________________________ (fill in the blank with the place visited)?

8.  That sounds like fun.  What did you see?  What did you hear?  What did you smell?

9.  Would you like to come with me and help out with_____________________?  If you help, _____________ (fill in the blank with a good thing they will receive, get to do...)

10.  Why did you ___________________________ (fill in the blank with the negative thing they did, express how you feel about it).  You will not be able to__________________(fill in the blank with te consequence of their action).

NOTE:  When they do something great they are praised with a smile and warm hug.  "Great job! I knew you could do it.  Wonderful!  That is so nice, let me give you______________.  Keep up the good work."

What I did above for years helped them emotionally.  They were eager to help out and wanted to learn more.  Now that they are a tween and teen, the struggle is real, but I keep pressing forward.  I don't care about their negative attitude about doing chores or why they feel they shouldn't have to do A, B,C.  The discussion is limited, things need to get done.  When they're not I remove cords from electronics and other privileges are revoked until I get results.  One son had to look at an almost empty room for almost 48 hours after disputing about what he didn't want to do.  He did what he was asked then told what to do, but there wasn't much left of his room afterward. 
The little boys seen in some of my videos have grown up in front of cameras and are now embracing all that comes with being a teen and tween.  They have been great inspirations and I have learned much about being a parent with every challenge they have presented before me.  I sincerely hope that the advice and challenges I share on the recordings will help you in your quest to be the best parent you can be!  There are also some visuals that might inspire as well, enjoy! God bless :)


Why Parents Should Let Their Kids Fail

If your tired of preaching, screaming, bargaining with your children on getting their online schoolwork done, then let them fail. They won't realize the importance of their education when a parent is always intervening--trying to the save the day.


The Newborn Brought Out the Best and the Worst in My Family

Cute and cuddly,  I was holding a precious life in my hands.  Little did I know just how much would change in a matter of weeks in my own family.  Relatives were not always behaving themselves.  Negative comments were thrown around about who would see the child, how long, and whether others would do anything for the new baby.

The journey of not only parenting a newborn was well underway, but so too was the mean-spirited behavior of some in-laws turned outlaws had showed and showed out!  There was possessive grandmother, jealous grandmother, controlling grandfather, and lazy grandfather.  Once in awhile someone had time and money for their grandchild while others didn't and then another would step it up and the cycle would continue.  It was like they were taking turns on being nice one minute and uncooperative the next.

With the tension in the air and the know-it-all attitudes all around, my relationship with the father suffered.  I grew fed up early on with relatives.  I was already tired often, felt the emotional and financial strain, and the lack of support from the father was pissing me off on a regular basis.  He behaved like a single man rather than a family man.  It wasn't until almost a decade later that he finally got it and by that time we had divorced.

I also experienced post-partum that didn't last just a week, I was depressed, sad, and sometimes emotionally withdrawn from everyone on and off for about a year.  The phone was irritating, the baby's crying drove me up the wall, the household tasks were mounting, and my bank account was draining.  No one or book could prepare me for the years of challenges ahead raising a child.

That baby turned out to be a light that exposed the dysfunction back then among so many.  A dysfunction that I didn't want to see.  I got to see sides of relatives that I suspected existed, but having that baby amplified them.  I didn't want him to experience what I had experienced growing up and worked hard to keep him away from any foolishness.

As he grew older, he had his own personal challenges and not always did we adults understand or was all that supportive.  For me, I had to do much praying and trust God that He knew what he was doing.

When I relocated, against my own parents wishes, it was tough.  We all had some growing up to do.  I knew I had to be independent and learn some things about life on my own just as they did.  I found that I could parent without needing a babysitter, relying on family materially and emotionally, and loving who I was as a mother without watchful eyes.

These days that child is now 20 years old--a grown man!  He is living in a nice location, driving a 2017 Jeep, and carrying two jobs that he enjoys.  He prays nightly and whenever I talk to him he motivates me to live my best life!  He tells me, "Don't worry about me, I will be fine!"

When I looked back on how the baby rocked my world and those around me at the time, I also understand why.  He was a gift.  A child that would grow up to be one of the good ones.  It isn't easy raising any child, but a child of God is something special.

So I encourage every parent who is expecting a child or has a newborn, think ahead--years ahead!  What do you want for your child and for you?  What type of influences do you want your child to be exposed to?  Are you respected, loved and appreciated in your own family?  Will you provide those things for your own child?

Imagine your child grown able to encourage and help you one day, it was motivating for me during some tough times.  I had to walk out of the room, breathe and tell myself, "It won't always be like this."  I picked up the phone and called those same people who had their share of issues with me getting pregnant in the first place.  I gave them an opportunity to be a part of our lives and for a time they were.  But I had, had enough and realized that I wanted more for my family that didn't involve pettiness and controlling behaviors.

Your baby is a gift, enjoy him or her while you still can.

Nicholl McGuire 

What are You Teaching Children about Your Abusive Relationship?

“Stay where you are not appreciated dear son, daughter…Let him hit you, because most likely you did something to deserve it.  Allow your partner to cheat on you, say nothing about it.  It’s okay for your spouse to choke you because he doesn’t like what you just said.  Cursing is perfectly acceptable, receive the name-calling and say yes, to the days or even weeks of the silent treatment, because that’s how your mother (or father) is.  Take it, just take it!”

The victims would swear they are not teaching their children such things, but they are!  They don’t see what they are doing is wrong, because they have grown accustomed to the punishment.  The children don’t see any wrong in what is happening in the house, because everyone is saying, “It’s okay. Adults act like this sometime.  One day you will be in a relationship and you’ll see.  Daddy loves Mommy you know that.”  Well Daddy sure has a funny way of showing his love to her and to the rest of the family.  

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash
Notice the relational patterns when you compare the past with the present.  You may have experienced something similar like witnessing parents argue viciously, someone being threatened or worse kicked, slapped, or punched.  You probably didn’t think much of it until you got older and got away from the abusive household.  You began to process some things--see the truth for yourself rather than believe others’ lies about what you saw or heard.  You reasoned your parents’ relationship was dysfunctional.  Now you look at your intimate relationships over the years and currently and what do you see?  More of the same whether you hit or don’t--name-calling, lies, alcohol abuse, silent treatment, financial abuse, isolation, manipulation, withholding, countering, codependency, sexual abuse, etc. It’s hard to see the negative when your mind chooses to block it out.  See the truth, go on, see the truth!

I spoke to a family about their growing up.  The majority of the relatives said their parents had an abusive relationship, a few kept silent, and another flat out denied others’ experiences.  His denial didn’t make the truth less true!  He chose to remember whatever he chose because he was more concerned about how people viewed him growing up in a family with so much dysfunction.  His reputation was more important in his eyes than the truth!  He was more concerned about shaming the abuser in the family and what other people thought than getting some help for himself.  

So what are you teaching your children about your abusive experiences?  They didn’t happen.  What they see isn’t really what they see.  It’s okay to hit someone when they upset you.  Love hurts every now and again so live with it!  Learn how to keep your mouth shut and your partner just might do nice things for you.  Avoid disagreement at all costs!  Forget about your needs always tend to your family’s first.  Show your partner love by going along with whatever he/she wants even if it is uncomfortable, difficult, or feels you with disgust.  Grin and bear it!  Forgive and forget about everything!

Yes, this is what victims are teaching their children whether overtly or covertly.  Another generation in a family repeating the same cycle.

Nicholl McGuire is the owner of the blog Laboring to Love an Abusive Mate and the author of the book with the same title.

When the Children Want a Sleep Over or to Sleep Over Friend’s House

I saw the words “sleepover” on the invite.  I didn’t have any alarm bells about the invitation until I thought about the many stories of children experiencing their firsts at someone else’s house and it wasn’t all positive.

“Sleepover, hmm”--I was thinking.  My son had that hopeful look in his eye--the one where a child is all-too-excited about something that he hasn’t bothered to think much about other than, “It will be fun.”

Photo by thr3 eyes on Unsplash
I felt a battle ahead if I flat out said, “No.”  I proceeded to call the number on the invite, it was late.  I changed my mind; I didn’t need a sales pitch on how “fun, safe, great…” the people and the home will be.  Instead, I thought, “Why not put the research skills that I have to assist businesses to good use?  Thorough background investigations are made when it comes to borrowing money, why not check this person out who thought it wise to invite a bunch of kids to her home?”  Later, we can have that discussion that falsely makes us feel like we “know” one another.  At that time, the friendly, free-spirited mother, who has boldly opened her home up to the public, can share whatever she decides with me that will put me at ease while I’ll pretend like I didn’t do any background check, Google search about the neighborhood and other pertinent information about all who live there.

“Sleepover,” those thoughts of yesteryear danced through my mind.  The misbehaving children who liked to irritate others, the experimental ones who liked to do everything that adults do, the abusive ones who enjoyed pinching, punching, pulling…  The stress some young people experience in an environment that is supposed to be fun.  All the while an annoyed and/or sensitive child, who doesn’t want to be viewed as the “snitch, tattle-tale,” will have to grin and bear it all.   Those hours will be long staying in a house possibly up all night doing God knows what since parents will want to go to bed at some point.

Alcohol not locked up, pet living in house, young adult male hanging around children other than parents--sketchy past…the insecurities were growing and my son’s hope was dwindling.  “After careful consideration with dad, we regret to inform you that the answer is ‘No’ to the sleepover, but ‘Yes’ to the party at the public venue.”  Yep, that’s how it played out in my head.  When I did speak to my child who looked up at me with that eager look, I didn’t falter, the answer was still, “No” and “here’s why…”  He didn’t want to hear what we had to say.  He took off down the hall visibly upset, closed his bedroom door, and got into his bed with tears in his eyes.  Dad tried to talk to him, he wasn’t hearing it.  I didn’t bother, I thought about how this child has done his share of things that upset me not that long ago and others.  He still has some growing up to do. 

Although he didn’t handle the news well the night before, he still got to go to the party, but the sleepover?  Meeting the family didn’t convince dad and I was firm with my decisions regardless, so still no to the sleepover.

Oh well, this child who usually gets his way--not this time.  Sure, it may not be that serious to some parents, but we are responsible for our children and if something would have happened…Well at least we don’t have that worry.   

Nicholl McGuire is the author of When Mothers Cry and other books.

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