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Let me tell you a short story… Children and their Friends

Let me tell you a short story…

Yesterday my son called as he was getting ready to leave work. He asked, “Mom, is dad okay with me bringing a friend to the house? We are going bowling but I need to change first.” This is something we have always done here, if someone new is coming to the house there is a call ahead of time so Craig is aware someone is coming over.

I told him sure, dad’s been in the bedroom most of the day but said it was okay. So a little while later my son and his friend got here. I went out and met the friend, sat in the living room for quite awhile, all of the kids and I talking. Well, this friend is actually joining the Navy, and is a dog lover, so we had a lot to talk about in general.

We were talking about dogs and how I use to train. Alex came out to say his hellos then went back into the bedroom with Craig. We got on the subject of everything I have taught Alex to do that helps us. Then I backed up, said “Oh my husband is a disabled Veteran with PTSD“. Know what she said to me? “I know Brandt told me and I am on your PTSD page. I follow your postings.

WOW! That about knocked my socks off, lol. It made me feel really good actually and we had an awesome conversation! My son’s friends care enough about him and others, that they are actually learning about PTSD from this page! 

It really goes back to what I have always said, “Children who are educated correctly will be what changes the stigma.”

So, just a shout out to those of you here that know my son, you have just been adopted! 🙂 Glad you are here with us!  Mom

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD

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A new little rosemary bush… brought way more then just rosemary

So I slipped away for a little “me time” this morning, actually haha grocery shopping and just walking through the store looking at everything… but it was still me time. 

I decided this month instead of my self-help buy myself flowers,which I do once a month, I would buy a new rosemary bush! My other one did not survive the winter sadly. And I can’t allow our little family tradition of rosemary for dad to be interrupted.  😉

So, when I got back home my step-daughter asked me why I bought a rosemary plant. I explained that the old one died and I had to get a new one… she does not live with us full time so when she is here she is still learning.  I explained what her step-sister does for dad and why. (For those of you that do not know the story, you can find it here.)

You know what a small conversation about this new plant brought?

Craig’s daughter learning about breathing exercises (coping skills) and how this new little plant can be a big part in it and all of the good things it can help with. We even did them together so I could show her how to do them correctly. She was SO excited and said this was “really cool“. I explained to her that anyone can use breathing exercises and how it can help you calm down when you feel nervous, anxious, worried… you know 😉 when you experience anxiety.

We talked about how the oils and fragrance of the plant has a relaxing effect (by the way, if you can’t be around rosemary, lavender is my other favorite). How you can just brush your hand across the leaves or pinch them off and place them in a little bowel then rub them in your hands when you feel you need extra help to relax. We talked about how the oils transfer to your hands then you just hold your hands up to your face as you breathe. We talked about how combining the rosemary scent with the breathing exercises helps you relax more.

She loved this! She thought this was something she could do to help her when she fidgets and just can’t seem to slow down. She said she has a rosemary bush at home but thought it was only good for cooking. That now she knows another way to use it.

The catch to all of this?

She was just taught something that she can use throughout her lifetime, but did not realize this is a “coping skill”… she viewed it as something fun and new that she learned. 😉

Children can learn about PTSD and things that can help at any age level. Teach them on their age appropriate level and make the learning fun! And look at what one little rosemary bush just taught a child. 🙂 You know what else? How much do you want to bet she teaches this to someone else? 😉

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD

Parents and Grandparents…

This is really not on the PTSD topic, but is something that weighed on my heart over the weekend so I wanted to share it with all of you… Parents and Grandparents

I have to say I was truly floored over the weekend.

My daughter’s party was awesome! ALL of her friends had great manners and well behaved young ladies. They had a blast being here and I enjoyed having them all! However, I was shocked at some of the parents! One of the girls lives not far from us, just over a mile away… now mind you these are 13-14 year old girls! She was walking to our house for the party, could not find the house and called us several times. I finally told her to get permission and I would pick her up. That happened, I picked her up and brought her here for the party.

BUT, the shocker came in after the party. This girl and one other stayed after the party. Until almost 9pm. No big deal to me, the girls were having a blast. At 8:30pm I asked the girls what time were their parents coming to get them. The one that walked said she has to WALK home and be home by 9pm. The other said she did not know because she has not been able to get in touch with the person who was suppose to be picking her up, so her dad would pick her up if need be.

WHAT is wrong with parents these days???

Now we live in an okay area, you actually have to have a background check done to live in our neighborhood, however, the area of the girl that was suppose to walk home at 9pm is outside our area, and does have several sexual predators listed near her home. And she was suppose to walk at night!?! NOT on this mom’s watch! I drove her home. The other girl, her dad did finally come at 9 after she could not get a hold of anyone. Now mind you, the party actually ended at 4pm.

Of 7 girls, only ONE parent actually came to the door to meet us and come inside the house!

Then, my daughter’s new phone… I mentioned a few quick basic rules/reminders before she dove into using it. Her friends were floored that she had phone rules. They said, “wow our parents have never told us those things”. And they even asked me questions. But every single one of them had phones, with data plans, but no rules to the phones, social media, games, internet, nothing. And to watch them listen so closely to what I said, and then say wow that makes sense, and ask questions. Makes you stop and wonder.

I heard, “Your mom is awesome“, “I love talking to your mom!” And even about Craig, “Your dad is really awesome and nice“. Even with Craig’s anxiety and PTSD being up, he still went in and out of the bedroom to help and be a part of the party. The compliments were great, but it also makes you wonder what they are not getting or missing at home.

I admit lol, I might be a little over protecting or a cautious parent to a certain point, in some people’s eyes. How can I not be with the real life fact I myself was stalked and attacked inside my own home years ago as a young adult. I was young (18), carefree, and thought nothing in the world could hurt me lol. That was NOT a real life view… I was wrong! Mine had nothing to do with my parents. I could not change the fact of the stalker/attacker being who he was or his actions, but it was a case that happened that I myself could have taken a little more caution and it MIGHT have helped prevent what happened.

So, I AM cautious about what my children do and who they communicate with, and I do teach them. But you know what? Being a little over protecting or cautious to what is real life situations IS a good thing! And it will sure help keep some of these children safe or at least a little wiser and cautious to what they do!

I think after the weekend my daughter really got a good look at how much she is loved (not that she didn’t already know that, but she got a different view of it) and that the rules we put into place are for good reasons.

Parents, PLEASE take caution with your children. This day and age is not like it was when we were kids! It does not mean children need to fear real life, it means they simply need to be educated on it. Never assume they know what to be cautious of, teach them. There are more and more children missing these days, in the news as being hurt, etc etc. I know not every case can be prevented, but some basic life skills including those of technology, which we did not have those tight/close connections of technology as kids, could help in many cases. PLEASE teach your children and be a wise parent!

I cannot tell others how to be a parent, but this is some food for thought.

Thank you! <3

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD

The love of a child

 

 

So lol…

I took my daughter to the bus stop, came back home and was sitting here typing when I heard the toaster oven ding. Well that puzzled me, I’m the only one awake in the house. So I went to the kitchen to see what was “forgotten” and left on.

To my surprise it was not forgotten at all! And this is what I found lol… hash browns in the toaster oven, two coffee cups, and two spoons in front of the coffee pot, and a note “To: Dad”.  From my daughter. 🙂

Gotta love that girl!

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD

Let me tell you a story: More on when to teach children

Let me tell you a story…

You know how I always say teach children? It does not matter what age they are, they can learn on their age level. I have a golden rule, children are curious by nature and majority of the time when they are ready to learn more they ask questions.

I am proud to say that both of my kids (18 and 13 years old now) are really good about teaching others about PTSD. They have grown up in a home with PTSD and really do understand it, they have done REALLY well.

Well, yesterday was one of those days for me. My son, my oldest, and I were having a heart to heart talk and he brought up some really good things. He’s older now, works, will be starting college in a few months, and just loves Craig tremendously! (Craig is step-dad, since my son was 8 years old) Even though Craig has severe PTSD and other medical issues, it has never stood in the way of the kids looking up to him.

Well, my son was telling me about the things/symptoms he sees in Craig. And to speak honestly here, he also sees what PTSD and it’s symptoms have done to Craig over time. I found myself explaining memory issues, something that’s been a symptom for many years. But my 18 year old was worried. He’s noticed that Craig’s memory is getting worse over time, that Craig can not do a lot of the things he use to be able to. I heard “Mom, some of these things Craig is the only one who knows how to do them. He’s forgetting things that were so second nature to him. How can I help?” 

I chuckled, shook my head a little, I mean this has been everyday life for Craig and I for years, we are use to it. But my son has really picked up on it the past few months. I then replied “Son, it’s just all a part of it and what Craig is going through, just because he doesn’t remember things does not change who he is.” I got a “But what can I do?” I smiled and said, “All of those things that Craig still knows, take extra time and learn from him. It’s no different than a parent without PTSD teaching their children what they know, to pass it on to the next generation. Take the time to learn the things you want to while we know Craig still holds those memories.”

See, Craig and my son spend a good deal of time together on Craig’s good or better days. Now that my son is the age he is, he has a greater interest in cars, stereos, computers and what makes them tic, “manly” chores around the house, etc. All the things Craig is extremely knowledgeable with. Some of those things have already started to or have faded from his memory, and it’s been noticed by my son. It really showed how much he looks up to Craig. He was fearing that he wouldn’t be able to learn what Craig could teach him.

Then the conversation went on to “But I don’t want to bother him if he’s in the bedroom. So how do I know when or if he can help me with things.” Well that was a simple reminder, because the kids do already know this. He’s just at an age where he wants to make sure he’s doing things right and paying closer attention to things as well as other people’s feelings or what they need. “I always mention if the door is closed if a movie is being watched, if a nap is happening, if it’s a rough day, etc. Those are ques for you. Even though the door is closed a lot, it does not mean you can’t knock on it. It can never hurt to ask, the worst scenario is you get told maybe later or not today.”

Seeing where this was going and the conversation already at hand, I then went on to explain that ones with PTSD many times feel like they are a burden to others, or their PTSD will effect others, so at times they try to keep a distance. Along with the fact that one’s with PTSD are effected by crowds, expectations, etc. (something he also knew so another reminder at a different level of learning or noticing things) It also comes with “feeling” that you are not as worthy as you use to be to many. Which can cause one with PTSD to second guess themselves and not just jump into doing something or helping out with something.

Then I went on to explain that if he wants to spend time with Craig or wants him to teach him something, just ask. It’s something that helps BOTH of you! You learn from him but at the same time it helps him know he’s needed and wanted, and the reality that he is not a burden at all.

I explained how battling PTSD wears one down. It’s hard to have energy when you don’t sleep well, always battling to keep the symptoms in check and coping with them, etc. How the medications can cause side effects, with Craig’s one is heat sensitive, so that plays a huge role on when he can or can’t be outside.

Yep, a huge light bulb went off lol. “Cool, got it mom. Thank you!”

It was another turning point to educating. The kids know the do’s and don’ts, how to respond to things, rules in our house, understand what PTSD is (not details of what happened) and the basic symptoms that come with it, they know and understand they are loved even if Craig is not with them ALL of the time, etc. But this time the step was learning the why to how one with PTSD feels, thinks, and views things. And let me tell you, it was an amazing step to see! That young man has a heart of gold!

Before he left yesterday he knocked on the bedroom door, Craig responded, and my son said, “Hey dad, is there anything I need to help you or mom with around here before me and [girlfriend] take off?” 

The kiddo got it! 🙂

Now, there’s a flip side to this also though. What about the PTSD parent?

It’s hard knowing your kids are taught things differently, have to learn different rules then other kids, life is different. That can weigh on one with PTSD and cause a lot of guilt.

Well, let me tell all of you something.  This is the hand we were all dealt, facts on the table, and those kids are not going to love you any less! It is just a fact of being a child of a PTSD parent to learn things differently, it does not mean you are a burden on a child because of that. The quality of time you spend with them is much greater than the amount of time. Proven fact!

You have to keep in mind that even though a child is being raised in a home with PTSD, that child learning the things that need to be learned in a PTSD home will carry with them through life. It will help them become well rounded, non-judgmental adults, they won’t have the stigma that many children are raised with, and they will be a great addition to society itself! Look at my kids for example. I have a 13 year old that will tell anyone that her dad (step-dad) is an awesome man and a great dad and she loves him dearly… and he has PTSD. She doesn’t judge others, she doesn’t fear PTSD, she uses what she’s been taught to educate others, and loves her dad greatly. That speaks volumes!!!

Learning is a part of life. Just because a child has to learn something or a way of life differently than someone else, does not mean it’s bad for them. It’s not something you, as a PTSD parent, should view as you have caused something negative or that child should not have to deal with this. YOU can teach them a way of life that can be so valuable not only to that child but to others as well, through that child. No, the hand dealt is not a fair one, but it does teach so much more about life then a lot of kids get. So don’t let it weigh you down, use it to teach and learn. Don’t be too judgmental on yourself! 😉

Just something to think about. 

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD

Back to School

Back to School time.

Well, tomorrow is the start of another school year of alarm clocks being set and schedules to keep lol.

I have been very lucky with the schools my kids attend/attended, they have never placed stigma on the fact we have PTSD in our home and have always worked with us.

Back to school comes with a lot of things to think about or keep in mind. My kids are ones that like educating about PTSD, and I think in reality it has helped the teachers greatly. I have never had an issue to where I had to directly address it upfront, to be honest. It always seems to just come up in conversation sooner or later.

But, not every situation will be like our’s is, so I want to go over some things that can help.

* If you know your child is having issues, rather it is anxiety, behavior, whatever… It might be a good idea to let your child’s teachers know there is PTSD in your home AND what you are doing as a parent to help them cope and adjust.

By the teacher knowing there is a plan of action in place for that child, can help keep issues with a school down. It can also help include that teacher in learning and understanding what they can do to help. It also helps them with knowing how to better assist your child when they are in school. Many schools offer some form of counseling, even if it’s just someone for the child to talk to when needed. So making sure everyone is on the same page can be urgent to make sure the school year runs smoothly.

* If you get a teacher that does not understand PTSD, educate them! People fear the unknown and you sure do not want something to happen and a teacher over react because they are not educated on the subject. All child issues are not necessarily caused by PTSD, kids are still kids and will go through things and development stages just like anyone else. Making sure the root of any issues are addressed can be urgent so unneeded stress does not arise or blame be placed where it should not be.

* Provide the teacher/school with resources for learning about PTSD!

* Educating your children on their age level. I can not emphasize this one enough! Kids can word things sometimes to where a situation “seems” worse then it is, just part of being a kid. But this can lead to a visit by someone who is not really needed or someone taking something the wrong way. Kids do not hide things and they sure say it “as THEY view it”, so making sure they understand on their age level, are taught coping skills, and do not have that window of filling in the blanks with what they “think” instead of facts can be crucial for a school year running smoothly.

* Some schools have a “What does your parent do at work day”. Even if you do not work any longer, these days provide an opportunity for people to meet you face to face. They allow you to tell about what you do/did and you can even give a little PTSD education in there at the same time. These can be fun! And it is a great opportunity to use “The Spoon Theory” to explain an unseen disability.  And kids LOVE teaching that theory to others. 😉

* Let the teacher know what the best form of communication is for you! Face to face meetings are not always good when PTSD is at hand, even though sometimes are needed. If you are more comfortable with emails or phone calls, make sure the teacher knows that. It helps keep you involved as a PTSD or caregiver parent, and it helps the teacher understand that even though you are not always face to face with them, your child still matters. Majority of teachers DO use email, so if it is not offered or mentioned up front, simply ask them if it is possible to do that with them.

Notes! This has always been my big one. Write a note and put it in a sealed envelope with the teachers name on the front and have your child give it to the teacher. I have always said “Please give this to [teacher’s name] and let them know I need a response. That has always worked great for us!

* Events. School comes with many activities from plays to award ceremonies to sporting events, etc. If you are able to attend, there is no harm in asking the person in charge of the activity if you can have a certain seating arrangement so you can attend. Majority of ones with PTSD prefer their backs to a wall and near an exit, so if anxiety gets high you can briefly exit then return when you are coping better, and without having to make it obvious you are doing so to everyone else. Never feel you can not ask for certain seating, the fact is, you are trying to be there for your child.

* Emergency contacts. It’s always good to have someone on your child’s emergency contact/pick up list that lives outside of your home. There may come a time where you as parents are at a doctor appointment, in the middle of a PTSD meltdown, or whatever, and an outside person may be needed to go to the school or pick your child up. Be prepared ahead of time in case this happens.

These are just a few ideas of how to make a school year run smoothly. There are many things you can do, and many ways to still be involved in your child’s school year. Find what works best for you! 

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD

Divorced/Separated Parents

Divorced/Separated Parents

You know me  I have a way of touching on topics no one wants to talk about… but NEED to be!

This is a hard enough topic as it is! Then you have PTSD added to it. I know not every situation is going to be the same, I know there will be some to not agree with me… and that’s okay, however I want you to really, truly, and from the heart think about what I have to say here.

I am seeing some of the most awful things you could imagine happen, and children are being placed in the middle of it! No parent out there, that is a GOOD parent, wants their children to suffer. But there are many suffering and it’s not because of PTSD, it’s because of how parents are responding to each other.

The old saying is “Parenting doesn’t come with a manual”, well it’s true… to some point. However, there are proven guidelines that parents can follow that leads to separations still functioning FOR THE CHILD! And I hate to say, I am seeing many forget or just not know these things.

These things I have to say can go for any separated parents, however when you have a PTSD parent… or even both parents with PTSD, you have to both do a little bit more. My views on this are not only spoken from psychologists, psychiatrists, or others from medical fields, but also from what Craig and I have personally seen or experienced.

Don’t put children in the middle!

If you are separated, obviously there was/is some sort of relationship issue. But that issue is between the adults and NOT the children! The “Your father/mother did this or did that” HAS to STOP!

See, it is a proven fact that a child at some point in their life will make their own decisions and choices about each parent. No matter how much a parent bad mouths another parent, sooner or later every child will see through it. When that child does, the parent talking bad about the other parent will be the one the child starts questioning about what type of parent they really are.

The child will start asking questions, looking for facts, or even looking for a parent they have been taken away from… and those things are not going to come to the parent doing the bad talking, they are going to be asked or spoken to others. And when that child finds out that what a parent said was not the truth or altered in some way, you have a great chance of that child walking away from you. Children will make their own decisions in life, there is absolutely nothing a parent can do to prevent that from happening. And what you do and how you act towards the other parent will make all of the difference in the world, as well as what type of relationship your child has with you now or in the future.

I know in some cases the facts of a fallen relationship between parents could have been for very legit or safety precaution reasons, such as physical abuse. That is understandable and before anyone starts in on that part, let me say this part up front. When or if that parent who was abusive gets help and does become better then they were at the time, it has to be taken into consideration. Some with PTSD do go through physically violent times, however it does not mean they are going to be that way for life. If they have received help and have the outbursts under control to where they are deemed to be safe around their child, then as the other parent you have to allow them to be a parent. If you don’t, your child could very well hold it against you later when they do find out, and trust me they will, that you prevented them from having a relationship with their parent. I am seeing so many children reconnect with their PTSD parent as they become adults, and now have incredible relationships with the parent they were sheltered from. And those same children in many cases have walked away from or hold it against the non PTSD parent for interfering in their relationship with the other parent. So if you are one doing this, you might want to take a really good look at the facts of what can happen.

I’m seeing children state “But you are nothing like mom/dad said you were like”. A child will confront the parents… and that’s not only one parent. Children are curious by nature, it’s the way they learn. And sooner or later they are going to start asking questions, they are going to want to see proof, and they are going to believe what they see with their own eyes! Some children no matter what you say negative about another parent are going to see right through it, to the truth. Too many parents are trying to control their children’s thoughts and feelings regarding the other parent, I’m telling you, it’s going to backfire if you are doing this!

Anyone who has attended a parenting class, which I think is good for all separated parents, knows that one of the first things they teach you is do not interfere with the other parent’s relationship with the child. There is a very good reason they teach that!

So you and the other parent could not work things out to stay together as a family, so what! It does not mean either of you can’t be a good parent. It means your relationship did not work. That relationship again, is between the adults!

I see fingers pointed at the PTSD parent all of the time. And there’s an old saying to that, “When you point your finger at someone else, there’s always 4 fingers pointing back at you”… and they are your own! Think before you speak and choose your words and actions wisely.

No matter what happened between you and the other parent, don’t let your hate for someone else roll over to the children/child you have TOGETHER. Hate is a very strong word, and it is a true feeling, but let me tell you something… I was once told by an awesome psychologist, “In order to hate someone, you must have loved them first.” Those are very real words that carry a lot of meaning. Do yourself and your child a favor, remember those words and don’t let hate destroy you child or yourself. You all deserve better then that.

Things that can help:

* Visitation Time.

You know what can come with PTSD, it’s no secret and it’s very real. BOTH parents need to be honest with each other. If a parent is having a rough day and it would not be best for a child to be with them, allow that parent to have time with the child another time. Holding visitation time against a parent can be devastating to the child as well as their relationship with the other parent. And as the non PTSD parent, don’t be afraid to call the other parent if you have a day you need to do something else or having a rough day yourself and see if they would like time with the child that day. Parenting is give and take, even though you two are not physically together does not mean you can’t work together for the best interest of everyone.

* Communication.

If a parent makes the effort to contact a child, let them. So it may take a few minutes away from you and your day, so what, you chose to have a child with that person, allow them to build a relationship with that child. And your child will thank you for it later as they grow and develop being able to get to know both parents.

* Educate.

Children need to be educated on their age appropriate level. Even if you are a parent that is no longer with the one that suffers from PTSD, you at one time were and chose to have a child with that person. Do what’s best for the child and educate the child correctly. That PTSD parent is not going away, they are still a parent and the more you do the better things will or can be all around for everyone.

* DO NOT cause a child to be scared!

This is one of the largest mistakes I hear about! No one, especially a child, deserves to be raised fearing PTSD or any disability! Again, parents who let their own fear roll over to their child is doing nothing but damaging the child mentally and emotionally which can lead to that child having issues or relationship issues of their own later in life. If you yourself are scared of “PTSD”, then educate yourself so you have the correct tools to help raise your child.

* Your adult relationship.

That’s right, it’s YOURS! It’s not the child’s! Even if you have an issue with the other parent, and obviously there is/was something or you would still be together, don’t let your personal feelings or emotions roll over to the child regarding your relationship with the other parent. Even if things do not work out between two people, it does not mean you can’t get along or be civil towards each other. And for the sake of the child I hope you do! Even parents who are not together can still raise a healthy well balanced child “together” even though physically apart.

* Include the other parent.

Even if someone suffers from PTSD, or any type of disability, they can still be a good parent. A child is a child of two people, not only one. Even if a parent with PTSD can not always attend or be a part of something in a child’s life, still give them the opportunity to be included. With children, it’s not the amount of time a parent gives that is important to them, it’s the quality of the time. PTSD parents might not always be able to be as much of the child’s life as they want to be, however it does not make them a bad parent, it does not make them selfish, and they need to be able to do as much as possible in that child’s life. However, if the other parent does not give information to the other parent, or makes decisions regarding a child without including the other parent, how can they truly be a part of that child’s life? They can’t, because they have not been given the information they need to participate. I will tell you again, sooner or later that child will find out the parent was never told, and that child will not hold it against the parent who wasn’t given the information, they may very well hold it against the parent that left the other parent out of their life.

There is something I was raised knowing, and I guess it stuck with me. If there comes a day in the relationship where it is not working no matter how hard BOTH try, then you have to be honest about it. And if that day ever comes then you walk away knowing you both tried, and knowing that whatever happened is between the two of you but you don’t put the children in the middle of it. Each parent, no matter what disability is or is not there, has the right to be a parent. No one has the right to stop that. (Of course as long as the parent is not a harm to the child) At sometimes, as much as I hate saying this because I believe every relationship deserves a seriously fighting chance, a child is better off with two parents that are separated then two parents that can never get along or work things out together.

There is no reason to fight, there is no reason to hold a child against the other parent, and children sure are not pawns to use against another parent. If a relationship between two people does not work out, simply agree that it did not work but neither of you will cause it to damage the relationship a child deserves with both parents. If you are no longer living under the same roof, then there is no reason you can’t remain civil towards each other when you do have to see each other. When there is a child involved, that other parent is not just going away, you chose to have a child with that person so have respect for yourself and that person when it comes to the decision you made to have that child. And you will have to learn to agree to disagree at times, it’s going to happen. Don’t forget what is in the best interest of your child/children.

Because of PTSD, I have seen many relationships fall apart, but then many be pieced back together as well. You don’t know what the future holds. Sometimes a relationship may be truly over and other times it may not be. You are learning to cope through life with PTSD, the symptoms can get better and you might realize you made a mistake, it’s life, it happens at times. Have respect for each other no matter what! And have respect and consideration for your child!

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story…PTSD

A PTSD Dad…

A PTSD Dad

Being a dad may be a lot different now then it use to be. But this thing called PTSD that haunts your nights and disrupts your days, never takes away from a child that speaks the words “my Dad”.

Dad is a strong word with a strong meaning behind it. Some children may say the word pops, and some still say daddy or papa. It doesn’t matter which is used, when it comes from the mouth of a child, with love, meaning, and pride, it still boils down to “my Dad”.

Any man can be a father, but a special man to a child’s heart and through their eyes know him as “my Dad”.

A PTSD dad may feel guilty, because they can’t spend as much time with a child or go places another father might be able to or as often. But a child sees through eyes of innocence, they do not judge you on the amount of time PTSD may take away from them, they do not count the minutes on a clock, they know the quality of the time you give, and they speak those words “my Dad”.

A PTSD dad may have different schedules or act in different ways then other fathers, but a child still recognizes love through the illness that haunts you, and they still view you as “my Dad”.

A PTSD dad teaches something special, and he needs not say a word to teach it. He teaches a child not to judge others, he teaches a child to see through a person’s disabilities or illnesses, and teaches a child that no disability can prevent a man from being a man known as “my Dad”.

A PTSD dad shows a child that life is special and the value in every day that comes. He shows a child that you don’t take life for granted, that you cherish it and you do your best through it. That child in turn knows him as “my Dad”.

A child does not know the word stigma. That is something that is taught or not taught to a child. A PTSD dad shows a child that stigma is just a word and he shows them life past a simple word when others may not see it. He teaches them the truth. That child, that child is a child that can change the world. That child will say the world will change because of “my Dad”.

To the Dads out there that battle PTSD each day of your life. You have a special gift, rather you see it or not. Many of you may view yourself as letting your children down, many may view that your life is not worth what you put others through because of your disability, many may view that you are not worthy at all. If you view yourself that way, before you judge yourself so harshly, you might want to really listen to your child. PTSD may seem to take a lot away from you, but don’t allow it to take away those words “my Dad”. Your child or children love you, honor you, and they by all means look up to you. Why? Because you ARE their DAD! That is something special. 

HAPPY FATHER’S DAY to all of the PTSD Dads! 

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story…PTSD

Children of a Parent with PTSD…

PTSD vs Children

I want to talk about children. I have many come to me and say “How did you do it? What did/do you do?” Living with PTSD yourself or as a spouse is tough, but what about the children? What are things you can do as a parent to help keep PTSD from effecting them so greatly?

To say the least I’m a mom. I’ve been there, my kids are now teenagers and somehow what I did and have done has worked! They are well adjusted, do great in school, do not have behavior issues, do not take Craig’s PTSD personally, understand when he has to hide himself away, and have never judged or held that he has PTSD against him, etc etc. They now even educate others about PTSD, they are not ashamed of it at all!

My children were 3 and 8 years old when Craig came back into my life. We have been a family for almost 10 years now. Even though Craig and I have known each other for nearly 24 years. So I knew on day one of us living together something was wrong, something had changed, even though it was several years before we were told it was PTSD.

I knew from day one there were things I had to teach the kids differently. And that’s exactly what I did!

After the first night of seeing the nightmares and how Craig would come out of bed not knowing where he was or who anyone was for that matter until I could get him grounded, he and I talked and we put a plan into action.

This plan also included what I now refer to as safety protocol. I get asked quite often when do you start teaching children at what age? TODAY! No matter what their age is! You teach them on their age level of understanding.

Toddlers are the easiest! They haven’t formed opinions yet, they don’t judge people or situations, and you teach them just as you would teach them anything else as a parent. This does not mean you sit and describe what PTSD is and the details of it or what happened, toddlers are not going to understand that, and if you do you will probably put fear into them.

Here are some examples for any age group:

* You don’t jump on dad’s (or mom’s anyplace I type dad’s, it all goes for whichever parent has PTSD) back if he doesn’t know you are going to.

* We don’t scare people by jumping around corners, it’s not nice to scare someone.

* If you need me at night knock on the door until I come to you. This keeps children from startling one with PTSD or walking in on a nightmare or talking in sleep.

* DO NOT let a child sleep with you! If they are having a rough night, go to their room with them, don’t allow them in your bed.

* If dad is sleeping, let him sleep… why don’t you go play in your room until he wakes up. A person with PTSD can fall asleep anymore at any time really, by the children learning to go to another room when this happens it keeps them away from anything that could come from sleep.

* Have the master bedroom as a safe place for the one with PTSD, or another designated room. Their quiet place away from children playing and the noise when they get frustrated or feel angry. Teach the children that if dad is in the bedroom just leave him alone, he needs quiet time. When he’s ready he will come out and play with you or be with us, he will join back with the family. Daddy loves you very much but just needs some quiet time.

If they need dad in an emergency then knock on the door and wait for him to answer. Teach then that they do not enter that room unless they are invited in. My kids, even at their ages will still stop at the doorway even if the door is open… this is a great rule! It can keep episodes from happening that could cause the child to fear the parent. The knocking on the door can also help ground a parent so the parent can go to the child when needed.

So those are a few of the things you can start teaching today! They truly make life easier for the child as well as the parent with PTSD.

So when do I start teaching my children what PTSD is? What age?

Easy! When they start asking questions! Children are curious by nature:

*If your child asks why is dad mad at me? That’s your sign it’s time. Oh daddy is not mad at you, here let’s sit down and talk about it. Daddy went through something really bad and sometimes it causes him to not be able to control how he feels or acts. When he can’t control those feelings he gets mad and may act in a different way. It’s not you at all, he loves you very much. How about this? If you see dad is upset or angry, why don’t you go to your room to play and give him time to get past feeling that way. Then when he’s feeling better you two can play again.

* Dad doesn’t come out of the bedroom, does he not want to spend time with me? Oh that’s not it at all! Dad loves you and loves being around you, but at times he needs quiet time to deal with what he’s feeling…. That one is kind of like the last answer.

* What’s wrong with dad? He’s acting totally different.
This might be your chance if they are at the level of understanding to tell them dad has an illness, one you can not see. It’s called PTSD. It caused his brain to work differently because of something really bad that he went through. Then you can talk about the things that he is doing (hopefully!) to make himself better then what he is. He sees a doctor for it to help him re-learn how to deal with his feelings, he takes medications to help him sleep or so he doesn’t have anxiety about being around people as much…. Make sure they always know dad loves them and it’s something he is going through and not because of them. This is also your “out” for helping a child understand that they do not have this problem, dad does, so copying his actions is unacceptable. There is a medical reason for the way he acts.

All of these things can be taught on the child’s level of understanding. As they get older and ask questions, you teach them more. This all leads to them having an understanding and not judging the parent as well as not taking it as his actions are personal towards them.

Now, the parent with PTSD. There are things YOU can do as well to help your child/children.

* When you are feeling up for it, spend time with them! Watch tv, read a book, play ball or a board game, help them with their homework, or simply eat dinner with them! Even if it is only a little bit of time, they remember it!

* If you are feeling angry, go to another room away from the children until the feeling passes. No one means to take things out on their children, so remove yourself from the situation when those frustrated or angry feelings come. It will save your relationship with your children.

* Even if you have those numb feelings, make sure you tell your children you love them. Speak those words to them, they will go a long way and those words will always stick with them. Come out of the room and at least tell them good night and that you love them before you hideout again. It only takes a few seconds and is something that will last with them for a lifetime! “Show face” is what we call it, and it makes a huge difference to a child.

To the parent that does not have PTSD:

Your role as a parent has doubled! What you do, say, and how you act is extremely important!

* Make sure you take care of yourself and get rest when you need it! If you are tired and worn out your attitude can change towards the kids as well as your PTSD partner. You don’t want to be the one starting to take your frustration or anger out on the kids either.

* Take naps when the kids take one or when they are in school. Get your rest! The chores are not going anywhere, trust me. 😉 We as spouses have some long nights of little sleep, make sure you get your rest! As well as make sure you eat! It’s needed for taking care of everyone and everything, as well as just being able to function.

* Do NOT talk bad about the PTSD parent! When you talk bad in front of children they pick up on it! They could start acting out, show disrespect towards you, stop listening to what you tell them, even start fearing the PTSD parent because of what you have said to them or what they have overheard you say. In a way it goes back to parenting 101, the parent who speaks badly of another parent is the one that will be judged by the children… and not in a good way. You don’t want to be in this situation!

* YOU are the children’s teacher! They will pick up and copy how you act. Be careful with your actions and words! Young children look to their mother in most cases. As they develop they turn to dad a lot. Keep a balance in the family so development is smooth and no grudges are held later in life.

* Take time to talk to children one on one! I did something my kids loved!!! The formal dining room was turned into what we called the library. Kids know a library as a quiet place, it brings a calm sense to them. Every day, one at a time, my child and I would sit in the library and just talk. We would talk about school, friends, what they are feeling, etc. This opens the door for your children to communicate and feel comfortable about doing so… which also forms for them having communication skills later in life. They learn it’s okay to share their feelings and talk to you. Some times they will even come to you, which mine did, and say “Hey mom can you meet me in the library?” That was always a sign of they needed to talk about something. It’s also a good place for dad to play board games or chess with them. Dad can use this room or area for talking with the kids as well. Never use it for discipline! It’s like their safe place just like one with PTSD uses the bedroom.

Parents who have a child with a disability. Children can still learn! Some my learn a little slower then others, some may need extra time and attention, but these things can still apply, you just have to remember to have a little more patience and just as with PTSD, remember you have a disability at hand. It’s also good in many cases to teach these children the same coping skills one with PTSD learns, they do help. Taking time and patience without getting frustrated to teach a child to slow down so they can pay attention can be of a huge help. I have volunteered in the past with children that have emotional as well as physical disabilities and I will tell you first hand ANYTHING is possible! Having a child with a disability as well as a loved one with PTSD can be difficult, but it’s not the end of the world either. Find that balance, it is there, you just have to find it and work extra hard at taking care of yourself so you are up for it. 😉 Those children have special gifts, don’t forget that in all of this.

As a parent, what you do and how you do it will help with your child adjusting and developing the best they can. They learn from you, count on you, and look up to you. Learn wisely and teach wisely. It will make all of the difference in the world. Each family can find a balance, it just takes trying different things until you find it.

Parents… work together!!! Just because someone has PTSD does NOT make them any less of a parent! It just means things are different then a family that does not have a loved one with PTSD… or any disability for that matter. 😉

As always, if you find this helpful you are more then welcome to “share” it! It might just help a family out there.

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story…PTSD

Children and PTSD…

In my research this morning I came across a great article on “PsychCentral” regarding children with PTSD. A study has been done on the benefits of therapy helping children at a younger age and medications not being needed.

This bring up a whole new subject, and that I would love to see a study done on and the results. What about children with PTSD parents? Ones who may have developed or might develop secondary PTSD?

If therapy for children has indeed been beneficial for those who have PTSD, I would have to guess that the children in homes with PTSD might benefit from therapy just as much, which would reduce the effects of PTSD later in life, help them adjust to situations better, and live a happy and productive life.

There are however many children that do adjust well in a home with a PTSD parent. I’m happy and thankful to say our home is one of those. I believe educating children on their age level about PTSD has been of great help. It helps a child understand why a parent might act the way they do, why they are emotionally distant at times or even need to be in a different room, and helps a child not take things personally as if they themselves have done something to cause a parent to be these ways.

Children learn very quickly. I would believe therapy and education about PTSD at a young age would be very beneficial to them as well as therapy if it is needed or the parent feels it could be of help.

~Bec

A Spouse’s Story PTSD