Wouldn’t it be amazing if there was one single guide to raising your kids–they should have an instruction book! Becoming a parent and coping with ACEs can be challenging at times, but knowing how to find resources is essential!
This post is a collaboration with the CDC. All opinions are my own.
When you become a parent, there isn’t a single guidebook for your children. Wouldn’t that be amazing?! Don’t get me wrong, there are a million resources on the market, but not every parent or every child is the same. Raising four kids definitely has some challenges, to say the least!
Growing up, I had a seemingly “normal” childhood from the outside. I had a mother and father who loved me, and I was offered many opportunities as a child. What many don’t realize, is that I was adopted by my grandparents. My birth father was mostly absent when he was not in prison. I’ve always had a close relationship with my birth mother, but at times, it could be easy to feel some resentment.
Even though I was always surrounded by people who loved me, there was always a core of abandonment issues. I kept friends and people at a distance to protect myself. It is still hard for me to express feelings or let new people get to know me. Trust me, I’m a work in progress!
When I was younger, I did everything I could to connect with the paternal side of my family. I have fond memories of Sundays with my grandmother and cousins, while my birth father was nursing a hangover from his previous long night. As time passed, the efforts became more one –sided, and after I had my kids, I realized something had to give.
Toxic relationships can be extremely trying on your health. I knew that deep down, certain people loved me…… but there was enough damage and manipulation done over the decades that I no longer needed them in my life. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t question my choices, but I did what I had to for my children and their safety.
As my girls get older, they will question my childhood and I remain an open book. I want them to know that family is a safe place and sometimes you have to cut ties with those who don’t have the best intentions, even if they are your blood.
On a united front, my husband and I stand together with our parenting. Of course, we disagree on some aspects, but we are doing our best to make a healthy environment for our children. My husband’s childhood was no picnic, and he is still learning to cope and recover from many things that happened with his parents and siblings.
Have you heard of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs)? They’re stressful events in a child or teenager’s life, and 2/3rds of Americans have at least one. Common ACEs include divorce or separation, abuse and neglect, parental substance abuse and others.
If you’ve experienced ACEs in your childhood, it can affect how you cope with certain stressors. Toxic stress contributes to the release of powerful hormones that can take over your body and overwhelms your child’s mind and body.
Exposure to ACEs can result in a toxic stress response that derails optimal development by producing changes in gene expression, brain architecture, immune function, and coping strategies adopted affecting educational attainment, health behaviors, physical and mental health, and life opportunities.
ACEs can have a lasting effect on the health of yourself or child. After my teenage years, it took a lot of self-reflection and using resources to recover from the issues I’ve dealt with. Writing is one of my favorite outlets, even if it’s only a private journal.
In college, I met a core group of roommates whom I am still close to today. Our relationships have shifted through the years from a bestie to hit up happy hour specials with someone to truly lean on when major life events happen. Our connections have become even closer now that we are parents, wives and navigating the working world.
You are encouraged to #FindYour3 resources to help cope with ACEs. There is power in community, and there are so many ways to find help and a positive outlet for your parenting!
- Pediatricians, doctors or nurses. Be honest with your doctors and let them know any areas you might need help in. They are there for you and want you and your children to be healthy! ASK if you need anything.
- Close friendships. I have an ongoing Marco Polo conversation with my college roommates. This doesn’t seem like much, but after years of barely keeping in touch––usually just at weddings––we are closely connected again. We can use the video-sharing app to vent about our day, parenthood, the fun events happening in our lives and more. Our jobs are all vastly different, and we have children in a range of ages. Nourish those close friendships and allow yourself to be vulnerable with others.
- Help others. Everyone has an area where they can provide help for others. You might find someone who is going through the same childhood adversities as you. Even helping out with reading at your child’s school can change someone’s life… you just never know! Last winter, I saw the viral post about mothers wearing Free Mom Hugs shirts at pride parades and I knew it was my calling. I am now one of the five leaders of Free Mom Hugs Michigan! The events can be gut-wrenching when you see these children who were abandoned by their parents because of their sexuality. There is always a positive side to the events, though––you are there for people and they know they are IMPORTANT and SEEN.