Nov/Dec GRG Connections

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Grandparents Raising Grandchildren

Issue 21                                      Volume 21

Kudos to Our Grandparents!

Jupiter & WPB GRGs

Attend Advocacy Training Workshop

Sponsored by the Human Services Coalition of PBC

September 20, 2013

The 9 GRGs pictured below attended this training to learn how to advocate for their grandchildren and themselves with their Florida State Representatives.

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The 9 GRGs left to right are: Carl Fisher, Kevin Christie, Nancy Fisher, Betty Gordon, Kris Boodram, Reta Chisholm, Maryanne Adornetto, Caren Haeusser, and Lynn Cone.

In the back row, left to right, are Mark Pafford –  District 88 Representative; Todd Bonlarron – PBC Board of County Commissioners, Legislative Affairs Director; and Patrick Rooney – District 85 Representative who conducted the training.

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GRGs Attend the South Florida Conference

On Child Abuse & Neglect

GRGs Maryanne Adornetto, Godefrieda Alfred, and Reta Chisholm attended the October 17, 2013 “Turn on the Lights” conference sponsored by The Children’s Healing Institute at the PBC Convention Center.

Reta Chisholm said the following about her experience.  “Attending this conference really opened my eyes.  It has helped me understand my grandchildren’s feelings better.  Hopefully I will be able to help them better as well.”

 Godefrieda Alfred felt the conference was wonderful.  “All the information was amazing!  Yes, there is a lot of hard work with our grandchildren, but there is hope.  The keynote speaker overcame all sorts of tremendous abuse to become one of the leading political news casters in NYC.  And, he was raised by his grandmother.” 

  • “In the Ambiguous Foster Child workshop, I learned that our grandchildren experience similar feelings to those of foster children.  They suffer physically, mentally, and emotionally from the loss of their parents.”
  • “The play therapy workshop made me realize that our grandchildren are being missed diagnosed.  They really don’t have ADD or ADHD, and are being overmedicated when they actually have PTSD.”

Maryanne Adornetto expressed.   With a choice of 18 different sessions and time for only three, it was difficult to choose but rewarding all the same. The three topics I chose were the closest ones to my experience with my wounded child from a broken family.

A summary follows the lessons – What I learned from each that amplified my education / understanding of my situation as a grandparent raising a grandchild.

Workshop #1:  “I have been running all of my life.  I am finally free,” is a quote from a book “No Mamma’s Boy: How I let Go of my Past and Embraced the Future,” by a renowned NYC news broadcaster.  He was born the son of a mentally ill mother, who abused him in so many ways and finally sexually, by the age of seven.  With a mother in and out of mental health facilities, he went to live with his grandmother and aunt. He kept his “secret” till his mother died. He wrote it therapeutically to rid himself of the shame, guilt, confusion and fear he lived with and harbored into his adulthood, as well as hoping to enlighten the caretakers of wounded children to seek to understand things from the child’s perspective. Stuffing his feelings and fears down deep, ultimately ruined his marriage and other adult relationships. Now in therapy, his personal story could be told; he is in the process of healing which ends his need to be silent. He finally rescued that child within himself.

Workshop #2:  “Understanding and Addressing Verbal Abuse,” was presented by a teacher and specialist with the PBC School District.  He i s a specialist in counseling and even he, as a child, was verbally abused and bullied like so many of us.  The wounded children, those carrying the burden of their family’s dysfunction, are more susceptible to the harm of verbal abuse and bullying.  Remember, they are guarding their “secrets.”  One of his projects is to restore respect in the classroom setting with the students and the educators.  His project is to teach techniques to the teacher on how to present a solution to a disagreement and avoid disrespectful name calling, power plays, and to model the respectful ways to disagree without verbal judo.  Done well and advancing these strategies throughout the system, will reduce teacher on teacher, teacher on student, and student on student abuse.

Just last week, a 6 foot 7, 300 lb Miami football player had a mental break at the teams cafeteria when the last straw broke him. As he approached the cafeteria table with his tray, all the players at the table got up at once and left, just a joke they said. The wounded player slammed down his tray, left, went home to family and started receiving professional help. As the investigation continued, one particular teammate ALWAYS pulled pranks on this player. He was vulnerable because all his life he was bigger, ganglier than other children his age. He was sure professional football was his place and time to share, but, alas, another bully persisted for over a year TEASING? Him. Even in the NFL we are now recognizing that verbal abuse and bullying are the opposite of teasing; it is harmful. The player involved in the incident has been suspended for a number of games. A small victory for the abused and bullied.

Workshop #3:  “The Ambiguous Child,” presented by a professor of child psychology at Temple University, Dr. Susan Cornbluth. She addressed the loss and struggle children separated from their family’s experience. These children will not usually express exactly how they feel, because of fear, confusion, distrust and HOPE. What you say, hope? Yes, the ambiguous child thinks the separation is temporary, so in their minds they dream of how it will be when the family is all together again, but will not share this. They usually are subjected to a sudden parting, with little in the way of belongings, or understanding. Therefore, it is reasonable for them to assume they will soon be reunited with family, things, places, school, friends and personal space. They cling to the “good” thoughts, the “best” times they knew. The longer the children are separated, the more “homes” they are shifted to, the more “people” that talk at/to them, the more they long to go back to what they knew. Since most “people” talk more and listen less, they fail to understand that the acting out is all about the child’s loss, attachment trauma and feeling unwanted and unworthy. HOPE is all they have. The Professor’s point was to LISTEN, LOOK, and LEARN from the wounded child what they feel, know, care about. DON’T ASSUME. Too often these children are told how they should feel, how grateful they should be. It may take awhile, but proper listening and neutral interactions allow the child to start to trust they will be HEARD. To get to why they feel and what can help, or what they need to help them heal or understand what is happening to them, takes time and an “army of special” people to be agents on their behalf. For the child, it’s like the heads and tails of a coin–the child desires the side of familiarity (HOPE), while the adults try to polish up and present the uncertain side (FEAR). This is the ambiguity.

SUMMARY:  Remember these children are the victims of crimes of neglect, abuse, abandonment, and sexual atrocities.  In each has been planted the seeds of fear, shame, distrust, guilt, and confusion that frequently emerge as rage.  We, the adults, must seek wisdom to carefully weed out these destructive seeds, one by one, and return our garden of wounded children to a healthy, trusting environment safe for healing, growth, and love.

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Stress Management:  Your Lifelines

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(Excerpt from IFAS/EDIS Publication by Joe Pergola and Suzanna Smith)

To read the entire publication please click on this link http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/FY519

People who deal with stress have “lifelines” to others who can help.  Support is very important.  People with support have fewer stress-related health problems.
 

Social Support:  These “lifelines” are systems of social support. Social support is help given by friends, family, and neighbors in times of crisis or emergency, or on a daily or occasional basis. Community services and religious congregations are also sources of social support. 

For more information about other stress management skills, see the other publications in this series.  Click on this link http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/topic_series_stress_management.

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