Have you ever known someone who despite the overwhelming odds against them, has overcome incredible trauma to lead a healthy, happy life? Every once in a while I meet someone like this and I am always in awe. So what's the best recipe for helping your child be resilient in the midst of whatever they face? Research says, it's you!
In this episode my sister-in-law, Rachael Homer, is joining me to talk about some of her very personal experiences of raising a son with autism, while fostering a daughter with cerebral palsy. She will share some of what she has done to help her family members with special needs reach their potential. So many of the things she shares can apply to ANY child with ANY needs! Listen in and you’ll see what I mean.
So my guest today is a super inspiring, rockstar of a mom, and my good friend and sister-in-law, Rachael with an a. (All her life she has spelled her name R A C H A E L, but apparently when she was 16 and she went to get her driver’s license, she discovered it was spelled without an A on her birth certificate! So she recently went through a huge hassle to get that second A added in there officially because it just felt like part of her identity.)
Rachael is one of those people who doesn’t wait for life to hand her anything, she just runs after what she wants. We live in different states, so a couple years ago she and her family had made this trip to come up to visit my family. She and I were staying up late talking under the stars one night, and she told me how she had recently been to this paint and sip, where you go and paint a picture with an instructor guiding all your steps and you get a glass of wine to drink as you go. Well, she loved it, but she’s not a wine drinker and she thought wouldn’t it be nice to have the same type of event for non-drinkers too? Or for entire families? So I listened to her idea and thought it was great, but didn’t think too much of it. But the next thing I knew she had actually started her own business! So now she does paint nights at an ice cream parlor so people come to paint and eat ice cream together! And it has been a huge success!
So today she is joining me to talk about some very personal experiences of raising a son with autism, while fostering a daughter with cerebral palsy. She will share some of what she has done to help her family members with special needs reach their potential. So many of the things she shares can apply to any child with any needs. So listen in and you’ll see what I mean.
Conversation with Rachael
Amen Rachael! I could not agree more.
This was so fun for me just to sit and chat about my sweet nephew Ben. Rachael is clearly a fantastic mom and I learned so much from her that I can apply in my own parenting as well. I just want to emphasize three points before I close.
First - One thing she touched on quite a bit was the idea of grieving the loss of expectations.
I don’t know if it’s realistic not to have some sort of expectations about what your kids will become. So when things don’t turn out the way we expect them to, it’s totally normal to go through some sort of grief cycle.
Second - Think outside the box and parent each child as an individual. Parenting is not a one size fits all. Kids learn in different ways. Some are visual learners, while some learn better kinesthetically (so touch and movement helps them process new information), and some are auditory learners (so music and talking really helps them). So it can make a big difference to figure out how your child learns best.
Third - I love how Rachael emphasized the importance of eye contact in relationships. For Ben, it was his autism that interfered with that connection, so Rachael arranged intervention and made that a priority at home. For other kids it might be screen time that interferes with eye contact. In the 2017 book, Media, Family Interaction and the Digitalization of Childhood by Sanna Raudaskoski, Eerik Mantere, and Satu Valkonen, it says, “making eye contact is the most powerful mode of establishing a communicative link between humans. For people with well-functioning eyesight, gaze is one of the major aspects of forming a system of attachment between a caregiver and child. Moreover, early sensitivity to a mutual gaze is arguably the basic foundation for the later development of social skills.” So as Rachael said, eye contact is kind of a big deal.
So there are just a few of the many things I learned. I’d love to hear your insights as well! Thank you Rachael for sharing yourself with us!
If you feel like this podcast has empowered you as a parent, would you be willing to leave an iTunes review? I don’t do this very often, because it makes me uncomfortable to ask you for anything, because you are all very busy parents. And I’m not providing this podcast to get anything in return, I’m providing this podcast because I really truly care about helping children have their best chance in life. But the thing is, the ability for this podcast to reach more parents whose kids might benefit from it, really depends on iTunes reviews. So basically if you feel like this podcast might be helpful to other parents, one of the best ways to help them access it, besides directly sharing it, is to post a review.
So there you go. Thank you thank you for your support, and more importantly, thank you for giving your kids so much of you. Our entire world is blessed from the ripple effects of each moment of intentional parenting. You are rockstar parents! Thanks for listening, and have an awesome day!