He was Mr. Perfect. And Secretly Abusive. - True Story

Photo credit: www.dosomething.org

This story I am sharing with permission, in my own words based on what our anonymous friend told me. This beautiful girl is in her twenties, married, grew up in a Christian home and went to private Christian school in another city. Yet found herself in an abusive dating relationship in high school. It can happen anywhere.

In high school, she found herself in a dating relationship with a guy who seemed perfect. He was the football star, won the Christian awards at school, chosen for Homecoming court, everyone liked him. Including the adults in her life. In fact, he was "approved" to date.

Later she found he had a bit of a past that made him lacking in how to have a healthy relationship. She found herself dating Mr. Perfect, but hearing things like "Wear this, do that, you're too skinny, or ugly...Be glad you're with me because no one else would want to be with you." He became controlling and possessive.

At first there was verbal abuse as described above, then some physical abuse began (throwing and breaking items). Being forced sexually occured also.

She didn't tell anyone for a long time. She thought something was wrong with her, that she was a terrible person. Everyone liked him.

Then she didn't know how to break up. And began to be afraid to be alone with him.

Her mom began to know something was wrong, though she would've never guessed what it actually was. No one would. But her mom felt something, and began asking questions. One night her mom heard him over the phone in the background freaking out and breaking stuff. She moved her to another school.

When she finally later confessed the two year ordeal to her family, terrified to tell because she thought it was her fault, her family was obviously completely devastated. They felt incredibly guilty as parents for not seeing. But they loved their daughter and never saw it as her fault. They helped each other restore back to healthy, healed outlooks and lives.

Now, in her own words today she shares some wisdom gained from this experience, that she'd like to share with girls and those who love them.

"The main point is just to watch out for the kind of men that want to control every bit of your life. It starts out small: For example, a controlling man may start telling you what to wear, what to listen to, watch, and where to go. Then it may get to the point where he might control who you spend your time with. Like me, you may be only allowed to spend time with him. My ex-boyfriend eventually starting making me believe that my friends and family didn't have my best interests at heart, and told me that he was the only one who knew how to take care of me. He would threaten to leave or embarrass me if I spent too much time with other people, or if I wanted to do the different things I enjoyed.

With the control came lots of verbal abuse. I was told I was stupid, ugly, and worthless all the time. Unfortunately, I was already very insecure going into the relationship so it was easier for me to believe all of the hurtful things he would say. I became very depressed and unmotivated to do anything anymore. My world just became this guy who treated me terribly, and I believed I deserved a relationship like this because I didn't know my worth.

I would encourage women to be very cautious when picking a man to be in their lives. For the safety of your heart the dating process should be taken slowly. Also, make sure you have trustworthy family and friends close by; they may see things you don't at first. Love can sometimes be very blind when you are infatuated with another. If you find yourself losing relationships and the things you once loved doing due to the man in your life, you may not be in a very healthy relationship. Don't date someone to find yourself, you have to be confident in who you are going into this. We are daughters of God and we need to be patient and wait for the kind of godly man that wants to encourage us and bring us closer to God and all of the beautiful things in life. I know it was extremely hard to break my relationship off; I was very afraid of what he may do. I was very blessed to have my family and friends by my side to help me break the relationship off, and help me see my worth so I wasn't tempted to go back to him. I would encourage young women in this situation to go to someone they can trust to help you to either break off or council an unhealthy relationship. We are beautiful inside and out and we should be cared for and protected."

Her story ended well. I'm thankful she is willing to share her story. It's all in hopes of helping someone escape what happened to her.

February has been National Dating Violence Awareness Month. Make sure and see all the good sources at the top of our site, including numbers to call for help. If we all educate ourselves, we can be a source of help to others.


True Story.

I know none of us like to think about Dating Violence, and the possibility of it happening. It's no fun! And that is the reason to talk about it during this Awareness Month. Because it does happen. Last year, a group of high school girls gathered and listened to my friend tell this story we are sharing today. She lived it.

I'm grateful to my friend for being willing to share her personal story with you.

"Over 15 years ago, what now seems like a lifetime ago, I found myself in an abusive relationship. I didn’t realize until long after I’d gotten out, that there were so many levels of abuse – it’s not just physical abuse, but also emotional, mental & sexual. Most people who know me now, can’t believe I was ever in an abusive relationship – I’m strong, independent, outgoing, don’t have a problem setting boundaries with my friends & family, I was raised by great parents with a relatively normal childhood (divorced parents, but hey, that’s not really abnormal). Yet, more than 15 years ago, I found myself looking in the mirror at a gigantic black eye wondering how in the world I let that happen?

The relationship started in a bar - both of us liquored up and then hooking up. I was newly divorced, only 23 years old and looking for my “knight in shining armor.” For this story, we’ll call my abuser “The Knight” – even though he was FAR from what we all picture as little girls. The Knight & I started our relationship off with booze & sex – great foundation, huh? We partied together a lot and partying always led to The Knight getting jealous because some guy looked at me sideways. Oddly enough, it was always MY fault if a guy looked at me and always ended up with me having to convince The Knight that I wasn’t cheating on him. For about a year, there was no physical violence, only constant accusations of infidelity on my part (I found out later, he was the one cheating – quite enthusiastically at that!).

Then one cold, January night at the bar, a long-time male friend dared to buy me a drink AND put his arm on my shoulder. The Knight’s jealously grew and grew that evening until finally we had to leave the bar. At one point, after yelling at me for what seemed like an eternity, The Knight pulled the car over, dragged me out of the backseat and threw me into a very cold, very hard snow bank. Then he pulled me up and threw me down again. This happened several times until his friend pulled him off me and I was able to crawl back into the car. At this point, I didn’t know if I’d survive until morning. I couldn’t make sense of what had just happened. No one had ever physically manhandled me like that! I was hoping and praying that The Knight’s friend would somehow calm him down and everything would be ok. When we got to our apartment, I raced upstairs and hid in my small son’s bedroom (note that my son was not at home). Unfortunately, The Knight’s friend turned his back on me as before long, I was being dragged out of the bedroom, was picked up by the waistband of my pants and the back of my shirt and was tossed across the kitchen to land on my face and slide into the cupboards. I literally saw stars and didn’t move for what seems like an eternity. I was petrified. Something must have snapped in The Knight at that moment because he gently picked me up and carried me to bed. He started crying and begging me to forgive him and to never make him do that again… Yes, he was telling me it was MY fault that he’d done what he did.

We were together for nearly 3 years and The Knight would never admit that he abused me, always saying that it wasn’t abuse because he never actually hit me. No, he didn’t hit me with his fist, I’ll agree to that, but throwing one’s partner 10 feet in the air, throwing that same partner repeatedly into a snow bank, constantly berating one’s partner, constantly accusing your partner of infidelity and demanding to know where they are every moment, or holding a shotgun to your partner’s head while they’re begging for mercy, are ALL forms of abuse.

Only after seeking help from the local domestic violence shelter’s support group was I able to see that I really WAS being abused and that it was NEVER my fault. HE was the one who was damaged. HE was the one at fault. It took me a very long time to recover emotionally and even longer to forgive The Knight."

5 things from her story:

1. He was jealous when guys looked at her AND it was her fault that they looked at her.
2. No physical abuse for a year, just constant accusations of her infidelity.
3. Yelled at her. Physical abuse began.
4. He cried and begged forgiveness as he said "please don't ever make me do that again" (still her fault)
5. He never admitted he abused her, since it wasn't a fist/hit (though he tossed her across the room, etc).

This friend is currently happily married and recovered from those dark days. Thanks to God and to friends, and to the grace that helped her walk out of a bad situation, and into forgiveness and true life, she is living a completely different life now. She says if her story can help one person out of the pain she went through, it is worth it.

Here is the picture she recommends to see if you are in an abusive relationship. You can see this at www.domesticviolence.org/violence-wheel


Awareness Month- Positive Traits to Date

National Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month continues. Today let's take a peek at some healthy traits you want in a relationship.

This is taken from www.loveisrespect.org. Please take a look at their very helpful website!

In a healthy relationship:

•Your partner respects you and your individuality.
•You are both open and honest.
•Your partner supports you and your choices even when they disagree with you.
•Both of you have equal say and respected boundaries.
•Your partner understands that you need to study or hang out with friends or family.
•You can communicate your feelings without being afraid of negative consequences.
•Both of you feel safe being open and honest.

A good partner is not excessively jealous and does not make you feel guilty when you spend time with family and friends. A good partner also compliments you, encourages you to achieve your goals and does not resent your accomplishments.


I Broke Down Over "Love in the Wild"

Ugh. One of those days I gave up. Too emotionally tired to move on. One of those "mom give-up moments".

I walked in my daughter's room to find two of my kids huddled in bed with a laptop, so I simply inquired what they were watching. "Love in the Wild". Hmmm. Never heard of that one. So I asked about it. I guess something similar to The Bachelor, but held out in the wild. The great outdoors. Inwardly moaning, but not wanting to fight the battle, I leave.

Blasted online tv service. These kids know more than I can keep up with. I never even heard of the site that they are watching from, and it is one of my top goals to stay more informed than they are!

Unsettled feeling inside me, because we don't watch The Bachelor at my house. (Yes they have seen it with friends on occasion, but it's not regular, or viewed at my house. However, once they're on their own, they're on their own to view whatever they want. Just not at my house). Talk about teaching girls all the wrong ways to go about finding a man. It seems so desperate.

Many of my friends watch it and I'm not judging, this is just a personal decision. I understand some ladies get together and watch it just to make fun of it. That's like when my college roomie and I used to buy ice cream and lock ourselves in our dormroom to eat it all ourselves as we made fun of Miss America pageants (sorry pageant fans). It was an event. But the grown up me, and shows like The Bachelor, just don't mix. I just can't support it. My soap box. Now there's ANOTHER show like it? Great.

The oldest daughter I can't really say much to, she's pretty much on her own. But just because she's free doesn't mean I want the younger ones being "free" with her. We still watch over a large amount of what's ingested. Need to deal with it and don't want to. Ignore it some more. My mind is thinking, "What else are they watching?? What else don't I know?"

Finally I can't stand it. I wouldn't be me if I didn't check and follow through. Stinks to be the mom sometimes. I  look it up. Confirm online that it's same premise as The Bachelor. Couples take turns doing fun stuff during day followed by evenings of drinking, drama, hot tubs and snuggling in bed with guy of choice, followed by switching partners to do the same the next day.

Back to the room. Stick my head in door, girls look up, pause laptop, and knew what I was going to say before it came out of my mouth. They were quick to tell me "We're just watching one episode! There's a girl in it who isn't playing by the rules! She's actually showing some morals!" I still don't know if that part was true or not- but they knew that would get my interest.

I go into "You can't just watch anything you want without asking, if it's something you have a feeling I wouldn't like" mantra. While I'm saying it with my mouth, inside my head I'm thinking, "Am I too hard, am I too much, is it really a big deal, is the younger one old enough to decide on her own....followed by thoughts of no, this is a rotten role model of a show and I don't want it in my house infesting my kids' minds with false notions of life, but I'm just so tired of having to deal with endless things like this that I can't keep up with." Wondering if I'm even right. Frustrated with having conversations that cause more frustration between us. Don't know how to talk about it without us all being frustrated.

They groan, close the laptop and I leave, tired of the job of being a mom.

It's one of those days I just can't take the pressure. I go in my room to do laundry and make the bed and cry as I'm doing it. It was the straw that broke my back. How silly. What a small straw. It's a dumb show!! But on top of whatever else was going on that week, I couldn't handle it. I'd love to leave values aside sometimes and just keep peace. But I don't really want that either. What I really want is just for parenting to be easy.

Oh, and this happened the week I launched this blog for the first time.  So I'm crying, making my bed and thinking "I can't do this blog. Forget it. I don't even know what the H-E- double hockey sticks I'm doing half the time." Then in walks one daughter to find me crying over Love in the Wild. A funny moment. We're both kinda laughing over it, but I'm still at the end of my life purpose. It's all over. I don't want to try and help or support anyone in parenting, cuz I don't even want to be a parent right now either. Let's just let whatever happens happen, and see how it all turns out. I'm tired of being a mom.

Well, the only reason I'm here online is because daughter talked me into following through. She proceeded to tell me with a chuckle that the show is no big deal, and that I've done such a good job in making sure they know and understand how to view things, and they know it's not a good way to find a guy, and no one is auditioning for it (ha). That they are so solid in what they believe that watching this one show is not going to change them. True or not, I let it go. And why are you crying she asked? When I said "Because I don't want to do this silly blog I said I was gonna do cuz I don't know what the heck I'm doing either", she told me all the reasons I should do it.

So if you've enjoyed anything about this blog, thank my daughter. I decided to drop the issue of the show and leave it be. It's not an ongoing problem. Not a big deal. Go to sleep and start over the next day again. Restart!!

Looking back at that day, it's so funny to me what little it can take to push us over the edge sometimes! We chuckled through the event, and I am laughing about it now. My point in sharing this is not about the show, not about the right or wrong choices, but about how exhausting it can be to be a parent. That we're all in the same boat. We all have those moments, we work through them and move on! It can all be laughable in hindsight! So, for those who are worried about me, I'm okay. Just being real, sharing one of those moments that I'm sure we all have. Life goes on!

I know the endless issues of today's world, all the messages that come at them...so many things to monitor, deciding which to confront and which to let go. I live it too. And not perfectly at all. I know the frustrations and insecurities of not always knowing what to deal with and how to deal with it.

But here we are, mainly I suppose because I "get" the need for support and answers and knowledge of community- other moms living the same thing. Having always been one to go find the answer when I need it, I just want to share those findings with you.

Lots of books have been read, stories from many moms heard, I've watched the culture change over the years and have sought out ways to practically avoid potential pitfalls.

We all have different "triggers" too. I'm sure some of you don't care about The Bachelor or Love in the Wild. (actually small cares in light of everything). Maybe something bugs you that doesn't bother me. What's important is that you're sticking by what you believe in and want to get across to your kids.

My own soapbox is really thinking through media choices. One show might not be a big deal, but if you look at the culture overall, all of those shows together is creating an atmosphere that is showing our teens a way of life that is separate from any of the values I'm trying to teach. Media is slowly dumbing us down as a society. What we take in habitually affects the way we think, whether we believe it or not. Otherwise, why would advertisers spend boo coo bucks constantly showing us things to buy?

With that said, and while we're still following that mantra in our house, I try to live with understanding and balance and trust. Seeing the big picture. Laughing at myself. Trying to figure out what to stick with firmly.

And sometimes letting things go.

What silly unexplainable break down moment have you had??!


Dating Violence Awareness- Stayteen.org

 When you hear the term "dating violence", do you envision physical fighting?

That is the most probable image that comes to mind. There are actually many other kinds of abuse, and many unhealthy relationship signs that are more common. We need to bring them to light! Smaller signs can be warnings of more dangerous things to come.

Read this excerpt below from www.stayteen.org, then please do yourself a favor and look through the entire website to raise awareness. You may find yourself running into someone who needs the resource.

People can experience several different types of abuse. These can include:
•Physical abuse: any intentional use of physical force meant to cause fear or injury, like hitting, shoving, biting, strangling, ki...cking, or using a weapon.

•Emotional abuse: non-physical behavior such as threats, insults, humiliation, intimidation, isolation, or stalking.

•Sexual abuse: any action that forces undesired sexual behavior on you by another person. This includes making you do anything you don’t want to do sexually, refusing to have safe sex, aggressively pressuring you to go further than you want to sexually, or making you feel badly about yourself sexually.

Check out www.stayteen.org/dating-abuse.


Boyfriends, Fitting in, Bodies and More

Most of our lives have been at least somewhat changed, if not completely changed in the last few years by social media. The world has definitely been changed! 

Facebook has helped us connect with old friends, stay in touch with people we don't have time to see and has given us a new source of news and entertainment each morning!

Then there are the frustrations and problems of Facebook. Many ladies have confessed being a tad bit depressed, insecure, or frustrated after seeing everyone's positive posts about their happy, socially active lives, full of perfect family moments! (We all know that's not reality, but it's still a feeling many fight against).

Whatever your experience has been, there are some cool new things that can happen due to social media. I am not a Twitter fan. I'm on it, barely use it, have tried and just don't get it. But am not giving up just yet. However, one advantage of Twitter is the ability to find people of like minded purpose all over the world to connect and network with.

I "met" Michelle of Michelle in the Middle through Twitter. She is doing a work in North Carolina similar to what I hope to build in my own area over time. Being able to meet and talk with someone who has similar vision is so nice! We have actually talked on the phone. Check out her website and her down to earth blog.  She has written curriculum that schools use to help ease kids through middle school life issues.

This last week, I had the fun of being a guest blogger for Michelle's website. I shared 5 Common Pressures that middle schoolers face, as they have told me over the years. 

Click HERE to read the whole blog and my opinion of the why and the good news behind the pressures, or keep reading to see just the top 5 things that middle schoolers have told me they feel pressure about in today's world.

1.  Pressure to have a boyfriend
2.  Pressure to fit in and be popular
3.  Pressure to be skinny and wear makeup
4.  Pressure with parents and grades
5.  Pressure to like what other people liketo /pay attention to what others think

Sound similar to back when you were in middle school? It is. With even more added pressures. It's the same, but different.

Talk to your kids about these 5 things, and see what kind of discussions come up!


5 Things...Finding True Love

Photo credit: Jadyn Noelle Photography

In honor of Valentines Day, I've been thinking about true love. We all "heart" love stories, don't we? What's yours? I'll share a few reasons my husband and I started dating, way back in the day. Then let me hear from you too! Leave a comment and share yours.

5 Things I liked about my hubby when we began dating:

1. We were friends a while before we started dating. We had group hang outs, then "study" dates together, then campus events alone and just enjoyed hanging out, before official formal dates started. It was gradual and fun.

2. At first, he didn't "need me" and I didn't "need him". We were both two independent people who kept realizing how much fun we had together. Compare this to another guy who called my room 17 times the day after our first date. Amazingly, I was never home, according to my roommate. A little mystery on both sides is kinda fun.

3. He looked good. But he didn't act like it. No cockiness.

4. He acted like I was a treasure to be won and he wasn't assuming he'd win me. He did.

5. He was well liked and respected by everyone. He stood for something and I saw qualities I liked, consistently.

Bonus #6. He was a fun creative dater. Big time.

5 Things he says he liked about me (what he has said and told our kids- he did approve this list)

1. The first time we went to a campus event "together", I wore tennis shoes. Why does this matter? I wasn't like lots of the girls who were trying too hard to be a Supermodel in pumps (back in the day that pumps and jeans were worn together often). Also falling in this category, I had real fingernails. HA.

2. I didn't call him. We had been dating for awhile before I ever called him first. When lots of girls were calling, apparently I stood out. Harder to get.

3. Even when we disagreed we never fought or argued.

4. He said that I didn't seem to need him in order to be happy and that I was going to live a happy life with or without him. (He explained to me that's appealing because I was confident on my own).
5. I wasn't afraid to be silly and have fun. Ha.
What did you like about your man when you started dating? What did he like about you?


Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month

Stop Teen Abuse Credit: Carey Hope

Put on your brave hat and coat , we are going to talk about some realities together. We can do this. We will end with hope and solutions, so hang with me!

"Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced." ~ Lucille Ball

Good news is, I believe violence can be changed, or at the very least, lessened.

But as Lucille said, it has to be faced first.

I realized this week how much I keep stumbling across the issue of violence on a daily basis.

Three people on my prayer list right now, from different states, are all needing prayer as a result of violence against them. Not from dating violence, but from violence nonetheless.

When I had jury duty a few months ago, while waiting to be assigned to a case, I wondered if it would be for either of the two victims I personally knew whose cases were up for trial about that time. I didn't get their cases, but did sit on a jury for a case involving dating violence. I saw way too many pictures of a girl severely beaten, by the man she was in a relationship with. She lives just a few miles from my house.

It's a horrible problem in our society.

And it's an ugly topic. Not fun to write about.

But in defense and protection of us all and our kids, awareness is a must.

Just reading the news this week, trying to keep up with what's going on, I read about a new website similar to Youtube, where one of the categories of what they can post is violence. I won't even post what it is. I hope it goes away.

On it, fight after fight and attack after attack is videoed and broadcast. The onlookers simply watch and record and cheer, without ever calling anyone for help. Some are recording acts of crime as they happen, chanting the name of the website (knowing it would be posted) yet never calling the police. The callousness that is forming in society, due to tv, movies, gaming, real life examples, general lack of conscience, is alarming. And that's all we need, a new place to post things, where kids can be "famous" with their video.

Surely, we would all think, we don't personally know anyone who would do that. I don't think I do, but then I remember this happened at one of our local schools recently, but went pretty much unreported. Kids videoed a boy being beaten, instead of getting help. I don't know the details, if it was posted, but I think some got in trouble legally after. It was hushed.

Probably more common is some of the music that is very popular now which promotes violent attitudes. Some videos of top songs right now show what should be considered abusive relationships.

Rihanna we know was a victim of dating violence in the past. Its curious to me that some videos she still makes have such a dark abusive tone to them. While she's singing about finding love, much of what I see in the video looks like anything but true, real love. If our young people see this enough and get the idea that this is what love is, that it involves pain and misusing each other, do they believe it? That that kind of pain is part of life, what comes with relationship? No, it shouldn't be that way. What if they don't have a real life example of something better than what they see in media?

Another news story this week told of games that are being played at recess by elementary children that involve a callous attitude toward crime, but very probably not even understood by the kids playing it. The point is, they see or hear terms they shouldn't even have to know, enough to play this game, and that in itself is sad.

Crime is so prevalent that the danger is in becoming calloused. Or hopeless.

Let's don't be hopeless. Let's affect the parts we can affect with our kids, which is monitoring what they see and hear as much as we can. AND modeling the same standard ourselves. I believe it's ok to tell them no, certain artists or shows or games that depict certain things are not going to be allowed in our home. We can't affect what they see or hear everywhere, but we can lessen it. And have discussions on why it's not allowed.

For example, I'm not going to allow watching a music video that shows a girl being abused, or where sex is coupled with bondage or fear. Thats just my opinion, but for me, the less we take in things like that, the less calloused we become.

I don't want to be calloused, and I refuse to be hopeless. We can do things to combat this, such as what we personally allow in our homes, and also by educating ourselves and our kids.

So one purpose this month is to educate on healthy and unhealthy relationship signs.

There are some great resources from organizations on the Internet.

One is http://blog.loveisrespect.org/. This website is FULL of info, resources, quizzes, help for teens and parents, and even a text-in peer advocate line.

If you want to take the quiz to see if you are in a healthy relationship, click here: Healthy Relationship Quiz.

We'll highlight more good stuff from this website later, but I encourage you to check it out and use their awesome resources!!

Take opportunity to talk through daily things that come up in relationships that your kids see. What do you think of that? Do you think she's treating him well? Do you think he's respecting her? Would you put up with that from someone?

That way we can casually talk about healthy relationship qualities with our kids, when it's not them involved, so they aren't defensive.

Never fear, there is so much good out there, and endless HOPE.

Thank you for sticking with me as we educate ourselves together on this important issue.


Part 2- Being My Child's Advocate at School

In Laura's words - Part Two

(if you missed part one click HERE)

I became Matt's advocate in many ways, because of my own experiences as a child, and because of some specific situations that happened when he was in school.

With my husband’s help and insight, I’m glad that we did these particular things:

1. I tried not to judge his idiosyncrasies, but value his uniqueness. He sucked his thumb with his “boppie” (blanket) until he was 8. What child would do this “on purpose” to challenge his parents? In my world…not one. It was part of who he was. We just dealt with things a day at a time and refused to listen to criticisms. (Read part one to know why this was important to Laura!)

2. I stood up for him at school. In preschool, his teacher called a special emergency meeting with me. I could not pick up his report card until this meeting was done. The reason? Our son “couldn’t cut with scissors". What a huge problem. Was he a little slow to develop the teacher wondered? I explained to her that he had a baby sister and at that point in time, scissors were not allowed in our home for safety reasons. I didn't care for her approach, in suggesting what was "wrong" with him, instead of what was right with him.  Approaching life with a cup half full is much more creative and productive than half empty

3. I am glad I spent lots of time with my son, so I knew who he was. In first grade he was chosen to go to a remedial reading class. I strongly objected and had to fight the system. I was told he was “slow” and I retorted with that he was “reflective”.  After a few months I won that battle because they began to understand I knew my child.

4. I am glad that I didn’t let educational dogma rule what was best for my son. In middle school he proved to be a bright, creative, and well-behaved student.  After complaining to me about a class he could not learn in, I observed the class. It was completely unruly.  The administration had attempted to place him a group of “at risk” students, hoping his good behavior would rub off on them. They were willing to sacrifice his well being in order to raise the mark of other students whose parents were unwilling or unable to adequately parent. Rescuing their children was not my son’s job.

5. I am glad that we always talked about possibilities. He was encouraged to at least “give it a shot” when he had an idea. I did my best to discuss option A and option B to every problem or situation needing an answer. There is always an option with consequences attached. This type of conversation happens to this day. Life happens, and it’s nice to have an advocate to voice things to.

The result of all the sleepless nights his father and I endured? All the second guessing, questioning and agonizing over what the right answers were? 

Our son began to thrive a little in high school and a lot in college.

He changed majors with our support and continued to scrutinize his career path because he appreciated that we continued to “know him” and listen to him.

He now has a doctorate degree in Electrical Engineering, a Masters degree in Electrical Engineering and a Bachelors degree in Electrical Engineering and Physics. He coaches doctorate students to success at a university.

He is a scientist and does research in radiation for NASA. He is the president and founder of one of the first integrated circuit manufacturing companies based in the state of Arkansas.

He also owns a working farm and is restoring a 115 year old farm house. He is a husband, a father, and a loving, compassionate, creative, and problem-solving person. He has grown into a man of influence.

He is God’s child, but God did give him a mother and a father who fought for his rights, his dignity, and his gifts. We were and will continue to be his advocates.

Those battles were not always easy, but they were so worth it.

Every child needs and deserves an advocate.

One last note. If you were to strip our son of all his earthly accomplishments, you would find an imperfect, yet courageous and persevering man. And so many times he is afraid, but not of his parents.

God cannot steer a parked car, but He can do wonders with someone in motion.


Stop. Before You Think It Doesn't Apply...Read.

February is the National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month. Whew!  A mouthful.

It could be easy to brush off and think "Oh, thank goodness that doesn't apply to anyone I know!" But I beg  you to read on, if not for yourself, than to be educated,  for the sake of all the people you know and influence.

Dating violence sounds extreme, and it can be. And we would hope rare. But it does happen.

However, there are many smaller signs leading up to potential violence that our kids need to recognize. I have found that smaller signs of pretty unhealthy behavior is alarmingly common. It may not be a fist yet, but it's a sign of potential trouble down the road.

We need to put some standards out there of what should be expected and what's not acceptable in dating relationships.

My eyes have been opened after discussing this topic among girls.  After going over warning signs of potentially dangerous relationships, I've heard, "Ohhhhhh...my boyfriend kind of does that...." (some of the more stalkery type stuff). I've heard of girls covering bruises with makeup.

Unfortunately dating abuse does happen. And it doesn't have to be physical. Being treated in a very controlling way, taking you from family and friends, demanding to know where you are and who you're with 24 hours a day, are all signs of a danger zone ahead

Then there are just unhealthy relationships that may not be dangerous, but just aren't good.

Some teens don't know this. We need to tell them. What's obvious to us may not be obvious to them. I'm happy to say some girls that learned these are bad signs broke up with guys. A little education can go a long way.

And sometimes it's the girls who are abusive, controlling or unhealthy. My first year of marriage we lived in an apartment under a violent couple. It was the cute little twenty something girl that beat her boyfriend. This definitely goes both ways. Guys need to be just as aware as girls do, what constitutes a healthy relationship.

January 31, 2012 President Obama issued a Presidential Proclamation  that February is National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention month. This is just our second annual Awareness month.

Throughout this month, I'll be providing lots of good resources and information on this topic. It would be way too depressing to spend all month on it, but there is a lot to share! So it will be sporadically placed throughout the month.

I'll post my friend's story again that I posted last February. She willingly shared her story with a group of teen girls about her abusive marriage- how she got into it, how she got out, and signs to watch for.

I beg you to follow us all this month. Inform yourself. Watch for signs. Talk through this with your kids.

We've always told ours, one hit, one push, one shove,  they're out. There's no second chances. Physical violence is never to be taken lightly. Ever. In fact, I'll make that my 5 Things for today:

1. One hit,
2. One push,
3. One shove,
4. They're out.
5. No second chances.

People that act abusively need help and I hope will get it, but the girlfriend or boyfriend is not the one to help them. No matter how many times they apologize. If you find out someone you know faces any of the warning signs we'll talk about this month, SPEAK UP.  You have permission to get in their business. They honestly may not know some behaviors are not normal. You may save them.


Part 1- Being My Child's Advocate at School

Awhile back, my friend Laura shared her 5 Things story.  It's powerful because she came from an abusive childhood, into a strong healthy adulthood. Don't miss out on that story!

I asked her to share again. February and March  always remind me of school making decisions. There are so many choices of school- public, private, charter, homeschool. Everyone knows that if you're going to try to get in a private, special or charter school, deadlines loom about this time of year. Decisions to be made.

Kids are all unique and may thrive in different environments. What's important is to know your child.

What does Laura have to share? I've heard her say that years ago, the schools tried to suggest to her that her son Matt might be slow or need some remedial help. She advocated for him throughout his school years and he now has multiple degrees and does scientific work for NASA. She knew him and she wouldn't let the schools misunderstand or label him.

In her words...

Part One- "How I Became My Child's Advocate"

"In my view, parents are given the ‘gift’ of a child. Their duty is to love them and be their protector and mentor.

One of my first memories from my own chaotic and abusive childhood was this…I was a thumb sucker. It drove my mother crazy, but I loved going to bed at night and sucking my thumb. By the time I was four years old, she had had all she could take.

One evening she dragged me into the kitchen and wrapped adhesive tape around my thumb, poured hot sauce all over the tape, and then sprinkled it heavily with chili powder. As my dad, older brother, aunt and uncle watched, my mother got right in my face and said, “Now suck that!” A loud cackle followed. She thought it was hilarious. No one tried to intervene for me.

I cried myself to sleep, hot mouth, upset stomach, but worst of all, feeling very, very afraid and lonely.

The good that came out of this event?

A future child advocate was born."

That story makes me sad. BUT, it is so true that an advocate for children was born. She has spent much time advocating for her own and many other children as well.

I'll leave you on that cliffhanger for now! Tomorrow she will share a few of the instances Matt had at school and how she handled them.

Come back tomorrow!!