People who find their way to this forum come from all different types of backgrounds with varied beliefs and experiences. Most, when they find us, have been through a lot: they are often vulnerable, hurt, exhausted and don’t know which way to turn. We are given a very small snapshot of the issue they are dealing with. We don’t have a full picture of their past, and we can’t know their future. While they may be hungry for answers, we must remember that we can only gently support them with encouragement and empathy, and offer ideas and options. We are all just warrior parents trying to help each other along this journey. Our ultimate goal here is providing a “soft place to land.” Tone, style and content of posts and responses ***Speak from the perspective of "Here’s what I have experienced” as opposed to "you should do this." ***If someone is in danger, a statement of "you need to call the police" is called for. If someone is struggling with a Difficult Child who still lives at home, a statement of "you have to kick them out" can come across as abrasive and harsh. The parent may not be anywhere near ready to take that absolute step. A better statement might be: "you may want to consider that it's time for your Difficult Child to leave your home.” In short, avoid the "shoulds" or “you need to…” Replace should and you need with could, might want to think about, or may want to consider. ***Offer care, warmth, understanding, possibilities, options and ideas as opposed to a "tone of authority” and “absolute certainty.” ***Remember how vulnerable people are and adjust responses to that vulnerability, as well as to where THEY are, not where WE are. People take in information as they are ready to, and it is always their decision to act or not act in every situation. Each person is at their own unique spot on their own journey. ***There is no right or wrong path here, only what folks are willing to consider. Black and white thinking and responses are not helpful; often it is in the "gray areas" that people find a way to progress through the pain of their situation. ***No one here is an authority---we are all struggling to find our way. Avoid a "tone of authority" by taking a step back and remembering that kindness, compassion and understanding are what we are all looking for---not hard and fast solutions---because our solutions will not be another person’s solutions. ***It can be harmful, and even dangerous, to offer advice outside these boundaries because we can’t know any other person’s full situation. What to avoid: · Jumping to conclusions. • A rush to judgment. • Labeling or judging. • Giving unwanted advice. • Insisting on or pushing a particular idea or option. • Speaking as if one option is the only option. • Moving prematurely to problem solving. Empathy and understanding are most valued. • Changing the subject, including projecting outcomes, especially to problems not raised by the poster. Further, the goal is to collaborate with the person we are responding to, instead of assuming the position of “teacher” or “authority figure.” It can feel gratifying to figure out what seems like the answer and then deliver it. But the truth is, none of us have the absolute right answer for any other person. Assuming that point of view can come across as superiority, arrogance and certainty, which isn’t our intention. Try, “I don’t have all the answers, but I’d love to help you figure out what’s right for you.” Bring it back to them, i.e., “What are your thoughts?” Offering empathy and long-term support is key. Posters don’t want a list of ways to solve their problems; they want help to find the courage to find their own solutions, with ideas from others, and then make it through the emotional process. It doesn’t matter so much that any of us have the answers. More often that not, people know or can ultimately figure out what is right for them; they want to feel validated and supported, and they want to hear about our experience, how we felt while we were going through the same hard times, and have options to consider. Recommending sources, books and websites to read help posters proactively find the answers for themselves. Then, they feel both empowered and confident in their ability to make their own decision, having received options and validation from multiple sources. You could start by saying, “I came across something that might help put things in perspective…” We all have valuable insight to share on this forum. A good rule of thumb is an old saying many of our mothers may have offered: "It's not what you say, it's how you say it." Privacy There have been instances over the years when our members (and consequently their children) were recognized by family members, court officers, school district personnel and medical/psychiatric professionals. This is especially worrisome because many of our children are minors, and most suffer from debilitating disorders and diagnoses that can then be used against them. • Please contact our site owner (@runawaybunny) immediately via a private conversation if you are currently using a personally identifiable version of your real-world name. She will help you change the user name on your account to something more anonymous, for your own protection. • Please remove all family photo links from all posts and avatars so you and your child will not be recognized on this site by outsiders. Information on this site is archived in cyberspace and may be visible to viewers years down the road. Take steps today to make sure your child won't be recognizable tomorrow. • Names of schools, hospitals, specific doctors/therapists and specialized programs should not listed as it may help to identify your child. • Please do not use your children's first names in your signature or list your hometown unless it is a large city. Many members just post their state/province/country or regional area (ex: SoCal, Northeast, Greater Chicago, the South). The point is to not allow others in your real life easily locate you via search engine. • It is also important that we be careful about information we give to individual members we do not know. Trolls, stalkers and those with business interests (including spammers) may try to reach out to unwitting members by the private messaging (PM) system. • Please forward any inappropriate PMs to a moderator or to the site administrator, @runawaybunny. Inappropriate or offensive posts can be automatically reported to a moderator or you can PM the details to the forum moderator or runaway bunny. • The safety and security of our members is very important to the entire moderating group. Let’s do our part to keep this a safe place to land for all by protecting our own privacy and that of others.