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The Better Behavior Show with Dr. Nicole Beurkens

Jan 9, 2019

My guest this week is Rev. Mantu Joshi, an author, minister, and instructor on disability at Western Michigan University. He is the facilitator for Family Foundations at the First United Methodist Church. He has been a resident chaplain with the Oregon Burn Center and Randall Children's hospital, and has appeared numerous times nationally on NPR. He is author of the popular book, "The Resilient Parent: Everyday Wisdom for Life with Your Exceptional Child", which ADDitude Magazine has called one of the eight most important books for parents.

In this episode, Mantu and I discuss how parents can find resilience through mindfulness, especially for those who have children with special needs, sensory issues or disorders. Mantu offers personal insight as a special needs parent and enforces parents with the confidence, tools, and tips they need to acknowledge and accept their feelings. Parents often place the needs of their children above themselves, disregarding their feelings out of guilt leading to heightened anxiety and depression.

Defining Resilience

  • Resilience commonly is understood as a bouncing back effect
    • Psychologist Norman Garmezy’s risk assessments studied the ways that people deal with resilience and looked at it as manifest competence despite exposure to significant stressors
  • Becoming a resilient parent
    • Resilience includes the process of change within ourselves, not just a form of bouncing back to where we once were
    • The act of moving forward with change is an acceptance to new growth and who you will become


Dealing With Grief as Parents with Special Needs Children

  • Grief is often overlooked in parents, especially those with children who have special needs
  • Processing and accepting this grief is very important
    • Grief is not only related to the loss of someone in this instance, it applies to all facets of life
  • The four tasks of grief
    • Accepting the reality of the loss
    • Processing the pain of grief
    • Adjusting to the world without that person
    • Maintaining a connection


Helping Parents Acknowledge and Accept Their Feelings Without Guilt

  • Take 5 minutes each day to write down what your expectations were of parenting in one column and another column write what you have actually experienced
    • This allows you to work on acceptance and receive a sense of freedom
    • Also allows your mind to move on and begin to create and cultivate new ideas for your family
  • Remember: It is okay to experience feelings of loss as a parent
    • It often helps lead to you becoming more resilient on your journey of parenthood
    • Each stage of development in your child presents new changes, challenges, and recurring feelings of loss


Practicing Mindfulness

  • Be present to the moment
  • Mindfulness leads to empathy  
    • These factors inhibit your ability to express empathy in the now
    • Practice focusing on the now, not all the whats, ifs, or buts of the future
    • Being present to your child in the stage they are in today
    • Let go of the outside factors, or “the storm”


Two Simple Practices to Create Calm in the Midst of Chaos

  • Keep something symbolic in your pocket or purse that acts as a reminder to help you find your grounding again
  • Simple mind and body practice:
    • Are our eyes soft? Do the muscles around them look relaxed?
    • Are you gritting your teeth? Is your jaw tight?
      • Focus on your tongue and release your jaw while taking deep breaths
    • Concentrate on your tongue and eyes
  • These kinds of practices will aid in re-connecting you to your physical self and allowing you to calm down


Where to learn more about Rev. Mantu Joshi


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