‘Tis the Season

holiday memories

With the holiday season upon us, now is a wonderful time to take in all of the holly jolly offerings of our local community.  Many of us braved the mall and other shopping destinations on Black Friday.  Perhaps you and your family experienced a Dickens Holiday in downtown Fayetteville.  There are always several things to do in Cumberland County with your children and family, but December brings a special cheer and celebration to our family memories.

The Crown Complex will welcome the NC State Ballet for The Nutcracker as well as Disney on Ice: Dare to Dream this month.  Our local hockey team, the Fayetteville Marksmen, will also have several games throughout December.  The Cape Fear Regional Theatre is presenting The Best Christmas Pageant Ever through December 17.  For light displays, you can experience “Holiday Lights in the Garden” at the Cape Fear Botanical Gardens, the “Christmas Lights at Denton Ridge”, or “Christmas in the Park” at Arnette Park.  There are many holiday events happening at local churches in our area, and the “Singing Christmas Tree” at Snyder Memorial Baptist Church is a local favorite.  There are also opportunities to have breakfast with Santa at various times and locations throughout our county. Everything you want to know about these events and more is available on the visitfayettevillenc.com calendar.  You can also find events through shared interests on social media.

The beauty of this busy season comes in the memories and traditions we make as families.  Whatever your focus of the season, may you experience joy, laughter, and love with your children!

 

April V. Coleman

Pastor of Families and Children

Lafayette Baptist Church

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grat·i·tude

gratitude

grat·i·tude

noun

the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness

It’s so easy to glaze over the idea of gratitude around Thanksgiving. The stress and pressure of the holiday season often overwhelm families and leave them feeling drained and disheartened. Anxiety about finances, family visits, and travel can create a home atmosphere that feels more like a pressure cooker than a safe haven. And the ever-present disease of comparison starts creeping in every time a friend posts a perfect “Instagram-worthy” moment, sitting peacefully by the roaring fire and drinking hot cocoa with their well-groomed, photo-op ready children.

When you feel empty, lonely, frantic, or just plain drained, it’s hard to focus on giving thanks. But you know what’s crazy? No matter how stressed you feel or how challenging your current situation, the very act of focusing on, and expressing gratitude will actually start wiring your brain to experience more happiness! Focusing on even very small positive moments can improve your overall emotional health and dramatically shift the atmosphere of your home. Would it lift you up and increase your overall happiness to receive more gratitude from your children? Your spouse? Your parents, or friends? The best way to start receiving more genuine thankfulness from others is to model it. Thank your spouse for doing the dishes. Thank your kids for showing you their beautiful eyes during a conversation. And don’t just show gratitude towards others… take a moment to thank yourself for the hard work you’ve done today. The more gratitude you give away, the more you open yourself up to receive.

P.S. Don’t just take my word for it… I encourage you and your family to participate in The Gratitude Experiment! Follow the link here for more information: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U5lZBjWDR_c

Bethany Matheson, M.Ed., LPC(A), NCC

Child and Adolescent Counseling Program Director

Thrive Counseling and Consulting, PLLC

Not All Hero’s Wear Capes

inspire

By:  Sgt. Peggy Smith, Fayetteville Police Department

November is National Inspirational Role Model Month.  I find it intriguing how society loosely deems one a “HERO” or an “inspirational Person” without really knowing the meaning of what a true hero is.  I wonder if they mistakenly got it mixed up with Barbara Walters’ “10 Most Fascinating People”, which always made me shake my head in awe.  What was so fascinating about them?  What have they contributed to the world besides their talent to act?    What is a true hero?  A true hero is a person noted for courageous acts or nobility of character. A true hero is a person who has the special achievements, abilities or personal qualities and is regarded to be a role model.  I believe that these qualities are within all of us, especially when it comes to the children of our community.  We have all been strategically placed at a place and time to do something amazing in the world, and we need no cape or special powers to make a difference in the world.  We only need to open our eyes and heart, and step out of our comfort zones to make the world a better place for our children.  As a survivor, I remember the helpless feeling of wanting to scream out what was happening to me for every adult present in my life who didn’t notice the signs to hear.  I felt small and insignificant, and worst of all, Helpless! This month I want to encourage you to be a voice for the voiceless and be a hero in a child’s life.

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How? You may ask. Learn the signs of child abuse.   Start with available classes offered by your local CAC, i.e. Darkness to Light training. With this knowledge you gain insight and power to speak up when you see something wrong.  If you see a child exhibiting these behaviors you will have the ability to recognize them and act, giving you the voice of a child in a desperate situation with no skill or ability to speak for themselves.  Know the signs!

Not all heroes wear capes

 

Recognize the signs of child abuse and neglect

Emotional or behavioral signals (unexplained anger, rebellion, withdrawal, depression)

Sexual behavior and language that are not age appropriate

Anxiety, chronic stomach pain, headaches, change in school behavior, crying, avoidance of friends, change in appetite, and/or attention-seeking behavior.

If a child reports abuse, listen calmly.

Report any suspected abuse or neglect immediately to Child Protective Services at 910-677-2450 or call 911.

(Note:  some children do not show signs.)

 

Other ways to be a hero is to give a child in foster care a family, YOURS.  Children in foster care need loving, stable, and determined adults to step up and take them in. With so much at stake for those children, the families that foster older youth understand the importance of the task at hand.

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How Adopting a Child makes you a HERO:   Any family willing to give a loving home to a child and make them part of a family that will never leave them, nor give up on them makes a lasting impact on children who have lost and suffered so much already in their short lives here on earth.  Not only does this make a tremendous impact on the child receiving the home, but your own family will receive rewards in return.  The desire to help a child move on in life is an incredible gift.   I learned recently that there are over 800 children currently in foster care right here in Cumberland County.  All people need and want love and acceptance.  The family is the foundation that these children need to heal from the past grief and pain they have endured.  Do you have love to share to help a child heal from their past and give them hope for a bright future?

I will leave you with one of my favorite quotes for you to ponder on how you too can be a hero in a child’s life.

“When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say ‘I used everything you gave me’”.—Erma Bombeck

 

 

 

 

Surviving the Holidays After Divorce

We are quickly approaching the holiday season–leaving behind back-to-school and Halloween and gearing-up for Thanksgiving and Christmas!  Preparing for the holidays can be an extremely exciting time for the kiddos but can also be an overwhelmingly stressful time for those kids in divorced and blended families.  Where will they be for Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Eve?  Will they be able to go to grandma’s house?  Will they be able to spend time with both parents?  I’ve learned a lot about co-parenting over the last nine years that I think can be especially valuable during the holiday season.  It’s important to remember several key things so the kids can enjoy the holidays stress-free with only the positive memories they deserve.

 

  • Start Planning Early. Get the details sorted out before the going gets tough.  Even though they don’t always voice their questions, the kids want to know that everything is planned.  Figure it all out, and give the kids plenty of notice so they can feel settled that a plan is in motion.
  • Keep The Kids Away From the Planning. Unless both parents are on-board with letting the kids make choices regarding the holiday plans, don’t allow them to be in the conversation.  It’s not fair to make them a part of a process in which they have no control.  Don’t include the kids in adult decisions.
  • Put A Smile On. As adults, we always have to put the kids’ interests first, regardless of how that makes us feel.  If you’re bummed because you don’t have the kids on Christmas morning this year…put a smile on anyway, and don’t fake it—they’ll know.  The kids shouldn’t be made to feel guilty about spending time with their other parent.  Make an effort to find peace in activities that don’t include the kids for the years without them around as much.
  • Be Patient. It’s going to take time to get into a holiday pattern that works for everyone.  Lower your expectations in the beginning, and work through it.  After a few years, it’ll become second nature, and the kids will learn the holiday routine of making quality time with both households.
  • Create New Traditions. Make lemonade out of lemons and task the kids with creating new traditions at each household.  Instead of dwelling on lost traditions, let them come up with exciting new activities to create wonderful and lasting memories that don’t focus on the divorce of their parents.

 

The holidays will be fun again; it’ll just take time and planning.  Reassure the kids that it will all be fine—even if you’re not completely feeling that way.  When you or the kids begin to feel frustrated (especially in the first few years of change), remember to keep sight of what the holidays are truly about.  Take a minute…Breathe and Relax…that should allow the focus to return to love, hope, magic, gratitude, joy, and peace.

 

Karen B. Tisdale, Board of Directors, Child Advocacy Center, Fayetteville, NC

19 Days of Prevention

19-days

 

The Cumberland County Community Coalition for the Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse in conjunction with the Child Advocacy Center (CAC) will participate in the 19 Days of Child Abuse Prevention Campaign Nov. 1-19.  The goal of the campaign is to increase commitment, activities and education and to mobilize communities throughout the world around child abuse prevention.  The 19 Days Campaign serves as a reminder that there is something every person can do to prevent child abuse.

The following events are scheduled:

  • Community Child Abuse Prevention Breakfast – Thursday, Nov. 9, 8 – 9 a.m., Kiwanis Recreation Center, 352 Devers Street, Fayetteville, NC

Guest speakers Brooke Autry and Kym Nixon.  This mother-daughter team share how human trafficking affected their family in hopes of preventing it from happening to others. Tickets for the breakfast are $10 and may be ordered online by Nov. 6 at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/child-abuse-prevention-breakfast-tickets-37426288035

  • Resilience documentary film screening – Thursday, Nov. 9, 9:30 a.m., Kiwanis Recreation Center, 352 Devers Street, Fayetteville, NC

Researchers have recently discovered a dangerous biological syndrome caused by abuse and neglect during childhood. As the new documentary Resilience reveals, toxic stress can trigger hormones that wreak havoc on the brains and bodies of children, putting them at a greater risk for disease, homelessness, prison time, and early death. Resilience also chronicles the dawn of a movement that is determined to fight back. Trailblazers in pediatrics, education, and social welfare are using cutting-edge science and field-tested therapies to protect children from the insidious effects of toxic stress. There is no fee to register for the film screening. Registration is at   https://www.eventbrite.com/e/resilience-documentary-screening-tickets-36724434773

  • Internet Safety: Knowledge for Parents – Thursday, Nov. 16, 6:30 p.m., Kiwanis Recreation Center, 352 Devers Street, Fayetteville, NC

Natalie Wood Riche, Outreach Specialist, Public Protection Section of the NC Department of Justice, will be the presenter.  This program is free but registration is required.  Register with the following link:  https://www.eventbrite.com/e/internet-safety-knowledge-for-parents-tickets-37430411368.

  • Throughout the month of November, the Child Advocacy Center will focus on educating approximately 950 preschool children about appropriate and inappropriate touches through story-time events using three books. The books help children learn in a non-threatening way about personal boundaries and appropriate touching and what to do if they feel uncomfortable. According to the national organization Darkness to Light, by the age of 18, one in ten children in the United States will be sexually molested, and approximately 80% of the abuse is never reported.  (www.d2l.org)  Prevention education is considered an effective way to protect children from abuse.

 

Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness

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October is such a fun, fall month.  We get excited for pumpkins, hayrides, and costumes, but for many of us, October also comes with a variety of emotions.  October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month.  Ronald Reagan made the designation in 1988.  One in four women will be impacted by miscarriage or the loss of a child.  One in four!  All of us know someone touched by this pain, and it can be difficult to know what to say, what to do, how to grieve, or how to strive for hope.  When it comes to this heartbreaking loss, our words will always fall short.  The most important comfort we have to offer is our presence and our remembrance.  This October, you may know someone who stares at the aisle of Halloween costumes wondering which one their child would have picked.  You may know a family who lights a candle each day in honor of their child – gone, but never, ever forgotten.  October 15 is Infant and Pregnancy Loss Awareness Day.  I challenge you to find ways to support, remember, and honor these families and these children in your life who were taken too soon.  I light a candle each day in October to remember the children I love but have never truly known.  This became part of our family’s reality three years ago when I lost twin nieces to Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome.  There is not a day that goes by that I do not think of them.  I wonder what their hair would have looked like, what their favorite songs would be, what they would have wanted to be when they grew up, how their laughs would have sounded, and how it would feel to hug them.  Today I have reached a place where I can be thankful for the impact they have made on my life.  I celebrate their memory every day, but October is special.  All children are a gift, including the ones we never met, the ones gone too soon, and the ones we only see in our dreams.  This October may we all find ways to celebrate, remember, and offer hope.

 

To celebrate or honor a loved child this October, consider participating in the Child Advocacy Center’s Tribute Murals.

 

Guest Blogger

April V. Coleman

Pastor of Children and Families

Lafayette Baptist Church

Fayetteville, NC 

Grandparents are the Key Foundation!

grandparents with children.jpg

Do you remember when you were younger and you longed for the times you got to visit your grandparents? Do you remember the great storytellers they were? You always left wanting more. The joy you felt and the love that was shared made you feel like you were some famous rock star. Grandparents hold a very special place in the hearts of many. The role they play is very important. The support they provide to parents shows the foundation that families are built on.

Studies indicate when grandparents are involved in their grandchildren’s daily lives, the children are more social and more involved in school. I think their relationships with grandparents help them to interact with adults. They are also more likely to care and show compassion for people outside their immediate circle of friends and family. Continue reading “Grandparents are the Key Foundation!”