By Katia Puryear AOR
It’s one of the most incredible days of your life. After hours or even days filled with pain and stress, the moment has arrived where your child enters our world and lets out a cry for the first time. You are overcome with emotion, running purely on adrenaline, and with every second that passes by your eyes, you just aren’t capable of taking in all of the information your brain wants it to process. A moment later, your baby is handed to you, and you look down as this tiny human being, look into its eyes, and one of the first things that comes to your mind is an inner dialog saying, “I’m going to love you and care for you, no matter what.” It’s a silent promise that we all make, because at that moment we are so grateful that fate has brought this little bundle of joy safely into our lives. This fleeting moment, an eternal promise, binds you to this child forever. But what happens when, years later, we get called on this promise? What happens when the “no matter what” actually occurs?
No one can argue that the most important aspect of Folk Building is ensuring that our most precious commodity, our children, are raised and cared for in a manner which will enable them to become strong, intelligent members of our Folk. As we continue to develop on the sciences, we are becoming increasingly aware of psychological and physical conditions that make some of us different than the mainstream. In our ancestors’ days, they were so involved in the survival of their families that this had to take precedence over anything else. When a child was born with a birth defect, often it would be left in the forest in hopes that fate would take care of the child when the family could not. This may seem barbaric now, but considering their situation and levels of social (un)awareness at that time, full-time care of one disabled family member could be enough to lead a whole family into starvation and death. Nowadays, we are blessed to live in a day and age where most of our folk reside in developed countries which offer widespread employment and even social services to ensure that families do not need to concern themselves with dying from malnutrition. Science has also come such a drastic way, just in the past century, in diagnosing and treating physical and mental conditions. Today we have names for conditions that previously were simply referred to with adjectives such as “weird” or “different”. With this new awareness comes a new responsibility towards our children. When you know better, it’s your job to do better. And when it comes to our children, we must always strive to do our best.
Finding out that your child is different or special needs can be a very difficult thing to accept. It’s normal to feel frustrated, overwhelmed, sad, and even experience feelings of guilt – that you somehow caused this on them. However it is important to keep focused on your child and what you can personally do help them overcome their obstacles. In this day and age, it is so important to realize that there really is no such thing as “normal”. We are all different. Technology has just made us be able to put labels on these differences. We now understand that our brains and bodies are simply wired in different ways. Therefore a child with a reading disorder such as dyslexia is certainly not any less intelligent than the average child, he/she just learns in a different manner and we need to find out these ways. Even with physical issues such as heart problems, deafness, chromosome abnormalities, MS, etc. we should really feel blessed that we live in a time where we can diagnose these problems, and in most cases there are all kinds of treatments available which can prolong and add to the quality of your child’s life. This should be our focus as Heathen parents — making sure that we do everything that we possibly can to ensure that our posterity reaches their fullest potential in their lifetime, thus continuing a positive cycle conducive to furthering the Folk.
We are indeed fortunate to live in an age where not only are diagnoses readily available, but there is also a wealth of education available as far as research and different theories on how to deal with physical and psychological issues. We have therapies, surgeries, prosthetics, aids, medications, the list goes on and on. As wonderful as these medical advancements are, we must also keep in mind that we live in a very capitalist and money-driven society, and even our doctors may not always have our best interest at heart. For example, many doctors are prescribing dangerous stimulants to very young children for treatment of ADD or ADHD, when the only indicators that the child could possibly have ADD/ADHD are from short behavior checklists performed by the parent. It doesn’t take much research to find out that these psychotropic drugs do not cure anything; they simply mask behaviors, and their long-term effects are staggeringly negative. We should not become mindless sheep willing to trade in the long-term well-being of our children for laziness or following a social agenda which may be trying to dumb our Folk down.
When my daughter was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, the doctor’s and school officials’ initial reaction was immediately geared towards medicating her into a state where her haze would cause less behavior problems for them. Alternately, we have chosen to follow an intense behavior modification plan which uses cognitive behavior therapy to help reinforce positive behavior rather than negative behavior. I have also gotten her involved with physical sports such as roller skating and bicycling, which seem to reduce her anxiety and problematic behaviors. Does it require a lot more work and patience to use these kinds of therapies rather than just have her pop a mind-altering pill in the morning? You bet it does. Do I sometimes get so frustrated and tired that I want to throw in the towel and give in to the hype? You bet I do, sometimes. But this is what they want me to do, so I have to continue to find the energy and drive to fight for my daughter’s well-being. My child is my contribution to the future of our Folk, so I can never give up when it comes to her. Even though the struggle seems never-ending at times, I continue to remind myself that wars are won through culminating victories of individual battles, and I am determined to win the war, no matter what. There is a calling out there for her, an area she will excel and be successful in. Our job is to discover different avenues until we find out what that is, then water the seed and watch it grow.
My advice to other parents out there is to never lose hope. Trust in the Gods and Goddesses and take strength from the Folk. We are the product of a long line of strong ancestors who survived dire circumstances beyond our wildest imaginations in order to ensure their survival and make sure we made it here today. Gather strength from that. The strength will come so long as you have faith in our Folk.