Most parents say that parenting is one of the most rewarding jobs in the world – and it can be one of the toughest. It doesn’t come with an instruction manual!
Caring for a child who is seen to be ‘different’ or who has an illness, perhaps anorexia or depression, can bring particular challenges… and gifts.
Is this something you are facing?
Caring for a child who has a “learning difficulty” can be quite a journey for all. How to get our children the support they need, how to ease things for them as they look to find their own sense of identity and become independent, and prepare them for a world that may not accept or understand them? Empathising with how it is for them.
When our daughter was diagnosed as having Asperger Syndrome, the focus was on supporting her, first getting all the knowledge we could to help us understand, then getting the practical help she needed.
I was not prepared for the myriad of emotions I felt. Relief (at last things were out in the open); concern for the future; sadness, grief, a sense of loss – of a child I had hoped for, expectations no longer ’givens’. I didn’t like to admit some of those those feelings; did they make me a ‘bad’ mother, I asked myself.
How did she feel?
In taking care of others, we need to take care our self emotionally. As parents, mum and dad are both affected, as can be our marriage.
What helped most? Understanding and acceptance, seeing the beauty of how everything plays out. Accepting that just as no two diamonds are alike, no two children are alike, and ASD does not define who a person is. The label, as with all labels, is limiting. It creates separation.
When I decided not to wrap up my daughter in cotton wool, to encourage her to see her gifts, focus on her strengths and find strategies for the areas where she was challenged, to develop practical, problem solving skills, things changed.
What helped us as mother and daughter was having a conversation – a heart-to-heart, open and honest conversation about how it was for us both, sharing our experience and our feelings.
Bottom line, as with any child, we want to celebrate their uniqueness – their creativity, their passion, their humour – and enJOY who they are!
And, we need to remember that, as souls, we choose our children, and our children choose us, so it’s all part of the Divine plan and our learning. What does your child have to teach you?