We Need Each Other
I used to have some really lofty ideas about “people who drug their kids to make them behave” back before I had a child with ADHD. Today’s guest blogger, Laura, wrote a blog that touched me deeply. She wisely reminds us to give others not only the benefit of the doubt, but our support as well. Parenting a special needs child can be very isolating for the whole family. ~ Cyndi
I have a ‘friend’ who her and her husband are trying to live a perfect life. They have 2 children, a boy and a girl, and they seem to project that everything in their world is clean, orderly, and going as planned. They have the view that if you make a plan, and follow it perfectly, then your children will turn out exactly how you ordered them. The expectation is the son will be gifted in sports, like dad, and the daughter will follow in her mother’s highly organized, academically superior ways.
They are very judgemental when they see other people’s children who are alternative, rebellious, or struggling, they always assume the cause is poor parenting. I saw a crisis coming with my friend. And it is starting to come to full bloom.
The son was starting to struggle in school. He is not making any friends. He is constantly in trouble at home for not meeting the parents expectations. He does the sports, but it is clear, from an outsiders view point, that he really only does it to please the father. He is disappointing his parents who are constantly comparing him to his sister. He is 10 years old.
The father is a very practical man. Lay down the law and all will follow. He is angry frequently at his son absent-mindedness and lack of organizational skills. The son doesn’t have the same drive for perfection. The son hasn’t developed a passion for sports that should guide his life and teach him every life lesson he’ll need.
Mom started there, but is now starting to melt into a puddle. She is scrambling to try to find a cure for this. She has tried a nutritional consult and changed his diet drastically. She has tried odd therapies which promised to turn him into a focus, motivated human. She has prayed every day for an easy solution. He still forgets absolutely everything. He still struggles in math and spelling. He is still always in trouble at home. She is starting to realized something more than she thought is wrong.
So, now, she is starting to talk to me in a more realistic way. This morning, in tears, she said that when she took him to school and the teacher asked how things were going, she broke into tears. That 180 degrees opposite of her personality. Teary she said to me,”I cannot fix him.”.
I had a child diagnosed with ADHD when he was 7 years old. This was pre-blog days. I could have written a novel about what we went through. Now, I have a child with Asperger’s. And in the rest of the children, we have an array of motivation, self control, impulsive, rebellious issues. I knew where she was at. I have been sitting on the toilet, in a locked bathroom, crying saying “I have no idea what is going on or how to fix it.” I know how it is when the spouse thinks that just being more strict, or punishing more should fix the problem. The tone is that you are inconsistent and this is the result.
I tactfully asked if she would consider getting him a full work up with a psychologist. I suspect this is ADD and he might benefit from medication. I know that this is the last thing this family could comprehend. She quietly says that she have made an appointment a few months ago, but cancelled it because she though the diet change was the cure.
I told her that she need to find moms that are going through just what she is doing. She resisted. She doesn’t want to be a member of the ‘My kid has a problem’ group. I told her that once you decide that there is a problem, you relax a little and don’t take all the behaviors personally. I told her to remember that a kid who is constantly in trouble at home and in school will develop self esteem issues. That is a bad path to go down. When the teenage years set in, it gets ugly. I also said to that people often criticize parents that seek a diagnoses and treatment (sometimes meds) for their kids. But, she should now understand how they get to that point. They have to do SOMETHING. They cannot sit back and watch their kid race towards a brick wall.
No one wants to have a child that you will have to struggle every step of the way to keep their head above water. People say we are over medicating and over diagnosing our children. I really do agree to some extent. But I think a lot of kids previously slipped through the cracks. They were labeled lazy, stupid, or difficult and tossed to the side. As a parent, you have to do any and everything possible to give them the best chance for a healthy, productive life.
There is a point to all this. I survived all my parenting adventures by reaching out to other moms that had already made a path. Sometimes I only found one person (like when they diagnosed my son with ADHD), but one person was all it took to help me through. Don’t assume or make judgement on someone if you have not walked in there shoes. We all need each other and our story could help another. Support strangers, family, and friends. Parenting is a tough job. They don’t always follow the plan you had. It is a lonely place when you feel you have done something wrong and can figure out to fix it.
If you need me, I am there for you.