I was told by a Psycho Educator we worked with a few years ago that I sometimes share too much with Michael, and that this could have been one of the contributing factors to his rising anxiety and aggressive behavior. She was not blaming me for things Michael was born with and that are a part of his autism, but did tell me to be careful not to give him any extra adult worries. For example, I was job searching at the time and was stressed about that. I was also emotionally coming out of a very difficult time for me, when I had been recovering from burnout and depression. I still felt fragile, but I understood what she meant that it was better I stay strong in front of Michael, so he would have that sense of security. I did also know though, that honesty is the best policy, and that autism or not, I would do Michael no favors if I was constantly sugar-coating my life and feelings.
Fast forward to many years later. I am stronger, wiser, and even I have a very rough month emotionally and with Michael which the month of December was for us, I now know that the best thing I can do is share my weaknesses with Michael and show him how I handle myself and get stronger. I showed him how I took time for self-care. I showed him how I would cry when I needed to. I showed him how I didn’t tolerate aggression towards me or anyone else. I also showed him he mattered. Over the last few weeks, he has been talking to me a lot. What has come out? He has felt sometimes his Dad and I don’t listen to him when we are not doing what he wants. This is not the Michael who was having all kinds of tantrums, but the Michael who feels his feelings aren’t getting listened to. He has said he misses me, and made comments of why am I always on my phone? It’s true. I am glued to it, and when he is around, I remind him he is top priority. He always was, but would think otherwise when he would see me working or on my phone. Due to working from home, this complicates the work/home divide, but I am getting better at getting the message across to him.
What it all boils down to is communicating your love to your child, and letting them know you are there. Yesterday afternoon Michael was very talkative, more than usual. He was telling me all about his day, the exciting things that happened and was enjoying himself being silly with me as I with him. It was beautiful, and it was something that has been happening a lot more lately. I know it is due to the fact that I have put in boundaries when needed, but that I am flexible too, and have told Michael that I am always there for him to talk and listen and that he is the most important thing to me. This has made a huge difference. Yesterday, we had a bit of a fight. I told Michael it was inappropriate what he said to me and he had to apologize. He did and said, “I guess I’m a bad kid.” I was upset on hearing this, so I turned it around to what the words really meant, “You’re a good kid, who made a bad choice.” I will make sure to remind him how every day he can make good or bad choices and learn from the bad and keep performing the good. But I realize that being there is everything for a child. The more they try and push you away, (which is what had started happening as Michael approached his birthday in December) the more they need parents there to remind them they are loved and special.
Exceptional Parents, how do you remind your Exceptional Children they are unique, beautiful and smart human beings? How do you bond with your children and show them they are your priority regardless of their past mistakes? It does not matter that they do not always communicate with us the same as neuro typical children do. Feelings travel across different brains and language issues. If they feel a parent’s love truly and deeply, see you sharing with them openly and freely, they will start opening up to you or continue to open up to you. Don’t be afraid to pull them in close. Being vulnerable yourself opens them up to be the same. Until next time.
Do you need support on your journey? I am a writer and parent coach who is passionate about empowering parents to trust their own instinct when raising their exceptional children with autism, and remembering that parenthood is as much a journey for us as childhood is for our children. For more information on my parent coaching programs, and to book a FREE 30 Minute Consultation Session, see my website: http://www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com.
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