Michael teaches me something new every day. I think that is universal for all parents of all children. But there is something about our Exceptional kids. They test us as parents in so many ways. They make us question our actions, our words, our responses. And they make us aware of what we need to work on in ourselves so we can be better models of living for them. This is uniquely challenging though, as unless we as parents have the same challenges as they do, we are never truly seeing the world the exact same way. That is a whole other blog post for another day. Today I want to talk about how much I am learning to stay calm and rebuild structure is helping repair my relationship with Michael. We’ve had a very good first week of holidays so far due to me being in touch with my inner self and how I am feeling. I am learning what triggers me, both things that I can control and that I must learn to control. I am also learning what Michael deliberately tries to trigger, because he’s a kid and that’s what they do. The result has been for me that the more clear I am about my boundaries, feelings, and expectations in a calm and relaxed way, the calmer he gets even when he is upset. He is learning to regulate too.
Most of the time we don’t realize as parents when we are escalating until it is too late. With Exceptional Kids though, it becomes mandatory to learn our cues and show them how they could handle their own. Self-care is not just relaxing when we can. It becomes about learning our limits as parents. It is about becoming better at acknowledging our shortcomings to ourselves, and working on changing them so that our kids have a united front with both parents. I’ve said this before to other parents, but never really saw what I was doing. In not wanting to structure things too much and make Michael even more rigid in his way of thinking, I somehow went in the other direction in parenting. I stopped structuring and taking control as did Dad. The result was Michael took control and was in charge running the household. Not a good thing. We are all slowly recovering from that, and strangely though Michael will still try the “I’m in charge card,” and “I’m going to not listen till I’m 21,” etc., I have never seen him as close to me, and as calm as I have in the last two weeks. That’s not to say we have not had moments when he has tested physically and mentally, but they are becoming fewer and far between. He is realizing with Mom and Dad in charge with clear, calm rules and structure. He is seeing that there are rules he has to follow just as Dad and I have rules we follow in the world. He is learning how to handle disappointments, struggles and anger. We remind him of his tools so he sees he has options and choices, where he can decide how things play out for him. It’s been really empowering for Michael, Dad and I. What a change from even a month ago! And it is affecting how I will help support other parents in the future when they ask for advice or just to talk.
Exceptional Parents, are you going through a challenging time with your Exceptional Child now? Are you wondering where to start in regaining your parenting foothold? It’s one of the easiest and hardest things to do at the same time. The easy part is structuring basic things like a routine for your child, as well as how you want your child to treat you and you them (and no exceptions). The hard part is putting this into practice. A good family psychologist, educator or coach can do wonders to keep you on track as a family by checking in with you. We are all embarrassed to admit we are stuck or failing as parents. Don’t be. Trust your gut in finding your support team. And remember, it’s a long road ahead to rebuild authority in your home. Take it one day at a time. Celebrate the little victories you and your child will have. And remember, it will get better. Until next time.
I am a writer and parent coach whose passion it is to help other Exceptional Parents find joy, peace and love in parenting their exceptional children through the various challenges they face. I believe that a happy child can only develop if their parents are living their lives happy, whole and in balance. For more information on my coaching programs, please see my website: http://www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com. To book a free 30 minute exploration/consultation Skype session with me, please contact me by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.