It was a long fall. I had been holding my breath since September/early October while our family adjusted to diabetes and then Michael’s behaviors started up again. I was so stressed and worried about everything, and it showed in my parenting. I was afraid to trust my instincts. I tried seeing the best in Michael, but with each time he acted up I continued to believe the downward spiral would just continue to spiral out of control. Then I got a bad sinus infection and virus which pretty much knocked me out for four weeks. I thought about a lot in that time. Though I was able to work and do the bare minimum, I was operating at low energy, physically and spiritually. Anything extra depleted what little energy I had and I felt so discouraged.
What kept me going as a parent was the support of my husband, family, friends, both at work and in my personal life, and trust in God that things would turn around soon. Still, it was hard. I was tired, fed up, and wanted to run from my parenting life. I knew this is when Michael needed me most, but the harder I tried to put down rules and push him to bring out his best, the more it backfired. Michael pushed me and I pushed back showing him who was boss. Yes, it worked to show him Mom and Dad were in charge, but it eroded some of his trust in how much we loved him. I had forgotten to look for the good things, and even in our rough fall, there were good things here and there. It was after a particularly rough night where I fervently wished I was a different parent or living in a different home, that I realized, I could change this. How? I realized that by giving up on my need to control “everything,” all of Michael’s neuroses, power struggles, and bad habits, I would actually be showing him that I was the calm front he needed and remembered. I also started repeating to him when he was calm and only mildly testing his limits, that I missed the real Michael, the one who knew how to talk to me, to have fun, to listen. I risked that he would laugh in my face, ignore, or continue with the behaviors. Instead, I received the opposite reaction. He has now been going out of his way to be the child he is and not test. And he asked me today when he was being silly and I got annoyed, “Am I being the Michael you want me to be Mom?” I answered that he could do better and I knew he could. And he did.
This control thing and letting go of it has taught me something I had forgotten-we are never truly in control as parents or as human beings. Stuff happens to us every day that test us, throw our world upset down, and make us see that the more we strive to control things, people and events, the less control and happiness we will have. This is not to say that we should not have rules, a schedule and basic way to behave towards others in our family. However, pushing kids to conform 100% will only result in misery for all, in us feeling we are failures, and in our exceptional kids testing until the cows come home because they want control more than anything feeling so powerless in many areas of their life. It is our job to show them that they may not always have control, but can make good and bad choices, and then reap the benefits and consequences of them. I learned this in the last two weeks as I stuck it out through my abdicating control over how my kid would react, the environment would react, and realized that I could only control one things-how would I react and what would I do? When I had my answer, I prayed and meditated on it, asked for guidance, and here I am. I am now modeling for Michael how to take charge of himself as I am taking charge of myself.
Exceptional Parents, have you ever tried letting go of control and seeing if it helped or hindered your relationship with your Exceptional Child? If not, try it. You may be surprised, but if you let yourself just “be” in the moment with them, lessen up on controlling every aspect and going with the flow, you will most likely see that they will respond to you and themselves in a different way. They will want to do better, be more relaxed, and that is when learning and fun happen. Until next time.
I am a writer, speaker and parent coach. I blog about how my exceptional son with autism and type 1 diabetes is raising me to a better human being and exceptional mom. My mission is to empower other exceptional parents to trust in their parenting instinct while letting their exceptional child open their eyes to all that is possible! For more information on my coaching services and to download a copy of my FREE EBOOK “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY” see my website, http://www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com