I had a lot of time to think over the holidays about how hard it is to raise an exceptional child, for both parents and the children themselves. All parties love each other, but due to different brains and priorities they will see things differently. Sometimes one or both of these parties forget this and conflicts arise. In the end though, parents and children know that the love is there. It’s important to remind ourselves of that so that we can focus on growing from the difficult moments. Michael is an amazing kid who has taught me so much about my own strengths and weaknesses. He has taught me what I need to change in my life to function as a healthier human being. Ironically, it is usually the same things I teach him to embrace to function as a healthier human being. I have also learned how raising Michael, though causing rifts between Dad and I due to stress and family conflict over the years, always in the end brings us closer as a couple. This is not diminishing the pain we have faced in our struggles individually or as a parents, but as a couple, we have learned to carve out couple time more creatively, solo time as self-preservation, and we have learned to laugh about life’s other absurdities, at least most of the time.
It has not always been easy, but as we joke, we are in it for the long haul, that is, we want our relationship to last, our marriage to be stronger, and us as individuals to learn to grow and develop into cool directions as individuals. We also want to be able to pass this along to Michael, that whole life is a journey thing. I have actually been thinking that though our life is not as easy one, nor any exceptional family’s, it has actually made us stronger as a family and I feel that there are good things that having a child with multiple diagnoses has taught Dad and I. Here are 5 things:
1) It makes you to work on yourself to be healthier: Having a child who is exceptional makes you realize that you need to find ways to bring out your own personal inner strength, both for your child’s sake and all the other relationships in your life. Taking care of yourself makes you stronger to withstand all of life’s storms.
2) It helps your prioritize the right people and things: You know your energy and attention will need to be focused extra on your child, so you don’t hyper focus on unimportant people and things. You focus on what brings you joy and peace so that you can transmit that to your child.
3) You learn to think about intelligence outside the box: When your child has a different brain due to autism or another neuro developmental ,you will forever look at intelligence as very vast. When they have several diagnoses under the autism umbrella, you begin to see how varied our kids are and learn that a combination of methods work best to help them learn and you as their parents to learn with them.
4) You work on your relationship and make it work or decide that you will be better off alone: Of course every parent wants to make their primary relationship with their child’s other parent work out, but they learn that if they can’t share parenting styles and do it amicably under one roof, they can do it more effectively under two roofs and that is ok too.
5) You learn that life throws unexpected things at you to make you grow: Finally, parents can grow stronger if they don’t think of their child’s difference as a disability or punishment, but rather as a challenge sent to help everyone grow and open up other people’s eyes to the fact that everyone sees the world differently.
Exceptional Parents, how do you think your relationship has fared since your child came into your life? It is definitively not easy raising an exceptional child, but parents can learn that by tuning into their own strengths and turning to each other for support and guidance, they will find lots of power in that. With that power, they can transform their relationship and their child’s outlook on the world. 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