Michael has always been a child that needed to talk and communicate, even before he could speak a word. That is why when he hit tween hood and started pulling away from Dad and I a bit, it was challenging and worrisome for us. Do we let him without a fight? Do we insist he speaks with us? Do you give him his space? As you can imagine, after much soul searching, I chose option 3.
It has been great for the most part. As I saw him maturing, I did decide to give him space and time to come to terms that he was growing up, and growing up in the exceptional way is not easy any more than growing up the neuro typical way is. Again, I must give credit to our educator who supported me and gave my encouragement to give him space and independence like I would any tween. I’m glad I listened. Michael will talk to me when he comes from school like when he was younger. Then he will ask, can I go be alone now? I need my space. I happily allow him that. Consequently, if he needs to speak to me when I am doing my alone time, I will also ask him to respect my boundaries. Knock on the door if I am busy writing in my office or doing something else in the house. Ask if it is a good time. I have learned to do the same thing with him. Space and boundaries are challenging for him to grasp, but he is getting there.
Finding a balance with our exceptional kids of all ages means spending time playing and/or talking with them, but also allowing them to be alone doing what gives them pleasure. It means understanding this alone time may last a little longer than for neuro typical kids, but not judging it with our neuro typical brains, unless it is detrimental to their mental or physical health. And it also means connecting with them on their interests, and as they get older and able to, get them interested in our interests if this is possible.
Having come a long way from two years ago when Michael started puberty and Type 1 Diabetes hit, it has been a long road uphill for him and us. Our family has had to relearn to trust in the love we have for one another that is enough, and Dad and I have had to learn to relate to Michael in a different way, trusting him to assume more responsibility which is what he was asking for in his tween rebellion. I am glad we did, and now our son is coming back and working with us. When your child works with you, that ensures they are working towards a good future for themselves.
Exceptional Parents, how do you walk the line between giving your Exceptional Child space and spending time with them? All kids need a balance, no matter what age they are. Of course as they mature, they require less of one on one time with you for playing and managing their lives. But your involvement, your caring, your words, in spite of what they say, matter more than anything to them. Continue to tell them you love them even if you do not hear the words back. Continue to believe in them, especially when they don’t believe in themselves. And continue to talk and interact with them, even if that is just being in the same room and acknowledging whatever they are doing. Our kids sense our love beyond words. They feel it. Let’s continue to show them that balance of trusting them to be alone, yet being there for them to talk or interact with when they are ready. Until next time.