Monday, July 27, 2015

Parenting: Not About Me & Not About You

In 2012, after getting my son out of a horrible school situation and into a better placement, someone wanted me to co-author a book with them about the journey that got him there (which was a ridiculous and tedious one).

I thought about it. I was excited about the idea. I really wanted to do it. 

BUT, and this is a big but, it was not my story to tell. I came to the conclusion that: Yes I was/am involved, but the biggest part of this story is my son's and I don't have the right to tell it for him.

Another thing though, the things I did for my son? I considered it doing what I was supposed to do as a parent, I didn't see it as a heroic act or something that was just an obligation. It was doing the job I signed up for.    

People have often congratulated me for his successes. I have often commented back "He did all the work, I just kicked down a few doors when people closed them on him, but he was the one that went through them".

In other words, I helped my son gain access to the things he needed in order to be successful... and isn't that part of parenting? Ensuring our kids are able to succeed?

To me, congratulating me for parenting in this aspect is the same as telling me "Good job for feeding your kids every day" It's just not necessary.

I've never been comfortable with getting praise for doing what I'm supposed to as a parent. I've also never been comfortable with getting pity for being a parent to a Disabled child or with people giving me credit for my children's successes.

When I'm bragging about any of my children or just catching you up on them the very last thing I want to hear is "You've done so well with them".  When people do this to me they steal away my happy and frustrate me to no end.

I use to think that this frustrated me because of my inability to take a compliment and the fact that I'm pretty skeptical of people's motives, but then I realized that was not it. This was part of something much bigger and actually not about me at all.

The problem lies in people's inability to understand that parenting is about the children, not the parents. That's right parents IT'S NOT ABOUT YOU.

The things my children accomplish and even the things they have a hard time with? NOT ABOUT ME. 

I realize that when my kids are having a rough time, it's not about me. It's not something they are deliberately doing to me to make my life hard. I understand in these times they need me to support them, guide them, teach them, and you know parent them.

So many times I read/hear how I shouldn't judge another parent, especially a "special needs" parent. People are so afraid to tell them that their child's struggles are not about them. People are more concerned about how the parent feels than the welfare and dignity of the child. 

In the more mainstream "autism parent" community parents get credit for so many things their kids actually accomplish.

Johnny said a complete sentence? Good job Mom!
Jane tried a new food? WTG mom! you're so awesome!

They also get deemed saints and heroes for just being parents and allowing their children to exist, as if being a crappy parent is far more acceptable when you have an Autistic child. (actually abuse towards disabled children is often excused)

Then you have the really ugly stuff:

If their kids are having a hard time, the parents talk about how frustrated they are and make all their children's struggles about them.

On Facebook I had this local "friend" who would constantly detail her teenager's meltdowns and talk about how horrible she was over and over...........and over. The worst part about it was, her daughter was friends with her on Facebook, so she could see all the things her mom and her mom's friend's said about her. She even wrote about how the child screamed out to God to make her not be bad anymore <~~~ that's a warning sign of internalized ableism 

I offered advice to her on more than one occasion and even offered to come get to know her daughter and try to help her figure out what was going on. For nearly 2 years this went on and the mother never stop complaining and never once took any advice.

Some people would call that seeking support (some even call it spreading "awareness").  I call it what it is, direct disrespect of another human being and a pity party. 
It's exploitation of a child for the purpose of the parent's "support".

She was making her daughter's hard times all about her. And technically they really were all about her (the parent), in the sense that she was likely the cause of most of her child's issues. But, if I had told her that, I would have been judging her and she still wouldn't have listened.

Every time I saw one of her posts I felt like I was watching the next Kelli Stapleton and there was nothing I could do, but I digress.

Parents even create Facebook fan pages that anyone can like and see. They post pictures and private details about their children. If they are called out about this being a violation of privacy for the child and not to mention a huge safety issue, parents get defensive.

Once again they make it all about them.

Parents: It's not about us, this is about our children, their lives, their well being, their futures. We don't own our children. We don't have the right to expose their private moments publicly because we need to "vent".
Parenting is about selflessness and unconditional love towards out children
It's about comforting and protecting our children.
It's about guiding them. It's about teaching them compassion and
 respect by giving it to them. 
It's about opening doors and
 giving our kids the chance to choose to walk through them or not.
Image background is a tree shaped like a heart it is pink in color
below the tree are some fallen leaves, also pink

Parenting is about selflessness and unconditional love towards our 
children. It's about comforting and protecting our children. It's about guiding them. It's about teaching them compassion and respect by giving it to them. 

It's about opening doors and giving our kids the chance to choose to walk through them or not.

My parenting journey? It's not about me. And yours? Not about you either.