Parents of Autistic Children Have a Different Path
You will meet many parents through this journey who don’t respond to autism the same way you do. I’ve written before that even though you are seemingly in the same boat you are still very different people and this leads to many different “truths”.
I’m trying to change myself in small steps. What I’m desperately trying to understand now is that the opposite of your truth is also true. Just because they have a very different truth to you does not make them wrong. It merely makes it “their truth”.
It’s a hard fact of life that not everyone is going to view life as you do. So not everyone is going to view autism as you do. Even those supposedly travelling down the same path are having very different experiences on an emotional level. They have to be. Our upbringing, parenting and emotional well being all speak through the people we are. We are all at varying cross roads and a diagnosis in a child impacts on a different level in us all. So, though one person may appear to be at the same stage as you in time or space they will fundamentally be in a different place emotionally.
I’ve written many times about my perception of other parents and cast my judgement on them. HERE with what I referred to as a namby pamby positive attitude and HERE when I discussed the “poor me” or what I later heard called the “Martyr Mom”. I’m not known for holding back in my writing and you can clearly see that. Yet at certain points in the last 2 years I’ve been in all of these categories and probably a few of my own unique ones too. You can not read twitter or facebook without your blood boiling over something you’ve read! But it’s time for me to stop reacting.
This is how I view myself, I am a proactive parent. I’m a child lead parent. I’m a hands on parent. I’m an entitled parent. My children I believe are flourishing because of the way me and lee parent. It works perfectly…for us. That’s my truth. Your truth may be very different. You may be quieter than me, you may not like to cause the trouble I’ve been known to cause services and professionals alike. You may follow a more rigid routine because that suits your children better.
You may not apply for everything just because you can. My truth isn’t better than your truth. My way isn’t necessarily the right way, nor is it wrong. It’s just another way. Your truth works in your home, with your children and its perfect for you just as my truth is perfect for me. You may not do things the way I do but I am OK with that, because that’s your truth and I will not judge you for that as I, or anyone else, may have done before.
Too often I read parents telling others they are “doing it wrong”. That their truths are false. That their story is a lie. That their lifestyle is wrong. I’ve been on the receiving end of this many many times and I’ve written about it even more! Personally, the judgements I made on others came from a place of fear. Honestly.
If I look deeply into the root of my emotional response to others it comes from the belief that maybe I was actually doing something wrong. I would criticise the actions of others and when I was criticised in turn I would be deeply hurt by their opinions. After doing some research on depression counselling online, I thought it was simply a matter of “who are they to judge me” but on a deeper level it was because it questioned the very essence of who I am. It tapped into my darkest fears that I may be wrong. My response was anger, sadness, confusion, self doubt or criticism of them.
Though people may say to you “I’m right and you are wrong” I believe what they are saying is…”If you are not doing things like me then maybe that means that I’m not doing right. I need you to validate my “truths” by making them yours too.” And if you are like me you will respond with “I will justify to you why I am right and you are wrong so that I can feel more confident in my choices” or slip into a deep seething despair cloaked in anger.
If I had more belief in myself, my truths and my lifestyle I wouldn’t need to judge or justify to others. Nor would I be overwhelmed by other peoples judgement of me. Pain is inevitable. What people say can hurt us. There are bad things happening and bad people out there. But suffering? Suffering is optional.
We can hold onto that emotional response and therefore delve further into our fear or we can accept that that is their “truth” and that’s fine, I will not judge them back, I will not dwell on the pain, as I have my truth and I am comfortable with that.
This does not mean that I am a pushover. That I will not respond if I see or hear something that does not agree with my “truths”. Of course, it’s only natural you won’t like everyones opinions or you will emotionally react to something. But at this point I will strengthen my resolve by questioning myself “OK, you don’t agree.
You are angry or upset but is it appropriate for me to say something? Will it be beneficial to the other person (not for my own gain/relief) if I say something now? Where in me has this response come from and why? Is it kindness that encourages me to speak or something else?”
Ultimately that all I want. Kindness. Surely every parent, whatever their truth only has their children’s well being at heart? Trying to be the best version of themselves they can be? When they don’t act in the interest of their children that may be the time to speak up. Until that point you may cause someone else hurt and upset by speaking out. You may be destroying someone else’s truth and we all know how that feels.
So now I just have to live like that. Why? Because in the end I want to be the best I can be. Not by other peoples standards but by my own. I don’t want to live with the fear anymore and I want my children to be free of that too. I want them to have strong beliefs in themselves, to know and be confident in their truths and I am making a start by leading through example…..wish me luck!