Thursday, March 1, 2018

An Answer For Those Who Offer Unhelpful Parenting Advice - Trauma Parenting

Recently Oregon Behavior Consultation asked parents with special needs children to share the advice people have given them regarding their child's behavior. They took those comments and made a video entitled, What Not To Say To Parents Of Kids With Challenging Behaviors. It is awesome! I have heard most of the comments in one form or another over the years. Sometimes I can let it roll off my back, other times not so much. 

A comment from this video clarified some things for me. Nate mentions that the reason these comments hurt so badly is because we parents are already trying so hard to do the right thing for our child. I agree with that 100%. The parent of a child with special need's faces huge challenges every day. We constantly second guess ourselves and hope we are doing what is best for our child. We don't always know what is the best response to an action, or even if what we have seen warrants a consequence or grace. Professional's will tell you that there is no cut and dried method of parenting a child with special needs because so many things play into the situation. Things such as trauma, living situation and family relationships to name only a few.

To complicate things, every child is so different, especially when you add in brain challenges, that many days we feel as though we are whirling in circle's, but fear we are never quite meeting anyone's needs. We are doing our best to stay on top of all the pressing demands, but slowly, ever so slowly losing ground. To have someone come in and tell a parent who is nearly sinking that they should just try ___________, is akin to adding a sack of bricks to the already heavy burden they carry.

Thankfully Oregon Behavioral Consultation added a video you can send to family and friends to help them better understand why you appear to be such a strict or easy going parent, depending upon the situation. Here it is: Why DO Kids And Teens Have Challenging Behaviors?

One comment from this video, portrayed what I have a difficult time finding the words to describe: People seem to think their experience with my child is my child's baseline. Exactly! What a brilliant explanation. That, in a nutshell explains what I struggle so hard to help people understand. The child you see is very different from the child I know. The child you see is either on high alert, melting down, oozing with sweetness or ________ to name a few, none of which show my child's true baseline.

The child you see misbehaving, is acting that way for reasons that may not be readily apparent. When in the presence of our immediate family, he presents very differently. This means you are not seeing my child true self. The same goes for the child who presents as super sweet and kind. That isn't my child's true self either, he is putting on a front and manipulating you. This is why our parenting looks inconsistent. We appear to be to lenient with some children, while being too strict with others. The fact is, the behavior you see is not the my child's true behavior. You will only see my child's true self if you live with us and become a permanent member of our family.

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