Parenting a child that requires more
What no one ever tells a parent or caregiver of a child that requires “more” is what the struggles are like. Before you have a diagnosis there is little acknowledgment that the parenting challenges you are facing are harder than the “typical” childhood challenges.
Many times when you raise a question of “is this normal?” you are brushed off or made to feel better, instead of really being heard.
I get it. It’s happened to me several times over the years. People want to be reassuring and helpful and kind. They don’t want you to worry. They want to give your child a chance to develop because maybe they are a late bloomer.
And yet that “kindness” does unintended harm.
In the beginning, many parents and caregivers who have a “more” child just don’t understand why parenting is so hard. Especially if this is your first child. There is no context by which to judge. You simply don’t understand why others are not seeming to struggle the way you do.
If your “more” child is not the first born then there is the automatic comparison to other children. Wondering why is this child so difficult?
Either way it leads to a lot of parental self-doubt. A lot of personal judgment. A lot of guilt, fear, worry, anxiety, grief and loneliness. You may wonder what is wrong with me as a parent that I can’t seem to figure this parenting thing out?
Or sometimes it is that illusive idea that something is different about your child that is constantly gnawing at you, but how can you find something when you don’t know what you are looking for and others are telling you not to worry?
At some point parents and caregivers usually come to a crossroads. You either try to push through your instincts and try to get your child to respond to the "typical" parenting processes and solutions, which usually lead to bigger issues down the road and damaged relationships. Or you forge your own way in hopes that answers might be found and relief obtained.
And what you also aren’t told is that even if you choose to look for the answers, it rarely creates the instant relief you were hoping for. Yes, you have the relief of naming the elusive 'it' you have been chasing, but you have also just found the starting point for your next chapter of hard work.
Once you do receive a diagnosis no one prepares you for the constant battles you will need to fight on behalf of your child and perhaps against your child, nor the amount of energy it can drain from you. Society may say it knows what a diagnosis means, but it does not mean it actually understands. Nor does it mean there will be compassion, support and automatic accommodations.
This is why it is hard parenting a “more” child. It is hard not knowing when something is different with your child. It is hard not knowing what to do when you suspect something is different with your child. It is hard to do the work and fight the fight that is often necessary to get your child help for their differences. And it can be hard to teach yourself and your child how to love, accept and advocate for the person they are, which includes their differences.
So to all my “more” parents out there who have children who are neurodiverse or have expereienced trauma or loss or have yet to be diagnosed, you are not alone. Your feelings and struggles are real and valid. Connect with me whether you just need to share a particularly hard day or because you need to just know that you are not alone. You can always email me or connect with me for a free chat.