Jan 30

Parenting is never one size fits all

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It has been so very long since I posted. I have had time for short little posts or a picture so I have been keeping up with the Facebook page, An Autism Journey. However, An Autism Journey started as a blog and I need to keep up with it.  Since adding a 3rd child to our lives and a busy fall semester, working, it has been difficult getting around to blogging. In addition, I kept bouncing around ideas in my head of what I wanted to write. I always have so much on my mind about Brody, about autism, how I am feeling that I never know what direction to take my jumbled thoughts. Parenting has been a general topic I kept coming back to you. I never go more than a day or so without seeing some column, article or blog post about parenting. One article was written about how a parent is shocked people give their children so much sugar. Another columnist wrote from the perspective of an education advocate and parents how kindergarteners need to fend for themselves and be the one to remember their backpack, lunch, etc. I have read about moms desperate for deserving breaks and taking time for themselves. I read occasionally about the role of fathers being more important and vital at home in caring and nurturing of children. I see the headlines; I read them when I can.

Then come conversations I have with other parents. Parents I meet and converse with at church, in my family and with my friends who are parents.  All these ideas and principles regarding parenting have been floating around my head each day as I read articles and remembering comments I heard from my sister or from my friend. All of it has to do with what people want for their children and how the day-to-day life is with children.

Instead of any one single thought sinking through or having an epiphany of how to raise my family, it was one general thought that I haven’t been able to shake – Parenting is never one size fits all!

It all started with a girls weekend I had months back with two of my best friends. Neither friend has a child with autism. I have grown to accept and expect when talking about my experience and ideals in parenting, to be different because of Brody. The weekend of talking with these other mothers was inspiring, needed, perfectly timed and wonderfully eye opening! The months that followed of additional conversation, observing other parents and reading these parenting related articles only enhanced and firmly established my thoughts before…Parenting is not a method or formula.

Why do I feel like a failure for not having my child sleep through the night without a pull up on? Well that is because I am supposed to have the child completely potty trained by the time they are 3 years old…right? If they don’t that is like bad for them mentally?

Why do I feel like a bad mother if we all do not sit around the dinner table at dinnertime and eat together as a family? Well that is because eating together as a family is what is good for family and how it is supposed to be….or at least I read that somewhere.

Is it okay my son is sensitive? Aren’t boys supposed to be a little tougher? I mean I think it is okay he is and that is how he seems to naturally be but should I stop it?

These are all examples of my parenting thoughts. After all these months I realize, these thoughts and concerns as a parent are good because we should question ourselves. We should not just keep going with an approach because that is how we have been doing it or it worked for one kid. BUT making changes to how I parent based on someone else’s experience or that I am not doing because it is the way I am ‘suppose’ to do something…that is why I am finally accepted to let go. Let go of expectations, what raising kids is supposed to look like for my family. What my two best friends helped me realize and illustrated when we talked, it does not have to be any certain way. I also realize even though I have a child with autism, I can amend and evolve how I want to take my son’s treatment based on my feelings and intuition. The biggest regard I have and what I am resolved to do is trust myself, how I feel, my intuition as a parent. I did not trust it for so many years and I second-guessed and made many mistakes.

Feelings about myself, my self-esteem, who I am as a person has been an evolution of progress, mistakes, changing, renewed energy, hopefulness and more. I am sure that is the same for most of us. I do not let people tell me I am wrong, fat, ugly, and too sensitive and should change who I am. For the most part, people would not fathom to do that. For whatever reason, parenting is just as personal and close to our hearts as our own journey in life. BUT be a parent and that all changes, people’s barriers and sense of propriety and respect are out the window. Now everyone has an opinion, everyone knows what is right for a child. Bringing life into this world, caring and raising children is a huge and immense responsibility but it does not give someone the right to tell us we are doing something wrong and how to do it right, (unless it involves harming the child or others). Each person is different, the dynamic of each family is different, each child is different, siblings are different from each other, so where in the world do we think education, potty-training, breastfeeding, study habits, attention spans, diets, and more would not have to fit each person.

Parenting is not one size fits all



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