As a Mum, or Dad as the case may be; our best hopes for our children is for them to grow up safe, knowing that they are loved and with a healthy self esteem. It seems easy enough when you spell it out in black and white on a screen but the reality is as daunting to me as doing a PhD in Bio Chemistry, or Physics or anything else Science or math related. I heard just the other day that as parents we will make mistakes, but our kids will still think we are superheroes and while that is a cute sentiment it doesn’t negate that some of our mistakes, or sometimes just a zealous approach to parenting may cause harm with, or without our knowledge. I am a fairly new Mum, certainly no expert; but already I can see the goofs I have made and in some cases the results.
Some people read this Blog and hear my honesty and say that I am too hard on myself. Let me first start by clarifying something. I am by no means too hard on myself, but I do endeavor to be as honest as possible so that as we journey together through the years you can know me, and I in turn can discover more of myself. Looking at myself harshly at times; at my flaws, my sins, my mistakes, also allows me the opportunity to see the blessings of grace, the beauty of forgiveness and the wonder of change and growth. How is it possible to know success if we don’t first know failure?
Making mistakes while raising kids is one of those things filed under ‘inevidable’, mistakes happen and more often than not they will happen many many times before we get it right, if that ever happens at all.
One of the biggest mistakes I have made and discovered is this: In a desire to help Josh I have spoken to literally hundreds of therapists, doctors, friends, family… anyone who may know something, who may have a fresh outlook or idea. My mistake? I did it all in front of Joshua, forgetting for the most part that while he can’t speak well, he certainly understands me when I say “he can’t talk, understand, speak…” In my pursuit to help Josh I have discovered that I have hindered him. With all the talk about what he can’t do I have been telling him(though indirectly), ‘you can’t do it’ and the result is that he believes that lie. My fear is that I have inadvertently failed (so far) at one of the most basic of jobs we have as parents, to raise them up to have a healthy self-esteem. The great part, the part that eases the guilt I feel in the dead of night when I realize what I am doing to my son, is that I have time to counteract those actions. I can be proactive, I can change. I can stop talking to therapists in front of him, I can keep conversations with Tim or other family and friends (regarding Josh’s needs) out of his hearing range. All hope is not lost, I can slowly help him build back the confidence that he’s losing.
As parents, to any child (not just a child with special needs) we forget that they are all seeing creatures. When I am hurt or sad or scared my guys pick up on it and become anxious; just as when I doubt their ability, they too doubt their ability. Just the other day Tim was trying to get Josh to put on his own coat (something I have taken to doing for him to save time) and he said “I can’t” so Tim said that he could do it, and they had a little chat about not saying “I can’t” etc. Josh turned to Tim and said ‘Mummy can do it’. It was just another example of how I (in this case, in an effort to make my own life simpler) am teaching my son that he ‘can’t’. How often have I preached at him that there is no such thing as ‘I can’t’ and yet my actions have not been living up to my words. I have been called to account by a five year old.
Am I being too hard on myself? No I don’t think so. If we are not always looking at our lives and at what we can change for the better then we will cease to grow, we will cease to change, we will cease to move in any direction whatsoever. As parents, our willingness to look honestly at the mistakes we are making along the way is our greatest hope of achieving our best hopes for our kids. That they will grow up knowing they are loved, that they will be self reliant which will lead them safely into their future, and that they will mature into confident young men and women.