Sticks and Stones
As the mom of children with attention deficit, I’ve heard all kinds of hurtful comments about meltdowns, hyperactivity, and my parenting skills. Now I’m trying to learn resilience, so I can teach it to my kids.
Recently my first niece was born, and my brother became a new dad. As he and I were discussing the joys of parenting, he described being on an outing with his wife and baby and getting a great deal of flack from passers-by: “How dare you bring a baby out in public! She’ll get sick!” My advice to him, based on my own experience: The moment you become a parent, you better start growing a thicker skin. Sadly, that’s something much easier said than done.
That’s especially true for those of us who parent children who aren’t typical. How often do we hear from neighbors, relatives, or even strangers in the store that what we’re doing is wrong? We should discipline that meltdown! Our children only act that way because of our poor parenting skills!
I don’t know about you, but I’ve heard all of those things multiple times. As a young, inexperienced mother, those things really hurt. They made me question myself, just as my brother wondered if taking a baby out in public was wrong. But with each child, and the added years of being a special-needs parent, my skin has grown a bit thicker. The stones that are thrown by well-meaning — and not-so-well-meaning — people are starting to bounce off a little more.
Still, it’s so easy to take my child’s struggles and failures personally. When my sixth-grader fails a test, I fight the tendency to misinterpret the teacher’s note as, “Mrs. Driscoll, maybe if you were a better mother, he wouldn’t have failed.”
This tells me that every day I must strive to become more resilient, not only for my own sake but my children’s. They need that trait, too. After all, children with ADHD are more likely to experience hardships like bullying and exclusion. Without being able to deflect some of the stones others throw so carelessly, they’ll crack. If I don’t role model a thick skin and show them how not to take everything personally, how will they learn?
I’m curious to hear from other people about their experiences. What are the steps you’ve taken to become a more resilient parent?