Today’s post is more for the family’s in the thick of it.
How do we go about letting go of expectations on our kids?
Honestly, I’m not even sure. We are still trying to figure this one out but we know that it is crucial to survival.
Here are a few things we’ve learned. If you have something to add please leave a comment because we can all learn from one another!
One family that I interviewed has managed to get a good handle on this from what I can tell and we are sitting at their feet and learning from them. Their son has autism and has a pretty destructive history. Their family was falling apart and they had to make some hard decisions. They had to send their son away for a period of time so that they could get some breathing room. When he came back they decided that they needed to keep things pretty simple. So they only had one expectation of him. One rule that he had to follow; be safe.
Over time they may be able to add something more, but that is what is needed for right now. We all need to feel safe around you, so make sure that’s what you are, a safe person to be around.
For ourselves we haven’t been able to reduce it down quite that drastically but we have given up some expectations of our son and that has proved to reduce our anxiety levels quite a bit. We try to keep demands to a minimum. Yeah, it isn’t a long list but it encompasses a lot of things; chores, eating, sleeping, school, participation.
We have had to give up a lot of our ideals of wonderful family life. Vacations are super stressful because we know he’ll break down at some point and kibosh a plan. We try to roll with that as much as possible – not going to places where there are big crowds or shortening the time we spend there.
Family time is almost non-existent because we can’t have a discussion without theatrics and a demand on the spotlight that generally destroys the time together. Because we have six kids we tend to split them into two groups and spend time together that way, it seems to work better.
Most importantly we are just learning that his decisions, good or bad, aren’t our responsibility. He is sixteen and while his reasoning skills and logic are no where near even a sixteen year old level we aren’t going to take that on anymore. I used to internalize all of his bad decisions and make them my own. I am learning to let go of that. If he makes a poor decision we are learning to let him deal with the consequences of his actions rather than softening the blow. Easier said than done!!
There is also the possibility that perhaps you CAN’T do it. Maybe you aren’t the best thing for this child. That might be the hardest expectation of all to let go of. We have had to do that for one of our foster kids. I want to let you hear an interview with a woman who had to make that decision and why. Please click on this link to listen to Carrie O’Toole’s story of relinquishing.
She also has a website that is full of valuable resources! CLICK HERE
Please, leave your thoughts in the comments. What are the hardest things to let go of? How are you letting go?
**If you are new here you might want to know that this post is part of a series on hidden disabilities. I am going to be continuing this series for all of October as part of the 31 Days Challenge. You can see all of the amazing topics over at The Nester’s! To go back to the beginning of this series click on the Alphabet Soup tab and you can see the indexed list of chapters.