Letting Go – Allowing Your Child to Be Independent – Accepting That They May Fail:
You pray, plan, and hope that your child can become independent. However, why is it so hard, when they want to claim it?
My husband called me aside and in a low firm voice said, “You have to let him go and grow! Stop hovering! Let him make his mistakes! Trust that he will select good choices!” I am not sure what annoyed me more, an intervention from my own husband, or the fact that he was right! Oh how I hate it when he calls me out on the mediation mat! After all, whose side is he on?
Yes, it was another moment fit for reality television. My husband was reeling me in. He was reminding me that I needed to release my “Mama Bear” claws from our son. Quite simply, I needed to let go!
Two words sum it up: It’s hard!
I feel like I have spent the past ten years advocating for our son’s chance to succeed. We have sacrificed a lot personally, professionally and financially. We wanted to secure our son’s right to become independent.
Why is so difficult? After all, he can talk, participate in “gen-ed” classes, and has friends on his own?
At this point in his development, I imagined that I would be doing back flips. I also envisioned cutting up the Autism magnet on my car. All of these activities would be done with great glee! Instead of celebrating his acquisition of language, from ages 7 through 10, I am terrified of his confidence and social skills.
Yes, I should be kissing the pastor’s toes for the prayers and the tearful meetings that lead to his confidence and learned compliance. So if its’ all so wonderful, why in the heck am I beside myself? It all lies in the word “control.” Yes, I have proudly advocated like one crazy Mama Bear! I have been keenly set on a warpath for the past 8 years. I am proud of the obstacles and people we have, literally, flattened. It is a battle that I attacked with every fiber and financial resource we had.
Here is the BIG question: Now that our son is beginning to test out of support services – why am I terrified? I mean, there are the physical differences we will always work to overcome; he is missing his right hand and forearm. However, the sensory, behavioral and emotional differences are becoming issues of the past. But, now the hardest task is at hand – letting go; cutting the cord; severing the tie – WHATEVER!
I know I should bask in his self-confidence and growing network of friends. However, I am so afraid. I want to protect him from every hurt. I know, from my own experiences, that there are lessons in every step and failure. Here is what I have learned. I hope it will also inspire you to let go and give your child the opportunity to become independent.
Steps to Independence – How to make it happen:
1. Encourage them to try new things: We have tried every sport. None of them have been successful. You might think this tactic was a failure, but, the truth is that each time our son gained new friends. These children and adults gain compassion for our son’s differences. We will be out somewhere and children will run up to our son like he is a rock star and say…”Do you remember me?” We have had to work with our son to respond, “Oh! Of course I do!” It’s a social lesson and one that teaches validating another person’s feelings.
2. Trust in the fact you have taught them well: Another title for this one is – you wanted typical behavior – now you have got it – so count your Blessings! Recently, our son was put up to a dare to kiss a girl on her chest. When she did, she smacked him. At first I was beside myself. I had the phone on speed dial to the Superintendent of Schools! My husband calmed me down. He pointed out that this was typical “kid stuff” and a chance for us to talk about what happened. Lots of deep breaths later, our son got it, and so did I.
Lessons Learned from a Mama Bear:
1. Remember what you wished for: Look back at your diary or ask your child’s therapist. It goes back to that old saying, “Be careful what you wish for! You may just get it!’
2. Utilize your support networks: Reach out to those who know your child best. Teachers, therapists, parents and other students will all encourage you and also point out, “Oh, Mrs. Falardeau, Wyatt already does that!” They often see your child’s independence before you do!
Allowing the Process to Continue (Despite Set Backs):
1. Remember, it’s a process: Think back on all of your early mistakes. Was your mother or father there to witness all of them? I was one of four children. Thankfully, for me, that was not the case. However, for my son, the long awaited wonder baby, he has had my husband and I documenting his whole life. As hard as it is – I have to ditch the Facebook feed and my camera phone. With the support of my networks – I succumb to destiny and allow the cards to fall.
2. Success is in the unplanned moments: It’s hard for me to admit, however, when I let go I…I let my child live. You see, if he is truly going to be independent, he has to experience those spontaneous moments. In an instant, he will surprise me, and even better, he will flourish.
Photo courtesy ©jeremyhowell/photoxpress.com
- BABY STEPS Tips for encouraging your child toward Independence
- Important Life Skills to Teach Your Child with Special Needs
- Teaching Financial Independence The Building Blocks of Financial Literacy
- The Power of the Piggy Bank | Important Life Skills Teaching About Money Management
- Independence + Security Balance: Balancing Independence with Security Guardianship and Its Alternatives
- Building Independence Through Self Awareness And Regulation
- Planning for Your Special Child’s Future: It’s Never “Too Early” to Start!
- What Do I Do with My Child Once They Graduate High School?
- What to Do After High School?
- Educational Options After High School for Students with Special Needs
- College Bound: A Journey to Independence
- Helping Your Child Be An Independent College Student
- Parents of teenagers with special needs: Prep for college NOW…..3 tips
- Independence and Self-Advocacy
- Maneuvering Your Meal Plan While In College
- Raising a Successful College Graduate
You May Also Like
- Person-Ventured Entrepreneurship: What Do You Know About Entrepreneurship
- Where to Go if Your Child Needs a Job or Help with Post High School Education
- What Are Pre-Employment Skills and How Does My Child Get Them?
- Parenting Your Young Adult Through Their First Employment Experiences
- Group Homes: Can My Experience Help You?
- When Is the Right Time to Transition from Your Home to a Group Home?
- Did You Know About the Independent Living Center?
- Preparing for the First Apartment: Beyond Home Furnishings and Domestic Supplies
- Apps for Supporting Independence: The Transition to Adulthood
This post originally appeared on our May/June 2013 Magazine