As a parent of two special needs kids, I learned long ago to choose my battles wisely. There’s no point in trying to tackle all of the problems at once because you’ll drive yourself and your kids crazy. So what’s important and what can wait?
Obviously safety is first and foremost. So I always insisted my kids wore safety helmets when skiing, riding a bike and tobogganing. But I looked the other way when they wanted to wear miss-matched clothing or refused to wear socks.
I insisted on politeness towards others but would ignore the odd swear word directed at me. I know some parents would never tolerate this but I knew that swearing and angry outbursts came hand-in-hand with Tourettes and Bipolar.
Didn’t want to eat the dinner I made. No problem! There’s the jar of peanut butter but make it yourself because I have no intention of making a 2nd meal. Don’t want to eat at all … fine but don’t ask for any dessert this evening.
There are literally 100’s of examples where I turned a blind eye to situations. Bad parenting? No, just the reality of a parent with special needs kids.
I was often asked how I survived when they were young (they are now 19 and 17 years old) because every day had its ups and downs. I credit my “flexible” parenting style. But don’t get me wrong … there were plenty of rules in our household that were carved in stone.
I was always jealous of the parents whose biggest parenting battle seemed so minor in comparison to the problems my husband and I faced. One day, when taking my sons to school, I was dumbfounded watching the mom who completely lost her cool because her young daughter didn’t want to carry her own lunch box. It’s not as if her own hands were full. This problem seemed so trivial!
How about you? What’s your parenting style? Are you dealing with special needs kids? What issues are you willing to let go and where do you draw the proverbial line in the sand?