Let me start by saying, I’m just a dad, not an expert. But nonetheless, the responsibility which follows when being a part of putting children into this world is undeniably mine. When I first became a father in 2007, I guess I was thrilled and scared like everyone else joining the world of parenting. The scary thoughts for me in the beginning was how in the world I was supposed to be able to take care of something that small and innocent. I didn’t have any concerns with regards to the ages 2-10, because in my head, that would be the prime years. A period where I as a father could be a part of every little thing that my children experienced. I would support them in whichever pathway they would choose, I would guide them, and I would not be judgmental. Of course, I had my concerns with regards to the teen years, but that was miles away (and still is…). No, I could handle this, the lack of sleep, defying children, upbringing in general, table manners, you name it. I was ready! I didn’t even think about putting ADHD and Tourette Syndrome into the equation.
Now, 11 years later, I’m starting a blog to share my feelings and thoughts, so that hopefully other parents with similar challenges can find it useful to read about my experiences. How’s that for a change? I guess I’m desperate, or perhaps I finally have admitted to myself that I personally need to change in order to understand my children better. I have to take a deep look into my own convictions, and rearrange them. Was I wrong from the beginning? You tell me.
I know that there are people having it worse than our family, and I’m not here to compete. But, I hope that my everyday experiences can be a support to others with similar challenges. I know that one often feel alone, and that hearing other people’s stories can help coping everyday challenges.
I started my parenting with the idea that I could handle it. I guess I do, but it’s not as I had expected. Probably the same you will hear from everybody else after a certain amount time into parenthood. Why am I different? I guess I’m not. But I see now that my children are. Perhaps not different (wrong word which categorizes them), but they have other challenges in their life than I had when I grew up. I have over the years lacked the understanding I need in order to be able to guide them properly in everyday challenges. I thought that other people was the ones that didn’t understand, but I was wrong. It was me all along. I have done my best to guide them in order to fulfill my own expectations. Expectations regarding self-control and concentration abilities. I thought that if I just was strict enough, they would adjust. They would learn over time, if I just was to remain consistent. I guess that to some extent they will, but they are affected in so many other ways than the rest of us can imagine. For instance my eldest son (having Tourette’s Syndrome) reacts negatively to larger crowds, and he is sensitive to high sounds. How can he fully adjust to “normal” behaviour if his mind is affected by the level of the sound in the room? Not just psychologically, but neurologically. Maybe if you compare it to the feeling you have inside your body when standing in front of an audience doing a speech. You can learn to cope, but you struggle (some of us at least). Imagine feeling like that every time you hear a high sound. I know I wouldn’t cope.
I’m not to arrest myself completely. My children are great. They have manners and they know right from wrong. And I like to believe that I took some part in that. They are two different individuals which struggle with different challenges. One having Tourette’s syndrome, and the other having ADHD. What can I say, they are great. But it is the frustration inside me that has been the deafening source to the challenges. Every time one of them have been acting out, either in public or at home, my own frustration has been the driving force of the situation. They have acted as their feelings tell them to act, and I have acted without the proper understanding of the subordinate reason of their behaviour. I am the adult. It’s my job to act accordingly. That also means that I have to be able to understand my children. Without the proper understanding, I start to act according to my own feelings.
Some people have told me; “Just tell him how it is. Be strict and firm” or “You are not consistent enough, they do whatever they want”. To hear that is devastating. I feel that I’m consistent, I feel that I’m strict. But it doesn’t matter when the little person receiving the messages isn’t responding as I want. The more strict I am, the more resistance I get. That is indescribably frustrating! It conjures low self-esteem as a parent, and you end up doing all the wrong things. Being angry and out of control. The situation gets out of hand and you fail in yet another situation. This has happened a lot, and it will probably happen again. Of that, I’m sure.
But now I have gotten a new addition to may parental tool box. I have finally understood that the importance of understanding is fundamental, and that it is crucial in the dealing of everyday situations. But with this enlightenment there comes other enlightenment’s. I have to realize that my children will not change. I must change. I must use my understanding to cope with the fact that the frustrational situations will not stop. It’s just the way I deal with them that has the sole influence.
So here I am, fully enlighten, but still frustrated. How can I manage to stay calm and understanding in every situation? How can I avoid that my frustration gets the better of me? I’m not sure. What I am sure of is that my sons struggle at least as hard as me. I know that my youngest want’s to do better ( he told me so…. and I cried when he did), so I have to stay stronger. As a parent, as an adult, as the one that’s supposed to be the parent. I will cope.