Originally, I wrote this article to address the general challenges of raising complex kids. Now that we find ourselves suffering from PFS (Pandemic Fatigue Syndrome), it feels like it's time to share it again. The issues are the different, and yet it's all the same. Are you looking only at your struggles, or are you ready to find a path to look for the positives in parenting complex kids? I assure you it makes all the difference!
I wear a pendant around my neck that gets me through everything. A quote from the Song of Solomon, in English it translates to, “This Too Shall Pass.”
At times, my necklace gets me through the really hard stuff, a reminder that I can endure great challenge. If I could survive a 30 hour labor, I remind myself, I can handle anything!
At other times, my necklace reminds me to slow down and appreciate the good in life. I tend to blaze through the day at a typically rapid-ADHD-style pace, so it helps to have a regular reminder literally hitting me in the chest.
In coaching, we call my necklace a “structure,” a concrete reminder that helps me hold on to a perspective. In this case, it reminds me, constantly, to live in gratitude of whatever is happening in my life – even through those “growth opportunities” that I'd rather avoid.
As parents with complex kids, sometimes our roads are really rocky.
We've all shed our share of tears, broken down when we weren't sure we could keep going, and allowed fear to create terrible visions for the future. In our “different” world, with constantly shifting expectations and no guarantees, it can be difficult to feel grounded. Most of us are all-too-good at noticing the hard times.
But, what about the good times?
Do you find them a challenge to recognize? Are they too often trumped by some compelling reason to be fearful or unhappy? No matter what is going well, we are conditioned to recognize the problems. But here's an important question: How do you condition yourself to celebrate the successes?
This is a great time to search for the positives and celebrate the little victories in our kids' lives. Just participating in chorus can be a huge success, or maybe standing more still for a haircut than in previous years.
When we take the time to notice, we can see successes in the small steps – like our kid's taking pride in a year-end project, or getting up and getting started even though they're REALLY tired of school, or actually studying for a final exam, or committing to an activity despite its difficulty.
In these little victories, we not only find opportunity to celebrate our child's growth, and positively reinforce their development, but we also catch glimpses of who they are becoming. I talk to parents every day who are fearful for their child's future, concerned that their child is going to end up failing at life.
But here's a really big lesson from what we know about the brain: What we pay attention to grows. When we look for our children's failures, we will find them in spades. And when we condition ourselves to look for their successes, we can watch their futures unfold in front of us…and it's a wonderful sight to see.
I encourage you to look for the positives in parenting.
I invite you to search for the positives in parenting your complex kids using the wisdom of the ages: this too shall pass. The good things and the bad things – they're all temporary. Whether you're trying to find the positives in virtual school after your child finally got back in the swing of things, or find a way to enjoy all of the obligations, special projects and endless complications of navigating school life – you get to choose how you experience it.
Look for tiny successes, and remember that they are glimmers of possibility. Not only will that help you take the time to focus on the good stuff, but it will help your child see what they are capable of doing well. That's a moment of gratitude worth noting. The positives of parenting come in the most unexpected places!