Autism and overprotective parenting

I need to come clean about something. I realize this may come as a shock to you all but….I’m an……overprotective parent. There I said it. I am an overprotective parent. Man, that feels good to get out. The truth is that I don’t mean to be overprotective, I just love and worry about my kids so much. I have seen too many things happen and I know how the world treats kids that are “different”. I’m worried that trying to shield them from some of life’s “unpleasantries” is robbing them of invaluable experience. However, at the same time, isn’t it our job as their parents to protect them from all that we can? I mean, after all, our kids are Autistic, and more sensitive to things….right? They are more prone to be taken advantage of or even hurt by others, so shouldn’t we help to filter the world out for them?

The reason I’m writing this is because while it’s true, I very much struggle with being an overprotective parent, I have also realized something. I spend all this time and effort making sure that the world doesn’t treat my kids in an unfair manner or just differently that I sometimes don’t realize that I’m guilty of treating them differently myself. My kids are different, as they are all on the Autism Spectrum and they do require a unique approach to life in general BUT they are still just kids. I look back on my life quite a bit lately and I realize that my kids are living a VERY sheltered existence. I’m distressed by this because I want them to have as a “normal” a life as possible. I want them to be kids and have fun, just like I did growing up. I want them to experience the things in life that help to shape their character and personality. I want them to have friends and play outside. Granted, some of these things are harder to do then others but isn’t it still possible?

The problem I have with this is letting go enough to allow them to experience these things. It’s hard to do when I worry about them all the time. Life is tough for anyone and that can be especially true for special needs kids. I need to let go enough so they can experience “real life”, within reason of course. There may always be limitations and safety concerns but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t have to chance to test some of those limitations, every once in a while….right? I need to come to grips with this because life is so much more then positive experiences. It’s the negative ones that sometimes make us who we are. If I keep my kids from experiencing some of the ups and downs that life has to offer, I’m doing the very thing I have been fighting so hard to prevent. I need to learn to stand by them through life instead of infront of them, trying to filter life.

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