What do I say?


Okay,  for starters,  this is going to be a very sensitive topic.  I realize that and so I want to handle this in a way that is both non-offensive but gets my point across at the same time. So please keep an open mind.

Having said that,  here is the question I want to ask you.

What do I say to Gavin when he talks about having kids when he gets older?

Please keep in mind that I’m not making a blanket statement here at all.  I’m only referring to my particular situation and asking you for advice. I’m in no way shape or form, making a blanket statement about Autistic persons in general.

The reason I’m asking this is because for awhile now,  Gavin has been talking about having children. I realize that he is only a almost teenager (I refuse to say tween)  but he’s pretty dead set on this happening and brings it up quite often.

Now this is where you will either understand and empathize or not get it and hate me.

Every time he says something about having his own kids,  I subconsciously shutter at the thought.  I know how that makes me sound but as much as I truly love Gavin,  having kids is not in his future.

He has so many problems on his own…I just can’t imagine a world were that would be a good idea. I will never give up on Gavin,  but he will likely never live independently with out help. That’s just the reality of the situation.

I feel horrible even thinking that,  but it’s one of those ugly truths that are going to be there whether I want them to be or not.

I never want to discourage any of my children’s dreams but I just don’t know what to do with this one. Honestly,  most people that know Gavin,  first hand,  feel the same way and for the same reasons.

With that said,  while the chances are slim to none, it’s not out of the realm of possibility for things in Gavin’s life to drastically change for the better.  He’s a fighter and if anyone will defy the odds,  it would be Gavin. I just don’t want to perpetuate a dream that I really don’t see happening.

Look,  I’m totally aware this makes me look like an asshole,  but my goal is to be as honest as possible,  regardless of how it makes me look.

This subject is something that has me a bit worried because he appears to really be looking forward to this. He’s asking me to make plans for the future in regards to his kids and I don’t know what to say. Up until now,  I have simply supported his dreams and encouraged him to pursue them. Sometimes I redirect when I don’t know what else to say.

Have any of your kids had similar dreams or ambitions?  How have you handled it?

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Oh good, he is younger than 15! Even better! ;0)

I recognize I may come from a stance many may not and that is OK. We all walk our own paths and our own journeys are unique. My son is almost 13 and has spoken of babies, getting married, at this stage, I do not see this happening but you just never know. I come from a way of thinking, “You can be or do or have anything” and “If you can dream it, the Universe can and will deliver it to you”. One of the things I simply want to reflect back to you is, when you have the thought, ‘you subconsciously shutter at the thought’ Please know, there is absolutely no judgement on my part, in my work, it is my job to reflect back to my students/clients what they are expressing. What I have found is, our children/teens/adults with autism are reflections of us, they will often reflect back what is going on within their own environment, the will continue to ‘pick at the scab’ so to speak until they get an answer that sounds more authentic in nature. So, as you find discomfort in his curiosity, he may be bringing it up more often to see the reaction, not just hear your reaction but feel the reaction from you. Play with that a bit the next time he brings it up. In your awareness of this, you have shifted your perception and he will be able to sense this. Then ask him a question you would ask a so-called typical 15 year old? How will you support your wife? Your children? Your home? Etc. Rather than having the feeling you typically do, give him something to think about. He is a fighter and will defy the odds as you said, but just because you are playing with conversation a little bit, doesn’t mean he will be able to go right out, you will make certain of that, etc. Sometimes when we try hard to control the situation, it amplifies the discomfort. By releasing a bit of the control, it will help release some of that angst you are feeling in those conversations. Another little piece of brain candy for you, you can take it or toss it, those diagnosed with autism hear our words sometimes but, they often sense or feel the meaning, energy or vibration of what we are thinking rather than simply hearing our verbal language. I have a sister who is in her 20’s, she was never diagnosed with autism, she was born in the 80’s, but if she were born today, she would most certainly be diagnosed with autism among other things. She too brought this up a lot in her teens, my dear mom constantly put it off, pretended the elephant was not in the room, etc. etc. Then I asked my mom to say, “So, Carla, what does that look like?” Asking her to express more than just the dream she had in her mind, bringing the conversation out into the open. It gave my sister more to think about and expanded her thoughts on the process. Long story short, Carla not longer obsesses about getting married, having children or having a boyfriend as she once did. By opening up the conversation, not that this ‘will’ happen, but by simply opening it up a little, allowed for more space for her to contemplate it all, kind of like allowing a deep breath rather than a short shallow breath. I hope this was helpful and sorry for the short story! ;0)

Connor's Gift~

Oh good, he is younger than 15! Even better! ;0)

I recognize I may come from a stance many may not and that is OK. We all walk our own paths and our own journeys are unique. My son is almost 13 and has spoken of babies, getting married, at this stage, I do not see this happening but you just never know. I come from a way of thinking, “You can be or do or have anything” and “If you can dream it, the Universe can and will deliver it to you”. One of the things I simply want to reflect back to you is, when you have the thought, ‘you subconsciously shutter at the thought’ Please know, there is absolutely no judgement on my part, in my work, it is my job to reflect back to my students/clients what they are expressing. What I have found is, our children/teens/adults with autism are reflections of us, they will often reflect back what is going on within their own environment, the will continue to ‘pick at the scab’ so to speak until they get an answer that sounds more authentic in nature. So, as you find discomfort in his curiosity, he may be bringing it up more often to see the reaction, not just hear your reaction but feel the reaction from you. Play with that a bit the next time he brings it up. In your awareness of this, you have shifted your perception and he will be able to sense this. Then ask him a question you would ask a so-called typical 15 year old? How will you support your wife? Your children? Your home? Etc. Rather than having the feeling you typically do, give him something to think about. He is a fighter and will defy the odds as you said, but just because you are playing with conversation a little bit, doesn’t mean he will be able to go right out, you will make certain of that, etc. Sometimes when we try hard to control the situation, it amplifies the discomfort. By releasing a bit of the control, it will help release some of that angst you are feeling in those conversations. Another little piece of brain candy for you, you can take it or toss it, those diagnosed with autism hear our words sometimes but, they often sense or feel the meaning, energy or vibration of what we are thinking rather than simply hearing our verbal language. I have a sister who is in her 20’s, she was never diagnosed with autism, she was born in the 80’s, but if she were born today, she would most certainly be diagnosed with autism among other things. She too brought this up a lot in her teens, my dear mom constantly put it off, pretended the elephant was not in the room, etc. etc. Then I asked my mom to say, “So, Carla, what does that look like?” Asking her to express more than just the dream she had in her mind, bringing the conversation out into the open. It gave my sister more to think about and expanded her thoughts on the process. Long story short, Carla not longer obsesses about getting married, having children or having a boyfriend as she once did. By opening up the conversation, not that this ‘will’ happen, but by simply opening it up a little, allowed for more space for her to contemplate it all, kind of like allowing a deep breath rather than a short shallow breath. I hope this was helpful and sorry for the short story! ;0)

Forgotten

I love so many of these suggestions. I suggest asking him what he would like about being a dad and then go from there. He may just be wanting to help you more around the house or do something like you do. It does sound to me like he has a particular plan in mind and maybe being able to work that out of him will give you an idea of what he's wanting.

Best of luck but will you keep in mind to come back and tell us how you handle it the next time he brings it up? I would love to know if you get a better understanding of why he wants to have kids. 🙂
My recent post Plucking the strings…

Beth

I agree with the previous poster. Just listen to Gavin and ask him questions. Ask him what would be fun about being a dad and what would be difficult. Ask him what he could do if…(give scenarios) Or and this is what I do sometimes to get kids to stop perseverating on a topic. I answer once and then ask very simple either/ or questions. Kid: Can we go play on the wet rainy playground. Me. No. Kid Can we go play on the wet rainy playground. Me. Do you like mustard or ketchup? French Fries or potato chips… cats or dog… elephants or hippos.. and so on until he no longer asks about the wet rainy playground. It has really decreased the number or repetitive questions from this kid… ( I know that Gavin's thing is different, but the same thing might work…)

lucie

I agree with the above. Use this as a starting point to find out why he wants to be a Daddy.
I went to a workshop on IEPs one day and the teacher said that if the child says he wants to be an NFL Star, but is a skinny little guy with poor coordination, one shouldn't say "No, you can't do this…"
Instead, use questions to find out why he wants to be in football. Maybe he just likes to run and be in the field. He can do something that involves football and you can channel into that as he grows. I am keeping this in mind.

I would stress that to have kids he should be in a healthy relationship. And that if he wants to be in a healthy relationship he needs to work on controlling his actions and being able to talk to other people about what each other like/need. Etc. I`m not sure if this will help but it does put the ball in his court…

PurpleLogic

What do you think you would tell a neurotypical girl of the same age when she tells you she plans to be a musician (she was tone deaf) or an actress or a professional cheerleader? All parents face the same sticky issues. You ask Gavin questions about how he plans to parent and tell him that fatherhood is a long way off. Tell him he must first finish school and be able to get a job and support himself before he can be a father. Those are truths that will never bite ya in the bum because they are true. I have a neurotypical 25 yr old daughter ( who is no more ready to be a mother than Gavin is to be a father) and an 18 yr old Apsie son. I do not believe I will be a Grandmother for many many years, but have always been honest with my children. I let them know what will be expected of them and how being a parent is a huge responsibility. It has worked thus far. Thankfully!

First off, you are so not an a*#hole! I feel that he looks up to you and all that you do! At least he wants to be a daddy! I have a princess and a future NFL hall of famer;)

Discussing ‘possibilities’ isn’t a finite thing. I know ASD kids like finite and definite, but life isn’t. 🙂

There are many ways to be a Caregiver. It all depends on context.

Being a biological or adoptive parent is one way to be a caregiver. Being a Foster Parent is another. Or a Big Brother/Big Sister. Scouters and Guiders are caregivers. Teachers and volunteers are. Babysitters and friends are.
Being a caregiver of some sort is entirely possible for our children, even the most profoundly affected; it just takes being creative and finding that ever precious balance in needs.

My son began his caregiving career by ‘helping’ in a kindergarten class over recesses, while he was in elementary school (grades 5 & 6). He was there to improve his self esteem and be safe indoors as recess was not safe for him. Later, in 8th Grade, he ‘helped’ in a grade 4 French class, to make up his mandatory French requirement* (in earlier grades he had been exempt from French).
My son is now in Grade 10 and does his mandatory high school volunteer community hours* in a local daycare, where his ASD is understood and his strengths played to. He is very proud of being a helper.

Gavin is obviously questing for a sense of himself as a caregiver or the possibilities for caregiving in his future. There may be community opportunities available for him in your area; Scouting, mentoring etc. Whatever fits his skills/needs and your time/resources. Being a big brother to his siblings may provide a beginning for Gavin. Does he share interests with his siblings? Are there activities that he can lead in/mentor in?

It will take time, effort and creativity to help Gavin find a sense of himself as a caregiver. Don’t be limited by the idea of ‘parenthood’ is my advice. Exploring the possibilities of ‘Caregiving’ may help.

*{We live in Canada }

oh rob what to say? rose is 18 and is convinced that she will marry a Chinese boy commute to Tokyo to work for Nintendo and live at home with her mum at weekends in the uk..all we can do as parents is be grateful our kids have dreams and protect them as far as possible from the mean ugly reality of life (even if that means we crumple inside as adults) love to you all

Allyson

I get it. When my 10 year old talks about having kids I sigh inside. I know that if she does, and she's likely to (she's already said she doesn't intend to get married, she wants kids, not a husband) that I will probably end up raising them. Anna doesn't have the predatory issues that you deal with, but she's aggressive, manipulative and explosive, often provoking and then causing physical harm to others. I hope that by the time kids are really a possibility our therapy and life changes will have made her a good candidate for motherhood, but my husband and I also live with the knowledge that we may raise our grandchildren… or worse, have to fight for the right to raise them in a stable household.

Beth

I totally understand where you're coming from, Rob, and I don't think you're being an asshole. I would probably just humor him for the time being, but on the positive side, you may be able to dig into some of his frustrations/emotions/dislikes about himself. I recall talking and thinking about having children one day at his age, and what I would do differently from my parents and what I liked about my mom & dad's parenting. It may be a window for you, and a safer one for Gavin, where he can unload some negative feelings without them being directly aimed at you. I don't think at his age it's at all giving him false hope…you know what your expectations are, but his future is wide open in his mind, and what's the harm in letting him have that view for now? As he gets older, this will change, but I'm sure Gavin won't be trying to have his own kids anytime soon, so I don't see anything wrong with allowing to hold onto this ideal a little longer, just as we do with all the hopes and dreams our kids express. JMHO…

Sharene

I guess what makes it more difficult is the fact that WHATEVER you say now, and indeed if you PROMISE anything, he will remember it….even years later. I feel for you. I'm thinking that you make sure he knows that you believe he is a bit of a legend, and that he will be the guy that makes his dreams come true…but that it is just TOO EARLY to think about his kids just yet. Maybe ask him to ask for your advice on THIS topic in five years time. ???? Good luck!

Lost_and_Tired

That is exactly what I\’m worried about. He will remember whatever I say and hold me to… For now I just try and avoid the question. 🙂

Wendy F

That's a tough one. My son is high-functioning but, like you with Gavin, I don't see him being "daddy" material unless he has a VERY competent, understanding, and loving wife. Which is not impossible, just highly improbable. With Sean it doesn't come up often but so far it's all been about getting married, not having kids, so I just smile and nod and redirect. I don't know what I'll do when it gets more in-depth. Thanks for the wake-up call, and I wish you the best with Gavin. Just know that you *don't* sound like an asshole; you sound like a concerned father. Nothing wrong with that.

Silachan

Is there any way to explain that worrying about kids is not something that he'll have to think about until he's much much older? I wish I could help ya out there.

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