A little validation never hurt anyone

One of the things that I’ve found really frustrating along my Autism Parenting journey is a lack of validation.

It used to be that when we would send our kids to their Grandparents for a little while, they would come home and we would be told how well they behaved.  I think most parents would take that as a compliment.

In my case, I hated hearing that.  I know that probably sounds crazy so let me explain.

First of all, I have amazing kids but they’re unbelievably difficult to manage.  I struggle every single day to maintain my patience, sanity and my family’s forward motion.  It’s not easy.  It’s not easy by a mile.
There are times that I feel like such a horrible parent because I just couldn’t keep up with the kids or the house or our lives in general.

I dropped the ball on so many things and I still do.

I feel overwhelmed pretty much all the time and my level of exhausting is immeasurable.

While I love my kids to infinity and beyond, I’m also very much aware of how difficult and challenging they are to care for.  That’s my reality.

When someone spends time with our kids, brings them home and tells us just how well behaved they were, my head just feels like it’s going to explode.

Don’t get me wrong, I love that my kids do well when they aren’t with us.

That being said, way back in the day, I would hear how well they did and wonder what I was doing wrong.  Why were the kids so well behaved for them and not us?

Turns out, they weren’t always so well behaved but no one wanted us to feel bad because the kids were hard for them to manage. They absolutely meant well but what happened was that we would end up feeling terrible anyway.

The truth is that all we wanted to hear was how tough they were to manage because it meant that it wasn’t just us.  We needed to hear things like I don’t know how you do it.. because it validated our daily struggle. We needed to hear OMG.. He melted down for over an hour.. 

Does that make sense to anyone?

We needed and still do need to hear that it’s not just us.  We needed and still do need to hear how much they struggled with our kids because it helps us to feel like maybe we aren’t such terrible parents after all. Maybe it isn’t just us….

After all these years, we usually just hear how it really went now. Everyone’s become much more comfortable and they understand that we don’t need our feelings protected. We just need the truth because the truth can be validating and that can make a big difference in the lives of Autism parents.

Am I alone in this or are there others who totally get this?

6 Comments

  1. Jimmy Rock

    Another angle on this is represented by the kid who can generally keep it together at school or social outings but falls apart once they get home because of the effort it takes to keep it together. “But your child does so well when (s)he is here…” That can seem like it’s either expressing disbelief that the child behaves differently in different settings, and/or a subtle dig at parenting skills…

    In your case, I get it. But I guess the best way to look at it is that it was all well intentioned, and if I had to pick between being validated or having people around who are willing to give me a break from time to time, I’d take the latter. Of course, it’s nice to have both…

  2. mindfulmom

    From a parent stand point, I understand this, especially hyperactivity and impulse issues. How many times do you hear people say “oh they are just boys” or “they have lots of energy put them in sports”
    Well…there is energy and there is exhausting energy that requires adult tag team efforts to manage. And children are not robots, a lot of adhd and spectrum children struggle with the social/competitive/motor skill aspect of organized sports. So while suggestions are great they are not always practical application wise to your child.
    So yeah I hear you. When people make those comments or you get the side eye from relatives you just want them to have one month (because one week of sleep depravation and constant vigilance doesn’t really tax the adrenal system the way a month does) full time.

    And as a side note I would never trade my children. But I have often dreamt of an invention that froze time so I could sleep or just have moments to breath and organize my thoughts rather than react to the crisis at hand.

    1. Very, very, very well said. You’re exactly right. It’s disheartening when people try to provide you with simple solutions to a complex problem and when you try to explain it won’t work, they think you’re either lazy or just making excuses…
      Very frustrating and even a bit demoralizing..

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