Parenting is hard. There are no two ways about it. Parenting kids with unique challenges like autism, ADHD, anxiety, mental illness, or other physical/emotional disability can be even more complicated. I’ve been a parent for over two decades now, and I’m still learning. My parenting experience is mainly special needs in nature but believe it or not; there is some overlap with more typical parenting. Also, we should acknowledge that some people are terrible parents. That’s just the way it is. That being said, the overwhelming majority of parents out there are so much more amazing then they give themselves credit for.
As parents, we have the best of intentions, and while none of us are perfect, we strive to give our kids the best lives we possibly can.
Sometimes, no matter how hard we try, our kids will struggle. We can do everything right, and our kids can still struggle. It’s really easy to find blame within ourselves. If only I was a better parent, or I must be doing something wrong. I’ve played the what am I doing wrong game far too many times myself. The absolute truth of the matter is that sometimes our kids will struggle, and it’s not our fault.
Sometimes it isn’t easy to understand because our kids have a good life. They have a good home where they are safe, warm, loved, and want for nothing. As parents who haven’t been kids for a long time, it can be hard to wrap our heads around this, and that doesn’t mean it’s theirs either.
A wise person once said, shit happens. I don’t know who coined the phrase but they’re not wrong.
The truth is, it’s not easy being a kid, and as adults, I think we can forget that sometimes. Kids today have so much more to worry about than we did growing up. Between social media, bullying (on and offline), hormones, gun violence, our schools falling apart, ridiculous state testing, social unrest, racial injustice, and living through the worst global health crisis of our lifetimes, kids have so much more to worry about than we ever did. When you stop and think about that, it’s a wonder our kids do as well as they do. I think that’s a testiment to their strength and resilience, as well as, our epic parenting.
Even if we were perfect parents, our kids would still struggle. The world is a fucked up place, and as adults, we struggle to exist in it sometimes. Our kids lack the life experience and coping abilities we have gained over the years. That puts them at a considerable disadvantage. Some of our kids are neurodiverse and that can make life even more challenging for them.
The bottomline is this. Sometimes, our kids are going to struggle. That’s life. It sounds a little callous but it’s true. They will go through periods that may be extremely difficult for them to navigate and challenging for us to manage as parents. This is especially true when it comes to our teenagers. It can be confusing and overwhelming for us as parents, especially when you are looking at accountability for problem behaviors or bad choices. Rest assured, there’s likely to be an element of choice sprinkled somewhere inside of whatever they’re going through. We have to remember that it may be even more confusing and overwhelming for our kids going through it. As parents, we have to figure out where the line is and sometimes the best way to help them is by holding them accountable. Every situation is different and the tough part is trying to figure out what’s what.
I’m a fixer, and I’ll probably die on that hill, but there are times where I can’t fix everything. I can’t take away the pain or struggle my kids are experiencing, and sometimes I can’t even figure out why they’re struggling; I just know they are.
My kids can drive me crazy, and I’ve been candid about that over the years. When one or more of my kids are going through a rough time, there can be times where I question whether I’m strong enough to survive it. I can feel like I’m going crazy, I can lose my patience, and say things I later regret. In these moments, I have to remind myself that I’m human, learn what I can, and move forward.
As parents, we can’t always make things better for our kids, and they have to ride the wave of whatever they’re dealing with. I know it’s not easy, but sometimes all we can do is give them a safe place to experience these things, as well as provide them with the love, and support they need to get through it.
Keep your head chin up. You’re a great parent. Our kids are human, just like us. They will experience things in life that take time, patience, and a lot of love to get through. While you can’t fix everything, your kids are lucky to have you to go through their whatever with. Believe it or not, way too many kids don’t have a parent who can or is willing be that for them. I know it’s easy to get swallowed up by the darkness but try to remain positive. Keep putting one foot in front of the other, find the strength to get back up, take care of yourself, and reach out for help when you need it.
Remember that you aren’t a perfect parent, but you’re the perfect person to parent your kid. ☺