By Kodey Toney
My Selfish Heart
We parents are selfish. It's true if you really think about it. Some of you are probably saying, “Hey I give to my kids, and I do everything I can for my kids. I want to give them everything.” For the most part that's true. The majority of us work hard for our kids to give them a better life than we had. However, when it comes to public opinion we are really very selfish. Most of us don't realize this until we have a child with a disability or a behavior issue.
You see, what happens is that we think, “Oh no, I'm going to look like a bad parent,” or, “Oh no, my child is a brat, and that's going to reflect on me.” What we really should be thinking is, “What's best for my child, and why are they acting like this?”
There has to be a reason for their actions. As the old saying goes behavior is communication. If a child is acting out, most of the time there's a reason. They’re not just doing it because they want to be a brat. This is especially true for those on the autism spectrum disorder.
We work really hard to give our children therapy, and all the tools that they need to do better in school or life. When it comes to taking them out in the public we are worried about what other parents are going to think about us. At least this is true for me and many parents I talk with.
I've actually heard some parents say, “If you know they're going to act that way then why do you take them out in public?” Well there are two good reasons for this. Number one: I'm not at hermit. I don't live within the walls of my house, although for the majority I do because of this very reason at times. I tend to stay home because I just don't want to deal with the things that could happen. The second part, and most important part, is that I don’t want my child to live like that either. This is how we teach our children social skills. They will never learn how to act in public if they are not in public.
I'm in over-thinker. When I sit down to eat in a restaurant I start thinking, “Okay if this happens then this is going to happen.” I'm playing a chess game in my mind. I'm trying to think two or three moves ahead. If Konner has this then he's going to act like this, or if Konner does this then this could happen, or if that guy drops his fork and it makes a loud clanking noise then Konner is going to get upset.
What I should be doing, and often do, is explaining to Konner that this place is probably going to be really loud, and there are going to be people all over the place and it's probably going be very busy.
The strange part about this is that we are really just giving into what society thinks is normal, and what they expect from us and our children. What we should be thinking is, “Who cares.” I'm going to try to discipline my child, and I'm going to try to make them act as “normal” as possible in public. I'm going to try to give them everything they need in order to be able to go out into the public more often, but that's going to be rocky at first. There are going to be times when my child has a meltdown and there are times when my child is not going to conform to what most people think is acceptable. However, the more we do it the better things will become.
We can't live a sheltered life just because our children are on the spectrum. We can't live in a bubble. If we do then what we are expecting is for a child to live in a bubble for the rest of their life as well. What we really want is for them to be able to go out in the public and be able to do what other people do. If they can't then, again, who cares? Those people need to learn acceptance.