This post was written by Carrie Powers, who attended the Tuesday’s Child Behavioral Management Program with her son several years ago. Carrie has stayed engaged with TC as a Parent Trainer and also sits on the Board of Directors.
When I first called Tuesday’s Child many years ago I was standing on a street corner in tears because my child refused to get out of the car to go into a Kindermusik class. He was four years old. I was 40. Although I didn’t realize it at the time, allowing my son to stay in the car was my first act of letting go, something I have done over and over again on my parenting journey since attending the behavior intervention program at Tuesday’s Child.
Most importantly, I let go of the belief that I could raise my two children all by myself. I was not then, nor am I now, a single parent. I have a wonderful husband who is a fantastic father. However, as a stay-at-home mom, the majority of daily parenting decisions and caregiving fall to me. That first telephone call to TC was definitely the start of a conscience effort to seek and graciously accept all the help I can get.
I also let go of some fears that day. Foremost was the fear of change. I’m not naturally great with change and was initially worried that the 12-week program would disrupt our lives. It seems pretty silly now that a 12-week program was a road block for me but that was my truth at the time. I’m grateful every day that I let go of that fear and allowed our lives to be monumentally changed for the better. I remember this every time I need to change our routine, implement new household rules or attempt to modify an undesirable behavior.
On that street corner I also began to let go of the fear of embarrassment. I’ve heard that you should only compare a child to themselves but before TC I certainly didn’t follow that rule. I wanted my kids to behave better than other kids because that would mean I was a good parent and my decision to quit work and stay home full time was justified. But it wasn’t that I feared others would think I was a bad parent. Deep down I had to accept that there was a big gigantic problem with my son’s behavior. I had to admit that I had “that kid” – you know, the one that everyone says is great to your face but then talks about when you’re not around. The child that won’t get asked to play dates because their too rough, too loud, too, “you fill in the blank”. I had to let go of the idea that his behavior was just how boys act or that he would magically grow compliant and cooperative when he got older.
Accepting that my son and I are doing the best we can definitely ebbs and flows. I know all parents struggle and that all kids have “their moments”. However, I also know that parenting my TC guy is much more difficult than parenting his equally strong-willed sibling. It requires constant interventions, vigilance, doctor’s appointments and school advocacy. It requires letting go of the desire for a holiday photo card where my son doesn’t wear sweatpants. It requires letting go of embarrassment when I apologize to his school friends for his bad choices. It requires letting go of resentment every single time buying new shoes ends in exhaustion. It requires looking across the restaurant table at my son, reading a book with a hoody pulled tightly around his head and letting go of the belief that his actions are wrong in some way.
During my parenting journey, I had to let go of what my child isn’t and choose to embrace the fantastic and amazing person that he is- challenges and all. I’m not saying it’s easy or comes naturally all the time. Who doesn’t just want their kids to listen simply because we ask them to do so? Truthfully, TC kids are amazing not in spite of their challenges but because of them. They work harder than their “normal” peers every single day to grow up in our confusing, loud, smelly and scary world. For all their extra effort, they get way less credit and praise. Letting go of the belief life is fair. Check off that box too.
Letting go of so many things has been an effortful experience. One that I would not have been as successful at these past years without the conscience decision to let go of one final thing, silence. Instead of keeping our struggles a secret I choose to speak out about our experiences. In order to embrace our new normal, I had to let go of the belief that there should be a shame and stigma associated with any of the following- behavioral challenges, sensory processing issues, never ending praise & incentives, occupational therapy, ADHD, medication, 504 plans, or talk therapy. I am extremely open and honest about my son and our experiences with teachers, other parents, family members, strangers in the store check-out line… you get the idea. Speaking out most certainly has the potential to help so many other people, but, most important to me is that speaking out has the potential to help my son. And in the end, everything I’ve let go of is for his gain.