I have many friends with kids who are reaching their developmental milestones on time, give or take a month or two.
I’m talking about good parents who nurture their children, and who are considered and wise in their child-raising strategies.
Many of my friends are passionate about parenting, and, with the best will in the world, want to share their experiences with other struggling parents.
By and large I enjoy these parent-to-parent conversations and the sense of support and camaraderie they bring.
But every so often, when I’ve had one of those not-so-successful mornings of physically wrestling my son into his clothes, running round the house after him as he seeks to throw every object he can find, and rescuing my two year old from his not-so-affectionate grip, I would rather walk on hot coals that converse with the mother of a normally developing child.
There are times when the best-intentioned parenting advice in the world makes me want to scream: “Your child didn’t spend 9 months trapped in a high-risk pregnancy that was probably hell on earth. He didn’t face the trauma of early separation. Twice. He doesn’t have a random set of neurological symptoms that no one fully understands, least of all himself.”
Most of us parents of kids with special needs are not lacking in parenting wisdom. We’re just often lacking confidence in our own abilities because we’ve taken more knockings than a lot of other parents.
Sometimes what we really need is not some new, revelatory advice that either trivializes what we’re going through or makes us feeling guilty because we can’t put it into action in our crazy lives where we’re just holding on by our fingernails.
Sometimes the best thing someone else can say is: “I know it’s tough. You’re doing a great job! Just hang on in there!”
Sometimes something as simple as that is enough to bring encouragement and hope. And the perspective to see one bad day for what it really is. Just a bad day. Tomorrow may well be surprisingly good.