Woo hoo! Encouragement in parenting.
My son Grant, who will be 11 in August, is showing some encouraging signs.
Parenting him has always been a challenge, because of his Nonverbal Learning Disorder, which is (depending on which doctor you speak to) essentially a form of high-functioning autism, where his world revolves around HIM and HIM alone. He has no filters for, “How would this affect others?” and many of the discipline issues we deal with, with him, are strikingly similar to the issues about which we have to correct Audrey, who is newly-turned 4 years old. It has always been extremely difficult to determine what is an area in him where he needs correction/discipline, and what is an area where he truly, honestly, does not understand, and he just needs more and more and more teaching. I will freely admit that it’s been discouraging and frustrating to say the same things, over and over to him, on a daily basis, many on a multiple-time-daily basis, for — literally — YEARS. (Things like, “If you sow bad seeds, you reap bad fruit. You can’t do the wrong thing and expect good results from it.” Along the same lines: “You just did the same thing that you did one hour ago, for which you received discipline. Why are you surprised that you are receiving more discipline? If it’s not OK an hour ago, or yesterday, or last year, it’s not OK now, either. Please expect to be disciplined if you choose to do something that you know is wrong. Please stop being surprised that your parents correct your poor behavior/attitude.” Or, “You may not change the rules in the middle of the game to favor yourself. You cannot cheat to win.” Or, “You can’t rip a toy out of someone’s hands just because you want it.” Or, “Just because you got hurt while playing with others, it’s not necessarily because that person harbors ill will towards you and that s/he meant to hurt you. It was an accident.”)
However, in recent weeks, there have been two events that have brought great encouragement to my heart, and hope that he just may be starting “get” it, and that all of what we’ve sown into him might not be in vain.
The first is this: After a meal, he picked up his brother’s plate from the table. Now, this may not seem like a big deal to you, but it was HUGE — HUGE!!! — to me. First, he noticed that his brother had mistakenly left his plate on the table after lunch was over. Secondly, he said to himself, “I can remedy this situation.” Thirdly, he DID something about it. Huge. I was in shock, and gushing with my appreciation and encouragement and thanks for Grant’s gesture.
The second thing was: We were preparing to depart for something, and Ethan, who is my right-hand-boy, was not at home. So, over about a 20-minute time span, I rattled off a series of instructions — one at a time; he still has a very difficult time assimilating multi-step lists or tasks — “OK. This needs to be done.” Grant did it, then came back to me for for further direction. Whatever I asked, he did, and did well. He stayed alert, waiting for instruction, and set himself to the task with focus. He actually helped us get out the door. Again, I was in shock, and gave copious thanks and encouragement to him. To the best of my memory, Grant has never done this, previously. Usually, he shirks tasks, makes himself scarce when he’s needed, whines when put to work, and has a general attitude of, “If I didn’t make the mess and/or if the effort doesn’t directly profit me, I won’t do it. Or, if you make me do it, I will conjure up the most wounded attitude, because, obviously, you’re being unfair to me by making me contribute to the welfare of the family at large.”
I confess I have, many times, extrapolated his 10-year-old attitude, and come up with scenarios that aren’t pretty, about his life as an adult. Obviously, we still have at least eight-ish years remaining with him in our home, and one would hope to see him grow in maturity. However, there have definitely been times where I have despaired, and thought that he would never get it. And, this isn’t just idle hopelessness; it’s based out of seeing years of instruction matter not one whit to him, and reading case studies of adults with his same disorder (which I have since stopped doing — there are a number of new books out on Nonverbal Learning Disorder, and I tend to find them highly discouraging), because for many of them, the lights NEVER turn on that they live in a world with other people who are at least as important as they are; many NEVER learn to prioritize others, or act in a manner that defers to others. I have prayed many times that this would NOT be my son, and continually ask the Father for wisdom in my parenting of Grant; I refuse to believe that he’s just going to be a “statistic.” Still. It’s hard on a mother’s heart to deal daily with the same issues and never see growth.
So, even these small events are treasured up in my heart, and I’m thankful to the Father for giving me encouragement regarding my dear son.
Posted on April 12, 2010, in Character Development, Christian Living, Encouragement, Family, Introspective Musings, Motherhood, Nonverbal Learning Disorder, Parenting, The Kids. Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.