If there are two emotions that drive many parents of autistic children, it is guilt and worry. Especially in the first months following a diagnosis, these two emotions can be pretty overwhelming.
What will happen to my child? What will her future be like? Will he ever be “normal”? Go to school? Have friends? That’s worry.
Guilty feelings are more like: Feeling bad for the times I yelled at him. Did not spend enough time with her. Started therapy too late. Did not try this or that intervention. And the biggest one of all — did we somehow give him autism?
These emotions are all valid. Even normal. Many people, in fact, use them to to motivate action. Exercising hard today because you feel guilty about all the junk food eaten last night. Working till the a.m. because you worry about meeting targets.
I used to be that way too. Sometimes I still am. But the Son-Rise Program and Playroom (SRP) has taught me many things. And a big one is — letting go of guilt and worry enables me to become a better parent for my child.
Acting from a place of guilt and worry, after all, is much of it a habit. Think about it. We exercise like crazy because we binge ate last night. But does that really give you a good feeling when you exercise? Are there other ways, better ways to motivate yourself? Ways that will clear your head, lighten your mood, and give you joy in the doing?
Because that is what worry and guilt does to your psyche. It robs you of the joy that is present in the experience. And in parenting especially, that is powerful. Because a child can sense when a person is interacting with her from a place of love, happiness, acceptance, versus a place of worry, guilt, criticism and sadness. It doesn’t matter if we claim the latter emotions came from love. The child can feel all those heavy emotions and expectations like a weight on his shoulders, pretty much like how they are weighing down our own. And it will burden your interaction.
So the best thing we can do as a parent? Learn to let go of guilt and worry. Choose love and acceptance over them. And part of it is loving and accepting not just our kids for who they are, but also ourselves. Of our past, and our choices. Then is then, we can’t change that. But we can change the now. As long as we believe that a loving and accepting attitude triumphs over guilt and worry, and is the BEST for our child… You will be surprised how easy it is to do.