Saturday, September 20, 2008

at what point do you have to let go?

I just got off the phone with my sister and am feeling a bit blue. She is really struggling and I wish I could do something to help. Her son also has SPD, along with motor planning problems, auditory and visual processing problems, etc. He has made enormous progress, but now that he has started first grade, he is struggling with school. My sister is understandably overwhelmed: she works full-time as a social worker, has two kids, takes care of the house and all the requisite mothering responsibilities.

What is really getting her down, though, is not just the problems her son is having now, but what he might potentially struggle with in the future. She has read articles that discuss the many emotional problems kids with learning disabilities deal with and the fact that they often turn to alcohol, drugs, promiscuity, and even crime. My sister is beside herself with worry. And now I am a bit worried myself.

I tried to reassure her, but she really wasn't in a place to accept what I was saying. I think she just needed to vent. She claims that she doesn't want to be comforted, because she is afraid that will lead her to complacency and she feels like she cannot let her guard down for a moment or her son may not get all the help he needs. I am different in this respect; I need to feel like there is hope and that all the therapy and activities we do with Danny make a difference. I don't like to feel that disaster is inevitable.

I know it is true that Danny may in the future struggle with self-esteem issues due to his sensory problems, especially if he has problems in school. And of course that concerns me. But, then again, I have struggled with self-esteem issues my entire life and I did quite well in school. Luckily, I never did anything truly self-destructive as a teen, though I definitely have my share of regrets (mostly in the form of who I chose to date and how I let them treat me). I know plenty of people who had no learning problems, people who life actually came really easily to, who ended up destroying everything with drugs and crime. So, I really don't think this is specific to kids with learning problems. Truthfully, it scares me to death that one of my children could end up turning to drugs, but I have to believe that I can make a difference. I may not be able to control their choices, but I know that all I do as their mother now affects their choices in the future, right? Right?

Am I naive to believe that if I love my children and do my very best to show and teach them that they are loved and worthwhile people this will help? I just have to believe that if I teach them that God loves them and that they can turn to Him they will be ok, even if they make heartbreaking decisions. If I teach them to respect themselves and others, and help them have opportunities to develop their talents, surely this will help them develop self-esteem. Maybe this is really old-fashioned, but I am clinging to the belief that if my husband and I spend a lot of quality time with our children, they will know they can come to us with their problems as teens. I am not totally deluded, though. I know there will be plenty they don't share with me, but I just cannot focus on that right now.

I don't really know what my point here is. I guess I just needed to let some of this out after my phone conversation. I wonder what you think of all this. Really, these concerns must be pretty much universal. What mother doesn't worry that her child will do drugs or get mixed up in the wrong crowd and make devastating choices? What mother isn't concerned with helping her child develop healthy self-esteem? The question is when do you just have to have faith in what you are doing and that it makes a difference? When do you just have to put those terrible worries out of your head and focus on the joy of being with your child?


kia (good enough mama) said...

I don't think you're naive at all. I think you're just aware of your limits. As moms, all we can do is love our kids and attempt to prepare them for what the world will hold. We can't control the future; we can only hope to prepare our kids in the best way possible.

That's not to say that I'm not scared out of my mind about what will become of my anxious, SPD LIttle Man. It's just to say that I realize I can only do so much.

I feel badly for your sister. We all struggle with this, but I imagine that parents of "special needs" kids struggle more than most...

mrsbear said...

Speaking for myself, I think it's always in the back of my mind but not really in the forefront. We try to keep communication open with our children, try to be honest with them, and explain things to them plainly, so that hopefully when the time comes they can make an educated decision and not one based on ignorance or peer pressure. That being said, I think all children to a degree are susceptible to that.

I was also a good student struggling with self-esteem and I know it had much to do with my mother's kind of detached parenting. I was smart and aware but many times I did make poor decisions, just for the sake of doing so.

I think after a certain point, so many things are outside of our control. What can we do but let go and pray our guidance will help them make good choices?

We can always lock them in a tower, I guess.

Elizabeth Channel said...

I feel for your sister and while I, too, find myself swirling into this pit of fear quite frequently, I have to remind myself that it is fear controlling *me* and that God is in control. I read Ps. 139 and become reminded that faith is the opposite of fear.

That is what I cling to. I hope your sister can find some peace.

Elizabeth Channel said...

OK, let me cheer you up with another blog award. See my site for details.

(You don't have to post it if you don't want to, though, *seriously*.)

Stonefox (otherwise known as Heidi) said...

You're right, these concerns are universal. And I also think you are right about spending lots of time with your kids...a sense of security and love is foundational to a successful life.

There is no perfect parent. Society isn't helpful in many regards either. But that doesn't mean that our kids are doomed. In fact, God specialized in showing what He can do in a fallen world and in imperfect lives like our own. You are right to look at the positives and the hopeful.

Susan said...

Oh God Patti I have felt the same as B.
It is my hope that our awareness- the understanding that will keep our awesome kids above the fray.
In tears for B send her LOVE!

bernthis said...

found you through good enough mama. The one thing I've learned in life is to do "disaster thinking". That is going so far down the road to where things are just out of control. I work very hard to stay in today. It's very difficult but it does work. Tell your sister all we have is today. NOt tomorrow, just today and to do the best she can with it. You are right many of us worry about the "what ifs?" I too had very low self esteem and although it definitely affected my life, today, I am very very happy and although it takes work, it is possible.