“A mother need not be perfect, she only need be good enough.”
Welcome back to Deskraven, your mental health forum! Today we are talking about the tricky moments of being a meaningful guardian. As we enter into the weekend, let us reconsider our children as individuals rather than lord over them.
In my nearly nine years as a parent, nothing could have prepared me for yesterday morning. There is no rule book for children, but I’d like to think a common sense approach is somewhat universal. Sure, most of us know the basic needs of children: warmth, shelter, proper nutrition, cognitive development, affection, guidance and well fitting shoes – but the mind can seldom conceive of the tough clever quips of our children’s harder inquiries.
I do not support the tabula rasa (blank slate) theory that some Early Childhood Educators adhere to. Likewise, I find it plainly unethical to impose religious views on impressionable young minds. Instead, I believe our children are born with inherent temperaments and tendencies, and it is our job to nurture and direct their self development. For example, you may notice that your first child is naturally stubborn and sensitive while noting that your third child is laid back and inquisitive. Loving them equally, these two children maintain very different social-emotional needs.
My son is named Zachary, and he is seven years old with a temperament much like the stubborn sensitive child described above. My son faces challenges associated with an exceptional IQ and neurological differences. As such, supporting his personal truth while protecting and strengthening his self-esteem has always been my foremost priority.
Zachary has always been an exceptional communicator. In order to gauge his self confidence, I will casually check in with him by saying something like, “Hey buddy, how ya feelin’?” Usually his response is an honest reassurance, or a dilemma he is trying to navigate in school. However, on this day, among my words of affirmation, my sweet insightful son shed light on the fact that he feels loved, valued, and cherished by his family – but less so by the outside world.
In an instant my chest tightened and my eyes filled to the brim with tears as I carefully explained that life often includes a great deal of suffering, and that the magic can be found in the many good things that come along when we always seek to do our best and make good choices as good human beings.
While I countinued to hearten my son, I suddenly found myself overwhelmed and discouraged by the harsh reality of the truth. The truth is you will not find every person that you meet agreeable, and not everyone will think highly of you. Some may even mistreat, abuse or abandon you, but this intolerance is a reflection of personal perception often having nothing to do with the outward circumstances. The task then is to shake it off while keeping your self worth intact.
My boy has always marched to the beat of his own drum. We have battled social norms and school district regulations to give him this right, while also expecting reasonable adaptive skills. As a result he spends a lot of time listening to negative feedback, redirection, and constructive criticism. The fact that he is different poses a challenge, but it is also a brilliant opportunity to teach him the value of self-love, and offer him positive balance at home where the world so often stops short. The fact that he is gifted and talented simply means he learns differently, not that he is better or worse. The fact that I am a compassionate parent serves not only his best interest, but also affords me more patience and grace with my own irksome personality traits. Likewise, my own battle and professional training with all things mental health has uniquely equipped me to advocate for and counsel my son.
As our time together came to a close, I built him up as fast as I could in the time allotted by our morning commute. As we pulled into the carpool lane the right rear passenger door flung open, and he was greeted by a smiling face. I kissed him smack on the lips and poured all of my hope into that one tiny moment, watching closely as he held himself a little straighter. I wiped my tears and took a deep breath while he went on to conduct himself beautifully in his classroom that day. “Raising boys is hard,” I thought to myself.
Perhaps on this day I said something that stuck. Perhaps on this day I was good enough.
**If you’re a mental health survivor or mental health provider and want to tell your story – please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org!**
For more excellent insight and entertainment through a collaborative approach to all things mental health, including a guest post from yours truly, visit the Blunt Therapy Blog by Randy Withers, LPC! For additional perspectives on suicide prevention from master level mental health providers visit, 20 Professional Therapists Share Their Thoughts on Suicide!
In collaboration with Luis Posso, an Outreach Specialist from DrugRehab.com, Deskraven is now offering guides on depression and suicide prevention to its readers. For more information on understanding the perils of addiction visit, Substance Abuse and Suicide: A Guide to Understanding the Connection and Reducing Risk! In addition, for a comprehensive depression resource guide from their sister project at Columbus Recovery Center visit, Dealing with Depression!