“In Tales from the Darkside from 1983 – there is one episode where there is a monster in this boy’s room, and he advocates for himself and tells the monster ‘Hey this is my room’ and the monster backs off and the boy gets the power over his room.”
Then going deeper – he replays this part of the episode and explains some of the plot and dynamics as he sees he has caught my interest:
“Mom look – here the part where he advocates for himself. His dad is a real jerk. He thinks he should stop being 6 years old and be a man right now: he [the dad] thinks he has the right to do what he wants.”
Sensitive to my reluctance to watch scary stuff:
“Don’t worry, Mom, it’s not that scary – there is an octopus man under his bed and a buzz saw – but it is just his imagination… Here it comes. You have got to see how he advocates for himself.”
We watch together – and then move on to discuss the deeper aspects about how the boy in the segment advocates for his space and also with his father.
H is getting this stuff. He is understanding what it means to advocate for himself or others and he is developing an ever-stronger sense of his right to take a stand.
As parents we nurture this young man’s sense of self and his heart for social justice with our acceptance and love. Empowering my child in this way – requires a little bit of letting go.
Sometimes… actually… a lot of letting go.
And letting go can be scary… but it is important to understand that fear is mine…
I have to be willing stop holding the reins tightly and give H room to make decisions. Giving up control. This is love…
Love. Not. Fear.
I am open to other ways of seeing and doing and I work to set aside my reading of tone – so that I hear the intended message. This is not easy to do and it is sometimes a messy thing, particularly with a teenager… but I am supporting H in finding his voice. Sometimes this means I have to silence mine. This is love…
Love – not – fear!
Over a Thai dinner in Chicago, I told two friends that we had H enrolled in a Social Skills Group. (They almost sprayed their beverages at me…)
I waited a beat – then smirked and confessed: “It’s true he is hanging out and learning to play Magic the Gathering at a local collectables store. He is socializing there and connecting with others in a way that will help him find community.”
We laughed… and then more seriously talked about how this represents the authentic honouring of H and his interests in a way that creates opportunity for growth… without stigma. At times I have felt the pull and pressure to enroll my kid in therapies and interventions, but too often I have seen these done poorly. I have seen my own son (and others) anxious and shamed for not using strategies and skills people assume they should be using. I am working to offer information and strategies and opportunities to H in a way that does not make him feel like he is broken and needs to be fixed. This is love…
Love NOT fear
I want to support my son in building skills to help him navigate his way in a non Autistic world – but I want to balance this with the message that he doesn’t have to ‘pass’ or bury his authentic Autistic self. We are looking for opportunities for H to connect with others around his interests and supporting him in finding his people. This is love…
Love not fear…
I resist over-scheduling my kid… he needs time and space. I get that his interactions may look different from mine – and that this difference does not have some imposed hierarchical measure that implies my way is better. I value his way… This is love…
LOVE not fear…
I resist over-prompting… this shows my trust in his ability to work things out for himself and Craig and I are looking for opportunities to step back. This is not easy… This is love…
love not fear
I have trust in the Autistic community and the wonderful relationships I have developed with so many Autistic people. They generously share their perspectives and they shape my parenting and my actions as a parent and an educator… and as a human being. My appreciation is so deeply felt. This is love…
This post is part of the Love not Fear Flashblog scheduled for February 14, 2014. Visit this site to view all of the participating posts.
30 Days of Autism is a project designed to fight stigma, promote civil rights, and increase understanding and acceptance for those who process and experience the world differently.
© Leah Kelley, Thirty Days of Autism (2014)
Brilliant Leah. Your words evoke a living strategy. Nothing I can say can add to that. You’ve nailed it. The H family way; love not fear.
Thank you, Colin. Much appreciation and love to you!!
brilliant.freedom to love and be love. support neurodiversity.
Yes!!! Rail on!! ❤
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Reblogged this on The Daily Advocate By Painspeaks.
Beautiful message. Stepping back and letting go can be hard for parents. It is also the greatest gift we can give our children: the message, “I know you can do this.”
Thank you, Natalia ♥
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Reblogged this on Krista's World.
I just came across your blog for the first time and this really hit home for me. We are trying desperately to get my son to embrace his uniqueness and this rally is a wonderful reinforcement. Thank you for expressing and sharing.
You are most certainly welcome! ❀ It is encouraging to know this spoke to you.
Our role and stance is so critical in supporting our children to feel pride for who they are this very day… especially when there are messages out there telling them otherwise. Sending you positive thoughts and appreciation! ❀
Reblogged this on Think the Infinite and commented:
Must-read. This is the core battle all special needs parents face, IMHO.
Reblogged this on Melissa Fields, Autist.
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