I realize the longer I am a parent the less I know about parenting. I wonder if other parents feel this way. I remember being a younger mom and getting in discussions about the best child products like diapers and sippy cups, and I had my opinions on proper kid bedding,potty training, and how to handle tantrums. I would freely sit in those conversations where moms sometimes try to one-up each other on all things kid related – the pow wows where moms bond (and we did – we needed each other)…but I don’t do this anymore. I don’t have any opinions for you I have no clue what I am doing! What I lack in knowledge I make up in tenacity. I keep on trying.
My son Ozzy who I have written about on occasion has some special needs. We adopted him when he was 2 1/2 yrs old. Early on we saw he was brilliant and he was different. He was more difficult than my other two kids who are also adopted. You couldn’t direct him the way you might direct other kids. He is wired differently. He has had me baffled for years on how to motivate him, how to effectively discipline him, how to be the best parent to him that I can be. Frankly I was at my wits end last fall. I had no tactics left – nothing seemed to be motivating this very smart 14 year old kid. He had some bad vices that he liked very much but were not good for him – but at 14 you just don’t see the big picture. He was not trying in school. A child that consistently scored on the high school level on testing in grade school was now in high school and didn’t feel motivated to get good grades. He was angry – and showed it. I was hard pressed to find things about him I liked- but I did love him. Take away all my frustrations and hurt and anger and there was love.
I know God brought this child to our family for many reasons. I have often looked up at the sky and wondered why did you pick me to parent him? I am not equipped. My husband felt the same. But God knows what he is doing even when we do not see it..and I trusted in that knowing. I turned to my blog to vent and to reach out. Some of my venting was not well received but some people who had been in the same trenches as I reached out and helped me. And it is amazing what a little support can do. Realizing you are not the only person who sometimes doesn’t like their kid and sometimes want to throw your hands up and just give it all up is so comforting in an odd way.
The support was manna from heaven. God knows what he is doing. With a sense of renewal and some information in hand I moved forward to get some help for my son. As parents, we know that sometimes all we can do is present our children with opportunities but they are not always going to take them…it is the old you can lead a horse to water adage. With Ozzy I felt like my husband and I had dangled the proverbial carrot in front of his nose thousands of times to no avail. We then resorted to consequences and had gotten little improvement. I just wasn’t sure what else to do but I was not prepared to do nothing…so I figured out that maybe we hadn’t dangled the right type of carrot in front of him.
Most teens know when you are trying to manipulate them as they typically have learned the art of manipulation as they have entered the world of social dynamics beginning probably before the 5th grade and by the time they hit high school they know when someone is trying to use reverse psychology on them. Ozzy was immature for his age and once in a while I could use reverse psychology on him but you just never knew how it might turn out. I really had nothing left – I was so lost on how to help him-I was tired of yelling and tired of threats and lectures. I figured I only had one thing left – honesty. I began to use honesty…not brutal in your face honesty – which am very capable of. I did not want not put him on the defense. I decided to just talk to my kid with compassion and respect and to see where that got me. It’s hard bc it can become a lecture especially if you sense the child isn’t really listening. I had to temper myself and try not to get mad if he wasn’t receiviing what I was saying. I’m not patient so this was a good lesson for me. Let me tell you that these occasions are when I am on my best behavior – I still have my bouts of anger and frustration but I have learned that that really does nothing but make the people involved more angry and nothing gets fixed. Basically I am just a parent who is trying to be a better parent -not a perfect one.
In the long run Ozzy has to decide what he wants for himself in his life. I can lay out opportunities and I can be honest with him about his choices and possible outcomes – and he can choose whether to receive it. I can introduce ideas to him and hope he takes bite. He has huge potential but he needs to see that. So I began to help him to see it. I can try to show him opportunities that he might take but the rest is up to him. Any triumphs are his and his alone though I will bask in the light of these triumphs as a proud mom should do – and any failures are also his…but he will never fail alone because as every parent knows we feel every single one even if they don’t.
And Ozzy has been triumphant and he has had setbacks. But I think we are seeing the triumphs outweigh the setbacks. I see that something has shifted in him. He isn’t as angry – he isn’t as closed off. He smiles more. He goes down to our gym and worksout bc he wants to be strong. He got on the honor roll last quarter. He joined a club that he loves – Robotics. It really made his experience in high school thus far bearable. He is becoming my kid that will try new things that might be out of his comfort zone but he jumps in anyway. He is quite amazing. He just joined the Civil Air Patrol and he is elated. With his interest in Engineering he wants to learn more about Aeronautics.
He still has to balance that ying and yang. He maybe has matured enough to recognize that some of his vices could have long term issues for him. The more he realizes we worry about his choices bc of how it can effect him and not because we are mean and don’t want him to have fun the more he will realize that to rebel is really hurting him. He’s trying to learn impulse control and that is hard for a person who has attention deficit problems.
I joked the other day to his Civil AIr Patrol leader that I am Ozzy’s manager. But it’s a position I’m proud to have. It’s been a journey and I am a changed person because of it. God puts people in our lives for a reason -he thinks my husband and I are up to the challenge of raising this boy – and it has been a challenge on many days but it’s also a joy. I pray every day that Ozzy will keep having triumphs that encourage him. I hope that he embraces love in his life and he realizes how much he is loved -even when we are upset with him. I hope he sees that we are his biggest fans even though parents may seem to be buzz kills sometimes.
It can be hard being a parent. I have reached the end of my rope many times with Ozzy and I have been baffled by what to do next- but somehow God has brought me support and love even though I’m not the perfect parent. I don’t know what the end of the story will be for Ozzy. But I’d do know that I’m going to try to make the chapters I am part of building blocks for later chapters that I hope will include more triumphs than setbacks.
Thanks for reading.