What I have learned from my challenging child

I believe everything happens for a reason and I am definitely optimistic. But there have been many days when I have wondered why…

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I wanted to share what I have learned in dealing with a challenging child and inspire other parents with possibilities they may not see. I have told my husband many times that we are so fortunate that our son is healthy and doesn’t suffer any serious handicap or disease. However, from the age of 2 to today at 8 years old, his personality has created many challenges for us. He hasn’t really been diagnosed with anything but seems to display signs of ODD (oppositional defiance disorder) which is related to ADHD.

They are a lot of parents dealing with children with disabilities, physical or mental, and struggle every day to make it work. A lot of these children are taken care of by special education and other programs and grow up with natural limitations that most people around of them understand. In our case, the struggle was very real and the options we had to make the situation better seemed extremely limited. Because he didn’t have any academic issues, we didn’t have access to any public support program. We were convinced to give him medication to help him control his impulse. But we were also told that medication will not help solve his defiance issues. We consulted many therapists for over 3 years to try to solve these issues that were jeopardizing balance at home and school. Interestingly, a lot of his symptoms didn’t manifest around people he didn’t know well, leading us to think he had some level of control over his impulse.  It was just obvious that he was very stubborn and determined to get what he wanted.

This journey has also been tough on me because, in many ways, my son reminds me of who I was as a child and still as an adult. He likes leading, always tries to get what he wants, and thinks he can negotiate any situation. He has friends who look up to him but also likes independence. I realize I could learn a lot from him about myself and not be afraid of what I saw. I see my nervousness and anxiety, sometimes my mischievousness. This similarity gives me hope though: because I have endured some of these traits and transformed them in assets, my child may end up “alright” and even successful and happy as I am today. I feel helpless at times, wondering what I can do to help him, while I haven’t been able to grow out of these concerns in over three decades.  I can close my eyes and picture some of my anxious moments as a kid, having nightmares of a middle school teacher or being stressed out by my parents’ divorce. I am concerned that my son will have to go through of this same anxiety and yet all these “bad” things helped me build my character.

Resilience is the key with challenging kids. It is true that being a parent is the hardest job in the world and the most rewarding. The most terrifying part of this experience is to not know what every day would be made of.  It gave me a new philosophy in life, which is to appreciate every good moment because you don’t know what tomorrow will be made of. It also taught me that not everything is in my control and that when things don’t work out, you have to keep working hard at finding a solution.

I started by saying I am optimistic and I will repeat it in the end. I hope my journey (which is far from being over) will resonate with other humans who won’t take no for answer, advocate for their children and thrive to build a better world with space for people who may not fit in the mold.

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