Discomfort Zone: 4-27-11

Scathing But Essential: Yesterday’s post resonated with a number of moms who identified with the need to present their child’s abilities with scathing accuracy. Scathing in the normal world, because the flaws and imperfections, weaknesses, incapacities, seeming “stupidities” are emphasized, not the talents, the goodness nor the abilities. This is a deeply painful process for a mom or a dad, a necessary evil, a discomfort zone, excruciating but vital for the future safety of their children.

Mom Speaks: One mom gave me permission to present some of  her experiences with her daughter. Naturally I have left out identifying information:

Well said.  Yes, my daughter can cook food in a microwave, but at (deleted) she set off the smoke alarms several times because she set the microwave timer for 3 hours instead of 3 minutes!  Can your child use equipment safely (think knives or potholders on a hot pan from the oven)?  (She) will forget potholders unless reminded.  Will she open the door to strangers?  It has happened – fortunately all was well, but it could easily have been otherwise.  We live in earthquake country; (she) will not function in an emergency. The trick for parents is to realize that you need to make your child appear more competent sometimes and less competent at other times.  The truth is that our children are complex individuals with splinter skills that allow them to appear able at times when everything is perfect. Given other situations however, they are significantly disabled. It is hard emotionally for parents, yet our kids’ future care and funding depend on painting as grim a picture as possible.  Sometimes I feel like I have two different daughters, depending on the person I’m speaking with.

Two Daughters: I love that description. In a perfect world, the adult special needs child may flourish. But what world is perfect?

©Jill Edelman, M.S.W., L.C.S.W. 2011



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