What to do When Life with our Children Doesn’t Meet our Expectations

“When we become parents, we have all kinds of hopes and dreams for our new life with our precious child. As we eagerly watch their personalities unfold, we hold all kinds of expectations about how they will grow and develop. For example, most parents would say they would want and expect their children to be Fully Verbal by the time they are three or four years of age.

“If you have an awesome child or adult on the Autism Spectrum, your experience could be completely different than it might be with a neurotypical child. You will most likely need to find new and unique ways to support your special child and it could challenge everything you thought you previously knew and wanted as a parent or caregiver to that child.

“When we have expectations of our children, we have a ‘fixed’ idea of what should be happening and when it should be happening. This fixed idea creates rigidity in our thinking and we can become attached to our expectations. It often becomes hard to see that we can still be happy and create a good life for ourselves, and our children, even if things don’t go according to the plan. When we are rigid like this, it prevents us from seeking to understand each situation and being able to find solutions. This can create stress and tension as we move forward with our children. Being ‘attached’ to expectations means that we start ‘needing’ these expectations to happen for us to feel relaxed, comfortable, happy, and successful. This greatly hinders our ability to stay present, robbing us of our joy and our ability to meet our children where they are at each moment. Using the example of our children developing language… we believe (in The Son-Rise Program®) that if a four-year-old child on the spectrum is not talking yet, that doesn’t mean they will never talk! We believe it just means they might do that in their timeframe and might need a different method to learn that skill than that of a neurotypical child.

“Here is a perspective for you to use when you find yourself being attached to expectations about your child:

“If I compare my child’s development to that of their peers, or their neurotypical siblings, my judgment and comparison may hinder me in seeking to understand my special child’s unique learning style. It’s more likely to limit me from being curious about what my child is motivated for and I may not be as fun to learn from. If I’m not comparing my child or having expectations of them, I will be more able to see him or her as perfect – just the way they are. My child does not need me to fix them. I can inspire them to grow and change more easily if I let go of expectations and stay present with each unfolding moment. When I am present, I will be fully available to my child and it will make me way more inviting and compelling for my child to learn when they are ready to do so. This is an empowering perspective that will alleviate stress and create more happiness and joy for you and your child’s relationship and experience together.

“Please know that your ability to let go of these expectations will be a key part of your ability to help your child. Often our children with autism turn to us to know how to be in this world, if they witness us letting go, being easy, relaxed and fluid, it permits them to do the same.

“Please enjoy this quote from Rumi. We will be thinking of you!”

‘Whenever we manage to love without expectations, calculations, negotiations, we are indeed in heaven’

Written by Becky Damgaard, Senior Son-Rise Program Teacher

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