Tag Archives: Adult Children

Not My Mother’s Daughter: How I’d Parent My Hypothetical Child

One of this week’s writing prompts from Mama’s Losin’ It asks how you parent your kids differently than your own parents parented you. Now I don’t have any kids, and if I did, I wouldn’t get my way on every parenting decision. After all, my husband would’ve been there too, and, the way he views parenting, he’d be the stricter one of us.

I imagne, if I have to be very honest, that my hypothetical child’s upbringing would be similar to my own. I don’t approve of many of my parents’ actions, but then again they were done out of powerlessness. I imagine, agian being very honest, that I’d be quite permissive to my child but would lose it eventually and become aggressive. This is one reason I won’t have any kids.

Ideally, if I had a child, I’d parent them as naturally as possible. I don’t mean eating all organic food and using cloth diapers, as I don’t believe in this. I mean guiding them through their natural development rather than teaching or training them. For instance, I have some strong opinions on toilet training, which some parents take very seriously. I of course know that the skill of using the toilet is important, but I also think that too much pressure will stress the child out. Having witnessed some incontinent adults being humiliated and pressured, I know I don’t want to subject my child to the same unless it’s absolutely necessary. I originally wrote a lengthy, TMI’ish monologue on toilet training and how I would and wouldn’t approach it, but I’ll leave you to read up on natural toilet learning to find out.

My husband and I have had discussions or debates about what education we’d want for our child. I am a traditonally-educated person and went to an academically challenging high school. My husband has had a less traditional route in his education, though he finally earned a high school diploma at the same level I did. Both of us would choose an education for our child that is different from our own, even though we agree that our child would never go to the posh type of high school I went to. I think if it’d come down to it, I’d want a challenging education for my child too, but my heart screams “No!” to pushing my child’s academic limits.

Now that I think on it, my heart screams “No!” at the idea of pushing my child’s limits in general. This may be one more reason why I’d make a bad parent, though I’m not sure. After all, pushing a child over their limits is different from feeding the fire of their curiosity (be it for academics or otherwise). I don’t know whether this is optimism about a child’s natural curiosity and capacity for learning. It could quite likely be fear of overburdening my child like I was overburdened.

Mama’s Losin’ It

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Parents’ Dreams and Expectations for Their Disabled Children

Today, Ellen from Love That Max wrote about wondering what her disabled son would do when he grows up. I wrote about this last week. As I said then, I knew early on that I’d become a normal or even above-average college student and later employee when I grew up. Up till age eighteen at least I didn’t show any inkling of thinking I’d not meet this expectation. I know that I had worries at night about burning out at my first job (as a teacher) and returning to the workforce several years later at an entry-level administrative position. I didn’t share these thoughts. I shared my dreams of going to the United States on a college exchange student visa and never returning. Cause, you know, with affirmative action and all my minority statuses, I’d surely get a green card. Sure!

Ellen shares her son’s similarly big dreams. Max will become a fireman when he grows up, and not only that, but he’ll live at the fire station. Ellen knows this is an unrealistic dream, but then again, maybe not. She refers to a news story about a man with an intellectual disability practically living at a firehouse. In similar ways, my parents probably knew the moving to the U.S. dream was unrealistic, but they tried to keep a positive attitude. I appreciate that

What I also want to say I appreciate, is that Ellen doesn’t turn Max’s big dreams into expectatiosn for him. I don’t know whether my parents truly believed I could go to the U.S., but they made it seem lke they did and they were half-expecting me to actually pursue this path.

With disabled children, more so than with non-disabled children, you need to walk the fine line between not encouraging them enough to dreaam and follow their dreams, and turning their biggest dreams into your lowest expectations. I like it that my parents looked up the subsequent cities I was obsessed with living in once in the United States and encouraged me to learn about these places. That is encouraging a child to dream. However, I’d have liked it if my parents helped me do some realistic planning. This doesn’t mean saying: “Girl, you’ll go live in an institution and do day activities there.” I’m pretty sure that, with the right transition planning from me, my parents and the staff at the training home I lived in for eighteen months, I could’ve come far closer to my dreams than I’m now. Then again, I’m relatively happy now – happier than I was when dreaming of the United States.

One last thought, which I’m struggling with. Your idea of success as a parent is not the only conceivable norm. I know that as parents, you have limits too, and, particularly if your child is above eighteen (or 21), you have a right to these limits. You don’t have an obligation to care for your child past this age. In this sense, I can only hope that parents of disabled children have an appropriate transition plan in place before their child turns eighteen. I can only hope they accept their children no matter their path to success, but I still understand that this is not something a child, disabled or not, can enforce.