You’ve heard of extreme sports, extreme couponing and extreme makeovers…Well Chuck and I are now practicing something we call Extreme Parenting: The Choose Your Battles Edition.
Now, as a parenting philosophy we believe in regular (and early bedtimes), teaching children to obey, teaching them to show respect for their elders and authority figures. We believe in feeding them healthy foods (most of the time) and occasional treats. We believe in flexible routines and clear expectations. This parenting style has served us well over the last twenty years.
But not anymore.
The struggles we have had with our son with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) have completely trumped anything we have dealt with in the past. We have had to come up with completely new parenting methods that, honestly, don’t seem to work well for anyone.
Attending Refresh in February gave us a new, united perspective. I think to a certain extent, despite our reading and educating ourselves about FASD, we somehow keep expecting things to improve, even if just a little. We are expecting him to get “better”. Better at following the rules, better at handling transitions, better and accepting he can’t always have what he wants. Refresh was a reminder to us that FASD doesn’t get “better”. Does he learn and grow? Of course, but the prenatal damage to his brain doesn’t change.
One life changing thing we learned at Refresh is: people will FASD tend to operate at half their chronological age on a daily basis, and when they are stressed, you cut that number in half again. This means in our case, we can expect our son to act like a six or seven-year-old on a daily basis, and like a three or four-year-old when he is upset.
After our ridiculous Autism Evaluation Adventure we have begun asking ourselves…what if this is just really immature behavior? What would this look like if he were four, and we told him no? Or to turn off his movie? Or if another child was playing with his favorite toy? Would a three or four-year-old act like this?
We have been seeking professional help for our son’s behaviors for over two years. Guess what? The experts don’t have the answers either. The most useful help we have found is from other parents of children with FASD. Unfortunately, I can’t seem to find any that are struggling as much as we are.
We have dubbed our new method of parenting: Extreme Parenting: The Choose Your Battles Edition.
We’ve all heard about the importance of choosing your battles in parenting, right? We have taken this to a whole new level with our son (and only him…the old rules apply our other kids). What does this look like?
We no longer require him to come to the dinner table (which will make him fly into a rage). We “allow” him to eat his limited diet (as if, at thirteen we could “force” him to eat something).
Our son, for some unknown reason, our son has drastically reduced the number of food she eats in the past year. He now eats, almost exclusively: Ramen noodles, peanut butter and honey sandwiches, raw oatmeal with milk, brown sugar and raisins, and cereal. I told Chuck, he is practicing to be a bachelor. He now has all the cooking skills he needs!
He comes home from school and fixes a couple of peanut butter and honey sandwiches and watches movies on his DVD player or reads.
As long as he isn’t being dangerous to himself or others, we try to let him do his thing.
Does this seem like great parenting?
Does it reduce conflict, meltdowns and raging by 80%?
Does it make our home more peaceful for everyone?
After thirteen years of parenting a child with FASD we have had few successes in modifying his behavior. So what if we just stop trying and attempt to live together peacefully?
This is our new philosophy.
I’ll let you know how it works out.