10 years ago at this time I was the young mother of only 4 children. We were going through the excruciating process of getting child number 3 diagnosed (PDD-NOS, which I know is no longer a thing) and beginning to get her some help. I was homeschooling her 2 older brothers and her younger brother was just learning how to walk.
The professional in charge of our school district’s special education department had a lot of advice for me; you see their team was full of folks with master’s degrees and Doctorates, and I was just a stay at home mom with a high school diploma. It was advised that I put my older boys in school asap, enroll the girl in EEE, and have a troop of therapists ect. come to our house on a daily basis to work with her.
My response? “But there are 6 of us, the whole family cannot revolve around one child!” They however believed it should. Afraid that my other children would resent their sister (and eventually me), I went my own way, ignoring most of what I was advised, and feeling in turns guilty, terrified, and glad every day since.
This week my number 1 son turned 16. He celebrated with me and his 5 siblings. He laughed at private jokes with his now “highly functioning” sister. He offered me a hug. He played video games with his youngest (non verbal) brother. Everyone was included, no resentment was evident, and the high needs kids were in the thick of it even without the benefit of thousands of hours of therapies that I refused for them. It’s a lovely thing to behold when this family thing is working.
So, I offer you this, the only parenting advice I shall ever give:
We all have different stories, different needs, different priorities. But when you look at your child what does your heart tell you to do? Because only a parent knows what their child needs, knows what is best for their family, knows what they are willing to risk or sacrifice. I have faith that you know what is best for your kids, you should have faith in that too.
And never do anything just because “they” told you to.