Or How To Avoid Getting Drawn Into the Sadness of Bragging
I think our family lost a family friend because they underestimated us. Not because I am a therapist, but because I am human. Human enough to understand that everyone grows at their own pace regardless of ability.
My talking about my almost three year old and his funny antics and even our challenges, does not in any way add to or negate another person’s parenting experience. This may be true when you hear people talk or “brag” about their children. Not everyone is a topper, some are genuinely sharing and wish that you would too. It is, in fact, the sharing of experiences that deepen relationships. If you don’t share your child’s accomplishments (no matter how far it is from developmental standards), you are short-changing yourself and robbing your friends of recreating the new normal. I get it…autism, apraxia, and all other diagnosis’ can be a lonely place.
Here is my brave moment….
(Insert diagnosis) CAN ALL BE A LONELY PLACE IF YOU LET IT.
No one will ever understand….if you don’t let select people in. Be clear, I didn’t say practice vulnerability and peel open your heart to everyone. But, you have to find your people. People who will hold your hand and push you to put down the Kleenex and enjoy your child. I knew a therapist who would always voice that she would find the tiniest glimmer in each child regardless of challenging behavior and love them. I embraced that philosophy when I found myself with a little boy who thought his feces to be the best reinforcer of them all. Found the love…his smile. And boy did I focus on that smile.
The challenge many of us face is the comparison analysis. Even myself as I adjust to an almost three year old, my career deadlines, dreams, and the baby girl gestating at 5 months. Looking at social media and the fabulous portrayal of life, the wonderful stories…all of it can make you feel unaccomplished and that your child is always behind. True or not…and 99% of the time, not true at all. Comparing to another is not Thriving or Enjoying life fully. Biblicaly, I am reminded of verses that say “in whatever state I am in, be content” and anything regarding being thankful.
Comparison takes us away from gratitude. And we have lots to be grateful for. My fingers work. I can transfer what I am thinking and type. Gratitude.
Here is the big lesson a colleague and former friend taught me a few years ago. Find a new group if your presence makes others feel better about their lives and circumstances. In these instances, you are not feeling the sadness of comparison, but the sadness and loneliness of untrue connections.
How do you know if it’s bragging or sharing? Here is what I do.
First Interaction: I check myself. From which place am I feeling this sadness? Is it due to my wanting the same for myself….COMPARISON. (This is about me, not them).
Second Interaction: After I check myself, I begin to add to the conversation and share. If my words are glossed over and the person continues on as if she is telling a personal narrative. I then understand, this is about her telling her story…not necessarily bragging, but narcissistic.
Third Interaction (because some people are related to us): I adjust my feelings, my face, and interact with the clear understanding of who this person is. Not in a judgement zone, but rather…we are on different growth tracks, she is not my person.
Figuring this kind of thing out is not for everyone, nor is it something I yell from the mountain tops. It is just for preparation and interaction readiness purposes.
My hope is that parents of children with varying abilities will share. Talk about your children in the way that you hear and yearn to do the same. Open that joy button, close the comparison analysis dungeon.
Enjoy Life and THRIVE.
Landria Seals Green, MA., CCC-SLP/L
~The SLP GURU