The Gift of the Mismatch: When You and Your Kid Don’t Match

17337007_sSometimes, parents do experience a subtle type of disappointment with their child: when they and their child are mismatched, either by temperament, ability or by passion.

Why should this matter? While you are ready to love your child – no matter what! – there is a part of you that feels just a little rejected, powerless or dismissed when your child does not embrace what is important to you, or cannot be the type of person you want them to  be, perhaps because of a disability or just temperament.  In fact,  sometimes your child can be exactly opposite of what you expected!

Surfer Parents, Meet Sensory Sensitive Sam:

Take Betty and Bob. Passionate surfers, they had their first date on the beach. Their baby shower for their little boy featured little blue surfboards on top of every cupcake. But Sam was born with too much sensory sensitivity that he couldn’t handle the beach. He hated getting ‘dirty’, the noise of the ocean scared him and he hated the water. Disappointed parents could not help a child like Sam become his own person; Betty and Bob had some emotional work to do.

Surprise! Kids Aren’t Clones of Their Parents 

Kids are not necessarily clones of their parents. They come with their own kitbag of passions and aversions, let alone disabilities and handicaps. It’s not being selfish or narcissistic for parents to feel disappointed and powerless, stumped by an unexpected impasse that seems so unexpected that you are stopped in your tracks. It’s important to recognize it and learn how to handle these prickly sensitive feelings of yours.

Keep a Gratitude Diary:

If this is you, you just might want to try it.  It might sound trite, but the research is sound.  The potential benefits of expressing gratitude: increased immunity, lower blood pressure, less anxiety and depression, increased happiness.  Keeping that gratitude diary may also help you take some of the pressure off of your expectations of your child, as you build on your gratitude skills, your view of your child expands as you grow to appreciate the differences that enrich your lives.

There are many well known people with this complicated parenting wrinkle. Famously, Beverly Sills, the notable opera singer, had a deaf daughter as well as an autistic son. British model Katie Price has openly discussed the special needs of her son. She keeps a set of printed cards in her purse so when she encounters people staring at Harvey, who has septo-optic dysplasia (which causes blindness and growth hormone deficiency), Prader-Willi syndrome (a genetic disorder causing him to eat to excess and prone to obesity and diabetes) and ADHD and autism – she can simply hand a card to them, which reads, “You’re obviously looking because you’re interested. This is his condition… Look up what’s wrong with him and if you want to donate to a charity that supports children like this, then do it.”

Irish actor Colin Farrell, says his son James, who has special needs is “nothing but a gift.” “I don’t know if I would be here if I hadn’t had him,” the Total Recall actor said. He was a huge part of me going in and making certain changes in my life.” Colin’s son James was diagnosed with Angelman Syndrome, a neuro-genetic disorder that affects speech and movement, when he was a year old.

“I look around and I see people who move perfectly, who walk with grace, who speak with great diction and clarity and a great use of the English language and we’re all miserable f**kers – including me, at times,” Colin said. “And then I see this fella who doesn’t move the way what’s perceived to be ‘normal’ is, and he’s as happy as can be.”

 Clearly, while parenting is always a challenge, a most important and unexpected challenge is adjusting your expectations. When you adjust your expectations to embrace your child for who they are, rather than for whom you expect them to be, you can open your heart to allow for unexpected pleasure, and surprise gifts.

May this season of gratitude, sharing joy and gifts allow us all to appreciate the blessings of all children.

 

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