Becoming Independent – Dolores

We as parents are naturally inclined to “mollycoddle” our children with additional needs and I know I did. David is now 23-years old I ask myself was it the right thing to do? The answer is No, not really.

What should I have done differently?

Because of David’s disabilities, I did everything for him and I thought this was the only way. David attended mainstream school and when he started struggling to keep up I always helped out and never questioned my actions. I can remember one geography project in particular that drove me crazy and at 2.30am I was still printing out pages and pretending that David did it.

A few things that I think I got right was letting David pour milk in his cereal. Initially the carton was too big so I started with a small milk jug with a handle. David spilt the milk too many times to count but I didn’t give up, just handed him kitchen paper and let him clean it up.

When I was in the right frame of mind I tried not to look for perfection and let him make the mistakes.

As David got older I let him help prepare his own lunch box. He would wrap some of the sandwich and I would often finish doing this, but it was a start. Slowly I increased his participation and started let him try and butter his bread.

It took David at least 3-years from when he started to try and zip up his clothes to be able to manage it. It was so frustrating for people not to help him, one special needs assistance asked me to keep him in tracksuits constantly, but I didn’t and he persevered with his school trousers and can zip up his jacket now, this is a great achievement for David.

One area I never put any demands on David was chores and thinking back this wasn’t the right thing to do. If I asked David now to do a house chore, he would look at me as if I had 2-heads and there is zero chance he would do a chore because why would he when he has never needed to do one before.

I have fallen into this trap so many times and still do as it’s easier and faster to do certain things myself, but am I really helping David in the long run?

Time and Patience is the real answer.

It may be fine and cute to do certain things for your child now that they are 5-years old but remember they all will grow up to be 23-years old and it is not so cute anymore. (Well definitely handsome!)

We sometimes underestimate what our children can do and we are giving them an additional disability if we keep doing everything for them.