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Parenting for independence

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Parenting for independence

Parenting is one tough job! 

 

But how to make it easier?

 

When my children were small, I tried to balance two concepts that I decided were important to being a parent.

 

On one hand, I wanted them to have memories of joy, laughter, connection, and grow up with a sense of who they were and what brought them joy. The roots of their childhood.

 

On the other hand, I wanted to prepare them for life. They needed to learn the skills to function independently by the time they were 16-18. This would give them the wings to leave their childhood (and a life without me. (sniff sniff) <sniff, sniff=""><sniff, sniff="">).

 

When it came to prepping my kids for the work world, the two concepts came together – looking at activities they liked to do and teaching them the social skills and characteristics that would make them contributing members of society. 

 

Here are more ideas on prepping a child for a life of ever increasing independence:

 

First, and a lesson I am still learning for myself. Life never said that it would be fair, easy or always fun.This past week, I heard Brian Smith, owner of Uggs, speak. He went through some tough times and facing difficulty is part of his daily mantra. We, as parents, need to demonstrate and teach the skill that challenging ourselves leads to a life of greater opportunities and enjoyment. The results might not be what was hoped but learning from an experience is always an option. Ask me about the time my son believes I had a not-so-secret intention to drown him. 

 

This speaks to 'the other hand' from above. If my child needs to learn a skill, like saying hi to people, to increase his/her chance of independence, then my job as a parent is to support that behaviour. As a bonus, taking action creates momentum, which leads to more action.

 

Second, whenever enjoyment can be combined with learning a new skill, that’s a win. Recognize there are many ways to learn any new skill or aspects of the new skill. Focus on a way that uses the person’s abilities and interests to build on what is already there. It is about expanding the comfort zone so more and more options are available.

 

Third, gather information, but not from a computer but by trying different activities – lots of them – and see what activities were easy and which were difficult. Then look at the why. The why is the key.

 

Enjoying working at the computer might not mean a computer related job is in the future. If working at the computer is not so much enjoyable as feels safe only because it reduces human contact, a better option for a successful future would be to work on social skills. A small increase in social skills might 10x the opportunities available.

 

It is very much a puzzle that includes cognitive, emotional and social strengths and interests.  None of us are good at everything. Look at where enjoyment, ability and opportunity intersect.

 

Finally, is there a single ability, often in the social world, that if learned would open the door of possibilities?

The bad thing about social skills is the need for those skills is so prevalent.

The good thing about social skills is the opportunity for teaching those skills is endless. 

 

Quote:

Feast upon uncertainty.

Fatten on disappointment.
Enthuse over apparent defeat.
Invigorate in the presence of difficulties.
~Brian Smith, founder of Uggs
 (his main point to his daily mantra was that difficulties are a part of life and we never know when the difficulties were actually a door to amazing opportunities)

 

Action Ideas

1. Read "Choosing the Right Job for People with Autism or Asperger's Syndrome" by Dr. Temple Grandin for more ideas.

2. Try taking a strengths test to get a clearer  idea of strengths and weaknesses. Full disclosure - I did not try this test.

3. Do activities either before or after the planned discomfort to increase the chance of success. Perhaps by engaging in physical activity, or using pressureweightedfidgets or vibration.

 

What is one area that if you could change, would open the doors to many other opportunities? For me, I'm definitely learning to face challenges instead of avoiding them, like I often do.

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