Learning to go with the flow when parenting special-needs kids
In praise of messiness
During my training in Hakomi psychotherapy (a body-centered, experiential process of self-exploration done in a state of mindfulness), one of the more intensive sessions centered on the concept of “messiness.” It was quite a shift for me to think about messy encounters, messy relationships (aren’t they all?), messy whatever, as being OK. I don’t have to try to fix them or change them; I can simply be with them in curiosity about where things will go next. Employing a relaxed curiosity (and this might sound paradoxical) is what allows things to move forward to what wants to happen next. It’s magical.
Challenges of raising kids with special needs
As a single parent to two high-maintenance kiddos (my way to fondly describe children with special needs of one kind or another), I often find myself in messy situations. When I filed due process against the local school district regarding a placement that I knew in my bones would be harmful to my grandson, I also was interacting daily with the teachers and staff who basically held his happiness in their hands. They had clearly been given legal advice to say as little to me as possible. Talk about uncomfortable—yes, messy! The more I practiced curiosity, being with the experience without trying to change the unchangeable, the easier it was for me to be in the messiness. (It’s not something I ever thought I would choose for myself or anyone else, mind you!) These words of writer, speaker, and life coach Scott Noelle capture it well:
“Notice that when you feel stressed, you’re resisting in some way.
And when you feel good, you’re going with the Flow.”
Focus on the joy
I try to remind myself of how truly joyful parenting can be—yes, even parenting our challenging children—if we allow ourselves to relax into the moment. We can experience whatever our child is presenting to us (whatever attitude, emotion, behavior) from our own place of brilliant sanity. What does that look like for us? Curiosity . . . willingness to connect . . . openness . . . relaxation.
Beki Sciacca helps parents who are raising challenging children by training them in a relationship-based, trauma-effective parenting model. She has a master’s degree in Communication Science and Disorders and has become the Solo Mom of her two amazing grandchildren.
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