If you’re a parent then you know who I’m talking about, if you’re a parent of a child with mental illness you definitely know who I’m talking about – the advice givers or more appropriately, the “Givers of Unsolicited Advice” or GUAs for short. You know them, you’ve met them, you’re probably related to them, heck, you’ve likely even been one. I know I have, and as soon as I’ve uttered those words “Have you tried?…”, I reach for the shoehorn so I can pull my foot out of my mouth.
Don’t get me wrong, most GUAs are sincerely trying to help. They see a “problem”, in this case, my children, and they want to fix it. The thing is, my kids aren’t broken, they have biological disorders not unlike diabetes, epilepsy or any other physical ailment, so they don’t need to be “fixed”. They need treatment, counseling, understanding and, when necessary, the right medication.
I’ve heard a lot of unsolicited advice about how I should be parenting my children, I think I’ve been getting more since I became a single parent, some of it I’ve tried, some of it has worked, some I think “Really? You think that’s a viable solution to aiding my children as they learn how to cope with ADHD, OCD, GAD and depression?” Thanks for coming out. My favourite come back to these people is “I’ll keep that in mind”, while nodding my head all the while thinking about what to make for dinner.
I think my favourite GUAs are those who don’t have children. They always seem to be the most adamant their way will work wonders and my children will become obedient, healthy and happy within minutes of applying their sage parenting tips. Yeah, right, if it were really that easy there would be no need for counseling services and mental health professionals.
That’s the advice I do try to follow – the recommendations provided by trained professionals – a child psychologist, children’s counselors, a child psychiatrist, a pediatrician, our family doctor, learning support teachers and our wrap-around facilitator. Although sometimes the advice given does seem to come from left field, it never involves beating my children with a stick or controlling them with duct tape, it has proven to be the most effective and these professionals are the first to tell you that what may work for one child may not work for the next.
I want the same thing for my children that every parent wants – I want them to be happy and healthy. I want them to grow up into individuals who, not only contribute in a positive way to the world, but are people who like themselves and who they are. I want them to have self-confidence, good judgment and faith that the world is a good place. If that means I have to work a little harder and seek out a little more help than the average parent then that’s what I’ll do.
In the words of Mother Teresa, “I know God will not give me anything I can’t handle. I just wish He didn’t trust me so much.”