I try not to think about the future. The future is kinda scary to me. I don’t know what’s going to happen. Instead, I focus on the here and now. But if I’m really being honest with myself, I see a future where my son is cognitively limited in a world built for folks who aren’t.
I was recently on a panel discussing issues related to disability. This panel discussion was remarkably eye-opening. One of the panelists had Cerebral Palsy (CP) (just like my son). She talked about her college life and getting a job and whatnot. She was there with her partner and they had a beautiful, loving relationship.
Afterwards, I felt awful. I wondered (and am still wondering) whether I’m limiting my son by not wanting that for him. Don’t get me wrong. I absolutely do want that for him, but at the same time, I’m preparing myself for a world where that might not be a possibility. It’s this fine line of hoping for the best but also making sure to roll with whatever punches come our way.
There’s a saying. "Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re probably right.” This panel discussion made me realize that perhaps I need to push my son a little bit harder. Sure, he might not be in position to go to college. But what if he is? Do I want to be the one that held him back?
This is one of the things I struggle with most. How do I set high expectations for my son without creating unreasonable goals? It’s different for my other two kids. I have a decent idea of what they’re capable of. But I have no idea for my middle son! And the truth is that maybe I err too much on the side of caution.
So this is my commitment. I don’t know that I’m at a place where I can throw caution to the wind and not worry about the future. But I think I’m going to be a little less careful. And instead, approach my son as if he’s a blank slate. I’m going to push him to be the best him that he can possibly be.
Helping your child build their independence is a step toward reaching their best.
Living with a child who has mental health issues can come with a lot of unknowns just like having a child with physical health issues. But society can treat both children very differently.
I have two boys. One is 10 and the other is 8. Both of my kids have disability labels. One has a physical disability and the other has emotional and behavioral issues. One disability you can see, the other you don’t – but it is there.