My family was recently invited to celebrate the adoption of a friend’s daughter. The event was going to be long, but we wanted our kids to be there for it. We wondered whether our middle son would be able to handle sitting still for a couple of hours, or whether he would disrupt the service.
The week leading up to the event, I was nervous about it. My natural inclination is to move my son out of environments where he’s frustrated or distracted to pacify him. It’s unfair, but that’s how I feel I best serve him.
We went to the service, and I was anxious. Then, lo and behold, my son did an excellent job. He was attentive. He was chatty, but he’s allowed to do that. He sat patiently, observed, and was his angelic self. After it was over, I gave him a high five and he giggled. Then we went home.
The key lesson that I learned is that I need to start giving my son the benefit of the doubt in situations. By coddling or pacifying him, I’m shielding him from some wonderful experiences that he would probably love to have.
He loved being there as we celebrated our friends. We as a family connected in a wonderful environment. I would have really regretted not taking him with us.
As much as I talk about other people giving my son the benefit of the doubt, I need to do the same. I need to recognize that he’s allowed to experience things in his own way. That includes being chatty and sometimes loud.
I need to focus on what inclusion means from a parenting lens. Inclusion isn’t just about other people including my son. It’s about me including him and letting him be the best he can be in any given context.
When we give the benefit of the doubt to someone, we recognize that we don’t know everything about them. There’s so much more to people than how we perceive them. That goes the same for my son, and I need to do a better job of it.