Often, parents of children with disabilities are reluctant to teach their children independence. These parents hold on to their children unnecessarily tight and work to maintain control in their children’s lives.
They don't do this because they want to rob their children of independence or deny their children the “rights” of adulthood. They simply want to protect. Usually, these parents do not believe their children can make the decisions or accomplish the milestones.
Many parents are heard saying phrases like:
Allow me to suggest that these parents consider a change in their way of thinking.
All parents should allow their children the privileges of living a more independent life, even if it makes the parents uncomfortable.
Remember, a person will never grow by staying in their comfort zone. It’s time that some of us get out of the way and let our children be and do more. We parents are often the biggest roadblock to our children’s growth.
How do we get out of the way, encourage our children to grow in independence, and live the lives that they choose? Replace the negative phrases with positive spins:
And the most important thing to learn to ask is, “What would it take for my child to be able to…?"
Spend time researching what is possible. Start by checking out resources on this website for the transition to adulthood.
Research the supports that are available to help your children do more.
And expect your child to do more. Raise the bar. Help your child grow every day.
Ask your child what they want. Ask them if they have hopes of driving, living with roommates, getting a job, or getting married. Use these conversations to help you prepare your child and come up with a plan.
As parents, we also need to realize that none of us live an independent life. We live interdependent lives. We have people who do our hair, lawn, car repairs, or our house cleaning. It’s likely that our children can live a life worth living if we help them find people to support them.
Let’s not hold our children back just because of our fears!
Let’s step out of the way and up to the plate!
Let’s find ways to help them become as independent as they are able.
One mother’s experience with struggling to get her daughter to eat food. She offers suggestions and encouragement for slow, but steady, progress.
Sam Allen has high-functioning autism. He was recently recognized as a Student Success Story at the Texas Council of Administrators of Special Education (TCASE) annual conference.
It is important for parents to help their children know the words to use when talking about disability. Arming them with the appropriate words will help them feel confident and able to educate friends and strangers.