Our daughter has a successful long-term relationship. She graduated from college and has always held down a job. But there is one thing seems to elude her: How social structures work. Why they work is still a mystery to her.
As a child, we didn’t realize her quirks had a diagnosis. Like the irritation she would get from certain clothes. Or the methodical ways things had to occur. Or the personality that didn’t make friends easily.
It wasn’t until her 20s that she sought out some informal testing to see if there was a reason. Asperger’s seemed probable. Getting this diagnosis didn’t change her life. She doesn’t receive any sort of therapy for it. But it explained some of why she struggles with parts of an otherwise successful life.
When she asked me this question, I took a moment to respond. Then I asked her, “Are you lonely?”
“Not at all,” was her quick reply. “I’m perfectly happy with (her life partner) and my animals.”
That stopped me in my tracks. I suddenly realized that we sometimes look at our kids and see something lacking. But they don’t feel any lack at all.
But she had bought into a cookie-cutter image of what a successful life looks like. She’d read she is supposed to have friends. And a social life that includes lots of other people. Particularly a best friend from childhood.
Isn’t it true? That we may judge our success or our child’s success on goals set by professionals? They may have the best intentions–and the metrics–but they also may leave us feeling like we’re missing something that we may not be missing at all.
It’s a fine line we walk between getting our children help and making them feel like they are somehow flawed.
I told my daughter she is one of the very fortunate few who is perfectly happy with what she has and to embrace that life. All the big pieces fit. It would be a travesty for her to buy into what she’s supposed to have to make her happy. Rather than what she actually already has.
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