Intuition v Institution – a parent’s response
Last month we heard from recovery coach Dave Noble on this subject. He spoke to us about his experience of finding sobriety, and most insightfully about how this was a two step process. The first step was finding sobriety from substance misuse and the second was to find his own emotional sobriety. As a person who has not struggled with excessive substance misuse, I listened with admiration and curiosity about the first step but about the second step I listened with a sense of empathy and identification. As a parent of 20 years, I can look back now and reflect how some of my behaviours, reactions, attitudes and approaches have been unhelpful, not only to my son but also to myself. Some of these would include defaulting to anger when feeling powerless, being more reactive than responsive, having unrealistic expectations. being too controlling – and really seeing my child’s behaviour as some kind of willful defiance, some terrible abnegation of my parenting. Becoming aware of this was the first step to healing, and holding that awareness without blame and judgement was the next. The more I see clearly and can really recognize my part in the equation – and there is always the equation in any relationship – the freer I feel. It was scary at first, because it felt like admitting any sense of responsibility was tantamount to conceding to total failure as a parent. Vulnerability felt terrifying. Now I can see that this is just allowing myself to be human as opposed to aspiring to some unattainable ideal and most importantly it is giving me a healthier and more loving relationship with my 20 year old son where we stand a bit more side to side, and where we can share our strengths and our frailties.
The subject of Intuition v Institution, the delicate balance between listening to one’s own gut feeling & the views of a trained professional, has been such a tricky one as a parent with a child who has struggled so much and presented huge challenges. In the past my husband and I have felt so desperate for an answer/for clarity/for a way ahead and we have reached out in many directions. There have been various therapists and therapies, different medications, treatment centres, parenting programs, books read, documentaries watched, online courses taken. We have definitely had some wonderful guidance and learnt alot from some of these sources, but in many instances we didn’t find what we were looking for, not necessarily because the help wasn’t good, but because there wasn’t a clear answer – or perhaps the answer lay much more in us than we had given ourselves credit for. On reflection, probably the greatest learning was being encouraged to take care of ourselves, to trust when something doesn’t feel right for us, not to abandon that sense in order to save our child, to have a good support network, to learn to have faith in ourselves and our instincts and not to constantly hand that over to others. I feel now that I have stopped searching so much for a solution, expecting a certain outcome and am trying to live in a more gentle, easy present. Of course we still find ourselves worrying about the future or going over the past, but with a much stronger sense that this is not where any peace or solace lies. When I hear myself return to a familiar voice of self-criticism and blame I can notice it better now and can remember that I was actually doing my best and if there is any healing to be had I have to start with a loving, honest relationship with myself. When I find myself there, I can see that this blossoms in those around me and there is a greater possibility for – and greater joy in – this whole glorious if messy business of being human.
May Monthly Theme
This month’s theme as a topic to consider during our meetings is
Finding Peace in Times of Struggle
“Do not let the behaviour of others destroy your inner peace”.
– Dalai Lama –
Tuesday 16th May, 6.30pm UK time
(please note that this will be a TUESDAY evening this time, not the usual Wednesday)
Fintan O’Regan will talk to us about parenting and supporting children and young people with ADHD and other neurodiversity
Fintan is one of the leading Behaviour and Learning specialists in the UK. He is currently an ADHD, Neurodiversity and Behaviour Consultant for a number of schools and organisations and an associate lecturer for Leicester University, the National Association of Special Needs, The Helen Arkell Charity and the Institute of Education.
Fintan is an internationally acclaimed presenter and consultant in behaviour, learning and motivation working both within the Education and Health sectors. As well as providing his expertise to audiences within the UK, he has presented over 500 seminars throughout Europe, the Middle East, the Far East, Australia, New Zealand and North America.
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