Here’s today’s journal writing prompt along with my corresponding journal entry. Read more for details!
The format for this series is changing since I’ve gone back to therapy and this time the therapist I have also reads tarot. Her daily assignment for me at this time is to do a simple meditative reading for myself and write about it. I felt this series fits the bill nicely.
Queen of Wands
How are you managing your social life right now?
My social life right now isn’t where I want it to be. Yes, I realize that Covid made this difficult and nearly non-existent for most people. However, for me this is the way it’s been since I had gotten married and had Little Bear.
It would be easy to blame it on being a parent of special needs children and let it go at that, but that doesn’t solve anything. Those of you that have been following this blog since the beginning you are aware of how much we’ve been through with just Little Bear alone.
He’s currently diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder Unspecified, ADHD, and Autism. So what this means, in a nutshell, is that his social skills are severely lacking and his social behaviors are relatively poor. Emotional self-regulation is only now starting to develop at the age of 12.
Granted, no one is born with this skill but for Little Bear it’s particularly challenging. Most neurotypical children learn how to do this just by observing the way their parents do it. Little Bear requires a direct instructional approach to it. It’s not enough for him to simply observe how others are doing it. And yeah, more often than not I feel like I’m failing in this department.
What does this have to do with my social life? Well, what it means is that Little Bear’s social challenges are off putting at best and upsetting at worst for the general population. The culture here in the United States demands that we stay right on top of our children to control every aspect of their lives from their behavior to their activities. For example, Utah ended up passing a law stating that free-range parenting is legal when in reality such a law never should have been needed.
So what this looks like for our family is that Little Bear has this tendency to say or do things for shock value thinking it’s funny. Most people don’t feel the same way. Hell, often times I don’t either. He has outbursts and meltdowns that are distressing for those around him. He becomes verbally threatening when anger overwhelms him. He doesn’t know how to “read a room” and this is something I don’t know how to teach a person how to do yet. How do you teach someone how read body language accurately? I swear it’s something that feels like you either have a knack for or don’t.
The response that we’ve received from people for the most part has been outright rejection. Little Bear has no friends outside of family. We don’t get invited to anything outside of family events. He’s been straight up banned from people’s homes and presence.
Yes, he has been physically aggressive in the past, but hasn’t been since going to inpatient and received medications that actually work for him.
The first thing I have a hard time accepting is that these same people expect us to forgive and forget the transgressions of their children while forever punishing us for ours.
More often than not, your kid bullied mine but because of the way my kid chose to stand up for himself, you chose to despise him forever. You label me as the bad parent while holding yourself as a good one.
“My kid would never!” Yeah, well, my experience with kids in general has been the moment you believe that is the moment they will.
In some cases, the parent of said kid has personally gone to prison, served their time, and moved on without further consequence. This same parent would be offended, hurt, and outraged if they were continued to be punished for that. Yet my kid has to pay the price for the rest of his life when his life has barely even begun?
And by extension, the rest of us in my little family pay the price for all this too.
And no, I’m not budging from my stance. I will continue to tell all of you to do what you feel you need to do, but understand the double standard present in this.
Yeah, and I’ve heard it before, “The other parent has threatened me with court if our kid hangs out with yours.” Yeah, it’s gone that far.
My questions to that are:
- Do you honestly intend to ban every bully kid from the classroom and playground in school too?
- Do you intend to sue the parent(s) of every bully kid in school?
- Do you plan on threatening the teachers if they fail to control all these kids all of the time?
Because I know from personal experience as both a student and a parent that school can’t control every child all of the time. They’re not going to keep a child out of a classroom unless that child presents a consistent problem to the classroom itself. Same for recess. And those bully kids are just going to wait for the moment the teachers aren’t paying attention to them and your kid to do whatever it is they do.
I honestly feel that this bully awareness policy in schools is complete bullshit if we are not also actively teaching kids what healthy relationships are supposed to look like. But right now the policy is simply just “don’t be a bully” and “tell an adult” when you and I know from our own childhoods that doesn’t actually stop a bully from being a bully. The bullies just learn how to hide their behaviors better.
It has been my observation that children do all this as a means of testing while they figure out and practice social norms. I don’t believe every child that becomes a bully is simply due to their parents being bullies. Nor do I believe any one child starts out as a bully. If a child has a behavior that never gets addressed or corrected, it will become a habit. And I honestly believe this is largely what’s happening. No, it doesn’t make it okay. And no, I don’t believe it automatically makes the parent of said kid a bad parent. We address the issues that we’re aware of.
The second thing I have a hard time in all this is that more often than not, I’m hearing it from third parties. My therapist asked me what my thoughts are behind this. As in, why are people not coming to me directly? My first thoughts are that here in the United States our culture seems to have this prevailing attitude of “you can’t parent my kid” so I think addressing it directly to me poses a problem when viewed from that lens. My second thought is more of a question or concern: am I intimidating for people? Like, do these people expect a frightening reaction? Or it is a case of that since my kid did what he did, I must be a bad parent and therefore there is no point in saying anything to me?
Can I just point out that my other two sons do not behave this way, or do we just enjoy dismissing that fact entirely? How am I a bad parent when the rules for all three are the same, but one has difficulty understanding and following those rules? And yeah, those other sons have had their mouthy moments and problematic behaviors. Every time those got addressed in the same way as Little Bear’s has.
All of that aside, I don’t know how else to address this issue other than to keep addressing and correcting my sons’ behavior as they arise or when I become aware of them while also looking for individuals who are more accepting and open minded about all this. People who can tolerate the weirdness that comes with just being a kid, especially a special needs kid, while also gently correcting inappropriate or unacceptable behaviors.
And to be clear, I don’t feel that all behaviors outside of social norms are inappropriate or unacceptable. Far too often as parents we expect our children to behave and respond the way adults do when their brains haven’t developed yet to the point where they even can. Plus, children just simply lack the experience and skills that we have as adults. So I need to just build my social circle with those that understand this aspect and reality of children who are also capable of working with it.
So I’m going to bring today’s question back to you. How does it apply to your life right now? How do you feel about it? What’s happening around that to make you feel this way? What would you like to do about it?Write the answers in your journal in detail.
If for some reason this prompt is leaving you stumped, that’s okay, you can either write about something else or just allow the image of the card inspire you instead. The entire point of this is to get you started, not to confine you in any way. Happy writing!
~ Legacy of the Divine Tarot by Ciro Marchetti (Illustrator and Author) © 2009
~ Credit for 3D model and assets used in this rendered image can be found here.
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