This week we had a massive shift in in our family, we learned perception changes everything. One of my daughters has been really struggling over the past year or so and the question has always been is she being deliberately obtuse? You can tell this child fifty times in twenty different ways to do something and whilst she may get it done now will she remember next time? No Chance! You find yourself right back at the start again and again and again!
Frustration isn’t really a strong enough word. She started self harming, and she was clearly going nowhere at the school she was attending. What do you do? We changed high schools spent the money and sent her to a top private school and the result, straight D’s and she is still self-harming. As a parent I have never felt so helpless.
All you can see is the child is displaying the behaviour reaping the response and therefore she must know how infuriating it is? As it turns out she doesn’t! She doesn’t have control over the behaviour and the only way she knows how infuriating her behaviour is, is when she gets yelled at. Even then it turns out she’s wondering what she’s done that deserves such a reaction. This week we were told she is on the ASD spectrum, very high functioning, which is why she’s got through to early teens without a diagnosis. But there’s your answer; it is not deliberate, she is not being obtuse!
Where to from here?
So now what now? How awful do we feel for what we know now to have been pointless and worse still possibly destructive discipline? We have choices. That is what is now choices; choices to make regarding which path to take… Through the diagnostic process the picture became clearer and clearer and as this occurred our perception of this young lady changed bit-by-bit so as by the time we received the confirm diagnosis how we saw our daughter had changed dramatically.
Our expectations had been reset and her responses to those expectations were now compliant. The feelings of frustration, anger and helplessness had fallen away and in their place we found ourselves being able to accept her for whom she is and whom she is not. The pressures for her to be like her peers, how a “normal teenager” is with the requisite academic skills was gone. Our fears for her had evaporated, replaced with an understanding of what we are dealing with.
What is different now?
The burning question is What Has Changed? And the answer is nothing other than our understanding and therefore our perception of her behaviours. She is still displaying the very same behaviours that have proven so infuriating; she will probably continue to do so for some years to come. And we her parents can now view that behaviour through the lens of knowing she is wired a bit differently from most of us and make judgment on that picture not on preconceived norms.
Our perception has been change irrevocably and our daughter is the better off for it. We can choose to ride the guilt train and beat ourselves up because our perception was not correct to begin with or we can choose to forgive ourselves for being loving parents that did everything we could do for our girl to help you grow up a functioning adult in our fast paced society. We choose the later as the former is pointless and destructive.
The bigger picture
This whole episode has reminded me just how important perception is to everything in our lives. Whether we are rich or poor depends on the perception of the person making the judgment. Whether we are saints or sinners all depends on perception. How valuable then is the ability to change ones perspective so as one can see the world another way.
What if we humans had the ability to always see the world from the perspective of those who cause us the most grief? Even just occasionally and the world would be a very different place. Here’s the thing, WE CAN! Just because we’re prepare to forgive ourselves doesn’t mean we are going to walk away from the lesson. The big lesson here is how important is it? Will the floor cave in if her shoes aren’t put away? Take that to a global level will the world end because Donald Trump is in the Whitehouse? The answer to both questions is No. Not if we take the right attitude to it.
Remember it’s all a matter of perception. Don’t take my word for it give it a go! Pick your pet peeve and find another way to look at it. What is it teaching you? What’s the big picture? Will the world end if you offer forgiveness? I’ll bet my house the only thing that will change is the level of peace and love in your life and you can never overdose on that.