Thursday, December 22, 2016

Happy Holidays

First of all, let me say I hope all of the visitors to the blog have a wonderful Holiday Season. May we all find inner peace and see more outer peace in the years to come.

The holidays are hard for Tyler.  And in turn they have always been hard for us.  They come in the middle of his more aggressive and anxious mood swing periods, so they seem to just increase the anxiety.

One of my most important goals as a Dad is to take the good things and bad things about my own childhood and use them to give my children a more well rounded upbringing.  I would like to think that every parent, regardless of their own experiences, want to make things even one degree better for their own children.  This is one thing that makes parenting a special needs child SO HARD.  No matter what I tried to do in so many instances it wasn't possible to give Tyler the sort of experiences I would have liked to.  Or at least the ones that I was picturing in my own mind.

When Tyler was very young, it was somewhat easier.  Tyler's reactions the first 6 or 7 years were similar to typical children.  Add to that he was small enough to physically control in crowds or busy holiday activities.  He seemed to enjoy being social.  The following 6 or 7 years things were more difficult.  Some of the social anxiety began to show up, and there was less joy with gifts and all of those other festivities.  We moved toward more home based activities to make him more comfortable.  The last group of years were the most difficult. Tyler had to be closely guarded, even with family.  Doing festivities outside of the home was incredibly hard.  Tyler would often never even open his gifts because he just wasn't interested.  The holidays were almost something to dread.

To be very honest, this was a very hard path for me to walk down.  I wanted Tyler to enjoy Christmas and New Years like everyone else.  Heck, I wanted to enjoy festivities like other people.  I wanted my wife to feel she was enjoying herself.  I especially wanted my daughter to feel as though she were having magical holidays.  I often got focused on how "unfair" the whole thing was and how I was falling short as a dad and a husband.

I think looking back now this just wasn't true.  No matter what stage in Tyler's development we were in, he still had the important things in his life.  He always had his friends and family loving him and supporting him.  He always had good food and a warm house.  Most importantly, we were always doing our very best to make his holiday special.  

If you are reading this, and you are struggling with how the holidays effect your special needs dynamic, please remember that the foundation of this season is the environment you surround your family with.  Providing every ounce of your heart is what your children will remember.  Giving them laughter and smiles and warmth and security is what they will remember.  Knowing that you loved them and that everything came from your heart is what they will remember.  Doing the absolute best that you can will come through regardless of whether there are 100 gifts and parties, or two.

When our children become adults, and they look back as we do now, they will remember the smell of homemade cookies, or putting cookies and milk out for Santa, or going to Christmas eve church service, reading "twas the night before Christmas", friends and family coming to visit, driving and looking at lights, etc.  Those SIMPLE family pleasures are what they will think of and smile.  

If you keep things simple, family and faith based, and show how much love you have for will have done everything they need.

Bless you this Holiday Season.


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