As you may have figured out by now, TheODDDad and I take Bear's issues very seriously. I'm the researcher in the family, so I read and learn everything I possibly can on ADHD and ODD and then pass that information along to him. No matter which way you look at it, our son has problems, and sticking our heads in the sand won't make them go away. (Trust me, I'd do it if I thought it would work!) Rather, we feel that we will be better equipped to help our son the more we know and we will also be in a position to empower others to help him by sharing what we've learned. So far this philosophy has paid off.
As I think I've mentioned before, it was someone at Bear's school who first suggested that he might have a problem. I was actually happy to hear it, if you can believe it, because it meant hubby and I weren't imagining things and the things we were seeing weren't just the result of bad parenting. Ever since that day (probably almost two years ago to the day), I've worked very closely with the school and Bear's teachers to make sure that things are running smoothly. And by smoothly I mean not only that Bear's getting the support that he needs from them, but that they're getting the support they need from us and we're getting the support we need from them.
As Bear's parents, TheODDDad and I know him better than anyone. We know what works and what doesn't, what sets him off and what calms him down. The teachers are grateful when I give them a heads-up that he's having a bad morning, and I'm grateful when they send me a note home telling me what a good day he's had (or bad, for that matter). My feeling is that this open dialogue has fostered a really good environment for all of us. I can't imagine having it any other way.
Unfortunately, that feeling isn't shared by all parents, as I found out the other day. I was speaking to one of the teachers who works closely with Bear, and she was sharing some challenges Bear had been having that morning. The Vice-Principal, aware of the problems that particular day, had asked her earlier in the day what she planned to do. Her answer apparently surprised him: She was going to call me and talk to me. What? Call a parent? Would I actually be open to that? Oh yes, she assured him, these parents would be.
I find it sad to think that there are parents who wouldn't be open to it, and I have to ask myself why. Are they ashamed of their child? Do they think their child's issues reflect badly on them as parents? Are they worried that if they acknowledge a problem, then they have to deal with it? On the other hand, have they had bad experiences with the school? Do they feel judged/blamed by the teachers and administration for the problems their child is having? Have they been burned in the past by people who don't understand?
Regardless of the reasons, and I can only guess they are many and complicated (and some may even be valid!), I just have one thing to say: Suck it up, Buttercup! This is your child, and your child needs you. I don't care how uncomfortable or difficult it is, this is your job. That's right, your job. Your child's success and happiness may very well depend on you doing everything you can possibly think of to help them, and then some. Is that a whole lot of pressure? Yup, it sure as hell is. Does that mean you're responsible for every decision your child makes? Nope, it absolutely doesn't. But you ARE responsible for ensuring that your child has all the tools and skills to make good decisions when the time comes. You are responsible for being the one who asks for help on their behalf and who stands up for them and with them when things get rough. That doesn't mean denying there's a problem or placing blame on others. In fact, it might even mean getting help for yourself in order to make sure you have the tools and skills to help your child.
It's a rough road, and it's not the road you thought you'd be on. But you know what...that's just too damn bad. So be the parent your child needs because...well...your child needs you.