Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Message to an ODD Grandmother

The other day I received a beautiful email that touched my heart, and I wanted to share it with you.

Hello ODD Mom...thank you so much for doing this blog...my daughter is coping with an ODD 7 yr. old boy and I feel so helpless to help her. I look forward to getting your blog and getting some insight on this condition. God Bless you for your help! Nana
Dear Nana,
Thank you so much for your beautiful email -- your love for your daughter and your grandson shines through. Having a child with mental health issues can be extremely lonely. Many parents don't have anyone to talk to about it or someone who understands what they're going through. Although you may feel helpless to help your daughter, I want to tell you that you're not. You may not be able to make everything all better for her, which as a mother I know you want to do, but you can do more than you think.  
  • Tell her you love her.
  • Tell her you're proud of her.
  • Tell her she's a good mother.
  • Share positive things about your grandson with your daughter. Parents of children with ODD don't often hear a whole lot of nice things about their children, but every parent needs to. Does he have a kind smile? An infectious laugh? A curious nature? A great sense of humour? A great imagination? Is he smart? Is he good with animals? Is he patient with a younger sibling? Does he notice things other people miss? The possibilities are endless, even if you have to get creative.
  • Ask her what you can do to help -- come prepared with ideas. Having a child with ODD can make even everyday tasks difficult. Can you pick up groceries every now and then? Can you provide a casserole for the family to eat every couple of weeks so she doesn't have to cook? Can you help clean the house once in a while? Can you take the other kids to their activities or pick them up after school?
  • Offer to take your grandson off her hands for an hour, even if it's only long enough for her to go to the library, get her hair cut, have a nap, or do the groceries. If you can handle him for two hours, then rent a movie, pop some popcorn, and spend some time with him.
  • Listen to her when she needs to talk.
  • Respect her decisions. If she tells you that a certain behaviour needs to be treated a certain way, do it. If she asks you not to feed him a certain food because she's noticed it sets him off, believe her.
  • Invite the whole family over for dinner but make sure it's a relaxing time, not a stressful event. Set the kids up in front of the TV, feed them their favourite dinner, and allow your daughter to sit down for a quiet supper. Look after her for a few hours -- you'd be amazed how good that feels when you're spending all your energy on someone else.
  • Love your grandson unconditionally. Tell him you love him and that you love spending time with him. Kids with ODD often have a hard time fitting in, and so that unconditional love is so important. Parents of children with ODD often feel that their children are unwelcome, so that unconditional love is important for them as well. (Note: Unconditional love doesn't mean letting your grandson get away with murder. Children with ODD may not take kindly to discipline, but they still need it.)
These ideas might seem small to you, but they can go a long way in helping your daughter and giving her strength on this journey. Trust me...I speak from experience.