Disclosure: (Imagine this part in tiny little print like official words are.)
This article is not written to any particular person. If you are a mental health professional or an educator or a doctor or a social worker or anyone else serving one of my sons, do not assume I am talking about you on the internet. I would tell you to your face first. I'm pretty direct that way. However, if you are one such professional working with one of my sons or someone else's kid, I would appreciate it if you would read this. Several times. And give it serious consideration. Hopefully, I can change your perspective and shed some light on some questions that I am asked on a fairly regular basis. Thank you very much for your time and attention.
Got that out of the way.
Here we go.
I am my son's Mom. It's a role I take pretty seriously. It is my greatest privilege. It is my highest priority. It is my greatest blessing. I'm his Mom and I am going to be his Mom for the rest of my life. I am the one who will be there long after you are gone. So believe me when I tell you...
...I know that kid better than anyone else.
Except God. Since He is the one who created him.
Since my son moved into my home we haven't always had an easy time. It hasn't been all butterflies and sparkily cupcakes. But one thing is certain. I know who my son is. I can see right through all of his behavior and his trauma and his big disrespectful mouth right to his heart. And I see good there. I believe that God Himself showed that good to me so I could show it to you. I am determined to get you to see it too. And I will not waiver in my determination.
As long as you are dealing with my son (or anyone else's, since I am confident enough in my position to speak for my friends and their children too), please be respectful of what he has experienced and survived. Please be mindful of any diagnosis that might complicate things further. Be aware that my son lives with significant skill deficits compared to his peers. He might be a chronological adult, but that does not mean he can manage a task that another young man his age could handle easily.
Please keep all these statements in mind when you write to me or call me frustrated with some behavior. Don't be surprised when I remind you that my son is not "just the age when a kid thinks he knows everything". He is not "trying to use his disability to get one over on you". Please do not conclude that he is simply lazy or unmotivated (he might be--but there is more to it than that). If you and I find ourselves in this situation and you've made some of these conclusions, please do not assume that I am going to completely agree with your assessment of the situation and be on my merry way. It will never happen.
I am my son's Mom.
I am the one who has taken these calls from everyone who has ever worked with him. I am the one who found him in undesirable circumstances and promised him a better life. I am the one who sat at the dinner table one night and listened in horror as he told me all the things that happened to him because he finally felt safe enough to talk. I am the one whose heart breaks for all he endured and survived. I am the one who fought for him. I am the one who knows how far he has come.
It is my role to question and to enlighten your perspective. I expect you to be frustrated with my response. I'm used to being asked, "Why do you always make excuses for him?" when I bring up the subject of past trauma as a cause for current behavior. I expect you to say, "You are really not doing him any favors by sheltering him from accountability." when I suggest a consequence that makes sense given my son's skill deficits. I expect you to be angry. I've gotten used to all this. It doesn't change what is.
My son is not easy to work with. You have to want to be committed. But there is a reward. There is gold in that kid. Your role is to find it and bring it out. My role is to help you see it. I've got big enough shoulders to take your criticism.
"Which son are you referring to?" You ask.
Either one of them.
Because I am their Mom.