From a parent that attended the STOP programme
‘The onlooker sees more of the game…’ – is a remark my mum would sometimes make when I asked her for advice or needed someone to listen to me when I feeling a bit stressed. She would be able to give me an insight into a situation that I couldn’t see, often because I was too emotionally drained or tired. Feeling like this often meant I did not handle things well, or consistently and my interventions could escalate the very situations I was trying to manage.
My son has ADHD and needed me to be a strong support for him. He needed empathy, love, boundaries and a belief that I could parent him well. He needed me to fight his corner too – the behaviour that accompanies ADHD made his life stressful and difficult for him and those around him. He is an exuberant, creative, thoughtful person who has also, at times, struggled with self regulation, self esteem, anxiety and the judgement of others. ‘Juggling gelignite’ comes to mind.
He is maturing into a young man who has learnt to moderate and work with his ADHD tendencies and I am very proud of him for that. During the last few years, he has been able to reflect on his moods and behaviour to a greater extent.
The STOP course, I believe, was a crucial part of my wellbeing as a parent and it gave me a much needed ‘time – out’ over several weeks to examine my parenting skills, learn new ones and to be re-assured that I was a good enough parent – none of us are perfect. It also gave my son a parent with renewed confidence – I had been supported to examine the elements that make up a balanced and healthy parenting style. I am important too and if I do not take care of myself I would not be fit to take care of anyone else.
When dealing with difficult and challenging behaviour we need to be consistent, fair and have empathy. We need to place boundaries and show praise. One of the hardest things for me to learn was not to be a ‘helicopter parent’ – flying in to rescue my son when things didn’t go to plan. I thought by driving the forgotten pe kit to school I was showing my love – but I wasn’t teaching him to remember the things he needed for school. A detention for no kit would be far more effective than my nagging. The natural consequences of our behaviour – as long as you are not putting a child in danger – are the ones that teach us the most. It would be far more appropriate to take a forgotten pencil case before an exam – learn when to sit back and when to step in.
I was also given the opportunity to examine how my behaviour reflected on my son. If I was not consistent and fair, if I did not notice when he did well – how was I to expect him to change his behaviour. If I handled something badly – the best thing to do would be to apologise as I would expect him to. We are all FHB’S – Fallible human beings. Say sorry if you get something wrong – we all have off days.
Open and honest communication was something that was talked about as well. I think this is so important. I do have to remember though – honesty means you may hear things you do not like or agree with – the honesty is more important though. Remember, if your child wants to talk – take the opportunity there and then. I have found that if you don’t they may not come back later.
Going along to a parenting class does not mean you are a bad parent – it just means you need some support. I am so glad I went. I met other parents in the same situation and that was reassuring.
The course I attended was run by John Rivers with his colleagues. I am, to this day, grateful for the opportunity to go along – it did change my home life. It did what it says on the tin.