Sunday, June 19, 2011

Advice for Parents

Last week I was reading Rick's Blog post about being an Asthma Dad, which linked to Kerri's Post about being an asthma parent. With Father's Day this all got me thinking about what advice I would give to parents. Raising a kid with allergies and other issues isn't exactly easy especially if you didn't grow up with it.

My asthma hasn't really been my parents concern hardly at all. I was diagnosed as a young adult... 19 to be exact. I was old enough to sign all my own paperwork, get myself to the doctors, and deal with my own pharmacy stuff. The only way it really relates to them is that I am on their insurance still since I'm a full time student. Occasionally my mom has bailed me out by going to pick up my allergy shot vial(for me to take back to the student health clinic) or running to the pharmacy for me when I have to work late. The majority of the burden falls to me to be an adult and deal with the stuff that needs to happen to keep me going.

Allergies were much my parent's problem growing up. My mom spent upteen nights having me take steamy shower to loosen up the mucus so I'd stop coughing. She also was the one who had to nudge me awake when the benadryl would knock me out during the day.  She also got it cause she's got much the same allergies as I do. She put up with going through pretty much every allergy med on the market with me and bouncing ideas around with the pediatrician(some how an allergist never came up).  Raising a kid with allergies takes quite a bit of patience, and empathy to understand just how hard it is to stay inside when everyone else gets to run around outside.

The dyspraxia is perhaps the hardest for my parents to 'get'. It sounds simple enough on paper but it really does extend so much beyond what people who don't live with it would realise. I strongly rely on habits and routines to make it though the day. Messing with these can really make for some frustrating times on my part which when I was younger would cause a complete meltdown now I am a bit better although I do still lash out occasionally.

To Parents:
  • Especially in the teen years, let the kid take the lead but do be a safety net. Learning from mistakes before you are out on your own with no one to bail you out is important. However, don't play the shame game. There is enough on your child's plate to keep them responsible and force them into a bit more of adulthood they don't need a reason to resent their illness(more).
  • Routines are a great tool for kids with motor skill issues. Colors help too, as left/right are sometimes hard to differentiate(I'm 22 and I still have to use the thumb makes an L trick to tell my Left). Don't criticize slightly unorthodox approaches to accomplishing the same end result as long as they aren't harmful/dangerous. 
  • Build trust so that kids are willing to let you know what's going on and don't try to hide being sick(er than normal) from you. 
  • When possible let the kid set the pace whether it's with allergies or asthma about whether or not they are up to running around outside or with motor skill stuff about when it's time to loose the training wheels. 
  • Patience is key no matter how old they are. You haven't walked a mile in thier shoes(most likely) and so it's hard to know what they are dealing with.
These are what I would say from growing up with a father who didn't get it most of the time. And a mom who did or at least tried. I have a strange relationship with my father it's not that he didn't do good things for me in life but emotionally it's not a tight one.


Anonymous said...

Nice post, Kat. Kinda reminds me of the time my brother was choking on something and my dad was all like "Can I bring you your inhaler?" and my mom looks at him and goes "He's choking, can't you see?" Oh, oops. It's hard for dads sometimes. Especially when they don't have whatever it is their kid has.

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