When we have a child with Pathological Demand Avoidance (or we suspect PDA) we start reading up and researching, a lot!
Most families have a lot at stake and want to get things ‘right’ more desperately than anyone will ever know.
Trust me, we put waaay to much pressure on ourselves!
We come across goldmines like Facebook groups with other PDA parents in, websites like The PDA Society and we start to realise we are not alone, and there is no blame here! Phew!
That’s a massive relief and we set about finding out all the best ways to finally give our child the best of support and we, as advised, make adjustments to their environment.
Sometimes these adjustments are seen as extreme, but they are all worth it because of the relief they bring for everyone.
Oh, except there is blame! There is blame everywhere – ouch! Just because we have a diagnosis and follow the wonderful advice is somehow doesn’t seem to make that blame culture up and vanish.
And what’s not talked about much (and I’m really passionate about) is the environment of the parents of these amazing children!
The physical and emotional environment alike.
Ross Greene says children will do all if they can!
I believe that.
I believe that people do well if they can!
But, parents are presumed incompetent in our culture, and that without adding the complexities of the little understood PDA diagnosis into the mix.
If a child isn’t developing within strict parameters then parents are sent on parenting classes where one size must fit all, and the classes are not exactly optional as they are the only gateway to further support mostly.
This kind of conditional support is not in my option support at all, it is control.
So many parents couldn’t get out to the class even if they wanted to –
another layer of blame right there!
With a ‘do it my way or the highway’ approach to (cough) support no wonder many parents decide to find their own path.
Just as our children cannot thrive in an environment where they feel controlled, us parents cannot best facilitate their wellbeing when we are having our strings yanked.
We are ALL responsible as parents for the choices we make raising our children whether we tick those boxes and jump through those hoops or not.
I’ll be honest that (although it would seem unlikely to those who know me) have a lot of envy for those who find they can follow the automatic mainstream path without even realising they are actually making those choices for themselves.
They flow along and it just seems to work out OK enough (or they don’t notice otherwise) and they don’t stop and question every choice about everything.
But no, not for me, because I do know and cannot unknow, that whether I choose what everyone else is doing, or not, I still am choosing it!
I have free will, you have free will and we get to determine what next.
My child’s education is my choice, my responsibility whether they spend their day at home or at school.
The same for their food, their health, their mental wellbeing.
If like me, and most parents, you wear the weight of responsibility too heavy already.
Please know I don’t say this to make ‘responsibility’ a heavier burden, but rather to level the playing field.
To remind you we ALL have free will whether we are exercising it or not.
You see, I notice that those who choose the automatic cultural path receive great sympathy when things are hard for them.
People sympathise and support them as they battle, fight and hold on for dear life when the system is not suiting them – as long as they hold on in there!
Fighting and struggling become a badge of honour.
Those who go are brave enough to accept the ‘norm’ doesn’t fit them and go off the beaten track (way off over here btw) also have times of struggle even though we’ve decided to wave the peace flag.
The very reason they have probably made different choices is because life has called them to need to find a different way. Because the path offered up didn’t fit them or support them at all. They need all the compassion and support in the world as they navigate the untrodden path.
Please hold them in love.
Please hold everyone in love! We are all doing the best we know how.
Maybe you’re reading this feeling rather alone and afraid?
Many it seems compassion is lacking as you fiercely try to do right by your family and tune into your wisdom and discernment.
I see you
We see you
You are doing a wonderful wonderful job
Asking questions matters!
Connection & Compassion matter!
Your wisdom matters!
If today you are feeling wobbly I would like to hold your hand and reassure you that although you don’t have all the answers that no one else does either so sing your expertise with confidence and remember to smile and enjoy the ride.
“Standing at the end of a hallway
Dozens of doors you never tried to open
Narrow vision, you’re the scapegoat
You fix things that have never been broken”
(Men I Trust)