When our kids have problems, it's the worst feeling in the world as a parent. All we want to do is solve the problem, but sometimes we can't. Even still, sometimes as parents . . . we deny that there's a real issue in the first place. Most of the time when this happens, it's not because a parent is stupid, but that a parent has such strong emotions about the matter that ignoring those ugly and sad feelings is easier than rolling up their sleeves and dealing with those feelings and the problem at hand. As a teacher, I used to see this all the time. A parent would brush off our concerns, refuse to communicate with me and the staff, or put the blame on the school. It was frustrating, but now, as a parent, I have more empathy for those parents who were in "Denial Land."
Here are a few signs that you may be blowing off a child's problem and living in that land called "Denial!"
Family Brings Up a Topic Frequently
When a particular topic comes up about your child with you and your family often, most likely your family thinks it's a problem. If you find yourself avoiding this topic, you might be in denial. For example, Grandma notices junior's speech isn't the same as his little peers and so she mentions this to you, and you find yourself making excuses or not taking her seriously despite how much she brings it up.
Grandma may indeed be wrong, but you also may be in denial.
The Doctor Suggests Testing, But You Say No
Obviously sometimes a family or medical professional will have the wrong hunch or opinion about your child and you may know it's wrong, thanks to mother's instinct, but if a doctor recommends testing or therapy and you won't even stand to listen to the doctor's advice, you may be in denial.
What does it hurt to get a second opinion? If you're sure there's not a problem, all it does is cost you some time and some money. But aren't your kids worth it?
Ignoring a potential problem will only cause more heartache down the line.
Does Your Spouse See a Problem, Yet You Don't?
If your spouse is constantly tapping on your shoulder to point out behaviors he notices in your child, yet you have an excuse or comment for all of his concerns, the problem may be you.
When my ex-husband and I separated and my daughter started acting out and having accidents, I knew right away there was a problem, and thankfully I knew the reason for her behaviors. She was very little and the divorce was confusing to her. My ex was hesitant to seek help in easing this difficult transition period, but he did ultimately join forces with me to help her with play therapy. It's not always easy to see your kid struggle, especially if you have parental guilt about whether you should or not. In the long run, though, dealing with the matter is the best course of action for your child. I have seen such a difference with play therapy. It has helped my preschooler adjust to divorce and all of the changes that come with it.
Changing Schools and Activities Often
Do you find yourself changing daycares, teachers, schools, or activities frequently, and yet you tell yourself it must be something wrong with the establishment or teachers?
Most likely, the issue lies with you. As in, you not helping your child with a problem that everyone else can see and is bringing your attention to.
I had one student switch schools three times by age 4! He was violent and wanted to get a reaction. He hit not only his peers and some of the teachers, including me, but he hit his mother. The parents denied any trouble at home and said he behaved well enough at home. Something wasn't adding up. No matter what the case was, they wouldn't seek another opinion. Instead, they left our school and went to a fourth school. I still wonder today how he is doing.
You'll Do It!
Your kid is struggling with homework or with using scissors and other hand held tools, or refuses to speak to anyone, so instead you take over and do the homework; you do the cutting, or you speak for her in order to compensate for what your child isn't doing well.
Instead of getting your child an evaluation with a consultant or therapist, you just make up for the missing pieces. But how long can you do that, filling in your kiddo's gaps?
We need to help our kids survive in the real world and doing things for them won't help them down the line. Teach them tools no matter what the issue is and kids will learn to thrive!
Isolate Your Child
Professionals, friends, and family mention that little Jill seems as if she's socially awkward or maybe they think little Joseph's mood seems very morbid. Rather than deal with these comments, you've become more reclusive and don't socialize or attend doctor's appointments or teacher conferences anymore in order to avoid the matter. The question is, though, how long can you hide from others, and is this good for your child?
You already know the answer. I don't even need to tell you.
Each child, just like each adult, comes with his or her own struggles and strengths. Refusing to help a child because addressing the fact that there is a problem hurts too much for you is not acceptable. Yes, it stinks to feel as if you have failed your child somehow, but believe me, most likely you did nothing wrong! Life happens. You are a great mother and your child was dealt a bad hand, as we all are dealt from time to time. Join a support group, talk to friends, cry, punch a pillow, do yoga . . . whatever it takes!
Just don't avoid getting help. The sooner you address a problem, the sooner things will get better, even if they get harder for a little while.