5 Steps You Can Take Now To Stop Worrying As A Parent
I work with a family whose son (on the Autism Spectrum) was visiting his dad in Europe for 2 months. For the first time, his Mom was not worried about him being away from her. She shared with us that the last time he had gone to visit his dad, she had called up every day-as she was worried about him. This time, however, she was calm and did not find the need to call every day. The youngster also thoroughly enjoyed his vacation. Obviously, parent training and being on the RDI Program, had helped the mother to be confident about her son. What stood out for me was the fact that she had ‘let go’ in a healthy manner.
The question that she posed at our interactive group session was, ‘Should I worry about not being worried about him?’
I shared a story with the class – a story close to my heart.
My uncle passed away at a young age. My aunt was left on her own to bring up 3 daughters, single handedly. It was a difficult existence for her. She was an incredible human being who always greeted every one with love and a smile on her face. But yes, she was unhappy too. Property disputes, not getting along with relatives were very much a part of her life. They often visited our Guru, a Sufi saint, who lived in a village- 6 hours from Karachi. On one such visit, Duru, who had developmental difficulties, was sitting in the passenger seat, next to the driver. She suddenly indicated that she wanted to sit at the back. So my aunt exchanged places with her. Within a few minutes, there was a major car crash. My aunt and the driver died on the spot. Duru, got away with a few bruises as she was cushioned between her younger sisters. Her sisters were badly injured with broken bones, deep cuts on the face that required plastic surgery. You can imagine how nightmarish this was for the 3 sisters. Besides the physical ordeal, the emotional impact of losing an only parent, can only be imagined.
The younger sisters then, took up the responsibility of looking after Duru. Things were moving along well. In time, both sisters found suitable grooms, got married and moved away to the US. Bless them! They both deserved every bit of happiness too. Duru was left with caretakers to look after her. Since there were relatives living in the same bungalow, they would also check on her occasionally. After a couple of years, her mother’s younger sister, had a change of heart and decided to take Duru into her own home to look after her. Duru was happy and started calling her aunt, ‘mummy’.
All of us, close relatives, breathed sighs of relief!
However, her health wasn’t great and she was growing weaker and weaker. One day, after breakfast, she asked for water. ‘Mummy’ came back within a minute with a glass of water. But Duru was no more. She had passed away.
Peacefully and quietly- in a flash of a moment.
Duru was only 45. She was taken care of in life and death.
We worry about things that we have no control over. But can we actually control anything? Not just related to the story above about people with special needs- but in every area of our life.
Worry feels like a very ‘real’ emotion, creating intricate cobwebs in our brain. Yet, we need to rise above these unnecessary, weighted complexities.
I am certainly not saying that we should shy away from responsibility. For children/adults with special needs, it is important to take an objective look at their skill areas and then further enhance these skills to work on employment options. Take care of their future by creating a trust and narrow down on guardians for the future.
Do whatever needs to be done, and then, quit worrying!
Yes, it’s a tall order that applies to all areas of our lives.
Here are my 5 E’s to help you de-stress immediately:
Everybody knows that exercise releases endorphins – that create the ‘feel good’ factor. Brisk walking, running, yoga, surya namaskars- all these are beneficial. Besides the endorphins, the ‘me time’ is essential too.
Healthy eating is a must. This is a constant battle in my house too. My daughter prefers pizzas and burgers to home cooked dal chaval. So our constant endeavor, is to be very creative with the cooking! And it’s equally important to stay well hydrated. Not with Colas and Red Bulls! Just good old water!
Engage with little children and pets
Ever played with a little child and felt that ‘incredible’ feeling? Children and pets have this innate quality of engaging us in the present. The present moment has a feel of timelessness to it.
Choose to focus on the positive. Dwell on it. Be grateful. Maintain a gratitude diary. I have actually experienced the benefits of maintaining one.
What do you like to do? What are your hobbies? What is your passion?
Go after these with a vengeance. Live your life. After all, you only get one life. And you deserve happiness as much as anyone else.
All of the above will enhance your own life as well as your family’s life.
Here are some lines from an all time favorite song- Imagine by John Lennon
Imagine all the people
Living for today
You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will live as one.
Are you worried about something? Feel free to leave a comment or send me an email. I would love to help in whatever way I can.
Kamini Lakhani is the founder and director of SAI Connections. She has been providing services in the field of autism for more than 25 years and is the authorized director of Professional Training for RDI in India and the Middle East. She is also the mother of a young adult with autism.