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The Choices You Have When People Don't Understand Your Child's Condition

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My child isn’t faking it. 

Somewhere along the way, someone taught me that kids are manipulators. They will “fake” things or exaggerate them in order to get out of something. We’ve all heard or maybe even thought, “Oh they’re just faking so they don’t have to _____,” or, “It doesn’t hurt that bad.”

And while testing their world is part of growing up, this idea hurts those who aren’t testing and are just trying to survive feeling the way they do.

The internal conflict we feel as medical moms because of this can be maddening. We know what our kids are like when they think no one is watching. We see how they are trying to live a regular life.

What can we do when someone questions the legitimacy of our child’s illness or symptoms?

#1. Feel powerless.

Yep. We can continue to fester. Powerless to the anger, grief and maybe shame we are feeling. This is often a person’s go-to because they don’t know a better way to handle the situation.

This looks like not knowing what to say to:

  • A therapist believing the physical symptoms have manifested
  • A relative thinking a mobility device is over the top
  • Friends not understanding what the big deal is

#2. Avoid conflict or challenge.

Consciously choose not to get involved with the situation. It is empowering at that moment, instead of jumping into defense mode or problem-solving to choose to walk away.

This looks like:

  • Choosing not to argue with the therapist that they are wrong
  • Choosing not to engage/walking away from the relative who sees things differently
  • Knowing it is not the time to help friends understand

#3. Change the situation.

Do what you can to intervene. Choosing to bring the situation closer to a solution outcome changes the dynamics.

This looks like:

  • Explaining to the therapist changing practices may be best
  • Put the relative in your child’s shoes and ask if they would be more comfortable with a mobility device
  • Letting your friends know how you feel

#4. Alter your perspective of the experience. 

Think of this as the out-of-body experience. Become curious about the other person’s perspective. What they might be thinking and feeling not just what they are saying. How might that understanding change the situation?

This looks like:

  • Asking the therapist what kind of experience they have
  • Explaining to the relative that although it’s out of the ordinary it is really helpful
  • Addressing the outcome your friends want and seeing if there is more to it

#5. Accept it.

By practicing non-judgment we can accept the situation. What happened was not good or bad, it just was. In the scheme of life, it is not even a blip. You can move forward without resentment, worry, anger or even shame.

This looks like:

  • Hearing the therapist’s perspective as their opinion
  • Understanding it is the family member’s opinion
  • Knowing some friends will get it and others won’t

Moving Forward 

If nothing else remember there are five ways to respond to a situation when it arrises. Use this idea to help yourself move from one option to another. Even if you don’t remember exactly what they are you will remember there is a different way to handle it. You just have to choose for it. Download as a PDF to keep handy.

Helping Yourself

Being a medical mom, having the energy to respond to a conflict is a battle in itself. Depending on my energy level I often start at #1 then circle back to another. It all depends on where I’m coming from with my energy.

When I feel scattered, exhausted and drowning I respond accordingly. But when I’ve practiced quiet time, meditation and exercise my response comes from a much more patient and healthy place. It really is amazing the difference your energy for the day can have on your response to conflict. So I encourage you to find a few moments throughout your day to just be.

Follow this journey on Focused Direction.

Getty image via dragana991

Originally published: December 30, 2020
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