Every parent must feel overwhelmed during their parenting journey. When you add the complexities of the adoption process followed by the FASD assessment journey we have certainly had our challenges. However, even during the toughest times, my husband and I often comment that parenting our amazing trio has taught us many important lessons and what better time to share these than during FASD month…

  1.  Every cloud has a silver lining. We previously had the tendency to be a bit doom and gloom at times. Our children have reminded us that there is always a bright side and focusing on that is paramount. Sometimes the positives are hidden amidst the chaos, but it is important to look for and reflect on them.

  2. Celebrate every triumph. Just getting through the week can be cause for celebration; a full week at school is no mean feat.  Part of this has involved changing our expectations, both of our children and of ourselves. Our children need to feel loved, safe and happy and anything else is a bonus!

  3. We need to live for the moment. Our children’s impulsivity and often boundless enthusiasm exemplifies this important life lesson. There is little point in focusing too far into the future and analysing the myriad of scary, unchangeable ‘What ifs?’ our family could face.  Instead, we can focus on making the ‘Now’ amazing with absolute certainty that life is never going to be boring!

  4. Pick your Battles has been central to our parenting journey. My husband describes our approach as ‘inverse parenting’ where you often do the opposite of the parenting rule book.  Is it really the end of the world if our daughter had a Kinder Egg for breakfast…? Particularly if the alternative is a dysregulated, ‘hangry’ child who can’t cope with the demands of their day. 

  5. Never compare yourself to others. A concept we try to instil in our children but applies equally to us adults. Having confidence that we know our children best and are focused on what is right for them even when that can seem unconventional e.g., the afore-mentioned breakfast!

  6. It’s OK to make mistakes. Another lesson we try to teach our children but often forget ourselves. Parents are not perfect; we often get it wrong. Our children have amazed us by their ability to forgive (but maybe not forget) some of our errors providing they are followed by an apology and acknowledgement that we don’t always get it right.

  7. Nothing is forgotten. I thought I had a good memory but I am no match for our children in this department. Their long-term memory is an amazing strength which they are all proud of and rightly so. Our children remember the good times but also have a unique ability to recall our mistakes and usually relay these at the most inopportune moments!

  8. Silence can be golden. This is a hard lesson. When your child is distressed and escalating it is automatic to provide comfort, however, even reassuring words may not have the soothing effect you intend. Similarly, when an argument is brewing, we need to be the first to stop talking.  Of course, if our children are silent, it is usually not a good sign and requires further investigation!! 

  9. Courage and determination. Our children are the bravest, strongest people I have ever met. Many of us could not comprehend some of the adversity they have faced as well as added stresses of being neurodivergent. They have inspired us to be more confident advocates than I could ever have imagined, fuelled by a determination to protect them and woe betide anyone who stands in our way.
  • Compassion and empathy. Our children often display kindness and empathy well beyond their years. This has helped us to remain compassionate during the most difficult times. On this subject, I’m highly aware that some families may read this in times of crisis and hope they can access the support of the FASD Hub who are there to help make all our journeys a little bit easier. 

L. Harris