Tuesday, November 14, 2017


I’ve been told — by people I respect, people I love — that I am spoiling my child (and I’m sure plenty of others think the same thing). 

Does this happen to you? It’s infuriating! 

At the same time…I get it. 

Figure 1 - Perceptions of Spoiling

Here are some sample phrases I say to my son every day:

“You’re the greatest!”

“I am so proud of you.”

“Do you know have a heart of gold?”

I believe that my son, who is on the autism spectrum, and has ADHD and other learning, neurological, and motor differences, needs to hear someone say such things about him. 

True things!

Am I building him up too much to overcompensate for a world which often devalues those with differences? Is he spoiled if - partly because of the ways I celebrate him, and in spite of his tough times in many realms (social, academic…) - he thinks he is all that and a bag of chips

Some people think so. 

When chore time comes around, because he has significant challenges with executive function (as well as focus and fine motor stuff), his chores are more simple than those my daughter performs.

Is this fair? Is he spoiled in what I ask him to do? 

Some people think so. 

Parenting two children who possess extremely divergent strengths, I feel Fully qualified to state that as parents we know what our children can and cannot do.

But we do need to leave room for them to grow - and sometimes push them to do so. 

I want my son to feel good about himself. Apparently that (rather counterintuitively) involves sometimes letting him take chances and fail. Offering constructive criticism. I’m working on these. Trying to grow myself...Self-reflection is one of our most important -- and hardest -- practices, both as parents and as human beings! 

I desperately want my son to develop practical life skills; but he’s developing these at his own pace. Could I sometimes ask for more from him? Probably. Still, people with developmental differences…well, they develop at their own pace. Some of what people may see as spoiled might have to do with my child not “acting his age,” because, on some levels, he essentially isn't his "age." 

My parenting purposes here - helping my son feel good about himself and helping him develop life skills - actually seem to sometimes be at odds.

See, it’s such a fine line, this parenting of children with differences. I hope I’m doing it right, but at least I know I’m doing the best I can. Dear readers, I know you are too.

Figure 2 - Venn Diagram of Spoiling Factors

Are you spoiling your child? Am I? I don’t know. (Sorry if you thought I had the answer!)

I just want my children to be as healthy as possible in this zany world. 

Full Spectrum Mama

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