In life we tend to have boundaries or in other words, things that we will not compromise on. For me I draw the line with my core values. My core values and my faith are pretty much concrete. Everything else in my life tends to be negotiable. One thing that I thought would never be negotiable is how I would raise my kids. By the time my son was four years old, I realized that the concrete line that I created for how I would raise him would quickly become a line in the sand. The line in the sand could and would easily disappear depending on how the tide came crashing in with his social-emotional difficulties.
In the last five years advocating for my son, I’ve come to realize that you have to be flexible when advocating for any child but especially children with special education needs. I’m aware that my interpretation of drawing the line in the sand may seem a bit unstable. Every year the school is mandated to do an annual check on the child’s IEP and to adjust the IEP as needed per the child’s progress or decline. The idea of managing my son’s difficulties and having the same expectations but not willing to adjust with his progress or declines seems to be more about my ego than about his progress. The line in the sand has allowed me permission to adjust so that I can not only be advocate but also a student and mentee of other avenues, programs and resources.
I am very grateful that I finally allowed myself to change and not to resist the alternative ways to handle his social emotional difficulties. I could never had imagined that I would have to put my son into counseling at the age of four. He was a part of many programs that have taught him how to manage his responses to situations. I have went as a far as having my son admitted for a psychiatric evaluation at the local children’s hospital for some support which ultimately landed me a spot in the amazing and I mean amazing parent program called The Incredible Years. The Incredible Years program is a sixteen week program that I went to every Monday for two hours with other parents who have the same social emotional difficulties with their children. The diversity in economic status, race, cultural and family dynamic was amazing. This program www.incredibleyears.com gave me so many different ways to productively and positively parent according to his personal difficulties which were quite a ways from the traditional and concrete ideas I originally had for parenting. These alternatives ways taught me to structure my son’s needs based on personal circumstances and not on tradition or how I was parented in a way that really works for my son. Allowing myself to create that line in the sand and to be okay with it being blurred quite often never made me compromise my concrete core values or my faith.
Be honest with yourself as an advocate on what is or isn’t effectively working. Sometimes we have to really take inventory especially as parents because we have this pre-notion idea of how we are going to parent our children and how they are going to behave and when it goes against our “best” ideas and wishes we take it personal. Take a look at your child as an advocate from the outside looking in and see what areas you might need to forego that concrete line and allow for a little “sandy beach” for your line in the sand and be ready to adjust.
“Drawing a line in the sand is more about setting an expectation but being flexible and less about non-negotiable boundaries; You have to be ready and willing to adjust when the tide of reality comes crashing in to blur the lines. Non-negotiables belong in concrete.” Nicole S.