by Cas Faulds
I hear a lot of parents say that they had to give up on their dreams and expectations for their children. It’s not always parents of autistic children. Sometimes, it’s parents of children without any disabilities, but it does seem to be a recurring theme in communities where parents of autistic children gather.
This type of thinking confuses me. Would you like to know what dreams I have had to give up for my son?
Not a single one.
My son is almost nine years old. Nine years ago, I had a dream of what I wanted my life to be like in the future. That dream hasn’t been fulfilled, but still I didn’t give up on anything.
I changed my dreams as things changed. I adapted my dreams according to the changing needs of both my son and I because that’s what parents do.
Almost nine years ago, my son entered my life, and my life is better for his presence in it. I am responsible for guiding an individual to adulthood, but I am not responsible for deciding what or who that individual might become.
My dreams and expectations are not his dreams and expectations. He has his own just as it should be.
I have a dream about what I want my life to be like in the future. I have set goals in order to achieve that dream, but that dream might not be fulfilled. I might need to adjust my expectations based on our future situation, but that doesn’t mean that I am giving up on anything.
Life is full of change, and I’m simply changing my dreams to match what life is currently like. I can’t begrudge my son that.
I won’t put the responsibility of fulfilling my dreams on my son because he has his own dreams, and I don’t think that children should ever be responsible for fulfilling their parents’ dreams or expectations.
As a parent, you don’t ever have to give up on your dreams or your expectations. You just need to change them to incorporate the needs of a separate individual, and when that happens, you’re not giving up on anything. You’re simply building new dreams.