The title says so much, yet so little. “Parenting with intention. The non-incident that became a life lesson.” Because seriously, who doesn’t have conflict in their life?
In our home, conflict can go one of two ways. We can either get through it successfully, or the whole world falls apart for the family, and in particular for David.
David and Mom both know I am writing this post. We feel it shows an important breakthrough for our whole family, and I wanted to write about it.
What didn’t happen.
Money went missing. More than 50 dollars. After a lengthy search, David was confronted about it.
As he always does, he denied it.
David became overwhelmed with the accusation. Yelling, and becoming very upset.
I left an event I was attending with my father and hurried home.
Once home, I entered David’s bedroom, he was extremely agitated. I admit, it didn’t help that he started yelling at me. So I did what comes naturally, and yelled back. I told him he needed to back down just a little bit and that I hadn’t accused him of anything. Like Mom though, I suspected that he had taken the money.
In the end, I had to make a run to the store for some grocery items. I opted to take David with me.
David was near hysterical at this point. So rather than going to the store, we drove a few blocks, and parked on the side of the street. In the midst of his tears, David told me again that he didn’t take the money. He did tell me repeatedly that he was afraid we were going to send him away.
Mom and I made a promise to ourselves and David that we wouldn’t put him back in care again unless there was a safety risk of some kind to David.
I explained to David that we would not be sending him away. Further, I said, regardless of where the money went, it is gone. Right? It can’t come back. I didn’t accuse him of taking it. We sat on that street for a good 45 minutes just talking, with me reassuring him that we weren’t sending him away.
The phone call home.
In the end, I asked David what he wanted to do. He wanted to go back home and give everyone a hug and tell them he was sorry for messing up what was supposed to be a day of celebration. (It was an Aunt’s birthday). So I called home. I placed Mom on speaker phone so that David could hear what I was telling her.
“David wants to know if he can come and give everyone a hug.” I said.
Through his tears, David asked “is it okay if I do that?”
Mom said “absolutely.”
Before we returned to the house, I talked a bit further with David explaining that we would simply state “the money is gone, and we can’t get it back. – We wouldn’t admit taking it, we wouldn’t say anything else about it. ”
I also told David that if Mom found the money, she would apologize for accusing him of taking it.
David was okay with that. We parked in front of the house, and he waited while I went inside and explained things to the family.
I said “David is incredibly worried that we are going to send him away. I explained to him that we wouldn’t be doing so. In addition, I explained what David and I had agreed upon regarding a statement about the money.”
The return home.
At this point, David was welcomed into the house. Still very upset, but he was not so upset as to be incoherent, he gave everyone huge, long hugs while apologizing for ruining the birthday celebration. Because he was still upset, he returned to his bedroom to calm himself down further. While this was all going on, I made the trip to the store for the food items we needed.
Later in the evening.
Mom was doing something in our bedroom, and discovered the missing money.
She immediately called for David. He fearing an accusation, went to her.
She gave him a hug and said “I am sorry I accused you. Look what I found, showing him the missing money.”
David thanked her for her apology. He didn’t gloat the fact that he said he didn’t take the money. He just thanked her for apologizing.
We learned long ago that when anything went missing, David was the culprit. Thus, when this kind of thing happens, he is the logical culprit. A part of this, David is the only child left at home. So if something went missing, there is literally no one else who could have taken it. In this case, it was the result of misplacement by Mom.
This experience for our family has opened our eyes to the changes David has undergone. I can’t explain it. In the past, he has shown zero remorse for his actions. And while this event wasn’t a theft, it shows the depth of emotion that he is capable of. Literally surprising his family. Moving forward, we will need to go back to our intention last winter before we brought him home.
What was that intention?
To give David at least 48 hours after an event before we talk to him about it, and that we not confront him, rather we approach it as a conversation. When we converse instead of accuse him of things.
Does he do things that are wrong, try to take advantage? or otherwise abuse the privileges that he is given? Heck yes.
Mom and I need to continue to evaluate and update how we parent him.
We need to evaluate our expectations of him. I do still believe that he has limitations in aspects of his life, but we are still learning about each other. At 17, he is a man. Yet in a lot of ways he is still a child. We will be seeking a psych evaluation in the future to see what has changed over the last few years. Part of that is a functional assessment of his daily living skills. We will be working closely with his Applied Behavior Analysis team on this assessment. It’s important going forward because while David is a junior in high school, and has some academic limitations, he has expressed a desire to go to college.
We will support him.
It is important for our readers to understand, even with the 48 hour delay in talking to David about incidents that happen in his life, we still hold him accountable for the things that he does.
Now if we could just figure out how to help him comprehend multiple instruction sets. More on that subject later.