Thursday, December 2, 2010

Connecting With My Son

For the first few years of Andrew’s life when it was time for him to go to bed, I would lie down with him until we both drifted off to sleep. Sometimes we would lie down and “talk!” His vocabulary was quite limited for the first years of his life. We were teaching him sign language, but it’s hard to use sign language when you are talking in bed with the lights off. Other times, times we were just quiet in each other’s presence. We bonded! We connected on a level that went beyond words! We enjoyed just being with each other! There was nothing so dear to my heart to see this babe of mine settle into a deep sleep after having a difficult day with “acting out!”

During the summer months, we would have the window open and look at the stars and listen to the crickets. When winter made its debut, we would still open the window a crack and experience the frosty air as we snuggled together under a cozy fort made from my comforter. Autumn would bring the sound of leaves swirling around in the wind. Spring had thunderstorms to display! God’s creation was so fascinating to us!

We were also known to break out in song once in a while! Jesus Loves Me, My God is So Big and Father Abraham, were just a few songs found in our nightly repertoire. He learned the tune and the words to a lot of different songs, and today he loves music. He loves music so much that Giff and I actually broke down and bought him a drum for his birthday one year. Yes, it gets noisy at times, but we don’t want to squelch his desire to play music or to sing songs. (One of the first few things he was able to say was a line from a song on our local Christian radio station, “Word of God Speak….!”)

This nightly ritual was my way of connecting with my mentally handicapped, non-verbal son in the early years. I know to some, this was against all sound parenting advice. But then again, the tried-and-true sage parenting advice that was supposed to work “in three easy steps” was usually ineffective for this boy of mine. I knew by lying down with him night after night, I was creating a habit that was later going to be difficult to break; however, I cherished those times with Andrew. And I know he cherished them in his heart as well!

My advice to you is to KNOW your child! Find ways to connect and to bond with each one individually. What works for one, might not work for the other. Listen to the “professionals” and the “doctors,” but in the end, this is your child. YOU KNOW WHAT’S BEST! Only you know your child and what you both need. I’m not talking about doing something selfishly just because you need/want it. Of course, we need to use wisdom and do what’s ultimately best for our children. But our babes are not cookies made from the same cookie cutter or out of the same lump of dough. They are unique individuals with unique wants and needs. God created each one special—special needs or not! He will guide you in how to connect and how to bond regardless of what else is going on in your lives.

It may take time and patience, but the investment will be well worth the effort! Listen to your instinct and trust that you have what it takes to parent your children. God will guide you in what’s best for each of them. Ultimately, it is He who loves them even more than you do!

PS: Andrew eventually started sleeping in his own bed and has been the best nighttime sleeper of all four of my boys!

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