What do you do if you disagree heartily with your spouse about the best strategies for raising your youngster with autism? Over the years, I have only known a few couples who have seen eye-to-eye about raising kids – whether the youngsters are diagnosed with autism or not.
I am certainly not qualified to be a marriage counselor, but I’ve learned a few things over the years that might be helpful for parents who are at odds with their spouse over child-rearing.
1. PEOPLE DISAGREE. I think it is just human nature to disagree – boss vs employee, brother vs sister, teen vs adult, customer vs business owner, teacher vs student, mom vs kids vs dad. Although autism adds intensity to the disagreement, I encourage people to recognize the disagreements are part of human nature.
2. MOMS AND DADS ARE DIFFERENT. Moms simply view the world differently from dads. Because of the different perspectives of men and women, the challenges of dealing with autism are magnified in family situations. I’ve talked to dads who think their wives are overreacting, and I’ve talked to moms who think their husbands don’t care about their child with autism. I’ve talked to moms who think their husbands are too strict and demanding, and I’ve talked to dads who think their wives are spoiling their child with autism.
3. CONFLICT ADDS STRESS. Sometimes we make matters worse because we want the other person to agree with us. We get very agitated with our spouse because they don’t respond to our attempts to change them. That tension between mom and dad just adds stress to daily family life, especially when the arguments erupt in front of the kids. Our kids also pick up on our negative comment and complaints about our spouse. Complaining and nagging often make the other person more stubborn and even less likely to listen to our point of view
4. AGREE TO DISAGREE. We need to simply accept the fact that we will not always “win.” In many cases, our stubborn husbands or our emotional wives are not going to change, so we need to just let some things go. Accepting this fact runs counter to human nature, but agreeing to disagree is often the only way to bring peace to the family.
TIP FOR THE DAY: I realize all this is easier said than done. But it is important to take a step back and think about the well-being of your youngster with autism. Arguments, discord, strife, and complaints about the other person rarely add to quality of life. It is often more productive to take a deep breath, accept the situation we are in, and carry on.
NOTE TO READERS AND LISTENERS: I am Cathy Knoll, a board certified music therapist and long-time friend of many folks with autism. At FAQautism.com we are committed to providing free, practical, everyday tips for making life better for people with autism. Feel free to send me a confidential email at talk@FAQautism.com with your thoughts or challenging situations or innovative solution. And don’t forget to check out our website for a wealth of ideas and a glimpse into the world of autism. http://FAQautism.com