I work with families who have children with special needs. Every child is special. Every parent has a dream for their child. This is respected. As children grow and develop many typical developments, however some take an atypical path. These children require additional needs to support them.
To the parents of these children, their dream seems dashed and they go through a tough experience to accept the additional needs of the child. Their feelings are normal and respected.
There are parents who have discussed this with me in our sessions. They say they “accept” the additional needs, however find it “tough to move forward”.
My listening tells me there is a gap: they accept the situation and yet find it difficult to move forward.
Together we explore this gap:
Shan: Parent, what is “accept” to you?
Parent: “Accept’’ is, he is my child and he learns differently.
Shan: Thanks for sharing, why then is it “tough to move forward”?
Parent: Silence…….. Good question …… Silence…….. Actually, I wish he was like my elder child, who can do things for himself, able to score in the exams and many more. Why does my younger child have to develop this way? Why us……???? (Tears rolling down the eyes}.
Shan: Silence……. I understand how difficult it is for you…..
Parent: Thank you for your understanding … doctor.
Shan: How important is your younger child to you?
Parent: (without hesitation). He is very important and is as special as my elder…
Shan: That is great!! Why then difficult to take him as he is?
Parent: Silence………Wow……Doctor, I never thought of it that way. I always looked at him from my expectations….
Shan: Parent, that is a great realization ….. What now?
Parent: I will accept him as he is from the bottom of my heart, provide him the necessary support and not compare with my elder child.
The exploration above is the onset of acceptance of reality. So, what is acceptance and can we consciously internalise it to move forward?
Acceptance is a conscious, courageous and daring decision. It is a voluntary and courageous process. Acceptance requires understanding, strength and commitment to assimilate the reality.
Thus, acceptance can be a challenge. We can say we “accept” the reality, however, until our mind internalises the acceptance of that reality we would not have moved forward.
There are situations that tend to overwhelm us, as the scenario in the conversation above.
We often ignore what we do not want to see. We refuse to see differently as we deny the reality. Our expectations control our perspective.
The coach challenges these perspectives and supports the client to become aware of the situation as it is. Raising the awareness of the client, enables them to visualise the situation in the moment, i.e. as it is rather than from their expectation.
This awareness enables the client to come to terms with the situation and finally internalise i.e. accept from “the bottom of their heart” …… ACCEPTANCE!
It is important to note that one does not have to like, want, or support whatever it is that you are accepting. You have now stopped trying to change what cannot be changed.
The acceptance makes one change one’s approach to the situation. One tends to focus in the moment and manage the situation to get the best outcome possible.
With the changed approach one becomes relaxed with the situation and the part within us resisting the situation is laid to rest.
Acceptance allows one to have a “new beginning”… as Steve Maraboli, American writer, said “Acceptance makes an incredible fertile soil for the seeds of change”.
Yes ….. Acceptance is the pathway to move forward.
Written by Dr Shan Narayanan, a Consultant Paediatrician, a Life Transformation Coach and a Public Speaker. He can be contacted at email firstname.lastname@example.org or https://www.facebook.com/drshanclinicipoh/.