So, a couple days ago I was kind of falling apart. Feeling isolated and alone and frustrated in general. I got some support on Facebook after writing about it. Here is the post about my son’s medicine kerflufle: https://fishjello.wordpress.com/2013/06/15/a-spoon-full-of-sugar-doesnt-do-crap/
This week I am feeling much better about it and about how I handled it.
First I sat down and wrote my son’s doctor a letter expressing my concerns and giving her the name and numbers of our therapists in case she is interested in educating her staff more. I pointed out many things about this whole “force your child to take medicine” thing that made me upset and uncomfortable. I told her I really love her and her staff and really trust them, but that we feel this was dealt with very inappropriately and why.
Second, I talked to my son. I told him that I was not going to force him to take the medicine, but that if he gets more sick we may have to get a shot or something like that. He understood and had already told me that he thought a shot would be less scary than facing the medicine twice a day for 10 days. He even thought the hospital would be less scary.
I talked to him about personal boundaries and about how our bodies are only ours and no one else’s and that I was proud of him for telling me what was scary and uncomfortable for his body. I told him that anytime something feels scary or uncomfortable within his personal boundaries that he should talk to me or his dad about it. I did tell him that sometimes in life we have to do difficult things – like trying new foods – but that mom would never MAKE him do anything that really scared him, and that I respect his personal needs and space. (I don’t know what we will say if it ever comes down to a surgery or something that has to be done but is terrifying, but we will cross that bridge when we get to it.)
It was very interesting because after this discussion we decided to try to get out a little bit yesterday and were at a place with other kids we didn’t know. He started playing with some girls, but he was playing in a way they didn’t like. He was chasing them, even though they asked him not to and after I talked to him about not chasing once he even started pulling on them or trying to pin them down. I stopped him and made him stop playing until he could control himself. I had him apologize to the girls for not listening to them and respecting when they asked him to stop, and I made him leave them alone so they weren’t more uncomfortable. He had to go play in a different area of the play place because he had made them feel unsafe. He understood why and he felt badly about making someone feel unsafe. He was able to get back under control and we talked about it after we left again. I told him even if he gets over excited it isn’t ok to touch other people or play with other people in a way that feels bad to them. I explained to him that just like his body tells him when he is scared or uncomfortable, so do other people’s bodies. I talked to him quite a bit about how when someone asks him to stop or tells him no or even seems uncomfortable (but maybe can’t say stop), he needs to stop doing whatever it is that makes them feel bad. And if they are really upset, he needs to get a grownup to help and to leave them alone. I talked to him about him feeling scared of grownups making him eat or take medicine and I talked to him about how other kids get scared when they have to do something they don’t want to and we don’t want to be the one to scare them.
I came home and modified that letter to the doctor. I mentioned this incident briefly – I pointed out that if parents are forcing their children to do things that are extremely painful or uncomfortable, how do we teach them respect of other’s boundaries? How do we teach them to defend their own boundaries? If my son encounters an adult who does something that makes him uncomfortable, but has been told over and over he just has to do what grownups (even doctors or nurses or parents) say, then how will he stick up for himself and how will he trust me to realize how scary this was when he comes to tell me what happened? If he doesn’t trust me to respect his boundaries how will he trust me to defend them? If he doesn’t know that his boundaries are to be respected and honored, how will he respect and honor other’s boundaries?
I am glad I made the decisions I did. I am glad I had a talk with my son and even more glad that we had an opportunity to reinforce the idea. I am proud of him for sticking up for his personal space and I am glad he trusts me enough to tell me he is afraid.
I feel more empowered now, and I feel like maybe I can help others out there with similar problems. I haven’t figured out how yet, but I am going to work on it.
Thank you all that gave me support. It takes a village. I am glad I have a good one.