“Thundering. Sleep with you?” He’s 40. We move over and he slides into our queen sized bed because we are just too tired to make more of an effort; but if we can muster up the energy, one of us walks him back to his room (upstairs) and will sleep with him for a while until the storm subsides. It might seem weird that a 40 year old will want to be comforted by us; but you must think “age 3”…then it makes perfect sense.
As a “child forever” we realize that he isn’t going to consider us in his day to day living. He isn’t going to think, “Oh, mom and dad could use a little time together” or “They seem to be working; I’ll talk to them later.” While a man body is always with us; the child is, too. To keep from being frustrated we have found a few things helpful:
- Meet their immediate needs – often by doing so, they can then move on to something else besides us as parents. We have found that understanding why they are interrupting or needing us is resolved when we take a few minutes to really understand them. It’s not going to work all the time, but even non-verbal children/adults can make their needs known. We just need to take the time to let them. (One time I could NOT figure out what Joey was saying. I decided to put it on Facebook and asked, “Do YOU know what he is saying?” AND SOMEONE DID! Need met!
- Help them find something to do if they are able – having said this, we realize not all children/adult children are able to find things to do alone or on their own and that becomes a different issue. Perhaps finding a respite caregiver from time to time (even while you are at home getting things accomplished that you otherwise can’t) is a good choice. When our children were little, I hired a junior high young lady to come and care for the children at home while I sprinted through all the chores on my list. Just having someone else “there” to figure out their needs and wants gave me “a minute” to myself – well, it wasn’t a “spa” day, but it was time to get things accomplished!
- Give-in to a movie or other technology from time to time – I didn’t want my children watching TV all the day long; but from time to time, one does need to pay bills or make dinner! With that thought in mind, find some mindful and entertaining programing that will be suitable for your child/ren. Perhaps, with a lap top or other device, they can be in the same room as you, but occupied while you get a few things checked off your list or even do something “outside the box” like read a chapter in a book!
- Have them learn to hold/touch your arm before talking – I taught all the children this little golden nugget early. I didn’t want to be on the phone or visiting with someone while they would constantly want attention. I started by asking them to touch my arm if they wanted my attention. No talking; just touch my arm. The first time they did it I would respond right away. The next time I would make them wait a little longer. I did this until they could wait a few minutes. It took time but it was so wonderful to not have them interrupting especially when we had company. For children who don’t understand this principle or can’t attend to the waiting you might not be able to use this idea. Just keeping it real.
- Keep a sense of humor – This has been really important especially when we’ve “planned” for intimacy as a couple and there is constant interruptions even in the night time/after bed time hours! Even the best of planning can go by the wayside!
- Have a good attitude – flexibility might be the word to best describe having a good attitude. We want our way, but often it’s not going to happen. Being flexible to timing or situations will be the course of the day (life!). Getting mad or upset will not accomplish good in the end.
Some of these things won’t work every time, others take time to develop, some might never work….but no matter what…if you don’t try, nothing will work!
Dr. Joe and Cindi Ferrini share their newest book: Love All-Ways: Embracing Marriage Together on the Special Needs Journey (order at www.cindiferrini.com). They are authors, speakers, and bloggers for several blogging sites on marriage, family and special needs. They speak nationally for FamilyLife Weekend To Remember Marriage Get-a-Ways, authored *Unexpected Journey – When Special Needs Change our Course, and have been interviewed on Focus on the Family, FamilyLife Today, Janet Parshall at “In the Market”, Chris Brooks of “Equipped” and various other radio and television venues. Connect with them at:
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