How to deal with life?

I don't know where to begin. I have a teen who doesn't listen and an eight year old that I think has autism that I'm taking to the Dr after Thanksgiving. I feel like I'm failing in every way I turn.
Asked by Renee

Hi Renee,

Thank you for reaching out during this difficult time.  It sounds like you are feeling overwhelmed with several things which is not uncommon.  You are not the only parent to feel this way.

I am glad you are advocating for both yourself and your children.  I am hopeful the doctor appointment after the holiday brings some answers to you along with some other supporting information.  If your eight year old is diagnosed with autism, there are a ton of resources out there for both you and your child.  There are support groups as well that if needed, could be a great benefit to you.

Your message was vague so I am unsure what you are referring to when you talk about your teen not listening--if it is everyday tasks like clean your room or bigger life things like complete your college applications.  Regardless, teens do not listen to parents, their friends are far more influential in their life at this time than we as parents are.  Keep in mind their brains do not stop developing until the age 25-27 years old so they have a long way to go.

Ask open ended questions, be inquisitive in a gentle way.  This is just an example, inquire why they do not want to clean their rooms and not only listen to their answer but hear them as well and decide if that is a battle you want to choose to fight.  You may want to consider instead of asking questions, framing things in sentences.  For example, say you are curious why they do not want to clean their room or say you are wondering what they are thinking when you ask them to do a certain task.

Teens want to be heard and all behavior (for anyone) has meaning.  It is important to try and find out what need they are meeting with their behavior.  If they are not cleaning their room is it because they want to be in control with something or is it because it is not a priority to them like it is to you?

You are not failing even though it may feel that way.  Parenting is hard, perhaps one of the hardest jobs we have as adults.  Think about what you can control and what you cannot control.  You can control your thoughts, your feelings, your behaviors/actions.  You cannot control other people's thoughts, feelings and behaviors.  You can control how you parent, how you approach your children.  You can control how you view yourself.  The more you think to yourself that you are failing, the more you will believe it.  Every time we think a thought, we connect neurons in our brain and dig a path and the more we think it the deeper the path gets.  As a result, we think the thought without realizing it and then the path continues to get deeper creating a vicious cycle.

Look at the facts.  Do you have evidence to support your belief that you are failing?  My guess is probably not.  Look at the evidence to support where you are not failing and where you are succeeding.  I can already put two in that column--you are advocating for yourself by reaching out on this platform and you are advocating for your children by making the doctor appointment and trying to figure out how to reach your teen.

I am hoping this feedback for you was helpful and I wish you the best on your journey moving forward.