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Freedom To F.A.I.L. ‒ The Misconception Of Perfection In Exceptional Needs Parenting

Written by: La'Toya Haley-Haynes, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.


From the very first moment you lay eyes on your child you become filled with countless emotions, but there’s something about when you actually get to hold your child that brings about a sense of reality and responsibility. You promise to always take care of them, never let them go, and that you will give your all so they can have it all. Then you come to the awareness during their infancy, toddler stage, childhood, adolescence, or maybe even adulthood that your child has exceptional needs, and instantly you are hit with the emotion of WORRY. With this new information, you decide to put on your protection hat and commit to being the perfect parent.

The PERFECT parent

The perfect parent looks like everything is put together on the outside, sounds like an advocate for their child’s needs, smells like the sweet aroma of passion and harmony, tastes like earned sweat because of the hard work put into daily activities, and feels like satin because of how smooth the relationship is. The idea of this perfect parent is great in theory; however, pursuing such perfection can make you a prisoner within yourself. As a prisoner, you won’t be available to parent your child who really needs you. So then why do we think we need to be this perfect parent?

The need for this perfect parent comes from the misconception that as a parent of a child with exceptional needs we can control the exceptionality if we are prepared and can plan for every possible outcome. Not that we can cure it, but only that we can control it.

Today is the day to break that misconception of perfection and allow yourself the freedom to fail

Fall. Adapt. Inhale. Learn.

Step 1: Fall

There is a quote by Confucius that says, “Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.” As a parent of a daughter with exceptional needs, I know first hand the benefit of allowing myself to fall. When you embrace the fall, the imperfection, the misstep, the mistake you are loosing the chain that holds you to being perfect. The fact is parenting can be hard and no matter how much you think you are prepared things will always be different because you child, your family, and your environment is different…and that’s OK. For years I tried to be the perfect parent, but the cost of perfection was depleted me. I had not energy for my family, no energy for myself, and ended up in an unhealthy place. I had to shift my thinking from “falling is bad” to “falling is an opportunity”.

Falling is an opportunity

It is an opportunity for growth, to see what works or does not work for your family, and to allow your child to teach you. It is an opportunity to get back up and try again. We will not be prepared for everything because we don’t know everything…break the misconception.

Step 2: Adapt

Adapt means to change or alter something to fit another. When it comes to parenting a child with exceptional needs you have to allow yourself to adapt to the parenting that will best meet the needs of your child. If your child needs help with organizing, teach them how to set timers and create goals. If your child is non-verbal, have a communication board ready in various places in the house. If your child learns visually, then teach them using social stories or communicate through text-messages. Researching about a disability from accredited sources will give you good information, but observing and analyzing what is going on with your child and the responses to how you engage in real time is the foundation to building the relationship you are wanting as a parent. Adapting is part of our culture. Schools adapt by allowing for accommodations, we adapt to the changes in technology, but for some reason struggle with adapting in our parenting. Being able to adapt releases the pressure of having to perform a certain way to obtain perfect parent status.

Being able to adapt releases the pressure

This step does require you to be intentional about your actions. What worked for your parents, friends, or even other family members may not work for you. When we are adapting there will be beliefs and customs that may not fit your particular scenario…and that’s OK. When it comes to parenting you will not please everyone…break the misconception.

Step 3: Inhale

You will often hear people tell you to exhale and let it go. Not that exhaling is not good advice, but when it comes to parenting a child with exceptional needs sometimes you just need to stop and inhale. You need to take a breath and allow things to come in. If you are constantly pushing things out: pushing out new ideas, pushing out changing things up, or pushing out signs of love and progress then you will never be filled. When I refer to inhale, I am saying to take a moment, take in what is happening, and allow yourself time to process before you reject or exhale. Inhaling while parenting doesn’t mean you have to give an immediate response.

Inhaling doesn’t mean you have to give an immediate response

Parenting in general can be overwhelming and stressful, but it is also fulfilling and rewarding. Taking the time to inhale is needed so we can recognize the small gains and triumphs. Remember in breathing you can’t exhale if you don’t first inhale. You have to take things in that you did not plan…and that’s OK. Inhaling keeps you sane because we cannot control everything…break the misconception.

Step 4: Learn

It profits you nothing as a parent or your child if you don’t learn and make adjustments according to what you have learned in your parenting. As parents, we are our children's first teachers. We model things for them on a daily basis and inadvertently teach them habits and behaviors that they will associate with as being “how things are done”. Why not teach them that you are a lifelong learner so that they too can be a lifelong learner? When you allow yourself to learn and not assume you have it all, you grow in knowledge. Then you use that knowledge to create a better situation and show wisdom. Learning benefits all those who are willing to learn.

Learning benefits all those who are willing to learn

Just as we give grace to our children while they are growing, we also have to give grace to ourselves. We will not always get it right the first time and feel like we have let our children down…and that’s OK. No one is perfect…break the misconception.

Welcome to freedom

You no longer have to consider perfection but celebrate the progression as a parent. Now that the misconception is cleared up, you have the FREEDOM to F.A.I.L.

Freedom to F.A.I.L. parenting looks like falling and getting up, sounds like adapting to meet the needs of your child and family, smells like the earthiness of humble and love, tastes like delicate moments, and feels like spandex because it learns and moves with you as you progress. I welcoming you to

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La'Toya Haley-Haynes, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine La’Toya Haley-Haynes is the founder of Dearest Famly Coaching, LLC. She is a family and relationships coach, author, and speaker. La’Toya is known as the “exceptional relationship coach” because she helps you identify and manage the exceptional factors that are keeping you bound so that you can begin to pursue healing within a healthy relationship. She understands firsthand how imbalance with boundaries, self-care, parenting, parenting a child with exceptional needs, relationships, and even spiritual growth can stop you from truly seeing and living the life you were meant to live. Her mission is to move people from confrontation and confusion to confidence and connections regarding healthy relationships.



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