Thursday morning I had seen enough positive signs with our new psychiatrist to throw down the gauntlet and dared to reveal one of my standard 'litmius' ideas. I write 'dared' because our last psychiatrist almost fell off her chair and threw a fit when I described my methodology to her....an utterly memorable and unpleasant appointment......which actually should have tipped me off sooner than it did that we were not a good match as a partners for our kids psychiatric care.
But it didn't.
So when I did finally did catch on I immediately started the dreaded process of 'doctor shopping.'
Doctor shopping requires a process I really dislike and every time I have to put out the all-call to my girl friends for recommendations and anty into the 'are they covered' game with our insurance company I end up tearing out my hair and beating my head in my pillow - it's amazing I am not bald.
And by Thursday morning the new psychiatrist had passed all the minor hurdles (like the 9 month waiting list, insurance approval and being willing to accept new patients) I was ready to risk revealing some of my 'odd' ideas.
So when she asked me if there was anything else I wanted to discuss in our 'getting to know you' appointment I took a deep breath and started in. Having been around this particular block more than once I was very careful how I present my topic. I made sure that the brunt of any backlash would fall on me and bad parenting if she reacted negatively to what I said and prepared to take a hit if need be.
(Side note: Sadly, parents are beat up all the time verbally and emotionally by the professionals who are providing care for their kids. It's very real and can be devastating - trust me - I have sat in that seat far too many times and it feels like being punched.)
What I shared is our 'stress' plan for the family. In a nutshell - we intentionally manage the levels of stress surrounding each child so that they have enough to grow - but not so much that they are negatively affected by it. Because of the wide variety of challenges our crew experiences that means that each person is treated respectfully-and differently. With our goal being to gradually increase stress levels as an individual is able to manage and adapt to it.
The one huge non-stress area that we protect is education. We rarely do tests, never compare, don't give grades (excepting high school) and generally have developed a method of home schooling where learning is just a part of every day life and is no more traumatic than the rest of what we do.
For our kids with learning delays, social dysfunction and serious immaturity issues (mostly FASD)- separating the stress from the learning allows them to stay positive - at what ever level they are at - and encourages them to learn at their own pace.
It works for us and over the long haul our developmental pediatricians, counselors and social workers have noticed and appreciated how well it seems to deal with many of the issues which challenge us.
But to some psychiatrists/psychologists this seems like a way out and wacky idea because it means that we are not throwing as many resources as possible at our kids in an effort to 'catch them up' with their chronological peers. We have intentionally said 'no thank you' to many good therapeutic services because we knew they would elevate stress levels and ultimately rock other areas. Words which sound like treason to some professionals. Fighting words.
But she sat quietly and listened.
So I talked faster....... finally getting to share the 'next' piece of the theory where I described how we are intentionally using martial arts to create and increase levels of appropriate stress in a non academic environment. With full understanding that TKD is a much more level playing field for many of our kids than any playground or classroom will ever be.
When I was done she sat quietly for a moment and said 'I totally agree. Taking the stress out of academics can be key to allowing kids to continue progressing - especially those who are at risk for failure.'
I almost fell on the floor and threw a fit because she 'got it.' She was able to see the big picture of the whole -life planning idea I proposed and the necessity of helping our kids keep a healthy attitude toward the things we value most. Which for many of them means taking all of the distracting stressors away so that they can simply learn.
She passed the test.
I'm keeping her. : )
Not that I have to be right...or that I know more than the professionals. But I firmly believe that every family has to develop a structure and core set of ideals that allows them to function at their own 'best' level. Understanding that, I don't want to hide crucial ideas about our parenting/schooling methods from our medical or psychiatric support teams so that they wont freak out. I want to be honest in our appointments and not have to be worried about being attacked or aggressively questioned when I reveal core ideas of how we live.
I'm loving the stress-free-school idea (we are in our 11th year) and honestly I can see each of our kids learning healthy and positive ways of dealing with stress that don't include the pressure of academic success or failure. It's all good and I'm happy to be done with the doctor shopping for now.