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Family Matters

Parenting - When Life Happens

January 1st, 2015

By Dee Bentley

Parenting can be challenging, and for the many families who move to Fort McMurray, their new beginnings in a new town can add those challenges. Reaching out to other parents and the many helpful resources available is an important and valuable strategy for coping.

Hide & seek

“Ready or not, here I come!” The familiar phrase from hide and seek is telltale of problems that come upon families without any warning. Parents often feel isolated when dealing with a challenge affecting their child, whether it is physical, developmental, behavioural, or more. Part of the reason for feeling isolated, is that many families relocate to Fort McMurray and leave behind their relational supports. Parents also feel that their situation is unique, more difficult than what others are facing, and a sense of guilt or shame comes over them. It doesn’t take much for a parent to feel like a failure. After all, all the other children look perfect, and other parents seem to have all the answers.

We hit a wall

We found ourselves in that situation when our son was having trouble learning and I was having trouble teaching him. It felt like a game of hide and seek; not knowing where the problem was; then seeking help. But it took hitting a wall in our learning journey with him before we realized that we needed help. Finally, we decided to seek a school with a positive atmosphere for him, where he would be given new beginnings repeatedly, as we searched for answers. We opened doors and looked under and over things, until we had some answers, which came as a result of testing. We discovered he had specific areas that required a unique approach.

Stay positive

Facing any sort of testing is always a stressful time for parents and child. Meeting others with similar challenges can be helpful for the camaraderie, and to hear success stories. Sadly, there will also be those who are negative. It is okay to not spend time with them if they drain you and your child. Having a positive, hopeful attitude goes a long way to help your child feel that they will be okay. Verbally reinforce that you can face difficulties, and succeed, together.

Find allies

In our case, the trouble with our son's learning was that it is mild and difficult to detect and we often ascribed it to a behavioural problem, resulting in corrective action that was counter-productive. Rather what was and is needed with any challenge, is patience and positive guidance to encourage the child to persevere in learning tasks. Fortunately, the result of testing for our son, was an IPP (Individual Program Plan), developed to help him succeed. Recognizing that teachers, coaches, and other professionals are allies to help meet goals, and not critics, helps to combat feelings of judgement or condemnation. Work with the professionals to form a team. There was a winner in this game of hide and seek, and it was our son.

Build a team of support

As parents, we need to keep trying to find help when we think there is a problem. We should not isolate our family and expect things to improve on their own. We need not feel ashamed, nor that we’ve failed, or guilty for struggling. Rather, we need to bring the problem out into the open and find solutions. To build a team of support, look to other parents who have faced similar struggles, talk with teachers and other professionals, and seek help from support groups and your faith.

Dee and her husband have called YMM home for over 30 years and parent two young adults and one teen. She enjoys walking trails, skiing, and travel. Dee believes parenting is the most difficult but best job in the world!


Tags: advice, Parenting

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