Hi all, just looking for a bit of advice. I have a 13 year old son who has been diagnosed with ASD, on the high end of scale. He has a serious problem with anxiety and finding life at school difficult, it’s a long day when you are trying to mask your fears/anxieties. He comes home exhausted! Anyway his problems don’t end there, when he gets home he has to deal with another issue, his Dad - His Dad is at the moment in the process of being diagnosed with ASD. The relationship has got so bad He can’t stand being in the same room as his Dad. I told me his Dad makes him feel very anxious. I’ve tried to encourage my son to talk to his Dad but he says ‘there is no point as he won’t listen...’ I feel stuck in the middle. I can totally understand how my son feels as my husband has never really had much to do with him, only to reprimand or instruct. If they are in close proximity with each other it’s not long before my husband is barking out instructions of what my son should or shouldn’t be doing. It’s awful watching this relationship getting further and further apart as my son becomes more aware of the relationship other fathers have with their children. Should I say something to my husband?
Thank you for such a supportive and insightful reply. Motherhood can be a lonely path sometimes.
I agree, it is our role as a parent to enable our child’s voice to be heard and understood, but it is very difficult speaking to my husband, he either doesn’t want to hear, dismisses it and becomes defensive or worse, self-depreciating, accusing me of making him feel guilty for being a ‘rubbish father’. It’s just hopeless. I know it’s unhelpful to assume the response will always be the same but I guess I’ve become scared of making matters worse. So I’ve remained quiet hoping things will get better and tried to encourage and empower my son to speak to his Dad - which he has only ever tried to do in anger or frustration. He said he can’t and doesn’t wants to as he feels his Dad is a stranger. This is why I thought maybe I should try again. But there never seems to be the right moment to broach the subject. It’s just so sad. My son should feel happy at home and feel free but instead I can see he worries constantly about the reprimanded.
Maybe I should take solace in what BlueRay so beautiful articulated - Some realationships take longer to develop and today I couldn’t love my Dad any more if I tried.
Thank you all for being so kind, you honestly don’t know how much you have helped.
My dearest SMM,
I can hear just how lonely you are feeling with all this right now. And it is not ‘unhelpful for you to assume the worst’ at all but instead it seems, to me, that you have a lot of experience of your husband’s reactions to things and therefore you are simply sharing your realistic idea and experiences of how he will likely react.
Please forgive me if I speak out of turn, however, what is making me feel really sad right now is that, from what you have posted, it sounds as your husband not only dismisses yours sons opinions and needs, but that he also dismisses yours too (by making you feel guilty or wrong) whenever you try to talk to him about important things too?
Is this correct?
Thank you for your kind words.
No, I don't think you are talking out of turn and I appreciate your honesty. I agree, my husband doesn't really have much time for other people, especially if they are making any demands upon him. I find my self walking on egg shells so as not to make matters worse but worry that this is not helping my son.
Do you have many friends or relatives, people you are close to and who you can share your worries with? I ask as it sounds to me as if what could really help you right now is to have people on your side that could give you some support and build up your confidence? So you feel braver when talking to your husband.
Having a child on the spectrum can be a very lonely and frightening life, and I think it can make us feel far more vulnerable as mums (as parents, and also as people too) and this vulnerability can perhaps lead us to be more inclined to ‘accept the unacceptable’ simply because we are too afraid or exhausted and therefore may not feel able to make changes (or challenge people) or make any 'ripples' in any way which we fear (or believe) may make our own lives any more difficult than they already are?
However, it’s not really okay for your husband to make you feel scared of ‘rocking the boat’ or ‘making things worse,’ or feel guilty whenever you are simply trying to share your valid concerns with him. And although he may try to make you feel guilty or to blame, I would try my very hardest not to be ‘hooked’ by this if you can.
I think, sometimes, people may try to make us feel guilty as it is an excellent way of making us shut up, not speak our truth, or make us self-doubt ourselves. Which is not really okay, and if used manipulatively, it is a kind of bullying really. And although your husband is on the spectrum, this is not a good enough reason for him to bully his family, however ‘indirectly’ or ‘unaware’ of doing so he may be.
A quote keeps coming to my mind although I don’t remember who wrote it but it goes something like… ‘we should not have to rip ourselves to pieces in order for other people to feel whole.’ And by this I think I mean; you and your son should not really have to walk on egg shells in order for your husband to continue to believe he is being a good father or a good husband, if he isn’t.
And being a good dad and a good husband are his roles, his responsibility, not yours. It sounds as if he (and your son) are very lucky to have such a lovely, kind and supportive person as you in their lives; however, I think that your husband needs to begin to take personal responsibility for the effects his behaviours and his attitudes are having on you and your family’s wellbeing.
Do you think he would ever consider attending family or couple therapy?
AngelDust you are so kind.
Thank you for the quote it really resonated with me and got me thinking - in a more positive way :-)
No, I don’t think my husband would attend family or couple therapy. I truly think he believes it’s others that need the help. He’s not all bad, honestly, just finding It difficult to see the positive at the moment.
I don’t find talking to people about things like this very easy. Feels a bit like you are betraying their trust and influencing other peoples view. That’s why I throw open the issue on this forum, where there are others who understand ASD and how difficult it can be at times bring up an ASD child. I have been opening up a bit to my Mum recently. She just nods her head and says ‘sounds just like your Father...’ Thinking back (a long time ago now :-)) I never had a relationship with my Father, still don’t, I’ve not even had a ‘proper’ conversation with him. I used to look at my Mum when I was a child and wonder why and how she puts up with it. But she did and still does. I guess that’s what frightens me, it’s just like watching history repeat itself. Fingers crossed it won’t end the same way - our son needs as much support as he can get. He is already one of the most compassionate people I know. I’ve never understood why people say ASD people lack empathy, maybe sometimes they find it too overwhelming to act upon their feels but I’ve seen my son reach out and help a freind, who also suffers from anxiety, in such a gentle and caring way.
It’s been wonderful to unburden, thanks again, hope it’s not been a burden upon you.
Big hug back.
I think it could be very fair for me to confidently say that, in my opinion, I think most of us end up dating (if not actually marrying,) at least one of our own parents (personality types) at some point in our lives…
And therefore, with the distress your son is currently going through at school and at home, and your husbands pending diagnosis too, I think it is totally understandable if you may be having a bit of a personal ‘stock take;’ reflecting on your own childhood and relationships (current and past,) in an attempt to try to make sense of your current situation.
I think it is not a bad thing when we realise we are dating (or married to) our fathers (or mothers etc.) Nor is it bad when we can see our younger selves in our own children’s plights too. As I think realising these things, just as you have, gives us the lovely opportunity to learn from our experiences and make positive changes, so that we can ‘rewrite our stories’ moving forward,and by doing so we can ensure that history does not ‘repeat itself.’
Have you ever considered attending counselling by yourself? It could give you the lovely space you may need to be able to talk about your worries, your childhood experiences and relationships, your current life, marriage, all your thoughts and feelings in a safe place, where you needn’t worry about anything you say having a negative effect on your husband or upon other people’s opinions of him.
I would recommend finding a nice Person Centred Therapist (but definitely NOT a CBT therapist/therapy okay?!) I think it would be best if you make sure that your therapist had experience and understanding of ASD, so that they could fully understand where you are coming from and you don’t have to go through the painful experience of ‘teaching ASD ways’ to a complete ‘ASD novice,’ as this is just too tiring, yes?
The British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy’s website have a directory where you can find and contact a local therapist who is ‘Person Centred with understanding of ASD.’ Their website link is below:
Your feelings are not a burden on me in any way. What I think might be really lovely though is if you came to recognise that your feelings (and needs) are not a burden on anyone, and that you have every right for them (your feelings and needs) to be heard, to be appreciated and respected by everyone around you (hubby and dad included.)
If your heart could learn this lesson for itself, that your feelings and needs are just as valid and important as all the other people that you love and care about too, I think you would be setting the most wonderful model for your son. If your son can see his mum being brave and asking for what she needs from those around her, and expecting her needs to be acknowledged and met by others too, then he would learn to expect the same, and he would realise that his feelings and needs should not a burden on (nor should they be met with aggression from) anyone either.
And this would be the most wonderful gift of all to give our children and to give ourselves, no?
I think therefore counselling could really help your heart to learn this and believe it, perhaps?
Have another hug, Haha.
Thank you. It is a difficult time for everyone but I agree we are the best models for our children.