I only know the parenting life with a differently wired child so I fully admit that I may be biased with what I am about to say. But I think more than any other child, a differently wired child needs a cozy life. All children will benefit from one. But a differently wired child needs one.
Why is this? I think there are a number of reasons.
One, differently wired children need peace. They need some level of order and structure because they generally thrive on routines that fit their specific wiring. They need a restful home environment because the world is a complicated and sometimes hostile place for them. Sensory input can be overwhelming. The demands of social interactions are draining and sometimes confusing. These children need a place of peace where they know they can safely land.
Two, differently wired children need understanding. They are complex individuals and they need people who understand them inside and out as much as possible. Understanding includes people who love them, accept them, and assist them in successfully navigating the world. Ideally, they find this understanding in their loved ones with whom they live.
Three, differently wired children need joy. In many ways, it is stressful being a differently wired child. Simply functioning in society can take a toll. There is time spent navigating feelings and demands and appointments. All of the extra “stuff” that they need to function normally in life can suck the joy of childhood out of a differently wired child. These children need their parents to do whatever they can to help them find joy in a complicated and sometimes bewildering world.
Simplifying Life for a Differently Wired Child
One of the decisions we made very early on when we realized that Caroline was not like other babies (but didn’t fully understand the extent of it yet) was to simplify our life as much as possible. We made many decisions that people did not understand, but we knew deep in our soul that was what she needed. It didn’t matter what we might have preferred. She was our child and had specific needs. It was up to us to adjust to her.
That isn’t to say it has been easy. It hasn’t always been easy and I would be lying if I said I didn’t mourn some of the things we’ve lost or had to give up for her sake.
Why would I make the same choices? Because she’s a peaceful and happy girl now. Not perfectly so, but overwhelmingly so – especially for a tween. It took everything we had to get her to this point, but we have been able to give her the gifts of peace and understanding which I believe I can see developing into real joy.
It took a long time to get to the joy part both for us and for her. It was a lot of work. Sometimes the cozy life is not easy to achieve. Sometimes it is a tremendous amount of work to create a cozy life with a differently wired child.
But it is so worth it.
Now as we are full into the tween years and look ahead to the teen and college years, I’m asking myself what we need to do to give her more freedom and opportunities, yet also maintain a cozy home full of peace, understanding, and joy. I don’t have all the answers yet and I won’t pretend to.
I can say that my commitment to her well-being hasn’t wavered and we’ll continue to make sacrifices to make sure she gets the best start in life we can give her. She’s worked hard to get to this point and she can see how there is a wholeness developing to her life that she didn’t feel before. I am thrilled to see the joy that brings out in her.
So we’ll continue to work in that direction because I believe with everything in me that a differently wired child truly needs a cozy life in order to be who she or he was created to be.