Breaking the Cycle: Parenting and Neurodivergence

I fucking wish I was Spiderman. But, yeah, this works.

As we all know, the internet is just fucking rife with parenting blogs. And, there are plenty about parenting and neurodivergence. But I’ve got a feeling there’s not that many coming from this particular point of view, i.e that of a neurodivergent parent. The idea for this one started when my friend, Hugh Hollowell, said something recently about being “the person for young people that the younger version of us needed.” That sums up my parenting style pretty well. Only I didn’t know that for a long time. It was the Adrian Peterson abuse scandal that began the change. It caused me to realize that, despite the way I was raised, I never laid a hand on my kids. That’s interesting because it’s not really the norm for a rural, working-class Southern dad of my generation. To understand why it’s interesting, you need a little background.

A Fucking Wonder I’m Still Here

I’m not going to get into the details of what I went through growing up; that’s a story of its own and one that you can read here and here. For our current purposes, let’s just say that my childhood was mostly composed of constantly moving goalposts coupled with punishments that destroyed what little confidence I might have had. Which wasn’t much, what with an outside world that said I was wrong on a molecular level. All that left me with some PTSD to go along with my ADHD and ASD (which I didn’t even know I had). With all that shit, I’m fucking astonished I’m still here, much less even remotely functional.

Being a Target Sucks

Again, I’m not going into details here. As I said, I don’t like digging into this part of my life very much (plus, you’re already familiar with them), but there are some items I need to pass on for this to make sense. The thing about neurodivergence is that it marks you as different. You think, act, and speak differently than your neurotypical peers and that’s generally not a good thing. In my case, it was particularly bad because it made me a target for a man in search of a lever to control my parents. And, it worked. For a long time. The fucked up part is I didn’t even know what was happening as went on. It was only years later when I began to figure out my neurodivergence that I realized what a goddamn dick move this fucker had pulled. I’m still dealing with the fallout of all that shit.

Breaking the cycle

I don’t know if it’s just me or if other parents who have broken the cycle have experienced this too, but I didn’t even know I was doing it. Breaking the cycle, I mean. It was just a thing I did subconsciously, I guess. Of course, for it to be on a conscious level I would’ve had to acknowledge that my childhood was an absolute shitastrophe and I was not fucking ready for that. When my kids were young, I told myself that corporal punishment was never off the table but it was a last goddamn resort. But, I always found a way to avoid that resort. I must have done something right because both my kids have grown up to be much better humans than I have ever been.

I’m Trying. Like, Really Fucking Hard

So, it looks like I’ve been “the person for young people that the younger version of me needed” my whole adult life. The thing is, I’ve been too fucking clueless to even know. Until recently, anyway. I am a little concerned that, armed with this new(-ish) knowledge, I’m going to fuck it up somehow and turn into a know-it-all douchebag adult, You know, the kind that expects you to do things their way and gives you holy fucking hell if you don’t? I keep telling myself that’s not going to happen. That raising my kids this way is innate because, so far, I’ve done it without even knowing. I hope that’s true and the negative bullshit is just Richard (my RSD) being his usual dickish self. Either way, I’m going to try and keep doing what I’ve been doing and not screw up too bad. Because, as fucking scary as it sounds, some young person out in the world may need me to be there. And, I probably should be.