Truth…okay what is the truth? Some days I kind of start to wonder if perhaps I have a bit of dementia. Especially when a child can look you in the eye and tell you something that you know is not true. Here is the thing though…is it a lie when the child you are dealing with has Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD)? When a child has damage to the brain especially in the hippo campus and frontal lobes the child’s ability to perceive reality and tell the truth. So I have to be the truth fairy. I do not ask questions. I parent with confidence. I work very hard on building the positives in my children’s lives. I am not punitive but teaching. Does this mean I do not parent? No, in fact I have to parent all the time and have to be watching for any issues that may come up to cut them off before they start.
Being the truth fairy I also have to try to help my children see what is real and help them to be the best they can be. At times does the truth evade them? Does it bother me when I feel lied to? The answer to both is OF COURSE! But by labeling them liars due to their disability are we in any way helping them or teaching them anything? By building on when they do tell the truth and not stressing them when they don’t we can help them to try to be as truthful as they can be. Sometimes the lie is because they are afraid to tell the truth. Sometimes it is not a lie but a confabulation due to their inability to understand the truth or what happened in that particular situation. Sometimes they don’t remember what happened due to their memory deficits. So since we don’t always know we have to learn to just deal with it all on a level playing field. To remind them that it is safe to tell us the truth and to help them remember what that is. I still expect them to show remorse for hurtful actions and also to be responsible for what they have done. What does that mean? Well if they have harmed another they need to understand that they did and that they should be sorry and show some form of remorse. If they have stolen or broken something they need to make restitution.
I hope that if I can be a positive truth fairy that I can help my kids navigate a world that is often very foreign for them. Children (and people) with FASD want to please. They honestly usually want to do the right thing. Often they don’t understand why they are in trouble or what they have done wrong. In order to fit in and not seem “wrong” they may make something up. Often it is the tall tale to seem really “cool” (okay hasn’t everyone enlarged something to seem better than they are? Hello fish stories…). Or it is a way to fill in the parts that they are missing in their memory. My doodlebug would be a liar on most people’s screens as he has a unique view of the world and what is real to him is not to the rest of us but he is also a very innocent child who is not ever out to harm another. There is a lot of stress in being different. The more we can accept our kids and help them navigate life the less stress for us all.