Why are relationships so hard?!?
If you know me, or are familiar with this blog at all, you know that my son is autistic. He has trouble making and keeping friends, being a good friend, seeing others’ points of view, carrying on conversations, etc. Relating to others in general. Obviously, I try to help him in this area by giving him good, safe opportunities to meet other kids, and guide him in the process. But, due to recent events in my own personal life, I’ve been thinking about relationships in general, and how tough it is to make and keep good friends even for us “typical” folks.
(I want to interject here that I find knitting an awesome activity for the times I really need to think things over/through. I’m not sure what it is… the rhythmic movement of the needles? The repetitive movements of my hands, leaving my mind to wander over a difficult subject? Anytime I really need to do some hard thinking, I reach for a knitting project. Luckily for me, a holiday project presented itself for completion by Valentine’s Day, just when I needed the calmness of knitting to mull this topic over in my mind….)
Anyway, many of us have a hard time understanding other people and their motivations. When people do something that completely comes from left field, it takes you by surprise. And then you wonder “why did they do that?” or “why did they act that way?” When *I* can’t even figure it out, how am I supposed to explain it to my son?
I will not go into the sordid details of what happened in my own life (most of which would bore you anyway). Let’s just say that what happened was nothing new; “friends” that may have not been real friends at all. Maybe it’s my recent role of home educator, but I chose to look at this as a learning experience. And what did I learn? Actually, I didn’t learn anything new, but rather reminded myself of things I already knew. It’s good to have reminders, really. It further solidifies your own beliefs.
To help explain things to my son, I made a list – not just beliefs or rules on friendships, but about relating to others in general – these are things I want him to know to help him be an all around better person as he gets older. Things that I feel will serve us ALL.
1. Individuality - We are all individuals, and we are just fine the way we are. You are unique. Revel in it. OWN it. There is no one in the world like you! (which is a great thing to think about!) The most important thing you can be in life, is YOU.
2. Change – Even as individuals, we are works in progress. We have the right to change our minds and change our attitudes, especially when presented with new information. Change is often a good thing.
3. Motivation – Be aware of motivations – both yours and others. It is never ok for someone to try and change you for THEIR benefit. When someone is trying to make you fit their mold, it’s time for you to speak up or walk away.
4. Respect – As stated above, we are all individuals. Therefore, we will all have unique and different views about a variety of subjects. We can learn and benefit from others, so it’s wise to listen to what others have to say. This is a two way street, so that person should also reciprocate and give us a turn to share our views, too! It’s ok to disagree with another’s view, as long as it’s done in a respectful manner.
5. Tolerance – Inevitably, we will encounter other individuals who have different views and ideals from ours. Just because we don’t agree with them, doesn’t mean we’re wrong. It doesn’t mean they’re wrong either. I think it’s possible that both groups can be “right” and still be friends. However, it will take tolerance and understanding on both sides for it to work.
In conclusion, be fair to others. Give them the benefit of the doubt if you can. This means not to jump to conclusions about others until they give you the information you need to make a decision. If, once you have all the information, you come to the conclusion that the other person is not a good friend, put some space between yourself and this person. Others will come along to take their place… others who will likely be better friends to you in the long run.