photo by Xavia Claire Photography
I honestly could cry thinking about how difficult and painful it was to parent a child like Tiff in all of her intense sensitivity. Loud noises made her run and scream. Changes were extremely difficult for her, as was not knowing exactly what we were going to do every day. Being spontaneous was nearly impossible because it would throw Tiff into such a distressed state. I would make sure that she knew what was happening everyday from hour to hour. She was a child who needed to know exactly what to expect and I learned how to give her that security.
Tiff also has a gift, although it can be really painful for her. She has the ability to read others like a book. Even if I am slightly annoyed with something, she knows it. She used to ask me repeatedly if I was mad at her. I used to hug her and and share with her that I wasn't upset with her. I was just having difficulty with someone else in my life. She has always been able to feel exactly what I was feeling so strongly that I found myself needing to explain things to her that my other children didn't even notice or care about. She is an extremely empathetic human being and being her mother has taught me more about myself than I ever knew was possible.
Family and friends used to tell me that I needed to have her evaluated, tested, put in therapy and medicated. Parenting a highly sensitive child, your intuition often becomes clouded by fears. I wanted what was best for her and to respect her in every way possible. I knew that if Tiff was put in the system it would forever change her. I knew she would be bombarded by others trying to control her and force her to be someone different than who she was. Instead of the advice from others, I took the path of my heart and continued trusting my instinct and her unique path.
I want to communicate to other parents with a highly sensitive child, that the this is such a short season in your lives. We have never punished Tiffany for the way she voiced her needs. She has never had a time-out, nor have we used any behavior modification techniques. She has lived in partnership with us and our role has been to love her for who she is. We have talked, explained, discussed and connected, helping her to feel safe and secure. I look back on the first six or seven years of her life as profound for me as a person, for my daughter has taught me so much about myself. I have learned the children never need to be labeled, medicated or made to change in order to have a happy, functioning life. Tiff has always been powerfully unique and she is someone who knows how to get what she wants in her life. The very qualities that made it hard to be present with her for those years have since shifted and are now some of her greatest strengths and more admirable qualities.
Today, I look back on those difficult and challenging years with such gratitude. Tiffany is one of the most beautiful, confident, patient and focused people that I know. She used to hate being around crowds and loud noises. Now her favorite place in the world, is New York City. She used to need so much help with tasks that others found easy. Now she helps me with daily tasks that the other kids find difficult. She used to horde food and toys, now she keeps her room spotless and simple. She used to hate itchy clothes and tags, now she wears fabrics that even I find uncomfortable. She has overcome issues that others told me that she would never overcome without therapy and medication. I was fed lies based on fear, yet despite all of the pressure, I never gave in. I loved and supported her through it all and today she is a whole person, body, mind and soul.
Now that she has grown older, she is able to control her emotions more and let me know when she is starting to feel overwhelmed. I help her by giving her coping tools and she trusts me and listens to my advice. She sees me as a leader and her best friend in life. She has taken up modeling and her inner beauty shines through all that she does. She is a success in life, already! She has had her own pet sitting business and helps others find joy in their lives in any way that she can.