Your three-year-old demands jelly beans and soda pop for lunch. Giving it to him or her would make them so happy. Will you do it?
Ninety year old grandma insists she can still drive despite her growing dementia. She demands her rights and demands the car keys. Do you let her have them?
Your son refuses to check his sugar and take his insulin shots while eating a diet high in sugar. He is so happy when he can eat what he wants to. Do you allow him to endanger his health and risk his life?
Why do people think that the best thing for each of our own selves is to have the things that make us happy? Is quality of life based on getting what I WANT? Is life really about me me me? I am so overwhelmed with the whole idea of self-determination and self-advocacy. Here are some definitions to help:
self-determination n 1. The power or ability to make a decision for oneself without influence from outside.
Definition of Self-Advocacy Self-advocacy refers to:an individual’s ability to effectively communicate, convey, negotiate or assert his or her own interests, desires, needs, and rights. It involves making informed decisions and taking responsibility for those decisions. (VanReusen et al., 1994)Self-knowledge is the first step towards advocating for your rights. You need to know your strengths, needs, and interests before you can begin to advocate.
I’m sorry but in all realty, we don’t always know what is best for ourselves. As children, we need direction and guidance from loving parents. Even as young adults, we benefit from truthful advice of friends and critiques from our bosses at our jobs. Elderly people need to consult their physicians for sound medical advice and be open to making changes when older bodies can’t keep doing what the younger one did.
So – what am I talking about?
WHY am I talking about this?
We are looking at another place for Amanda to live. Yes, she loves her apartment, but there have been some night problems and safety issues, as well as her need for more socialization that has prompted us to start looking. Amanda is nervous because she does not handle change well and is freaked out about moving. We would, of course, help her adjust and try to make the change gradual.
But I am so angry.
I am livid.
A few weeks ago Amanda met with her caseworker. I was there as well. We were discussing getting more staff for Amanda and/or moving her somewhere else. Amanda wasn’t saying much and her caseworker said with a smug and patronizing little smile, “I know how hard it is Amanda to say some things in front on your parents.”
Doesn’t this chick understand that I’ve already spent 30 years praying I’ve made the right and best decisions for Amanda? I stood up and told her I’d be happy to wait in the hall. When the caseworker finally left, I told her that I would have to speak to Ted and discuss things. I’d get back to her the following week.
About a week after that, Amanda ‘fessed up to me and said that when I left the room, that the caseworker offered to Amanda a paper she could sign so she could be her own advocate.
This caseworker has no clue. How has Amanda lived this long, done this well, and succeeded in so many areas if it weren’t for the exhausting yet loving care that Ted and I have tried to give for all these years? Really? Have we made BAD decisions for Amanda? And the bottom line is, Amanda may be able to tell you what she likes … but she can’t always be sure of what she needs. To self-advocate, the above definition states that she must make INFORMED decisions and then take responsibility. I am so tired of the whole mental health group of people insisting that special needs people have the right to self-determination and to be able to state what they WANT.
So now let’s get some religious input on all of this. Our loving God has given us free will. It’s up to us – we can choose good or we can choose evil. We can follow Him or we can live a worldly life with material gratifications. But when we surrender ourselves to Christ, He will direct our paths and give us what we need. And we might not always like what path our life takes, but in the end we always see that Father knows best and we are blessed. To me – to follow Christ IS like being set free. Choosing God’s will over our own is no easy feat. But if we truly trust God, we’ll have the strength to let go of our wants and passions and believe that His will is perfect, right, and the very best thing for us.
Amanda, honey, I only want what is best for you and to see you happy and safe.
Sorry for the lengthy rant here folks – just offering a taste of the frustrations Ted and I face some days.
Oh – and thank goodness Amanda was wise enough to NOT sign that paper.
But still …
Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.
Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.