#13 The first 2 things I am doing in response to my son’s social life imploding

You can download a cheat sheet on the first two things to do when you don’t know what to do.

Hi! Genia Stephen here. Welcome to episode 13 of the Good Things in Life podcast. I am so glad you are here! Today I’m going to tell you about a struggle I am having right now in my life and it is nice to think that I’m sharing with people who might be able to relate.

You know, sometimes in life things go along well for a while. And then BAM! All of a sudden you are looking around at a hot mess and trying to figure out how to pick up the pieces.

That’s what is happening right now for my son Will.

What happened…

Will has disabilities and needs support in order to do most things. Over the past several years, we have supported Will to build friendships and a pretty awesome social life. You can check out a video that shows this here.

Children in a huddle at camp. One child using a wheel chair touches the arm of the child next to him.

One of the things that supported his social life is having great support people in his life. And Will had two particularly great supporters for a few years. But they grew up. And both have gone on to careers in education. Which is great.

But when they moved on Will’s social life kind of imploded. In many ways we’ve really depended on this support and when it went away, we didn’t have a thorough back up plan.

So Will’s social life has come to a screeching halt. Well, actually, that’s not true. Will’s social life has slowed WAY down. It hasn’t come to a halt because he has naturally given, unpaid people in his life who also support him. Which is, of course, the brilliance of naturally given relationships. They don’t end when someone switches jobs. But this is a topic for a future podcast episode.

Be that as it may, Will does benefit from paid supports and I am floundering a bit now that he doesn’t really have good supports in place.

So what am I doing about it? Two things.

#1 I’m going back to my vision

My vision includes my son having a rich and fun social life where he has friends and is a member of teams and clubs.

Why is it important that I go back to my vision? Well, its important because what I WANT to do about it is to curl up on the couch, cuddle with my boy, and watch a movie in the safety and security of my home. That feels comfortable and safe.

But if I’m committed to my vision, and I am, then I need to clear about what it is and what it requires of me right now. And if my vision is for Will to have a rich and fun social life with friends and is a member of teams and clubs, then sitting on the couch watching a movie isn’t going to get us there.

The other reason I need to look to my vision is because having a clear vision helps me make good decisions about options. I talked more about this in episode 009.

So, going back to my vision holds me accountable and it helps me make good decisions about what I need to do and should do.

Why is it important that I go back to my vision? Well, what I really want to do right now is cuddle up on the couch and read a good book. Maybe watch (another) movie with him.

But if I’m committed to my vision, and I am, then I need to clear about what it is and what it requires of me right now. And if my vision is for Will to have a rich and fun social life with friends and is a member of teams and clubs, then sitting on the couch reading a book or watching a movie isn’t going to get us there.

#2 I’m going back to my people

I’m going back to my people. I feel really stuck right now. I have a clear vision. I am even clear about what would help move us toward it. But I can’t figure out what next step to take. I’ve done the next steps and it isn’t working. So I’ve reached out to my people and asked if we can set up some time to talk.

This is important for me for a number of reasons. First, I can’t figure this all out on my own. One mind isn’t enough. It takes other people’s thoughts, perspectives and experiences to help me sort it out. I need people that I trust to challenge my assumptions and to give me the kick in the butt that I need to stay moving in the right direction.

I need people in my life who get it. I can’t really ask a lot of my friends whose kids don’t have disabilities for help with thinking this through because their sympathy makes me stabby. I probably shouldn’t admit that but its true. I mean not always, but one of my weaknesses is that the more vulnerable I get the more sensitive I am to other people’s inappropriate comments.

My friends who don’t have kids with disabilities also don’t really understand the ins and the outs of our lives and my son’s support. Actually, that’s totally on me. If I actually wanted to explain it then they would understand. I think this might be an example of the stories that we tell ourselves that aren’t actually true. I could do a better job of helping them to understand and I should. Because my friends are friends. And they have good thoughts that aren’t fettered by being stuck in the fears and worries of parenting a child with a disability. And, because the more people who understand, the better the world will be.

But… sometimes I just want to have a conversation with people who I don’t need to explain things to. Who get it. Who understand. I think we all want that at least some of the time.

Finally, I need people to talk to about this challenge because my brain actually thinks by talking. Sometimes I discover I already know the answer. I just need to talk it out in order to uncover it in the recesses of my brain. Or take the seed of something I know and have the talking with someone else kind of flesh it out and take root. Multiple analogies there, sorry. Have you every experienced that? Where just the act of talking it out helps you get clear even if the person you are talking to hasn’t given you the answer?


Right now, I’m in a wallowing mood. I feel worried and sad and uncomfortable. I don’t like it.

I don’t know how to fix this. And I can’t see all the steps from where we are right now and where we want to be.

Deep breath… But that’s ok. I don’t need to see each step. I just need to see the first one or two steps.

My first step is to go back to the vision. I need to spend some time really thinking about it. Reflecting on why it matters. And deciding if I truly feel like it is important.

The second step is to talk to my people and get some helping thinking it through.

If you feel like these two steps,

1. Getting clear on your vision, and

2. Talking with supportive people who get it

…would be helpful to you, then you might be interested in joining me and other families in the next few weeks. I’ll be offering a masterclass explaining how our vision for Will has led to school success and friendships and how this can work for you. If you are interested, you can let me know here.

I created a Cheat Sheet to help you think through the first two things to do when you don’t know what to do. It can help you get unstuck. If you want that Cheat Sheet then you can download it here.

Thanks for Listening!

Resources & Links Mentioned:

Will’s social life video at The Adventures of Will

Sign up for the Masterclass “A life of belonging for kids with disabilities: How a parent’s vision can lead to school success and friendships.”

Cheat Sheet: The first two things to do when you don’t know what to do.

To get an email about new podcasts so that you never miss an episode sign up here.

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