Forget the Past…Parent the Child You Have Today

Posted February 24, 2010 by

Recently changes have been made in our house. We’ve completed a few Total Transformation lessons and we have noticed an actual change in Thomas, our oldest, who is diagnosed with Oppositional Defiant Disorder, Bipolar Disorder, ADHD and Autism.

Over the years, Thomas and I have had many struggles. In the past three years, he’s made some REAL progress in his behavior choices. He’s done work on it. When my husband Jerry and I first met, and Jerry was introduced to Thom, those two butted heads constantly!

I used to feel the need to justify Thom’s choices because in reality, I was defending my parenting. See, I could blame Thom’s diagnoses, I could blame Jerry’s actions as not being appropriate, because then it was not *my* fault that Thom was choosing these behaviors.

Well, I have since learned this doesn’t help Thom and we’ve made some changes. And once Jerry and I began making those changes, Thomas started making changes. It’s great to wake up and have my son say to me, Mom, by the way, in case you didn’t notice, I cleaned the living room all by myself! And it *was* clean not just a half-hearted attempt…and no one had asked him to do it. I told him I was proud of him, and to keep up the good work!

It’s wonderful to have my son “hop to” when I tell him to do something the first time I tell him to do it. I do not have to yell. I do not have to negotiate. I do not have to do anything but tell him to do it and he does it. It’s wonderful saying to Thomas, When I come back from the store, I’m going to need help carrying the groceries in. And he’ll say okay and actually do it! Jerry and I even joked with Thomas that he’s been replaced by a pod child! He responded with Nah. I think I just get it now. The talk we had was helpful. The talk we had Oh yes…The one where Jerry and I told the kids about the Total Transformation Program and how things might change, and rules and consequences were going to be enforced and we DID it.

There is a hitch in the get-up though. The other day Thom was having a bad day and griping about all the chores he was being asked to do that day. Jerry said That’s no way to earn your allowance if you can’t just do it and shut up about it! Whoa! We had already agreed Thomas had earned his allowance! How was THAT going to motivate Thomas to continue If once he’s already earned it, we turn around and say he hasn’t. The chores he was doing that day was supposed to be for his next allowance. Thomas was upset because we were late paying his allowance. Who could blame him?

I can understand why Jerry responded the way he did because in the past Thomas griped instead of doing the chore. But this time, Thomas was doing the chore and griping after doing it.

Jerry wasn’t feeling well that day and was taking it out on Thomas, truthfully. He and I talked about it and he apologized to Thom. He said Thom was right, he *had* earned his allowance. But just because he had earned the allowance, doesn’t mean he gets a day off from being a family member. That’s just not realistic and we went on with the wonderful things that have been happening.

I realized something that I think is important for parents to understand. We had fallen into a trap of parenting Thomas as an ideal child before the Total Transformation Program taught us differently. And now, we were having trouble accepting Thomas changes! We forgot that he had made changes and we responded in the ways we had in the past. It totally invalidated everything we had done up to that point. So, Mom Dad when your child *does* start to make changes for the better, make sure you parent that child appropriately. Don’t allow his past misbehavior to overrule your thoughts and perceptions of his good behavior today. After all, this is what we want! This is the behavior we want to continue.


Heather is a mom of two special needs children and has spent over a decade working with them and other children who present challenging behaviors. She has been writing for over 20 years.

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