What makes Allison Janney’s TV character, Mom, so comical is that she’s pretty confused and messed up. It’s all about her -- not her daughter, Christy (Anna Faris), or anyone else. That’s the opposite of most real moms with kids, especially those whose children face challenges such as autism spectrum disorder, ADHD or dyslexia.
Unfortunately, many real moms believe that since their child comes first, they come last. But it’s not a zero-sum game: A new study from Tel Aviv University shows how beneficial it is for moms to focus on their own needs and aspirations, and not just on their child’s difficulties. And that’s not just for Mom’s sake; it also improves her child’s quality of life!
The researchers looked at 30 moms of kids with ASD and discovered that when the moms engage daily in personal and professional interests and obligations, they gain a sense of personal satisfaction AND the child does better at everything from brushing teeth to playing with friends. The researchers concluded: “If you participate meaningfully in life, it is likely that your child will participate too.”
But we know it’s difficult to make time for yourself: You need to find a great support system, good school programs and caring family/friends in order to make this work. Start to build that network now. If you have a child with special needs or know someone who does, check out www.yellowpagesforkids.com -- a state-by-state listing of resources for children with a wide variety of needs, as well as www.autismsupport.org and www.nationalautismassociation.org.
Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic.