One year, as the baby birds were venturing farther from the nest, it became obvious that their mother had not returned from her recent travels. The baby robins appeared disoriented as they wandered around in the road. As my family and I watched, a very surprising thing happened! A sparrow flew down, and patiently guided the fledglings across the road!
I am able to see some similarities between a devoted mother bird and the way that I am parenting my own children. From the day my children were born, I have been aware that I am raising them to eventually head out on their own. In addition to protecting them, my role as their parent is to give them “wings,” and prepare them to “fly!” As I navigate daily life with them, I try to view each situation we encounter in light of the bigger picture, asking myself, “What lesson can this teach them that will help as they become more independent?” And also, “What is the core skill or strategy that they need to learn in this situation in order to be successful?” I have often focused on basic but important concepts such as identifying and participating in healthy relationships, asking for help, coping constructively with stress, taking turns, apologizing, planning, prioritizing, and respecting others. I’m trying to give them tools that will help them manage finances responsibly, complete tasks in a timely manner (and ensure that they are well-done), find resources to aid in problem-solving, and build strong relationships with others. Although it is tempting to shelter them or keep them close to me, I am able to continue to encourage them to spread their wings by focusing on my desire that they will be able to function as successfully as possible as adults.
Admittedly, my own abilities, experiences, and available time are not always adequate for the task at hand. I am thankful for the “sparrows” who gently help to guide my children. We can count a long list of teachers, friends, family members, counselors, and neighbors who have stepped in along the way to provide valuable guidance and practical assistance. We are learning to look for those individuals in our lives, to express gratitude to them, and to anticipate that there will always be such people to turn to as needs change on this road we’re traveling.
Whether you are a parent, a professional, or a person on the autism spectrum, you can also be a “sparrow,” guiding and assisting others along the road toward success! Sometimes it’s as simple as looking for those who are floundering, seemingly lost or unsure of the direction they should be heading. Often our patient, supportive presence can be enough to move them along to the next step of their journey!