Fairy Godmother Syndrome (doing for others what they can do for themselves)

I’ve been very busy this past week and I haven’t had much time for the things I enjoy and want to do most. The Reason? Well, it could be Fairy Godmother Syndrome. Is that a real syndrome you ask? It sure is!

Disney characters from our favorite fairy tales brought to life...

Cinderella and Snow White are real people – as evidenced by the photo above 🙂

So who is the real Fairy Godmother?




The real life Fairy Godmother Daddy!
The real life Fairy Godmother Daddy!

You thought there would be a picture of mommy here didn’t you?

This summer we attended “Families Connecting with Families” conference for children with blindness and deaf-blindness. We had a great time! It was the first time we met other families with blind and deaf-blind children. It was truly amazing to meet other people with similar challenges and to learn from their experience.

One thing I learned was the value of teaching our children self-help skills. I already knew I wanted my son to grow up to be as independent as possible, but I had no clue how to get there. One of the speakers repeated her statement, “Never do for your disabled child on a regular basis, what he or she is able to do for themselves!” She went on to explain, of course there are times to make exceptions – times when our children aren’t feeling well or are struggling and we need to help. The key is not making a habit of doing for them what they are capable of doing!  (Now this is the part that had never occurred to me.) In doing so we undermine their confidence and independence.

And you thought I was being nice! The loving doting mother and father, who adore their disabled child, carrying him around everywhere they go, feeding him, changing him, etc… Are we doing more harm than good? In my heart I know the answer because I have seen this situation with a relative – a child born to an intellectually disabled mother. Now understand, we are all molded by our life experiences and I’m sure my cousin’s adoptive parents/grandparents had her best interest at heart. You see they had lost a child while she was still very young (I think 7 years old.) They cherished their children with everything they had (and still do.)

Shrek the Third - Fairy Godmother

My mom always suspected my cousin was not intellectually disabled when she was a young child. You see she’s mostly higher functioning (except for substance abuse problems.) So how do we as parents know how high to set the bar? I mean we do not want to minimize the obstacles our children need to overcome, nor do we want to convince our children that they aren’t capable. 

My husband’s cousin, however, has a greater degree of intellectual disability but a higher level of daily living skills. He was potty trained at 4. He’s an adult now and he can cook on the grill. He took some cooking classes. He works (with the help of a job coach.) He has a good understanding of teaching self-help skills to my 7-year-old son. He participates in so many social activities, it actually makes me a little jealous.

The district’s Coordinator of Special Education Services calls the back and forth motion of pushing forward and pulling back doing the dance. I love this analogy. Raising a child with Autism or Special Needs is like doing a dance. You’re not quite sure what they are and aren’t capable of. They’re growing and learning new things every day.

So how do we know how high to raise the bar? The US Department of Education and the IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act) says “high.”

20 U.S. Code § 1400 – Short title; findings; purposes

(5) Almost 30 years of research and experience has demonstrated that the education of children with disabilities can be made more effective by—

(A) having high expectations for such children and ensuring their access to the general education curriculum in the regular classroom, to the maximum extent possible, in order to—

(i) meet developmental goals and, to the maximum extent possible, the challenging expectations that have been established for all children; and

(ii) be prepared to lead productive and independent adult lives, to the maximum extent possible;

After reading a fellow blogger’s post:  Fairy Godmother Time: Daily Prompt | alienorajt the image of a “FG” (fairy godmother) was in my head for days…

Do I wish I had a fairy godmother? You bet! At this very moment there may be some wet underwear just waiting for me… I gotta check – BRB

Oh crap 😦
Literally Help! My Valentine Smells like Poop!

Potty training isn’t easy and you see, I’ve got this image of a fairy godmother stuck in my head! I was enjoying thinking about my fairy godmother and my 3 wishes just a little bit too much. I wish my son was already potty trained. Potty training is a lot of work and I’d rather be reading a fellow blogger’s new book or writing some clever post here on WordPress…

Instead I’m not doing what I’m capable of doing, nor am I asking my son to do what he is capable of doing. How is he going to believe he can do it if I don’t? He looks to me for the confidence. I remember his first few independent steps at 2 years old. It took him an entire year after that to start walking independently. Wouldn’t you know it happened when I broke my leg and could no longer carry him! The reason: I was no longer undermining his confidence by doing for him what he could do for himself.

Can he pull down his own pants in time to make it to the bathroom without having an accident? I wondered. Well, it turns out his coordination is better than I expected. With just 6 days of practice so far he’s going in the bathroom and pulling down his own pants without prompting. He’s doing most of his pee and poop in the potty. He’s still having frequent accidents, but it’s progress not perfection. I’ve struggled with being a perfectionist all of my life. To be honest it often gets in the way of getting things accomplished. My father would tell me, “Do a government job.” Meaning just get it done. Don’t get caught up on the details.

To my fellow bloggers who are eager to succeed in their writing, I say with all the love in a mother’s heart, “The fairy godmother is you! You can do it! Believe in yourself!” We have a beautiful community of bloggers here on WordPress. Check out The Daily Post. I would love to read your book. All you had to do was ask. You didn’t need a fairy godmother for that. It turns out people who like to read find things in common with other people who like to read; people who like to write find things in common with other people who like to write. Go figure. Just keep writing. As with everything else in life, practice makes perfect.

Check out:

Chinese Character for parental love = ache and rattan | by immigrantmommy

About insperata a perfect example of putting one foot in front of the other and getting it done! I’m already interested. Who doesn’t want something unhoped for, unexpected, unseen? Sounds like fun to me!

want to write more in English | seikaiha’s blah-blah-blah practice, practice, practice (a great way to learn!) I read Farenheit 451 in college. I thought I’d hate it, but it turns out I loved it! Ray Bradbury may just know what he’s talking about 🙂

20 Awesome Free Resources For Bloggers – Our Blended Marriage

Reputation. | Nesting Newlywed

Photo of the Week | A mom’s blog

Olly in the Bath | Evilphotoeye for some awesome photography and critique!

Treasure | LenzExperiments

One Word Photo Challenge | Jennifer Nichole Wells

Well, This Could Be Awkward | Ellen Maybe

That’s it for now, I’ve got to get going the fairy godmother isn’t going to do it all for me…

Image Sources:
Fairy Godmother – Kerri Polizzi – CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Disneyland 2012-02-14 Princess and Princesses a – Wikimedia Commons –  Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.
The Real Life Fairy Godmother – ©2014 Liana Seneca (me)
Shrek the Third Fairy Godmother Wallpaper – free download – skrek.com

Creative Commons License
Love, Support, Educate, Advocate, Accept… by Liana Seneca is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

10 thoughts on “Fairy Godmother Syndrome (doing for others what they can do for themselves)”

    1. Thank-you! I can’t wait to dig a little deeper into some photography. It’s great to be able to work two of my favorite hobbies together – writing and photography – in blogging!


  1. You write with such heart and strength. This is useful advice for all relationships! It is so tempting sometimes to over give and it’s so often not helpful to the other person. This makes so much sense. Thanks for explaining it clearly.


    1. Just sharing what I’ve learned – often the hard way! I’m so glad that the things I”m talking about on the blog can apply to anyone. What a great way to advocate! It’s often difficult to get support when we focus on our differences rather than what we have in common!


      1. Such great advice! 😉 Looking at what we have in common is such a great pointer for moving forward especially when there are not much resources for the task ahead. I’m embracing the idea! 😉 Thank you!


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