I used to think that being a parent was about knowing what was best. I'm your Mum, I know what's good for you, do as you're told. Eat your greens, brush your teeth, go to bed early. Say please and thank you.
In practice, knowing what is best actually means issuing lots of commands, albeit commands sweetened with love and good intent.
I used to think that being a parent was about being the one who was in charge. I'm always right, don't think you can get one over on me. Who do you think you are?
In practice, being the one in charge actually means being the only one allowed to make decisions.
My daughter will soon turn 11 - a decade, and a bit more - and now only now am I learning that I have to let her make some decisions. I have to meet her half-way. Or more often, three-quarters of the way.
This isn't the soft gush of a well-intentioned pre-teen's mum. I'm not talking about letting her make her own mistakes. I don't mean that I need to treat her like the adult she will far too terrifyingly quickly become.
I'm talking about the humbling experience of learning very late on that my child needs as much control as she can possibly have, and that my job is simply to temper that, rather than wrestle it away from her for as long as I can in order to Teach Her What's Right.
Earlier this week I sat through a day's training for autism professionals and parents and was told very simply that because of the way my child's brain had developed she would always take authority and that the best I could do would be to find the mildest way of imposing it.
This is so far away from how I've always seen being a good mum. I've always prided myself on dishing out the same kind of tough love and setting the same lofty goals as my mum did for me.
However I realised a while ago that entrance exams and grammar schools and swotting and straight As are all out, where my daughter is concerned. Now I realise too that laying down the law in the way that my parents did (and which I have always believed was a sensible model which instilled humility and respect - go on, call me old school) is also out.
So this week I took a deep breath and agreed some very basic stuff with my daughter. I had a conversation with her in which rather than insisting on having my way because that was just the way it went I listened properly to her explain why the flush of the toilet is too loud and the rush of water alarms her and why, after 8 years of fighting me about it, she simply cannot bring herself to do it. So we've agreed that for now, she doesn't have to. After that we did a deal about how many times a week she has to have a shower. And after that, after of five years of negotiating and yelling and ordering her to bend to my will, I accepted that my daughter simply won't use the hot tap. She's too frightened of the sudden change in temperature. So we bought medicated wipes and antibacterial gel instead.
I'm sure that some of you reading this will have got there way ahead of me and may well be shaking your heads in disbelief at my ignorance and idiocy in trying to impose 'normal' parenting strategies. Others of you probably think I'm a sap and may already be predicting that within weeks I will find myself trying to master the three-ring circus that my child insists I provide before she will contemplate getting out of bed. (Though frankly given the battle that is getting her up in the mornings, I would gladly provide clowns and elephants if I thought it would solve the problem.)
This feels a bit like standing up among a circle of strangers in a slightly draughty church hall and announcing: "I'm Sophie. I've been parenting my kid wrong for years."
But at least now I can start trying to do something about it.