Yesterday you met Rachel Cordiero, a new guest blogger, and her daughter Camelia. Today, her husband Rudy makes his debut as a guest blogger with a post about how to partner with your spouse while raising a child with special needs. I enjoyed reading his four tips from a father’s point of view, and I think you will, too.
Partnering with Your Spouse
In the journey of caring for your child’s special needs, obstacles will certainly intimidate. When facing these obstacles, having the ability to bear together these burdens with someone you love is essential for progress. There will be days when the challenges will be too much for you, and there will be other days when the challenges are too much for your loved one.
Teamwork is essential: Two are better than one. (Ecclesiastes 4:9). As a husband and father, I find that teamwork is the ingredient for making our home move forward. Sharing the load is probably the best way to be the “lead player” in this team effort.
While this post is intended for dads of special needs children, the same could be applied to moms or anyone else who has a critical role in caring for a child with special needs. Having said that, dads, this means that we have to work at several things:
- Listening to your spouse – this one is tough, especially if you’re an action-oriented guy like me. I’d rather be doing things and working on them rather than listen to someone else share their heart, even if it’s my spouse. Listening requires time; it is the other half of communication. Be willing to make time to listen.
- Having a game plan –Whether daily or weekly, it is important to get together regularly to discuss upcoming appointments, school-related issues or any other concerns. Strategizing together helps to make sure that both of you are on the same page.
- Helping out where you can—There are several ways you can lighten the load:
- With homework – In helping our daughter with homework, we split assignments according to our strengths, which naturally allow us to be more patient in those particular disciplines. For example, Rachel enjoys reading and writing, whereas I gravitate more to the math and sciences. However you decide to divide the assignments, simply make sure that it works for each of you.
- With scheduling appointments and paperwork – This can especially be overwhelming for any one spouse. These tedious tasks are never fun and always time-consuming, but are usually critical in the communication of your child’s needs. Tackle it together by splitting the load.
- With attending appointments -This thought is a continuation of the previous one, just at the doctors’ office. As a salaried employee with benefits, I realize that there are limits to the use of benefits; in fact, these benefits may not apply to everyone. However, with careful management of your calendar, you can arrange your appointments to happen on federal holidays or paid sick days so that your wife doesn’t always have to brave the doctors’ appointments alone. In addition, having two sets of ears is often recommended for doctors’ appointments. Besides, who wouldn’t want to have an extra set of hands to help manage the kids?
- Finally, communicate with your spouse—The main thing I have learned in this journey of caring for a special needs child is the need to communicate so that you are both on the same page regarding your plans and decisions for your family. You can do this by:
- Texting each other with updates
- Calling your spouse for encouragement and support
- E-mailing regarding appointments, medical bills, insurance and other types of correspondence (we like to CC each other when emailing doctors or teachers)
Anything you can do to help relieve stress means a lot to your spouse, and a great starting point is careful and constant communication.
How Do You Partner with Your Spouse?
Interesting, isn’t it, how much of Rudy’s advice revolves around good communication? I appreciate his practical suggestions about how to improve communication skills. If you have tips or other partnering strategies to add to Rudy’s list, please leave a comment. To learn more about Rudy and his family, go to the guest blogger page and scroll down until you reach the lovely picture of Rachel and her husband Rudy and their bio.
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