Special needs parenting is a combination of joys and hard things. Guest blogger Ellen Stumbo is here today with her confession and the confessions of other special needs parents.
Confessions of a Special Needs Parent:
The Hard Things
Parenting a child with special needs can be a challenge, and often those challenges feel like a strong tidal wave coming at us, threatening to make us lose our balance, to fall, to give up. But we don’t. We never do.
The love for our children compels us to stand strong against the tide crashing against us: the stares, the school system, the medical billing, the ignorance from other people, or the lack of support. And although we stand strong, we get tired, sometimes we are barely keeping our feet planted and we fear the tide will finally defeat us and wash us away. So we reach out and hold eachother’s hand. Because we know together we are stronger, and because we need someone to stand with us, we cannot do this alone.We face challenges. There are hard things about parenting children with special needs.
We don’t want to be isolated, yet sometimes because of our children’s needs we find ourselves alone. We want friends. We need friends.
Special Needs Parents Feel Like We Are Not Doing Enough
Deep down we often wonder, could I do more? Could I try harder? Am I really doing all I can do? Sometimes, we have an overwhelming feeling of failing at everything we do because we don’t have enough time or energy to do it all. We feel like we are failing with our kids, we feel like we are failing with the typical siblings, failing at our marriage, failing at keeping a neat home, failing at our jobs.
At times, we feel like we are cheating our typical children from having a normal childhood experiences. We feel torn, and we fear that our typical children will feel less important or forgotten.
Comparing our Child to Typical Peers
We try not to compare, but sometimes it’s hard not to notice how different our children are compared to their typical peers.
Lack of Communication with our Children
It is hard when you cannot understand your own child because of a speech delay, and even harder when the lack of communication affects other social interactions and the forming of friendships.
It is tiresome when other people throw judgment at us. It is insulting when people hint they could do better and that our children’s behaviors are a result of poor parenting. The constant battle with schools, doctors, insurance companies, etc, is exhausting. Some people don’t even give our kids a chance.
We worry about the unknown, what the future holds. What will happen to our kids when we are not around? And how do we let go?
Dealing with the Diagnosis
When we first received our child’s diagnosis, we had to grieve the loss of the child we thought we would have. Once we deal with the diagnosis, we still have to deal with the everyday realities of our children’s needs. We want you to recognize the hard things about parenting a child with special needs, we hope that someday you will understand what it is like to walk in our shoes. Ultimately, we want you to stand with us, because when you do, you will see that we are courageous, funny, compassionate, resilient, brave, flexible, forgiving, generous, and so full of love. And we want to share that with you too.
What’s the Hardest Thing You Deal With?
Are you a parent of a child with special needs? What is the hardest thing you deal with as you parent your child? Leave a comment below or join the conversation on Facebook where Ellen asked, “The hardest thing about parenting a child with special needs is_____________”
Those responses were an inspiration for this post.
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