There are all sorts of considerations when you’re a parent whose child has special needs. For one, you’ve got the daily trials of trying to cope with your kid’s physical and emotional demands. Then there’s the matter of finding specialists who focus on areas such as doing the proper assessment for kids with special needs.
And the whole time, you’re either worried about the possibility of bullying or discrimination, or you’re feeling guilty for not being able to be there for your child every step of the way. Sometimes, even though you’ve tried to protect your child and do what’s best for them, it can feel overwhelming. So how are you supposed to go about it all?
1. You will make mistakes
Imperfections are inevitable even with the best intentions in mind. Being a parent is hard, but having to deal with the challenges that come with a special needs child is not at all a walk in the park. You would have to familiarize yourself with the constant cycle of having to forgive yourself. After all, you can only do so much. Bottling up guilt and letting it marinate in your head can be destructive in the long run. There’s also no point in dwelling on previous mistakes, and it can only really bring out more negativity which your child could possibly be able to sense.
2. Find positivity
In line with shutting out negative thoughts, you must try to look for the positive in any given situation. It may be a cliche but there’s a reason why such an advice is so frequently recommended. Parenting is a long-term, lifetime commitment that cannot be filled with pent-up negativity. This is especially true when it comes to comments from others who may not understand right away that what they’re saying can be misconstrued as insulting to your child. There is a fine line between standing up for your child and getting overly upset about a misunderstood comment.
3. Create memories
Children, at the end of the day, are still children. You need not be filled with too much worry or stress that you’re unable to really, truly spend time with your child. It’s easy to get lost and caught up in all of the difficulties that you have to deal with on a daily basis. Even simply researching on your child’s condition takes up a lot of time—not to mention the emotional stress you experience. Try to make plans to with your child, even if it’s a simple walk around the neighborhood or a day using coloring books together. It would be nice to make it regular as well, to give your child (as well as yourself) something to look forward to.
4. No to comparisons
It’s hard not to try and compare your child with others who appear to be more typical, whether this is something you do consciously or not. Constantly seeing how your child measures up against others can have a lot of negative effects not only on your child but also yourself. This should not be taken as a reflection of your parenting skills or your faults of any kind. But instead of zeroing in on what your child may not be doing well in, try to focus your attention on your child’s strengths. It is essential to try and remember that your child is unique and that even the small achievements are still worth celebrating.
5. Talk to others
It can feel isolating when you try to make your world revolve around constantly trying to deal with the difficulties that go with having a child with special needs. You may feel alone. It could appear as if there isn’t a single person who could understand what you’re going through. That’s why joining a support group specially for parents of special needs children can be very helpful. You could meet other parents who have been through similar experiences, or at least ones who are currently in the same situation as you. It may seem daunting at first, though. But you’re not required to share anything that you’re uncomfortable with. You’ll at least get the support you need to keep up with all of the challenges you need to face.
6. Don’t forget about your marriage
For those who are in marriages, it could be hard to focus on your spouse when all your attention goes to helping your child. You could find the support you need in your partner, who is after all, more or less in the exact same situation as you. Try to set aside time to spend together every now and then.
No one has ever said that parenting was an easy job. And as a parent whose child has special needs, it can seem like what is required of you is insurmountable. But as long as you’re able to find the positivity on a regular basis, be able to forgive yourself, and focus on relationships with your child and other important people, you’d be doing just fine.