Parenting is not an easy task. However, when children have special needs, that can create additional challenges. Parents who are raising children with special needs such as autism, ADHD, other developmental delays, or physical ailments are going to be extra stressed. They are going to be more prone to burn-out, depression, ill health and other negativity. I really do understand as I have been through it and I still have my bad days. However, the trick for parents with children that have special needs is to find peace and acceptance in their lives. Fortunately, I have used five tips that have been helpful to me to stay sane and content for the most part despite the challenges I face. I would love to take this opportunity to share those.
Never Ever Compare Yourself or your Kids to Anyone Else. Firstly, comparing your life to someone else’s life, or your child to someone else’s child is like comparing apples to oranges. All comparing does is create depression, jealously and bitterness. Accept the fact that some people will have easier lives than you, and there are plenty of others who have it even more difficult. At the same token, do not compare your life to those who are less fortunate than you either. Remember, just because someone appears to have it easier than you does not mean they really do. I have read many blog posts from frustrated moms who are struggling to raise their kids with special needs about how jealous they are of their neighbors who seem to have it so easy. Maybe their neighbor’s kids are typically developing, however they may be struggling in other areas of their lives that you are not aware of. Keep in mind that no one has a perfect life, no matter how bright and shiny it may seem on the outside. Concentrate on your own life and working through your own challenges.
Stop Worrying and Take Action. I know how it is to worry about your child’s future, especially if he or she has special needs. You always want to hope for the best with your kids and never put limitations on them. However, you also need to be prepared with the possibility that your child with special needs will require life-long help. You know you won’t be around forever, and you would not want to force that kind of responsibility on your typically developing children. You need to start reaching out to your community to find out what resources are available to help you prepare for your child’s future. You must start as soon as possible and find out what needs to be done.
Don’t Take your Challenges Personally. For moms and dads who high self esteem, this tip may likely not apply. However, I know so many parents who have low self esteem as it is, and having a child with special needs has kicked it down even lower. Firstly, just realize that things just.. happen. You probably didn’t do something so horrible in a previous life, or even in your current life to deserve bad things. I do believe that we are given challenges for reasons we may not even know. I do think there is a spiritual meaning and reason for everything, but I am not going to get into that too much here. But just know that things.. happen. At the same token, I know that so many moms wonder what they did wrong while they were pregnant. Most of the time, nothing. Sometimes bad genes get mixed up (by the way we all carry bad genes, it is not just you or me), or environmental factors that are beyond our control come into play. Things just happen, and you can’t take it personally.
Reach Out. Parenting is a tough job, and it takes a village to raise one typically developing child. However, it takes communities to help raise one child with special needs. Do not even attempt to do it alone. Again, find out what help there is for you. Go to online support groups, offline support groups, find out what there is so you are reassured that you are not alone.
Accept and Appreciate your Child. This is a tough one for a lot of parents, especially for parents who have always had high expectations of their children. It is okay to mourn for the child that you dreamed of having. However, there has to come a time when you need to accept your child and the disability he or she has. If you keep mourning for the child you dreamed of having and didn’t, you will end up in a serious and long term depressive state. You need to adjust your expectations for your child and always support him or her. Find the positive traits in your child with special needs, and appreciate those traits.