One day I hope to be blessed enough to be a grandmother, but that will be up to my daughter and I will never put pressure on her. She does want kids, but she may either change her mind later on if she comes into an opportunity that could drive her away from that or not have an easy time for whatever reason. And, if I only had my son, then I would have to come to terms even at this point that being a grandmother would not be in my cards, and that is a guarantee. That is because he has autism and ADHD.
Even though he is on the higher functioning end and is going to be a contributing member of society thanks to the amazing residential school where he is at, he will not become a father. And, I would not want him to become a father because he could not ever handle having the responsibility of having a child. He also will not be 100% independent either. And to me, the saying grandchildren are God’s reward for being a parent is a saying that is very damaging to parents.
First of all, even typical kids may not grow up wanting to become parents, but when it comes to caring for a child with special needs, the odds are even lower for becoming parents. The only time when it could happen is if they are extremely high functioning to the point that they can manage themselves and be able to care for a dependent. But that is the exception and not the rule.
And that saying is even more damaging to parents that have kids with special needs is because the fact of the matter is that parenting any child that has disabilities of any kind is a lot harder than parenting typical children. I can say that because I have experienced both worlds. In fact, in some cases, when it comes to caring for children that are profoundly disabled, the stress levels are even worse, and parents do not get anything back at all. The harsh truth is that in many cases, caring for a child with special needs is a thankless job that leads to burnout. And, I am talking about situations where the children are so severely disabled to the point that they are non-verbal, violent, are not able to give anything back and are still in diapers in their teens and even older.
Fortunately, that was not my situation but I was under enough stress for other reasons and my mental health was in a serious state as well as I could no longer help my son nor myself. And parents who are caring for kids with special needs regardless of the disability and the severity are the ones who are the most stressed than parents who don’t know what it is like to care for disabled kids. And when they hear that saying, grandchildren are God’s reward for being a parent, that only makes them feel even worse about their situation because they know they won’t be grandparents unless they have other typical kids. But when these parents are caring for kids that are disabled, it is not a rewarding experience while facing the same challenges day after day, and while fighting for services that are so hard to get.
The last thing they need to be reminded is that they will be missing out on being grandparents because that saying suggests that they are not worthy enough to ever be rewarded. In fact, the sad majority of these parents end up having to care for their adult disabled children because the wait lists for group homes can be as long as 2 decades. This means these individuals will not only be missing out on being grandparents but they will miss out on enjoying their retirement because they will be too busy having to change diapers, take their adult kids to daycare programs, and doctors appointments.
And, even for parents who only have typical kids that don’t have kids of their own would be hurt when they hear this saying as well. How about parents that are grieving because of caring for a chronically ill child, or whose children that passed away? The saying is terrible for many reasons. If you are blessed enough to be a grandparent, please don’t use this saying. You never know whose wound you are rubbing into because you would be rubbing it into someones.