Parenting a child with a disability 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 each other’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 disabilities.
- 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.
We 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, 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 to their typical peers.
Lack of communication:
- It is hard when you cannot understand your child because of a speech delay, it can be frustrating when you cannot have a conversation with your own child. The lack of communication also affects other social interactions and the forming of friendships. It is especially hard when your child is non-verbal.
- 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 fist 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.
Are you a parent of a child with special needs? What is the hardest thing you deal with as you parent your child? Leave me a comment here, or join the conversation on Facebook where I asked, “The hardest thing about parenting a child with special needs is_____________”