Help for Parents of a Special Needs Child
Seek the Assistance of Another Parent
A parent once said, “You may not realize it today, but there may come a time in your life when you will find that having a daughter with a disability is a blessing.” These words may seem puzzling, however they are nonetheless an invaluable gift that can be the first light of hope. This parent spoke of hope for the future. There are programs, and help of many kinds and from many sources.
The first recommendation is to try to find another parent of a child with a disability, preferably one who has chosen to be a parent helper, and seek his or her assistance. All over the United States and over the world, there are Parent to Parent Programs. The National Information Center for Children and Youth with Disabilities (NICHCY) has listings of parent groups that will reach out and help you. If you cannot find your local parent organization, write to NICHCY to get that local information.
Talk with Your Mate, Family, and Significant Others
Many parents don’t communicate their feelings regarding the problems their children have. One spouse is often concerned about not being a source of strength for the other mate. The more couples can communicate at difficult times like these, the greater their collective strength. Understand that you each approach your roles as parents differently. How you will feel and respond to this new challenge may not be the same. Try to explain to each other how you feel; try to understand when you don’t see things the same way.
If there are other children, talk with them, too. Be aware of their needs. If you are not emotionally capable of talking with your children or seeing to their emotional needs at this time, identify others within your family structure who can establish a special communicative bond with them. Talk with significant others in your life—your best friend, your own parents. For many people, the temptation to close up emotionally is great at this point, but it can be so beneficial to have reliable friends and relatives who can help to carry the emotional burden.
Rely on Positive Sources in Your Life
One positive source of strength and wisdom might be your minister, priest or rabbi. Another may be a good friend or a counselor. Go to those who have been a strength before in your life. Find the new sources that you need now.
Whenever your feelings are painful, you must reach out and contact someone. Call or write or get into your car and contact a real person who will talk with you and share that pain. Pain divided is not nearly so hard to bear as is pain in isolation. Sometimes professional counseling is warranted; if you feel that this might help you, do not be reluctant to seek this avenue of assistance. Your Employee Assistance Program can help.
Take One Day at a Time
Fears of the future can immobilize one. Living with the reality of the day which is at hand is made more manageable if we throw out the “what if’s” and “what then’s” of the future. Even though it may not seem possible, good things will continue to happen each day. Worrying about the future will only deplete your limited resources. You have enough to focus on; get through each day, one step at a time.
Content provided courtesy of the National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities (NICHCY).
For more information or to discuss parenting concerns please contact Partners Employee Assistance Program at 1-866-724-4EAP.
In case of emergency, please call 911 or your local hospital emergency service.
This content was last modified on: 09/08/2008