Parenting a child is challenging, but it’s even harder when a child has special needs. The situation can bring stress to the whole family, including the siblings, and cause you to question your parenting abilities.
While you try your best to be patient, kind, and loving all the time, the exhaustion of everyday struggle will ultimately drain you out. There will be days when you just want to quit. But know that you are not alone.
According to statistics, about 93 million to 150 million children worldwide have special needs. So it’s safe to imagine that there are millions of parents out there who are struggling the same way you do. It could be hard at first, but with support and knowledge, you’ll be able to care for your child in the best ways possible without losing yourself in the process.
Parents need to understand that while they need to look after their kids, that does not mean that they have to neglect caring for themselves. That said, here are a few things parents should remember while raising children with special needs.
Find a support system
A support system can help you find new methods and new resources. It can also provide you with much-needed support from parents walking the same path as you. Further, a support system will open your eyes to many things, such as:
- You are not the only one who blames yourself for your child’s unique challenges
- Other parents have it hard too, often, way harder than you.
Knowing that you are not alone in this ordeal can somehow make you feel better, at least emotionally.
You are not perfect, but that’s okay
There is no secret recipe for perfect parenting. Everybody makes mistakes, even seasoned parents. So whenever you feel like you’re such a lousy parent, remember that it’s okay to make mistakes and that you can always learn lessons from them.
If you missed an appointment with the doctor or forgot to give their medicine on time, shift your thinking. In most cases, you forget many things because you are too busy caring for the whole family. In other terms, don’t feel so bad about being mistakes, just keep doing what you’re doing and move forward.
Have fun with your child
As a parent, you worry too much about the safety and health of your child. But that will only drive you crazy. It’s important to give yourself a chance to enjoy your time with your child because, after all, their extra challenges should not stop them from living a wonderful life.
Take them to the mall, eat out with them, and go to the park. Or, you can enroll your kid in ballroom classes and watch them interact with other children. Doing this will give you a chance to spend quality time with just your kid without being distracted by house chores or work.
You don’t have to make heart-wrenching decisions alone
Whether you like it or not, there will be times wherein you will have to make decisions that will break your heart and make you question everything you thought you understood. Keep in mind that you only want what’s best for your child, and you are doing your best.
Talk to your spouse or other family members who understand your situation and ask for their input. You have to trust that you are making the right decisions. Decide, move on, and try not to have any second thoughts once it’s done. It may be challenging, but it’s definitely better than not making a decision at all.
Your child having special needs is not your fault. No parent would ever want their child to grow up with unique struggles than other kids. Forgive yourself and always look at the brighter side of life. No matter how you torture yourself, you will never feel better. It will even make it harder for you to make the right choices.
Don’t lose yourself
It’s easy for special needs parents to lose themselves in the process. Don’t ever let this happen to you. Being a parent is hard work, but it should not reshape your identity or change who you are as a person. When you dedicate so much of your time and self to your child’s needs, you can get lost and not be able to go back to the happy person you once were. Find time for the things you enjoy doing, go shopping, have lunch with your friends, or dress up for date night, whatever it is, if it makes you happy, go for it.
Children with special needs require so much time, patience, and attention. But you are human too. You need to take care of yourself so that you can care for your family better. Find the balance between being a parent and being your own person to ensure that you live your life with joy.