Parenting a special needs child is not for the faint of heart. Let there be no doubt. Though I would offer that the parents of special needs children, whether those special needs be physical, mental or otherwise, will learn more about themselves and have insights in to human behavior than parents with 100% normal families. (Or, is there such a thing?)
First, relax. I am going to assume the following;
- You love your child.
- You are doing the best you can.
- You are following your faith…as best you know how.
You will make mistakes. You will be judged. You will be embarrassed. You will have regrets.
And…so what? Your child is worth all of that. And so are you.
Nothing is more trying than “What if?” or “If only.” This is who your child is. This is who you are. These are your strengths as a family. These are your weaknesses.
Getting better each year, improving, reading and researching. These are all actions to become the best you and your child can become. It’s not about bigger houses or more friends. It’s about the maximization of what you and your child are capable of accomplishing. Heck, that may be just getting through dinner without regurgitating the entire meal for some kids.
Whatever limitations you face and whatever markers of progress you set, accept them and improve. Run towards something. Not away.
With physical disabilities we would find joy in Emma’s progress. The surgery that allowed her to walk without falling down. The tendon releases that allowed more muscle movement, etc.
With the borderline personality disorder we learned to enjoy the times (sometimes quite limited) when Emma was whole and free from the BPD demons. Admittedly, there can be whiplash when dealing with mental health issues. One minute there is shouting and anger and the next minute hugs and laughter.
Through it all, be grateful. Everyone’s life can be better. And everyone’s life can be worse. Comparing yourself and your child will get you nowhere constructive. Compare yourself and your child to yesterday. What progress is there? Look for progress and celebrate.