Special Children, Special Parents Part 2

Posted on 02/05/11 by erynwicker

If you read last week’s article you will remember that I left you with a quote, encouraging you find the miracles in everyday life, people, and occurrences.

I, therefore, am of the belief that parents are chosen for special needs children because they are simply the best people for the job. And while I am not naïve enough to think there aren’t exceptions to this my hope is that it rings true more often than not.

So, it’s no secret then that special needs children need special parents. But what qualities do these parents need to have in order to deal with their ever-changing reality? While it might be difficult for families to even begin to think about what attributes will be needed when a child is first diagnosed the following traits will help parents positively and constructively deal with the needs of their very special child.

  • Resiliency – the ability to deal with frequent crises, uncertainty, and worry
  • Flexibility – the need to change, adapt, modify
  • Open-mindedness – try not to box yourself in with labels and limitations
  • Resourcefulness – ask for help, research, join or create a support group
  • Positivity – you are doing the best you can, and if you could do better, you would
  • Tolerance – be careful not to criticize another’s coping style, but to give each other the space and validation to have feelings
  • Acceptance – a family must learn to tolerate ambiguous feelings, where on one hand there is an acceptance of limitations and on the other a need for enthusiasm and hope
  • Patience – try to stay focused on what can be done right now, in this moment, to improve the situation, and try not to worry about what hasn’t happened yet
  • Organizational skills – be the keeper of all the info – it helps you feel in control
  • Ability to rest – everyone deserves a break from one another and from their problems
  • Compassion – nurture your child, your family, yourself
  • Stubborness – persevere and keep moving forward
  • Creativity – think outside of the box

Of course these qualities are important for all parents to possess – to help them understand their own child, their own set of challenges and triumphs, their own set of unique needs – however special they may be.

Then it would seem that with the possession of all of these skills that these special parents might also learn a few things along the way, about themselves, about life, and about similar situations. The following are but a few life lessons from families of special needs children and youth that have helped them not only survive but thrive:

  1. Redefine normal – embrace what is now rather than mourning what was or should have been
  2. Compare wisely – try only to make comparisons if it is going to give you some much needed perspective not a dose of self-pity
  3. Advocate fiercely to make sure your children receives the services, therapy, schooling, and inclusion they need and deserve
  4. Know and believe in your child’s potential for greatness and help them achieve it
  5. Educate yourself and become the expert on your child’s condition – it will help you be an effective case manager as well as feeling on par with the professionals you are working with
  6.  Trust and follow your instincts – you know your child second best (after them of course) so let that guide you
  7. It’s tough to not get discouraged at times but remember that inspiration can come in many forms
  8. Reprioritize – it’s all right that what was so important before no longer seems as important now
  9. Practice cautious optimism – be realistically hopeful and see what happens
  10. Take time for yourself to care for yourself – think of your time, patience, energy, and compassion as a bank account where if all you have is withdrawals you might go bankrupt, so remember to deposit and replenish your reserves as well