Parenting kids with disabilities has its own unique challenges. As a special needs parent, sometimes I need to be reassured of some facts. I hope you find encouragement in these truths too.
1. You don’t need to have all the answers.
Our children can be complex depending on their diagnosis, and as parents we strive so hard to know what to do. Yet sometimes, we don’t have all the answers. In fact, sometimes we have more questions than we have answers. It’s okay!
2. You matter too.
As parents we sacrifice everything for our kids, even at our own expense. Taking care of ourselves is important, and sometimes we need help, because we matter too. Don’t feel bad for going out to meet with friends, for joining a gym, for attending a paint night, for taking a nap instead of doing laundry or washing the dishes pilled up on the sink. Find your me time, you matter too.
3. You are enough.
Many of us wonder if we could do more for our kids. We often take our children’s success and failure as a reflection of our own as a parent. We do what we can, and right now, at this very moment, with your fierce love for your child, you are enough.
4. It’s okay to laugh.
This life can be hard, but even in the midst of the hard there are moments that will take you by surprise, so give yourself permission to laugh. Program the speech device to say, “I farted.” Have an impromptu dance party and pretend to do the River Dance. Laugh when the teacher tells you at the IEP meeting that your nonverbal child keeps throwing in the trash the name tags of the kids they don’t like, because what a creative way for them to express their feelings. Laugh more when you jump with your kids on the trampoline and you pee little (it happens, you know it does!). Laugh at the great quotes you hear from your kids or their creative questions. Don’t take life too seriously, it’s okay to laugh.
5. It’s okay to cry.
Sometimes this journey can be hard and we feel so much inside. Friend, it is okay to cry. And sometimes grief comes back to find us, and it is okay to cry. And sometimes milestones missed make us deal with the diagnosis all over again, and it is okay to cry. And sometimes your child takes independent steps when every medical professional told you they would never walk, it is okay to cry too.
6. Nobody has this parenting thing nailed down.
It doesn’t matter if you parent children with disabilities or typical children. The fact is nobody has this parenting thing nailed down, so it is okay if sometimes you feel like you are winging it. There are extra challenges that come with raising kids with disabilities. You do the best you can.
7. You are not alone.
I know often times in this life parenting kids with disabilities you feel alone. We might not know each other personally, but at a heart level, where your thoughts live – your challenges, frustrations, and joys – you are not alone. I get it, so many other parents get it, we live it. You are not alone.
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