Sometimes parenting special needs makes us feel depleted. How do we get the energy to care for the “me” in the “we”?
One of the most difficult challenges in special needs parenting is how to care for ourselves. We often feel guilty if we are not giving of ourselves every moment.
What made me feel this way when my children were younger? Did I feel responsible for my children’s challenges? Was I trying to fix all the things that did not seem right or fair?
I remember defending my daughter’s absences from her extracurricular activity when her teacher became bitterly critical. I often wonder, was my reaction justified? Maybe I needed to let my child suffer the consequences despite her fragility and not always try to protect her. This was life, after all.
Having special needs in the family can also cause more tension in the family relationships. My hubby and I often disagreed about parenting methods. This caused tension between us and between the kids.
I felt dinnertime was a time to be positive and stick to talking about the good stuff. Instead, it often became tense and unpleasant as the tasks and “to dos” were discussed.
So how can we shift away from this kind of atmosphere? It takes awareness and positive communication between the parents to create more family harmony. We need to develop understanding of our children’s challenges and how we can foster the most positive outcomes.
The great news is that today we understand so much more about ADHD, Bipolar, Autism and many other special needs. Learn as much as you can. How can you set a structure that fosters your child’s development and family harmony?
Where can you allow the child to be responsible for his/her own outcome? What can you let go of controlling? When I realized that letting go of control was the best thing I could do for my daughter, I found out it was the best thing I could do for myself as well!
With focused energy on a positive outcome, we now have many wonderful family meals together. Of course, parenting adult children means doing more listening and less giving suggestions or advice.
I noticed that when my daughter was around twenty-two, she began to find her own solutions and began to develop self-confidence. As I became less intrusive in her life, she became more empowered and more pro-active.
As a special needs parent, it definitely feels especially scary to let go of control. When we hold onto control…whom are we really helping?
How does a parent let go of control and still sleep at night? I needed to become more aware of what I really could control and learn to let go of what I cannot control.
Letting go takes a really active awareness in the moments when the fear and worry rise up. When I sense these feelings arise, I ask myself where they are coming from. How can I let go of the worry? How can I develop the trust that my children will learn to choose what is best for them.
I also use yoga, breathing and meditation to care for myself and give me the inner calm to stay focused on how to balance my life and my relationships.
I tell myself that I cannot be there to create every outcome in life. Much of life just happens and I try to do the best I can and let go of judging others and myself. When I do accomplish this, I feel free and relaxed. I feel amazing. I feel free to be me.