Having a special needs child is different for every parent. No matter what your day looks like with your child, it’s important to seek support from other special needs parents. I know you already feel depleted and may be wondering what more you can give, but offering this kind of support will give more than it takes. Trust me. You have something invaluable to offer and by blessing others, you will in turn be blessed. I get it; it can be hard to support each other as special needs parents. However, you can be supportive of each other through experience, respect, and helping one another when you can. Being a friend is one of the best ways special needs parents can support each other.
How Special Needs Parents Can Support Each Other
Be Respectful of One Another
There are going to be different opinions about what’s best for your child or how to handle certain scenarios. We won’t always agree. Even though we have a lot in common as parents of children with special needs, we may also have some different philosophies, parenting styles, values, or ways of coping with or responding to something.
Even though you may not agree completely with another parent’s perspective or choices, keep in mind that we all know our own child and our own family best. By remembering that we all love our children and are making our choices from a place of love and protection, we can ensure that we respect the other person even if we don’t always agree with everything they do or say.
Just Be There
There is so much relief that comes in having someone who understands, who “gets it”. Just be there. You don’t need to have long drawn out conversations or solve each other’s problems. Just being present and each being able to be with someone who knows what you’re going through is often enough.
I know this may be harder with special needs kids, however, it is so important. You need to remember that you are more than just a mom (or a dad). You need to laugh and have a few moments of forgetting your worries at the door. Getting out of the house and visiting another friend is always a special time because it reminds you that you’re not alone.
Go out for coffee, see a comedy or action movie (avoid the dramas – there is likely enough of that in your reality!), try something new like yoga or a pottery class, go for a dinner that you didn’t have to make (and clean up after!), attend a concert or a wine tasting, go for a long walk, it doesn’t matter what you do, just that you go and spend time with someone who can relate to your life.
Celebrate Their Kids and Yours!
No one knows how to celebrate their children and the milestones that they achieve more than special needs parents. One way special needs parents can support each other is by celebrating their kids. Celebrate those milestones, those birthdays, and those special moments. Be the family someone else can call on to celebrate the accomplishments of their special needs kids.
Be Available to Chat When Possible
A quick text or a phone call is sometimes all the support that a special needs parent needs. Having someone that can support you on the other side of the phone is always a nice feeling. Plus, when you’re both special needs parents, you both know that you’re going to need that support. Use technology to make that connection either whether it’s Facebook Messenger, texting, FaceTime, or email, stay in touch with the people who support you.
Be What They Need
Imagine the kind of friend you need and try to be that for the other person. And allow them to be there for you when you need them to be. There will be ebbs and flows, times when you are more in crisis mode and need support and times when you can breathe and they need you to step up.
Look for the positive. But allow the occasional pity party. Bring the chocolate!
It’s hard watching your child struggle. While most of the time, it’s helpful to point out the silver lining and keep your friend focused on the positive, there are moments when it’s ok to say “yep, this stinks.”
Be Honest with Each Other
There is no worse feeling than feeling like you’re alone and you are the only one in the world experiencing something hard. When it comes to supporting other special needs parents, try to be honest with each other. Let out your real feelings and don’t be afraid to discuss the hard stuff. Holding stuff in not only doesn’t give you the opportunity to process your emotions, it also doesn’t open the door for the other person to be able to have that “me too” moment. And that “me too” moment is about as healing as it gets!
If you’re looking to connect with other parents of kids with special needs, please join us in our Facebook group, Parenting in The Chaos and The Clutter.
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