Help for Parents of Children with Disabilities

By Gina Badalaty

Gina Badalaty

Gina Badalaty

You’ve just found out your child has a learning disability.  You are probably sad, angry, and frustrated…and scared.  Those are perfectly normal feelings, and I went through all of them myself – twice. Raising two kids with different disabilities is a challenge, but it has its rewards too.  The key to dealing with the stress is to get yourself on level ground, emotionally, so you can help your kids – and yourself.

I’m going to share some tips on how you can help yourself be successful in the most important role you never thought you’d have: being a special needs parent.

  1. Find support. It’s critical that you find other parents who are going through the same things that you are.  Whatever your child’s disability, you can find someone else who’s been there before.  Parents of typically developing children can still be wonderful friends, but until they walk a mile in your shoes, they will not understand a lot of what you are going through.  Get online and search for your child’s disability or find local resources by asking your child’s staff or school or your pediatrician.
  2. Let things go. You cannot control everything. That includes the number of hours in a day.  Raising children with a learning disability can mean lots of paperwork and a long list of visits to doctors, psychologists, and other providers  When my own children were 3 and 6, between work, housework, meetings, marriage, and tantrums, I thought I was going to lose my mind.  I had to let something go, and the first thing that went out the door was housekeeping.  Nowadays, I hire someone from time to time to do the housekeeping, but otherwise I do what I can and no more. Dishes in the sink, pencil on the walls, and dirt on the floor no longer bother me; I’ve got a kid-friendly house!  Letting go the burden of a house in perfect order relieved a lot of stress for me.  Find out what you can live with as is, and let go the need to fix it.
  3. Get help. If you’re one of those “I can do it myself” types, that’s great! Your kids will benefit from that model.  If, however, you can’t accept help, it’s time to change that mindset.  Parenting is a full time, taxing, and often difficult job for anyone and every parent needs a break.  Let people help you when they offer – including your spouse and your kids.  If you do that, you’ll have time to do the next very important thing…
  4. Take care of yourself. I can’t stress this enough.  If you’re not sleeping, not eating properly, not taking a break, and not at least stretching your legs, you’re going to get bitter, sick, and grumpy.  No one benefits when you feel crummy, so treat yourself as well as you treat your children.  They will thank you for it.
  5. Enjoy your kids. The upside to having a special needs child is that as parents, we get to celebrate the most mundane things: the first half-word that your child says at age 5, the first time a toy is played with properly at 3, the first time your 4 year old sleeps through the night.  Life is slower for us, but the successes are even more rewarding.  Throw your family a mini-party when a hard-fought goal is achieved with singing, clapping, dancing, and lots of laughter.

Parenting a child with a disability is a challenging, growth-filled journey.  The main thing is to remember that you love them, and with that love, your kids can rise above any adversity. With enough support and self-care as well, you can embrace parenting a special needs child for the blessing that it is.

Gina Badalaty is happily married, lives north of Philly and is mom to two special needs girls. She works from home as a web designer, mommy blogger, blogging trainer, and aspiring novelist. Since surviving a stroke at age 33, she counts every day as a blessing and an adventure. She is passionate about finding and telling compelling stories that touch the spirits of women everywhere. You can visit her at www.mom-blog.com.

Posted in Kids with Special Needs on March 10th, 2011 | Permalink | 2 Comments »

2 Responses to “Help for Parents of Children with Disabilities”

gayle Slate says:

Congratulations. As a mom and retired psychotherapist, I could not have put this more succinctly. This is what I tell moms who I know. Many of them have not ever heard these words before! Good article. I am going to put it on my blog.

Gina B says:

Thanks, Gayle! That’s awesome.

Leave a Reply