FACING OUR FEARS – 31 STORIES FROM M.O.M.
“He gets mad at the smallest things. I’m embarrassed to be seen with him. I wish I had a normal brother like everyone else. I feel ignored and resent how much time he demands from my parents. As much as I can’t stand to be around my brother, I worry about if he is OK without me. It hurts when people are rude to him and I feel guilty because I am the rudest to him of all.”
“Who will take care of her if something happens to my parents? Who will stick up for her when I am not around? Why are all my friend’s sisters growing up fine, but mine still acts so young?”
“All the other kids who have pregnant moms eventually bring home their baby. Why did my baby brother never come home from the hospital and have to die?”
“My mom is on edge all the time. If I need something I keep quiet because I know it will make her even more upset. If it weren’t for my brother her life would be easier and she would notice and be nice to me.”
Parenting a child with special needs is challenging, and if your like me you have “typical” children to raise too. In our family I have watched my children’s reactions and seen first hand the struggles that come by being a special sibling. My children have wrestled with all the emotions mentioned above, plus many more. As their mom it is my responsibility to navigate them through these emotions, so where can I start?
- Talk and talk some more. Ask your children about their feelings. Tell them it is OK to be honest and that this is hard. As adults we have questions about our special needs child and our children have questions as well.
- Give them permission to grieve. It is true that they do not have a brother or sister as other families. Sometimes we need to let the hurt out with a hug, then go on. Give permission for the hurt and point to the positive.
- Let your child know they are not alone. I was thrilled to find some great books my children can relate to! Views from our Shoes, edited by Donald Meyer, is a book of essays written by children with special needs siblings. Living with a Brother or Sister with Special Needs, by Donald Meyer and Patricia Vadasy, is a great book that talks about specific disabilities and the emotions that come with being a special sibling. Both of these books are wonderful!
- It is good to laugh. Sometimes the most stressful times can be the funniest times. Try and find humor throughout your day.
- Show your kids what God is doing in and through them because of their siblings disability. I know each of my children is gifted in unique ways because their lives have been harder. I point out these awesome character traits and let them know how proud I am of them. The blessings of having a special needs sibling far outweigh the negative when you look at what God is doing!
- Take your typical kids on dates. Spend time making them feel like the “special” child, giving them the time they need. This is great for both mom and child!
- Pray for your children. Pray the Lord will use these special circumstances to further His kingdom and bless our children with compassion.
Are you the sibling of a special needs brother or sister? What have you learned? We are eager to hear your story!
❀Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9❀
Today, we’re linked up with The Better Mom: