"Doing nothing for others is the undoing of one's self.
We must be purposely kind and generous or we miss the best part of life's existence.
The heart that goes out of itself gets large and full of joy.
We do ourselves most good by doing something for others."
Horace Mam (1796 - 1859) American educator, writer and politician.
The author this week chose this quote and prefers to stay anonymous.
This is the second post in the series "PARENTS LIVING UNDER DIFFICULTIES".
PART 2 ~ Parenting a Special Needs Child
"After we had our special needs child I found an article about a person who was interested in the culture of France, in particular in Paris and the French language. It was a dream for this person to travel to Paris and the preparation for the trip took many years. Finally one day he could go. But by mistake he hopped on the wrong train. He went to Venice and he only realized the mistake on arrival. He looked for the things he had read about that were in Paris, but they weren't there.
It is like this for parents who give birth to a special needs child - they end up in Venice instead of Paris.
With a special needs child everyday doings are hard and I often don't know what to do. People give me different directions and advice, often not understanding what I'm going through. I experience this a lot. But then I think even though I am not in Paris, Venice is still a very beautiful place.
A special needs child still goes through the same development as a normal child and there are still joys and challenges along the way. Parents of special needs children need to change their mindset from Paris to Venice, then the difficulties are not overwhelming and in time you find you get better and better in what you are doing.
For me as long as I have had a special needs child in our family, I feel that she has been a blessing, like all healthy children are to their families. A special needs child creates lots of learning opportunities for everyone in the family. Some people think I must be dissatisfied I have a special needs child in my family, but I am not. A parent with a special needs child must change their mindset to see it is an advantage to have this child who has special needs.
I like to think of it as being like when someone learns to play the flute, where you only need to read one line of music to play. However if you learn to play the piano you need to learn to read two lines of music at the same time. This is like the family with the special needs child. The special needs child is less independent, requires prolonged physical care, makes others in the family have to learn to be patient - everyone in the family lives with the difficulties a special needs child brings into the family. It is hard to live with it. It is hard to learn to play the piano with two hands at once, but with lots of practice it can be done successfully. To live at home with a special needs child, the rest of the family is given training and lots of practice, so when they go to work or school each day the troubles they find there can be handled. The training at home has equipped them to handle more.
I have had to change my thinking. I refuse to be negative about our special needs child because it can affect the attitude of my family, making them negative towards her.
Three suggestions for people in a similar position as us ~
1. Educate yourself about your child's area of special need. Get all the help you can to understand them.
2. Find something that recharges you - so you can keep going because it's a long journey. For each person it will be different things - maybe nature, looking after a garden, reading books, exercising - anything. Once you know the thing that will recharge you, work out different ways to do it. Say you love nature but you can't get out of the house - look out the window and study the clouds for a few minutes. You need to train yourself because the job of caring for the family is overwhelming! If you let your busy life be only filled with doing the job, you will end up being depressed. Keep yourself in good shape.
3. Surround yourself with people who are positive and supportive. You could have different reactions from people towards you and towards your child. Some people because they don't know enough about special needs children, withdraw. It doesn't mean they don't care about you, they just don't know what to do. Other people may have their own issues in their own lives. It is said that 80% of people's problems is to do with how people feel about themselves.
So we need to stay close to positive and supportive people to help us do our job.
THISWEEKWITHTHEKIDS ~ you probably like me have been challenged in your parenting. The quote at the beginning has a message which is rarely in my mind - how about yours? But if I pursued those thoughts I know I would parent differently, better. How about you? Some food for thought for this week.