Parenting is a beautiful, yet incredibly challenging journey. For a parent of children with special needs, there is an entirely new set of obstacles to face and overcome.
Currently, over 650 million people around the world have sensory, physical, or intellectual disability. In the United States alone, around 54 million Americans are classified as having some type of special need.
These statistics serve as reminders to parents—you are not alone.
From reminders of your worth and purpose to simple sentences of encouragement to get you through the day, here are eight affirmations you need to hear right now.
1. “I Am Not Perfect, But I Am the Parent My Child Needs”
Parenting is not about perfection, especially when it comes to being a parent of special needs children.
You won’t always have the right answers or know the right steps to take. You won’t always say the right things or make good decisions—and you’re not supposed to. Being a parent is about doing what you feel is right and best for your children.
And it’s about knowing, beyond any doubt, that you were meant to be in your children’s life. You are the parent that they need.
2. “I Am Doing Okay and My Child Is Too”
Sometimes all you need is a reminder that everything will be okay.
Having a disability is not an end of life, it’s a beginning. For many people, understanding and obtaining an official diagnosis answers questions that were spinning in their minds. Rather than feeling clueless and misunderstood, they now know what’s going on with their child and can take steps to create a better life for him or her.
As a parent, you work hard to create the best opportunities for your child/children. Knowing that everything will be okay is a huge and empowering reminder. Not only can this boost the confidence of you as a parent, but it can help your child’s self-esteem for them to hear you say or feel that everything will be fine.
3. “I Can Ask For and Accept Help When I Need It”
You can’t do this alone and you weren’t meant to.
Parenting a child with special needs means that you need an army behind and around you. You need people to support you, assist you, and answer questions when you’re not sure what steps to take next.
It is okay to ask for and to receive help. Whether that’s seeking medical advice, using respite care for children, or having a live-in nurse or caretaker, these are options that you can take without shame.
Asking for help does not make you weak, it makes you strong.
4. “I Will Focus On the ‘Cans’ Not the ‘Can Nots’”
Raising a special needs child means learning to accept that there are some things your son or daughter may never be able to do and that’s okay. It doesn’t mean he/she will have a less quality life; it means he/she will have a different, yet still beautiful life.
Choose to focus on what your child can do rather than what he or she can’t. Be excited over the small things and milestones. Hearing your praise and encouragement can help your child with stress, as well as give you a more positive perspective.
5. “Both Me and My Child Are Strong”
Strength can come in many ways. It can be the ability to move forward after difficult news or attempting something that others said was impossible.
Strength can be quiet or it can be bold. But strength is within you and your children—take time to recognize and praise that.
In the physical sense, building physical strength through exercise can empower your children to feel a sense of independence or ability to do something for themselves. If possible, find a way to help them get exercise or exercise alongside them to strengthen your bond and physical abilities.
6. “I Am Making a Difference In My Child’s Life”
Parents of children with disabilities can’t hear this enough: you are making a difference.
Even though some days may feel slower than others, or you might start to lose hope in what you thought would happen or change, hold on. By being there, by fighting for your child, and by showing up for him or her every single day, you are making a difference.
7. “I Am More Than A Parent of a Child With Special Needs”
Your role in your child’s life is not your sole identity. Don’t be afraid to do things for yourself, to take care of yourself, and to prioritize your own needs sometimes.
Yes, you are a parent and you always will be. But you are also a friend, a spouse, a daughter, a son, a sister, a brother, an aunt, an uncle, etc. Find your identity in your parent role, yes, but also find your identity outside of it.
8. “I Will Seek the Joys”
There will undoubtedly be difficult days in your journey, but that’s not all there will be.
No matter what, choose to focus on the joys in your life as much as possible. If you make a mistake, learn to forgive yourself. If you’re faced with criticism or judgment from friends, family members, or other parents, try to focus on your reason for making a decision rather than the negativity that another person says.
Your journey will have rough patches, frustrations, dead-ends, and moments of hopelessness, but it will also have beautiful moments of laughter, love, strength, and hope. Even when things get tough, keep pushing forward.
Remember That You Are Here For a Reason
There is no one else who can play your role in your child/children’s life. Although you may have moments of despair or failure, know that being a parent of children with special needs is incredibly tough, but incredibly beautiful, too.
And you were put in your child’s life for a reason.
For other parenting tips, advice, and thoughts on raising children, click here.
About The Author:
Stacey Smith is a freelance health writer. She is passionate to write about women’s health, dental health, diabetes, endocrinology and nutrition and provide in-depth features on the latest in health news for medical clinics and health magazines.