If you put two parents of children who have disabilities in the same room, they may not have anything in common. My experience with disability has much to do with my socio-economic background. It has to do with the number of kids I have and the type of disability my son has. All those things make a difference. And while I might be able to relate to those other parents, there’s no guarantee that we’ll have much in common. Other than a shared experience with disability.
Support is only meaningful if it’s done in a way that meets a person’s needs. My wife and I have realized that the only people who really “get” what we’re going through is us. So we rely only on each other for emotional support. This is good for us.
If we share concerns with our parents, they try to solve the problem. Or they try to make us feel better about it. But that's not what we need. We sometimes just need someone to tell us, “I hear you. I can understand your concern.”
Support is necessary. Support is valuable. But support that doesn’t come on your terms can be harmful and destructive. Especially if you are emotionally fragile. It’s vitally important to know what you need to feel supported and then find that.
My wife and I learned a long time ago that we have a finite amount of currency in our emotional bank account. We must be careful how we spend it. It’s hard to make back up. So when we look for support or relationships to invest in, we are very strategic about it. Be careful about who you open up to. Make sure you can get what you need in return.
Here is more information about connecting with other parents.
I was surprised how parenting a kid with intensive needs affected my relationship with my older children and my extended family.
Categories: Family Support