It’s difficult enough to feel successful as a parent these days. Pick a book off of the bookshelf at your local library or bookstore and chances are, it will tell you that you’re doing it wrong. Look online and you will find 10 different “right” ways to do the same thing. Which method do you choose? Finding the “right” way to parent a child with special needs can add in a whole new layer of difficulty.


It’s easy to feel alone, overwhelmed, angry, judged, and misunderstood. Few people truly understand just how difficult it can be to parent a child with special needs.  Family and friends are full of advice, based mostly on what they have found successful with their children. Unfortunately, the strategies that work best for neuro-typical children will most likely not work for yours. It’s crucial to your emotional well-being to be able to talk about the difficulties but many parents are concerned about complaining too much to those around them. While venting can feel good at times, it’s only useful in the moment and if done too much, it actually reinforces negativity.


What’s better is to work on strategies for coping with the attitudes and behaviors that your child is exhibiting and to learn to adjust your expectations. While everyone else is celebrating that their child made a hit in t-ball, you’re still working on toilet training and transitioning from one favored activity to another. It’s easy to feel like an unsuccessful parent because everyone else seems able to do so much more, to have more energy, and their kids are accomplishing one milestone after another. It is easy to lose sight of the fact that you have to work three times harder than a parent who has a neuro-typical child.


Therapy can provide a safe place to process any difficult emotions you may have about having a child with special needs. It can also help you learn skills to cope with the extra demands as well as provide support for you. Most marriages feel the strain of having children; having a child with special needs adds to the strain. There is so much focus on parenting that the marital relationship takes a back seat; many people find marital therapy beneficial to help restore healthy communication between the couple.

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