What do I do? How accurate is this? What does this mean? What can we do to help?
Last week I shared the first two of five principles that I have found to be true and helpful for parents who find have just been given a diagnosis or who know something is not quite “normal” with their child and are in the process of testing or diagnosis. Parents who are struggling with the above questions. If you missed Part 1, you can read it here.
Today, let’s look at the last three of these principles.
3. SELF-EDUCATE, RESEARCH, & PRAY. In today’s world there are a myriad of options, finding the best, or even a very good, one will require you to educate yourself and do some research. Of course, much prayer and asking the Lord for guidance, discernment and good options is critical!
4. TRUST YOURSELF AS HIS/HER MOM. You know your child better than ANYONE. You may not be an expert on all things medical or psychological, but you are an expert on your child! Use the experts in medicine and psychology to help inform, guide, and treat your child, but if one path doesn’t seem to match your child or their needs, don’t be afraid to say no. Or if another path does fit, but you will get a lot of opposition from friends and family, pursue it anyway and be an advocate for your child. Hands down, YOU are his or her most important and often, only, advocate!
I do have one word of caution. As a parent, you can understand and feel deeply for your child in a way others won’t that can come with both pros and cons. The pro side is partly touched on in the previous paragraph. The con side is when a parent feels too much sympathy and enables the weaknesses of their child so that the child is not challenged to do hard things or pushed to the next level and therefore, the child’s progress and prognosis stops short of what the child is capable of, which ends up harming the child in the long run, instead of helping. So, beware of falling into that trap!
5. THERE IS HOPE! While there is no easy fix, there is hope in the journey. God does have a purpose and a plan for you AND your child. I’ve seen my son and other kids with additional needs grow and develop far beyond where doctors, therapists, counselors, teachers and others ever predicted they could. Yet, even if they don’t, God is still there beside you every step of the way.
I love Sally Clarkson’s words on this subject, “I’ve written a lot…about the importance of accepting our different children just as they are, providing a place for them to be themselves, and appreciating God’s design for them. This is absolutely crucial – but it needs to be balanced with doing our best to help our children grow and move forward in their lives.”
Are you the parent of a child with additional needs? What helps you find this balance that Sally Clarkson mentions?
*List highly adapted from Different by Sally & Nathan Clarkson
About the author: Sarah is the Co-Founder of Hope Anew and has a background in counseling but the title she treasures the most is Mom of two boys. The youngest of whom has his own additional struggles.