Having a child with a disability: how to deal with this situation
Having a child is a moment of life full of emotions, which are often contradictory, since it is a mixture of joy and fear with many expectations in between.
And when the fact that our child has a disability (be it physical, intellectual, sensory, etc.) is presented at this time, the emotions can become very overwhelming .
It is perfectly understandable to feel a lot of anxiety when learning about this condition and, in many cases, moms and dads can feel very alone, even when surrounded by other people.
In addition, guilt does its thing , becoming a regular part of the moment. It is common to ask ourselves if we have done something wrong or if we should have done something differently, and these questions, far from helping us, end up becoming a very heavy burden to carry. How to deal with this vital situation?
“If it is not in your power to change a situation that causes you pain, you can always choose the attitude with which you face that suffering.”
The storm before the calm
At the moment of knowing that our son who arrives, or who is already with us, has a disability, a crisis occurs in the family nucleus , and a process of mourning begins for the son that we “expected” in our mental imaginary, and it won’t be the same.
expectations and grief
And it is that all of us, before giving birth or becoming parents, consciously or unconsciously, place some expectations on the child who arrives , these being, normally, that everything goes well, that he is healthy, etc.
When this is not the case, there is an imbalance at the family and emotional level that requires time to recover.
We must also face all the challenges that the child’s condition represents and that can affect the existing links between family members, as the psychologist Blanca Núñez points out in an article (2003).
“Some things are under our control and some things are not. Only after having faced this fundamental rule and having learned to distinguish between what we can control and what we cannot, will inner tranquility and outer efficiency be possible.”
Overwhelm and unpleasant emotions
It is perfectly understandable that, upon hearing the news that our child has a disability, we feel overwhelmed by a host of emotions that make us feel very bad.
But always keep in mind that this is a temporary crisis from which you can get out as a family, and that all this anguish will pass.
Acceptance of the new reality
For their part, the researchers Silva, Velázquez, Luna, and Garduño (2010) point out in an article that the changes that occur in a family with the arrival of a child with a disability have to do with how they respond to certain factors.
And these factors will have to do with how the family dynamic accepts this fact and how they reorganize themselves according to their new reality. And all this has to do with the grieving process , that is, the acceptance of the new situation.
One of the most effective ways to give relief to our souls is to talk about what happens to us , what we feel, our fears and even those thoughts that we would like not to have, but that are still there. Check out more interesting articles on our site.
When we have a child with a disability, it is common to close ourselves off and try to avoid talking to others about the subject, and on other occasions it is the others who will avoid the subject, but it is important that you express what you feel.
Turn to a professional
In this sense, sometimes the help of a therapist will be necessary , which brings many benefits and being someone outside the direct family nucleus makes it easier to talk about what we are experiencing, without fear of being judged or accused of being bad. fathers.
Spoiler alert: you are not, you are doing the best you can and you have every right in the world to feel overwhelmed or confused. It’s okay not to be able to do everything at once , nothing happens.
“Remember: you can handle everything, although perhaps not with everything at the same time.”
How do I deal with this situation?
When we have a child with a disability, we tend to leave our whole lives relegated to the background. We are full of fears, anguish , sadness and even anger, and we constantly question our role as parents.
But it is important that you take into consideration the following tips to be able to cope with the situation:
- Talk about what you feel
We recommend that it be with a professional, be it a psychologist, psychiatrist or therapist. Also with your trusted friends .
- Talk to your family about the situation
Explain what’s going on and don’t be afraid to ask for help.
- It is important to be honest about what we like or do not like about what happens with our children
Many times family members do things that are unpleasant and it is necessary to clarify those points.
- take some time for yourself
It’s not being selfish, it’s necessary. If you are not well, you cannot be well to take care of your child. Every day set aside even five minutes for yourself and do something you enjoy: have tea, listen to music, take a bath, etc.
- Avoid being overprotective of your child .
This is very difficult, we know, but it is necessary for the mental health of everyone involved.
- Contact an Association of families with children with the same diagnosis
This always helps to feel protected, understood and accompanied.
- Learn to enjoy your child
Of his life, of his growth , without focusing on what “should be”.
- Live the present and enjoy every moment of life with your child
Remember that everything is temporary, so if you are going through a bad time, remember that it will not be eternal. And if you are having a good time, enjoy it to the fullest without worrying about tomorrow.
- Work on forgiveness
Not only forgiveness towards others, but also towards yourself. This is a transcendental point that can allow you to see everything from a different perspective.
“Disability is not a brave fight or courage in the face of adversity. Disability is an art. It is an ingenious way of living.”
Having a disabled child: a challenge
Yes, certainly being the parents of a child with a disability can be quite a complex challenge , but we assure you that you have the strength to do it.
And when you feel weak, remember that it’s okay to ask for help and it’s okay to feel exhausted and afraid; that does not make us less brave, quite the contrary.
The importance of moving through emotions
And above all, allow yourself to go through all those emotions so that they find their place and meaning within you. They are there for a reason .
“Life is not easy for anyone. But what does it matter! You have to persevere and, above all, have confidence in yourself. You have to feel gifted to do something, and you have to achieve that thing, whatever it takes.”
Always remember that you and your children are important and yes, you will have to face difficulties in many ways and maybe even social discrimination, but that does not define who you are or your worth. Your son is and will be wonderful precisely because of who he is, and together you can learn a lot.
Don’t let yourself be overwhelmed by a diagnosis of disability, always remember these words:
“In reality, there are no disabled people, only people with varying degrees of ability.”