Oct 252016
 

If you are married and have a special needs child (or children), you know the unbelievable strain that parenting  puts on your marriage. You have extenuating circumstances that can destroy your relationship over time if you aren’t careful.

Child comes. Parents are ready and excited. The child has physical, behavioral, and/or emotional disabilities. Parents think they are prepared. The child’s care requires more than expected. For a longer period of time. The situation never seems to get better. The once-united front of the parents begins to crumble, because needs are not being met. One parent leaves the marriage -usually the father. What was a bad situation is now an impossible situation for the remaining parent, because, if two couldn’t do it, how can just one?

The politically correct way society often thinks (because they haven’t lived it), is that the parent who left is bad, and the one who remains must carry on regardless, for the sake of the child.

Carry on what was impossible before, with two people?

I must clarify a little here at this point, and say that I am talking about a child with more than a simple disability; one that is severely wounded, damaged, or physically incapacitated. If you lose the core family unit, then you lose. The child loses. Everything falls apart.

Taking care of the marriage must come before the child in this situation, because you can’t help that kiddo by yourself. Ouch. I know.

This is an explosive conversation, and most people won’t talk about it. Bruce and I put our relationship ahead of Lilly, and because we did, we were able to continue to be in her life, even to this day. Had we not taken care of our marriage, and if the stress and conflict involved in her care had torn us apart, then Lilly wouldn’t have us today as her parents.

I don’t know what might have happened to her.

-Nealie

 

 

Oct 042016
 

I ran into someone that I hadn’t seen in about fifteen years today. Long story short, she is really going through it with a child they adopted.

The girl is 14 or 15 now, and went back and forth between the birth mother and foster care from a young age. After a neglectful and turbulent early childhood, she was adopted by this friend, whose family had been respite providers during those years.

Good foster families play such an important part in anchoring and providing stability for children that have no stability in their lives. And usually there is no thank-you from the child, who may be unable to appreciate the safe haven that has been provided.

Helping a kid who doesn’t seem to want help, (and is often defiant and destructive to the family unit), is a hard burden to bear. I felt for my friend, because we have been there with Lilly. I feel like we’ve been to hell and back with Lilly.

Has it been worth it? Absolutely! What advice do I have for people in this situation? Here is a mini-list of tips:

1. Take care of your marriage. (I will talk more about this topic in two weeks, so stay tuned.)

2. Take care of your health. Eat nutrient rich foods and be active physically.

3. Have a list of people on your team, and their numbers. An actual list. After you put down the professionals, rack your brain to  add helpful people who are not professionals. When in crisis, if you don’t have a list, you may not be able to focus on who to call for help.

4. Know the signals that will tell you that your child is becoming dis-regulated or agitated. With Lilly, she would pace, suck her thumb, and hunch her shoulders. When these happened, I knew we were headed for trouble if there wasn’t an intervention.

5. Think about interventions. Make a list of things that could be used as interventions. More about this in weeks to follow.

6. Don’t hesitate to call for help! It’s when you try to do it all alone that either you get harmed, or something really bad may happen.

7. Document everything unusual and date it. Add names of anyone who heard or saw what you are documenting. I’m talking about unusual or bizarre behavior, harm to animals, self, or others; accusations, fire-starting, running off, breaking items, stealing, etc.

With the holidays coming, it is wise to be proactive if you don’t already have these things in place. Nothing is fool-proof, but you will fail if you don’t think about this seriously.

Love my readers, Nealie