8 Tips for Parents of Disabled Children

Being a parent is hard. Being a parent of a disabled child is harder. If you’ve recently found out that your child has a disability or you just need a pick-me-up that you’re doing something right, check out these eight tips for parents of disabled children, and don’t forget to take it one day at a time.

  1. Have A Good Support System

    Parenting is difficult, whether your child has special needs or not. You’ll need a good support system — a network of family, friends, community, and possibly your child’s healthcare providers. When the going gets tough, know who you can count on, when, and for what. When the people who love you know specifically how they can help, everyone can appropriately deal in the difficult times.

  2. Talk To Other Parents

    If your child has a disability, there’s a pretty good chance other children have a similar affliction. Find a support group for parents, if necessary. Or converse with parents you meet in the course of your child’s care. They can be a lifesaver. Other parents with similar situations will be able to understand your specific gripes better than others and may have creative solutions.

  3. Engage With A Community

    Join a support group. Find a club for parents of similar children. If you’re religious, go to church. Do something that builds community, even if it’s not based around your child. Join a craft club. Take one night off per week for Bunko. If it lifts you up or relaxes you, it’s legit.

  4. Practice Intense Self-Care

    One of the most important things a dedicated parent of a disabled child can do is take care of themselves. Caregiver burnout syndrome is a real thing, and — especially with children — it’s in a caregiver’s best interest to practice intense self-care. You can’t be an effective parent and guardian if you’re not well-rested, pulled together, and well-equipped to handle life’s curve balls. Make sure you have some private time, and do whatever you need to do to recharge.

  5. Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff

    Think “big picture.” Every day will not be your best day. And gold-star parenting days may not be your child’s best day. You have a difficult job that not everyone can understand. Happy, healthy, children and parents should be the goal. The rest of it is “small stuff.”

  6. Be A Tireless Advocate

    You can’t fix your child. And you may not always be the best caregiver (sometimes it might have to be a therapist or a doctor). Know what you can do right, 100% of the time? Be an advocate for your child. If you always have your child’s best interests on your mind, decisions about care, health, and educational strategies will make themselves. It won’t always be easy, but this is one thing you can always do right.

  7. Relinquish Control

    The surest way to put yourself in an early, stressed-out grave? Be both a parent of a special needs child and a control freak. You’ll drive yourself crazy being a helicopter parent that seeks to control every element of your child’s existence. Do what you can, and do your best. You can’t control the world, and sometimes not your own schedule, just let go, for your own sanity.

  8. Educate Yourself

    Arm yourself with knowledge. What does your child have? What does that mean? What are the implications for the rest of her life? These questions, and more, should be answered. Don’t become obsessed, but buy relevant books, seek several different sources of information, and rely on good science and medicine when you’re unsure.