Day 12: Setting Boundaries, Overcoming Parental Self-Sacrifice

Welcome to day 12 of the 31 Days of Restoration: Spiritual and Emotional Support for Parents of Children with Special Needs. You can find the main page for this series here.

Parenting is all about self-sacrificing from the second we learn we are expecting. Despite what new-age philosophies say about taking care of mom and dad’s needs first, there are some things we just can’t put ahead of our own.

This truth rings twice as loud for parents raising a child with special needs. In the early days, many of our baby’s needs mirror what other babies need. Milk, diaper changes, sleep, love. Parents give up sound sleep, outings with friends, and even a decent shower to care for their babies.

With age, the differences are glaring. We support our child through years of night wakings, carry our 10-year old into his car seat, spoon-feed our pre-teen, and change, dress, and bathe our young-adult.

Overnights away from our children are increasingly difficult. Attending a family celebration requires the need to pack everything including the bathtub (the kitchen sink isn’t large enough). Even a take-out dinner requires forethought due to feeding difficulties.

We sacrifice vacations, social events, and breaks from the kitchen.

We sacrifice time, relationships, passions, and freedom.

We sacrifice our careers, income, and the luxury of a fancy coffee in an isolated corner of the world.

We sacrifice our health and well-being because caring for our child who has exceptional needs requires our undivided attention 24/7.

We are overtaxed. Overloaded. Tense. Stressed. Strained. Pressured. Burnt out.

It’s a labor of self-sacrificial love.

I fantasize about taking time away from my son, but I feel guilty and anxious about leaving him in the hands of someone who may not know how to respond to his medical needs. What if something happens while I’m away? Am I putting too much pressure on a caregiver?

I know better as a well-read mom who teaches others about the oxygen mask theory. Yet, I need reminders to set healthy boundaries for myself just like you do. If we want to sustain ourselves for the long haul, we have no other choice.

Affirmations for Setting Boundaries and Overcoming Parental Self-Sacrifice

  • Even though my child needs my undivided attention, I let go to care for myself.
  • Even though my child needs physical and medical attention, I do not have to be the only one to care for him.
  • I acknowledge and value my limitations.
  • I let others know my limitations.
  • I unabashedly ask for help.
  • I unashamedly accept help.
  • I am worthy of self-care.
  • My child is worthy of a healthy parent.
  • My child knows he is loved even if I take time away.
  • Today, I begin to let go.
  • I trust courageously.
  • I trust faithfully.
  • I trust without self-sacrificing.
  • No matter what, I know I will be OK.
  • No matter what, my child will be OK.
  • No matter what, it will all be OK.

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