Welcome to Day 21 of the 31 Days of Random Reflections on Raising and Homeschooling a Child with Special Needs. You can find the main page for this series here.
Even though I think I know a lot about raising our son who has special needs, over the years, I have learned a lesson or two from family and friends that have stuck with me.
Top 3 Lessons I Learned from Others on Raising My Child with Special Needs
1- We can’t keep our kids alive. Because of my son’s medical issues, I have lived with enormous amounts of fear since his birth. I have done everything I can to prevent terrible things from happening to him.
From alternative healing to healthy homemade meals to flying across the room to stop him from injuring himself, I have sometimes carried the weight of the world on my shoulders. When I’m out without him, a single text message makes my heart race.
A friend, also raising a child with special needs, once told me, “We can’t keep our kids alive, you know.” It changed my perspective in a second. How true. Who am I to think I am the reason my son is thriving? For, without God, we are nothing. God has plans for each one of us, and while we can be cautious, we cannot keep our children alive. We cannot keep them from getting hurt. We cannot keep them from crying. In the same way, we cannot force them to learn more, walk sooner, or become “cured.” It’s completely out of our hands.
2- It’s not up to them to understand. I sometimes get frustrated when family and friends compare their lives to mine and say things like, “You only have one child,” or “You’re home all day.” I have often uttered the words, “They just don’t get it!” A savvy cousin of mine, caregiving for his elderly parent, once said, “It’s not up to them to understand.” How true. Each one of us has a path created for us, each a different road, each a different story. We can listen and learn from one another, we can express compassion, but we can’t expect to fully understand. I don’t understand your life either. I haven’t walked in your shoes. I am not meant to understand your life just like you aren’t meant to understand mine.
3- You have the free will to change your attitude. A wise friend talks of how choosing to view a difficult situation with new eyes, we can learn to let go and reveal our life lessons. Rather than continuously fighting the system or righting the wrongs, we can choose to change our attitude at any moment and see what comes of it. This is a difficult one for this Mama Bear to accept, but I say this phrase in my head the second I feel myself tense-up.