Special needs parenting is hard. I mean really hard. It’s difficult physically, emotionally, and mentally. I’m not going to take the time in this post to explain why it’s so hard. I just need you to believe me when I say that being a mom to a special needs child is a very difficult path to walk down. Not only is it difficult, but it never ends. Our children will always have special needs. They will never out grow special needs like all other children grow out of their different stages of dependency on their parents. We are forever parenting children that will be 100% dependent on others. There is no end in sight and it is draining.
Admittedly, special needs moms often do not have a lot of friends. Our schedules are very demanding between doctors appointments, procedures, and therapies. This is of course on top of all the normal demands of raising a family and managing a household. We also don’t have many friends because it’s difficult to find people who we can relate to. So if you are one of the very few who consider yourself to be a friend of a special needs parent, please know how much you are cherished.
So what can a friend of a special needs parent do to show support? I’m glad you asked, please keep reading!
1. We want you to read this.
I think the biggest hurdle special needs parents face is that those on the outside looking in really only have a slight idea of what special needs parenting is like. We desperately want others to understand, and show us they genuinely care. At the same time, we don’t want every conversation we have to be a comprehensive overview of what our life raising special needs children is like. Don’t get me wrong, we’re willing to share and love it when others show a genuine interest. But simply taking the time to educate yourself is showing support for us.
If a special needs parent shared this post, it’s not because she wants pity. They’re sharing it because they want others to try to understand. They want to feel supported, loved, and cared for. Please, take the time to read through this post so you can have a better understanding of how to support your special needs mom friends.
2. We Need You To Invite Us For a Mom Night Out
Special needs parenting is lonely. Like extremely lonely. I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve been singled out and invited to have a girls night in the last 6 1/2 years since becoming a special needs mom. Ok, to be honest I’ve probably done the inviting all but one or two of those times.
We are desperate for friendships. I’m not talking about how many friends we have on facebook. I’m talking about authentic relationships. So please, see us. Invite us out.
Also, please ask again if we say no. Saying no doesn’t mean we don’t want to go out (I would argue we need to go out) it simply means the timing was bad. Don’t brush us off, ask what date does work and schedule it. We all know “some other time” usually never happens.
3. When Doing #2, Offer to Pay
Raising a special needs child is expensive! I won’t bore you with the details, but I can say that every spare dime is spent on needs related to our child. If you invited us out for a girls night and we said no, chances are we simply don’t have an extra $20 for a night out. Offering to treat once and a while will communicate to us that you genuinely want to spend time with us.
4. Offer to come watch the kids for a hour
We need breaks, offering to help even for an hour is huge! It could give us a chance to run errands without our child. I mean you should see me grocery shopping, trying to manage driving our daughter’s wheelchair and shopping cart at the same time is quite a sight! If we don’t use that time to run errands we might squeeze in some much needed self care. We could take a nap, read for pleasure, soak in the bathtub, do our nails. I can promise you that every special needs mom needs more self care in their life!
5. Pray for Us
We need prayer for God’s help every day. Prayer for our children, that their medical needs will be met. Prayer that we as parents will physically be able to care for them. We need prayers for our emotional and mental well being, for encouragement and hope.
At the end of the day, we’re women just like you. We simply have a lot more on our plate. I realize that my friends will never understand what it’s like to raise a child with special needs. But please, I’m begging you don’t shut us out because our lives our different. I know we’re hard to relate to, but you know the value of and need for friends. We have those same needs. Special needs parenting is hard, it’s lonely, and we feel invisible. All we want is to feel supported and valued by our friends. We want to be invited and included.
Send us a card, text us, message us. Let us know you’re thinking of us.