All parents have to make a variety of decisions every day. They want to have the right answers to questions like: “ Should we let our son play football-it is too physical, too rough?” “Should we look into a private school that would meet our daughter’s academic or creative needs better?” “Should we allow our son to quit karate when we’re trying to teach him to follow through with a commitment?” “Should we allow our son or daughter to go swimming at a friend’s house?” “Should we send our three year old to pre-school or wait another year?” Whether they seem like big or small decisions, they all are important to you and your child.
Decision making in special parenting is a world of its own. Every time we have to make a decision, we have to revisit their condition, developmental level, their progress in one or more areas, etc… This process can sometimes be very exhausting. We have typical decisions with a twist-Just to name a few.... When choosing the right school placement, it is stressful because all of the issues he or she may be having must be addressed and there may be many people on our child’s “team” that need to be involved. When deciding what kind of professionals need to be involved in your life to help your child reach his full potential, there are often times more than one decision to make, which can be challenging. Who do we trust? Who’s opinion should we listen to? We think- “This is my child. My baby.” Of course we want the best of everything for all of our children. We want to always make sure we are making the right decisions; ones that are going to be beneficial to our child in some way. Whether it’s one of the very first decisions we have to make that involves the care, education or programming for our special child, or we’ve been making choices that we’ve had to make over and over again, it is always challenging. (All of this sounding familiar????)
I don’t claim to be an expert, but over the past eight years in my daughter’s journey, I have definitely learned a few things; and in my day to day contact in my position with many families that are facing different kinds of disabilities, my prayer is at least one of the following things will help guide you… Open up your heart and mind to listen to professionals and choose your team players wisely. (These two go together, so we must talk about them at the same time.) First and foremost, we all have to be open to the fact that at some point or another in our child’s life, we need the expertise of professionals to help us make some decisions for our child. I am the first to admit that sometimes as a Mom, I want to react quickly with my emotions flailing when attempting to make an important decision for my daughter. I have learned that I have to take a few steps back, re-group my feelings, and trust the professionals to help guide me. Over the past eight years, I have put my trust in a few key players and learned to step aside when I need to. Be patient, as with any team, assembling all the right players with all the skills you need may take time. The ones that become part of your team are very easy to recognize. They are the ones that when you leave their presence you say to yourself, “that person cares, they know exactly what stage of the game we are at, and they have our child’s best interest at heart-always.”
Trust your instincts. I believe that our instincts as special parents begin to form moments after we learn our child has some kind of need that other children don’t have. The more positive outcomes you have had when you’ve relied on that instinct, the more you will learn to trust it. Even though we all have many experts in our lives…physicians, therapists, teachers, etc… no one knows our children like we do.
Trust yourself. I firmly believe with all my heart that God chose us to parent our kids. He entrusted us with their care and their future. In the beginning of my journey with my daughter, when I was scared and looking for threads of hope, all I could do is pray--when you have nothing else to hold on to, all that’s left is prayer.
I don’t know what specific disability is part of your family’s everyday life, and I don’t know how long you’ve been a special parent; but just as the feelings are all the same, so are the decision-making factors. Find your team players (sometimes they find you!), and trust yourself to follow through and find what’s best for your child and your family’s lifestyle. Be proud of your special-parenthood, remember, we are the chosen!