Handling Your Child’s Diagnosis: Six Things Parents Should Do For Themselves
Handling Your Child’s Diagnosis
Before their children are even born, parents are already dreaming about the future…first smiles, first words, first steps and down the line, proud graduations and joyful weddings. But for parents of special needs children, those dreams may never come true. For these parents, their child’s life will probably not be as they envisioned. So what do you do when your child is diagnosed with a serious disability? Of course, the top priority is taking care of your son or daughter and ensuring they receive proper medical care from pediatricians and other developmental specialists. Securing appropriate services and early intervention programs are key to starting them on the right path to a good life. But, how do you handle these unforeseen and unexpected changes in your life?It’s overwhelming to consider all the ways you and your child’s life will change, but that’s okay. Like everything else in life, you can get through it, by following a few important steps.
1. Give Yourself Permission to Feel and Heal
Accepting your child has a disability is not easy. Parents experience a roller coaster of emotions such as denial, anger and hopelessness. You may feel sad, guilty or lonely at times. Keep in mind that these feelings and thoughts are perfectly normal and are to be expected, given your new situation. It’s fine to have them every now and then. This does not make you a bad person or bad parent—it just means you’re human. Loving your son or daughter and doing the best for him/ her makes you a good parent, whether your child has a condition or not. Continuing to do your best in difficult circumstances makes you both a good parent and a good person.
2. Take Your Time
Trying to adjust to a new life that you didn’t plan for or anticipate is difficult. You didn’t sign up for this any more than your child did. It’s important to take as long as you need to process everything, whether it is days, months or years. There’s no set timetable for healing and acceptance. If you find that you’re constantly plagued by worries, stress or negative thoughts, you might find it helpful to express your feelings. There are a variety of ways, such as writing in a journal, talking to a good friend or trained professional or joining a parent support group.
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