A Letter to the Sibling of a Child with Special Needs
To the Sibling of a Child with Special Needs
You’re on my heart more than you know. I know sometimes you feel like your sibling gets all the attention and I don’t notice you, but it’s not true. Entire days go by that I ache because I am so tied up in dealing with the newest symptoms, medications, and endless consultations with specialists and therapists that I don’t have time to sit down and talk with you, listen to you, like I really want to.
I see the tears you cry when a new set of symptoms means seeing another specialist, and we don’t know how many times we’ll have to travel to get to an appointment there, how many years we’ll need check-ups with that particular specialty.
I see your frustration and sadness when you witness another meltdown, are told about another surgery, or have to endure your sibling being in the hospital yet again. I see your struggle to help out when you’re asked to in situations where your dad and I aren’t around and other adults ask you to step in when they don’t know what to do.
Just let me say this:
You’re a child.
You’ve had to take on far too many “adult” responsibilities and grow up way too fast already. I’m already wondering if you’ll end up being the one responsible for your sibling after your daddy and I are gone, and how you will handle that. Please enjoy being a child and let me take the burdens I can remove from your shoulders. They’re far too heavy for you. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: When something happens and adults turn to you, do immediate damage control and send them to get us. You are not responsible for handling the situation alone.
You are loved more than you can imagine.
I see you, I see your pain, and I see the sacrifices you make every day—to not rock the boat, to not cause us any trouble, and to help in every way possible. I love you for trying to be the “perfect” child and not cause your daddy and me more stress. Please see You’re a child. above and know that we don’t expect perfection. We don’t expect you to be able to avert every meltdown. We love you exactly as you are, mistakes and all.
I love who you’re becoming.
Despite the frustration, anger, sadness, and other negative feelings you experience from time to time, I love who you’re becoming. I see your compassion, kindness, and sensitivity to others’ feelings. You are wise beyond your years. God is going to use the experiences that cause you the most pain now to continue developing character traits in you that will be invaluable to you both now and as an adult.
I love your love for your sibling.
I am always amazed at how you are the first to defend your sibling when someone says something unkind. I love how you play and share life together. Although at times your hurt is deep, your love is deeper, and I am so grateful for that.
For all the times you’ve felt neglected, unseen, unloved, or unwanted, I’m sorry. Please forgive me. I am making an effort to find ways to spend more alone time with you—both in little moments we can steal at home and in times we can go out together for a soft drink, meal, or to browse our favorite stores. Balancing everything gets difficult in certain seasons, and I am trying to get better at it.
You are amazing.
And don’t you ever forget it.
I’m here for you.
I love you every bit as much as your sibling, and I want you to know that I’m here for you too. We only get one chance at your childhood. Let’s put the mistakes of the past behind us and make the most of every moment!
Reprinted with permission from Jennifer A. Janes ©2005-2016 Jennifer A. Janes All rights reserved. Photos and content may not be reproduced.
Jennifer Janes is a writer and speaker who lives in Arkansas with her husband and two daughters. She writes about faith, family, and parenting and homeschooling a child with special needs at jenniferajanes.com
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