Relationship Rescue: How Should I Prepare My Boyfriend for Living With a Special Needs Child?
Q I am a divorced mother who has a child born with CP. My boyfriend and I have been dating for a year and a half and have decided to move in together. He is going to be moving into my house. How should I prepare him for living with a special needs child? He is involved with my child now, but, it is not on a day to day, 24/7 basis. Can you suggest ways to make the transition easier for all of us? How do we introduce any level of authority from my boyfriend to the situation? Thank you for your help!
A Well, I really feel that before anyone takes on a special needs child by moving in, they need to be real certain about their commitment to the situation. My suggestion is go to therapy for a few sessions in order to have that third party present because this is a huge decision that should not be made lightly.
Both you and your boyfriend need to sit down and write out everything from “soup to nuts” regarding your child’s care.
Everything needs to be discussed and mapped out.
- How does the child’s day go typically?
- What is expected of the child?
- How would she like her boyfriend to be involved?
- To what extent is she willing to allow him to parent her child?
- What can he bring to the table that she has not thought about?
Both of you really need to express your anxieties and concerns to one another in an open, honest way. Things always look easy from the outside, until you step into it.
The most difficult aspect of this is the discipline piece. If the biological dad is involved, it may not be so easy for the boyfriend to suddenly be the disciplinarian.
I admire his desire, but, will he stick it out in the long run?
Will he overcompensate with the child because he feels sorry for him/her? Write down some specific things, that you both feel strongly about when it comes to raising children, are you in agreement?
Depending on the extent of the disabilities…handicapped does not mean “not capable”. Can he live with that?
Can you both carve out time 1-2x a week where you can have down time to be alone?
Robin Newman LCSW,PC, clinical social worker and adjunct professor at Adelphi’s Graduate School of Social Work. She also has a private practice. She is married with 2 special need children. Have a question about your relationship? Ask Robin. Send your questions to [email protected]
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