Although our experiences are all just as different as our children, there is a common thread that filters through the emotional journey of parents with children who have special devlopmental and health care needs. We all, regardless of our journey feel the same kinds of emotion and worry and those feelings are compounded when you factor in needing to support any additional “typical” developing siblings at home. Parents have many different concerns related to siblings but mixed among concerns of each individual family are very specific concerns that are heard time and time again. Dr. Scott L. Barkin from the Block Institute in Brooklyn New York writes that the concerns of parents of special needs children with typically developing siblings almost always include
* As a parent, am I giving each of my children all the attention they need and desire, or am I neglecting my “typically” developing child?
* Will my typically developing child have to make many sacrifices?
* Will my children develop a relationship and will they play together?
* Will my typically developing child become resentful?
We may never be able to answer these questions and as a parent of a child with special needs and a typically developing child, I know that I have and always will wonder about these things. One of the greatest pieces of information I ever read regarding the issue of balancing time between all of your children is this-
Don’t focus on the amount of time being spent with your child, invest in the process of who the child is. Every child needs to believe they are understood, appreciated, regarded and acknowledged. What each child requires is to feel that he/she is different.
Although I don’t remember where I read this or who actually said it, it speaks volumes. I have used a phrase for some time now with my son when he tells me that things are just not fair. I always tell him things are fair they are just not equal. Being fair is all about getting what you need. This filters right into the issue of time spent with each child and being able to let go of the idea that every child needs the same amount of time from each parent. Just as my children each require specific needs in life, they each require a different amount of my time in order to feel that they are special and different.