The Benefits of Confiding in a Stranger When You Are a Special Needs Parent

Claire Smyth by Claire Smyth Additional Needs

Claire Smyth

Claire Smyth

You look to your right, and your family doesn’t want to be bothered listening to your story or dealing with your hard days.

Leaving you with feelings weighing heavy on your heart.  You turn to your left, and if you’re lucky if you have maybe one or two friends left but they suddenly don’t have time for you anymore, and they certainly can’t relate to your days or challenges raising a child with special needs.

You are completely alone. Or so you think for a moment.

Then you start to search out that common element that will connect you to others experiencing exactly what you’re going through.

You find comfort in confiding in strangers, many of whom you will never meet, talking through your day.

What makes this such an easy connection to pour your heart out to people you don’t know?

It’s because confiding in strangers is safe.

You are able to lighten your emotional burdens without worrying about the reactions of others or having your honest feelings come with consequences that can complicate real-life relationships.

You may even find yourself confiding in a stranger in a grocery store, and give more details about your child and your difficult day at therapy, and then you catch yourself realizing that you just disclosed a lot of personal information, that you likely otherwise wouldn’t have all because you needed to vent, to release the stress of the day on anyone - someone that you’d never see again, who you could just dump upon and move forward.

There is no neighbor to think they’re living next to that crazy mom with a special needs child or that co-worker that thinks you can’t handle a work load because you are too stressed at home.

It reduces the judgment factor significantly by offering personal disclosures to people you likely will never connect with again out in public.

Confiding in strangers whether that be through social media, special needs mother’s groups, or even strangers that you happen to bump into at the grocery store, serves a form of therapy and an effective coping strategy for stress.

Imagine that it’s much like you are talking to the entire world and no one at the same time.

The freedom to just express anything that you need to - both good and bad.

It is a very necessary coping mechanism that exists within the special needs community.

And it helps us to feel connected to a world that is very distant and not always inclusive friendly.

There are many benefits in confiding in strangers: When your problems become burdensome to others: It’s that awkward moment you know when you speaking to your mother on the phone and you get that verbal cue that she simply doesn’t care what’s going on with your day.

Doesn’t matter that two therapists resigned assisting your child this week, that Medicaid has denied to pay your therapist, and social security thinks they’ve overpaid you and are demanding a repayment of thousands of dollars, or that your grass is dying because you don’t have the time to go water it yourself while caring for a child that requires 24/7 care.

The I’m too busy, talk to you later, good luck to you tone.

Too many friends and family begin to sound like that broken record that plays my heart is bleeding over and over again.

Unloading to a stranger whom you’ve never met before offers you that first time shot at instant therapy.

They haven’t heard your daily complaints and challenges before, they don’t know your history, or how often bad things might happen in your life. This person will likely never hear your story of your difficulties ever again.

It’s a great opportunity to dump your feelings, vent and run from any potential judgment in your direction.

Objectivity of Strangers:

As special needs parents we have a tendency to always question the success of how we’re doing. Is my child making progress in therapy? Am I doing enough? Am I doing too much?

Special needs parents have a variety of concerns like is my child experiencing seizures in the night? Should I find a nutritionist for feeding concerns? The average person might think you’re worrying unnecessarily and being a bit paranoid.

Above all, we need advice that you can’t get from your best friend with typical children or your family that has zero experience with what it takes to raise a child with special needs.

If you hunt out other special needs parents who are experiencing a similar set of circumstances on social media they have the potential to look at something from a fresh perspective.

Suddenly your issues aren’t so trivial and there is an instant connection.

You are able to soak in a variety of different ideas and solutions without making you feel like you’ve lost your mind. Likewise a stranger has the potential to take your problems, challenges and concerns more seriously.

It’s Safe:

Confiding in strangers offers you the safety of an anonymous confession without the consequences and backlash that often follows. Things like disclosing you accidentally pulled out your child’s Gtube, dropped your child when you carried him or her down the stairs, and forgot evening medications and you feel terrible.

It allows us the opportunity to express how bad we feel that we failed at something without the consequences of someone pointing the finger that you made the biggest parenting fail on earth.

And strangers simply keep secrets.

It’s between you and someone you’ve never met and you can let go of it tomorrow without it haunting you.

This can be the best outlet and release to all those pent up feelings, emotions and thoughts.

Reaction to Disclosures:

Without question most special needs parents are familiar with having to deal with various forms of judgment.

By investing and engaging with strangers offers a comfort zone in which you know that someone who doesn’t really know you will not be able to judge or be shocked by your disclosures since they don’t know you personally or your character.

Rarely is it possible for a stranger to hold something against you. It offers the freedom to just be you.

Judgment free without adverse reactions.

Initially, it may feel a little awkward to confide in a total stranger, but you will quickly find that how you are received is likely to be better than if you offered face to face communication about what is on your mind.

You can find freedom in being true to your personal beliefs, the choices you feel most comfortable with, decisions that you find appropriate for your child with special needs all the while seeking judgment-free refuge in disclosing your innermost thoughts and feelings. And the likelihood that you share a commonality with a stranger could be high.

Ultimately you will find a safe refuge and a place to turn when all feels lost, and the world doesn’t care about your trials and tribulations with raising a child with special needs. Offering you the reassurance that your feelings, thoughts, fears and concerns are valid.



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