Special Needs Parenting: Wishing Things Were Different

Claire Smyth by Claire Smyth Additional Needs

Claire Smyth

Claire Smyth

But what if your biggest wish was just that your child with special needs didn’t have any of these special needs?

What if your biggest wish that they were a typical child?

Is that a healthy continual wish for us to have?

Or are we just setting ourselves up for perpetual disappointment because that wish most likely won’t ever come true?

Experts would say that these wishes for our children become fantasies and as such we have a hard time letting go and finding acceptance and peace with our children’s conditions and diagnosis.

When we feed these fantasies we are promoting frustration, anxiety and disappointment when we don’t see our children being able to ever overcome all of their challenges.

Wishing things were different isn’t entirely bad.

It’s okay to acknowledge mentally every now and again the, “What if’s..?”

But we can’t live in that space or it becomes consuming and can contribute to continual heartbreak because we wish for something that just will never be.

So how do we gently give ourselves permission to let go of these wishes but still balance that beautiful hope that we have for our children?

Here are some easy steps:

Live in the Moment

Take intentional time to recognize the blessing and beauty of your child with special needs.

Be in utter awe of them.

Watch how he or she moves, smiles, laughs or communicates and remember how incredible that is.

No matter what that looks like, or how messy and complicated that may appear to the outside world.

See everything that your child is and does as a miracle – a living miracle.

It will take some of the sting out of wishing that things were different by focusing on the here and now.

Embrace your child in a hug and absorb their sweet scent, a nuzzle near their neck and hold them tenderly in your arms.

Just the gift of them being here on this earth with you beats any wish that you could ever have that things would be different, because they are exactly how you know them to be.

Find Appreciation

Being thankful and grateful for the smallest of gifts and blessings can be an excellent distraction from wishing things were different.

It can start small, like being thankful that your child’s speech therapist shows up every week on time, to big things like your child hasn’t had a seizure in six days.

Recognition of Self-Compassion

This is the big one.

Wishing things were different can stem largely from self-blame about a situation.

And special needs parents hold onto a lot of self-imposed guilt.

If only I had birthed at a different hospital things delivery would have been different.

If only I had taken more pre-natal vitamins then maybe things would be have been different.

If I had quit my job earlier and gone on bed rest things would have been different.

If I had only not done dishes and turned my back to avoid a life-altering accident things would be different.

It doesn’t matter what we believe our self-blame is – we all do it to some degree.

But we need to all realize that none of this is our fault.

There are a multitude of things that will happen our lifetime that is out of control.

We wish that we had the power to change it, to wish it not be so, but we simply can’t.

When you start to feel like these thoughts are creeping up on you, take a big deep breath and just breathe. The most important thing to acknowledge is things are okay.


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