Hardship and tragedy shapes and defines who we are. We often look back on history and first recognize hardships such as wars, tragedies, famine, etc. that have shaped nations and cultures to who they now are. For example, look back at World War II, this was a time of hardship and tragedy in our nation, and yet afterwards we were a country that was stronger and more united.
Raising children defines who we are as parents, grownups, and individuals. Raising special needs children only defines these in a bolder way. We become known as the parents raising that kid, the one with Autism, the one with Down Syndrome, or the one with cancer. We become recognized by the way we react to our children’s behaviors and emotions. We are constantly silently judged and monitored by others.
And throughout our distinguished time of raising our children that have special needs, we have tragedy or hardship that strikes. There are times we spend days or weeks in the hospital. Or times when we must make life altering decisions that are difficult to make but ultimately best for your child. These times are emotionally draining and challenging. In our reaction some of us want to cry out to the world for help, while many of us close ourselves to the world.
And yet while this is happening, something else is taking shape that we cannot yet see. We are changing and being molded, usually for the better and stronger. Though during the hardship and tragedy we may become weak, we come out of it strong. Then we look back later and see how we grew and defined ourselves in a more bold way.
We recently ourselves went through a hardship that was very personal to our family. It was a time of defeat for us. We were lost and uncertain, as parents we felt that we were not able to support our son in the way he needed. But finally we came out stronger and better parents. We learned many lessons along the way and we look back at that experience and we can see where we all grew as individuals and grew together as a family, but more important we grew stronger as parents for our son and his needs around his Autism. For us, we turned to those we knew we could trust for help and we turned to our faith.
While you walk through hardship and/or tragedy, how do you process it? Do you bury your head in the sand and do nothing, or do you face it and become a stronger individual and parent? Look at your life now and find the supports that you have in place, whether it be family, friends, or your faith. And when that time of hardship or tragedy strikes, are you prepared to face it?
I encourage you to look back throughout your parenting years and see how you have become more defined as a person and as a parent. What moments can you find that have allowed you to become more defined? Have you grown or are you standing still in the same spot…
Jen Edwards, LMHC