Parenting a special needs child can be really lonely and sometimes we bring it on ourselves. Last year, we were barely hanging on and we found ourselves just trying to get through. We didn’t have people over because the last time we did it didn’t go well. We didn’t go to events because they just don’t work very well with our sensitive child. We really didn’t do a lot of things, we hibernated our little family at home. This summer we didn’t even go to the beach, we bought an above ground pool and we stayed in our backyard.
A big part of doing those activities or not doing some activities is that it feels safer for us. We don’t want to take our public tantrum throwing child out in the world. We fear the next explosion or what our friends will think if she hits one of their kids.
Last year, we felt safer to just stay at home.
But, what we didn’t realize is that we need communion with other people. We need friends and people in our life, to laugh, to forget about our crisis that we have at home every day. So this year, we are making it a priority and so far it has been so worth it.
Since, I lost touch with a few friends last year a big part of me blamed it on them. Maybe it was their busy life or maybe they just didn’t want to be friends anymore. I somehow thought that might be true. But, the funny thing is that when I reached out they were craving this friend thing too.
I can tell you from experience that you probably have a million what ifs, or possible reasons why you may not have friends by your side right now. I’m going to be honest here and it might sting a little, the truth is that you need them.
I know it can be a hassle trying to schedule things, I know that your child might explode and you might feel judged. I also know that getting to do something with someone else can bring so much joy into our challenging life as parents.
5 ways to fight loneliness as special needs parent:
Push out all the negative thoughts and replace them with the possibilities. Sometimes we get stuck focusing on all the reasons why don’t have people in our life. We get crushed by our fears. We lose sight of the possibilities. Every time a negative thought of why you don’t have people in your life starts to push its way into your head, push back with the possibility or idea of doing something with a friend.
Put yourself out there. Someone has to be the one who initiates. Do you have an idea of something that you’ve always wanted to do with someone? Did you think about having people over for some kind of event? Do those things. Ask someone to join you and your family for an activity.
Get real with your friends and pre-warn them of what your life is like and your child. This is something that you need to be picky about who you share it with because your delicate life situation is not going to be understood by everyone. Find those who you can share your life and your child with and pre-warn them what might happen if you do something together.
Find understanding and non-judgmental friends. The friends I had pre-parenting versus the friends that I have now are actually completely different and new! If you don’t have any friends in your life where you can be completely real (see above) with them, then it’s maybe time to consider finding someone who can empathize with your life. Often, this is another special needs parent!
What’s the worst thing that could happen? If you happen to have bad public and social experiences with your child think about what is the worst thing that could happen. If you realize that maybe it’s not that bad, you can pre-warn your friend that this situation may happen with your child and they are understanding, you just might build your confidence to being more social again.
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