Being a mom is hard, being a special needs mom is really hard. Both, have something in common, the need for friends who get it and a community to support them. Before, our daughter was diagnosed I found my tribe. However, I would vent about challenges with our daughter and no one could relate so I simply stopped sharing. Inside, I grew bitter and lonely.
As we’ve walked this path, through diagnosis, therapy, more diagnoses and more therapy I’ve learned it’s hard to be friends with the special needs mom. But, if you know one there’s a few things you can do:
Listen. Let them vent. If you can, be someone who can be understanding of difficult situations in an open way without recommending ideas to help, just listen. Don’t offer solutions or similarities to your parenting. Chances are that your parenting a typical child is nothing like what they are experiencing and sharing your typical experience will only make them feel less heard.
Share something about what’s going on in your family now, unrelated to what they are sharing.
Don’t judge. Special needs parents, especially those with kids that have invisible special needs often feel judged. Make them aware that you have no judgement, this is a great opportunity to share some of your low parenting moments in life. Let them know that you aren’t perfect.
Have fun. Remind them that you are there for them. Even if you don’t know how to help their family you can help by just being a friend. Offer to do fun things, plan a girl’s night. Just get out together as moms to have some fun.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Be honestly interested in understanding where they are in life, ask questions. Get to know the challenges your friend is faced with. Ask them about the funniest moment they’ve had with their child recently, what has made their day as a mom, what they love about their child. Challenge them to see the good. Laugh with them.
Call or text just to see how they are doing? Initiate. We are all busy and we all have lots of activities on our plate. Sometimes being a good friend means making the first call and asking how they are doing. Let them know that you care. Even if you don’t know how to be there for them right now.
More ideas that might help:
Kid swap nights.
Help tackling a project that they’ve been putting off.
Cleaning their house.
If their husband travels a lot for work, offering to come help while the husband is gone.
Sit with them at church. Bring some new activity books for the kids to do.
Pizza Delivery gift cards.
Let’s face it. No matter what life is messy and complicated and hard no matter what your situation is in life. We all need THAT friend. That friend who will stand with us through thick and thin. That friend that even when it’s hard is still there. And, it’s hard to be THAT friend. It’s not an easy job. But, maybe if we all try to be that kind of friend, we will all feel a little stronger. A little bit more present and little bit less stressed.