Parenting or being a full-time caregiver to a child with a medical or mental-health diagnosis or disability is hard. It is stressful. It is exhausting.
Before I go any further, let me preface this by saying:
I am a parent to a child with ADHD, and along with that diagnosis came a slew of behavior challenges and social difficulties. I also am a disabled parent (I have Spinal Muscular Atrophy). So I can see both sides of the spectrum.
But you know what else is hard, and stressful, and exhausting?
Having a medical or mental-health condition. You know what else adds to that never-ending stress, and complete, utter exhaustion of having a disability? Our caregivers telling us that we are a burden. Or that we made all of their friends leave. Or we caused their divorce. Or we make them hate life. Or we make it so nothing is enjoyable.
I came across the following paragraph when browsing some blogs within the special needs community. I’ve read similar excerpts from parents and caregivers of children with disabilities more times than I care to admit.
“The life of a special needs parent is a continuous cycle of anxiety and trauma. Even on our good days, we worry about when the next bad one will come. Even the happy memories are invariably tinged by fear, guilt, and stress. If you think this is a crappy way to live, you are right. If you think this is crappy way to live, it is.”
Read that last line again.
Can you picture yourself saying to your child’s face, “because of your disability, I live a crappy life?” Or, “because of your disability, my marriage ended, all of my friends left, your siblings resent you…” Those are just a few real-life examples I’ve personally read.
Your child’s disability is a part of them. No matter how much you (or they) wish it weren’t, it is. It is not something that they asked for, and is not something they can change. I am not here to minimize the challenges that come along with disability life, as I’ve been through my fair share. And I am certainly not saying that watching your child struggle with things that are seemingly simple isn’t heartbreaking because it is. I’ve teared up times aplenty watching my daughter fight through meltdowns or struggle with making friends.
That being said, I am here to say parents and caregivers please, please stop blaming your child’s condition for everything bad in your life — especially publicly. Society already makes those of us with disabilities feel like a burden. We have to work harder than our non-disabled peers just to feel somewhat equal. The last thing we need is our loved ones to do the same.
By all means, vent to your spouse, your friends, or even a counselor. But please think before posting on Facebook about how your life is awful because of your child (again, your child’s disability IS part of them). Be mindful of how your words can make a negative impact on them now, and as they grow up.
If you wouldn’t say it to your child directly, it might not be ok to share on social media, either.