I’m Not ‘Brave’ for Being the Parent of Children With Special Needs

Parenting is tough. It is difficult. I had a realization last week when talking to someone about an idea I have for my next tattoo. I already have three, but my greatest one is yet to come. I plan to get a Superman symbol on my arm with a puzzle piece with a hint of green. Autism and mental health will be represented on my arm with my children’s birth dates. “Why would you do that?” I was asked. My response was simple: “I have two children on the autism spectrum and one child with a mental health disorder. All three of my children have a diagnosis.” This statement is matter of fact to me at this point in time.

The person I was talking to was speechless for a moment, and then he realized that my children are living in a single-parent household as well. The questions came: “How, what, why?” Then the accolades. Yes, I’m a single parent raising three children with differing diagnoses, but I’m a parent raising my children.

Yes, I am an advocate and always will be. I was an advocate at a young age, and I didn’t realize why at that time. I believe God was preparing me to be the parent I needed to be for my children.

As they have aged, we still have issues with behavior, but not like we used to have. They have challenges with school sometimes, but we are a family and face them together. That’s it. I’m not saying their conditions do not affect how we approach situations. It totally changes how I approach behavior issues, arguments, sadness, anger, and the gambit of emotions that exist in my household with two teenagers and one preteen. I do admit that it changes my approach in how I conduct my day. I am more aware of those around me, the moods I am in after a rough morning, and that everyone fights their own battle. However, I am not brave for raising my children.

No parent wants to go out into the world and constantly be bombarded with, “You are so brave,” for doing what you know you have to do. You are a parent. Your child is not their diagnosis; they are a child. They want to be loved and understood just like everyone else. As a parent, I want to be known and appreciated as a person first and my skill set second.

We have lived for 11 years now since the first diagnosis. We have struggled and worked to get to where we are. We are a family. Just like any family, we support one another. I’m not brave for being a single parent. I’m not brave for having children with special needs. I’m brave for having signed on the dotted line to serve and die for my country. I’m brave for continuing to support and defend others. I am brave because I continue to strive for greatness. I’m not brave for being a parent to my children.

Dear people who think we, parents of children with special needs, are brave — look at the definition and synonyms of bravery, courageous behavior or character; courage, valor, intrepidity, nerve, daring, fearlessness, audacity, boldness, dauntlessness, stoutheartedness, and heroism. I’m none of those for giving birth to and raising my children. I’m just another mom facing a different set of circumstances.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Image via Thinkstock Images

Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.

Related to Other

sister playing with brother

A Peek Into Our Mornings With Complex Medical Needs

Recently, we had a shift in nurses, and the one who filled all of our daytime hours went down to minimal part-time. I know this will be a constant occurrence in our lives. There will always be changes. It’s very, very awkward and sometimes difficult to get used to someone being in our home. We [...]
Boy dressed as Freddy Krueger.

How to Make Halloween More Inclusive for Children With Special Needs

A few years ago I was coordinating a party for my child’s fourth grade classroom, where 20 percent of the students had food allergies. I gently reminded parents that the goal was for all our children to be included, to be safe and have fun. I was perplexed when one parent refused to change the [...]
717 landing in Atlanta Ga

Delta Flight Attendant Blocks Doctor Tamika Cross From Caring for a Sick Passenger

A passenger in need on a Delta flight from Detroit to Minneapolis had to wait longer than necessary for care because a flight attendant prohibited Tamika Cross, a black doctor, from caring for him. Now, Cross, an OB-GYN resident at the University of Texas-Houston, is firing back at Delta for discrimination. “Was on Delta flight [...]

The Day We Realized There’s Always Time for Play While Caring for Our Son

One day in a waiting room a couple waited anxiously for the doctor to tell them their baby was going to be just fine. But the doctor looked down, shook her head and told them their baby wasn’t perfect. They wondered if they were to blame. They already loved this baby so much. They knew [...]