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10 Ways To Be Positive While Parenting a Child With a Disability

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Many parents of children with a disability confide in me about feeling depressed when they see “normal” families leading “normal” lives around them: having successful careers, enjoying social gatherings, going on vacations, etc. I would like to tell those of you who are feeling this way at the moment — you are not alone.

Every one of us has felt this way at one point of time or another. After all, it is a fact that our lives have changed drastically after having a child with a disability. We have had to make a lot of changes and sacrifices for our children with disabilities. Things that we took for granted are now a struggle to achieve — personally, professionally and socially.

It is OK to feel passing anger, sadness, self-pity, envy and bitterness, but it is unhealthy to be consumed by it. So what can you do to stop yourself from drowning in negative emotions?

Here are a few things that have helped me over the years:

  1. Stop comparing your life with other people’s lives and your child with other children.
  2. Remember that not everything that glitters is gold. “Normal” people have “normal” problems: personal, professional, financial. Someone may be grieving the loss of a loved one. Someone may be fighting an illness. Someone may struggling to make ends meet.
  3. Get off social media, or remember that social media is not an accurate representation of one’s life. That person posting happy vacation pictures could be suffering from depression. That person posting happy family pictures could be living in a troubled marriage. That person posting happy selfies could be battling with loneliness.
  4. Let go of stereotypical notions of having a successful life and create your own definition of success.
  5. Use this opportunity to create a different, more meaningful, genuine and authentic life.
  6.  Connect with other families of children with disabilities so that you feel less alone in your journey.
  7. Give your suffering meaning by doing something positive with it, like helping others going through a similar situation.
  8. Stop thinking in terms of all or nothing. Enjoy the little moments and the small things in life. Can’t go on a vacation? Go for a walk in the park instead. Can’t go out for a movie? Watch one at home instead.
  9. Be mindful of, and grateful for, what you have. Appreciate everything you have and celebrate everything you and your child achieve.
  10. Live in the present moment. Don’t think in terms of “what if” and “if only,” because that is a surefire way to make yourself miserable.

Are you the parent of a child with a disability? What would you add to this list? Tell us in the comments.

Photo credit: olesiabilkei/Getty Images

Originally published: October 25, 2019
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