The Mighty Logo

4 Confessions of a Dad Whose Child Has Down Syndrome

The most helpful emails in health
Browse our free newsletters

I parent a child with Down syndrome, and I have four true confessions:

1. I am scared.

To be honest, I am scared of the future. I enjoy our day-by-day life, but I do fear the future. Will my son make friends? I am scared I can’t protect him from the hurts that lie ahead when others treat him different. I am scared he will never experience an independent life. I am scared I will either push him too hard or not hard enough to meet his goals. I am scared I won’t be the father he will need later on in life. I am scared he won’t find the love of his life. I enjoy everyday as it is but I am scared of the future.

2. Sometimes, I compare my child to yours.

It is really hard to not compare my child to yours when all we want to do as parents is brag on our children. So when your 1-year-old takes his first steps, I can’t help but compare my 2-year-old just learning to pull himself up. When your toddler starts talking, I can’t help compare my son who is frustrated because he can’t communicate with me. When your child can do simple tasks such as drink from a cup, I can’t help but not compare my son who still drinks from a bottle. I know we should never compare our children to others because they are all different, but to say I don’t would be a lie. When my 2-year-old is still in the baby class at preschool while your kids all leave him behind, it is hard not to compare.

3. Sometimes, I blame myself for his delays.

Unfortunately, the hardest thing for me as a father is to have to swallow that my wife has to work as well. I would love to be able to have my wife stay home and work with my son to meet his milestones, but we can’t. Between medical bills, mortgage, car payments, credit cards, and everything else, we both need to work. I am a director of a Children’s shelter and unfortunately that does not cover all of our needs. I work a second job, but I also want some time to spend with my family. I often blame myself when I see my son struggling because my wife has to work. As a husband and father, this is hard to get over.

Dad standing behind son holding him by the arms helping him stand.

4. I learn more from my 2-year-old than he learns from me.

I have fears, I have guilt, I get jealous, I feel shame — but Jamison just has love. He doesn’t fear the future because he is just happy to be alive. He doesn’t get jealous of other kids, he just loves doing things his way on his schedule. He does not shame us for working, but he smiles when we pick him up reminding us of his love for us. Jamison has unconditional love and it shows. I may feel like a failure of a father, but when I hear him scream, “Dada” and he crawls to my leg, I know Jamison is content just the way things are.

Originally published: April 26, 2019
Want more of The Mighty?
You can find even more stories on our Home page. There, you’ll also find thoughts and questions by our community.
Take Me Home