Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Acknowledging The Child Who Has A Sibling With Special Needs

I forgot to add the following poem to my last post.
           The Pashion Vine
Oh, the pashion vine!
Please do come and dine. 
Its juicy fruit
Waters the throat.
Ne'er let the animals
Nor the goat
Eat its bidding
Quenching the throat.
In wise some deeds
Its like planting seeds
In the soil ground.
People might growl
People might scoff
But don't worry, my friends:
The Lord will uphold thee!
Keep bidding those to come and dine
and keep watering that Pashion Vine!

 This poem was written by a young girl who has a sibling with severe RAD. She wrote it in her journal and I was very impressed. So often we look at the child with special needs and forget that they have healthy siblings who need their parents time and attention. These siblings live with the drama but for some reason we as their parents expect them to rise above the circumstances and remain emotionally healthy. I know we are guilty of this very thing far to often. 
     "The squeaky wheel gets the attention," describes life with a special needs child. Whomever has the most immediate need or is throwing the biggest, loudest fit is naturally the one we go to help first. This has the potential to leave the rest of the family feeling less important than their needy family member. It is tough for me to know where to turn first at times, my 11 year old who had a hard day at school and needs mom to sit and listen while he talks, my 7 year old daughter who was slighted by a friend which triggered her feelings of abandonment, my 7 year old son who is on the floor screaming in a rage or the 3 year old that isn't feeling well and wants mom to rock her. No one can process their problems with little brother yelling so I go to him first, leaving the other three to work through their problems alone. Now I know this is a common conundrum for moms everywhere but when you have a child with special needs, one who is constantly needy and you have to deal with him before you can help anyone else time and again, it opens the gate for bitterness, anger and jealousy toward that sibling. 
   I battle the anger myself sometimes. Other times it is guilt, bitterness or a deep pain that I cannot be the mom I would like to be for my healthy children. 
     We try to take the time to hear their hearts on the matter. Sometimes they are doing well and we only need to commend them but other times we need to encourage and guide them because they are feeling frustrated and angry. They also feel guilty because while they may not understand why things are as they are, they do know that something isn't right. We need to be available to encourage them, validate their feelings and confirm our love for them. 
  Our desire is for our children to accept their brother despite his disabilities but those disabilities make it hard for them to do that. As adults it is hard to make sense of what appears to be willful, defiant behavior but for a child, it is much more difficult. Our children view their brothers actions as personal insults. We as parents need to be careful we don't just brush them off and tell them to get over it, they need us to affirm their pain. 
   One mom lamented, "I don't know how long my emotionally healthy children will remain strong with all that goes on at our house." I feel that mom's pain and I will admit we have wondered the same thing already. When I begin to worry that we aren't doing enough, I remember that this battle is not our's alone. We have a Father in heaven who watches over us and guides us through life. We as parents will never be enough but with God's help we will come through victorious!

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