I'm referring to the parents of children with severe cases of depression or other mood disorders, ADHD, psychosis, autism, and other emotional and/or cognitive disorders.
Previous research has not done enough to educate us about the effects on parents of having a child with SN.
Among the research that does exist, it is often diagnosis-specific.
To begin, there is no strict or clear definition of what it means for a child to have “special needs.” Many people think of special needs as necessarily involving a serious or chronic medical condition.When it comes to these parents, it is clear that the additional demands on parents of chronically ill children cause stress that affects the whole family (Cousino and colleagues, 2013).When my social worker told me that she'd found a little boy they thought would be a good fit for my family, the social worker didn’t describe my son accurately.We were told that he had no behavioral problems or significant mental health symptoms.But when you come home to SN kids, there’s rarely a moment of peace until it’s time for bed—if you're lucky.
Children with special emotional needs often don’t learn self-sufficiency skills the way other children do.On the other hand, it can be extremely draining to meet emotional needs which—I’ll be honest—often feel bottomless.What’s more, many times when I go out of my way to please him or meet a need, he ends up angry or tearful, and I seem to fail him.If you think it’s draining to meet the needs of a child who has such a vast arsenal of needs, imagine how you’d feel if at least half of your attempts to make that child happy were to end in tears—the child’s visible, yours hidden.When people talk about how some children are draining, I always cringe because it feels critical and selfish.Quickly we began to see that my son had almost no ability to self-regulate; he experienced major mood shifts with extreme anger outbursts; and he got in trouble frequently at school due to his provoking other students and his inability to focus. Part one of this article will break down the negative effects, and part two will highlight the positives. Parents of SN kids will inevitably resent their child at some point.