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Parenting Corner - Feeling Guilty

Parents of kids with disabilities tend to feel guilt and worry much more than others. While this is natural at the start, allowing them to overwhelm is bad news not just for you but also for your child and those around you. Learn some tips to cope with them.

Parents of children with disabilities tend to have feelings of guilt. Parents worry constantly about the welfare, safety and growth of their kids and these worries increase even more when their children have disabilities or disorders.

Parents are always questioning themselves about the efforts they are putting in for their children. This is not a positive feeling, in fact it needs to be fixed as it just adds to the stress parents are going through and makes life tougher and challenging.

Chennai parent Caroline Jega, says she went through similar feelings after her son was diagnosed with autism.

My son was diagnosed on the spectrum in 2003. Although he was given occupational therapy and speech therapy for other issues, I followed my intuition and went with the flow. So, when I came to Chennai I was quite perplexed by so much awareness amongst parents about different therapies methods of treatment and so on. So I started feeling guilty, but seeing his progress and development I realised that a mother is the best therapist, doctor, special educator for child as every child is different and unique. - Carolina Jega, Member, Special Child Assistance Network

Over time Caroline learned to accept life as it flows and take things in her stride.

Here are some ideas to help parents work around feelings of guilt:

  • Accept - Being aware and accepting your feelings is a step forward while denying how you feel and hiding the emotions will only make them worse. Accept and tell yourself about how you feel as it is natural to feel that way.
  • Don't compare: Every person and every family is different. Understand this and avoid comparing your life and child with those of others around you.
  • Get informed: Like Caroline did at first, many parents worry about the quality of care or therapy that the child is getting or feel guilty about not doing enough. It is better to educate yourself about the child's condition and how it affects him or her. Learn about the appropriate therapies, treatments and consult with experts to put your mind to rest. Every child with disabilities and disorders is unique and may respond differently to a certain therapy or treatment.
  • Take care of yourself: Remember to take care of yourself even if it is sometimes difficult to get the time and energy to do that. Do try and spend some quality time with yourself and do things you enjoy. Read a book, sip on tea, meditate, go for a walk or run, get a mani-pedi or a massage every now and then.
  • Remember to have fun: Make plans to do simple activities with children as a family. The quality time spent together brings a feeling of togetherness and comfort. Play a board game, colour pages, help in studies, cooking or cleaning around the hose can be done as a family.
  • Support group: Parents find support, guidance and lot of useful information in these groups and get to spend time with people going through similar experience as them. Support groups also organise fun activities and events and are a great way for parents to meet new friends as they hardly get time to socialise otherwise.

Sneha Kuryan Reddy,, says it is better to write down your emotions and rationalise them. "Coming to terms with the fact that no matter what one had to do either during pregnancy or later there are some circumstances that are beyond our control. The faster one comes to term with that, the faster the parent is able to clear their head to move forward in terms of treatment options/ therapy.

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