Do you find yourself wondering how much or how much more you should push your children to develop?
In our work with parents, we have found several schools of thought:
- Never encourage or push or do anything and let the child develop as they will. No interventions. Some parents feel that their special needs child will become just who they are supposed to be without any therapies.
- Start therapy as soon as you can and find the best of the best to administer it. Some parents do hours and hours of research and consult with many experts in all the therapy fields. They find who they deem to be the best and get their children hooked up with these professionals.
- Intervention on steroids. Some parents’ focus becomes zeroed in on the child with challenges to the exclusion of siblings and spouses and friends. They not only do the hours of research, find the “best” therapists and get their kids to them, they also use up all available funds and time and effort to run after whatever they can find to focus on “fixing” this child.
- Learn how to and do exercises and activities at home to move the development forward. Some parents go out and become trained and/or certified in things that they know will help their child and do the majority of the intervening themselves.
And there are more variations of these scenarios as well.
Which one do you lean towards?
This is not an easy topic. There is a lot at play in making these decisions. So, what is a parent to do?
Things to consider:
- Medical fragility – Can this child withstand at this time the intervention I am considering?
- Season of life – There are times when we can pour more time, effort, and money into intervention than at other times. There are times when we just need to step back and give our child a break and give ourselves a break. It is good to recognize the ebb and flow of life and not feel guilty about it.
- Other responsibilities – We think it is safe to say that most of us have more responsibilities than this one child. If we are married, we don’t want to drop our spouse like a hot potato. If there are siblings, we need to consider their needs as well. We need to consider our jobs if we are employed. We need to consider the housecleaning, repairs, car upkeep, laundry, providing meals, shopping, cooking, etc.
- This child’s personality – One mom shared that her daughter can very easily lean on and milk “pity” from the adults in her world to her own detriment. This mom recognized that this daughter needs to be prompted and urged to do things for herself. Some children are pleasers and will turn themselves inside out just to make someone happy or pleased with their efforts. We want to know our kids.
- This child’s capabilities – Some children can handle more than others. Some children can handle one form of therapy but not another very well. They may be able to handle more down the road but maybe not, right now.
- This child’s spirit – We never want to squash the spirit of a child. We want adults working with them who will take into account ways to encourage and build our kids up.
- Siblings – We know how hard it is to have a child with medical and physical fragility and needs. We know the incredible juggling act it is to meet the needs of that child as well as her siblings. We do have to consider the big picture -- the whole family -- when deciding how intervention for this one child can work keeping the family dynamics in mind.
- Aging parents – Some parents are older than other parents. The body begins to wear out particularly when it has been a caregiver for a long time. Sometimes, a parent must decide to cut back on intervention because they are wearing out just getting the child to the therapy.
- The budget – Let’s face it, there are many expenses involved in intervention. The budget should be considered.
So, what is a parent to do?
- Keep in mind the considerations above.
- Pray about it.
- Seek wise counsel.
- Get others to pray with you and for you and for your child.
- Always be willing to evaluate.
- Don’t get discouraged by the “gotta do it my way” zealots.
The main thing to remember is:
- YOU are the parent.
- God has given you everything you need for life and godliness. 2 Pet.1:3
- He who calls you is faithful. 1 Thes. 5:24
- He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young. Isa. 40:11
There were so many times we had to come to the Lord in prayer seeking wisdom on what to do next for our children. Through the years, we have learned to:
- Listen to that still small voice or the nudge in our spirit – that is the Holy Spirit.
- Move forward with humility but also with confidence.
- Be okay with what time, budget, and energy have available even if we want more.
- Be willing to step it up if we feel a nudge to do so.
- Consider what we can do at home.
- Get training when available and affordable and nudged to do so.
The most important thing to remember is that God gave that specific child to YOU to raise for a time. Whether he or she has come to you by adoption, is in foster care, or was born to you biologically, God has appointed you and He will equip you.
With much love,
Tom and Julie
Image by iosphere at FreeDigitalPhotos.net