You love your family. You feel the responsibility to make sure their needs are met and work hard to make sure that happens. You may share that responsibility with your wife who is also working outside of the house or is a stay-at-home mom. She is a talented and loving mother, wife, and friend, and is great with the children. As the kids keep getting older with each passing day, you admire her skills as a mother. You want to do anything for her to keep her fulfilled and you work together as you discuss the best way to raise your children. Every day has learning opportunities in your relationship with her and your children.
You start to see differences in your child. There may not be big problems. There may be little quirks that you think can be overcome with more maturity. He or she may not be keeping up with the development that you remember your other children did at his age. You think that he is immature and will grow out of it over the years. You say all we need to do is to discipline him more, to encourage him to grow up. You and your wife may start to see the answers to his immaturity differently. You get him involved in organized sports -- soccer, baseball, basketball, etc. You see that he excels in many things, but there are some areas that need a lot of help, like social interaction with others. You become your child’s soccer or basketball coach and move up with him as he gets older. You teach your daughter’s Sunday school class so you can be there to give her the attention she needs to succeed. When your son doesn’t fit in a class, you gladly accept his willingness to be an assistant as you and your wife teach your younger daughter’s class. You are there to encourage them when others won’t. When he doesn’t fit into the Sunday school setting, you spend time with him walking around the church grounds learning Psalm 1 together. You work hard together to put a science project together and when it is complete, it doesn’t work. But you had a great time doing it together. You go with him to weekly scout meetings and monthly camping trips with other church dads, building pinewood cars to race in the derby competitions. You get him everything you can think of to see what his natural gifts are: soccer balls, baseball bats, gloves, and balls, guitars, and wood burning sets even though they have the potential to set off the house smoke alarms! As he gets older, you continue to pray and do whatever it takes.
As your kids get older, you and your wife do what we call, “divide and conquer” . You take the 3 older kids on field trips to see historic places and events while mom keeps the younger kid home. The youngest kid wouldn’t enjoy the trip anyway and the older kids would be held back from their enjoyment of the time out. Over time, this develops a pattern. Dad takes the older kids out and Mom stays home with the youngest. This is a great path to peace in the family and after all, you want a peaceful family.
Family vacations are planned around places that bring the most fun and enjoyment. We all need a break. You take the kids fishing and crabbing, remembering fun times when you were their ages. You want to build great memories in your kid’s minds. You want them all to remember the fun times they had when they were young. You are building memories.
In all this, you may start to doubt your parenting skills. Your child who has challenges cause you to doubt your success as a dad in their lives. You may be receiving more and more parenting advice from others. As you look around, you can't help but compare your child and your parenting skills to others.
You love your family. You are always looking for what is best for your family. Please know that you are NOT alone. We understand your journey. In the midst of your journey, we encourage you to reach out to find those who will support you and encourage you. You have enough criticism and negativity. Surround yourself with those who support you.
This has been my journey. If you resonate with this or need support in your journey raising a child with challenges, let’s talk.