|Hope, 5 Years Old|
Julie Griffin Photography
For the past two years my daughter, Hope, attended a preschool specifically for children with disabilities. Though I was not physically with her, I was content knowing that her needs were properly addressed throughout the day. Because all of the children had special needs, her behavior and struggles were “normal.”
This year, we felt it was in Hope’s best interest to enroll her in a charter school close to home in a mainstreamed kindergarten class. This also gave her the benefit of attending school with her older brothers and allows them to be my “eyes” while out on the playground or in the cafeteria. I frequently get updates on the way home from school as the boys tell me when they saw Hope during the day and what she was up to. Just knowing they are all on campus together usually grants me a sense of peace.
At times, the “anxious mom” and the “brave mom” inside me feel at war during the day. I know that my daughter needs exposure to life outside of classrooms built to cater to her disabilities. Yet, there are times I panic that she is not yet ready, or that her new friends might not like her, or that she will be too much work for the teacher. I fight the urge to tell the teacher too much information versus not enough information. I want Hope to start every day with a “clean slate”, yet I also want the school staff to be well-informed of my daughter’s needs in order to provide her the best education.
When anxiety starts gaining, I remind myself that God created Hope with unique needs and a tenacious personality. He loves her even more than I do, therefore with His help we will make the best decisions for our daughter. I can’t be with her every minute of every day, but the Holy Spirit has promised that He will. Through my faith I am assured that my daughter’s well-being is well taken care of.
Raising a child with special needs creates constant tension of holding on versus letting go. I resist the urge to go before her paving the way so that she will always be welcomed into every new experience. I have to remind myself that allowing my daughter to be her true self, in a safe environment, really is the best way for her to learn how to adapt.
Hope’s self-confidence has improved as she has learned that even when she has a rough day, there is always tomorrow.
(Usually I need that reminder more than she does)
It doesn't matter if you have a child with special needs or not. As parents, we all experience the tension between holding on and letting go.
What are some ways that you handle this tension in your own parenting decisions?