New parents need all the help and support they can get. But when your child has additional needs, you may need even more specialist support.
Care for the Family is a national charity that aims to support families. Amongst its projects, the charity provides telephone befriending support for parents caring for a child with additional needs.
The project, called Another Way, is headed by Maggie Stapleton, who herself has a daughter with special needs. Stapleton tells theCoupleConnection about her experiences:
Becoming a parent can be a difficult role to adjust to. There are no set rules or manuals to follow. Adjusting to being a parent can be a challenging journey that affects the whole family as well as in some cases is the source of a real strain on a couples’ relationship. Having a child with additional needs nearly always adds further pressures, both practical and emotional. Many parents not only have to confront their feelings of guilt – is it my fault? As well as the huge feelings of loss, as for many, their child will not be able to obtain the dreams they have for them. Then there is the feeling of isolation and being misunderstood. For some couples, the ability to communicate with each other stops, as one parent is busy caring, whilst the other carries on in denial or frustrated they cannot resolve the issue.
As a parent of a child with additional needs, I often felt misunderstood, criticized and isolated, when all I wanted to know that I was not alone, that I could talk to someone who would listen with understanding and I did not have to keep explaining and justifying myself. I felt a real need to talk out my concerns, fears, and sadness to someone who would listen with understanding and not criticize or condemn. Strangely offloading my emotions and sharing practical issues with someone who has an understanding really helped me and my relationship with my husband. We still share our concerns for our additional needs child, but I know there are some issues that I find easier to share with someone else.
Another Way telephone befriending service and how it can help you
Another Way provides a telephone befriending service which offers understanding, empathy and support. You have the opportunity to say what you really feel and talk openly on the phone to a trained befriender, who is in a similar situation to you and can offer insights from their own personal experiences. You can also receive encouragement by signing up to our email newsletters. Parents in this challenging and sometimes lonely place need to know that others have been there too and are available to offer understanding and support.