Thecoupleconnection.net service is built on One Plus One’s tried and tested Helping Process.
This is a five-stage process that can help you use both general information, expert relationship advice and the experiences of other couples to explore what might be going on in your own relationship. Talking and listening to others is a hugely important part of this process. This might be chatting to those who we trust because they know us so well or to those who might not know us at all but have experience of dealing with the kinds of relationship problems we are going through.
Talking and listening to others often helps us to plan what we want to change and how.
Care for the Family is a national charity which aims to support families, promote strong family ties and help those struggling in their family situation. One area of Care for the Family’s work is a national parent support network, which provides telephone befriending support for parents caring for a child with additional needs. This project, called Another Way, is headed by Maggie Stapleton, who herself has a daughter with special needs.
Thecoupleconnection.net team spoke to Maggie about her experiences and the project.
‘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 be the real source of strain on the couple relationship.
Having a child with additional needs nearly always adds further pressure, both practical and emotional. Many parents not only have to confront their feelings of guilt – is it my fault? As well as the huge feeling of loss, and knowing that their child will not be able to obtain the dreams they had for them. Then there are also the feelings 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 being frustrated that 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. Strangely, off-loading my emotions and sharing practical issues with someone who understood really helped me and my relationship with my husband. We still share our concerns for our child, but I know there are some issues that I find easier to share with someone else’.
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.
You can contact Another Way on 029 2081 0800 or email them at [email protected].