Friday, June 18, 2010


"Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!" (Luke 11:10-13, NIV)
My father-in-law left us this year. We miss him terribly in a number of ways. I laugh to myself so many times as I recall funny comments he had or things he did. One of them was the comment he made, shaking his head, astonished at watching my husband with one of our kids. He said, "Back when we had kids, I didn't do all that stuff you guys do now. I think I only changed one diaper in my life." He looked relieved!
My own father also shares that type of experience. In fact, I laughingly assured him, when I was pregnant with our eldest, that he should be glad he wasn't born in the era where he had to attend breast-feeding classes with his wife like my husband did. The video in the class would've embarrassed him!
Aside from all the responsibilities that fathers are now expected to share, the added struggles of a child with special needs challenge modern-day dads to go above and beyond the call of duty. While mothers still carry the lion's share of the child care load, these dads are partners in the extra care that special kids need. They become literate in a whole new language. They are forced to join in the decision making on medical care. They acquire skills in home therapy that they never imagined they'd have to learn. And they often do it with far more humor than their wives do!
These men also carry a unique burden that is heavier than the typical father. The financial anguish of a child with special needs keeps these dads awake many a night. Most men have that inbuilt stress in regards to providing for their families -- How much more so for these dads! The weight of making certain they have adequate health insurance coverage, that their employer doesn't know how much treatment costs so they don't suddenly find an "excuse" to eliminate their jobs, to earn enough to make ends meet beyond all those medical bills is often beyond the comprehension of a wife. In fact, this is an area where mothers of children with special needs frequently lack understanding.
So often mothers look to their husbands to give them the relief they need from the heavy challenges of parenting that child. They forget that though different, each of you is carrying a heavy load within the family's life. Looking to that spouse for a break may not be the best place to focus.
Critism and tension can continue beyond this. Because loving care is not shown in the same way, women can forget that their husbands are doing their best to provide a good life for their child as an expression of love. Mutual compassion is due to each partner, and an awareness or appreciation of each parent's role. Simple words of acknowledgement can often go a long way towards encouraging your partner to press on.
When there is a void, pray for the Holy Spirit to show you where you can each get the help and support you need to strengthen you in your given roles as special needs parents! God is faithful to meet these needs. He never meant for this to be a one person job! It does take a village to raise these kids. And when a father who goes above and beyond the call of duty is a part of that village, how blessed we all are!
Although my father-in-law never saw his son infuse his grandchild, he did proclaim many times over the past decade, "I don't know how you do it!" My own father had to walk away with tears in his eyes as he watched my husband and I manage our son in the hospital. Oh, how things can change in a generation. Wives may wish for more from their spouses, but they don't always realize how much more they do have than their predecessors. Don't forget to applaud these contemporary fathers who go that extra mile for their kids!

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