Friday, August 21, 2015

Special Needs Parenting: Encouraging Independence

The Lord directs the steps of the godly.
    He delights in every detail of their lives.


Bethany came running out of the school to the car today.

"Mommy! Guess what?  I had a fantastic day!  I did school by myself!  My para was sick and they didn't give me anybody else.  I did it on my own.  I'm very proud of me!"

LOL! Wooohooo!  Way to go Bethany!

As we're planning Bethany's 8th grade year, one of the requests we're going to make is that they step back and allow Bethany to attend specials- Art, Music, Choir, Drama- by herself.

Without a para.

I mentioned it her teachers and they seem a bit freaked out by the concept! (ok- really freaked out)  but we know we want to try this in helping her achieve more independence.

Our kids with special needs- must have chances to learn and grow- fail and succeed!

We reach milestones by stepping forward.

Sunday, I had already changed into my pajama pants after church.  A craving for popcorn erupted at 5:00pm.  I certainly didn't want to get changed to go to the store (yep- I am THAT old!  a young person would go to the store in the pj's and it wouldn't even bother them ;) )

Bethany piped up,

"Hey, mom.  You drive me to Dillons and I'll run in and get the popcorn."

"By yourself?"

"Yep.  Of course.  I'll even pay for it with my debit card."  (we recently opened a debit account to help teach Bethany how to keep track of the ebb and flow of her chore money as she takes responsibility to buy certain things.)

OK, then.

We jumped in the car.  I drove to Dillons and I watched with incredulity as she sashayed her way in the front doors.  One minute passed.  Two minutes.  Three min..... Wait- was that her at the self check out already?

Omgoodness- it was!

She scanned the popcorn, swiped her card and lifted her bag with popcorn, high up in the air- Victory!!!

I started car dancing, mouthing, "Way to go Bethany!" and giving her thumbs up.  She danced her way back to the car, smiling from ear to ear.

Giddy with excitement she said, "I always knew I could do that when you gave me the chance.  I'm so proud of me."

 Sometimes we need to step back from our kids with special needs - so they can step up to success!

There are times we need to step back so they can take a step up.

And whether that makes us uncomfortable or not, that's how they grow and learn.

Their failures highlight areas for growth.  Their success affirms their independence and abilities.

I'm learning I don't want to cripple Bethany by too much support.  Why do I sometimes want to protect her from failure?

Because if I protect her from failing, I ensure she can't succeed.

Stepping back- so she can step up.

Trusting that our steps are going to be directed by the Lord.

Thank you for caring about every detail of our lives.  Help us trust that you are directing our kids footsteps and Your good hand is actively upon their lives.  Help us step back so they can step up and learn to depend on You.  
In Jesus Name- Amen. 

Love to hear your comments- Cindy Barclay


  1. Oh this did make me is so hard to let them try sometimes. You go Bethany!! And you too Mom!!

  2. WTG Bethany and Mom! I still have times I would like to fight for my 21yo, but I know I'd hear, "If you do it, how am I supposed to learn?". Ouch does that hurt. Great article!