Wednesday, October 14, 2015

The Forgotten Children - Unintended Favorites


         "...Whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone--especially to those in the family of faith."  Galatians 6:10, NLT

He was one of the good kids.  He never got in trouble, had good grades, and was super responsible.  He helped out and went out of his way to ease your burden or at least he noticed your difficulties with your special needs child.  Never did he cause you any grief.  Do you have one or more of those children in your home?  Even if you don’t my guess is at least one of your children doesn’t require those frantic prayer requests.

If you are like most families, your special needs child requires a lot of your time, resources, and energy.  This can often come at the expense of your other child or children.  When this happens your child can feel like they are on the sidelines, left-out, or that you are playing favorites.  Of course, you aren’t doing any of those things but that isn’t how they see it. We even tend to not pray for them as often out of the sheer magnitude of our special needs child’s constant prayer requests, and they are doing so well without us anyways.

You want to go to their choir concert or sports event, but other more pressing matters get in the way.  Sometimes or oftentimes, your other child feels invisible.  They understand that you are spent, but there are still many ways you can show the love.  Here are a few tips to showing them that they are indeed loved just as much as your special needs child.  Although these may not all apply, many of them will. 

1)    Pray for them as often as your special needs child, and ask them how you can pray for them too.

2)    Spend quality and regular time with them.  Even something as simple as watching a show with them or taking a 15 minute walk can go a long way.

3)    Tell them how much they mean to you early and often.

4)    Let them know in tangible ways how special they are too by leaving a little note or making them a special meal or something similar.  Those little things take a few minutes, but have lasting impact.

5)    Give them periodic breaks from helping with their special needs sibling.

6)    Don’t force them to include their special needs sibling all the time.  Just like you, they need time with their peers and alone time.

7)    Figure out their love language.

8)    Give them permission to tell you when they feel neglected, and ask them how they are doing periodically.

9)    Make them just as much of a priority.  That doesn’t equate to as much time spent with them, but it does mean somehow that they know you want to put their needs just as much at the forefront as their special needs sibling even if you can’t physically be there for them always.

10) Above all, don't expect them to be the parent. 

I know these are common sense but sometimes we all need a reminder to get back on track. 

Prayer:  Lord, Help me to show each of my children your love and my love for them.  Give me wisdom as to how best by a great parent for them and I especially thank you for their uniqueness.

Ann Gapinski

 To read Ann's other posts click on her name under the labels section.  Photo by graur codrin. Stock photo - Image ID: 10012561 

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