Special Parenting and Friends
Most of the special parents have the fear that they will lose their friends. They think something like: no one likes to be around special children. In the first days of founding out about the diagnosis, they think people will stop visit, or there will be no invites for coffee and diners anymore.
I’ve had this conversation with many special parents. Having special children doesn’t push people away. Especially not if they are your friends. It can happen that many people will be gone from your life. But that only means that having a special child was only a trigger to end something that didn’t exist anyway.
Let’s talk honestly. Indeed, most people who don’t have family members with mental and physical challenges don’t know how to react and what to say to you. Your situation is a shock to your friends and family as well.
Be honest, before having a special child, probably you were the same. So before bit up on yourself with thoughts about rejection and staying alone, better give a chance for things to settle down. At the end of the day, your friends will remain to be your friends if you are a good friend too.
What does friendship mean to you? What is your definition of friendship?
For me, it is having a genuine connection of mutual trust, support, appreciation, respect, concern, and admiration with people I share similar values, points of view, and a sense of humor. My friends are the first people I want to call when something beautiful and exciting happens, for I know they will uplift me even more. And those are the people I want them to call me to tell me an idea or some exciting news, and I will support them with the greatest joy.
They are also the people I call when a crisis happens, and they are here for me to just listen or remind me of all the obstacles I managed to overcome so far. And they know that they can call me when they need a sympathetic ear or advice from my perspective. When you will form your own definition of friendship, think about the people that surround you. Be honest: are those people who have the qualities from your definition?
If the answer is yes, I can 100% guarantee that even if I don’t know you or your friends, you will never be abended by them over your special children or any other challenge you may face.
Suppose the people who you call your friends are not in the description in your definition of friendship. In that case, it is a relationship that will probably end with time.
People who vanished from your reality once you become a special parent were not your friends anyway. Maybe you were aware of this fact earlier, but you’ve continued some kind of communication and relationship out of habit. But now it’s time for a reality check and be honest with yourself.
Don’t you think it’s better to have no communication at all than to force false relationships with people who are not your cup of tea? It is far better to have two real friends than ten people you feel take too much effort to maintain some kind of communication. Go for quality, not quantity.
You haven’t lost anything, actually. This is just a light on the real situation. You can consider it as a blessing that gave you clarity about people that matter in your life.
The next thing that would be useful for you is to take responsibility for your part in it. Are you the friend described in your definition?
If you are, then you don’t even need this article. Being a good friend means that you’ve attracted people who are right for you.
But if you started losing friends who you like, you have a part in that for sure. If you don’t like for things to turn that way, find out what seems to be the problem and work on it.
Every issue can be worked out and solved. Even if it’s a huge misunderstanding. People make mistakes and say wrong things, but they also learn, grow, and work on being a better person.
There is nothing that can’t be solved with an honest conversation. If we want improvements in our lives, we always need to analyze: ourselves, how we act, think, and react. That is the only thing we can control. And that is the only thing that can bring us peace.
What others do and what kind of values they follow is their business.
Do you consider yourself to be a good friend? If you want to receive genuine support from your friends, never focus on what they are giving you. Focus on what you are giving to them.
How to be a good friend?
Listen to your friends when they have a problem and support them.
Don’t act like you are the one with the biggest problem in the world, and everything that is happening to others is just peanuts. This is maybe one of the main reasons why people would want to avoid you. Suppose they are not allowed to complain about anything in your presence. In that case, there won’t be a balance in your relationship. I’ve seen this in communication between people.
There is an analogy for this: when someone is terminally ill and their life is in danger, and when another broke their arm. Although a broken arm is far easier than a terminal illness, it still needs care and attention. If your friend is telling you about their problems, be the support they need. Maybe that problem will look minor to you comparing to your child’s challenges. But that doesn’t mean that “the minor” issues of other people are insignificant. This is not a contest in which the one who suffers the most wins.
Don’t assume that everyone around you always should follow your schedule.
I understand that routines and timing are very important for our special children. Eating, sleeping, therapies, walks – everything has to be on schedule. If not, there can be a sleeping disorder and a lot of stress. However, when you interact with your friends, leave a little room for flexibility. I’m sure they are aware of the importance of your routines.
But don’t assume that you get to decide about the timing and the location in every situation. Show them your appreciation by sometimes saying that they can choose the place and the timing. If they always adapt to your schedule, tell them how much you appreciate their flexibility from time to time.
Be happy for their success
It’s so fun to see your friends thriving, getting promotions, getting married, become parents, or starting their own business. When they tell you something good happened in their life be happy for them and show them respect. Tell them that they deserved it and that you are proud of them. And don’t rush to turn the conversation to you and what is going on with your child. This is their moment, and they wanted to share it with you.
Offer to help sometimes when you feel that you can.
You never know if someone is struggling and desperately needs help. Maybe it will cost you just a little bit of your time to make someone the biggest favor ever. If you felt how it is like to be in the biggest trouble and someone offered to help, you know that it is the most significant present you can receive at that moment. You can offer to give that to someone else too. And it will come back to you when you are in need too. Everything we give and take is energy anyway. What goes around, comes around.
Answer this for you: when was the last time you thought of your friends and how you wish everything to work in their lives. When was the last time you called them and encouraged them to talk about them and what’s going on in their life? When was the last time you called them and asked, is there something you can do for them? When was the last time you said to them how thankful you are about their friendship and their support and their care about your child?
If you are doing all these things from time to time, it’s impossible to lose your friends.
You, like everyone else, deserve the best.
I believe in your capacity to get the best of your challenging situation. You’ve driven a long ride so far, and I know that you are getting stronger as a person every day, growing your understanding and compassion for other people.
Every time you don’t like something, just look inside yourself. Here are all of the answers.