This is the harsh truth for many Special Needs moms and dads.
You find your circle of friends getting smaller and smaller as the years go on.
You look up and can’t name a single friend that you talk to on the regular or know what’s your current stressors.
You want friends though. You think to yourself, “sometimes, I don’t want to be the special needs mom that has a lot going on, I just want long for a deep friendship that I can talk to.”
In the earlier years, right after your child’s diagnosis, your friends stuck around.
They even went as far as coming to your house so you didn’t have to arrange for a babysitter to watch your child.
It’s hard finding someone that is comfortable with your child’s level of behaviors.
Now, to the not-so-nice friends that you have had to unfortunately cut off.
The friends that you held friendships with for more than 10 years, cried with, laughed with, been there for each other during the darkest of moments.
Those friends. The “judgy friends”. The friend that made the comment, “you should put your child somewhere, he’s a lot to handle.”
Yeah, that friend. What a horrible thing to utter to someone that you consider a friend.
But, they don’t know what they don’t know and unfortunately, their ignorance got the best of them.
Years go by, and there are no friends to be found.
The demise of that friendship taught you to be on guard with new people striking up a conversation with you at the local grocery store or school event.
You don’t want the judgement or the slew of ignorant questions from them.
You think, “the less I say, the shorter our conversation will be.”
But, you still long for companionship. You miss the days when you would receive an inside joke text from your friend.
Or the string of text messages encouraging one another to keep pressing on and that it’s almost Friday!
“How do I find friends that understand? Do all of my friends have to be SNP’s?”
Teach them how to treat you. It’s not only the title of a blog I wrote, but it’s what you’ll have to do to create boundaries with potential budding friendships.
And yes, developing friendships with other Special Needs parents are great but don’t think for a second, that they too, won’t say hurtful things.
I have personally witnessed some hurtful things being said about a Special Needs family by a Special Needs parent.
So, you’re probably wondering, “how do I set up boundaries where a possible friendship can thrive?”
1. Let them know that you won’t tolerate them emphasizing what things they believe you are doing wrong.
2. Vocalize what you need. More than likely, you need a friend that will encourage you.
3. Be straight up with them: If they are not a parent of a complex child, tell them the ways in which they parent does not apply to a Special Needs parent.
4. Tell them what you need. You want adult conversations. Everything in life, revolves around your Special Needs child. You enjoy divulging in everyday light themed conversations.
5. Don’t sugarcoat to your friends anything. Special Needs parents have unique challenges.
Be honest about what meeting milestones will look for your child and that when your child hits a goal (eating a new vegetable w/o engaging in challenging behavior), you need them to be equally excited for you as you are for your child.
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