February 27, 2014 § 5 Comments
So I have to talk about this because it’s been eating away at me. I have mentioned in previous posts that having a child with needs affects the entire family. What I haven’t particularly discussed is how it affects a marriage.
When I became a special educator and worked with very involved children I learned the staggering statistic that 80% of marriages with special needs children end in divorce. It seemed true based on my student population at the time. ( I have no idea if this statistic is still valid.)
Years later my daughter was diagnosed and this statistic rattled around in my brain. The diagnosis was so emotionally overwhelming. It was then I made sure my husband and I entered counseling to be proactive and learn coping techniques for dealing with the stress.
It was definitely the right thing to do and it really helped us start a solid foundation as we faced our “new normal.”
I’ve said before I am lucky to be part of a happy marriage. I will also tell you that the stress of the day to day school “stuff” is the hardest to deal with. A night of a hard homework assignment can cause the entire household to end up very cranky. I am assuming people experience this with a typical child as well. A call from a teacher about behavior gets everyone a bit edgy. A note home about a “bad day” can ruin dinner. The impact of these daily stressors with a child with needs are not difficult one a time but like anything else that is endured for long periods it wears you down.
On the best days we laugh about it all but those are also likely the days when we have endured so much that there is nothing left to do but throw our hands up and laugh. Ultimately we know that in the scheme of life our daughter getting another bad report card really doesn’t mean a damn thing.
In the end the advice I offer is before teachers write that note or make that phone call about our child’s imperfect behavior or lack of success remember the ripple effect it will have and think twice if it’s necessary especially if you have already sent a similar note home a thousand times. We already know and we may actually just be throwing our hands up and laughing that night!