Living With Siblings With Special Needs

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Our Ladybug is the only one in our home who does not take medication on a regular basis. It’s difficult for her to live with her 2 siblings, Goosey Girl and the Little Man, who have both been diagnosed with ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) and ODD (Oppositional Defiant Disorder).

Last week was especially terrible. I’m not sure what caused it to be especially horrible, but most every morning and evening were unbearable. I found myself wanting to stay at work because I figured it would be quieter there than in my own home.

My husband and I feel bad for our daughter, who I know feels outnumbered at times. She doesn’t understand why we discipline the other two differently, and why they appear to get away with a lot more than she does. We’ve tried to explain to all of our children we discipline each of them differently because they are all different people. But as a child, I completely understand how she sees it the way she does.

As parents, what do we do? This is the “Million Dollar Question”. If anyone ever came up with a 100% guaranteed solution for this problem, they would be rich beyond their wildest dreams. And maybe someone has but we just haven’t discovered it yet.

Here’s the problem though – Every single person on this earth is different. There is no “one way” to discipline or parent a child. Oh, we have certain rules you have to follow in our home and certain consequences for breaking those certain rules. Our kids know this. But to expect to parent them each the same is completely unrealistic.

There are things we have tried to do to help our Ladybug. I don’t proclaim to have the answers. We’re learning this as we go. I’ll share a couple scenarios with you.

Often mornings can be rough at our house. If the other 2 kiddos decide not to take their medicine or had a very bad night’s sleep, this is fertile ground for a monumental meltdown. Totally not kidding. There will be objects flying across the room, hitting people, tantrums on the ground, and lots and lots of crying. When this happens we try to keep our daughter out of the middle of this mess. Sometimes she tries to be helpful, but we really don’t want her involved. She will end up getting hurt, physically or emotionally.

Now because we are human, if we are struggling to keep it together when one or more of our children is flailing on the ground, hitting everything in his/her path, we will snap at the other kids. The minute we do, we instantly regret it. We know we shouldn’t do that. After all the chaos has calmed down, we go back and apologize. Neither my husband nor I, are above saying “I’m sorry”. I think one thing we do right is to let our kids know we are not perfect. To let them know there is always a chance to start over.

There have also been times we have had to cancel a family outing or event. Our Ladybug is very disappointed when this happens. I think she understands when we tell her we cannot bring our volatile child in public because all heck would break loose once we do. But it’s still hard for her to understand. I mean, I’m a grown adult and it’s hard for me to accept this at times. When this happens we either plan a new time or one of us will take her so at least she is not “punished” because of her sibling’s actions.

Life seems quite unfair to her at times. And you know what? It is. It’s not easy living in a household where life can be so unpredictable, where your mother and father are exhausted after helping one of your siblings through a meltdown, leaving no energy for the other children.

I wasn’t even sure I wanted to share this post with you. Usually, I like to share about our family’s experiences and then offer solutions or practical tips. But honestly, I don’t have any of those things to offer to you today.

Well, one thing I can offer is encouragement. Encouragement that you are not alone, even when you FEEL like you are. And your other children? I have hope that they will be OK. They are seeing what you do every day to help their special needs siblings. As they see your love and dedication to help them through their difficult times, I believe they know that you will give them the same love and dedication when it’s their turn.

I would love to hear if you have any advice for others in this area of children and their special needs siblings. Please share in the comments below or in my private Facebook Group, Choosing JOY.

 

 

 

Join us at Choosing JOY, a supportive place for women to encourage each other and grow together through life struggles such as depression and anxiety. 

 

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