Raising a child with a special need: faith to cope
By Sherise Henry
Feelings of anticipation, self doubt and anxiety can be among the range of emotions surrounding the birth of any child. However when you find out your child has a special need there may be a need for added coping skills and strategies to maintain a healthy outlook and faith perspective despite the circumstance.
Focus on the Family gives advice on how to deal with the news of a special needs child. They suggest recognizing the very natural instinct to grieve at the news of your child’s special challenges. They recommend going through the same stages as recommended at the news of death which are…1) Shock and Denial 2) Anger 3) Bargaining with God 4) Depression and 5) Acceptance
There are several Scriptures that can help a grieving parent reach the point of acceptance. Through faith we can remember God’s promises despite our circumstances. Here are some scriptures to keep in mind. God’s promise for every believer can be found in Psalm 139:14, “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Your works are wonderful. I know that full well”.
Knowing that God has a plan for you and your child that will magnify his name and bring him glory is something to keep in mind with the help of this verse…Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. For the parent with guilt the Gospel of John offers this comfort John 9:2-3, "His disciples asked him, Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind? “Neither this man or his parents sinned, said Jesus, but this happened so that the works of God may be displayed in him.”
Building your faith in the word isn’t something parents of special needs children have to do alone. There are several Christian support groups that are available to help. The website www.missionresources.com/disability lists several to choose from. You may also check with your denomination’s nearest headquarters for support groups that are linked to your church.
Focus on the Family researchers give three practical tips for dealing with the stress of raising a special needs child. 1) Live in today; it’s the only place where you can actually enjoy the special moments with your child. 2) Learn to relax, allow your child to teach you how to live in the present and finally 3) Life will settle into a normal routine. “It may not have been the normal you envisioned but it will come. Be patient with your child, yourself, your spouse and the process, and you may find yourself laughing and enjoying life more than you ever remembered.” In all things we as Christians are to remember that the joy of the Lord is our strength. Be encouraged.