What to do when you feel like it's your fault that you have a child with 'problems'
When children have any kind of issue or problem, so many parents I have known – especially Mums – ask themselves, and me, this question. I have often asked it of myself too:
Is it my fault?
Maybe I did something during pregnancy that caused my child’s difficulty?
Maybe I was not eating the right foods?
Maybe I was too stressed out with my family situation or with another family member’s illness?
Is it something my child inherited?
Or is it something I have done or not done since my baby was born?
Perhaps you went through postnatal depression, or had other pressures upon you that meant you did not give enough attention to your little one. Just remember, 'to err is human, to show Mercy is Divine…'
We all make mistakes
Muslims say a phrase before anything we do that has two words in it: ‘Rahman’ and ‘Rahim’. These two words have the same root, meaning ‘mercy’ and beautifully, both come from the Arabic word for ‘Womb’.
The link between mercy and being nurtured and created in the womb is such a beautiful way for us to picture God’s utmost mercy for us.
We are human beings, and humans make mistakes. Most of these mistakes are not intentional and can thankfully usually be rectified.
Small children’s minds are impressionable and ’plastic’: they can be helped over many problems, even those that are inadvertently caused by mis-judgements, when identified early and given care and nurture to counteract the damage.
Even when or if our mistakes have indeed caused our child to have problems, beating ourselves up or blaming others will not help our child to get past the problem.
The fact you feel bad about it, shows you are, deep down and genuinely, a good parent, who wants the best for your child – so turn that emotion to active and positive striving to help him or her.
All Children are a Trust from God – even more so when children have challenges developing.
They are never a punishment. And inherent developmental difficulties in children is never your fault.
Is this a punishment?
Many cultures still regard a child with a disability as a punishment from God. Maybe this is something you are facing from your family or from the child’s father.
You cannot easily change this attitude from others, but you can change how you believe and feel about it: nobody else can tell you what to believe.
And certainly, if we have a belief in God, accepting and saying ‘Alhamdulillah (thanks and praise)’ for every thing we experience, good or bad, this is often what can help us to find the strength to do what we need to do, to help our children.
Having this special child is, in effect, your chance to learn things that you cannot learn in any other way.
Your child needs unique help and love that only you, his parent, can give.
5 ways to overcome guilt if your child has a problem
So, here is a ‘high five’ of things to do if you have a special child and feel like it's all your fault:
1. Find out the facts and face them. This is the hardest step. No guilt. No blaming, just find out what the issue is for sure and learn to understand it fully.
2. Get good advice from qualified professionals who have specialised in successfully dealing with the sort of difficulty your child has.
3. Once you've found out the facts, and got a well informed judgment from a reputable professional about what is good for you and your child – remember to factor in your own judgment. Do not just accept advice if it does not feel right for you. Listen to your gut and seek further help if necessary.
4. Plan realistically and positively for your child. This includes taking action and make time for your child, even if it means changing your routines to make sure you can spend the time and energy with your child to help him or her.
5. Seek and accept help. This is often one of the hardest things for a parent with a 'can do' attitude to do, but it is so important and can really help change the way you interact with your child.
You may well feel very alone while raising your children, especially when or if they have challenges developing.
But remember that there are many others who share your path, and others who can help you along too, my encouragement here to you being just one of those voices.
Do not take on your child’s difficulties alone.
You can find support and accurate information to enable you to help your special child with whatever kind of challenge they are facing.
Check out the links at the end of this article for places in UAE that provide services for different disabilities. And there are a number of excellent Clubs and Associations who can help.
Do contact me – I may not be able to help you myself, but I may be able to refer you to people who can.