Raising a disabled child? More grace
Raising a disabled child can vary greatly depending on the disability and the individual mother’s personality and coping style. This is according to Esther Mbau, psychologist at Kipepeo Training Consultants.
However, there are some common psychological factors that many mothers of disabled children experience. “Firstly, they often experience a range of emotions, including sadness, grief, guilt, and anxiety. They may feel overwhelmed by the challenges of caring for a child with special needs, and they may worry about their child’s future and quality of life. They may also feel isolated or unsupported, particularly if they lack access to resources or a supportive community,” she says.
Additionally, she explains that mothers of disabled children may experience a sense of loss or mourning for the “normal” child they had expected to have. This can be a difficult emotional process to navigate, and may require support from a therapist or counsellor.
“To cope with these challenges, there are several strategies that mothers of disabled children may find helpful. These may include, seeking support from other parents of disabled children, either in person or through online support groups,” she says.
Mbau adds that connecting with community organisations that provide resources and support for families of disabled children will go a long way in helping parents faced by this challenge. “Also prioritising self-care, such as making time for hobbies or activities that bring joy and relaxation to you as a mother would be important,” she adds.
In the spirit of preserving sanity while caring for a child with special needs Mbau says seeking professional counselling or therapy to process difficult emotions and develop coping skills should be a priority.
In due course, she explains that the experience of being a mother to a disabled child is complex and multifaceted, and each mother will need to find her own path to coping and resilience.
However, with support, education, and self-care, it is possible to navigate this challenging journey and find meaning and joy in the role of caring for a special needs child.