Caregiving Stress of Parents with Special Needs Children
Parents with a special needs child often struggle with the physical and emotional caregiving demands. Learning how to care for their special needs child may overwhelm the parents to the extent that they could not attend to their emotional wellbeing. They can often feel like they are on a rollercoaster ride as they tend to the pressing needs of their child.
The parents of a special needs child also often have concerns about their children's future and wellbeing should anything happen to them. These are legitimate fears, yet parents often feel guilty to express their worries, especially when they have a poor emotional support system. However, prolonged lack of emotional support and stress eventually leads to mental health challenges such as anxiety or depression. It can also lead to physical fatigue and burnout. As a result, parents may feel that they are not competent enough even if they are trying their best to provide and support their children.
Like other parents, parents of special needs children need to care for themselves as much as they care for their children. Self-care is important. However, it might be difficult for some parents to take time out to socialise. Therefore, simple self-care routines like taking a nice shower, listening to music while doing household chores or even dressing up when appropriate may lift the mood. Journaling your child's progress and reflecting on your emotion can be uplifting. Those who do not like writing may choose to do voice journaling.
Parents often seek therapy for their special needs children but ignore their own mental wellbeing. Yet, the parenting journey is long and winding, so it is essential that parents who feel overwhelmed seek counselling to process their caregiving stress and mental wellbeing. It is for the benefit of the parents as well as their children.