alt=two siblings sit sadly in the shadow of a wheelchair

Where Does This Leave Siblings?

That has been the question for our family for 39 years. I’m sure every parent asks themselves that often.

Trying to spread our attention evenly to our children

My experience is that we all try our best to juggle our time and energy to spread love and attention as evenly as possible. In reality, we won’t have any answers until the kids are grown.

As a parent, we have our own memories of working at being fair to each child. We feel quite confident with our efforts.

But you’ll find the best answers from your own children. In our particular family story, our kids would always say "it’s OK we understand."

A time when I wasn't there for my other son

There were times that I can remember just not being able to be present for each one on a special day for them. A few that stand out in my memories are the day our son Dan received a rejection letter from his first-choice college.

He was home alone while both of us were with Mike at the hospital. On this particular day, Mike was getting the results of treatments for cancer.

The results were "you are in remission." This was just two weeks before Christmas. There were lots of tears of happiness.

When we arrived home from the hospital with the good news, we met Dan at the door with his rejection letter. His response was "if there had to be bad news today, I’m so happy it was my bad news and not Mike’s."

How special his reaction was, but that didn’t take away my sadness for not being there for him on the day he needed his parents' support.

The end result of that day was that he was accepted at his second choice college. I remember many other occasions over the years that we weren’t present for him because Mike’s needs were forefront.

Unable to fully support my daughter with her new baby

A very special time in Allison’s life was the birth of her first child. We got the call late at night.

I was able to drive to the hospital myself to be a witness for our first grandchild. Dennis stayed home to be there for Mike in the morning and they both came up to the hospital. This great occasion worked out for us.

This opportunity was missed when she came home with her baby son. All of my friends who became grandparents talked about being there to support their daughters. 

I had to be home with Mike while Dennis worked. In my heart, I felt that I failed her. She never got fussed over by me.

Like her brother, there were many occasions over the years when we weren’t present for her because Mike’s needs were at the forefront.

Emotions from parents of a child with special needs

Dennis and I were so blessed that Mike’s siblings never complained or showed any resentments, but that doesn’t take away from opportunities missed by their parents. These are emotions that we, the parents of a child with special needs, all share.

So hopefully we can share these feelings and gain support from each other. Because in reality, only those who live with these challenges can understand the conflict in our hearts.

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