Most of the time the sibling relationship between a ‘typical‘ and a ‘special needs’ child is based on parental or ‘professional’ opinions or perspectives and most of the time, they only present one side of the story. Something that we have always read on nicely written parents’ blogs, i.e. powerful, respectful, uncomplicated and passionate. While the truth is that even if it seems like all ‘sugary with love‘, it cannot remain consistent throughout their growing up years. Those who think otherwise read too much fiction and need a reality check!
Think about it, can any relationship be all hunky-dory? Do we really look close enough or scratch the surface a little and have open heart to heart talks with our ‘typical’ children? Do we take it for granted that they are young and do not go through the similar or usual roller coaster ride of emotions that we as parents experience.
The Truth?The truth is that a sibling’s role is still the least talked or discussed about, while they remain that one person who is going to share the longest lasting relationship with our child of special needs, more than the parents! We like to believe that as parents we have it hardest, but pay a little attention and you will be surprised to find out that it’s not always compassion, sympathy or love that our ‘normal’ child is experiencing. They too have concerns which are in some ways identical to what we as parents go through like a need for information, guilt, blaming themselves, loneliness, future concerns and in some ways quite different emotions like peer issues, resentment, sibling rivalry and a pressure to perform.
It also makes a great difference if the sibling is elder or younger to the child with disability. It is because the younger siblings don’t know any other way of life; he is born into that situation. But in case of older siblings and especially if there is a large gap, they remember the attention, the time they shared alone with the parents.
From the Horse’s MouthWhile reading and researching about this issue, I came across a radio show excerpts on ‘Siblings with special needs change childhood’. The show was asking people to share their ‘experiences of having a brother or a sister with special needs’. I was all ready to hear some nice emotional sentiments and touching stories of how that experience changed the lives of these callers and how they were eternally thankful for having the brothers or sisters they had, but I had the reality biting me in few seconds when I heard the reactions of a Girl with a special needs brother.
In her own words, ‘you know, as we grew up, I can relate too to being kind of ashamed of my brother but also kind of missing out on a brother-sister relationship like my friends had. And that was difficult too. You know, and a lot of attention does go to the child. I can remember coming home from school a lot of times, and my Mom, you know, was somewhere with my brother for some sort of an appointment, and this went on and on for like a couple of school years this way”
I almost felt wet in my eyes. Was it my story? Was I giving too much attention to my daughter with Down syndrome? I started listening again to be sure if that call was just an exception, but there were more calls to follow.
To Keep reading click the link below: http://www.twominuteparenting.com/5-things-to-make-sure-your-sibling-is/
Rebecca is an independent publisher working to help siblings of children with emotional challenges.