From The Confessional: Special Needs Parenting Is So Hard

by Karen Johnson
Image via mrs / Getty

The one thing we all know for sure about parenting is that we really don’t know anything. Sure, there are books with all sorts of advice, but when it comes down to it, there are no real “rules” and most of us are just flying blind, figuring it out as we go, and making mistakes at nearly every turn. For parents of children with special needs, however, the stakes are 10 times higher. The guilt and stress and fear of making mistakes is intensified, and to make it even worse, these parents are crippled with a different kind of loneliness.

Parents of children with special needs are a strong AF as they face challenges the rest of us can’t imagine. If this sounds like you—the lack of sleep, the fears of the future, the insurmountable debt, and the feeling like no one understands your life, check out these confessions. There are parents out there fighting similar fights and feeling the same exhaustion you feel.

You may not feel like it, but you’re a good parent. And you’re not alone.

There is never a calm, easy day you can just take a real breath. There’s always a new challenge at every turn, and you have to expect the unexpected.

Confessional #25773855

If I didn’t have kids I wouldn’t give two fucks about what went on in the world. But I have two boys with special needs so I’m stressed right the fuck out! I hope whatever happens takes us out together.

Confessional #25768322

Single mom. Had to quit my job today. My parents are getting old and cannot help me with my special needs child anymore. Feel so alone. What I supposed to do now?

Confessional #25750817

We’re so broke I have to take a job evenings and weekends on top of homeschooling my special needs kid and 3 year old. I’m almost 40. How is this my life?

So, so tired. Parents of children with special needs face a loneliness and exhaustion that no one else understands.

Confessional #25755646

Special needs DS8 still sleeps with me….. he never leaves my side. It’s a good day when i can be in a different room for a few minutes. Drives me nuts but i love it

Confessional #24401713

Between helping my SS navigate his mom who has textbook narcissistic personality disorder and my own special needs kid I have intense compassion fatigue. I’m tired of always having to do battle for others. I just want some peace.

Confessional #25773719

Everyone please put it out to the Universe that my H gets laid off before Monday. If he keeps going to work he’ll most certainly catch it (& spread it to us) & likely die because he’s older with health problems. Kids are special needs, we need him around.

And people always say stupid shit. They don’t understand this life, so hurtful and insensitive things fly out of their mouths all the time.

Confessional #24714311

Being a SAH parent isn’t always a luxury; it’s a necessity because we have special needs kids & have to go to appointments & meetings & try to help our kids be functional humans and not assholes. Stop acting like you know about a life you’re not living!

Confessional #23870794

I am at a developmental Center for children with special needs a Waiting for my daughters therapy treatment appointment. I feel more understood here than I do with my own husband.

Confessional #25058268

Yes DH I have changed. I’m not a 22 year old whose biggest concern is getting drunk this weekend. I’m a 36 year old special needs mother with a high stress career and mortgage. Want to get laid more? Share the weight of our life without me asking ffs!!

The judgment is constant, from our own families, and from strangers in society.

Confessional #22785998

It’s so frustrating that close relatives can’t understand that special needs DS isn’t misbehaving because of poor discipline or poor manners. Yes I heard you, he “looks normal” ugggggggh. Fck off.

Confessional #25774361

I don’t want our special needs 14 yr old DD to live with us FOREVER. My DH does. I need to know I’ll have freedom someday.

Confessional #25763651

Both my kids have autism. I can’t STAND being around typical kids anymore, even nieces & nephews. Special needs parents are WAY more on top of their kids behavior, parents of typical kids just let them run wild and they’re annoying as fuck!

Parents of children with special needs need a safe place to say “This is hard” and “I am struggling” without judgment. They need to be surrounded with other parents who get it. And they and their children need kindness and grace.

Confessional #23720853

I can not do it all. My special needs kids is a full time job and I have a full time job and 2 other kids. I’m drowning. I can’t keep up with everyones needs.

Confessional #23695641

I’m so tired of being broke. I resigned from my job to care for special needs kid. Too many bills and not enough money! Shouldn’t complain because we have a home, food and healthy kids but lord I need a break soon.

Confessional #25061196

Every time I read some feel-good viral story about how kind HS kids were to their special needs classmates, I feel cynical and can’t believe it. Where the F were these nice kids when my sweet son was shunned and ostracized for being socially awkward?

The fear of failing our children with special needs keeps us up all night. It eats away at our soul. Even when we’re trying our best, is it ever enough?

Confessional #25755863

I’m wondering at what point my son will realized that when i am in a good mood and fun I’m usually high. Chronic pain sucks. Being a single mom to a special needs kid with chronic pain, need some weed for that.

Confessional #25762928

When will I ever feel like I’m doing enough to help my special needs kiddo thrive??

Confessional #25643815

My special needs child self-harms & has terrible tantrums. I’m a failing as a mother…..

If you can see yourself in these confessions, hopefully that brings you some reprieve on your hardest, most exhausting, most stressful days. Days you worry about your child’s future. Days you face judgment from others. Days you wish you could run away. All of the things you’re feeling are normal, so try to take a breath and see what an amazing parent you are. You got this.