Friday, August 2, 2013

Guilt at every turn

Life's juggling act tossed me a few extra items to catch this week. The anniversary of a very close relative's death was one. Then my mother's downward dementia spiral accelerated: more confusion and more anger towards her children. I also helped out with the grandchildren quite a bit. Two of them just returned after a year overseas. How could I not?

So I'm sorry to confess that C. was short-changed. I gave her the briefest of walking sessions and little one-on-one interaction.

Finally, as if my guilt hadn't maxed out already, the experts weighed in:
"Children who have a sibling with a disability are more prone than other kids to having troubles with relationships, behavior, schoolwork or recreational activities, according to a new survey of parents." [Source]
Anthony Goudie, the report's lead author and assistant professor at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and Arkansas Children's Hospital, said the culprit is
"...the emotional stress on caregivers and parents, and the amount of time they have to spend devoting to the child with a disability".
Thank heavens, we haven't seen any sign of that in our family. As a matter of fact, our children have all demonstrated heightened sensitivity and greater empathy for others.

So I latched on to the comments of someone who was not involved in this study:
Debra Lobato, the director of Child Psychology at Rhode Island Hospital/Hasbro Children's Hospital in Providence, who said the results are not surprising. One explanation is that they might stem, in part, from parents overstating their children's problems, she said. Parents who have a child with a disability are often under more stress, and may have a heightened concern for their other children. "It's possible that their own experience colors how they see their healthy, typical kids doing," said Lobato, who was not involved in the new study. The other explanation for the results is that these siblings do indeed fare worse than kids who don't have a disabled child in the family, she said. "The kids are living under more stress. Not everybody breaks under the stress, but there's a significant number who find this to be a very difficult situation."
I'd love to hear from you how raising a profoundly disabled child has impacted on your other children.

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