Click here Featured on Huffington Post August 8, 2016

It is so difficult to parent in these fast-paced, highly-stressful times. Both moms and dads are working to make ends meet. There is homework, extra-curricular activities, and sometimes children have additional learning needs or challenges as well. Parents barely have time to meet their own needs as individuals, much less take care of the couple relationship. That is part of the reason why divorce rates are so high in families today.

In special needs families, or families where children have learning challenges, neuro developmental disorders like autism, ADHD and/or other physical issues, it is even more pronounced. On top of that, often parents have their own marital issues to deal with. It is important that parents prioritize self-care and time for their relationship, so that they can co-parent effectively with their child, whatever the other challenges may be. I am the mother of a wonderful, funny, intelligent and social child who just happens to have autism. I tell everybody that he is the one raising me, to be a better, more compassionate woman, mother, and human being. I believe that all our children teach us about ourselves, the world, and what we need to do to heal.

Children whose parents do not work together to co-parent amicably, maturely, and fairly, have children who feel overwhelmed, neglected, and stressed. It’s time for the adults in the room to take the next step in acknowledging what they need to change in their lives to give their children all they’ve got. Remember, children are the future of the world. Let’s give them a great running start!

My girlfriend and I are both involved with parents who have children with special needs. Joanne has a son who has autism. Caring for her son’s special needs requires TLC and really understanding his challenges, as well as what are the best conditions he needs to thrive. Special need children are also those who’ve lived through an ugly relationship split, and they are more likely to suffer from anxiety, depression, and self-esteem issues. Because of this, they are also more likely to drop out of school.

Divorced parents need to stop passing on their emotional scars to their children or have them in the middle of their crisis
 As for me, I was a child with special needs. I did not have autism, ADHD or other physical issues. My needs were deep emotional scars that required special attention. Growing up, my parent’s pattern of communication was toxic and needless to say, for a child it was extremely stressful. I felt so insecure and fearful that sleeping alone every night was a nightmare. My parent’s negative patterns led them to divorce. So began my “Conflict of Loyalty” journey, which created an emotional unbalance in me.

My journey during my primary school years was a reflection of how I felt about myself. My mind was clouded. It was difficult for me to learn. I was labeled a special need child. Back in my day, medication was not the solution, although I think, in most cases, it still is not the solution to heal emotional scars. I was transferred to a specialized school. After almost a full year in this school, my grades skyrocketed. Why was I able to learn in that school? It was because I mattered and felt I was worthy.

These days, there are so many special needs children who really don’t need medication, only more time with their parents and less chaos. Sometimes some medication can be used alongside a new communication or learning program at home, but it is important to remember that medication does not cure all. Special needs kids have to have parents who understand what they are living. As for me, my teacher understood what I was going through.

A parent’s relationship crisis is not the child’s crisis. Divorced parents need to stop passing on their emotional scars to their children or have them in the middle of their crisis. This has a major impact on how children learn in school and cope with the rest of their life. Giving pills is not the solution to help your child focus in his/her school work, unless they have been diagnosed with high-functioning ADD /ADHD/ASD, or with other learning challenges. Even then, the best approach is to consult with your child’s medical and therapy team if they have one. There are always some side effects which parents need to be aware of and monitor.

I am a first person advocate to co-parent in harmony. Children need their parent’s attention and help. Parents who are co-parenting, need to recognize what kind of negative behaviours may cause more conflict, or make life more difficult for your children growing up between two homes. Learn to replace unwanted negative behaviours and focus on favourable behaviours to help you, your ex-partner, and your child heal so you can all thrive in your lives.

Be a healthy resource for your special needs child. Have a healthy peaceful loving relationship with all your children. Remember to fill your special needs child’s emotional tank. Children love both their parents equally.