Raising a Child with a Disability and Honest Communication: Do you ever get sad?

We were ready for a weekend. A team of moms had left town to give a presentation at a conference. For some of the women, it was their first time away from home and it goes without saying that they were a bit worried about leaving their family.

For one mother in particular, there was concern for her son who had autism and a seizure disorder. She hadn’t had a seizure in over a year, so she was sure she wouldn’t have it while she was gone. At the same time, she was anxious about the possibility of him having one while she was gone. She had most of the responsibility for matters related to her son’s health and did not want her husband to feel stressed if a seizure occurred.

On the last day of the conference, he received a call from home. The concern in her voice told us that something was wrong. Her husband called her to let her know that her son was indeed having a grand mal seizure. With patient experience, she guided him on what to do until he returned home the next day.

We were able to feel her pain and she expressed her feelings of guilt and remorse for not being home when it happened.

A couple of days after we returned home, I called the family to see how their son was doing. Mom had dated one of her other kids, so I talked to Dad. She said her son was slowly getting better, however, he was very tired and lethargic.

Then he said, “Can I ask you a question?”

“Of course,” I replied.

“Do you ever get sad?” He asked.

“Sad?” I repeated.

“Yes, do you ever get depressed or depressed?” He asked.

“Well, I feel helpless when my son is sick and I get sad sometimes, yes.”

“Okay,” he replied, “because last night I didn’t feel like having dinner. Everyone was asking me what was wrong, but I thought they should know what was wrong. My eight-year-old son has autism and had to take a lot of medication due to a seizure. Now he can’t walk and for a few days I have to carry it. “

“For me that is very sad,” he explained. “I got up from the table and went to rest in my room and now everyone is upset with me.”

“Did you tell them why you were sad?” I asked.

“Did not answer. “My wife has enough to worry about and I didn’t want to bother her anymore.”

This was a defining moment in our conversation.

“May I offer you my point of view, the perspective of a wife?” I asked.

“Sure,” he said.

“I know you want to protect your wife’s feelings by not telling her how you feel because you don’t want to create additional stress for her.”

“That’s right,” he said.

“When we don’t communicate our feelings and withdraw emotionally, we can actually cause more stress and anxiety for our loved ones. This creates tension and misunderstandings. It can leave them wondering if it was something they said or did that is causing their hurt and unhappiness.”

“Oh,” he replied. “I never thought about that.”

“We can feel vulnerable and exposed when we have candid conversations, however, it is important to be open and honest so that we can understand another’s perspective. This is how we learn and thrive in our relationships,” I offered.

“Otherwise, the tension and hostility can escalate, putting the relationship at risk.”

“That makes sense,” he said. “Thanks.”

Whether we are parents or in a supportive role, it is critical that we communicate openly and honestly. Otherwise, tensions escalate, misunderstandings occur, and unnecessary conflicts may arise.

By sharing perspectives, we can strengthen our connection and find a balance that works for everyone, especially the person you are teaching, caring for, or supporting.

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