Are you parenting a learning disabled child and experiencing emotional challenges and stress? If so, you are not alone. Many parents experience predictable periods of stress as they adjust to the demands of parenting a learning disabled child. These feelings are often similar to those people commonly experience after a significant loss such as a divorce, loss of a job, or death of a loved one. Learn more about common stages of challenge and acceptance parents of learning disabled children experience.
1. Denial of the Child's Learning Disability
Some parents deny their child's learning disability. A parent in denial will avoid talking about the disability and will make up excuses and alternate explanations of the problem. The parent may behave as if everything is okay and ignore the child or his learning problems. Alternately, the parent may blame the child for his poor school performance and believe the problem is the child's laziness or lack of effort. A child whose parents are in denial is at-risk for being punished for his poor school performance, which is inappropriate and may cause psychological damage to the child. This stage is especially difficult to deal with when spouses disagree on the child's disability and how the her academic problems should be handled.
2. Anger about the Child's Disorder
Anger is another common reaction in parents of children with learning disabilities. Parents struggling with anger may become argumentative, demanding, and verbally aggressive when dealing with a child's underachievement. They may project their anger toward a teacher, their spouse, or their child. Some may also be angry with themselves over the child's disability and their inability to "fix" the problem.
3. Blaming Others for the Learning Disability
Some parents of children with learning disabilities attempt to cope by blaming others for the learning disorder. The parent in the blaming stage may believe or say that:
- the child is not learning because the teacher is not doing her job;
- a spouse is making excuses for the child, whom the parent believes is not making the effort he should in school; or
- incompetent teachers and school staff as a whole have caused the problem.
4. Grief and Parents of Learning Disabled Kids
Some parents of learning disabled children go through a grieving process that begins when they learn about the disability. Parents who grieve over their children's disabilities are usually concerned that their children may struggle for the rest of their lives. They may worry that the child will not be successful in life because of the disability. Parents may feel new grief over the years if their children have difficulty at various milestones when other children succeed. Passing a driver's test, college entrance exams, and similar events may trigger this grief.
5. Parents of LD Children and Worry
Worry and grief often go hand-in-hand in parents of learning disabled children. Parents may worry about:
- their child's self esteem;
- achievement and ability to make it through school;
- whether the child will learn to read, do math, or perform other important life skills;
- whether the child will be able to attend college or a vocational program;
- the child having a successful career; and
- the child developing lifeskills needed to have a family and a normal adult life.