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Let's face it, having a child with a disability affects the whole family.  As parents, we legitimately need to give extra time and attention to a child who struggles with physical, intellectual, or emotional challenges.  What are some ways you've dealt with resentment from your other children for the amount of attention your special needs child is given?

I would love to hear not only from families whose children are still at home, but also from families whose children are grown.  Parents of adult children with disabilities still continue to give them a large percentage of their time - especially if the adult child (with special needs) still lives with them.  What effective ways have you found to resolve (or at least lessen) sibling resentment?


I think that we have to first recognize that our typical child will go through stages of angst and acceptance like we the parents.... but as children it will look differently.  And since each child is different from one another, the best thing we can do as parents is try to catch moments in the car, during the bedtime ritual, or whenever to keep the communication flowing about everything!

That being said.  My younger son experiences severe Autism which includes self-injurious behavior and aggression.  My older typical son was very caring and supporting when he was small before the aggression began.  But over time, he learned that his younger brother would not respond to him so he quit trying.  I allowed this.

I decided the best thing I could do for my typical son is allow him to have his own interests, own friends, etc.  I also needed to teach him to be independent quickly.  So when he was very young, I paid for a young teenager to come play with him.  Then I put him in daycare part-time so he would have a chance to socialize with other children.  As he grew older and his brother became aggressive.... it became more challenging.  But I allowed his closest friends to stay overnight frequently although they did not get a lot of supervision.  These friends were expected to not speak badly about the younger brother and I spent time explaining the strange behaviors that they witnessed.  These kids grew up around both my children so they didn't see it as unusual.

I also made sure that I got caregivers for my younger son so I would NEVER miss an important event at my older son's school.   I often prayed that God would bring the right people into our lives and He provided time and time again.  I did miss some soccer games but I made a pretty good effort and probably caught about a half of them.  I wanted my typical son to SEE that his stuff was important too.  But at the same time, I had to limit the amount of activities that he was involved in simply because I didn't have enough time.  I was able to pair up with some of my son's friends' parents and they helped me alot with the shuttling to practices, school, etc. 

Eventually my older son started showing some resentment.  Especially after a couple of years of aggression in our home.  I told him repeatedly that this was hard for me too but I would do the same for him if he was disabled and struggled with these problems. 

I remember once when my son really opened my eyes as he tearfully told me that I never noticed what HE did.  And that he didn't want me to notice the stupid little things (like I did for his brother) but to really see Him and his accomplishments.  Wow!  That caused me to sit up and take inventory!!!

I think the worst time was after my husband started complaining and wanting my younger son to be put into an institution.  I looked but could not find one.  My mistake at this time was not talking about the research I was doing with my typical son.  One day in anger, my typical son yelled at me that I would never put his brother away because I always put him first.  On this day, I explained if I could find a place that would provide the same level of care my disabled son received at home, I would do it in a minute even though it would crush me.

Eventually I did hospitalize my younger son in a neuro-pychriactric hospital in another state.  It was a temporary placement to "figure it out".  My older son stayed with my sister while I was away.  But they both came to visit me (in a hotel) while my autistic son was in the hospital.  I think it was good for my older son (11-12 at the time) to see what was going on.  The hospital released my younger son in two weeks declaring him "better".  He wasn't.  But my typical son understood that I couldn't find a good place for his brother.  And I knew God was telling me that I had to make it work at home.

Today my older son is 18 and a senior in high school.  His younger brother is greatly improved as God led us to good services that made a difference.  My autistic son still has violent episodes but they have greatly reduced in frequency.  I look forward to the day when they are gone completely.  My older son is looking forward to a life away from home; as all teens do as they plan for college.  He's not angry.  And he will help me with his brother when I ask or if he thinks I will get hurt.  He is pretty self-centered right now and is questioning the Bible and God.  It's a whole another phase and my least favorite because I fear for him. 

Parenting - the most challenging job you will ever have!!!

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