2. Managing wife’s expectations
There will be days where your relationship with your wife may become strained due to the stress of caring for your special needs child.
Not everything has to be an equal game. Everyone has strengths at different points of time.
Look at things objectively. If your wife is in a better position to put bread on the table, could you step up and be a hands-on father to your special needs child? This is what I decided to do five years ago when my son grew bigger and needed a more present father.
Our marriage is still a “work in progress”. We deal with challenges and each other’s sensitivities the best we can. There are so many permutations to getting it to work and there is no “best” or “logical process” to make it work. Every day presents new challenges and opportunities.
I’ve learned that no matter how angry, sad, disappointed or let down I feel, I don’t need to take it to heart, and I try my best to be empathic. Even this may not work all the time, so I then take it as life’s journey. We can still choose to see how we can make things work better and learn from the experience.
This makes for a happier “me”, and a happier “me” can then back down, smile and not let the situation escalate further unnecessarily.
3. Do I have to solve everything?
We men have an innate habit of going into problem-solving mode. But special needs isn’t something you can cure away.
That said, there are some things that you can solve, such as planning ahead, creating a safe space for your family to walk this journey together, and spending time on self-care for yourself.
For everything else that is out of your hands, learn how to adjust and outsource to experts. For example, Centre For Fathering runs programmes for fathers on parenting and adventure camps to promote bonding with your child.
4. Be prepared to start from ground zero
As we learn from scratch how to become a father when our first child is born, we also start from ground zero when we first realise we are special needs dads.
Centre For Fathering has a growing community of special needs dads who have walked in your shoes and know what it’s like.
Find your tribe and take it step by step.