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We are special parents too. Just like some of you, my husband Frankie and I have had our challenges in handling our second son who was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Dyslexia when he was 6 years old. He was also subsequently diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder at age 10.
We believe that building our marriage on mutual understanding and making effort in communicating honestly has helped us cope as special parents. Despite differences in opinions and parenting styles, we make time to talk through things often. We share our own feelings and struggles regarding the situation, while we work at improving things together. Being united as a couple and helping the family synergize together to meet each other’s needs helps us overcome the challenges and demands of special parenting.
Parents are indeed the best people to help create the environment for our special children to thrive. It’s important also for parents to find ways to connect with other parents who are going through a similar journey. The natural affinity borne through the familiarity of similar family struggles and experiences creates a positive identification that helps you feel less alone in your journey.
In special families, it often becomes necessary that one parent stays home to help manage the special needs child and the home. Many families have found that the financial sacrifices are small in comparison to having one parent more present to manage the home full time.
In our case, we are glad that we chose for me to be a stay-home mum to all our 3 children even before our second child’s special needs was diagnosed. This helped us attend to the issues and be the main caregivers from day one. Our children have also come to appreciate this and know that we prioritise them above our own careers.
Special parenting is a transformational journey for us as parents. We need to constantly learn, re-learn, strategise and be creative in problem solving. Flexibility and humility are also so important. When you think of it with a growth mindset, you can find the gems in the journey and appreciate the learning that it brings to the whole family.
About Dr Frankie Tan and Tina Tan
Frankie and Tina are parents of 3 boys. Their second son has ADHD, Dyslexia and ASD, and their youngest son is also currently struggling with severe anxiety issues. Tina is a stay-home mum while Frankie holds a Ph.D. in Sport Science & Physiology and works at the Singapore Sport Institute. Both are active volunteers with various community groups like SPARK, Schools, SAFRA, Dads for Life, and in their church. Being active volunteers have truly enriched their lives as they reach out and support other families in similar situations as them.
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