Parenting can challenge the best of marriages, but parenting a child with special needs can push two people to their limits.
It would be easy to criticize each other since we see things so differently, but in His typically surprising way, God has used this family difficulty to knit our hearts together instead.
Three years ago, our youngest son was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome. This diagnosis places Jacob on the autism spectrum; he has extreme difficulty regulating his emotions and managing social relationships. Though intellectually advanced, Jacob is emotionally delayed, and this makes it hard for him to fit in anywhere.
The diagnosis rendered a crushing blow to Daniel and me. How in the world were we supposed to figure out how to parent this precious, wonderful, incredibly complicated little guy?
The Lord knew, and He would show us.
Like many moms and dads, Daniel and I have different parenting styles. It would be easy to criticize each other since we see things so differently, but in His typically surprising way, God has used this family difficulty to knit our hearts together instead.
Here are six ways you can grow in your marriage as you walk through seasons of difficult parenting:
- Learn to respect each other's perspective.
Without Daniel's insight and firm authority, Jacob would probably be running the whole outfit over here, and I'd be a disheveled mess wandering around in the street mumbling unintelligibly.
Without my insatiable desire to search out every source of help for Jacob, he may not have gotten the early intervention that has helped him grow so much.
Daniel and I have learned that we need each other desperately!
- Let your marriage become a place of refuge.
There's something sweet about collapsing into each other's arms at the end of a hard day or meeting up for lunch at a favorite restaurant in the middle of the week. In our crazy life, the most ordinary events can seem like stolen moments.
- Learn to pray as a united force.
Each of our three sons needs different things, and we've learned to pray as a team, asking God for the same things for our boys. It still surprises us when we compare notes and find that the Holy Spirit has been giving us similar insights or answering our prayers in tangible ways. Seeing the Lord work just never gets old.
- Let your illusions of control be stripped away.
When your kid is yelling rude things at you in public at the top of his lungs, you get humbled pretty quickly. We are a hot mess over here, and we know we need Jesus! There's relief and freedom in letting go of our charades.
- Learn to trust God more as you experience His presence in the midst of daily suffering.
"The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit" (Ps. 34:18). This verse has proven true to us again and again and again.
- Remember that Christ is your treasure, not a perfect family or well-behaved children.
As Daniel and I follow Jesus together, we find his burden actually is light. He is gentle with us, and He gives us rest for our souls. He is our teacher, our greatest treasure, and He is with us every step of the way.
Has God shown you His goodness through difficulty in your parenting? Encourage us by telling us how. We'd love to hear it.