This week on the blog, I wanted to share a special piece from Sarah Czopek, a counselor who specializes in working with women experiencing high levels of stress. Parenting is a challenging, non-stop marathon and for parents of children who need higher levels of support, it is even more difficult. I love this letter that Sara put together, because I think it shines a light on the importance of parent’s self-care, and provides encouragement and guidance for those who might need additional support.

A Therapist’s Letter to Moms of Special Needs Children

Dear Mama, 
There’s no way you could have predicted that life would look like this. You love your child more than the air you breathe, but this journey has not been easy. Far from it. 

In fact, there may be parts of you that feel completely traumatized and broken. Like the part of you that is still grieving over the idea of “normal” (whatever that is) and how it’s something your family may never experience. Or the part of you that gets so angry it just wants to scream when it remembers how frustrating it is to see little to no progress in your child’s educational gains year after year. And, of course, the part of you that feels incredibly alone in this experience, because your friends and family with neurotypical kids just don’t get it and probably never will.  

Let’s not minimize: those parts of you are carrying an enormous amount of responsibility and an even bigger amount of emotional strain. You probably spend significant energy trying to ignore or push down those emotions, because you simply don’t have time to feel – and besides, it’s your child that matters more, right?  

I hear you, and I get it. Mothers in general tend to put themselves dead last – and much more so when they are mothers of children with special needs. But, in doing so, moms may also rob themselves of some key things that they not only need, but deserve

You deserve to feel heard and validated. 
Too often, you’ve found yourself in situations where your gut instincts and feelings about your child have been ignored or dismissed. You’ve been told you’re overthinking things, making a big deal out of nothing, or that you’re flat out wrong. What you most need (but would likely never ask for) is space to process your thoughts and feelings without judgment or shame. 

You deserve an army of support.  
Parenting a child with special needs can feel incredibly isolating. You frequently find yourself exhausted and without the resources to figure out what next steps to take. You need guidance and direction so that you can access legal, financial, and emotional supports for yourself and your child.  

You deserve strategies for coping with the unique stressors you face.  
This gig did not come with an instruction manual. You never expected to have to cope with as much stress as you are currently under, or for it to last for months or years on end. You need tools for lessening stress and anxiety, relieving depression, and healing from the pain of your most traumatic parenting experiences. 

Mama, you deserve all of this and more. What if I told you that it was within your reach?  

You CAN choose to seek help and support, and slowly begin to take hold of all that you need and deserve. Therapists like myself are here to help you do exactly that, and what we most want you to know is that helping yourself thrive as a parent is the single most important thing you can do to help your child thrive, too.  

Whether you’ve just begun this special needs parenting journey or you’ve already gone through years of feeling overwhelmed, it’s not too late to take steps toward healing and relief. Find a local therapist you jive with – one who really understands the world of special needs and all that it entails – and see for yourself. You deserve it.  

~ Sarah Czopek, LCPC 

Sarah Czopek is a trauma-informed Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor who specializes in overthinking, perfectionism, panic attacks, anger/reactivity, people-pleasing, and stress & burnout in teen and adult women. Sarah is trained in Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) and Internal Family Systems (IFS). To connect with Sarah, visit www.sarahczopek.com