Throughout life’s challenges, we have had people tell us “give me a call if you need help.” I have learned that people either say that to make themselves feel better or they say it because they really don’t know what to do. I saw an article in the Focus on the Families magazine “Discovery Years” February 2009 and thought it was something that I needed to share. I have added a few of my own ideas as well.
Ways to Serve Parents of Children with Special Needs
#1 – Help with the Other Children – This is such a blessing especially when the child has doctor appointments or tests. There are times when siblings in the exam room are not conducive to the situation.
#2 – Give the Parents a Little Fun – Discovery Years suggested sending the parents off on a date. When they return home, surprise them with a clean home, mowed lawn, etc.
#3 – Volunteer Your Services – “Offer to help when you know the parents might need it, because it is hard to ask for help.” Meals are a HUGE blessing.
#4 – Give them grace – Understand that their plate is a full at times and they are tired.
#5 – Do Ongoing Chores – Laundry, run errands, go to the grocery store (this can be a nightmare for parents if they have to take a child with special needs), maybe provide your personal service on a specific day of the week.
#6 – Listen to Them – Set aside a specific time when the parent can say what’s on their heart. Listen. Ask questions. Don’t judge.
#7 – Baby-sit Regularly – Allow the parent to go to the doctor, grocery store, or just take a nap. It is amazing what a break away from their children will do for these parents.
#8 – Don’t ask details if you are just being nosey. If you don’t truly care, the parent will recognize this. A person feels violated when they share something so personal and the receiving person just wants to snoop.
#9 – Don’t judge a person’s parenting skills off of one incident. You have no idea the battles that are fought at home.
#10 – Acknowledge when parents are doing a good job. There is nothing more disheartening than when a person comes up to you and tells you that your children are easy kids and that is why they behave. You have no idea the battles that may go on at home.
#11 – Call to see how things are going, but understand that sometimes parents just can’t talk right then. Don’t take it personal.
#12 – A little card or email just asking “How is your day going? I’m praying for you” goes a long way!
#13 – Ask specific things to pray for. Follow up with a note to remind them that you are praying.