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My husband came down the stairs to see me in tears. I threw up my hands and yelled “I’m done!” before storming off to the bedroom, leaving my husband to deal with one child’s meltdown and another child crying in a high chair.
This wasn’t my most connected moment as a mom of a child with special needs. This wasn’t my holiest moment as a believer.
But, I’m sure it’s one with which every special needs mama can relate.
Parenting a child with special needs, developmental delays, and/or trauma is exhausting in every way imaginable. I don’t want my life to sound unbearable. This journey has also brought about many joys, blessings, and new ways of seeing God’s faithfulness. I firmly believe that God uses every situation in our lives for His glory and our good, particularly our sanctification.
Still, the unique challenges we face can lead to discouragement, burnout, and depression. I pray the encouragement below helps you look to Jesus in the midst of these unique challenges.
If you’re a mom to a child with special needs
- Consider forwarding this to a friend who’s been asking how to help, and try to carve out some time to meditate on the verses listed at the end of the post. Memorize them and let them be your prayer when you feel too exhausted to pray.
If your friend is a special needs mom
- Reflect on the encouragement below and put it into practice. Reach out and see how you can support her, especially if she’s going through a particularly hard time.
How to Help the Mom of a Child with Special Needs
- The newborn phase is exhausting and isolating, even in the midst of the many sweet moments. Being a mom of a child with special needs feels like that, except the phase seems to never end. I’ve had to cancel visits with friends numerous times because of meltdowns that made leaving the house next to impossible. So, keep inviting her even if she doesn’t come. Text and call her. Genuinely ask about and listen to her day, but without unnecessary advice.
Research On Your Own
- Take the time to educate yourself on her child’s needs and diagnoses. This isn’t necessarily so you can give your friend advice, but so you have a better understanding of her family’s unique needs. She may be more than willing to explain everything to you, but what an encouragement it would be if you were to educate yourself so you can provide more thoughtful responses and prayers.
Pray for Her
- Don’t say that you will pray for her and then do it later (or not at all). Stop and actually pray. Send her a prayer in a text, card, or physically hold her hand and pray out loud.
Support Her Marriage
- Transitioning from just being a couple to having children can be a bit rough for some, but that transition can be strained further by unexpected medical issues or developmental delays. The amount of time needed for therapies, doctor’s appointments, trying to diffuse meltdowns, etc makes respite with a spouse seem next to impossible. Offer to babysit so that your friend can go out with her husband, but don’t be surprised if she turns you down. If her child has complex needs, she may only allow someone with specific training to care for her child. If that’s the case, see if you can hire a trained babysitter for her!
Provide for Physical Needs
- Including driving, it’s not uncommon for me and the kids to be out of the house for four hours just for developmental therapies. Add onto that the homework for the therapies, taking care of other children, additional appointments, dysregulated behavior, etc – some days there just isn’t time to cook or clean anything. I compared being a mom of a child with special needs to parenting a newborn, and it applies here as well. Many days our children demand all of our attention and a freezer meal would prevent the need for another cereal dinner or pizza delivery. See if you can give your friend restaurant gift cards (make sure they deliver!) and freezer meals. Be sure you educate yourself on any food allergies there may be.
- In addition, help her clean. I struggle with pride and asking for help in this area, but it would be a blessing during a hard day to not have to stare at a sink full of dishes. Especially if your friend is experiencing a particularly rough phase, consider helping her clean her home or provide her with a gift certificate for a house cleaning service.
Celebrate with Her
- When my son jumped for the first time, I was asking him to do it all day so I could record him. When he spoke his first two-word sentence, even though it was pretty much unintelligible to others, I texted everyone what he said. These milestones may seem uneventful to you, but if your friend lets you know about something similar, it means the world to her. Rejoice with her! Pray a prayer of praise for God’s work in her family’s life.
Encouraging Verses for Moms of Children with Special Needs
Blessed be the Lord, who daily bears us up; God is our salvation. Selah
– Psalm 68:19
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.
– Psalm 139:14
Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.
– Isaiah 40:28-31
“These are rhetorical questions. If you are a believer, you have heard! You know the story about God creating the earth, and probably teach it to your children. With just His voice, He called our intricate universe into existence. With His voice, mama! Your God is not bound by the same earthly constraints as you. He is the source of all strength. He has all wisdom. Nothing is hidden from Him, even you, tired mama.”
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
– Matthew 11:28-30
“‘Notice this verse doesn’t say ‘stop working,’ but rather, receive rest from Jesus as we work alongside Him and learn from Him.” – Kira Bridges
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.
– 2 Corinthians 1:3-4
So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
– 2 Corinthians 12:8-10
A Prayer for Special Needs Moms
I lift up this mama who is experiencing both unique challenges and blessings. It’s a roller coaster of a journey, but one in which You are sovereign over. I pray that she keeps her eyes on You. When she’s overwhelmed and burdened, may the church lift her and her family up, supporting them physically, emotionally, and spiritually. May she experience Your power in ways unimaginable, bringing You glory through her parenting. Provide her with comfort and peace that surpasses all understanding. Give her wisdom as she navigates seemingly endless choices and sorts through the information and resources that are best for her family. Protect her marriage so she and her husband stand united, reflecting the relationship between You and the church. May she clearly see Your faithfulness and many gifts. Let everything she thinks, says, and does be for Your glory.
In Jesus’ name, Amen.
If you struggle with looking to Jesus in the midst of your chaotic parenting journey, I pray that these resources help you not only spend more time in the Word but find true rest in Christ.
Let’s Talk About It
What advice would you give to a mom whose child has special needs? If you’re a special needs mama, what has someone done that encouraged you or helped you look to Christ?