Most parents would love to see their child's smiling, happy face on the cover of a magazine. According to a Feb. 8 Cafe Mom report, Liz Kiecher is getting to experience the thrill this month with her daughter Emily appearing on the cover of Parents magazine.
Having a child with special needs adds a unique set of a challenges to family life. Adjusting to having a sibling with a disability can be very difficult for a child. The child with the disability requires more of the parent's time, attention and finances.
This adjustment and acceptance of a sibling with a disability by the sibling without a disability is key to both children's social and emotional well being and development of self esteem. Children with disabilities often have limited interaction with typically developing children. This makes their relationships with their siblings even more important than in other families.
The child without the disability wears many hats in the relationship with their sibling, including playmate, friend, teacher, role model, protector, companion, and leader. The child without disabilities may view these roles negatively or positively based on factors such as the severity of the sibling's disability, the family's resources, the support available to the family, the family's lifestyle, the type of coping mechanisms encouraged by the family, and the type of parenting the family practices.
These feelings will vary from child to child. They will even vary within the same child based on what is going on in the child's own development and world at the time. An elementary age child may feel embarrassed by his/her sibling with disabilities. As they mature, they may become concerned about the future for their sibling. They may become protective of their sibling and closely monitor interactions with individuals outside of the family.
It is important that parents keep their children without disabilities armed with information. Feeling as though they are part of the team will help ease resentments. Knowing and understanding the details of their siblings disability is empowering. Parents should keep the lines of communication open so their children can come to them when the stress becomes overwhelming.