Special-needs parenting validated my ability to parent all of my kids


When I became a parent at 17, I totally knew the kind of parent I didn’t want to be and I had created this idea of what my style of parenting would look like. I have always doubted my abilities to parent well because I felt I didn’t have adequate role moles in foster care. However, being a foster kid prepared me to be the kind of parent that I am today.

My confidence in parenting and loving my children was shattered because, at the tender age of 19, I gave up my rights to my second born. He has been raised by his father and his mother and deep down it was the best decision for him and they have done a fabulous job.

By the time my third son was born, I knew I had to change my parenting style. I wasn’t exactly a helicopter mom but I was rigid enough that neither my children or I could relax. I eased my way into it with cuddle in front of the television watching dinosaurs sing about friendship and family – and no I am not talking the purple kind.

When my youngest son was born, life was organized chaos but his early years left me even more exhausted and questioning my ability as a parent. Deep down in my gut, in the core of my intuition, I knew that something wasn’t quite right. And sure enough a few years later, he would be diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder. This rocked our worlds but also taught me that parenting is led by our intuition. We know right from wrong and how to abide the laws.

Parenting was so much more for me. It was genuinely connecting with my children and creating that bond that I never experienced. When my eldest graduated boot camp, he told me he didn’t miss me because it was like he never left. I was quite strict in my expectations of a clean room and a clean house and never disrespect me. I always wondered what our relationship would be like when he is older and no we don’t talk every day, but when we do talk, it’s an open and honest discussion.

When my teenager and I go to concerts we, both can appreciate the music and just being in the same space together. Life as a teenager isn’t easy and the expectations of boundaries are being pushed but I know that putting my foot down or being compassionate will be just what is needed at that moment in time.

As quality became apparent during my journey as a parent of a special needs child, my confidence grew stronger albeit my faith continues to be tested. But every now and again, I get his nugget of confirmation where I can acknowledge that the job was well done.

So, what is my message here?

Intuition is one of the greatest abilities one can possess and if we allow it can guide your life to one that feels authentic and happy, for lack of a better word. If it doesn’t feel good in your gut or in your bones, well don’t do it. Question it and talk about it, if you can. Be open and flexible to the different point of views but don’t be afraid to stand your ground when your intuition tells you too!

Petra is a coach and mentor for creatives, rebels and dreamers who are ready to find the courage to forge their own path because life is too short to feed the fear.

She’s the founder of the Rebel Soul Connection, a community for creatives, rebels, and dreamers to take action with tools, resources, support, and accountability.

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