Marriage undergoes change with the birth of a child, any child. But when a child in the family has special needs, this change can be enormous. Having a child with a disability effects everyone in the family. This includes their siblings and the relationship between them.
The impact, according to the siblings themselves, varies from person to person. Yet there are common threads that happen in most cases. For some of them, this experience teaches them to accept other people as they are. Some become involved in helping parents care for the child with a disability.
On the other hand, other siblings may experience feelings of bitterness towards their parents or the brother or sister with a disability. They may feel jealous, neglected, or rejected as they watch their parents’ attention, money, and psychological support focused on the child with special needs.
This can easily happen between siblings, it’s a normal thing, but how you handle it is the tricky part. You need to talk openly about your child’s disability with your other children, and to explain it fully. It is also important to know that most of the regular child-raising issues will apply; children with disabilities will go through the usual stages of childhood.
Younger children may be confused about the nature of the disability. Older siblings will easily understand it, but they will have their own concerns. They will worry about the future of their brother/ sister, about how their partners will react to their sibling, or whether they themselves can pass the disability along to their own children. (Sure, I have those feelings, I can’t deny it).
Also, grandparents are often affected by the birth of a child with a disability. They face the grief of their grandchild’s disability and their own child’s pain. When I sit with my grandmother and talk, I can tell that she feels and understands everything we are going through. She doesn’t admit it because she wants to show that she is strong and supportive, but she understands.
For a long time, I felt angry about the way some people reacted to my brother, but with time, I realized that many people’s reactions to this situation are caused by a lack of understanding. They simply don’t know what to say or they don’t know how to behave when they see a child with differences, and they may react inappropriately.
Many factors can influence the well-being of a family. Allowing family members and even your friends to become involved with your child will develop a good relationship with them.