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  • Writer's pictureKylie Zehnder

What's It Like To Be A Special Needs Parent?

Updated: Nov 2, 2022

When I’m asked, what is it like to be a special needs parent, I always try to give a “glass half full” type of answer.

Photography by Maria Ann Photography

With love, Kylie Zehnder Another Special Needs Parent

When I’m asked, what is it like to be a special needs parent, I always try to give a “glass half full” type of answer. People like hearing a happy and encouraging answer. While it can truly be a magical life, the reality is that it can also be so incredibly hard, heartbreaking and soul-crushing.


When you receive a diagnosis, no matter how big or small, its earth-shattering. Your world flips upside down as you learn to navigate through the waters that you’ve newly entered. All the terminology, the medications, and the specialist, it’s all so much. The typical world as you know it has changed. In the beginning, you grieve, and that’s okay! You’re allowed.


What is it like to be a special needs parent? It’s painful! It is the hardest job in the world. When you must sit and watch as your child screams for help as medical professionals poke them, it hurts! When you have to hold their arms and legs down to perform procedures, its hurts. When you see fear in your child’s eyes and there is nothing that you can do, its hurts. When surgery, tubes, wires, and devices are placed on and in your child, it hurts. IT HURTS!!!! As a special needs parent, you grieve during moments like these, and that’s okay!


What is it like to be a special needs parent? You watch as everyone else’s kid makes friends and has sleepovers, but your kiddo has to miss out. You are the best friend most days. Anxiety attacks hit and you find yourself holding your baby tight as they struggle to push through it all. In moments of weakness, you hear your loudest thoughts. “Why her? Why this? Why me?”. These questions are usually followed by silent tears that gracefully wash away in the running water of the shower. Moments like these hurt. You grieve in moments like these, and that’s okay!


The grieving process takes hold of you every so often, but it doesn’t always last. Allowing moments of weakness to shine through allows the bear inside of you to grow stronger. With weakness comes strength, and an ounce of strength allows you to move mountains. There can be beauty in sorrow. Being a special needs parent can hurt. It can truly hurt, and that’s okay!


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