We all have big dreams for our children. When they are first born there are limitless opportunities before them; and then you get the diagnosis. Although now you have answers to some of your questions regarding your child there are more questions looming as to their future.
Struggling with the diagnosis and what the future may or may not hold often times brings families closer together but more frequently it tears families apart. A study by Wymbs and Pelham examined divorce rates and predictors of divorce among parents of children with ADHD. The divorce rate among parents of children with ADHD was nearly twice that of couples in the general population. Among parents of children with autism, S. Hartly in the Journal of Family Psychology found couples had a higher rate of divorce than the comparison group (23.5% vs. 13.8%).
The birth of a child changes the dynamic with any couple but the partnership may take a big loss in terms of sleep, sex, and privacy. While that may only last several months with a neurotypical child it may extend into years with a child on the spectrum and may put the marriage on the back burner.
What can you and your partner do to grow together along this journey rather than apart?
- Take time to do things as a couple, don’t sacrifice your marriage
- Listen to your partner’s needs and frustrations
- Talk help when it is offered, it is not a sign of weakness
- Keep a positive outlook
- Affirm each other’s victories, whether big or small
- Attend support groups as a couple rather than alone
Having a child on the spectrum is quite different from the everyday problems that most parents experience but it nevertheless prepares you to learn and grow in ways we might have never imagined. Don’t let the challenge define you, rather let it grow you as an individual and as a couple.