Tuesday, January 27, 2015
Relief for weary parents of a special needs child
from someone who’s been there
Some studies report as many as one out of every four families in the U.S. has a child with a special need. Parenting is stressful even when a child doesn’t have a physical, mental or emotional difficulty. One can imagine the stress on special needs families. Laurie Wallin meets these parents right where they are in her new book, Get Your Joy Back: Banishing Resentment and Reclaiming Confidence in Your Special Needs Family (Kregel Publications/January 27, 2015/ISBN: 978-0825443398/$13.99).
Wallin strives every day to live out her message for families: that no matter the challenge, in Jesus they can have joy and confidence. Get Your Joy Back is full of biblical insights and practical strategies to help parents recognize and shed the resentments that leave them spiritually, emotionally and socially drained. Wallin sugar-coats nothing but addresses issues with honesty, humor and — above all — hope.
As special needs parents fight tooth-and-nail for the best life for their child, their mental, emotional and spiritual reserves quickly deplete. Wallin offers replenishment in her book from her own journey. “I’ve been married for 16 years to a man with a wicked sense of humor and an Asperger’s diagnosis,” she reveals. “Two of our four daughters have half a dozen medical, developmental and mental health special needs. Daily we try to balance their care with ‘normal’ family stuff like sports, homework and my desire to lock myself in a closet and watch entire seasons of Downton Abbey in a single night.”
Wallin reminds us while we might think the exhaustion felt by special needs parents is from the mountains of research they conduct or the long days spent monitoring their child's precarious physical or mental health, what truly weighs them down is the eternal wish things were different—for their child and as they relate with care professionals, their communities, and extended family These tentacles of resentment can choke the heart and are the parents’ greatest stressor and source of pain. Wallin makes a bold, audacious claim within the pages of Get Your Joy Back: In the midst of this intense task, having an abundant life, full of joy, is still possible. The key to restoring joy is forgiveness. In her book, Wallin helps parents find that restoration, offering them a lifeline to pull them back to shore even as they feel like they're drowning.
While bookshelves are crammed with parenting books — including some titles for caring for special needs children — Get Your Joy Back is unique in that it is written specifically to teach parents how to care for themselves so they can truly care for their children. “Get Your Joy Back is not about the kids. It’s about the parents — the primary caregivers, specifically,” Wallin says. “There just isn’t much out there for the people who are raising these unique kids. Our lives become about getting our children the best possible care, and we can nearly become invisible. This effects our health, life expectancy, quality of life, relationships, careers . . . and we often feel like that’s just how it is and there’s nothing we can do about it. From one fellow parent in the trenches: ‘You’re still there. I see you. You matter, beyond just your role as Mom or Dad.’”
“The world needs this book. I need this book. Get Your Joy Back is a communion from which all special needs parents should partake. Read it and expect to be validated, encouraged, challenged and spurred on.”
~ Gillian Marchenko, author of Sun Shine Down: A Memoir
“If you need to get your joy back — and what parent of a child with special needs doesn’t at some point in life? — Laurie Wallin’s encouraging book is the place to make it happen.”
~ Jolene Philo, author of Different Dream Parenting
Laurie Wallin is a speaker and the author of the book Why Your Weirdness Is Wonderful: Embrace Your Quirks & Live Your Strengths. A certified life coach, she has helped people for over ten years to get unstuck and live powerfully by discovering and developing their strengths, identifying and releasing resentment and pursuing their God-inspired hopes and dreams.
She blogs at LaurieWallin.com, and contributes to others. At , she shares thoughts on thriving in families with special needs, while on she writes on the ups and downs of pursuing our passions. A wife and mother of four, including two foster-adopted children with special needs, Wallin and her family make their home in San Diego.