Sometimes there are no answers, only a deep dark place of sadness, when we have to admit to ourselves that we just don’t have a clue where to go from here, what to do next, or how to get through what seems like an impenetrable brick wall.

This was never how we imagined parenthood to be. In those long-ago hazy pre-children days we always felt that we would just instinctively know how to handle whatever life situation our children led us towards. We had an unwavering certainty belief that we would just “know” what to do in whatever parenting crisis we found ourselves in.



Real life isn’t like that, particularly if our child has additional needs. Sometimes our children are so precious, so fragile and so rare that you have to invent your very own version of parenting, making it up as you go along, and hoping against hope that your you and your child will walk through whatever circumstances bring, hand in hand, out of trouble. Sometimes there is no clear route through the hurdles, no way around the difficulties we face, no answers whatsoever.

I’ve been lost and frightened more times than I can remember. I’ve had to face up to the fact that I didn’t have a single workable idea left that might make things OK again. I’ve felt lonely, isolated and crying buckets, convinced that we wouldn’t find a path to emotional safety ever again. There have been many days when I’ve barely been able to look after myself never mind my three tiny and vulnerable children. Sometimes there are no answers or solutions. Sometimes all you can do is to wait until things get better, easier and more doable.

Francesca, Toby and Adam


What makes it worse at the time is the way the guilt comes racing in, destroying even the very last molecule of residual confidence. We beat ourselves up, we feel we are failing our children, we believe we are lousy parents.

We are not any of those things, we are doing the best we possibly can in a situation which has run loose. Nobody can do any better that we are doing right now, but we can’t see it. Right now all we can see all around us is what appears to be happy families with perfect parents, and on top of everything we’re having to cope with, we start to think that we are letting our children down dismally, that we are total failures both as parents and as human beings.

If you are there right now, in that awful place,  all you can do is to hang on, keep breathing, and believe that things won’t always be like this, because they won’t. Things do alter, shift and change and often they get better, so much better that you simply can’t see how that is possible right now.

I used to sing to the children on the scariest of days. Tonight, in our kitchen, with friends over for dinner, Francesca, Adam and I sang our heart out. Happy songs over glasses of wine. But we were singing the same songs we used to sing all those years ago, when things were tough, so tough that I still haven’t found words to describe how desolate some of those days were. Tonight, I belted out those songs as loudly and as raucously as my lungs would allow me, hilariously accompanied by two of my children who are now young adults. In between we told recounted stories of their childhoods, laughing as we recalled all sorts of little things.

Francesca and Adam
Francesca and Adam


It was remarkable how what I remember as the worst days of my life they remember as happy sing-along afternoons. In my worst moments somehow they were creating happy childhood memories.

Perspective – that’s what it’s about. I read today a lovely thought on Facebook about “Wisdom” being nothing more than “Healed Wounds”, and somehow it all came together and resonated beautifully. We got there. We made it through their childhood and out the other side. Mostly intact. And guess what? You will too. Just ride the stormiest of days because they always pass. I absolutely promise that they do, because I’ve been there, and back then I didn’t believe it either. I do now though. Maybe those old scars are slowly fading into wisdom.

Are you on Facebook? If so, have you seen The Special Parent’s Handbook Page? It’s full of the best information, advice and support for families of special needs children.

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Would you like to read my most recent post on the Coke Floats & Chemo Blog? It’s about why breast reconstruction after my mastectomy wasn’t for me.

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The darkest days of special needs parenting
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7 thoughts on “The darkest days of special needs parenting

  • July 2, 2015 at 12:13 pm

    Thank you for this, I often find myself deep in those days and wonder where did it all go so wrong, but your article has given me hope and the belief that I’m doing Ok.

    • July 9, 2015 at 1:53 am

      Chiara, it hasn’t all gone wrong. I bet you’re doing a fabulous job, and keeping a thousand plates spinning in the air, but you’re too close to it to see how well you must be coping. Our sort of parenting is never easy, and there are days when I was at the bottom of a deep dark hole, thinking I wasn’t coping, but I was, even though at the time it all seemed joyless and dark to me. However the children remember is all so differently and so much more positively, and if only I’d known that then it might have made me feel better. Take care, hang on in there, and things will turn around. You are already doing far better than “OK”! Yvonne xx

  • July 2, 2015 at 1:37 pm

    What a brilliant post, and a lovely reminder for all those who may be struggling x

    • July 9, 2015 at 1:54 am

      Thank you Steph, that’s a lovely thing to say. Hope you and the girls are all are good. Yvonne xx

  • October 17, 2016 at 1:02 pm

    This really sums up how I feel right now x

    • October 17, 2016 at 2:14 pm

      Oh bless you Hayley, I’m so sorry, I know exactly how hard it must be right now. Thinking of you, take care and hope things get better very soon. Yvonne xxx

  • April 19, 2017 at 10:45 pm

    Def been in that place a few times.


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