I am a special needs sibling raising a special needs sibling. Encouraging other parents to love and support the typical kids in their families is a passion of mine. So today I’m talking through seven phrases every special needs sibling needs to hear. They apply to every age and stage of development. And I share an opportunity to join me in prayer for our typical kids for fourteen days through daily devotions. Listen to the end of the episode for details!
- Unexpected Blessing: The Joys and Possibilities of Life in a Special Needs Family (Amazon affiliate link)
- All my resources on siblings
- Abiding Caregiver Facebook group
- Master list of prayers and devotions
- Sandra on Instagram
May 3rd – supporting the typical siblings in our special needs families
Hi friends, this is Self-Care and Soul Care for the Caregiver, and I’m your host Sandra Peoples. To us, self-care isn’t a luxury—it’s a necessity. We need to take better care of ourselves so we can care for those God has entrusted to us.
This is episode 67, and today we’re talking about supporting the typical siblings in our special needs families. I have a big sister with Down syndrome, so I grew up as a special needs sibling. And I’m raising a special needs sibling. My older son David turns 16 this year! I try to be sensitive to the unique role he has because I had a similar role as well.
In this episode, I thought we’d talk through a section from my book, Unexpected Blessings, that lists 7 phrases every special needs sibling needs to hear. I actually wrote the list over five years ago, so when David was just 10. We even recorded a video of the two of us talking through the phrases, and it was fun to hear his feedback at that time. I looked through the list to see if it needed updating now that he’s a big teenager, but they all still apply.
At the end of the episode I’m going to share how you can join me for 14 days of prayer for the typical siblings in our families! It’s going to start on Friday, and you won’t want to miss it!
Ok, let’s jump into our list!
- “You have my full attention.” Special-needs siblings can feel like their needs are always taking a back seat to their sibling’s needs. Try to reserve part of your day for just your typical children. Maybe it’s at bed time. Or when you’re washing dishes together. Or when you can get away to a movie.
- “I’m proud of you.” We often celebrate the accomplishments of our kids with disabilities because they are fewer and far between. But our typical kids need to know we’re proud of their accomplishments too. And that we aren’t only proud of their actions, but also their attitude. We’re excited when they make 8 out of 10 free throws, and we’re also proud when they make friends with the new kid at school.
- “I don’t know.” I can remember asking my mom, “Why did God give me a sister with Down syndrome?” Her first answer was “I don’t know.” Together we came up with lots of reasons (like how our relationship made me more compassionate) but “I don’t know” is what I needed to hear at that age and stage, and the assurance that I didn’t have to figure it all out. I just had to take the next best step.
- “Let’s make a plan together.” This is important to say when you find yourself saying, “Not right now” too often. The answer may be “Not right now,” but there will be a time you can do what your typical child is asking you to do. Make a plan together to do it when it’s best for all of you.
- “I understand how you feel.” When I had negative feelings, like embarrassment or frustration, I needed to know my feelings were ok to have. My parents never shamed me for how I felt. They showed empathy and understanding. Now I can share stories from my childhood with David when he shares his negative emotions. I know how he feels because I’ve been where he is.
- “I’m sorry.” I’m sorry we aren’t living a plan A life (and the truth is, no one is). I’m sorry your brother’s limitations limit you too. I’m sorry your sister was having a hard morning and we’re running late. We can help our kids focus on the positive, but they also need to know it’s ok to not feel ok.
- “Thank you.” Is that what we all wish we could hear each day? Just to know that we are seen and appreciated? Find something each day you can say thank you for: for help around the house, for extra patience, for being ok with leaving early. If you look, you may find lots of things you can say thank you for! (And you might even get a few thank yous in return!)
Alright! That’s all 7! If you want to read through the list, you can find a transcript of today’s episode at sandrapeoples.com/thepodcast under episode 67.
Let me tell you now about the prayer opportunity before we take time to pray for the siblings in our families. For fourteen days, starting on May 7th, we’re going to pray our typical kids. Each day I’ll share
- a focus verse
- a prayer based on the focus verse
- a short devotional
- a discussion question or activity you can do together based on your child’s current stage of development
There are two ways you can do this with me. First, you can be in the Abiding Caregiver Facebook group. I’ll post links each day to the prayer and devotional. Second, you can find a master list of all the posts linked in the show notes. You can kick off on Friday with us or start when it’s convenient for you if you’re listening to this episode after May 7th. Right before summer is the perfect time to pray Scripture over the typical kids in our families before we transition into a different routine. I hope you’ll join me in this prayer series. Let’s pray now as we end our time together:
God, thank you for knitting together our family with a purpose and a plan. I am who I am because I’m Syble’s sister. David is who is he because he’s James’s brother. All of the typical siblings in our families will struggle at times, but we pray they will feel our love for them and remember how much You love them as well. Give us wisdom to parent them faithfully. Comfort them when we fail. And above all God, we ask You to draw them into a relationship with you that will sustain them for the years ahead. Help them to build a foundation of faith on the solid rock and not shifting sand. It’s in Jesus’s name we pray, amen.
Thank you for joining me today! I hope it was a helpful episode, and I can’t wait to get started praying together at the end of this week. I’ve got two more episodes planned before I take a break over the summer. But we’ll be able to stay in touch through Instagram if you follow me at SandraPeoples. I’m praying for you this week as you live out your calling as an abiding caregiver and love all the members of your family well.