The Imperfect Parent And the Special Needs Child

October 3, 2013 Heiddi Zalamar, LMHC, MA

There is no such thing as a perfect parent, but there are imperfect parents everywhere. I'm one of them. It is amazing how much I expect to be a great parent, not a perfect one, but a great one. Especially because I'm a single, working mom with a special needs child. And even more so when Bob is dealing with a tough situation.

Guilty Feelings

I tend to feel guilt during tough moments; more so when I'm not practicing good self-care. Bob began his after-school program this week. This was after two weeks of a new school schedule (8:15 - 4pm M-Th; 8:15 - 2:30pm F). Just as Bob adjusted to the schedule, the after-school program threw him for a loop. Bob ended up with less time to do homework (due to the scheduled program activities), staying up til almost 11pm, losing sleep and I ended up feeling guilty. Why? Because I'm an imperfect parent.

Here is my special needs child needing extra support during an adjustment and I wasn't as supportive. I had been getting less sleep during the last couple of weeks and this week I was exhausted. Very poor self-care going on.

Usually, I sit with Bob to make sure he does his work. We get home together around 7pm (the program ends at 6:30pm) and Bob completes his homework while I cook. By the time 8pm rolls around, Bob's daytime medication has lost its effectiveness and Bob's focus goes out the window. I know this. He's been on meds nearly two years. But, I'm an imperfect parent and it happens that I screw up.

I felt guilty for not sitting with Bob to make sure he did his work. I was in my living room watching television while Bob was in my room. Poor Bob kept getting up and going between my room and the computer. And I got annoyed with him. I kept reminding him to focus on his homework from the living room. This never works when Bob can't focus, but here I am trying to get him to do something challenging for him.

We Judge Ourselves

As an imperfect parent, I judge myself much more harshly than any other parent. My own flaws and mistakes are highlighted as if I were using a high-powered microscope. With other parents, I look at their situation and strengths. Accentuate the positive. I encourage them and try to give them hope. Not so with my own parenting. I forget how much I've done and how hard I've worked to be a good parent.

Others Judge Us

Worse yet is when others judge us and tell us what we're doing wrong. I've learned not to let the judgement of others get me down. Yes, they may have good intentions and even some good ideas. But, it sucks.

Admitting I'm an Imperfect Parent

While sharing my story with a fellow single mom, she nicely asked why things weren't adding up. So, I admitted it - I'm an imperfect parent. I screwed up and I need to do better. It felt so good to be kind to myself and admitting my mistakes. I let myself off the hook and guess what? It lit a fire under me. I got home last night and was so motivated. I'm going to admit I'm an imperfect parent more often and be kinder to me.

photo credit: Jannie-Jan via photopin cc

APA Reference
Zalamar, H. (2013, October 3). The Imperfect Parent And the Special Needs Child, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 13 from

Author: Heiddi Zalamar, LMHC, MA

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