Should a special needs parent have more children?
Over the past two years that I have been publicly blogging, I have been asked the above question on more than a few occasions and in various different ways. I’m personally, always taken aback when someone approaches me with this question. On the surface it seems like an ignorant comment, from someone who just doesn’t know what not to say to someone else. While that may be true of some, there are times that people ask the question because they actually want to know.
I thought I would explore this question a little bit and present it to all of you for your thoughts and opinions.
Please keep this tactful and be sensitive to everyone’s feelings. While I don’t personally think anyone has the right to question someones family for this reason alone, or any reason at all, we are all entitled to our own opinions.
So, should a special needs parent have more children?
Isn’t it selfish to have more kids?
I had a recent reader post a comment asking this very question. This person was a special needs parent themselves and asked this in a tactful and seemingly nonjudgmental way. Basically, this person wanted to know why parents with one special needs child already would have more kids? The question was asked in this manor, ” I honestly would like to know why you chose to continue having children if you knew the odds were that you would have another child with disabilities? It seems selfish to risk having more children with serious health issues, and having a healthy child seemed that it would take away time from my disabled child.”
To be completely honest with you, I initially took offence to this and was quite upset. However, this person was at least somewhat tactful and after thinking about it for awhile, I realized that this is actually a reasonable question. It’s shines the light on a decision process with very real if potential consequences, for lack of a better word. Consequences is probably the wrong word to use here but I can’t think of a better word choice. I mean no disrespect to anyone by using the word consequence. 🙂
I have decided to embrace this question and get the collective opinions of my fellow special needs parents.
Let’s look at the question itself
When someone asks me if I feel selfish for having more children after my first one was born with special needs, it’s kinda off putting. While they worded it nicely or nicer, it feels like they are questioning whether or not my children should be here.
My instinctive reaction is one of anger and disgust. However, getting angry or insulted doesn’t do any good. The best thing to do is probably just walk away. I mean, there are just some things you don’t say to a special needs parent. Am I right?
However, if you re-word that very same question to something with a less hostile tone, it’s actually a very good question. Personally, I would word it something like this: were you ever worried about having more kids, knowing that your first child has special needs?
To me, that is a fair and realistic question, not to mention something that may have weighed heavy on many when planning to continue building their precious family.
The Lost and Tired family ended up having 3 children, all with Autism and various other health/mental health issues. Do I feel selfish for having more kids after Gavin? The simple answer is no, and the logic behind that answer is just as simple. Gavin is not my biological child, so there was no reason to think that there was a greater risk to Lizze and I having children together. Also, Elliott, when compared to Gavin, seemed very typical. We didn’t know he had Aspergers until well after Emmett was born. In fact, Elliott wasn’t actually officially diagnosed until after Emmett was diagnosed.
It wasn’t like we knew that this was going to happen but even if we did, I would never change a thing. I can’t imagine life without any of my babies. Do we struggle? Of course we do, and there are a few reasons for that. Do we get some public assistance? Yes we do and for that, we are very grateful. For the record, I work very hard to be as self-sufficient as possible, it’s just there’s only so much I can do. However, our challenges can’t all be blamed on having three special needs kids.
For starters, I never needed any help until I got injured on the job. I was a fire/medic and destroyed my back, saving someone’s life. Even after that, I worked for years as a paramedic, until the pain was to great and my wife’s health began to fail. At the same time, my kids needed so much more than just one of us could provide alone. Everything sorta went down hill from there.
Let me make this very clear, I don’t feel I need to justify the existence of any of my children, to anyone, ever.
Having said that, I want people to understand that there is aways more to the story than meets the eye. While it’s true that the demands and challenges of raising three special needs boys impacts literally, every aspect of my life, they are not and will not ever be considered a burden. If I was given the chance to undo choices my wife and I have made in regards to having our two youngest, I would politely say no thank you. I mean, I might change how I personally handled something, but I have never regretted having any of my children and never will.
As far as I’m concerned, no one should ever feel the need to justify their family, to anyone, anywhere and for any reason.
Thoughts or opinions
So now that you have heard my thoughts and opinions on this topic, I would love to hear yours. Please feel free to discuss this below in the comments. I really would like to know what you think about this and if anyone has ever asked you the same or similar question. Please be respectful to each as we are all entitled to our own personal opinions.