I’ve learnt a lot about myself through this parenting programme and have become a lot more confident in managing my son’s disability. I’ve learnt not to be so negative about myself. Before, I felt like a failure as a mum – like I just couldn’t do it; now I know that I can do it. Being a parent is hard but I can do it.
The only parenting courses I’d been on were in relation to my son’s disability but I liked the idea of sharing in a small group and being able sharing my own ideas with others boosted my confidence. It was also good to hear about other people’s struggles and daily problems, which made me realise that it’s not just me going through stuff.
My life is usually stressful; having to manage my son’s disability whilst being mum to my other boy, who also needs my support, is sometimes just too much. I’ve been battling depression, with a lot on my plate and limited family support. It’s difficult.
Bedtime and mornings are quite difficult (getting my son dressed and ready) so I found the session on routines helpful. The sticker charts have worked for us and I now use a sand timer or a timer on my phone (rather than simply saying “you’ve got five minutes left”) to help my son get ready, as he doesn’t really understand the concept of ‘5 minutes’.
Our small group was really lovely; we were open with one another and happy to discuss problems and help each other. I found that talking to people who don’t know me personally really helped: sort of like therapy. There were times when we cried – sometimes when you talk about sensitive stuff and you’re having a bad day, the sadness just comes out. So that was really good. Group sessions were a safe space to be real about our emotions; sometimes that’s what you’ve got to do because if you bottle it up, you’ll feel a thousand times worse.
I’ve learnt that I am not alone and that it is okay to ask for help. I suffer from anxiety because of my son’s needs and his impulsive behaviour (linked to ADHD) but now when I feel overwhelmed, I ask for help. I enjoy being around people whereas before I’d shut myself away. I’d make excuses not to go out but the programme has inspired me to be a little bit more adventurous and I also try and do stuff for myself as well. Recently, my son went camping with the church from Friday to Sunday and I had the whole weekend to myself; I made the most of it!
The programme is not about being judged as a parent (we all have our issues); it’s about community – being there for one another, supporting each other and going forward together.
*Names have been changed to protect the identity of the individuals concerned.
The attached picture is not a representation of the individual concerned.