The Bottom Line
By Robert A. Naseef, Ph.D; 291 pages. Subtitle: The Struggles and Rewards of Raising a Child With a Disability
Struggles, yes; rewards, not so much. And really, there's only one struggle this book is concerned with, and that is parents' overwhelming grief at the loss of their dreams for their child. If you're at that stage in parenting a special-needs child, this book will be tremendously empowering and comforting. If not, you may be tempted to yell "Snap out of it! It's not all about you!"
- Validates parents' feelings at a highly vulnerable time.
- Naseef, who has a son with autism, can offer both a psychologist's and a parent's point of view.
- Full of stories and dialog, which may make it more immediate to some readers.
- Offers resources and suggestions for finding support when you need it.
- Acknowledging grief can be an important step to acceptance and moving forward.
- There's a fine line between coming to terms with grief and wallowing in it.
- The dialog goes on to such length you may wonder if it's made up.
- Some may find the book too negative, with not enough on the joys of parenting.
- Only brief acknowledgment of other, more everyday challenges.
- Content may be more reflective of the author's personal journey than every parent's.
- Chapter 1: A Father Is Born: My Story
Chapter 2: Feeling the Impact: Lost Dreams and Growth
- Chapter 3: The Other Side of Sorrow: Working Through the Grief
- Chapter 4: Day by Day: Tuning in to Your Special Child
- Chapter 5: How to Stop Spinning: Understanding and Guiding Your Child's Behavior
- Chapter 6: A Circle of Fathers: Big Boys Don't Cry
- Chapter 7: Keeping the Boat Afloat: The Couple's Journey
- Chapter 8: Differing Views of the Mountain: Understanding How Siblings Respond to Disability
- Chapter 9: The Trouble with Elephants: Finding and Building Circles of Support
- Chapter 10: A Perilous Partnership: Parents and Professionals
- Chapter 11: When the Miracle Never Comes: Revisiting the Past and Looking to the Future
Guide Review - Book Review: Special Children, Challenged Parents
I'll admit to having mixed emotions about this book. Certainly, parents of the newly diagnosed will appreciate the permission Naseef gives them to grieve the loss of the child they've dreamed about. Getting a diagnosis can be wrenching, and holding down those negative feelings is surely not helpful to anybody. Denial and fear and shame and anger are powerful emotions that need to be dealt with, or they will make the already hard job of raising a child with special needs unbearably harder.
But don't we at some point put that sadness behind us? Not in the sense of, "I love my child despite the fact that he embodies the death of all of my dreams," but in seeing our children as individuals with dreams of their own, however inscrutable. All parenting, to some extent, involves the death of dreams -- few children turn out exactly as their parents had planned, disabilities or no. Seeing our children as the main characters in their own stories instead of supporting characters in ours is a crucial job of parenting. Acceptance of that reality is pretty important, too.
Some children's disabilities may be so profound, and some parents' burden so heavy, that moving along is impossible. And there, again, permission to feel and acceptance for those feelings is a valuable gift this book delivers. But I wish Naseef didn't insist on viewing every aspect of special-needs parenting through that grief-tinged window. There are brighter vistas.