Dear Special Needs Parent: I Know It Hurts When Others Don’t Get It.

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*Editors Note- This is a guest post by our good friend, and fellow blogger, Ellen Stumbo. She is a writer, speaker, and blogger who writes about finding beauty in brokenness with gritty honesty and openness. She tackles issues about faith, parenting, special needs, adoption, and confessions related to these topics. You can check out her blog here, and follow her on Facebook here.

As parents of children with special needs we often carry the weight of a world that doesn’t understand our children, or unfairly labels them. Sometimes the only way we can make it on this journey, is hearing some reassurance from others in the trench.

Dear special needs parent,

Some people will never get what it is like to walk in our shoes. No matter how many times we try to explain our situation, our child, the challenges our family has to face – no matter how many details we share – the reality is that most people won’t get it. And some people might think we are exaggerating, or that we are not doing enough, and we might feel judged by their words or forgotten by their actions. So I want to say something very important to you, to me, to all of us that have been misunderstood: I know the pain and the hurt because I have felt it too, but, it’s time to forgive and let go.

Let go

Before I became a spacial needs parent, I did not understand it either. I didn’t get it. To me, disability was something to be afraid of. I did not willingly choose for disability to enter into my life. But it did.

I wonder how many things I didn’t get before this was my journey.

I wonder if for most of us it might be hard to understand something until we finally live it.

The reality is our families are impacted by disability. Sometimes disability is not a big deal and we can be a regular family, but sometimes the challenges are significant. We face behaviors, delays, frustration, copays, IEPs and roadblocks, and all those comments from other people, their words, their actions, or their stares can be so hurtful.

But they don’t know, they will never get it. And while some people say things intending to be offensive, I truly believe most people are ignorant, not mean. Yet I can so easily hold on to those words, those comments, keep them stored in my heart and allow the hurt to grow, and grow, and grow, until I can no longer find any joy.

In the end I am only hurting myself. I build thick walls around me believing I am protecting myself, but I’m not. Instead I give the power to those words or actions and I isolate myself even more.

A heart consumed with anger or resentment hurts me and my family more than the people who don’t get it.

So it’s time to forgive and let go.

Let go, because when I hold on to the hurt and pain it can easily become all I see before me, behind me, and around me. It keeps me from enjoying life and I know there is beauty, there is peace, there is joy. I want that. I need that.

And the letting go and forgiving is not dependent on the people that won’t get it, it is dependent on me. It is my choice to let go and forgive so that I can allow the good to flow through me.

I try to extend grace, as much as I can afford, because I remember who I used to be.

So friend:

  • For the comments said in ignorance about your parenting, chose to forgive and let go.
  • For the comments said in ignorance about your child, chose to forgive and let go.
  • For the stares from insensitive people, chose to forgive and let go.
  • For the lack of invites to parties, gatherings, and dinners, chose to forgive and let go.
  • For the promises of help that never become a reality, chose to forgive and let go.
  • For the professionals or educators that you feel you have to fight, chose to forgive and let go.

I truly believe that as we offer grace, our words are more easily received. And while people might not get it unless they walk in our shoes, perhaps they will be willing to understand, to learn, to come along our side if we let go and offer some grace.

Forgive, let go.

And for the times that you truly feel like nobody gets it, that nobody will understand your journey, I want you to know something – as a special needs parent I get it. I do. And there are many other special needs parents that get it too. We get it. You are not alone.

Are you parenting a child with a special need? How did this post resonate with you?

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Mike and Kristin Berry are the Co-Founders of The Honestly Adoption Company and have been parents for nearly two decades. They are the authors of six books, and the host of The Honestly Adoption Podcast.

Sarah Gray

Sarah Gray is the executive assistant to Mike and Kristin Berry. And she is the best in the land. In addition to providing a warm and friendly response to the many emails our company receives on a weekly basis, she also manages Mike and Kristin’s speaking and meeting schedules, and makes sure that team events go off without a hitch.

Nicole Goerges

Nicole Goerges is a Content Contributor & Special Consultant for The Honestly Adoption Company. She works with Mike and Kristin as a recurring co-host for the Honestly Adoption Podcast, and co-host of Kitchen Table Talks, exclusive video content for Oasis Community, along with Kristin. She is a fellow adoptive mom, and former foster parent.

Matt McCarrick

Matt McCarrick is the Content Production Specialist for The Honestly Adoption Company. If you’ve loved listening to our podcast, or enjoyed any of the videos trainings we’ve published, you have Matt to thank. He oversees all of our content production, from video edits, to making sure the tags are correct on YouTube, to uploading new videos to Oasis, to hitting publish on a podcast episode, he’s a content wonder!

Karen Anderson

Karen Anderson is the Community Engagement Specialist for The Honestly Adoption Company. She spends the bulk of her time interacting with, and helping, people through our various social media channels, as well as providing support for Oasis Community members through chat support or Zoom calls. In the same spirit as Beaver, Karen is also passionate about connecting with parents and making them feel loved and supported. Karen is also an FASD trainer and travels often, equipping and encouraging parents.

Beaver Trumble

Beaver Trumble is the Customer Care Specialist for The Honestly Adoption Company. Chances are, if you have been in need of technical support, or forgotten your password to one of our courses, you have interacted with Beaver. He is an absolute pro at customer care. In fact, he single-handedly revolutionized our customer care department last year. Beaver is passionate about connecting with parents and making them feel loved and encouraged.

Kristin Berry

Kristin Berry is the co-founder of, and Chief Content Specialist for, The Honestly Adoption Company. She spends most of her time researching and connecting with guests for our podcast, as well as direction, designing and publishing a lot of the content for our social media channels, blog and podcast. She loves to connect with fellow parents around the world, and share the message of hope with them.

Mike Berry

Mike Berry is the co-founder of, and Chief Marketing Specialist for, The Honestly Adoption Company. He spends the bulk of his time and energy designing and building many of the resources you see within our company, as well as social media and email campaigns. His goal is to use media as a means to encourage and equip parents around the world. He is also the co-host of The Honestly Adoption Podcast.