Debbie and I travel a great deal with our business, Parent Intervention & Training. On every flight, one of the flight attendants describes to the passengers that if an in-flight emergency occurs, the oxygen masks will fall from overhead. She instructs that adults should make sure to put on and adjust their oxygen masks before helping any children to do so. In other words, you can’t take care of your kids unless you have taken care of yourself.
Many dads today are overwhelmed with the stresses of family life, even more so if you are the father of a special needs child. Much of the time, we dads feel like we’re just treading water trying to keep up with the tasks of taking care of our kiddos. But are we taking the time to focus on our needs as well? Many parents on this journey report feelings of stress or isolation. Perhaps they feel isolated from social events with other adults, game nights with friends, or holidays with the family. self-care
It’s OK to take the time to take care of yourself, Dad. Practicing self-care is a very important step to becoming a better father, and there are things you can do today to get started.
Set aside some “dad” breaks in which you take a moment during the day to decompress. Find a place you feel the most relaxed and retreat there when you feel it necessary. This will allow you to recharge your batteries and take on the next activity.self-care
Seek out respite care so that you can attend that football game or friend’s barbeque. There are many churches, for example, that offer respite nights or afternoons to families. Also, check to see if your place of worship has a ministry to families with special needs children.
Make sure you exercise, eat nutritious foods, and get the sleep your body needs. Parenting a high risk child can be demanding, and you need to make your health a priority. You’re no good to your family if you are sick and low on stamina much of the time. Plus, being in good health can help keep that stress under control. self-care
Last of all, don’t let yourself feel any guilt for taking time for yourself. You are worth it, Dad. You are the spiritual leader of your family and you have a responsibility to them and yourself to be all that you can be for them. Remember, you’re the glue that holds it all together. If you don’t, who will?
Hear, O sons, the instruction of a father,
and give attention that you may gain understanding.
By Alan Jones
Husband of Debra Delulio Jones
Dad of one biological daughter, one adopted son
1 Corinthians 13 Team Member
Administrative Director at Parent Intervention & Training