Throughout the years I have learned a lot about how learning difficulties impact families. It turns out that over 80% of families with children that have special needs will wind up getting divorced. The pressures of dealing with this added stress tend to drive an insurmountable wedge between the two parents– especially when they have grossly different views on how to address their children’s issues. This is so sad, especially when you consider that these children are already struggling with their own issues, and now on top of that they get hit with their parent’s divorce.
I would urge parents of children with special needs to seek family counseling right away– hopefully to prevent a divorce from ever happening. It would also benefit the couple to learn how the parent with the same issues as the child may still be exhibiting some symptoms, or how s/he is coping with the child’s diagnosis. It is very common to be in denial or grapple with feelings of guilt for passing on a genetic trait that might complicate your child’s life. Burying those feelings is not healthy, and it will come out in horrible ways.
The other day, I came across a great article “I’m OK- You’re Not” by Melissa Orlov in the Spring 2011 issue of Additude. (Check out www.additudemag.com) She talks about the impact of ADHD on a couple, where one partner has this issue and the other does not. Everything she describes as common patterns– the creation of a parent-child dynamic, the arguments over household chores, the complaints of nagging, feelings of walking on eggshells– I have heard a million times before. What was new to me was her final message, which is that if the couple promptly seeks an evaluation and effective treatment, there is hope for saving the marriage.
In sum, we all have issues, but not everyone has the strength to face them. Sometimes, we need an added incentive to do something difficult. Well, I cannot think of a better incentive that doing something that will help you save your love and your family.
By Regina A. DeMeo, Esq.