As the parent of a child who is deaf or hard of hearing, or a child with other special needs, it can be difficult to find time for your needs to be met. The early weeks and months after a diagnosis are filled with doctor’s appointments, changes in schedules, trying to find early intervention providers, or meetings with the school. It can be hard for parents to find time for themselves. Plus, in this day and age of “extreme parenting” where parent’s routinely brag about the sacrifices they are making for their children it can be difficult to find where the boundaries are between meeting the needs of your child and ensuring that your needs are met as a parent.
Yet, it is when we take the time to catch our breath, to connect with our partner, or quiet our brains when we find that we gather strength as parents. But what constitutes parental needs?
Dr. Richard C. Horowitz, in his book, Family Centered Planning: Your Guide for Growing Great Families, provides a list of basic needs that provide a better understanding of how parents can work towards grounding themselves emotionally. When parents are better able to work from this emotionally grounded center they “will be in a better position to help their children connect their own behavior with satisfying a basic need.”
The following list of needs can be found in Dr. Horowitz’s book. Additionally you can find a brief survey that can help you find out areas of strengths and weaknesses.
Love & Belonging: – The need for unconditional acceptance and caring of spouse and children
Power: – The need to be a capable parent, to be effective in the eyes of our spouse, our family and community in child rearing.
Freedom: – The need for a parent to recognize the necessity of some time off from the responsibilities of parenting to achieve individual freedom; it should be experienced without guilt because it restores our energy to parent.
Fun: – An adult should be free to engage in playful behavior with a child that can be expressed in an adult world; play/fun should be the goal of the entire family not just the children.
Survival: – The need to feel that life’s fundamental necessities are being provided.