Cynthia Adams-McGrath is a longtime caregiver and coauthor of Wellness for Winners: Your Guide to Wellness, Success, and Happiness. She took the time to share her journey as a caregiver for her son with spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy, David, with Taylor Conley, the executive director here at The Center for Caregiver Support.
Cynthia advises that new parents that have a child with a disability try to sit with, and accept their child’s diagnosis. Knowing how overwhelming the experience can be at first, she says to take a deep breath and remember that they are your child first, not their disability. She says to move forward with the heart and everything else will fall into place. Put the person before the disability.
“The role of caregiver/mom, dad, or other person is challenging though we have to find the light even if it is through a pinhole. We are brave through difficult times. Support is paramount for caregivers. We need to honor ourselves for who we are because in my belief, God gave us this opportunity to do his work. I also find it ironic for me to give to others, my time a text a small token replenishes me.
“Another thought parents of adult children with special needs may have to do some things i.e. toileting and other personal tasks. For me if I put myself in a mindset that while doing these things I say I am his nurse rather than mom. Then when I am done, I am his mom, which works for me.
“Parents aren’t perfect though, if we make, say, or do something with our child who has special needs, the guilt will just overwhelm us. We are human and should allow ourselves some grace. I feel fortunate that I can talk to David and say, “Son, I am frustrated with what you have said or the situation”, not with him as a person. Although once in a while I get frustrated with him. It is so important that we as caregivers acknowledge that we are doing the best we can and it is alright. That’s why it is good to have another parent who understands to chat with.”
The Center for Caregiver Support thanks Cynthia for taking the time to share her story.
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