Parenting Strategies to Break the Guilt Barrier for Self-Care

Jun 15, 2023

Being a dad of a child with additional needs can be incredibly challenging, as it often requires finding the balance between prioritising self-care and feeling guilty about doing so. It's essential for breaking through this barrier that dads have parenting strategies in place to allow them focus on their own well-being while still being an excellent parent.

How can we look after ourselves without compromising support towards our kids special requirements? How can we achieve both? Is there guilt free way to take time out? The answer is yes. AND it's absolutely necessary. 

Identifying Guilt Trap and Breaking Free from it

Guilt can be a quite potent emotion. It is often the driving force when it comes to making decisions, particularly if you have a child with additional needs. Guilt might lead you to feel obligated or responsible to be omnipresent as the provider and supporter of your children and other family members.

This is called the 'guilt trap' which could stop you from focusing on yourself instead of solely taking care of your kid's demands.

The guilt trap has an insidious nature since sometimes it looks like something positive - "I'm feeling guilty so that means I'm doing the right thing. It's a noble cause." But guilt may also cause angst, resentment and even depression because we feel our responsibilities will never end and there won't be any progress in sight at all. This was something I experienced personally, so strongly infact it eventually drove me to therapy. 

The guilt entrapment makes us unable figure out where our self-care should fit amidst helping your child grow and develop; hence why breaking free from this mental prison becomes very important.

To get past these emotions we need acknowledge them as well as understand why are those feelings appearing in the first place. Ask yourself: am I trying do my best by my kids or simply succumbing into unrealistic expectations and trying to play SuperDad?

Making Self-Care a Priority 

Being a Dad of a child with extra needs can easily take over your life, from medical appointments to therapies, paperwork and just making sure your child is taken care of day-to-day all add up like water in a overflowing glass.

Self-care doesn't necessitate being lavish or extravagant; even taking few minutes each day would be a start. Practicing meditation or stillness, going on walks or hitting the gym all help as it helps reduce stress levels and provides emotional respite as well as from giving you time out amidst daily duties.

It is obvious that in order to be an effective parent of a child with special needs, we have to let go the feelings of guilt and stress, and start taking care of ourselves. You need to put your oxygen mask on first.

Putting Your Oxygen Mask On First

The analogy of "putting your oxygen mask on first" is particularly crucial for dads of children with special needs. Just as in an airplane emergency, where parents are advised to secure their own oxygen masks before assisting their children, you must prioritise your own well-being to effectively care for their children. The responsibilities and challenges of raising a child with special needs can be overwhelming and emotionally draining. By taking the time to address your own physical, mental, and emotional needs, we can ensure we have the strength, resilience, and patience required to provide the best possible support for our children.

When you focus on self-care, you not only enhance your own ability to cope with the unique demands of your life, but you also serve as role models for your children and other family, teaching them the importance of self-care and demonstrating a healthy approach to managing challenges in life.

In essence, by donning your own oxygen masks first, you empower yourself to be the caring, supportive, and StrongDad your children need.

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