Grace for Special Needs Families: Day Four
grace for siblings
READ: 1 Timothy 1:7, Nehemiah 8:10, Philippians 4:7, Luke 12:6-7, John 16:33, Isaiah 41:10
Understanding. That is the word that comes to mind when ‘handling’ circumstances that arise with my ‘other children’ in regards to their brother. Often I pray for wisdom as to how to address specific situations as they arise. Often I pull my girls aside and remind them that just as you wouldn’t make fun of someone else who has ‘this, this or this…you should have understanding & compassion for your brother as he struggles.” Other times I have to remind them that “we are a family. We are a team. We help each other. We work with each other's weaknesses and we make room for growth.”
However, even as much as we explain and work around things that happen in our home, the other children in our home need more than just an explanation or a correction, they need to know that the joy of the Lord is their strength. Siblings need to know that God’s Word works for them, just as much as it does for mom and dad. He is our fortress and our hiding place. He is our shelter.
Many young people were used by and for God’s Glory in the Bible. Children are big-minded and can grasp things simply without all the questions and reasonings that get in an adults way of simply believing and acting. Allowing our kiddos to read, believe and act on God’s Word on their own will help them take ownership of their place in our families in a positive way.
As mamas, we can easily speak from our own place of frustration, rush, or weariness when addressing our siblings about the circumstances. However, when we guide their little hearts into a place of compassion, big faith and trust in their creator- it gives them more than an explanation, but it gives them room to take action.
It doesn’t mean we won’t ever have to explain or that they won’t ever have any feelings about the circumstances, but in an easy quiet moment, we can take the wisdom we’ve learned and helped guide them in a similar way.
In watching and talking to my girls, I’ve come up with five basic areas where siblings might struggle because of their place in a special needs family. In these areas, we’ve sought out scriptures that help them find hope
Fear. Siblings may fear for the safety of their sibling. They may fear what will happen to them. Or they may fear what people will say about them. 1 Timothy 1:7... For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but one of love, power, and sound judgment.
Weariness. Having a sibling whose needs go beyond what we expect from a normal day can sometimes suck the joy or fun right out their day. Even our kids can leave feeling frustrated and weary. Nehemiah 8:10 ... do not grieve, because the joy of the Lord is your strength.
Anxiety. All families need peace to reign in their home. But the added chaos of circumstances surrounding a special needs family can cause heightened anxiety in the atmosphere of the home at times. Philippians 4:7... And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
Worthlessness. A lot of time is spent attending to the special needs of your child and at times his or her siblings can feel left out, forgotten or unloved. Along with our own reassurance of our love, Jesus gives his. Luke 12:6-7... Aren’t five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten in God’s sight. Indeed the hairs of your head are all counted. Don’t be afraid. You are worth more than many sparrows.
Frustration. All of the feelings above can leave a sibling feeling frustrated. Frustrated with life, their parents, their sibling or even God. A gentle reminder of God’s promises will encourage them in these moments. John 16:33 ... In this world you will have trouble, but take heart! I have overcome the world. Isaiah 41:10 ... Do not fear, for I am with you. Do not be afraid, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, I will help you. I will hold onto you with my righteous hand.
Use these scriptures as a jumping off point to encourage your children. There are obviously hundreds to choose from. In these words are life. And beyond anything else they need, His life has the power to uphold and strengthen your children.
Up to this point, how have you handled your ‘other children’ in the context of their special needs sibling? Ask your Heavenly Father to not only give you the grace to raise up your special needs child, but grace to find the words & wisdom to love your other children at your best.
What are some specific situations or questions that have come from your ‘other children’ in regards to their sibling? Find scripture to help you in answering their specific questions or in giving them wisdom. Then find scripture they can stand on for their own lives and for their sibling.