Friday, May 12, 2017

Tyndale Book Review: Bible Promises for parents of children with SPECIAL NEEDS by Amy E Mason

Thoughts about parenting & special needs kids... 

Special Needs Defined

Parents of special needs kids, hold a special place in my heart.  Special Needs kids is a broad based term.  Many of us think about physical, intellectual, or developmental delays or limitations as the definition of special needs children.  But as God has created us as individuals and each one of us unique to Him, it is a much broader concept.  Gifted or High Intelligence children would be special needs children.  Autism and ADHD are very common diagnoses for children. A gifted athlete or musician is a special needs child when you factor in the practices, lessons, and special events that will become a part of daily living to meet this child's passions and needs.  

But the category of special needs children that most touches my heart is the invisible disabilities of many children from hard places, many of these kids look normal, may act and interact in social settings in somewhat typical ways, but often their brains are anything but typical.  As science can study the brain that God put inside each human being, we have discovered that in utero and the first three years of life, give our brains wiring that gives us certain advantages or disadvantages in life.  The good news is, our brains continue rewiring and building connections our whole lives, and into adulthood our brains can build more connections than they loose each day.  

But as we've included a child from a hard place with in utero stress and early years stress, I've read and learned so much more about the benefits that many of us take for granted.  Love heals a child, love builds a brain, and that love is best received when it is consistent, dependable, and demonstrated in a connected way.  So our actions and emotions impact our children's formation substantially in utero and in the first 3 years of life.  

And the children who don't have consistency in those early years, or who are parented by an adult in crisis or high stress, will pick up on that toxic stress and join the adult in living in high emotion and low functioning.  This steals valuable connections for the child's future.  It can be built later on, but it takes a concerted effort on the part of ALL adults in the child's daily life. 
All parents need self care to maintain a good perspective in life and to parent with love, joy, gratitude, contentment, and a place of abundance.  Children with special needs bring with them brokenness and a level of wonder as you guide them into the adult world.  I've not met many parents who say they have this parenting thing down pat. Most of us doubt, wonder, and pray a whole lot for guidance and direction as we go through the gamut of emotions in the role of parenting. 

I've said that parenting is the most sanctifying experience in my entire life.  Nothing like being wholly responsible and living 24/7 with a baby/child who is still new to this world, and models/replicates how you live, or recognizes that they want to do the opposite of what you do... either way it speaks volumes to your soul and helps you reflect and develop a whole new sense of self awareness and recognition of how others see you, and often that glimpse in the mirror is ugly and not flattering.  It makes you recognize how big God is and how amazing His Grace and free gift of salvation really are.  I saw sin in my life and choices that had never been raised to the surface before.  And this of course always happen mid-parenting when your child has shocked you with their __________ (attitude, behavior, thought, actions, questions,....) and you don't know how to handle it, or you over react and don't like your over the top response.  Parenting is full of so many wonderful things, but it's balanced by a lot of self doubt, loneliness, wonder, and brokenness.  

Book Review
This book is an amazing tool to help you put your mind back into a healthy perspective and recognize the Hope that lives in you through the Word of God, and that you can redeem this situation, this day, this week, this month.  And not just survive, but thrive with refreshment, strength, and new hope for this situation.  We all need a little bit of this!  

Details about the book
Bible promises is a book that is a topical content book.  It gives you topics that come up in ALL parents lives and then  shares a when statement- a wonder you might have connected to that situation.  It then shares a scripture reference and a simple connected thought to the reference and the when.  Each topic ends with a brief thought or connection about a way to re-frame the thinking of this situation in a positive light.  I found the book a delightful asset.

Con/Pro:  I wished the references had included the full scripture, but then the book wouldn't be about 5 x 7 in size and small enough to have in your work bag, or your purse, or the door of the car, or next to your bed.  It's small, lightweight, beautiful inside and out, and simple to pick up and choose a topic.  It's reader friendly. The thinking about situations is generic but specific to the topic and our feelings, so I think if you are thinking about the topic, you will relate to the thinking aloud to connect the scripture, and there are several when... concept statements with each topic.  So it's relevant for all parents, but parents who go the extra mile with kids who have special needs that demand a village to help support, with appointments, OT, PT, speech, therapy, medical interventions, hospitalizations, intensive at home practice, at therapy practice, mental health supports, can especially relate.

Another reviewer felt that looking to God is not the same as looking to other people, and she's correct.  She was unable to find this book helpful, but she missed the key audience for this book.  Those who care for a special needs child and who see God and His promises as a '"wellspring of refreshment, strength, and hope" and who have or desire to deepen their relationship with him.  If your faith and the Word of God is not a guide and source in your life, then this book isn't for you. But for those who seek out the Bible's promises, I found this book therapeutic and helpful for recognizing my circumstances and identifying the emotions in my situations. 

I'm blessed to be a part of the Tyndale blog review network but all ideas, concepts, and opinions shared are my own.  I'm not required to share a positive review.  It's just hard not too with this helpful tool for my coping skills bag!  (some of you will know what that is!)