October 1, 2021 Jo

My Child Has Special Needs – Can I Still Have a Career?

Do you have a child with special needs? Read on!

I have written about what it’s like being a mother and “having it all”. There are challenges as a working mother, and there are rewards. But, what I haven’t touched upon is what it’s like wanting a career while having children with special needs.

To find out that your child has additional needs can be a shock. For some, it becomes apparent during pregnancy. The life-changing news can be a scan away. Others find out at birth or some years later. What all moms of disabled children have in common is that the worrying never stops. The appointments are never-ending. The detours and admin and not-knowing can be exhausting. Everything parents have to deal with, parents of children with special needs have double.

So if you’re a new mom or dad and you’ve recently come to understand that your child has additional needs, you might ask yourself: Will I ever work again? Can I still have the career of my dreams?

Follow your passion

The answer to that is: Every family, child, and situation is different. The first step is to sit down with your child’s other parent (if they have one) and discuss your expectations, hopes, and fears. You have to be very clear-headed and not self-deceive about how much time and energy you have at your disposal. If you have a support system around you, you’ll be able to give more time to your career. If you don’t, it’s important not to pretend you can “do it all.” No one, especially your child, will benefit from that. So instead, barter or buy the support you need to handle your career and caretaking of your child in a sane way.

So one part of the solution is logistical.

If it is early in your career, or if you have pivoted and started from scratch, your income might not be very high. In some places, the cost of childcare will eat up your entire earnings. So my advice to you is that if you can still survive, do invest in childcare. It can be incredibly frustrating to end up with scraps at the end of the month, but the more you invest in your career, the higher earnings you will have in the future.

If you have a career you’re passionate about, it could actually fuel and give you the strength to be a better parent for your child. So when you are in a quandary about how to manage both, the blanket solution could be to give up your career. That may or may not be what actually helps you. Having something that’s all yours, where you’re not caretaking, may then be a better solution than giving up your career altogether.

 

Read more here: Getting back to paid work when your child has special needs

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