The Impact of A Disabilty on Family Life

Studies have indicated that having a child with ADHD doubles the chances for divorce and has significant negative impact on family relationships and home life. As a matter of fact The Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology revealed that “parents of a child with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder are nearly twice as likely to divorce by the time the child is 8 years-old.”

Our son not only had ADHD but was also diagnosed with Sensory Integration Dysfunction, Double Deficit Dyslexia and a written expression disorder.

How was my marriage handling things, what about my other two sons, what was the impact on them and us as a family? How was the stress of fighting for my son affecting my marriage, how was if affecting his siblings? What were they learning and thinking in the many waiting rooms that they sat in while their brother attended therapy? Was there resentment?

In the beginning of my son’s diagnosis all I could do was eat, sleep and breathe of how I could help my son and constantly felt like I had to defend his actions to friends and family members. It seemed like I had to even defend my son from his own father many times. Ironically, my son was just like his Dad. Honestly, from the family stories my son was an angel compared to his Dad. Although we don’t have a ton of information on my husband’s childhood due his Dad leaving him when he was one and his mom dying when he was thirteen we had gotten input from several other family members. His family from West Virginia described my husband as an ‘Unruly Terror.” And by age five he had already set fires to all the neighbors mail in the communal mailbox. He also stole his uncle’s clothes who was babysitting him at the time and tied the door handle to the apartment door handle across the hall with his uncles belt so that his uncle could not run after him as the
firetrucks arrived.

Anyway despite the fact that from Day One my husband was a very interactive and loving Dad he would also pick on our son with comments or blame him for what I felt like every little thing. Other times my husband became the great avoider. He resorted to having a few drinks to forget about reality or he’d go to sleep in the middle of an argument between him and I. I often thought how the hell could he fall asleep with me shouting at him?

We managed to get through all of that. The drinks subsided, the conversations became quieter, we loved each other and were committed to our vows.

Then after we had our second son who seemed so quiet and perfect compared to our elder son things flared up again and we began to take sides. I of course took our firstborns side and my husband took our other son’s side. Our second son’s temperament was much easier. Because of my husband’s disparate behavior between the two I started to refer to our second son as the “Golden Child”. It was half in jest and half in anger towards my husband. And although I loved my second son very very much I felt it was also causing a strain between our relationship too. Thank Goodness I realized it pretty immediately and I knew it had to stop. Not only did it stop but I became extra sensitive my second son’s feelings.   

So the impact of our son’s disability was causing strain on our family and made our marriage certainly have its ups and downs. But somehow to get through those tougher times we always managed to supply little acts of kindness towards one another to rekindle and balance our relationship and love for one another. That of course was when I wasn’t dumping iced tea on the front seat of his car. We also started to use a great deal of humor to deal with the stress. Laughter can be the ultimate medicine and stress reliever. And we always made time for each other in the bedroom.  

By the time our third son was born we were becoming pro’s juggling our lives, our children’s needs and our children’s schedules. My husband and I were becoming real team players and that helped our marriage tremendously. Sometimes we’d work it out so that the younger two weren’t dragged to another therapy room and we’d have to meet on the highway at a particular mile marker or exit. For instance he may not have been able to get home in time from work to take care of the younger two so I’d leave with three children, switch off two on the highway and continue on to whatever therapy we had that evening with our elder son. We also learned to dedicate some alone time to each of our children. For instance, every couple of months I’d have a mommy and middle day for our middle son. We might go to the library or head for some ice cream. Just the two of us. I tried to give all three of our sons some individual time but our middle son definately needed the most
alone time with Mom. 

Then there were also many times I’d have to lug all three boys to the therapy appointments. But what I soon realized was the lessons and value of my other two sons waiting for their brother in the waiting room. It was actually teaching them many valuable life and family skills. My children developed higher levels of empathy and altruism, they learned a great deal about patience, tolerance, family bonds, sacrificing for one another and what unconditional love was.

For me I learned that FAIR was always not always equal but that FAIR was that everyone was getting what they needed.

Copyrighted 2011: danadogooder and DMT


About danadogooder

Happily married for 20 years except when he is pissing me off! ' Mommy of 3 boys, a yellow female lab named Curious, 2 kitties Trouble and Kornelia, and bird and fish! Yes, we have a Zoo! Love to cook, entertain, and travel. I give new meaning to, "You can't fight city hall" Cause I fought worse, "Yes, The Board of Ed! " I live in a houseful of ADHD, Dyslexia, Auditory Processing, Sensory Integration and Allergies!!! I love being a Mom, to have fun and am always joking around! My job titles are: Wife, Mommy, Advocate, Friend, Maid, Cook, Self Employed Business Owner among many others!
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6 Responses to The Impact of A Disabilty on Family Life

  1. Alison says:

    Thanks for sharing so honestly and openly about how hard it is for a marriage and family to deal with a child with a disability! We’ve been there, and it is not easy. Even when the get older, it seems like some issues get resolved, and new ones come up. Thanks for the encouragement!

  2. danadogooder says:

    Thank yoy for your very nice reply! 🙂 Keep at it!

  3. Michele D. says:

    I love this post!! You are 100% correct when you say the other two boys learned some good life lessons!!! Also, when you say “Fair is not always equal, Fair is when everyone gets what they need”
    Kudos for this blog….love it!!!

  4. Donna L. says:

    WOW! You are such a GREAT MOTHER! Keeping your family together shows your true love for each member of your family…

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