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Because family life matters

An attitude of gratitude

“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a micacle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” – Albert Einstein


For many parents with an additional needs child, the challenges we face can sometimes feel overwhelming. It can often be easy to feel alone in dealing with problems, or frustrated when we don’t feel like much is changing for the better. On the other hand, perhaps we, more than most, understand the reward of any progress in our child – even the smallest improvement is a triumph. At Care for the Family we are consistently encouraged by stories of parents who are truly inspirational to others in the way they deal with their own difficult circumstances. Maggie Stapleton, previously our Additional Needs Support Coordinator, describes a conversation with one such parent:

“The other day, a mum I know who has a child with additional needs as well as many other challenges in her life, told me she was trying to have ‘an attitude of gratitude’. When I reflected on this phrase I thought how wonderful it would be if I could do that. It is so easy to get caught up with the negative things in life, the daily struggles and difficulties, that I know I can easily miss the positives.”


There are times when we can simply miss really ‘seeing’ the smile or the loving look our child gives us. We can easily forget the good times – when our children have hugged us, for instance, when they told us they love us, or when they played happily with us and their brother or sister. It seems that often we tend to focus on their difficult behaviour – perhaps their refusal to respond to our requests, their inability to sleep, or their difficulty in making friends.


When you are going through a difficult time, it’s helpful to try and have a positive outlook on the situation if you can

When you are going through a difficult time, it’s helpful to try and have a positive outlook on the situation if you can. Maggie commented, “I know of one family that had experienced a huge loss in their life. They decided that every evening they would share with each other one thing they could be grateful for that had happened that day. It was a real encouragement to them, especially on their worst days.”


It’s not always an easy thing to do – far from it sometimes! – but why not see if having ‘an attitude of gratitude’ will help you and your family? Here’s some ways you can try and put this into practice:


  • At the end of every day, focus on the things that you can be grateful for. Take opportunities to talk to your husband, wife, partner, friends, family members, or your telephone befriender about the things that are going well.
  • Praise your child’s successes and achievements – try to find a way to do this that is most meaningful to them.
  • Talk to other parents of children with additional needs and encourage them to share their successes so you can celebrate together.