While every child deserves parents' time, energy, commitment, love, and - at times - even sacrifice, it seems to me that no parent will be at her or his best when exhausted, frightened, or physically stretched to the breaking point. Surely even the parents of children with disabilities deserve time to relax, reflect, and even get in a few minutes of fun. And surely even the siblings, parents and friends of children on the autism spectrum deserve time and energy dedicated to their needs, wants, and pleasures.
But there seems to be, at least in the United States, a culture of pressure that pushes mothers (and fathers) of even typical children to the brink of exhaustion. Rounds of sports, lessons, activities, play dates, and test prep leave families drained of energy and cash. That same culture seems to be magnified a dozen times for the parents of children with autism. There always seems to be another therapy to try, another issue to address, another challenge to plan for, another bill to be paid, another behavior to cope with, another therapist to meet with... and on and on and on... And, with no research or gold standard to point the way to success, there's always the sense that a parent could have - and should have - done more.
Are you - or do you know - a parent of a child with autism who has devoted everything to that child? What's your take on such a level of sacrifice? How much time, money, energy and sacrifice is enough - and how much is too much?
For more on the subject of parents and stress, you may want to read:
- Support and Ideas for Parents of Children with Autism
- Parents Under Stress from the About.com Guide to Stress Management
- Stress Management from the About.com Guide to Special Needs Parenting