I received an email this week from someone starting out on a search for the best school for their child. It brought back memories of a few years ago when I didn’t have a clue where to begin, who to speak to or even what was a likely outcome from all our hard work. I knew what I wanted for Jude and what I felt was best for him but wasn’t sure if we could achieve it.
One thing that was highlighted in the email and is mentioned to me regularly is the fact I often talk about the constant guilt I feel about the choices I’ve made for Jude. Today, I just wanted to throw some ideas around by way of justifying this guilt.
I think i’m in a much stronger place now where I’m able to analyse the emotions I feel and the feelings I express with a lot more clarity. I still harbour bad feelings about “sending Jude away” (something I’ve been accused of regularly in the past) and for not being able to cope with him full time at home. Of course I feel bad. He’s my son and I can’t give him everything he needs. No-one is going to feel good about that. But what we need to do is really just focus on the important issue – what’s best for our own children. For many years I’ve cared too much what other people think and it’s only now that I’m realising that none of their opinions matter.
What I can now see with renewed clarity and through the fog of guilt, is the realisation that every situation is different. What’s right for one child isn’t always right for the next. The same goes with families and parenting. I know some people couldn’t even contemplate sending their children to residential school and that’s fab. I know many others definitely could contemplate this option and see the merits that these type of schools may offer. We’re all different.
Feeling of pride
Whilst I feel horribly guilty every time I drive Jude back to his school house, I can’t help but feel a sense of pride for finding this wonderful place for him. Seeing him flourish in the way that he has is amazing. So for every ounce of guilt I have, I can equally look beyond my own emotions and recognise what’s best for Jude in terms of development, happiness and general growth as an individual. He’s so happy and that makes it all worthwhile. Also for my wider family. My social worker was always wonderful in reminding me that our family life isn’t just about Jude and I shouldn’t feel like I’m failing him by considering the needs of his two sisters as well.
If it wasn’t for my Social Worker then we would never have got this school place so please please, if you are embarking on a council battle, make sure you have a Social Worker who believes in your family. My Social Worker was the one who mentioned this school and said that she felt it was perfect for Jude. She believed very strongly in what we wanted for Jude and our family as a whole unit and felt it was most definitely the right decision. She fought for us just as much as I did and for this I’m truly grateful to her.
Jude’s been there for a year and a half now and I can’t begin to tell you how much he’s changed. Would this have happened if he’d remained at home and struggled on with a day setting? I very much doubt it.
I’ve talked about his circle of trust before and how it expanded when he moved to his current school. It’s only because of this circle expansion that I believe he’s been able to develop so quickly – all the new experiences, friends and lifelong memories he’s building along the way. These all go towards making him the best Jude possible. So if he hadn’t moved to this school then he wouldn’t have these new amazingly wonderful social situations in his life.
Overall, I just wanted to clarify with you all that whilst I feel horribly guilty (and always will…it’s clearly just my way) I feel a stronger sense of pride that eventually overrides that guilt. I think all parents of special needs children feel guilty about things; it’s a matter of balancing emotions and ensuring you are comfortable with your decisions. I’m completely happy with ours to send Jude to his current school.
My guilt/pride ratio is stacked in just the right proportions. Please don’t be afraid to accept guilt as a legitimate emotion but be sure to feel confident in your family decisions.
As always, if I can help or you just want someone to talk to about things then drop me an email. Contact details are on the website <3