Men Who Man Up

As a father of a special needs daughter, I have had the opportunity to watch many other men parenting their special needs children. Sometimes I watch them in a social situation. Other times it is during a recreation or sporting event. And still other times it is in their home. And no matter what the venue, I am always amazed with their parenting. I want so much to be like them! Here’s the things I notice most.

His ego is in check. He isn’t worried about what others who might be watching him might say or think. He is totally comfortable with himself and his child. This is a special gift because we men are so competitive. We want to win and have that win acknowledged. Yet when you have a special needs child, there are no wins/losses. You become grateful for every moment you have with your child.

His patience is limitless. The child may have behavior issues or may have difficulty performing physical tasks, and the father patiently supports and encourages them. There is no anger or frustration. And this doesn’t just happen once or twice. It can go on for hours.

He beams with pride. This man has accepted his child’s abilities and does not focus on the child’s disability. No matter how small the accomplishment might be, you can watch the look on his face as praises the child for the success.

He shares parenting tasks. He doesn’t pass off duties that some might consider “her job”. He sees what needs to be done, and does it. That might involve a medical intervention, personal grooming, or even dispensing discipline.

He is a good husband. How do I know? Just look over at his wife, and you can see her approval of his fathering. She smiles and nods to them as she watches them play or study or just hang-out. You can feel the strength in their relationship. You know that they talk and when they encounter those inevitable bumps in the road—they work things out. They are a team.

All these things are attributes of a special needs father that I strive to become. Yes, even after 22 years of practice, I have not achieved these special skills. But I know the first step toward becoming one of these special fathers is recognizing what it takes to Man Up.


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