Having a child with special needs is a stressful, worrisome experience in the long run which affects family dynamics and social relationships of the family members and causes parents to question their parenting skills. Nonetheless, concerns over the permanency and the ambiguity of the condition, poor acceptance of problem behaviors by society, and the ultimate effects of the situation on the family life are stressful factors resulting in the feelings of hopelessness and loneliness.
Since most of the time, mothers are expected to fulfill the excessively time demanding caregiving responsibilities of a child with special needs during daytime, mothers’ exhaustion is more apparent, and should be targeted first. Despite all their efforts for “being a good mother”, they might be criticized frequently by others. And sometimes, they might feel that they do not receive the support they need from others, even from their husbands which results in feelings of loneliness and exhaustion. Some of the mothers ignore these kinds of feelings and ultimately isolate themselves from social life. Research studies evidenced that mothers who isolates themselves from social networks are declared to be more depressed, anxious, and pessimistic about their children’s situation; whereas mothers who received more social support scored lower on depression, anxiety, and anger scales, and reported lower levels of marital problems. Moreover, mothers who received social support became more optimistic about their children’s situation and were better able to communicate with their children.
As Günışığı Child Center, we developed support groups for our mothers for a period of weekly sessions in order to help them feel that they are not alone in this stressful process. It is aimed to bring about what is not verbalized during daily chores, what mothers live as an individual, as a parent of a child with special needs. We intended to talk about mothers’ feelings, how they deal with these feelings, their support sources and the moments when they feel supportless. Eventually, we aimed to alleviate mothers’ depression and anxiety so that they would be better able to be there for their children.