All parents, new or experienced, carry hopes and dreams for our children. We envision what our children will be like, their temperament, character, future, abilities, and even specific ideas of careers. It is natural for parents to desire the best for our children. William Glasser (1998) in his book, Choice Theory terms these hopes and dreams, “Quality World Pictures”. Quality World Pictures are made up of people we love to spend time with, things we have or want to experience, and values or beliefs we espouse.
What are the pictures in your Quality World?
The Quality World Pictures of a parent of a special needs child are often in conflict. While imagining picnics and playing in the park, riding bikes, or conversing about why the sky is blue, the reality for a parent of a special needs child could be giving up on the parents career, their lifestyle, investing most their time caring for and worrying about a child who is perceived as different. The reality is, these parents are faced with the often-difficult task of raising a child who are dependent on them. The questions -How would my children learn to take care of themselves? Will they learn to speak or make friends? How will they survive on their own? –These questions become the reality that parents need to worry about.
What happens to the parents’ Quality World Pictures? Do we change pictures? Do we hold on to the Pictures hoping one day it will become true? How do we reconcile the hopes and dreams with the reality?
Some parents bury their hopes and dreams by going into problem solving mode dealing with the day-to-day challenges of raising a special needs child. Others try to normalize their fears saying it is simply a phase, and hope that the child will grow out of it. Eventually, unmet expectations lead to negative feelings, such as disappointment and guilt. Together with the other challenges such as expenses, caregiving, managing the daily needs of other family members, parenting stress dominates our lives.
What actions can we take?
William Glasser, Choice Theory: A New Psychology of Personal Freedom (New York, USA: HarperCollins Publisher, 1998)