Today I invited author Jolene Philo to share about her new book, Different Dream Parenting, because families dealing with special needs (like mine) can never have too much support and encouragement. One of my favorite lines in the book states, "Taking care of myself is not selfish. It is essential." That's just a sample of the spiritual, practical, and heart-felt wisdom Jolene placed throughout the book. I highly recommend this book, as well as A Different Dream for My Child: Meditations for Parents of Critically or Chronically Ill Children, to all families facing medical, behavioral, or educational challenges in parenting.
When our beautiful newborn boy was transferred to a regional hospital, my husband and I felt lost at sea. A few hours later, we learned that our baby required immediate surgery at a university hospital 750 miles away. Without it, he would die. That news threw us overboard. We longed for someone who could come alongside and pull us out of the water. A book to chart a map through unfamiliar waters and assure us of God’s presence.
But our son was born in 1982 when pediatric medicine was a relatively new field. Families like ours were hard to find. Parenting books hadn’t been written. The internet didn’t exist. Over the next twenty years, even after the surgeries and medical procedures that corrected our son’s condition were over, my search for parenting resources yielded scant results. Eventually, I sensed God nudging me to come alongside young parents lost at sea like we had been, to create a map they could follow.
Different Dream Parenting: A Practical Guide to Raising a Child with Special Needs is that map. It’s a map for parents of kids living with medical special needs as well as conditions like Down Syndrome, juvenile diabetes, developmental delays, and autism, and those facing a terminal diagnosis. It guides parents by providing tools and resources they need to become effective advocates for their kids.
The book features interviews, advice, and resources from more than fifty families, including parents who adopted their children, and two dozen professionals. With their help, the book addresses the situations parents face every day. Things I wish someone had told me, like:
- Asking questions after diagnosis.
- Dealing with insurance companies.
- Preparing a child for a hospital stay.
- Accessing financial resources and government monies.
- Accessing special education services.
- Determining optimum level of care.
- Mobilizing volunteers at home.
- Supporting the sibs.
- Preparing a child for death.
- Planning a funeral.
- Participating in community and church events.
- Creating a special needs trust for adult children with special needs.
In addition to practical advice, Different Dream Parenting tackles spiritual questions families are often afraid to ask. Questions about:
- God’s sovereignty
- Parental guilt
- Setting and maintaining spiritual priorities
- Grieving for children living with special needs
- Grieving the death of a child
- Passing faith on to children with special needs
Thirty day prayer guides in the appendices are for parents too exhausted to form their own prayers.
I remember what it’s like to be lost at sea, thrown overboard by an unexpected diagnosis, and drowning under a flood of caregiving demands. My goal is to put Different Dream Parenting into the hands of floundering parents so they have a map and know they’re not alone. To order the book, visit www.DifferentDream.com and click on the “buy the book” tab.
Thanks, Michele, for this opportunity to guest blog at your website and tell people about Different Dream Parenting.