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Tania Clarence: Is it Okay to say you are not Coping?

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  • Article summary:

    Unrealistic expectations are often placed on parents of special needs children.

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Tania Clarence: Is it Okay to say you are not Coping?

An excerpt from our June 2014 Newsletter

I want to ask you a question - Is it Okay to say you are not coping? Sounds simple enough but when you put this question out to Google, not much comes back on the topic, except for Diana Kimpton’s article ‘When you can't cope any more’. The lack of content on this topic got me thinking about the unrealistic expectations society places on parents of special needs children to cope, smile and juggle a multitude of stressful and tiring tasks without complaint.



It seems to me, and I’m not quite sure how this has happened, but society presumes and pushes the ideal onto parents of children with special needs, that they need to excel, overcome everything, and be super-uber parents. Take Tania Clarence for example, the mother of Ben, Max and Olivia who tragically smothered her children to death. This story has caught the world’s attention, with most people wondering whether the stress of caring for her disabled children got to be too much for her, something you may consider if you're not the parent of a child with special needs, parents of special needs children are fully aware of the stressors and strains that come with raising our children.



It was reported that Olivia, her eldest had less than a year to live, that all three children required medication on the hour and that Tania hadn’t slept a full night in years. Where was hospice, a social worker or her husband? When she did go ask for additional support from local services why was she turned away and made to feel like she needed to buck up and get on with it. If nobody is listening then eventually you stop asking and in Tania’s case she snapped.



Society is quick to judge, without having so much as a clue about much of anything when it comes to children with disabilities and the parents who raise them. The world out there expects us to handle this graciously, to be tireless and understanding, but has little patience with you when you fail to live up to the expectation of what every special needs parent is supposed to be.



I wish I could say I was baffled by Tania Clarence’s actions, but I don’t sit on that side of the fence.

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Nina Zylstra

Editor of the Special Kids Website

Website: www.specialkids.co.za

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