"There are many books about children who live in the world of alphabet soup-the world of ADHD, SPD, PBD, OCD, PDD and other combinations-but there hasn't been a book about their parents. I'm glad there is one now."
If you have a child that's been diagnosed with anything at all, or even if it might be suspected that your child could have one of these diagnoses, this is the book you need.
Easy to Love but Hard to Raise is one of the best books I have ever read. Whether you want to call it a "parenting" book or a book for special needs parents, this book covers all the bases. 32 parents and 15 experts have written their stories from first hand experience. In my opinion, that is what makes this book so great! Every parent think they are the only ones going through whatever they are going through. It helps so much to know you are not alone, to commiserate with others going through the same thing, maybe even find someone who is going through something more difficult, and to give you hope that things can get better. The humor in the stories are what gives you the feeling that you are just in a coffee shop, talking to a friend...except most parents with ETL (Easy to Love) kids don't have many friends that understand what we're going through. Yet another reason why this book is such a blessing!
Some of my favorite stories:
- Finding My Way, by Lorraine Wilde: She talks about raising her twin boy...5 years old; about having read book after book, trying to find answers. My favorite line in her story is about signing up "for therapies like they're intramural sports" ...because it does feel like that sometimes!
- My Dance with the Devil, by Laura Boss: She has an 11 year old, just like me...and just like my son, her son starts the morning with his daily dose of Concerta. None of us imagine this life when we're pregnant, trying to eat healthy, get some exercise, read all the books about babies and parenting. We have dreams of our child, what they will do with their life and in some ways, those dreams are dashed by a simple, yet complicated diagnosis. Sometimes we might wonder, "Why is he so unhappy?" "What am I doing wrong?" Laura Boss has those same thoughts and feelings and explains it in great, emotional detail. She tells about the diet changes, behavioral programs, discipline techniques, rewards, punishments...everything that we've all tried. Her son felt defeated in school, like there was nothing he could do right...raise of hands, how many of us have heard that from our kids! We all have heard it, but it still breaks our heart. Like many parents, Laura did not want to use medication. But after trying every possible thing, she eventually tried a small dose. Amazingly, her son was completely transformed. This story re-iterates the point...medicine is not for every child. But for some children (like my son!), it can work wonders! As Laura said, "dealing with ADHD, we've learned, is a long, arduous, multi-pronged process, and medication is only a part of it."
- Seeing Emma, by Penny Williams: the story touches my heart because it is about the affect a sibling with a special need...even if it is just ADHD. A child with ADHD requires mom and dad spend more time trying to help their child...but what if there's another child without a disorder? I have one of those too..actually, I have two! My oldest is my daughter...and at 15, she's gone through most of her life giving up restaurants, movies, parties, and having mom show up to anything at night because her brother can't handle it. Emma, Penny Williams middle-school daughter, is going through the same thing. She's an athlete, yet she feels invisible beside her brother. It's these types of stories that you silently nod your head because you completely understand what is being said. It's not that there's an answer or a lesson to learn...it's just that you are not alone!
- Handle with Care, by Mary Greene: By far, this story was the most heart wrenching. Mary and her husband adopted not just one, but two children, siblings, from an orphanage in Russia. They later learned about the various disorders that her new son suffered from. She readily admits, that parenting him is not easy. They have to spend much more time and money just keeping him within reasonable limits. They are committed to their children, but that doesn't ease the pain they feel on giving up the idealistic view of parenthood we all once had. But no matter how bad the situation with your child is in one given moment, we all also experience the joy of learning something from our child...the simple realization a child has when they can figure something out on their own, when they say "I love you" or any other accomplishment these kids can be praised for. The financial cost is truly a burden as Mary explains..but most of us experience the same issue. Too many times, we have to divert money from a holiday, a special treat, or something for another child to pay for medicine, therapies and doctor appointments. It is not fair, but it is something we know we have to do. All we silently wish in return is that there will be some improvement...anything to show us that all of this effort is worthwhile!
- After almost every story, and a special section in the back of the book, there are Question & Answer sections. These mostly related to the previous story, but it's always good to hear advice from an "expert."
- At the end of the book is an entire section on where to get more information...from websites, to blogs, to community organizations. If you are like me, you will try anything, ask anyone you can for help.
Easy to Love but Hard to Raise is a can't miss read. There are stories to make you cry, make you laugh, and ones you want to share. If you want to learn more about the book, check out their website - Easy to Love but Hard to Raise. They also have a great Facebook group - Easy to Love but Hard to Raise. Here you can actually ask questions, look for answers, and just talk to other parents going through this same journey. Isn't it great to know we're not alone?
The writers of Easy to Love but Hard to Raise are graciously allowing me to give away a copy of this wonderful book. If you are interested, leave a comment sharing a story about your ETL child. I promise, this is a book you don't want to miss out on!