Alison, a coParent of a special needs child, recently divorced and had to make some quick life changes in order to keep up.

Alison spoke matter-of-factly, when describing how she coped, “It’s isolating to parent a special needs child. You have to fight the teachers at school who think that you’re part of the problem,” she added. “You don’t fit in with other parents whose problems with their kids are such small potatoes — they are important to them, but to me they’re just gravy. So it’s important to network with other parents, and sometimes that’s hard to do. Parents, if they perceive that a child has issues, may steer their own child in another direction, to a child who may be easier to deal with. You really better have your own supports lined up.”

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Alison sought support from a parenting coach and found workshops on parenting special needs children. “It sucks to spend my weekends doing parenting workshops!” She joined a network of parents of special needs children and a divorce support group. “There’s value in getting advice from others, and also in seeing the many ways that people handle things.”

Alison appreciated every scrap of assistance offered, and could have used more. “I have a big support network — great friends who’ve been there for me. I recently bought a new house with a mother-in-law apartment. When friends visit us, they’re right here and it’s amazing.” Her voice held wonder and longing at how manageable life felt during these visits.


About Karen Kristjanson

Karen KristjansonKaren L. Kristjanson, MSc, MA, is proud to have coParented her two sons, now healthy, well-adjusted men. With two masters’ degrees in psychology, her twenty years of experience working as a consultant, certified life coach, and writer have given her a compassionate understanding of how people grow, and grow through change.

Her experience with her sons convinced her that coParenting, while hard, is worth sustained effort. Kristjanson’s determination to support other coParents led her to gather true coParenting stories which inspire, show wider perspectives and give hope for what is possible. Since 2011 she has been a member of Leading Women for Shared Parenting, a prestigious group of professionals who promote shared parenting world-wide.

Kristjanson writes for and HuffPostCanada. She lives in Surrey, British Columbia.

Her book, Co-Parenting From The Inside Out, can be purchased here: