This is my first book review for The Road Less Traveled blog. Kind of exciting stuff! So, to kick it off right I will be giving away a copy of this book, Different Dream Parenting: A Practical Guide to Raising a Child with Special Needs to one deserving parent. If you, or someone you know, would benefit from this book please send me your/ their name. I will be drawing for the winner of the book on April 2nd. All names must be emailed to me by April 1st. Please send the names to my email at email@example.com.
I had the pleasure of meeting with and getting to know author, Jolene Philo, last June (when I was very pregnant with Wyatt) when we both spoke at the Children’s Ministry Expo in Lexington, KY. Jolene is the author of two books, A Different Dream for My Child: Meditations for Parents of Critically or Chronically Ill Children and Different Dream Parenting: A Practical Guide to Raising a Child with Special Needs, the latter of which I will be reviewing today. Jolene is not only an author but also a parent of a child with special needs. She uses her expertise and personal experiences to help parents as they are learning to become their child’s biggest supporter.
“Raising a child with special needs isn’t a bad dream. It’s just a different dream. And surprisingly, a different dream can be the best dream of all.” This was not only my favorite quote from the whole book but it pretty much sums up the book itself. In the beginning of ones journey as a parent with a child who has special needs one goes through many emotions, just as one would with a typical child. The only difference is, when one realizes their child has special needs each parent goes through the stages of grief. People experience these stages at different times and some get through it quicker than others. In the beginning of our journey with Wyatt I would have moments of grief. These moments would be intense and often times overwhelming. I would have glimpses of anger for the fact that Wyatt may not be able to do things that most kids will be able to do, sadness that he was going through all of this medical junk – more in his first 3 weeks than most people experience in their entire life, and moments of EXTREME anxiety – I will have a blog post on this later! My husband went through his own grief. For him, it was mostly denial. He wanted to be the positive one out of the two of us. I was more of the realist.
I believe that Different Dream Parenting: A Practical Guide to Raising a Child with Special Needs is one of the best books written for parents of kids with special needs. It is a wonderful book especially for those parents who are just beginning their journey. For those parents who know before their child is born that they have some sort of difference this would be THE book to read. It explains everything from how to become the advocate that your child needs to tips for hospital life – both for your child but also for mom and dad. Jolene also writes about the effects that raising a special needs child can have on the whole family and other areas of life. She writes about long term care and how to deal with the death of a child.
I love that Jolene included explanations for items like waivers, financial aid and organizations that can help your child and the rest of your family. There are so many different things out there for parents of kids with special needs and MOST of it is confusing. For us, we didn’t really understand some it (and by some of it I mean ALL of it!) and I thought that if I was signing up for something it meant that I was asking for respite care and nursing care for my baby. Not to say anything is wrong with that but for us and where we are right now it is not something that we need. I had to have about 4 different people explain to me that signing this certain waiver did not mean respite and nursing care it meant we could get help with specific items for Wyatt’s physical therapy and that this money could also pay for his glasses. If I didn’t have people explaining all of this in great detail I would not have understood. Jolene does a wonderful job of explaining. She also is honest in saying that she does not have all the answers and gives websites to places that might be able to help more.
Hands down the best part of the book is that it is all Biblically based! The end of each chapter includes a prayer to God, questions to ask yourself and resources to help you – depending on the section. I love how real Jolene is in the book. You and I know that it is easy to mad at God at some point along this journey, add a child with special needs to the mix and it is inevitable. Jolene realizes this and throughout the book calls it out. She teaches you how to talk with God about your feelings and what you are going through. In Chapter 16 Jolene writes about guilt and how Satan will use “guilt to rob parents of the energy and confidence required for special needs caregiving.” She reminds us that we need to ask God to reveal the truth to us. As a parent is it so easy to believe the lies that Satan throws at us. This is why we must stand firmly grounded in God and His promises. She reassures her readers that God knows their pain and that there is nothing that they cannot go to him for.
At the end of Different Dream Parenting Jolene offers many great prayer guides for parents to use when praying for their child, for themselves, the entire family, and for others who have an impact on their child. I love, love, LOVE the fact that she decided to put these in the book. They are wonderful tools that parents can use and reuse each month.
In one part of the book Jolene writes about how important it is to pray through the scriptures to find encouragement. She uses the book of Psalms to show how she would pray for her son. She encourages the reader to either use Psalm 139:13-17 or pick their own passage to help them. This is what that prayer looks like:
Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out; you formed me in my mother’s womb. I thank you, High God – you’re breathtaking! Body and soul, I am marvelously made! I worship in adoration – what a creation! You know me inside and out, you know every bone in my body; You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit, how I was sculpted from nothing into something. Life an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth; all the stages of my life were spread out before you. The days of my life are prepared before I’d even lived one day. Your thoughts – how rare, how beautiful God. I’ll never comprehend them!
Oh yes, you shaped Wyatt first inside, then out; you formed me in my womb. I thank you, High God – you’re breathtaking! Body and soul, my son is marvelously made! I worship in adoration – what a creation! You know him inside and out, you know every bone in his body; You know exactly how he was made, even his Loeys-Dietz Syndrome, bit by bit, how he was sculpted from nothing into something. Life an open book, you watched him grow from conception to birth; all the stages of his life were spread out before you. The days of his life – all his surgeries and procedures and treatments – all prepared before he’d even lived one day. Your thoughts – how rare, how beautiful God. I’ll never comprehend them! But I will trust them and your purposes for my life and for my son’s.
For more information on Jolene Philo and her ministry or to order one of her books please visit her website, http://www.differentdream.com/