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Lies I Believe About Being A “Special Needs Mom”

I leaned over the kitchen counter, my head in my hands, and tried to take a few deep breaths.

The house was a disaster, I hadn’t finished reading lessons my youngest in three days, I was still in my pj’s at 11AM, and my eleven year old was melting down over not being able to buy a crested gecko in the next 10 minutes.

So, you know, it was one of those days.

As I stood there, trying to force back the tears, trying to get it together, trying not to lose my you know what and either start yelling or drive away in the car, plain as day I had a loud and clear thought –

You are totally messing this up.”

Lies I Believe About Being A Special Needs Mom #specialneeds #autismmom #autism #adhd


In a moment of pure, Holy Spirit clarity, I thought back to myself, “Why do I believe these things about myself and these children? I know they are not absolutely true. I know my husband and my friends would never say these things about my mothering.”

The short answer is, they are lies.

(I have a beautiful friend who, upon hearing me actually vocalize one of these lies, grabbed me by the arms, looked straight into my eyes and said, “That is a lie straight from the pit of hell. It is not true.” Gotta love a girl who will care for her friend like that and do it with the sweetest, softest southern accented voice…)

I have spent the last week prayerfully trying to identify all the lies I am hearing. I am shocked at how often they creep up. I am amazed at how they affect my decision-making, my mood, and my mothering.

I found they are all variations of five soul sucking thoughts.

The Lies I Believe About Being A Special Needs Mom

1. It is Sooooo Different

This one creeps up more often than I would like the admit. When other moms try to help and speak into my life, I can be prone to thinking, “Your kids are so great. You have no idea what this is like. My life as a mom is soooooo different from yours.

While that might be true on a practical level sometimes, I think the reality is that it is a lot less different than it is the same. I have been amazed at how many moms have commented here on the blog and said, “My daughter doesn’t have autism, but I can completely identify. I think these things too!

When my friends and I talk about our children, most of the time we have the same concerns, the same hopes, and the same expectations of motherhood.

2. Maybe The Doctors Got It Wrong

I am not sure why this one still creeps up so much. One day I want to write about the five stages of grief and getting your child’s diagnosis, mostly because the denial phase is kinda crazy.

I still, despite all the evidence to the contrary with both of my sons, I still sometimes think maybe those doctors got it all wrong. Maybe it’s not that bad. This inevitably leads to the next lie…

3. It’s All My Fault

Somehow I believe that I did this. That I ruined both of my kids and although they appear to have autism and mental illnesses, it was really me that messed up somewhere along the way and now they are damaged from it.

I know it makes no sense. I know all the research. I can see the obvious genetics in play. Logically, I know this is crazy.

Yet, I honestly still think and operate as if my poor mothering is what caused all of this.

No wonder I am still in my jammies at 11AM.

4. It’s Never Going To Get Better, or conversely, If I Work Harder It Will All Get Better

I put the two of these together because I find that I tend to ride the pendulum swing between them way too often.

I often find myself totally depressed and actually, whole-heartedly believing that it is never, ever going to get any better than it is right now. I can look back and see all the progress we have made in the past year. I can look ahead to all of the therapies, programs and learning opportunities we will make the most of, and I logically know it will change and improve over time.

But there are still days where I absolutely believe that progress will not happen.

The evil twin of this lie is the polar opposite – If I just do ___________, it will all get better.

If I could just figure out the right bedtime schedule, find the right homeschool curriculum, add more exercise to our routine, take away screen time, change his diet again,  finally get in to see the specialist, find the softest tagless socks, take him to speech therapy…

If I could just do all of these things and more, we could make it better.

This one is so insidious. It implies that something needs to be “fixed” about my children. That they are not fearfully and wonderfully made and therefore need to be changed.

I am so sad that I believe this one so often.

I realize that working to get them the best options for treatment and support is a good thing. But believing that somehow God’s plan is not for our good, and it is something that I need to change, is harmful for us all.

5. I Am Failing

And finally, the mother of all the motherhood lies – I am failing.

I let them watch a movie when I should’ve been baking with them. I am failing.

I let them stay up way past bedtime, not because they had something special, but because I was exhausted and couldn’t bring myself to get up off the couch and start the bedtime routine. I am failing.

I let them have cake for breakfast (again). I am failing.

I forgot to schedule their 6 month dentist check-up.  I am failing.

I didn’t make them go to church on Sunday. I am failing.


All of these lies create chaos and confusion and frustration, both in my heart and in my relationship with my children.

And they are just lies.

So today, I pray I choose truth. I pray I choose to believe what my husband and my sweet southern friend and that nice lady at the farmers’ market and the doctor we saw two weeks ago believe about me and my sweet boys. I pray I do not dismiss all of these opinions for twisted versions of our life.

Today, I pray I have the eyes to see us as we truly are.


Sometimes Failing

Sometimes Victorious




Working Hard

Loving Each Other

Sinning Against Each Other

A Family Getting It Wrong

A Family Getting It Right

Completely Dependent on Grace



For more on mothering children with special needs:

How To Survive Survival Mode

Special Needs Motherhood Is Messy

Special Needs Motherhood Is Lonely Work


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  1. I’m sure I’m not the first or last to inform you that this piece hit home with me. It has been a rough few days for me, with me being the non-Mom as of late (i.e., yelling at children whose actions do not warrant the volume, feeling like I have accomplished nothing as a mother, wondering if staying at home was the right choice, etc.). When all that I really, really want to do is love my family in the unending way that they deserve, I feel myself slipping away because of the pressure and the thoughts that enter my mind. Thank you for bringing me back…

    1. I completely understand those non-mom days – ugh! Thank you so much for commenting and for your kind words. I what matters most is you saying “all that I really, really want to do is love my family in the unending way they deserve.” That is beautiful and it counts!

  2. Dorrae ferris says:

    Love this! Thank you!

  3. This post had me in tears, because I feel this way SO often. I wish I understood better why Satan is able to cause us doubt ourselves so strongly.

    1. The lies can be so LOUD sometimes, right? I am grateful for truth, even when I am struggling to believe it, because it really is so much stronger than all the lies.
      Thank you for your kind words.

  4. We are just human beings, we makes mistakes and we do rights, we judges ourselves and show mercy to ourselves, we fall we arise, we cry we laugh….. But in all this we are kids of the almighty Father of heaven an earth, and he has promised to walk with us through it all, even in the valley of death he will be near. It is all okay, not even a sparrow dies without Him allowing it. Keep up the imperfect life as a mom, we are all there in different ways, but all together in His grace.
    Love from an imperfect mom by the grace of the Lord – Dorthe

    1. So well said, Dorthe. Thank you so much!
      Love from one imperfect mom to another,

  5. Right now, it’s after midnight and my toddler and I are eating Pringles and watching television.
    I’m really laid-back, apparently 🙂

    For me, I know I need to address my son’s delays (I’m doing my best), but I do believe he is gifted. I love the way he is. He’s similar to me (maybe I’m on the spectrum, too?)

    He does have this ear-shattering squeal that he lets out when he’s frustrated. He’s done it in the checkout aisle in the last two days; both times, people said, “Whoa.”

    Good for them. My thinking is, maybe this will motivate the checker to speed things up a bit 😉

    One lady suggested that autistic people have one foot in the material world and another foot in the spirit world. What do you think of that? Maybe they’re the next step in man’s evolution .

    1. I love your heart for your son! With the exception of the violence (and the threat of him hurting himself), I have never really wanted to change a thing about him. He is exactly as God made him. Thank you for reminding me of that today.

  6. Love this Shawna!! Great post…as always:)

    1. Hi Kelly! Thank you so, so much. I was just thinking about you and your little ones the other day. I hope things are going well and I can’t tell you how happy I am to have been a part of spdzone.org podcasts!

  7. My children are adopted. One is doing well. The other is not. I think my problem is that the devil shouts, but God whispers. I have to remember to listen for His voice.

    1. I have heard that saying before, but had forgotten it. The devil shouts, but God whispers…So true.
      Thank you for sharing!

  8. I still struggle, greatly, with the “it’s my fault” lie. I really, truly believed that for a long time. No amount of convincing from my husband, friends, counselor, and others could make me see that it wasn’t true. I’m finally at the point where I am believing that it wasn’t my fault, but some days still wonder how I could fix it if I could go back. The crazy thing is, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t know where to start. I know I’m human and am a sinner saved by Grace, but I also know that God loves my son the way he is. Thank you for this wonderful post!

    1. It’s the worst – that feeling of searching for where you went wrong and feeling like you somehow caused it all. We both know you didn’t…but praying tonight that even though you know it, you will really feel it too.
      Love to you and your family.

  9. I hear these pop up with regularity, even the ones that I know are ridiculous. I asked a lot of those my fault questions early on but the genetics and personality patterns are so clear that I don’t spend a lot of time on it now. I did wonder if somehow working where I did or living where we did exacerbated the underlying issues since my first two are the affected ones and my second two are not but our circumstances have changed and we can’t go back anyway. I do tell my husband that our son is just like him; not to blame but to help them connect better.
    The first one is hard for me to get away from, especially when I want to use it as a shield from other people’s expectations of me or my family.

  10. Elizabeth Daniels says:

    This article spoke to my soul! It’s so easy to listen to the lies the enemy speaks. I feel that is why it is so important to be rooted in the word! So that for every lie that creeps up, you have a counter!
    Lie: You can’t handle this, it’s too much.
    Truth: I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.
    Philippians 4:13 NASB
    Lie: Your screwing your kids up.
    Truth: Train up a child in the way he should go, Even when he is old he will not depart from it.
    Proverbs 22:6 NASB
    Lie: We can’t afford to keep homeschooling.
    Truth: And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
    Philippians 4:19 NASB
    Lie: Your not a good mother!
    Truth: For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord , ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.
    Jeremiah 29:11 NASB

    Every evening as I’m praying over my 4 kiddos before bed, I speak truths over them and proclaim them over our whole family!
    for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.
    2 Timothy 1:7 ESV
    For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.
    Ephesians 6:12 ESV
    You are my hiding place; You, Lord , protect me from trouble; You surround me with songs and shouts of deliverance. Selah.
    PSALM 32:7 AMP

    I could go on and on! What a faithful God we serve!

    1. May I please repost this on the Facebook page? I think it will be so very encouraging!!!

      1. Elizabeth Daniels says:


  11. So much truth. My child’s particular “special need” hasn’t been identified. She dips into multiple categories, but doesn’t conform to any. I have struggled with each of these lies. God is revealing to me that I should not attempt parenting without Him.

    1. Amen!!! None of us should attempt it without Him.

  12. Wow…thanks for so eloquently putting into words so many feelings I share & struggle with as well. Thank you for your frankness in sharing and encouragement! It helps me to know there are others who are also occasionally struggling to just keep swimming, as well as helpful tools you use to keep afloat. We can all learn from & support each other in this life’s journey. Thanks for being that inspiration for me today. 🙂 Best wishes –

  13. Katharine harvard says:

    I wish I could meet people that felt the way you do. I have been home schooling my son for 3 yrs now and I have had no help in any way. I’m sure I’m doing it all wring but don’t no any other way of doing it. My son is autistic and epileptic. Have never found any one in same or similar situation. But reading this helped. Thank you.

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