When I Am Afraid For My Child

Moms of children with differences are no strangers to fear. 

We worry about their reading ability and if they’ll ever be able to fill out a job application.

We lie awake at night, trying to block out the latest news story about a man on the spectrum being misunderstood by law enforcement and tazed, or worse, killed.

We feel the increasing dread every time we hear someone making derogatory comments about a person with mental health struggles.

We are no strangers to fear.

If I had to pick one emotion to describe my first few years post diagnosis with both of my boys, it would be fear.

I am not proud of it. But it is the truth. 

On a daily basis, it still rears it’s ugly head, even ten years later.

My children will be adults soon.

It’s bringing up fears that seemed so far off, a few years ago in the day to day of meltdowns and behaviors.

Now, things like power of attorneys and disability hearings cause the familiar sense of dread and panic to rise in my chest.

Add in the sheer fear I think we all feel in our 2020 reality, and it can be almost debilitating.


When I Am Afraid For My Child

There is only one thing that I have found to be truly helpful when I am afraid for my boys.

It’s my faith.

(If you are not a person of faith, please know, I have nothing but love for you and your family. You are always, always welcome here. If you are uncomfortable with any of what I am about to share, please click away with my wholehearted appreciation that you made it this far.)

I used to share a lot about this, publicly and especially here on the blog. But over time, I moved into specifically focusing on practical educational solutions for nontraditional learners. It’s my background and expertise. It’s where I think I add the most benefit in a struggling mom’s life. 

But I think it would be inauthentic for me to share tips for helping your struggling reader and not address the overwhelming sense of dread and fear that accompanies mothering a children with differences. 

Here is the absolute truth – the only way I’ve been able to do any of this, online, or in my own home with my two boys, is by the sustaining grace of God and the comfort I find in Jesus.


I am not sharing this as what our culture calls a “Christian.” I am not even sure what that means anymore.

I am sharing this as a mom and as a person who supports struggling families online. I am writing this as a woman who doesn’t see a lot of Jesus in the world, even in those who profess to know him, but has seen a whole lot of Him in her own home and life.

When I am afraid for my children, this is what helps.


Reading Stories Of Other Moms Who Are Also Afraid

God has a particular tenderness for moms, afraid for their children. 

One of my very favorites to read when I am starting to fear for the lives of my children, is the story of Hagar. 

She is sure her son is about to die and cannot bear the thought of witnessing it. She lies him down under a shrub and distances herself, crying out, afraid.

What happens next is what I want to remember when I am playing out all the things that may harm my children or even take their lives – God lets Hagar know that he hears the cries of her son and is with him, right in the middle of what appears to be an impossible situation.

I shared my own experience with fearing for my son’s life and the pure relief this passage of scripture brought me publicly, a couple of years ago. You are welcome to listen to the whole story HERE, or by clicking below. 

When I am afraid for my child

Hagar is not the only mom God comforts. 

One day, I hope to write a bible study about struggling moms in the Bible and how gently and lovingly God meets them right where they are. For now, if you have the time and/or the need, here are a few more of my favorites – 

Elisha and The Widow – 2 Kings 4:1-7

Mary and Jesus on The Cross – John 19

Samson’s Mother – Judges 13


Looking For The Broken and The Outcasts

When I am afraid about the way the world views my children’s differences, I look for the stories of the broken and the outcasts in scripture. It is a tremendous encouragement to remember the special, tender care Jesus shows those who the culture sees as less than and broken.

Even John the Baptist, with his animal skins and restricted eating patterns feels familiar (sensory issues with and food avoidance is something this mom can identify with all day long) and he is absolutely cherished by Jesus. 

Throughout both testaments, God shows his affection and care for those that are labeled broken. 

He loves us. He loves our children. He has a special place for them in his vast plans. 

I can rest in that.


Finding Resources To Remind Me

When I am afraid for my children, I need reminders. I need resources to say what I am struggling to believe.

These are my go-tos:


The Bible Project

Joy Forney

Beth Moore


The Bible Binge

The Bible Recap

Jesus Over Everything

Books (affiliate links below)

Any book on the life of Mother Teresa (if anyone knows about being a caregiver and God’s heart for the outcast, it’s her – my favorite quote from her is “For works of love are works of peace.”)

One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp

Daring To Hope: Finding God’s Goodness In The Broken And The Beautiful by Katie Davis Majors

Different by Sally and Nathan Clarkson

When I Am Afraid For My Child

This is, by far, the most difficult part of my journey as a woman and a mom. 

Learning to live well in the midst of fear, to embrace the resources that are available, to cling to the truth that Jesus is so much better and bigger than all of this – it defines my life this side of heaven.

We are all doing the best we can, sometimes navigating some impossible things.

If you are gripped with fear as a mom, please know you are not alone.

I pray you find this encouraging and helpful. 


With so much love,

For More Resources And Encouragement:

Living In Fear When Your Child Has Special Needs

Fear vs. Faith In Motherhood


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  1. Thank you Shawna! I too have a struggling older reader. During this time of COVID I have been the “online usher” during our FB live Mass on Saturday nights. One time a person typed in the comments ,”Jesus, I trust in you.” My son, while looking over my shoulder, read it! Without prompting, without help! It was then that I put my fear aside truly knowing that God has great plans for him! And really if that is the only thing he ever reads on his own, I will be happy! Praying for you and your sons often! Thank you for all you share!

  2. Megan Schell says:

    Amen. Thank you.

  3. Reading this through tears after two (of MANY) nights lying awake all night worrying about one of my sons and then the other. Thank you. It’s the day to day stuff and learning to accept reality and grieve expectations unmet and move on with joy and gratitude, but it’s also the fear that grips – and finding a way to move through it. This week it’s been a tough battle for me. So thank you, as always, for sharing what’s real with kindness and compassion.

  4. Thank you for this! I’ve been so discouraged lately, and your words have really been a blessing.

  5. Somehow you always know what is going on in our minds. I was just discussing my fears with my husband yesterday. I know that she will be fine, but every now and again, it creeps in and I worry.

    Thank you! I know that I am not alone.

  6. I needed to read this today. Thank you. I’m not even Christian, but the stories still help. <3

  7. Thank you for being vulnerable. I would love to participate in a bible study or read a book about this very topic one day.

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