How to be a good friend

how to be a good friend In the years since Poss’ diagnosis, my friendships have been tested. Some have stayed, new ones have been formed, while others, some more like family, have gone. It’s a story that I’m sure other parents with special needs kids can relate to.

In a way it’s understandable. My world is now different to theirs in the most fundamental way. Parenting forms bonds, but friendships are based on common ground. What happens when that common ground shifts and you no longer share the same space?

I get it. I understand it. But it still hurts. And I do wonder if maybe we’d had a better understanding of how to move forward, we would have recovered some of that shared space. Maybe.

I know I’m hard to be friends with. I know I can be prickly, difficult and a bit of a mole, so I’m probably not the best person to give friendship advice.

Regardless, these are the thoughts on how to be a good friend, a better friend, to those with special needs kids, that have been bumbling around in my head…

  1. Celebrate milestones as they happen. They won’t necessarily happen at the ‘normal’ time, but they’re incredibly hard won. Take your friend for a drink, send them a text, recognise the hard yards that have been put into each and every milestone.
  2. Don’t compare your kid to theirs. This should go without saying, but just don’t. Don’t. Saying things like “my kid does that too” diminishes the severity of the situation your friend is facing and makes them feel like they’re overreacting. They’re not.
  3. But don’t hold back. We love your kids too. And you – just because your battles aren’t the same as ours doesn’t mean they’re not valid. Share your ups and downs, we want to be a part of your life just as much you want to be part of ours.
  4. Time out is important. Give us a reason to come out with you. Be understanding when it all goes to crap because we just can’t leave the house that day. Please don’t stop inviting us.
  5. It’s not about you. Some days are hard. Simple as that. We can’t always hold your hand and our child’s too.
  6. Learn the language. Be interested. There are no stupid questions. Don’t bother with Google – you’ve got the best resource you can ask for at the end of the phone.
  7.  We’re going to grieve. Our lives have changed, and what we thought they would look like, is no longer there. Grief is ok and expected. Don’t give us a hard time for it, please don’t tell us to get over it. We will in time. Or not. Either way is fine.
  8. We’re busy. This goes to point 5. There are days where I’ve spent the whole day going from specialist appointments, to school, to dealing with an overwrought child before crashing into bed right after her. If you text me and I don’t reply, it’s not you. I promise. Some days just showering is an effort, texting or calling is just too much.
  9. We’re more than our child. We appreciate your care and if you’re doing even some of the above, then you’re being a good friend. Sometimes though we don’t want to talk about our kids. We spend a good portion of our lives discussing every detail, analysing every up and down. Sometimes we just want to be a person, not a carer, not a mum. Even just for a moment.
  10. Maybe the most important thing… hand us a gin, have a laugh with us. Remember what bought us together as friends in the first place. Celebrate that.

My circle might have shrunk over the years, but the ones who have held on are truly the best. My loyalty to them knows no bounds – as I know it would be repaid a thousand times over.

There is a saying that it’s not about how many friends you have, but the quality of them. True that.

What have I missed? What would you want your friends to know?

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  1. I too have lost friends since my eldest was diagnosed, (both my boys have been diagnosed with ASD) and like you said it hurts but I’m ok with it (most of the time). The flip side is of course the new friends I have made. The people who still want to build a friendship despite the diagnosis. I am friends with a different sort of person now – maybe it’s because this journey has changed things about me. The friends that have stuck around are worth their salt and the new ones are just as valuable.

  2. This. Some just don’t get it and don’t want to. Told some long standing friends that no, we couldn’t do a weeknight catch up with the kiddos, as the meteorite just couldn’t cope with the change to routine, and never heard from them again … Others have said “I just don’t see it” followed 2 minutes later by “are you going to put up with that? I wouldn’t”…

    But new friends, have been amazing. Thankyou, my new friends xxx

  3. I love this post Renee. It really does hurt doesn’t it. If ind the friendships are usually ended because of another reason which doesn’t make sense at all but makes the other person feel better about themselves. I really wish I didn’t care so much about those friendships so that I could just move on. Hopefully the new ones are based more on what point we are at in this life.
    Annaleis recently posted..Sonoma Meets Miss Mouse ReviewMy Profile

    • It’s hard isn’t it? I wish I could just not care – but life doesn’t work like that does it? I agree – and have found it to be true – the new ones come into our lives knowing who we are now, making it that much easier. x
      Renee Bugg recently posted..Catch the daysMy Profile

  4. Oh yes I hear you sister!
    I’m new to your blog – I have a 15 yr old diagnosed w aspergers. It’s been really tough for us lately. Thanks for your blog, it’s made me smile

  5. This post could have come straight out of my mouth. All the serious bits – yes. But honestly, my takeaways with lols – ‘a bit of a mole’ and point number 10. Cheers! 🙂
    Christie @ Fig & Cherry recently posted..German the Herman Friendship CakeMy Profile

  6. I’m not a parent and my circle has certainly shrunk over the years, too. For me it’s been a natural transition that has come with age as I’ve ditched the shit and hung on to real, genuine friends. The biggest thing I’ve learned is that friendship is a two way street – it’s give AND take. There are times where I’ve had to remove myself because I’m all on the give and don’t feel value in the relationship. It’s never nice but sometimes you just gotta cut ’em loose. Real friends are worth it and even if you don’t catch up regularly, seamlessly pick up where you left off when you do. x
    vegeTARAian recently posted..My Mornington Peninsula highlightsMy Profile

  7. Joanne Cregan says:

    I love the new friends that I have made. People I would never have had the pleasure to meet and are now amongst my closest friends,
    I am enjoying reading your posts. I have two boys on the spectrum and my life is hectic doing early intervention for both.

  8. You know, I have some beautiful online friends, who have remained in my corner through the ups and downs of diagnosis and beyond. Yet almost all of my IRL friends have drifted away. I guess our reality is a lot harder to deal with when in practise rather than theory. In saying that, I have made the most amazing, kindred spirit friend in another Mum who’s daughter is also on the spectrum. So for that, I am extremely grateful.
    Jane @Almost Jane recently posted..Two Steps Forward, One Step Back.My Profile

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