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Observations of a Parent of a Special Needs Child…Chapter 4 – Your Partner is EVERYTHING

Raising any kiddo requires a team. A mom and a dad. Yes, despite the trendiness of suggesting otherwise, the data is conclusive, one of each is the best formula. Having any relationship, especially one involving raising a raising a child, requires a couple that will work together. fulfilling different roles, being a united front.

For most, even in the best of circumstances, this is not an easy thing. Add being a stepparent, which can be a mine field. Toss in the “Special Needs” thing and it is widely regarded as a recipe for strife. In our case it has been anything but. Why? Us. We just work. While I can go on and on about the concept of soulmates, the bottom line is that we trust each another completely. We support each another. When we disagree, if it is worth mentioning, we mention it…politely.

And the main thing…and this is key, we just don’t sweat the small stuff.

Understand, I have made a lot of mistakes in my life, relationship-wise. A lot. The common factor in every one of my failed relationships was me. This realization has inspired me. Every day I do something to try to improve, not only as a mate, but as a businessman, as an inventor, as a parent, as a person. Sandra is supportive in all my endeavors. She makes it easy. Sandra has never treated me like a “substitute” parent. She doesn’t think of me as a “step.” To her, my opinion is of equal value to hers. If I am doing something with which she disagrees, she backs me up in the moment and discusses it later. When she is right, she doesn't say “I told you so"...and trust me, she gets the chance. I don’t think that we have argued more than three times and that was years ago. One cannot win a fight, so we simply don’t do it.

In addition, we agree that Harlen is not the most important thing in our lives, our relationship is. Sure, he is our responsibility which we happily take on. That said, our relationship is the base, the pad from which he will launch. When he is off doing his thing, there will be us, sitting on the front porch, holding hands, dogs at our feet. This is key and the mistake that so many make, putting the kids first. It is a grave error that harms the parents and dooms the child.

When we were kids, our parents were to be respected. We didn’t interrupt them, and they made it clear that they were a unit. The children were, and rightfully so, second class citizens. Becoming an equal was not a right. Back then children were much less likely to be entitled and narcissistic. They emancipated earlier and developed much better work ethics. A young man having his father treat him as an equal was a rite of passage. I remember that moment and it is still a source of pride.

Please know that Harlen is my boy. Soon he will have my name. He is in my Last Will and Testament in precisely the same capacity as my daughter. He is my son. We haven’t discussed it but I am sure that Sandra trusted me to arrive there. Remember, trust is everything. As one that has seen failure and success. I know what works and what doesn’t, at least for me. -Character Matters: only choose a mate that is a truly good person. -Respect: if you don’t respect one another, it won’t work. Period -Be a great teammate: You might take the shot for the win, set the pick, or cheer. Do the job that has to be done with no ego. -Prioritize emotions: So little in our lives truly matters. Don’t let stuff bother you for the sake of control. -Improve yourself: any good teammate tries to be the best that they can be -Trust: Trust is everything…e v e r y t h I n g. -No Stepparents: you are either a parent, or not

-Take Care of Each Other: in every way, be loving and supportive

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