Truth be told: I adore Ann Douglas.
If you don’t know Ann, you should. She’s a fabulous parenting writer, and has a wonderful ability to connect with parents. She’s written numerous parenting books – and all are fabulous. But her latest publication (in print tomorrow) I fell in love with the second I read her manuscript. It’s called, Parenting Through the Storm, and it’s wonderful advice for parenting a child with special needs.
I taught special education for years. I loved my students, but I also fell in love with their parents. I felt their pain, their worries, and their enormous concerns for their children. I learned so much from those parents. Ann is also a parent with special needs children. She knows first hand what it’s like to parent a child with bipolar disorder – and depression, anxiety, anorexia, Asperger syndrome, and ADHD. She knows the pain, worries and concerns that parents feel because each of her four children has struggled with one of those conditions. And it’s exactly why her advice is so worthwhile and such an important read.
When I was asked to endorse her this book, I wrote:
“Ann Douglas offers hope for the many parents who are searching for answers-especially because she’s been through it all herself. The book is reassuring that there’s light at the end of the tunnel, but also realistic and based on research. It provides the tools you need to make tough decisions and help your child. I love this book.”
Follow her! Ann is a gem and a gifted writer. I’m honored to call her “friend.” I also asked Ann one question, “Why did you write the book?” And here is her response:
What led you to write Parenting Through the Storm?
I set out to write the book that I needed back when things were at their worst for my family—when each of my four children were struggling with one or more mental health, neurodevelopmental, or behavioral challenges. I’ve been writing this book in my head for a very long time, but it took me about a decade to actually start putting my thoughts down on paper. I knew there was a need for this type of book and yet I needed to get enough emotional distance from my family’s experiences in order to be able to begin to make sense of them.
Here’s the thing: this is easily the most personal book I’ve ever written. I talk about my children’s struggles, my family’s struggles, and my own struggles. But this book is so much more than a book about struggle. It is also a book about hope and healing and resilience—about practical things you can to do to make life better for your child and your family, starting right now, even before you have a definitive diagnosis or treatment plan in place.
A lot of that wisdom is based on the best advice of the 60 other parents I interviewed for the book—parents who bravely opened up about their families’ struggles in an effort to make things better for other parents and kids. These parents offered practical advice on everything from making sense of a child’s diagnosis to dealing with bullying to advocating for a child at school. And they offered messages of encouragement and support, like the fact that having a child who is struggling doesn’t make you a bad parent, just as being a child who is struggling doesn’t make your child a bad kid. It’s just the particular challenge your family is dealing with.
I admire the parents’ willingness to speak frankly about their families’ struggles. After all, the more openly we can discuss these challenges, the easier it will be for all families to ask for and tap into the support they need. These types of conversations matter a lot. I believe that each of us has the power to change the world; that change is sparked when we dare to share the contents of our hearts with other people. Sharing your story can be life changing — for you and for everyone else whose lives you touch. You can allow a difficult experience to destroy you or you can allow it to strengthen you. And one of the ways to find strength in the wake of a difficult experience is by helping other people—which is why I decided to write this book.
Ann Douglas is the author of numerous books about pregnancy and parenting including most recently Parenting Through the Storm: Find Help, Hope, and Strength When Your Child Has Psychological Problems http://www.guilford.com/books/Parenting-Through-the-Storm/Ann-Douglas/9781462526772 She is also the mother of four young adults who struggled during their growing up years and who are currently thriving today. Her website is anndouglas.net and she is @anndouglas on Twitter.