What is a GLass child and how to help...
Imagine being a child that resembles a pane of glass, everyone looks through you like they’re staring at what’s behind you, they see you’re there, but they’re more interested in the view behind you. People ask you how you are doing, but this almost feels like empty words and you don’t actually feel seen or heard, or only feel half seen or heard. This can be life as a glass child. So what is a glass child, I hear you say. In simple terms, it’s a child that has a sibling that suffers from disabilities, whether this is medical, physical, emotional, or neuro diverse. This can lead to their emotional needs and wants not being met by their caregivers.
Now project forward and imagine how this can affect that child in adulthood. Glass children are known to be people pleasers, they’re the compliant child that although wants to be seen does everything to become the child that makes life easy for their caregivers. They’re the yes adults, who struggle with boundaries and find it hard to meet their own needs. They feel the need to strive to be perfect, yet feel they fall short of perfection. Because lets face it, no one is perfect.
How can Glass children deal with this in adulthood?
Don’t say yes to things straight away, if it doesn’t feel right, say you need to check your work schedule, diary ,etc and will get back to them. Give yourself time to think if what you have been asked is achievable. Do you want to do it, or have you agreed to that night out because you couldn't say no? Humans have the right to say no and change our minds.
Be aware of your glass child, be aware that the needs you needed then are not necessarily the ones you need now. You may not need to be that people pleaser, compliant person now to make others’ lives easier. What would make your life easier, what do you need? Don’t be hard on your glass child though, you don’t need to beat that side of yourself up. At one point they helped you through life, you just might not need these techniques now.
Work out your boundaries and needs, whether through therapy or self reflection - This can be your biggest life skill. Write them down, read them every day. Really soak them up.
Parents may find themselves in an impossible situation when it comes to juggling a child with disabilities and the rest of the family, it’s by no way an easy task. If this is the case and you are wondering what to do, try and spend time with them one to one, put time aside for them, half an hour at bed time maybe, If for any reason your child with the disability gets hospitlised, get someone to take over at the hospital so it's not always one caregiver missing from the home environment. If you haven’t got the time to talk to them at the point they feel they need to have that conversation, make a mental or physical note to pick that conversation up later and explain to them that you are doing this, don’t dismiss them. Include them but try not to burden them in their siblings' care, they’re worried too and last but not least, allow them to express themselves, even if this isn’t what you want to hear they need a space to just be them, the true authentic real them.