Emotions that the Members of the O’Brien Family Experience
Parenting a child with special needs can have a complex emotional impact on a family. In the film titled Softening: Parenting a Child with Special Needs, O’Brien’s family experience a wide range of emotions from positive to negative. The worst ones evident in the movie are stress, anxiety, worry, and helplessness (O’Brien, 2012). The child has extensive brain damage, which affects most of his basic functions, and the condition makes family members react with a mixture of these emotions. Other adverse ones include sorrow, guilt, frustration, fear, and anger. However, caring for the disabled child also affects O’Brien’s family members’ lives positively, and it is evident in some of their emotional reactions. They respond with a lot of love to the child, which helps them handle the complexities surrounding his situation. Other emotions include empathy, understanding, and hope, and they have made them better people even in their interactions with others. Most of the negative emotions affect the parents because the psychological toll of taking care of the child with special needs is heavier to them than the siblings.
How Each Member of the O’Brien Family React Differently to Teddy’s Needs
Members of the O’Brien family react in almost the same way to Teddy’s needs. His sister, Emma, who is three years older, spends a lot of time with him. She also brings other children to play around Teddy, thus creating an inclusive environment. The best part of the movie is where she is playing the guitar and singing for him as he sleeps on the couch. Her reaction to the brother’s needs ensures that he is not isolated. In addition, it teaches other children to be empathetic to those with special needs. The filmmaker, the mother, is proud of her son and does everything possible to make him comfortable.
Many parents of children with special needs isolate them and do not want to appear with them in public due to stigma. However, the mother takes pictures of the child and uploads them to social media regularly (O’Brien, 2012). In addition, she spends a lot of time with him, providing all the necessary support he needs to lead a comfortable life. The younger sister, Willow, also responds to his needs empathetically and does many fun activities around Teddy to keep him entertained. Finally, Terrence, the father, does not spend as much time with Teddy as other family members do. However, when around, he coaches the child and teaches him to engage in a variety of physical activities.
Helping Each of the Members of the Family Cope with Their Unique Emotions
Each of the members of the family needs help to handle their unique emotions. The mother, Kelly, and the father, Terrence, require a strong social support system to overcome the emotional impact of the child’s disability. Therefore, I would connect the parents of children with special needs. This network can help them to learn a wide variety of coping strategies. Moreover, their interactions can help them exchange information and comfort each other, reducing the psychological toll associated with parenting a child with special needs. Willow and Emma, Teddy’s siblings, would require counseling, which would help them to understand his condition, and why he behaves as he does. Counseling would reduce such emotions as fear and anxiety, which affect the siblings.
O’Brien, K. T. (2012). Softening: Loving a child with special needs [Film]. Film Media Group.