You Will Dream New Dreams, edited by Stanley D. Klein, Ph.D. and Kim Schive, published by Kensington Publishing Corp.
Book Review by Richard C. Bissell
Most parents of children with special needs experience periods of obsession over what might have been. They find themselves asking, “what would my child be like if not for…” Many times we struggle to find the good, to find the positive in what life has thrown at us. Wouldn’t it be nice to interact with other families who have “been there,” faced many of the same things that we face, and are willing to share their pain, their dreams, the challenges and their successes with us?
In reading “You Will Dream New Dreams,” inspiring, personal stories written by parents of children with special needs, you can meet some of these people. You can grieve with them, laugh with them, and share in some of their successes. This anthology, edited by Dr. Stanley Klein and Kim Schive, is a revealing glimpse into a world that not very many people are aware of. These stories are real, they are inspiring and they are compassionate. You may not agree with all the choices that these families have made, but you will gain some understanding of what they face. Examine the case of Laura who decides to “place” her child after stipulating that “the most unnatural, abnormal, course of action, would be to place him.” This is not a choice I would make and probably not a choice many of us would make, but her story is certainly one that can be read with compassion.
Not that we spend much of our time criticizing others. In fact, it is judging ourselves that we parents do best. For an interesting outlook on guilt, read how Janice was able to “skip the guilt,” and how Diane was able to “turn obstacles into triumphs.” Many of us can empathize with Diane when she speaks of being “tired beyond belief” and how “friends and family can both strengthen and strain you.” It is easy to feel her pain when she speaks of desiring only to rock, nurse, and take walks with her new baby. Instead she is faced with days of doctor appointments, physical therapies, and medicine administration. Something many of us can relate to. We can also cheer for her and her family as they discover emotional healing and “splendid triumph.”
I found this book to be a very real portrayal of the challenges that we as parents all face when raising children with disabilities. There are not many easy days, but there are many joyful ones. The books main attraction is that is gives us a window into some of the different ways some parents cope and survive during tough times and how many of them are able to dream new dreams even as previous dreams vanish.
None of these stories are very long, so they can be read while waiting at the doctor’s office, sitting through a therapy session or running a tube feeding. Each one of them is from the heart, and they each have a unique message. Most of them are very uplifting, even as they remain true to the challenges of raising special needs children. I believe that Trena sums it up nicely when speaking as an older parent looking back at the challenges of raising a child with disabilities: “To comprehend it . . . is perplexing. To walk it . . . is horrendous. To survive it . . . is a test to the human spirit, a lesson in perseverance, a trip into the twilight zone, and a miracle! To look back on it is awesome!”
Richard C. Bissell is a registered nurse and the father of three children with disabilities. he lives in Grafton with his wife Cindy and sons Eric, Aaron and Anthony.