What is a Glass Child?Glass Children are siblings to a sister or brother who is disabled, abused, or has a serious illness. The sibling might have a drug addiction or severe behavioral problems. Their behavior takes a disproportionate amount of parental time and emotion. A glass child feels emotionally neglected. They often strive to be perfect and problem free because they are hyper-sensitive to the needs of their sibling. They usually have had to take on additional responsibility to help the family cope. Or they feel they are to be perfect all of the time and not cause problems. They are called glass children because their overwhelmed parents look at them but don’t see to their needs. They are transparent to their families.
What is Life Like For a Glass Child?Glass children often feel a sense of loneliness and neglect. They experience what their parents are going through and don’t want to be an additional burden. They may strive to have good grades or be good and not cause problems. In reality, they’re feeling broken and unloved. They are very sensitive to the needs of others. They know their problems are insignificant compared to what the family is enduring. They hide in plain sight. Over time, the emotional effect can take a toll on the Glass Child, who may develop resentment and anger. They may begin to have mood swingers or even develop depression. To avoid having their parents take notice, they may even act like everything is fine until they shatter.
Do I Have a Glass Child?It’s easy to think your child is doing fine. You check-in and everything seems to be okay. You ask your friends if they think having a special needs sibling is taking a toll on the healthy child. You worry all of the time. Your friends assure you that kids are resilient and far more robust than you think. Your friends are just trying to be helpful. They don’t want you to stress over your normal child, yet you do.
What Should I Do?Unfortunately, there isn’t a manual on child-rearing. Every child is amazingly unique and different. Besides, you feel overwhelmed having to care for your high-needs child. You don’t have the emotional energy to even think about the child that appears to be doing fine on their own. Maybe, you have spent hours trying to find help for your normal child only to get the same information. There are steps you can take to change your teen’s life positively.
How Can I Help My Son Know I See Him?There are several ways you can help your glass child understand that you appreciate them and see them.
- Take them out for a special day, just the two of you, once a week or once a month.
- Set time aside for daily conversations without interruption. This means not letting yourself get pulled into crisis after crisis.
- Create clear boundaries when it is one on one time.
- Talk to your child about their needs and their importance to you.
- Teach your glass child that it’s okay to have feelings and be angry.
- Encourage them to tell you they want to spend some alone time with you.