Mom, I feel like CINDERELLA! Guest Blog from Cindi Ferrini

Dr. Joe and Cindi Ferrini speak nationally for Family Life “Weekend to Remember Get-A-Ways” and have written UNEXPECTED JOURNEY-When Special Needs Change our Course. They have 3 grown children (one with special needs)and are grandparents. They enjoy staying connected to the outside world via social media and their website! Joe and Cindi gave a very well received presentation at last year’s Inclusion Fusion…we’re pleased to have them back for a return appearance for Inclusion Fusion 2012! The title of their presentation is We are FAMILY!

Special needs care for ONE person in a family affects all the others. The Ferrini’s will share ideas to help all children in the family feel included and “special” in every day life, and will touch briefly on the part extended family can play. Here’s a guest blog from Cindi previewing this year’s presentation…

Mom, I feel like CINDERELLA! 

And no, that was not a good thing….

Kristina, our second born was healthy, smart, helpful, and compliant. She was often there to help our son Joey (3 years older than her) when he needed his shoes tied, face washed, or teeth brushed. The problem was – she was only about 7.

Joey’s special needs made it such that he needed a lot of help for us just to “get out the door” and often, she was very willing to help. But this one particular day, I had asked her to do a number of things, right in a row, and not with much chance to comprehend it all. That was when she said, “Mom, I feel like CINDERELLA. Not the pretty one, but the one who had to do all the work.” Ouch.

Sometimes it takes the mirror of reality for us to stop and change our course. That comment did just that for me. I became keenly aware of the fact that she needed to be a kid. I know I didn’t expect her to “take over” my job of caring for our son with special needs, but I was happy for her help, and at that moment I could see I’d lost the ability to see that I was asking too much.

From that moment on, I made some changes. Perhaps the changes I made, will be helpful for you with your children, but also with your extended family, friends, and others in your life:

  • Don’t bark orders and expect others to jump.
  • Each child needs attention. Give them one on one as often as you can. Make it a point.
  • Allow your children to “understand” that you must take time (and often more time) with the child with special needs, but find things they like to do and purpose to do it with them.
  • Have family meetings. Talk about the “work load” and if they feel you are expecting too much of them. You might not like what you’ll hear, but the open communication serves well for now and when they become adults.
  • Don’t beat yourself up when your children are honest with you. Let them share.
  • Show appreciation in words and actions for those who lend you a hand.
  • Don’t make others feel stuck helping you. Ask first.
  • Don’t expect others to know what you need. If others offer to help, tell them what is helpful.
  • YOU make caring for you loved one look easy because you do it all the time. Others will need to be trained to help you. Take the time.
  • When asking other children in the family to babysit/care for/look after the one with special needs, treat them like you would someone coming in to help. Ask them to set the day aside for you and confirm it with them – like you would with a babysitter. Pay them like you would a babysitter. Ask them how things went and if there is a way that would make life easier for them when they are helping you. (And we would let our daughters have one girlfriend over so that once Joey was in bed they could enjoy time with a friend.)
  • Don’t expect people to read your mind. If you need help – ask.
  • When people offer to help, ask them what they most enjoy doing. Make and keep that list so you can call on them. The longer your list, the less often you’ll have to call on and rely upon one or two people.
  • Be sure to do things your typically developing children want to do – even if it means finding someone to stay home with the one with special needs.
  • Invest in each child, so there will be no regrets when they are adults.
  • Have fun. Life is better that way.
  • Make sure you get your daughter a pretty prom dress when her time comes – so she knows how the pretty CINDERELLA felt!

©Cindi Ferrini ( and author with her husband Joe of UNEXPECTED JOURNEY-When Special Needs Change our Course)

Here’s Cindi and Joe’s presentation from last year’s Inclusion Fusion…The Unexpected Journey of Relationships-When Special Needs Change Our Course!

Join Joe, Cindi and 35 other leaders serving as faculty for Inclusion Fusion, Key Ministry’s second annual Special Needs Ministry Web Summit is made available FREE OF CHARGE to pastors, church staff, volunteers and families everywhere from November 12th-16th, 2012. For an up to date list of speakers, topics, links to speaker blogs and a link for free registration, click here.

About Dr. G

Dr. Stephen Grcevich serves as President and Founder of Key Ministry, a non-profit organization providing free training, consultation, resources and support to help churches serve families of children with disabilities. Dr. Grcevich is a graduate of Northeastern Ohio Medical University (NEOMED), trained in General Psychiatry at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation and in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at University Hospitals of Cleveland/Case Western Reserve University. He is a faculty member in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at two medical schools, leads a group practice in suburban Cleveland (Family Center by the Falls), and continues to be involved in research evaluating the safety and effectiveness of medications prescribed to children for ADHD, anxiety and depression. He is a past recipient of the Exemplary Psychiatrist Award from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). Dr. Grcevich was recently recognized by Sharecare as one of the top ten online influencers in children’s mental health. His blog for Key Ministry, was ranked fourth among the top 100 children's ministry blogs in 2015 by Ministry to Children.
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