Posted by: debstake | October 4, 2008

The Gifts of Our Parents: How They Help Our Children

It’s not an easy thing to do. Being married and raising children. Especially if your child has differences. There is no argument that says otherwise. However, I am a firm believer in making a marriage work. It has to do with the way I was raised and the way my husband was raised. My parents remained married until death parted them. Rodney’s parents were divorced when he was 16. I think the reason Rodney is so adamant about making this marriage work is because his parents were divorced at an age when most children really need a solid foundation .

Apparently from the latest statistics on divorce it is shown to be in decline, according to divorce magazine. The article can be found HERE. I think this fantastic and I also think that most married couples are beginning to realize the most important thing about marriage. It takes WORK and a lot of it. The notion that after you are married it’s smooth sailing is bogus to say the least. The courtship is the easy part.

However, current statistics say that divorce among families where autism lives is 80%. The most recent person to spout that percentage is Jenny McCarthy. I don’t know if this percentage is accurate or not. I know many families who have an autistic child. Most are still married. Whether or not the marriage is a quality marriage I can not say. The few that are divorced contribute, in part the autism as a factor. However, it is only a factor and not a very large one at that.

Rodney and I have been married for 21 years. And we both believe that we have been prepared for JR by God. By circumstances that were beyond our control in some ways and by choices we made in other ways. God prepared us many years before JR was even a twinkle in our eyes. Two years after Rodney and I were married on August 6th 1989 began the first of many trials to come. Rodney was involved in an automobile accident where he hit and killed a pedestrian walking across a 5 lane road, at night, where there were no street lights, the man was from Britain (think opposite traffic flow) and he was wearing dark cloths. Rodney was never faulted for the accident, but what ensued after it made for very difficult times for him and to a lesser degree me.

Then there were a series of deaths in both our families. My mother passed on April 23 1990 after a ten year long illness. Her passing was truly a blessing. Rodney’s dad passed on April 24 1993 after a battle with cancer that spanned about 3 years.

1994 was a bitter sweet year for me personally. My daughter had been born on July 11th and within five months my father, being the most influential person in my life until this point, passed away on December 21. Losing my dad was a devastating event all though he was 83 to my 33. He and my mom where my adoptive parents. He was without a doubt my greatest teacher (until my children that is). He gave me something I never had before he entered my life. The will and desire to fight. Fight for my rights, fight for what was right no matter the cost, he gave me a thick skin when it came to ridicule. He gave me a sense of humor. He gave me wisdom you will never find in a classroom or a book. He gave me more than I ever realized, until JR was diagnosed that is. Fourteen years later and I still miss him terribly. I often wonder what he thinks seeing what has come to pass. I hope he’s proud of his grandchildren. I hope he smiles when he looks down on us from heaven. When daddy gave me these gifts (I didn’t necessarily see them as gifts at the time) I wonder if he knew what was to come to my adult life? He was a very good man.

Anyway it was these events and many more that came to Rodney and I collectively that made us stronger people individually and as a couple. Life and marriage have not been easy. In twenty-ones of marriage I don’t think we’ve ever had an “easy” time of it. We struggled for years before I got pregnant with my daughter. We have struggled financially all of our married life. The greatest struggle though came in the form of Autism. It has also been the greatest triumph. It is a triumph because of all those “gifts” that Daddy gave me so long ago.

The saddest part of all this is my children will never get to meet the gift giver.



  1. […] of Rodney’s small and shrinking family. I have spoken at great length in previous posts HERE about the influence that my dad was on me as a child growing up. Now it’s time to talk about […]

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