Hesperian Health Guides

When you first learn your child cannot see well

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HealthWiki > Helping Children Who Are Blind > Chapter 15: Support for Parents and Caregivers > When you first learn your child cannot see well

Learning that a child cannot see well or is blind can be very upsetting for parents and family. It is normal to feel upset by the news of your child's disability and to continue to feel different emotions in the months that follow. You and your family may feel:

a woman thinking.
I don't know anything about blindness. What should I do for my child?
  • worry about what to do
  • denial (refusal to believe that
    your child will never see as
    well as other children)
  • fears of what it means to be
    blind and fears about the future
a man thinking.
If I can just find the right treatment, maybe my child will be able to see.
a man thinking.
What will happen to my child? How will she get married or earn a living?
  • guilt about what you might
    have done to cause the
  • sadness, helplessness, or
    no feelings at all
a woman thinking.
If I had worked less during my pregnancy, this would never have happened.
a woman thinking.
I feel so hopeless....
  • anger at what has happened
  • loneliness
a woman thinking.
It’s not fair that this happened to my family.
a man thinking.
No one else knows what this is like. No one can help.
a woman holding a baby thinking.
What will our neighbors think?
  • shame because your child is disabled
a woman thinking as she stands next to a man.
Touli feels angry
that this has
happened, but I feel sad all the time.

As a parent, you may find it comforting to know that these strong emotions can help you cope, and at the same time can help you begin to take action to help your child. For example, denial may keep you from feeling overwhelmed by the sudden changes in your life. Some parents say that anger or frustration has given them energy to help their child and to reach out and help other families of children with disabilities.

You, your partner, and your family will probably feel some of these emotions and react to them in different ways. It is best to let each person feel the emotions in his or her own way, without judgment.

a woman thinking as she watches 2 children playing.
Look at how much joy her brother gets from playing with Delphine! How could I have ever thought she would be a burden to our family?

These emotions will slowly become less strong. Over time, you will begin to realize that your child has the same needs for love, affection, discipline, and learning as other children. And, like all children, she will give you much support, pleasure and joy. The fact that she cannot see well will become less important.

a man thinking as he watches a blind child walking to school.
What if she can't keep up with the other children?

Many of these emotions will probably return at important times in your child's life, like when she starts school. The fact that they come back does not mean something is wrong. It just means that you are going through another period of adapting to your child and her disability. Usually the emotions will be less strong than the first time you had them.