I think that most people, if honest, will admit to having a favorite vice for coping. Yours might be overshopping, overeating, gossiping, hoarding, gambling, drinking, doing drugs, smoking, overworking, cheating on your spouse (including online), or charging another pair of Jimmy Choo shoes you cannot afford, no matter how you do the math.

Did I hit a nerve?

Right now, I’ve got a major sugar hangover from overindulging in my favorite candy in the world, Hershey Kisses, the brand new Easter 2008 version, filled with yummy coconut creme. I ate the whole bag in one sitting, and now I’m having trouble thinking clearly enough to write this entry. Plus, I can’t sit still.

I told myself that I was celebrating Leap Year.

In the world of serious vices, this one might not seem all that bad, unless you have a sensitivity to sugar, which I do, and you’re a writer who must express your thoughts clearly, which I must. Sugar short circuits my brain and derails my muse, which impacts my work output and self esteem, leaving me hungover and a tad bit testy.

Still, that chocolate sure does taste good, especially when washed down with an icy Diet Coke, another of my vices.

In the past, food has comforted me during some extra tough life moments, an enticement that I still sometimes battle. But I’ve discovered that the more I choose to express my emotions in productive ways, the less hold my drug of choice has on me. Regular venting, staying in shape and self-imposed discipline are the best antidotes to my vices.

I admit that yesterday, just say no held absolutely no meaning for me. Like an out-of-control two-year-old, I wanted that coconut-creme chocolate and no parent was there to stop me. Plus, it was snowing outside- again!! But my nest is empty now, so the only one paying the price of my sometimes occasional addition is me, and maybe my loving husband if he comes home before I’ve slept off the sugar buzz.

I’m adding some humor to a serious subject, but I know that parenting can be incredibly challenging. When your child has special needs, it can be especially stressful. I’ve been there and learned the hard way that the on-going stress demands release.

I also understand that serious time constraints, the inability to arrange and pay for good child care, and many other tough realities of the role can keep you from making wiser choices: like taking time to exercise, journal, attend counseling or parent-support groups, or arrange regular date nights, and so on.

Yet, it’s critical that you do just these things to keep functioning in a healthy and productive fashion. The reality is that what may at first seem like a harmless little means of coping can quickly become a major problem that interferes with meeting your daily demands. It can even impact your health, and that can negatively impact the quality of life for all around you, especially your child.

If you’re struggling with a serious addiction, seek out necessary support. Our children deserve the best we can give them and they’re far sweeter than any vice, including Hershey Kisses with coconut-creme filling.

That said, I think I’ll have an apple for lunch today, right after I finish this Diet Coke…

Breakthrough Parenting for Children with Special Needs: Raising the Bar of Expectations