Friendship Circle Logo
Pure Friendship for Individuals with Special Needs

If a parent is in denial should you intercede?

Denial is not a river in Egypt! Are we in denial? Most of us know someone in denial about something; maybe it’s our neighbor, friend or family member.  But what about when it’s us?! What happens when we can’t face the truth in our own personal story? What about a parent who doesn’t seem willing to accept that there is something different about their child? Whose responsibility is it to tell you when you are crossing that very fine line of NOT helping your child because you're in denial? Do other people have a moral obligation to step in and say their peace of mind? The only people who can really cross that line are family, because they just do and will always be family, and usually be forgiven.  Also, if you are a mandated reporter, like a Doctor, Social Worker, Psychologist…and feel that a child is not being properly cared for or neglected than it is your duty to report. So how do parents get past the denial and into the action phase faster? Recognize the professionals and supports as extensions of your family, there to guide and help you. The sooner you ask for and accept support, the sooner you can start helping your child and giving them what they need. Back to the beginning: yes, it’s hard to face the truth when we notice something is “different” about our kid…who wants that?  Yes, it may take some people longer than others to act on those beliefs.  Does it make them a bad parent? Of course not. What should we do if we think someone is in denial for way too long?  Eventually the truth will come out, try and guide them, gently, but always remember your opinion is just that: your opinion.Whether you want to call it denial or not accepting it doesn’t matter. Everyone needs to get to their place in their time. Let's just be sure we support each other along the way.

WRITTEN ON January 01, 2014 BY:


Rebecca Zusel, LMSW is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, mother of 3, practicing therapist, previous School Social Worker and active Advocate, representing children with special needs and their families. Visit her website at