Life as a parent is wearing. Life as the parent of of a special needs child is especially wearing. The specter of life as a perpetual care give and decision-maker can be overwhelming. But the parents I interviewed for A Different Dream for My Child lived joyfully despite their circumstances. Many parents of special needs students I worked during my teaching career. Over the next three days, I’ll share nine commonalities I observed in them. Here are the first three.
#1 Triumphant parents view their children as a gift.
Peggy described her early attitude toward her severely disabled daughter. When Lacey was young, many people said, “Oh, it myst be so hard for you.” As a result Peggy began to see Lacey as a burden. But Psalm 127:3 helped her. Don’t you see that children are God’s best gift? The fruit of the womb his generous legacy? The verse said all children are a gift, not just the whole children, the pretty children, the easy children. Peggy began to view Lacey as a gift and treat her as a gift. In doing so, she found joy.
#2 Triumphant parents cultivate a victor, not victim mentality in their kids.
To do so they treat kids as victors over their circumstances rather than as victims of them. They expect their kids to do as much as possible for themselves. And they treat them as kids, not as sick kids. Kids are smart enough to milk adults for special treatment to make the here and now easier. But they’re not smart enough to see the future harm inherent in that special treatment – the skills they aren’t learning and the experiences they aren’t having. Triumphant parents are smarter than their kids. They look ahead and prepare children for their future, instead of allowing them to stagnate in the present.
#3 Triumphant parents educate themselves and others about their child’s condition.
They read about their child’s disease, treatment, and management. They ask questions of experts. They compare knowledge with other parents. Once they’ve learned all they can, they educate the people around their kids. First, as much as their children are able, they teach them how to deal with the condition. Second, they teach family members – siblings and extended family – about what to expect and how to treat the child. Third, they tell teachers, classmates and other school personnel about it. If classmates understand a special needs child’s abilities and limitations and learn how to how to talk to them, they are more willing to include them in school activities.
One word of advice. Tackle only one of these suggestions at a time. Once it’s firmly in place choose another. Triumphant living is best accomplished one step at a time!
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