My parents had no clue how to raise a child with a disability.
They did, however, know how to parent in general. I was lucky to come at the end of the line, after my three siblings.
If you were to ask my parents today, they would probably tell you that while there are a lot of circumstances that make parenting a child with a disability a different parenting experience, the core ingredients remain. These are what every child needs from a parent to feel empowered to face whatever challenges lay ahead:
LOVE – acceptance and honoring your child for who they are; their being and not what they do.
EXPECTATIONS – discover your child’s abilities and building on those to help him create a successful life.
As Kathie Snow’s (Disability is Natural is a must read for parents) quote above reminds us, our belief in our children carries so much more influence than what the medical profession and society would lead us to believe. When we love a child for who he is that lays the foundation for him being better able to meet expectations.
Let me explain further. Think about your own life. When you feel loved by someone that inherently gives you the confidence to believe in yourself and what you want to accomplish, even when it feels very daunting. The love from others nourishes your own sense of value in yourself.
This is so crucial for children and adults with disabilities, because let’s face it, the world does judge us harsher than others. However, the more we are loved by our family and/or our circle of support, the less that matters. Really and truly.
Furthermore, when we have expectations of accomplishing things, having a meaningful life, and doing what makes us happy, we become so focused on those things, we can more easily filter out the judgments of others.
One of the greatest gifts I received in my own life regarding expectations placed upon me was from the doctor who diagnosed me with cerebral. He delivered the news to my parents in a way that offered them hope and a sense that they could determine my success way more than CP ever could. It was a rarity in the late 1960s that a doctor would be that positive about a diagnosis of a disability. (Interest peeked? Grab a copy of Firewalk: Embracing Different Abilities to read the whole story.)
Now For You…
Share below how love and/or expectations have changed your life.
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