Being a parent is tough, but being the parent of a differently-abled son or daughter presents a new and distinct series of challenges that can prove to be quite overwhelming, even in the best of times. Parents of differently-abled children are constantly having to balance teaching their children independence with their innate desire to keep their children safe and emotionally healthy. I was fortunate enough to have parents who not only helped me learn to adapt to being born without arms, but fostered personality traits that helped me become a successful and happy person.
Children need to learn to be self-reliant adults, no matter what physical differences they have or don’t have. No parent wants their child to grow into an adult that doesn’t have control over their own life! Preventing this is as simple as letting your child take charge at appropriate times, and letting them take the lead when it comes to grooming and hygiene wherever possible. You can start this at a younger age than most people might think, and this applies equally to children with and without physical ability differences.
Allow Them To Fail
Letting the child choose for themselves leads into letting the child accept consequences for the choice. Life is hard, and allowing children to learn this early in life is easier than them learning it at 30. Do not try to shield your child from disappointment in every instance. It may seem like you’re protecting them, but in reality you’re setting them up for disaster later in life. Obviously, you don’t want them to be put in danger, but when it comes to things like time management, it’s a good idea to let them experience consequences every so often.
Focus on What They Can Do
I dislike the term “disabled” because it focuses on what people can’t do. Instead, I focus on what a person can do. If your child is differently-abled, do your best to foster those special talents instead of dwelling on their physical difficulties or challenges. This keeps the dialogue positive, which will lead to the child gaining confidence organically.
I’m Jessica Cox, and being born without arms hasn’t slowed me down. I credit my success to my parents’ ability to teach me the importance of self-reliance and resilience, and I know how important it is to guide children who are differently-abled. If you’d like me to share my story at your convention, school, or religious gathering, please contact me.