Sunday, April 27, 2014

Ability to Handle Disabilities

I have found is that children are an excellent source of encouragement when people are down and out.  I delighted taking my children with me when I volunteered at senior residents homes and at the cancer group support center, as well as when I went to funeral homes and to visit the sick.   I taught my children from a young age to be comfortable around people who were different and hurting.  It IS scary for children to be around seniors in a home sometimes, because children need to learn that seniors often try to hold onto them, are very loud, sometimes say strange things, etc.  I taught my children how to ask them questions and how to talk to them.  A few awkward situations which resulted in learning experiences, and my children were off and running.

When someone had a handicap of some sort, whether an obvious burn, in a wheel chair, some sort of disfigurement, I taught my children to be comfortable talking to them about it and trying to relate to people with disabilities.  We read a story together about a little girl that had cerebral palsy, to teach them empathy for children and others with disabilities.  We often went out of our way to help someone or talk to someone who was obviously disabled.

I went to a shoe store recently, and a child came in with an obvious handicap. He was a handful for his mom, who patiently tried to keep him calm while they waited for a sales person. He would should out and was physically overstimulated so she had to try to hold him tightly to settle him down. I was with my granddaughter and my daughter. Rather than ignore them, I smiled at the woman and said, "You are doing such a great job. You are an inspiration to me. Sometimes I think it's difficult to go shoe shopping with a child, and look at you. You are really a hero!" She broke down crying, telling me that so many people stop and stare at her and don't understand. She thanked me. It took a few minutes to encourage a beautiful mom dealing with incredible obstacles. I was blessed beyond measure when she told me that I couldn't possibly realize what my comments had done for her. 

A common thing I've heard from volunteering at the cancer group and from those with disabilities is that people avoid them or are not comfortable talking to them or looking at them.  I know that I have put a dent in that problem by teaching and training my children to be able to relate and talk to those with handicaps.

Challenge:  Teach your children why other people may look or act different, and whenever possible teach them how to relate to the handicapped.  Encourage them to talk to children in wheelchairs or with disabilities. Read them a story about someone who is handicapped.  If you have a chance, ask someone about their experience who is handicapped, showing true interest and asking questions that show how you honor them for all the extra effort they have to expend just to do normal activities.   

“Finally, all [of you] should be of one and the same mind (united in spirit), sympathizing [with one another], loving [each other] as brethren [of one household], compassionate and courteous (tenderhearted and humble).”  (1Pet 3:8 AMP)