As a child, one of my favorite stories in the Bible was Mephibosheth. There was something fascinating to me about the idea of David honoring a promise to his friend Jonathan. In a time when David would have been considered justified to have killed Mephibosheth as a member of his “opposition”, he basically made Mephibosheth a member of his family. Oh, there were a few hiccups later, but they had absolutely nothing to do with the fact that Mephibosheth had special needs.
Full confession here. I have not parented a child with special needs. In my training as an educator and over the years, I have worked with quite a few children with a variety of special needs from mild to profound. The other day, I was talking with a friend of mine who is an expert in special needs education. She has helped children with profound special needs accomplish amazing things for years.
We were talking about an opportunity I have in a few months to work with orphans who have special needs at an orphanage in another country. As we talked about the best way to share the Bible with these young men who have some very serious mental and physical disabilities, I noticed the things we were discussing could also be done by a parent at home.
Please don’t take this as a lecture meant to induce some sort of guilt. I know you are probably overwhelmed with the care, therapies and education of your child. The idea of adding something else may be too much and I believe God knows your situation and your heart.
Ever watched two toddlers play “together”? If you have, you have probably seen a child come and basically grab another child’s toy without asking. What happens next is rarely pretty! The child who took the toy needs to learn more about sharing, but that same child also lacked empathy.
We don’t realize it, but empathy is a skill that must be taught. Your children will eventually pick up some empathy training from watching you (If you are consistently empathetic.). To raise children who are the Christians that defend and serve others while effectively sharing their faith though, they need to be empathetic more than the average person. That amount of skill requires some intentional teaching.
There is a fun game you can play with young children to help develop these skills. All you need are things you may already have around the house. First print or draw simple faces expressing emotions. For young children, you want to stick to the basics – happy, sad, mad, excited, scared, loved and possibly confused.
One of my loves in education is working with children who have special needs. To me, it is pure joy to help these children find ways to reach their godly potential. In fact, one of my personal challenges is finding ways to help parents and churches not underestimate what children and adults with special needs are capable of spiritually. I also want to find more ways to help them share their gifts with the church.
Needless to say, I was interested when offered an opportunity to review the book No Greatness Without Goodness by Randy Lewis. Lewis is a retired Senior Vice President for the drugstore chain Walgreens. His middle child, a son, was diagnosed with autism as a toddler.
The book is about Lewis’ journey as a parent of a child with special needs, but more importantly how he was able to open his own eyes and those of an entire corporation. Lewis pioneered a program at Walgreen’s to hire a significant number of people with special needs – at first in Walgreen’s distribution centers and later throughout the company.
We are so excited about our latest free resource for Christian parents! Many of you have been asking for a private community Facebook group. We heard you and it’s live now! The Parenting Like Hannah Community is a safe place for Christian parents to be encouraged and challenged on their Christian parenting journey.
Community members will have access to special content including:
– live chats
– in depth discussions of blog content
– first look at new resources
– priority registration for learning intensives
– opportunities to have your parenting questions answered by more experienced moms