I know the pain of being a special needs child parent, particularly for those whose child appears normal by most. You don’t want your child viewed by others as peculiar. You recognize that there is a special stigmatism placed on people with special needs, and you don’t want your children to live under them. You are grateful that your child’s uniqueness is not as noticeable as children who may have similar differences, but you are always attuned to his or her display of these differences. It becomes a dual edged sword, as you strive to live up to the appearance, while living with the challenges of raising such a child. You become a shield of sorts.
As parents, we want the best for our children, so we do our best to avoid anything that might view them as “different.” The issue with this is that we lose sight of the fact that God created all of us in His image. If our children are different, that’s fine, because THEY are still in God’s image. They only reflect a different portion of His image. This is where it is often different with parents of children with obvious needs as opposed to those with children with needs not so obvious. Those with children with obvious needs can’t hide them. Their children appear with these needs and are afforded accommodations. The children without these apparent needs are treated with less compassion. They are expected to live up to the standards of their peers when they are not able to do so. WE tend to lose sight of their inability to live up to these standards, so we force them upon our childen,
God has a purpose for every individual He creates. As parents, our responsibility is to recognize this and raise our children in His light, so they can recognize that they are unique to his kingdom. Every Christian parent’s dream is for his or her child to grow in the knowledge of God and to follow His plan for their lives. Our responsibility is to teach them that God can use anyone, especially those who have challenges, to further His kingdom.
It often becomes a daunting task as we factor in the unique challenges of our children. We often feel alone and under the scrutiny of other parents who may judge. Your concern is not so much about your parenting, but that they may keep their children from befriending your child, isolating your child. It is easy to for us to forget that God is with us. The apostle, Paul, told us:
6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7 New International Version)
We are not alone. God is forever with us. We need to remember this because we need the support. If we are part of a congregation that can’t do this, we need to find a different congregation, because God’s word in Hebrews 10:25 the New Living Translaton tells us:
25 And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.
We are called to encourage/support one another. When one is going through a challenge, we are to be there to lend a hand of support. Not pulling our children aside, telling them to avoid that kid. Offer support to the family, even if only your prayers. Prayer is vital. I remember a radio preacher whom I highly respect, Skip Heitzig, saying that we often devalue prayer. We often say I can only pray, when praying is the most valuable thing available.
I am obviously one of those parents. I did my best to keep it hidden for years, for my son’s sake, but as he grows older, these challenges become more and more apparent. I realize my mistakes in trying to keep them hidden. I also realize that God will use these challenges to His benefit in His kingdom. I realize that God created him to be the person he is to His glory, and I love my boy. I know that God has great things in store for him.