There are many expressions and sayings that well-meaning friends and family share with us when our child has additional needs. We never believed for one moment that “God only gives special children to special parents”. Neither were we impressed with “You must be so strong!” (we weren’t) or “I wouldn’t be able cope.” (So, what would they do? Give the child back? And to whom?)
But there are some good sayings which can be helpful, if not at the beginning then maybe a little further along the journey. Let’s look at a couple.
“It’s not about the cards you’re dealt, but the way you play the hand.” (Randy Pausch)
This is optimistic, it says ‘the job isn’t finished yet’ and ‘you still have control’. To families with additional needs it can mean that we have the power to impact the outcome for our child. We have the choice to make a difference.
“Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain.” (Vivienne Greene)
This expresses that we need to live life as it is now, not always waiting for things to get better, or someone to rescue us, before we get on with our lives. In terms of an additional needs family it means accepting the new normal and enjoying every moment. The idea of dancing in the rain is fun, refreshing, exciting.
Note: I have attributed these sayings to the people who appear to have the copyright on them… although, however much research I do, it seems to be debatable! If someone is reading this and feels they should be mentioned as creator of these saying then contact us… I will add your name!
But we need to be careful, even with these positive sayings because, actually, what does it say to our child? About our child? Even if our child cannot understand these ideas, what are we really saying?
• Are they the rain when their sibling is the sun?
• Are they the fist-full of low number cards where their sibling is a hand full of pictures and an Ace?
It would be naïve to say that having a child with additional needs doesn’t alter the journey. We need to be realistic, to make changes to our plans. We need to learn to be an advocate and a champion for our child. But let’s remember that our child is a person, perfect as they are.
Like all parenting, it’s a balance. It is our responsibility to push them to be the best that they can be, but we must never, ever lose sight of the person they already are.
“We should be helping our children to be the best that they can be whilst totally respecting the person they already are.” (Beth Mellor 2016)
Note: This is an actual, original saying, created by me… I won’t sue you but it would be nice of you to acknowledge where you saw it!