Ever noticed how people avoid others who are “different”? Yeah, I know I’m a big fan of this topic lately. Humor me!
They look away, pretend they didn’t see, yank their child away by the arm and say, “we don’t stare”. It teaches children to avoid those who look different. That’s no bueno. It’s horrifying when you really think about it isn’t it?
We pass along from generation to generation to avoid those who are differently-abled. But why? What are we afraid of?
I’ll tell you, it starts young. “Kids are cruel”, we’ve all heard that. But where do they learn it? Is it preprogrammed in – to shy away? Is it learned from others? Perhaps it’s a bit of both.
Society STILL says that being differently-abled is something to avoid. Guys, it’s 2018 here – CAN WE STOP? Can we correct our children when we see them shy away? Can we teach them to think to themselves, “Hey, I’m not going to stare because that IS rude. I’m going to go introduce myself and make a friend”.
We should be giving our kids the proper tools so that when they choose to play with a child on the playground, they learn how to teach as well – to those peers who might say, “why are you playing with THAT kid?” Guide them on how to bridge that gap so that it’s not just the adults doing the teaching, but children teaching each other how to embrace those differences and focus on caring about the person. This goes for so many more areas of life -there’s too much hate and judgement in the world! Love and acceptance! You with me?
Like our friend Kim-Lan. She’s one amazing lady – she’s a mother, a wife, she’s incredibly intelligent, she’s funny, uh and the obvious – Super gorgeous! She also happens to be differently-abled and a major chain breaker. Which you can read about it here. Looks like we’re both people and have lots in common. Hmmm? Interesting. Okay, you’ll see my point if you keep reading.
We should be teaching our children to see the person, and embrace the difference.
Arm them with knowledge! I for one, want my children to know that it doesn’t matter what others (could) say if they befriend someone that might otherwise be treated differently because of their difference. I’m going to be a broken record here, we’re all different.
When my oldest was little, I tried. We had an ongoing dialogue for years about such things. You see I wanted him to be a chain breaker. I wanted him to not be held back by social stigmas, and bridge the gap. Yup, there it is again…
We watched a lot of shows, documentaries, read books and had many talks about differences. We talked about how special those differences are and how boring it would be if we were all the same. We made friends with many “strangers” over the years. No, not the dangerous kind.
And as I watched him grow up I wondered if what I’d taught him stuck. All the documentaries, all the discussions preparing him for when “it” would happen. Then, “it” did!
As I sat on the playground with him and saw another boy, avoided by ALL the other children, because he walked “weird” (some kid said) and talked like a “loud baby” (said another). I looked at my son, who’s friends had run away, and watched as he walked up to the boy and asked if he’d like to play. I felt bad because as this beautiful thing was happening, the boys grandmother jumped over to me and began profusely excusing and explaining her grandsons “issues” and how he was cognitively much younger than he looked, etc. Almost saying, “He’s contagious -his disability. Are you sure you want your son paying with him? He could catch it!”
This broke my heart. You see she had been conditioned by society to be ashamed of her grandbaby. To “excuse” him for being differently-abled.
Those boys played and laughed, and my son loved every second of it. He did not care when his other friends teased him about his new friend. He responded with, “Well, you’re missing out” And ignored them.
You see, I also taught my son that we don’t feed bullies, figuratively speaking, and we don’t want unkind friends. He knew that if those friends gave him hard time and were mean to him about playing with his new friend, that those were not friends he wanted in his life.
At 9 years old that’s pretty profound.
This awesome young man likes to swim, play, do martial arts and loves to help his mom out around the house. Okay, like a superhero helper from what his mama says!
He is has facial paralysis and was blessed with very special arms. He loves helping with chores, riding horses, and doing head stands! He’s a person, unique and dynamic like we all are. He enjoys many things, feels feelings, and bleeds the same red blood as you or I. He has hopes and dreams, fears, and he’s a beloved member of his family. He’s just a downright amazing kiddo. That sounds like we’re pretty similar right?
It’s not as scary as you think – opening a dialogue. Kids are much more accepting of others if YOU as the parent/teacher speak about others with love and positivity. It’s not “shocking” if you don’t make it shocking. If you act normal about it, they’ll see it that way. BECAUSE IT IS NORMAL!
They may be inquisitive, a little “wow”… But let’s help it to be a “wow neat”, not a “wow yikes”.
This is my sweet little friend Guyana.
She’s 6 years old and she’s a spitfire who will steal your heart in 1.2 seconds flat! She is differently abled and proud. She’s everyone’s little mama as you can see – she figured I needed help feeding myself which hey, I have three kids, I’m tired, of course you can feed me! Haha! She doesn’t let the fact that she can’t walk stop her, she climbs and scoots like nobody’s business. She’s got a lot to say in the tiniest voice you’ve ever heard, and she’s one smart cookie! Perhaps the most amazing thing about this little treasure is her spirit – always smiling and oozing inner strength.
Fast forward. My son is almost 18. I couldn’t be more proud. His compassion for others, the way he treats people, incredible. It started with one mom who wanted her son to live and love with arms wide open.
My point? Different isn’t and shouldn’t be scary. In fact I’ll let you in on an even bigger secret… PEOPLE ARE JUST PEOPLE! We are all extremely unique, yet we are the same. Teach it! BE a chain breaker! This world is so full of hate and prejudice, we have to change it. We have to be the ones who choose better. Pass it on.
As always, thank you for reading! Don’t forget to like/follow!