by Amy Kendall
Have you ever stopped yourself from telling a school teacher or a Sunday school leader that your child has a disability? I’ll be honest, I have done this. This is where my thoughts go. I wonder if maybe I should let them get to know my son first before I tell them what his list of disabilities are. Maybe by not saying something, it won’t predetermine how they will react to him or how they will treat him. Or maybe you just wish for once your child could be in a typical setting and be around typical peers.
You aren’t the only one that does this and I wish I had the right answer of how to deal with this. Being a Disabilities Minister, I’ve had the blessing and curse of wearing both hats. That of being a parent of a child with a disability AND also being a teacher in a classroom for a Sunday school class. I can see both sides and wish I had a perfect answer for each of you, but here are some things to think about, especially in the church setting.
- Where will my child learn about Christ the most? I have to remind myself that church isn’t school and these aren’t teachers at school that know how to best work with my child. The goal at church is to teach kids about God and eventually have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Will they learn this better in a typical setting where they may struggle with how it’s being taught to them? Or will they learn better in a classroom that is specific for them? Now, make sure your Disabilities Ministry classrooms aren’t just babysitting your child for church, but have curriculum in place to teach your child the Gospel as your child presents.
- What is more important, your child being in a typical setting or a place where people understand how they present? If you desire to have your child in a typical setting, I totally understand, and support you in this. Just make sure to keep in conversation with the teacher/leader and make sure you child is growing in this environment. I have found that as a Disabilities Minister, children with special needs are so much happier in an environment that caters to their needs versus being the square peg in the round hole.
- Does your child’s diagnosis define them? NEVER!! My son has a multitude of disabilities, but that isn’t who he is. He is first and foremost my son and at church my prayer is that first and foremost he is a son of God. We have two mottos that we live by with our families. #1-Different isn’t defective and #2-Our weakness is our witness. So, when going to your church, think of these two things before deciding how you want to share about your child.
These are just three simple things to run through when deciding what and when to share about your child. Know that it’s an inner struggle that I have all the time and so understand how difficult it can be. As my son has gotten older, he is more comfortable sharing his story and struggles with others. I don’t have to decide all the time what needs to be shared. My prayer is that you take it to prayer and see where the Lord leads you.