Encouragement goes both ways. As caregivers to ones with special needs, we enjoy and need to hear encouragement; but we also recognize how important it is to extend encouragement to others so they can begin to understand our role and challenges.
Not everyone will want to. Not everyone will “get” it. Not everyone will care as much as we wish they would, and that’s OK. Our goal should be to model positive communication and we can do that by encouraging others as they enter into our world.
Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Bless others with a kind word – being gentle and kind.
- Forgive others when something has been said that might have been unkind or hurtful, realizing they most likely didn’t mean it. Give the benefit of the doubt.
- Give grace to others who seem uncomfortable or say things that are unusual. Try to make everyone feel comfortable – include others.
- Be transparent in a loving way so others can learn to understand “where” you’re at in the challenges of everyday living. Be as positive as you are able because the person who constantly whines and carries on is soon to be tuned out.
- Don’t keep silent if you are able to lovingly correct an incorrect statement regarding the person you care for. Make sure your word is a “word in season.”
- When someone is mean spirited and intentionally insulting or ridiculing a person with special needs, you will need discernment whether or not to “call them on it” and risk further problems. It’s rare that this type of person will be humbled by their actions or words. We need to be the one to take the high road. (Proverbs 15:1: “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”)
- Answer questions others have. They’re hopefully trying to communicate to understand.
Whatever we can do to bridge the gap for others to understand and enter into our world, the better life will be for all of us. We can help others understand our loved one and the challenges they and we face daily. Understanding takes time. Encouragement along the way will reach farther than most anything else. Which idea might you give a try today?