Life seems so incredibly unfair at times, doesn’t it? Few things seem as unjust as an innocent child suffering. I, for one, would rather endure any awful pain in the place of my children. It’s easy to wonder what we as parents can do to make up for all the hurt our children with special needs endure.
After all, we as humans have a tendency to want to even the scales when life seems a bit unequal. We want the underdog to win. We want the rich to share their wealth with those who aren’t as fortunate. We want “a chicken in every pot” and a roof over every head.
The sneaky demon that can surprise us in our desire for equality and justice is an attitude of entitlement. For instance, how many of us park in the handicapped parking when we really don’t need to? This is one of my son’s pet peeves. “But you deserve it,” or “We’re late,” I can cajole, but he will have nothing to do with it if he’s feeling capable of being fully ambulatory. Or how many of us naturally feel our children deserve the royal treatment because of the challenges they face with their diagnoses? Those thoughts are not uncommon.
It’s ironic. We spend from a young age forward trying to assimilate our kids into the general population. We strive desperately for inclusion. We pour ourselves into teaching them life skills, appropriate behaviors, responsibility, persistence and triumphing over their challenges with a positive outlook. But then we see an opportunity to acquire some free tchotchkes or perks on flights or at restaurants, and our child’s disability can morph into our entitlement ticket. We teach them the eternal vision of heaven, but then try to enforce equity through an attitude of “Because I have suffered, I deserve…” here on earth.
We need to deeply examine our own consciences before God when it comes to making accommodations or receiving assistance for our children. While the weight of parenting a child with special needs can be so heavy, we must discern whether we rightly need the help or if taking freebees is just a reflex reaction. I’ve had other parents tell me, “Go ahead and take the aid! You are who it’s meant for!” But what if I can afford to send my own child to camp? Shouldn’t I rightly pay my share and leave that money for a family who more desperately needs it? Do I really need to go to the front of the line at the amusement park or do I merely feel I’m entitled? When I am not humble in such matters, I give those who are truly in need a bad name.
Please do not read this as a discouragement towards taking needed help! I am merely saying that each of us needs to examine our own motives. These are questions we continually need to be searching out in our own hearts and minds. We can only come to the ultimate truth if we make daily time to spend in God’s Word. When we do so, not only do we learn what the Lord expects of us, but we are blessed by the only book that reads us as we read it. If we are attempting to equalize our perceived injustice through entitlement on earth, we will certainly fall short of God’s best for us. Know that the Lord does not promise us a problem-free life. However, He does promise to stay by our side every step of the way. What more could we want? Spend some time reflecting on this today, and use it to help make you the kind of special need parent that God intended you to be.
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Stephanie Hubach says
Really insightful Barb. And it took courage to say it. :>) Thanks for speaking a truthful word that is sometimes difficult for us parents to hear. It can be insidious…that “I deserve this” attitude… I think it really comes from adopting a cultural perspective of “compensation for difficulty” instead of a biblical perspective of “restoration in the face of difficulty.” One is owed, the other is a gift of grace.
Cindi Ferrini says
Well, I’m not sure if I was feeling “entitled” or helping us and others to get situated the other day on a flight. It is so much easier to get our Joey (age 31) into the plane, into his seat, and situated without people scurrying around trying to store their carry-ons, etc. around him when he is often distracted and not sure what to do with it all – but I do have to say, I felt somewhat entitled to “go first” when I knew how hard it can be sometimes. This VERY THOUGHTFUL article will help me sort out future situations, although, I might feel entitled to feel entitled! JK!
OH…another thought….while we do work hard at getting our kids assimilated INTO normal and typical life, there are times that their endurance level should be considered as to whether we take that perk to go to the front of the line, etc. or not. I guess we need to be mindful of our heart attitude, what we know of our child and what they can handle, and others around us…who are watching and learning from how we handle these situations.
GREAT GREAT REMINDER.
You hit the nail on the head! THANK YOU!
Thank you for this. I think we can put more stress on ourselves by trying so hard to make up for our child’s difficulties. We are on a new program that is meant to help us keep our daughter in our home. I found myself getting frustrated with a couple of the things that they don’t cover. What I needed to focus on were the blessings.
We have heard jokes about going to the front of the line at our favorite theme park. In reality, some wheelchair lines take longer then going to the regular queue. We feel like it evens out. You miss a lot of the story in the attraction. We have to remind ourselves that although we are among the first seated in the plane, we always have to wait to get off while they retrieve our chair.
As a family we purpose to hold each other accountable in keeping things in perspective. It is easy to forget the purpose of these accommodations. Thanks again for the reminder.
That was excellent. Thank you for the reminder.
SNAPPIN' MINISTRIES says
Thank you, Deb. I hope you gather from my verbiage that this is something I still contend with.