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.