Children and Disabilities

In the beliefs of Mormonism, all children are precious in the eyes of God, and all children have infinite worth, regardless of the difficulties they may be born with.  Parents usually do not expect to have disabled children, and it is natural to find it initially upsetting.  Research shows that, ultimately, parents feel that their lives and families are blessed by the presence of disabled children, but the adjustment can take time.

Mormon FamilyParents shouldn’t feel guilty if they’re upset.  They should, in fact, feel free to grieve for a reasonable period and seek support.  It isn’t that children with disabilities, particularly severe ones, aren’t loved or wanted.  But the idea that the child might never be able to do certain things (in some cases, even walk or speak) is a very sad one.  Parents want the best for their children.  They do not want their lives to be hard.

Parents should turn to each other and support each other in these times.  Support is necessary, and the traumatic aspects of the experience can draw a couple apart if they do not draw together instead.  Marriage will strengthen if couples work through difficulties and griefs together.

But what about the child?  The child needs its parens very much.  Mormons believe children to be an heritage of the Lord, they believe it is the parents’ “solemn responsibility” to care for them and nurture them, and the disabled child will need a great deal of nurturing.

Keep in mind, always, that the disabled child’s difficulties aren’t his fault.  Disabilities don’t come from a difficult or stubborn personality—the child would function better if he could.  Let the child grow at his own rate.  Don’t pressure the child to keep up.  Don’t get anxious about the child’s performance.  Nurture and support the child, help the child feel good about what he is able to do.  Celebrate any progress that he makes, even if it’s small in comparison to other children.  Let him know that he is loved, and loved unconditionally.

At the same time, you can’t blame yourself for the child’s difficulties.  You can’t decide that the child’s slow progress is your fault.  You must strive to think positively and feel positive and be more concerned about the child’s happiness than their accomplishments.  Strive to act in love, faith, and hope.

Turn to God and faith for support.  In Mormons’ belief, the resurrection returns us all to perfect wholeness, and physical and mental disabilities will not hinder us in the life to come. But this does not mean that we ignore this life, or despair of this one, while waiting for the other.  You and your disabled child can bless each other and raise each other up.  We all have our struggles.  This is but a different struggle, and there will be strength in it.

Pray.  Seek out friends.  Be open about your child’s disability and your needs and feelings.  Look for professional help as needed and necessary.  You don’t have to do it all on your own.  Help your other children understand what their disabled sibling needs and help them help, but also let them talk about their feelings and let them out.  The entire family can come together in love and service for the disabled.

At the last, be your child’s advocate.  Press for better care.  Be informed about your child’s disability, be informed about the research.  Be an expert on your child’s situation.  Look for opportunities to better it.

Read more on this topic at our source: Parenting Children with Disabilities: Discover the Gift that is Yours

The Church has a website devoted to helping the disabled, including advice for parents and families.  Go to http://www.lds.org/topics/disability

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