Growing up strong

From page 79 of "Craig MacFarlane Hasn't Heard of  You Either!"

(remember to share with your friends, after all, sharing is caring)

Through all the years and changes, Desbarats has retained a strong spirit and sense of community. When I look back on those times, I'm grateful I was allowed to make my own mistakes. My parents gave me my wings and let me fly. The place I grew up in instilled independence, helped me gain confidence in myself and help me develop self-esteem. Most importantly, let me be a normal kid. For other parents with children who have physical challenges, let this be a guide to raising them so they can live a rewarding life.

I really can't say enough about this.  I had an experiential, tactile, sometimes trial and error upbringing that let me discover that I was capable, despite being "handicapped." 

With only enough "modification" or "special attention" to keep me from suffering serious consequences, I was allowed to test my limits, discover my boundaries, and then revel within them, often, expanding them as a result.

I grew up willing to try.  Nobody made me sit on the sidelines.  Nobody made me hold back.  Nobody told me the word can't.  I became immersed in life and stayed enthusiastic because my parents celebrated the successes of my willingness to try.

I do believe that all challenged children should be given this same opportunity.  Children need to be included.   They need to discover their own unique gifts by using them, by getting involved, by being engaged.  Some modification may be necessary but what I see instead is overprotective smothering to the point of exclusion.  Nothing hinders the growth and development of a child more.  Too often what I hear of are special circumstances that border on imposed prison as any curiosity is stifled in the interest of safety.  Remember, loneliness for a challenged child, especially a blind one, is the worst prison they can have.   Even worse is the environment that allegedly protects the child's self esteem by eliminating any "perceived" possibility of failure at all.  The truth is, even for "normal" kids, the only failure is not trying.  If enthusiasm and willingness are present, then encourage the effort and celebrate the success, even if the success is nothing more than having tried in the first place.  Don't leave room for the negative to creep in.  You'll do far less damage to a child's self esteem this way than if you never let them try at all.

I know every parent is trying, with all their heart, to give their child every advantage and opportunity.  I salute you all and encourage you to push this envelope.  You, your family and most importantly, your child, will all reap the benefits.