“What is that?”
“Why do you use that?”
“Will you ever get better?”
That’s just three of the 100 (maybe more) that I’ve been asked by children. Personally, I love when kids ask these questions. They see that I am different from them and they don’t hesitate to ask what’s on their minds. Children are curious.
As parents, or really anyone that has spent time with children will know, kids ask questions. A lot of questions. So, when your child asks questions about disability, what do you say? Is it hard to answer? What do you do?
Here are some ideas on what parents can do to have a productive, accurate, and loving conversation with kids about disability.
You don’t know everything…and what you think you know might be flat-out wrong.
Before you attempt to answer a question or pursue understanding, accept that you are not an expert nor an (informed) advocate first. Personally, accept that you have a lot to learn, so, just like your kid(s), be curious about the unknown.
2. God’s Word
Study the Bible, learn what it says about disability, and affirm God’s goodness, design, love, and sovereignty.
The Bible has a lot to say about how God views and uses disability in His master plan for the redemption of the world. Do not skip this! How God loves the disabled is essential. Don’t skip this!
Don’t answer your kids with vague and unhelpful Christian phrases. Also, and this should be obvious, do not lie to your kids as a means of ending the conversation as soon as you can.
Its okay for you admit to your kid(s) that you don’t know but don’t be okay with ignorance. Model to them that even though you don’t know, you’ll seek out the answer. Model honesty: hard, I know, but do it anyway.
1. Listen to Disabled People
Really listen. Listen to not only how someone disabled answers the questions children ask but also listen to them when they talk about their disability. Refrain from interjecting. Just hear them out.
Listen. Be slow to speak, but ask questions. And then listen again.
2. Read Disabled Writers
Do you know, off the top of your head, any disabled writers? If not, you’re missing out.
These are three authors I’ve learned a lot from and have encouraged me since becoming disabled.
3. Befriend Disabled People
The simplest of suggestions, but this suggestion is usually the most difficult.
You want to talk to your kids about disability? Befriend someone disabled: don’t do so to check it off a list or to simply use them for information. Befriend them because they are human beings who are worthy of love, and have a lot to offer your child, you, the Church, and this world.
The easiest way to empathize with someone unlike yourself is to become friends and care for them.
Yep. Never stop. Show your kid(s) that disability is important to know about, but loving the disabled is infinitely more important.
Parents: be open, learn, and keep learning. If you do this your kids will learn about disability from you and your love for the disabled.
If you do these things, your child will be shown how to engage with disabled people and also the way to love them: in word and deed.
PS. Scroll to the top and contact me if you have detailed questions or if you are looking for good resources. I’m here for you guys.
God is good and gracious.