Parenting special needs kids is harder. - signed: Colonel N.O. Kidding
I was reminded of that yesterday as I worked alongside a young mom who has a special needs child, along with a precocious two year old. Together, these two wonderful kids created a full-contact, ab-building, 2,000 calorie-burning workout for their mom. And that was before lunch.
This mom loves her kids, and has a wonderful attitude about the role God has given her. She even has room in her day to help out around the church--probably too much for her sanity--but she loves that too.
When I watch young parents do all the wrangling, wiping, and wardrobe-malfunctioning that goes with raising children, I'm humbled and amazed. If you're one of those child wranglers, and especially if you have a special needs child, pat yourself on the back, and remind yourself that it's a season in your life that will pass quickly, at least it will seem so when viewed from the empty nest. I'm praying for you--that you will enjoy this season of life, and that you'll keep your perspective.
God gave you your children to train them to be Godly, and that makes your work even more important. It also means that the rest of us, the church and community, need to help parents. Children are the next generation of workers, warriors, innovators, and leaders. Any society that desires to thrive and succeed should help in raising the next generation.
Sure, parents have the primary responsibility for child rearing, but we all have a stake in the task. We all pay the price when children are neglected. The government has a role in helping by creating a safety net of programs like Head Start and Aid to Families with Dependent Children. But little things matter, too-- little things like what individuals can do. You can help out in the church nursery or offer childcare to a single parent friend while she goes shopping. Want something smaller? How about offering encouragement instead of an icy glare when a harried parent's child acts up at the grocery store? How about sympathizing with the mom who got her kids to church (with shoes on!) even if they were a few minutes late?
We all have burdens to bear, and parents more than most. The Bible tells us to "bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ." I'm no theologian, so I don't know exactly what the "law of Christ" is, but I bet the point is "If you want to be like Christ, help each other out." Parenting is a tough job, but we can help both others and ourselves by helping train the next generation.