In a couple weeks I get to baptize a little boy named Grant.
Grant was born missing his left arm below the elbow, just like me.
I was telling my son about it and he goes, “So, a one-armed guy is baptizing a one-armed baby? Weird.”
I asked him why he thought it was weird and he just shrugged. I dug a little deeper and it turned out he was somewhat freaked out by a baby with one arm. He’s used to me; his daddy with one arm. But, that doesn’t mean he’s automatically comfortable with other people who are different than him.
I’ve never really thought about teaching my kids to accept others who are different than them. I guess I just figured they’d do it automatically because I only have one arm. The truth is, though, that’s not how it works. They’re used to me, sure, but that doesn’t make them impervious to the natural tendency to be uncomfortable with others who are not like them.
I’ve gotten so many comments from parents of kids who are missing limbs since I launched this site. I promise you, nothing makes me happier. Every time I hear from a mom who says her son watches my videos or a dad who is encouraged to see that his son will be able to live a normal life, I smile from ear to ear. It brings me great joy to help and encourage in any way I can. As far as raising limb-different children, though…I can only share my experience of being raised as a limb-different person. I’m inspired by the parents who write to me. They are the heroes here.
Some of their stories break my heart. The stories about their kids being followed around on the playground, being made fun of and gawked at. I don’t remember ever experiencing that myself. Maybe I blocked it out of my mind. I’ll ask my mom. Those stories are what inspired me to write “How To Survive Being Stared At.” These kids deserve to know they are valuable and loved and created perfectly. People can be cruel. And kids can be cruel and not even be aware of it.
As a dad, that’s what I’ve been thinking about lately. I have work to do with my own. They certainly aren’t mean or rude and they probably have a bit of a head-start with me as their father, but I still need to be intentional about teaching them to accept others who are not like them. For a kid, that’s nearly everyone, too. People who are really tall or very short, very black or lighter brown, very skinny or overweight, people in wheelchairs and people with walking-sticks…the list goes on and on. And every single one of those people deserves to be treated with respect and kindness. That’s what I want to teach my own kids.
Then again, these are their best friends:
I guess we’re doing something right.
How do you teach your kids to be accepting of those who are not like them?