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Nathan is Hebrew and means "gift from God" - we couldn't have been more blessed than to have been chosen as his parents!

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Monday, June 29, 2009

Are "We More Alike Than We Are Different?"

This is the p.r. campaign of the National Down Syndrome Congress ~ We're More Alike Than We Are Different. The theory is that persons affected by Down syndrome are more like "typical" people than they are different and I AGREE. However, I've been struggling with what that means lately. If Nathan is more like other kids than should he be treated the same? Should I encourage him (make him) to do things as if he didn't have Down syndrome? This may really be more about parenting than Down syndrome but because Nathan is affected by Ds I can't help but to think about how it factors into my parenting style. Let me give you an example. On Friday, Nathan and I attended a play group with other children that also have Ds and Nathan was really resisting standing and a mother said to me that her daughter didn't like to walk or stand in an unfamiliar environment either and without thinking I responded "well, he'll have to get over it." Nathan is also developing some behaviors that his dad and I are not thrilled with and we're working hard to correct them. Behaviors that if we allow them to continue may attract unwanted attention when he gets older.

My self reflection is, without a shadow of a doubt, a byproduct of listening and watching other parents ~ parents of children with and without Ds. Parents who allow their children to chart the course of their existence. Sometimes I'm left wondering if making Nathan do things that he "doesn't want to do" is appropriate? However, on the other hand, I feel that if I don't insist that Nathan do certain things like drink out of a straw, hold his own cup and use his own spoon (small examples of deeper issues) or correct him when he hits I'm giving up on him. Simply accepting the fact that he has Down syndrome and using it as an excuse for my inaction or his. If Nathan didn't have Ds this wouldn't even be an issue~ I would be confident in my decisions/actions. So, is he more alike other kids than he is different? I want him to be. This is a delicate balancing act that teeters on respect. Respect for Nathan as his own little person and for his varying abilities that will develop on his own timeline.

6 comments:

Conrad, Megan and Our Precious Keaton said...

Kandi - I admire you and your courage and strength! You are doing a wonderful job with Nathan! Its the incredible love you have for him that makes you want to give him the best! Nathan is blessed to have a mommy and daddy like you guys!
We are also having big temper tantrums and I have just posted about it in part of my keaton update, were trying the time out - hope it works cause he has such a firey personality! God bless! Megs!
P.S Nathan is a champ!

Mairead Elizabeth Hickok said...

I think just the fact that you are thinking so carefully about all of this means that you are so committed to doing what is best for Nathan. And really, that is all any parent can do- just try to do what is best for your child. He is lucky to have his mommy and daddy!

Loren Stow said...

There is always the question in my mind too... is Malakai happy and content because I'm doing a good job, because that's who he is, or because of the Ds?
Well, we can never know.
But, what we can do is teach our children (with any ability) how to interact with others in the world - it our greatest gift to them and the most important part of our jobs as parents (I think).
So, I think you're doing a great job. Do what you think is best for Nathan, as a little person who is growing up to one day enter the world. I believe truly that he will show you when it's time to step back and when it's time to step up.
You're doing a great job! Nathan is a gorgeous child!

datri said...

I think a lot of it comes down to parenting style. Just do what you feel is right for YOUR family, don't worry about what other parents (special needs or not) are doing.

Lianna said...

I think I fell into that "Well, Gabe has Down syndrome..." and I wasn't consistent for some of his more challenging behaviours.

And, now, I'm trying to correct myself. If I treat Gabe differently, he *will* be different. I don't want that for him.

Just this morning, I took him out of the bath for a time out. This is something I would never had done those first three years.

I remember watching my little niece go into a time out and thinking to myself that "It won't be Gabe." Well, a few years later, here we are.

I watched a DVD by Will Schmerhorn not long ago and there was an Irish couple that were given advice about one of their sons. They have two sons, one of which has Ds. Anyway, the parents were told by an American psychologist that their son with DS was entitled to be disciplined. As odd as that sounds, what she meant was the he deserved to learn boundaries just like his brother...or any other child.

That has stayed with me.

I think it is easy for some of us to overprotect our children as well. And I am just now learning to let go and let Gabe be...especially in social situations. Before, I hovered, worried all the time. Unfortunately, this has hindered his freedom to JUST BE.

So, that is my experience. I think Datri is correct in labelling these things under "parenting style". But I do believe that having a child with Ds (or any other challenge) is different in that every day is a learning experience for us as parents.

Terry Family said...

Thank you for you thoughts. It means a lot! I love my bloggy friends!!!