“Dear Moms, Dads, and Caregivers,
I want to ask you to do something.
Can you look back and think if you’ve ever taught your children about diversity?
About people’s differences…that not everyone’s the same?
It can be race, disabilities, the homeless, religion and so much more.
Have you had a conversation about how not everyone’s the same and how important it is to be accepting of that?
When my daughter Lace was little, I worked in an accommodation house with adults with disabilities. I used to bring Lacey in and let her talk to my clients, ask questions, be inquisitive and learn about the world of differences.
I know some might think this is confronting for a child, but I question why you think that.
I think that is something we unintentionally teach our children…to be uncomfortable with people that are different.
And that’s a real shame.
I never shied away from her questions about why the people I supported were different. However, I taught her polite ways to ask those questions.
Questions are not a bad thing.
Don’t ever think your child is being rude by asking them. Not teaching them the answers and not being open about diversity is far more damaging.
And now my little girl that I used to take to visit my clients at work, has a brother with autism and she is the proudest little advocate there is.
‘My brother has autism,’ she says.
So parents and caregivers, I challenge you to encourage these questions and have these conversations, even if they’re uncomfortable.
If you see a family in the street with a child with special needs and your child points at them and asks questions, that’s okay, we won’t be upset!
Instead of shying away, tell your child to smile and say hello instead of pointing.
Teach them about disabilities.
The parents may hear you and this will make them smile. Acceptance makes us smile.
But what will make us upset is telling your child to ‘shh’ and ignoring the situation because that is only teaching the child that something is wrong with our child and creating ignorance.
Yes, unintentionally, but that’s exactly what it does.
We welcome your questions, we welcome your child being inquisitive about disabilities, and we welcome them with open arms into a different but brilliant world.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Paige Carter. You can follow her on Facebook and Instagram. Submit your own story here, and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
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