If friendship is good for us, it certainly is good for the entire family — especially your child. I have ways to grow in this, especially when it comes to my own son, Calvin.
What about your child? Have you ever considered their need for friends?
Perhaps because Calvin has siblings, I’ve rarely taken time to consider this before this theme. It’s hard when your child can’t express to you and you’re left guessing. But what I do know is that every single child I’ve ever known LOVES friends. So most likely, he does!
Should I make play dates? This could get awkward… I know how to interact with Calvin, but others don’t. Are they going to feel weird that he can’t respond to them?
If you’re in a situation similar to me, maybe we can start small. I’ve done things like invited families over with kids around Calvin’s age. Then naturally kids are curious and over time, comfortable, with the differences they notice about Calvin. Soon the differences fade and they just see Calvin.
The Inclusion Project has some great resources for parents and groups who want to build natural relationships between kids. Disability shouldn’t rule out anyone!
This handy little infographic has really useful tips and expectations in facilitating play dates. Just because it’s awkward, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do it.
Not only does my son need friends, they need him. When I start to worry about making the other kids or parents feel awkward instead of facilitating connection, they lose out. Our kids have so much to offer, and rarely is it what we expect.
The other day we had a hurtful incident at church. It wasn’t big deal but it hurt. A boy in third grade came up and watched us load Calvin into the van on the wheelchair lift. “How much did that cost?” he blurted out. “Well, it cost a lot,” I responded vaguely and tried to redirect. “Well, I’m just glad I’m not your son,” he laughed and ran off.
I just stood there feeling like I wanted box him in the ears. How on earth did he dare to say something so rude and insensitive? So dismissive of my son. Then I quickly realized that this boy is exactly one who needs to make friends with Calvin.
He doesn’t get that he’s the one missing out on something of such value and beauty. He hasn’t learned to look beyond the disabilities and see what I see, just a boy that is
All he’s sees are limitations, not the possibilities. He doesn’t see that my son isn’t something to be pitied, but someone to be admired.
I haven’t worked up the courage to call up his mom and invite them over for a playdate, but I’m working on it.
Does your child have friends? How have you nurtured friendships? If you’re like me, you need to grow in this area. What ideas do you have?