Contentment With Special Needs?
By Tom and Sherry Bushnell
...."For I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need." Philip. 4:11
This scripture runs counter to the main stream of thought in our country today. Madison Ave. experts spend an enormous amount of time and money to make us, the consumers, discontent with our present life situation....."If you will only purchase this product ie. car, clothes, jewelry, toothpaste, (.....the list is endless.) THEN people will admire you, your spouse will love you, your boss will promote you, your children will gladly do your bidding, after all, you are such a great person because you bought this item!"
Are our children content or dissatisfied? Do they enjoy simple play or do they need constant entertainment? Can we train our children to be content? If so, how? My child has "special needs"....should he\she be content? .......can he or she learn contentment?
Let's take these in reverse order. Can special needs children learn contentment? YES THEY CAN and SHOULD. Here's why.
If he\she has Learning Differences, they may be married some day and will be living with their spouse. One ingredient in a happy marriage is personal contentment. ...."for better or worse ....."
Some of our children will never marry. They will, however, be spending the rest of their lives in somebody's company, whether it be us, as parents, or a care giver. Picture a one year old having a temper tantrum. (It might even be cute). How about a five year old?... Definitely not cute. How about a 6' tall and 200 hundred pound 18 year old. Not a pretty sight.
Lord willing we will be spending many blessed years with our precious ones. Do you wish to spend them with a tyrant? If not, than training our children to be content, consistently, should begin TODAY.
"O.K.", you say, "I'm sold, but how do I do it? "
First. We must provide a model of contentment. If we are not content, we can never expect our children to be either, at least not as long as they live under our roof. It is so very important for our children to see us content...not only in easy, good and fun situations, but also in the hard, trying and difficult circumstances.
Second, we must protect our children from influences that would sow seeds of discontent in our dear one's hearts. These insidious seeds may come in the disguised form of everything from seemingly harmless entertainment, to "friends".
(A note on friends: If your child has mild delays and feels friendless, this could be your largest challenge. Remember back when you were a youth\ teenager. Was there any that the "drug" crowd wouldn't accept?) Music. Does your child perceive some famous singer as a personal friend? Some of our children have a very difficult time understand-ing that this musician doesn't even know their name (in spite of letters the child has written to them). What kind of havoc is the message of their music playing on our children's souls and in our homes?
Third. We need to teach our children that actions have consequences. Self centered actions that display discontent-ment should be exposed for what they are.
Four. Reward him\her for putting others before themselves and exhibiting contentment and self control.
Such as: putting others first in line for food, not grabbing the largest or best item, not dominating converstion or not overly demanding attention.
Step by step, a little at a time, daily training will bring about children that are a pleasure to live with.
Do not grow weary of doing good for in time, if you persevere, you will reap rewards.