What good did I find? Plenty.

  • My other children were developing an awareness of reality and others' needs that went beyond their own skin. Early on, they found empathy and compassion. Early on, they discovered ways in which life wasn't fair and that they had actually received more than others. Early on, they found gratitude that their lives were far easier in many ways than was their brother's. God is good.
  • One child was able to assist in Sunday School in reining in a child whose behavior was much like her brother's. Her sense of service and even competence was grown by this experience. Yep, God is good again.
  • One daughter is incredibly shy, but with this very intense and highly physical brother to deal with, she toughened up and developed skills she might never have found if all her siblings had been calm and compliant. God is still good.
  • My children had to learn to entertain themselves. I have discovered over the years that this is a profound gift for them, one often missing in other families. My children do not believe that it is my job to keep life interesting or entertaining. They have learned to do this for themselves. They have learned contentment. God is all about contentment.
  • Siblings of a special needs child are simply not as judgmental when they meet folks who don't fit a preconceived mold. They are more comfortable in a variety of scenarios that leave others feeling awkward. They've had plenty of experience in reading the faces of those who are taken aback by their sibling. And they've learned to respond in ways that bring ease to uncomfortable situations. What a skill. God is empowering.
  • In many families, children have developed an interest in a medical career, counseling position or other service-based occupation because their heart has been touched by the unique needs of a much loved but challenging sibling. Some children choose careers that allow them to impact the laws that protect and care for those unable to advocate for themselves. God has plans for all our children.

In the end, I have come to believe that God has placed these siblings in this arrangement because He has a plan for them that will require skills that are developed by this family makeup. It wasn't a mistake. It's not even an issue of simply learning to tolerate it. You can rejoice in the good that will come of the mix and blend in your family. Look for the blessings. Look for the good. But don't keep it to yourself. Point it out to your children so they too learn to recline into the arms of a God who put together a great family with them in it and a great plan with their name on it.

*This article first published on September 3, 2007.

Carol Barnier is a delightful speaker, entertaining author, adequate wife and a pitiful housekeeper ... and oh yes, a fellow homeschooler. Her book, If I'm Diapering a Watermelon, Then Where'd I Leave The Baby? is a survivor's manual for life in the distractible lane. Contact Carol at carol@OpenGifts.org

This article was originally published in the July/Aug '07 issue of Home School Enrichment Magazine. For more details, visit http://HomeSchoolEnrichment.com