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What the Parents Of Kids With Down Syndrome Want You To Know

What the Parents Of Kids With Down Syndrome Want You To Know

Dear Stranger,

You may not realize it, but I see you watching my child. Your eyes are everywhere: at the playground, the school, and even in the grocery store. Your stare follows us, and I can even feel your thoughts. You’re wondering about my child, why he looks different, pitying us for our misfortune of having him, feeling sorry for the life my family is living – a life where my child has been diagnosed with Down Syndrome. Passing judgment is such an easy thing to do, but before you judge us, I want you to understand some things about my child.

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The first thing that I need you to understand is that neither myself nor my child have chosen the road of Down Syndrome. It is a difficult road full of intellectual and medical uncertainties, such as lower IQ, heart defects, deafness, and respiratory infections. But no mistakes were made during pregnancy to cause my child to have Down Syndrome. Sometimes things happen that you didn’t see coming. In my child’s DNA, one extra copy of chromosome 21 changed the entire life of my child. It’s that one extra copy that sets my child apart from yours, but please know he isn’t all that different.

It can be seen from the outside that my child has Down Syndrome – this is why you look at him when we pass you. But take a moment to understand what is behind his appearance. His eyes may be slanted, but he holds all of the world’s laughter and joy inside of them. His mouth may look small while his tongue seems too large, but his smile will completely warm your heart. And while his arms may not be very strong, the hugs that he freely gives with them are powerful enough to hold a person together.

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You may have a hard time understanding my child’s speech, and if you saw his test scores you might not be too impressed. And long after your child has stopped having temper-tantrums, my child may still be going through them. But we are lucky to have such wonderful supports from school and Down Syndrome organizations, with therapies and kind teachers that push my child to succeed. My child may not make the milestones that yours does – but his are just as amazing.

Because my child has Down Syndrome, he is not going to be like yours. But in life, no two people are ever walking down the same path. Everyone has their own journey, and this journey is mine to take with my child. There is no doubt that the road ahead will be full of obstacles for us both. In a world made for everyone who is “normal,” it is not easy to fit in when you are so extraordinary. There will be times ahead of us that are filled with frustrations, and tears, as we are continually reminded of the differences between the “normal” world and our child. On these day we remind ourselves that our child is a gift, and no matter how difficult it may seem – he will change the world.

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So next time you see us in the mall, or the restaurant, or taking a walk on a sunny day, please don’t feel sorry for us, thinking about the life that he is destined to miss out on. Instead think of the life full of wonder that he experiences every day. Try to understand how special he is, and how luck we feel to have him. Though his heart may have defects on the outside, the inside of his heart is full of kindness and caring that he loves to give to the world. Share a smile with him, and I promise you won’t be disappointed at how quickly he will make your day.

Sincerely,
A Very Thankful Parent

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Featured photo credit: Rebecca Wilson via flickr.com

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Last Updated on February 15, 2019

Why Is Goal Setting Important to a Truly Fulfilling Life?

Why Is Goal Setting Important to a Truly Fulfilling Life?

In Personal Development-speak, we are always talking about goals, outcomes, success, desires and dreams. In other words, all the stuff we want to do, achieve and create in our world.

And while it’s important for us to know what we want to achieve (our goal), it’s also important for us to understand why we want to achieve it; the reason behind the goal or some would say, our real goal.

Why is goal setting important?

1. Your needs and desire will be fulfilled.

Sometimes when we explore our “why”, (why we want to achieve a certain thing) we realize that our “what” (our goal) might not actually deliver us the thing (feeling, emotion, internal state) we’re really seeking.

For example, the person who has a goal to lose weight in the belief that weight loss will bring them happiness, security, fulfillment, attention, popularity and the partner of their dreams. In this instance, their “what” is weight-loss and their “why” is happiness (etc.) and a partner.

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Six months later, they have lost the weight (achieved their goal) but as is often the case, they’re not happier, not more secure, not more confident, not more fulfilled and in keeping with their miserable state, they have failed to attract their dream partner.

After all, who wants to be with someone who’s miserable? They achieved their practical goal but still failed to have their needs met.

So they set a goal to lose another ten pounds. And then another. And maybe just ten more. With the destructive and erroneous belief that if they can get thin enough, they’ll find their own personal nirvana. And we all know how that story ends.

2. You’ll find out what truly motivates you

The important thing in the process of constructing our best life is not necessarily what goals we set (what we think we want) but what motivates us towards those goals (what we really want).

The sooner we begin to explore, identify and understand what motivates us towards certain achievements, acquisitions or outcomes (that is, we begin moving towards greater consciousness and self awareness), the sooner we will make better decisions for our life, set more intelligent (and dare I say, enlightened) goals and experience more fulfilment and less frustration.

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We all know people who have achieved what they set out to, only to end up in the same place or worse (emotionally, psychologically, sociologically) because what they were chasing wasn’t really what they were needing.

What we think we want will rarely provide us with what we actually need.

3. Your state of mind will be a lot healthier

We all set specific goals to achieve/acquire certain things (a job, a car, a partner, a better body, a bank balance, a title, a victory) because at some level, most of us believe (consciously or not) that the achievement of those goals will bring us what we really seek; joy, fulfilment, happiness, safety, peace, recognition, love, acceptance, respect, connection.

Of course, setting practical, material and financial goals is an intelligent thing to do considering the world we live in and how that world works.

But setting goals with an expectation that the achievement of certain things in our external, physical world will automatically create an internal state of peace, contentment, joy and total happiness is an unhealthy and unrealistic mindset to inhabit.

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What you truly want and need

Sometimes we need to look beyond the obvious (superficial) goals to discover and secure what we really want.

Sadly, we live in a collective mindset which teaches that the prettiest and the wealthiest are the most successful.

Some self-help frauds even teach this message. If you’re rich or pretty, you’re happy. If you’re both, you’re very happy. Pretty isn’t what we really want; it’s what we believe pretty will bring us. Same goes with money.

When we cut through the hype, the jargon and the self-help mumbo jumbo, we all have the same basic goals, desires and needs:

Joy, fulfilment, happiness, safety, peace, recognition, love, acceptance, respect, connection.

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Nobody needs a mansion or a sport’s car but we all need love.

Nobody needs massive pecs, six percent body-fat, a face lift or bigger breasts but we all need connection, acceptance and understanding.

Nobody needs to be famous but we all need peace, calm, balance and happiness.

The problem is, we live in a culture which teaches that one equals the other. If only we lived in a culture which taught that real success is far more about what’s happening in our internal environment, than our external one.

It’s a commonly-held belief that we’re all very different and we all have different goals — whether short term or long term goals. But in many ways we’re not, and we don’t; we all want essentially the same things.

Now all you have to do is see past the fraud and deception and find the right path.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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