First and foremost, if you or one of your family members has been born with a limb difference…Congratulations! That person has been born with a gift and from this moment on don’t ever stop reminding that person of that simple fact. They have been given a perspective that is unlike any other person on this planet. No one will ever experience exactly what they have gone through, but I guarantee you that there are others who have experienced things similar like myself.
The first piece of advice that I want to share is to always be supportive and as cliché as that sounds it is honestly the most important thing in a limb difference person’s life. That support has to come early and often in their life because it builds the platform for their level of confidence. From the time I can remember talking, I remember my parents always reminding me that if anyone asked me about my hands to tell them that “I was born that way,” and that’s that. Also, that no matter what, I could do anything I set my mind to, I might have to do it a little differently but I could do it!
If you are the parent of a teen or a sibling of a teen, remember that being supportive does not mean prying into their every conversation to find out if they have been bullied. It also doesn’t mean that you as a parent take every word that is uttered to your son or daughter as an insult to yourself. If every time you child comes to you about an incident that happened and all you do is get emotional and tell them about how much that “breaks your heart to hear” then I hate to say it but that child will stop coming to tell you about things because they are already hurt and the last thing they want to do is to make you upset as well. So how do you overcome this as a parent? Simple, just listen and offer simple and rational solutions to the problem. Encourage your kids not to hide their head every time something negative is said about them, instead reassure them that unless they have proven somebody wrong then that bully has every reason in their negative mind to say something like that.
For example, kids would come up and bully me saying things like “You probably have your mommy tie your shoes for you every day, don’t you two fingers!”….
At that moment I had two options. One, run from the situation crying, go tell my parents and hide from any type of adversity that ever stood in front of my face be depressed for the rest of my life.
Or…I could have taken the second option which I always did. I would reply “Oh you think that pretty funny, well check this out.” then I would tie my shoes right in front of them and leave them speechless. This was my way of proving people wrong in a non-confrontational way that got my point across clearly. This is what I feel we need to encourage our children, siblings and friends to do in situations like this.
Last piece of advice; never put any limits on anyone with a limb difference. If they hear that they can do something from others, than more times than not they will attempt it and succeed. The alternative is true as well, if all they hear from their friends and family is that they shouldn’t try something because they might not be good at it or that it might be dangerous for someone with a limb difference to attempt, then all you’re doing is killing their self-esteem even more. If we put them in a box with suggested limitations and tell them what they can/can’t or should/shouldn’t do then they are going to be in that box for the rest of their lives.
I can’t say it enough, encourage, encourage, encourage! Most limb difference families will tell you that their child did something that they never thought in a million years they could ever do and that’s because we are very unique and special people when we have a positive atmosphere around us!
Can’t is Not an Excuse