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How to Love Big and Keep Resentment at Bay

This was posted long ago on a blog written by a mother of a boy with Down syndrome. She posed this question to me.

What did your parents do right to help you be loving and cherishing of your brother and not resentful?

My answer to her was not short, nor was it anything less than genuine.

Hi Beth,

The answer might be shocking to you. They didn’t do anything “special”. Special times and talks were not the norm in my house; it just wasn’t the way because time didn’t afford us that luxury of worry. I’m sure my mom didn’t have time to worry past the essentials of each day, or if she did it was huge things like heart surgeries and such. My dad was the same. He was a good, blue-collar working man and he worked very hard to support all of us, leaving him little time to sweat the small stuff.

My mom and dad brought David home and decided they would love him the best they could. Love was the only roadmap they were given. So I think the lesson is to first breathe deeply, relax, put the focus on what your child can do and think about the ways they bring joy to your family and the world. If you leave it at that, you will find peace. Don’t apologize to their siblings. There is nothing to apologize about. My brother came into life with extra needs of support and room. Period. No questions, no apologizing.

If you still struggle with a tugging feeling of resentment, use that energy to honor the feelings that come up within the family dynamic. Saying phrases such as “I bet it makes you angry when…” “That must have hurt.” “I see you are angry.” “I bet it is frustrating when…” Honor those feelings significantly before moving into, “He can’t help it” or “He didn’t mean it”.

I don’t want to push your pain aside because that pain does hurt. There’s no doubt pain exists, however, that pain is also accompanied by amazing lessons your children will learn at a very young age about how to treat others, how to be tolerant and accept all human beings. I remember David breaking all 12 of my first set of roses from a boy when I was 16. I was very angry and extremely frustrated, but as an adult, I see how events like this shaped me into a person who values people and knows things do break, things fall away, things are not lasting and things do not fill a heart. I was hugging David within a day. His loving eyes and his gentleness always won me back.

I recognize having a child with different abilities is not an easy walk as a parent. Instead, it is a walk filled with lessons of compassion, understanding and peace.

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