By Shari McMinn
“Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven — for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” (Luke 7:47 ESV).
During RMHC 2021 last month, I had the privilege of facilitating a Conversation Cafe, “Raising Special Needs Children.” This was a session I volunteered to lead because I believe it provided crucial encouragement and practical guidance for families raising and homeschooling special needs children. Some of you blog readers were in attendance and shared from your heart regarding your struggles raising your extra-special children. This post will circle back to that discussion and, hopefully, lend much-needed support for your precious-to-the-Lord families on a couple of topics we discussed.
Our unique learners sin. Some of them sin more than typical kids with overwhelming “acting out” behaviors. We parents sin. Some of us sin more than parents raising typical kids. But, I think most of us, in the daily duty of raising our children, perhaps love more than the typical parent. We have to or we would just walk away from the daily burden of raising such challenging kids. But we choose to stay and love them anyway. Just because we sin against them while they are sinning in their dysregulated state, doesn’t mean we don’t love them with every cell of our being through every breath we take. We parents who sin much — when we repent and receive the grace of God — we are forgiven much, too.
In our conversation last month, a few parents were in tears with the suffocating burden of raising children who have very challenging behaviors. Sometimes our children’s sin is so great that it overwhelms us and we regrettably sin against them. It is hard to forgive emotional and physical abuse committed against us by the children we love so much and literally give our lives for each and every day.
Because we know Christ, we know His forgiveness. We can teach our children this truth and model repentance and receiving forgiveness for our sins when we fail in our own sin each day. They see us. They will catch on. It might take years. We can trust Christ that they will come to know Him, too. If forgiveness and repentance through trusting Christ is the only thing our kids learn from us, it will save them for eternity where they will be a new creation we can be in perfect fellowship with. No more tears. No more crying. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away. (Revelation 21:4 ESV). The love of Christ covers our sin and theirs if we will repent and seek Him to change our hearts, forever.
Another very important topic that came up in the conversation at RMHC 2021 was the isolation so many of us feel. It is real. Afterall, who really wants to be around such messy family relationships and constantly erupting volcanoes of traumatic behavior? I encouraged the attending families to not give up on finding a support system that is the right fit for parents and their unique children. Several parents shared they had indeed found an understanding church congregation. A few others talked about how they had found a homeschool support group that fit their needs for field trips and appropriate group activities. I urge you not to give up searching for a community of like-minded families who can come alongside you and your children with patience and love. In addition to the fellowship of others, many resources also exist to help families who are walking the talk of loving the unlovable in Jesus’ name. Here are a few ideas for you as you seek community and resources
- Got church? Family integrated churches are often pro-life, therefore are often more receptive to unique families. Check out this ChurchandFamilyLife.com webpage for a list of family-integrated churches that might be close to where your family lives — or worth the weekly drive.
- Got support? CHEC’s network of Christian homeschool support groups is organized by geographic areas. See if you can find a group listed in this directory that is near you. Contact their leader this summer to discuss what they offer and what your family is hoping to find in a homeschool group. Be honest. Be open. Pray for a good fit to start your new school year strong with a supportive community.
- Got resources? There are numerous blogs, books, videos, and websites that offer biblical parenting and encouragement guidance, even for the most challenging of children. Paul David Tripp is one such writer who teaches on the biblical view of repentance and forgiveness.
The Lord forgives us, and we can teach our children that His sovereign grace is available to all who repent and seek Him. With God’s grace, my three most challenging students eventually learned that great and hope-filled truth. They still sin. I still sin. But, with the Lord as our gracious King, we can forgive one another and grow in our individual Christian faith, learning every day to be kind to one another in love. Not perfect kindness but with progress little by little through the years. This is what we are meant to do with and for our children. All of them — whether unique or typical learners. Having a supportive church and homeschool group gave all of us time with other like-minded Christians, new opportunities to enjoy, and respite from being an isolated, messy family. I hope you can find a similar path on your long journey.
I pray this month’s Unique Learners blog post was helpful to you. You are not alone and CHEC is here to assist you. Please email me when you feel isolation overwhelming you. My August post will encourage you to rebuild family relationships for a more successful start to the new homeschool year.