How often we find ourselves complaining about several things in our lives – our job not being good enough, not being able to travel the world and marvel in the beauty of the beautiful places we would love to be at or simply so many things we compare with others and beat down our own lives.
But amid our daily life, if there’s something we forget to do, it’s to be thankful for the things we have. If you think your life’s ordinary, do think of those who don’t even have the ordinary. Things we take for granted or normal – such as a fully functional body – is not all that ordinary a gift. And the pain of being differently-abled is something which the family and close ones of these people feel way more than those people themselves.
Stacey and Darren Gagnon are parents to six children, unfortunately, four out of those were born with special needs. And if they have some advice to the world from their experience of raising their kids, it’s about telling other parents to teach their kids about the importance of compassion and kindness.
One such instance where they felt the need to speak up about this was when over the summer the family attended a new church where other children gawked at Joel, their 9-year-old son who was born with a crano-facial impairment. Joel is missing an ear and some bone structure. The kids also made gestures at Joel or kept staring at him.
When we push our kids to excel in every area, why miss the most important lesson of compassion?
Stacey wonders that if parents want their kids to pick the best of everything, why they make an exception for empathy and compassion. “We push and push our kids to achieve in athletics and academics and all areas of life, but we’re not teaching them the most important lesson in life and that’s compassion,” Stacey said Wednesday on Megyn Kelly TODAY. Stacey’s heart-breaking Facebook post, which describes the incident, went on to be shared more than 28K times. The mother said in the post that how she stood there watching other kids who had their eyes wide and mouths open at the sight of her son Joel.
“Joel was born with a cranio-facial impairment. He is missing an ear and some bone structure. I know he looks different, but today hurt,” she wrote. “I stood at the door and watched every child look with eyes wide and mouths open at my child.”
Joel realized what was happening around and got uncomfortable by the same. He rushed to the back of the room to hide, she continued. “He had buried his head in his arms because you cannot hide in plain sight.”
he couple, both 42, have their children ranging in the age group from 6 to 16. Not just that, four of their children, including Joel, are adopted and have special needs. The couple has helped out other such children as well by fostering more than 20 of them. They are now about to welcome a 2-year-old Bulgarian daughter with special needs into their family. “I don’t except that my children won’t be looked at. That’s not my expectation,” Stacey said on TODAY.
However, she feels that parents have a much more significant role to play when it comes to their kids’ upbringing. Most of the children are completely unaware of the existence of specially-abled children. She encourages them to show them the pictures of these children and teach them how to react to them, to not behave differently which might make them feel uncomfortable. Also, it’s not just about teaching them not to stare or not to point at them, but also teach them how to be compassionate towards them. They should tell them to neither behave in this manner nor be a mute spectator to bullying towards such children.
“I’m learning as a parent that you have to be intentional in teaching your children to be kind. You have to be intentional in teaching your children to serve and love other people,” she said. “We teach our kids, ‘Don’t stare,’ but we should go one step farther and teach them, no, don’t just stare or don’t just stand back when bullying happens, you need to become involved and you need to get in there and become a friend.”