Having a disabled daughter taught me a very good lesson early on.
After she was born, her mother and I used to take her to an early intervention centre. With the best of intentions, we were keen to push to her do the best she could as early as possible, which was a reasonable aim.
However, we pushed much too hard. We were always encouraging her to go one step further, physically and intellectually. We weren’t unkind to her, but children are very sensitive, and we caused her a lot of unnecessary stress. When she was about 3 years old, she started to develop behaviour problems, she was always unhappy and she lost a lot of hair (Down’s Syndrome kids are prone to this). So we mellowed our own behaviour, we enrolled her in a much more fun and relaxed special learning centre, her hair grew back and she became the happy kid we have now.
I learnt something quite important from this.
She has her limits. We can help to achieve her maximum, but she is disabled, she’s got a limit beyond which — barring a miracle from God — she isn’t going to go. She’s not going to be a great academic or an athlete.
And that’s OK.
And then I thought, well, I have my limits, too. I’m never going to Einstein or Newton, and that’s OK too. We all have our maximum. God created us with certain gifts, some of them in one area and some in another, but, as Jesus said, none of us can make ourselves taller just by thinking about it, and none of us can go further than the furthest we can go.
We can fulfil our potential, or at least try, but we’re never going to go beyond it.
It was good to realise that. It made me more relaxed about myself, and more relaxed about my other daughter. Living in Japan now, where most parents place a lot of unnecessary pressure on their kids, I am even more glad to have the chance to learn that.