There are differences all around us. That is how God made us.
There is no one person that is perfect in how they look, think, move, etc but we are all made in the image of God. I want to address some differences such as physical disabilities, cognitive delays, invisible disabilities that are often overlooked, and some of the more mundane differences that we face every day.
How I Know About Differences
So you may be wondering what qualifies me to write this post. You also may not care if I have any first-hand experience with talking to my kids about differences. Regardless of where you stand on this, I will share a little bit about my family and what makes me so passionate about this topic.
Our family has several differences. One of them is ethnic as our oldest daughter is from China, but we also have a few physical and cognitive differences. My husband and son both have a progressive hearing loss that requires hearing aids. This isn’t exactly an “invisible disability” but often it feels like it. We have struggled with bullies, teachers not fully understanding how to teach Judah, and how to explain bluffing to people so they don’t just assume my husband and son are rude or crazy.
Often my husband or son will nod and act like they hear something but in reality that isn’t the case. This can come off as rude. It can also open the door to assumptions and other people having hurt feelings.
How do I know this? Well, I learned the hard way. Many of my tiffs with my husband stem from misunderstandings. I quickly learned how to tell if he was ignoring me or just didn’t hear me. I also learned how to tell if he was bluffing but really had no idea what was going on. This helped me learn how to communicate with my son and to teach him to speak up instead of faking his way through.
We also have a daughter with Cerebral Palsy. She is in a wheelchair, has a few delays from her time in an orphanage, and has some speech and communication difficulties. We have had to have the “differences” conversation many times in our own home.
Talking to Our Kids About Differences
This may seem complicated or even impossible. Talking to kids about differences can be an all-day everyday event. But there is a key to this. I promise. The key is a biblical, Christ-centered viewpoint.
I make it sound simple because it can be. Here is the thing. We are ALL DIFFERENT. Even if we don’t have any of the differences described above, we are still different from our siblings, spouse, kids, parents, and the person sitting next to you are the doctor’s office (I hope you are socially distancing though…).
The conversation needs to start by pointing our children to the truth of God’s word. We are all made in his image. “ So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” Gen 1:27
To make it clear, in the span of two verses it is written: “his image” or the “image of God” or “Our image” three times. We are made in God’s image. All of us. It is clear and precise. There is no question.
That kid with freckles, the kid with red hair, the kid that isn’t as tall as everyone else, the kid who speaks another language, the kid with hearing aids, the kid in a wheelchair, the kid with autism. All of them are made in the image of God.
This is how we talk to our kids about differences. We give them a Christ-centered worldview. Because when they begin to really grasp the concept that not only are they created in God’s image but so is everyone else, it changes how they see all people, even people with differences.
Another point to drive home is that we are all loved by God and worthy of kindness and respect simply because we are made in his image and loved by him. Jesus died for us while we were still sinners. This means that because he loved us that much, we can love others, respect others, offer kindness and grace to others. Regardless of their differences.
Just like everything in parenting, this is a process. It is a thousand small conversations. It isn’t a one-and-done deal. We have this conversation at least twice a day if not more. We have a lot of people and differences in our home to offer us great fodder.
It may take time for these truths to root deeply in their hearts. But we are in this for the long haul, the end game, the final result. We want a heart change, not lip service. So keep speaking the truth over your kids. Expose them to differences and encourage them to embrace the beauty of God’s creativity in making so many amazing and different people.
Looking for a community or someone to grab coffee with who is in a similar life season? We’d love to connect with you and get to know you better! Below you will find a few people that can’t wait to meet you, shoot us an email so we can make a plan!
Tyler OJ Campus
Teresa Ator: firstname.lastname@example.org
Bethanie Tayler: email@example.com
Tyler UB Campus
Max Heller: firstname.lastname@example.org
Chrisleigh Heller: email@example.com
Molly Pontius: firstname.lastname@example.org
Debra Kirby: email@example.com