Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Down's Syndrome: God's Cure for Perfectionism

I have a dear friend who has a son with Down's Syndrome.  She struggles with perfectionism, but before her son was born, it was much worse.  Her son is a beautiful child with a great big loving heart, but when he was born she was absolutely devastated by it.  She couldn't understand why God had given her a less-than-perfect child.  What she didn't see at the time, but was shown to her as the child grew older, is that his perfection wasn't on his outside.  His was all on the interior.

As I wrote in my Catholic Parenting book, my friend's son forced her to value efforts over results.  He was slower to learn and slower to grow and, well, slower at almost everything.  He didn't learn things the first time or the first ten times and sometimes it might take him 1000 times of being shown how to do something before he got it.  To be able to encourage him and herself, she had to focus on the progress he was making and not on the results.  It also forced her to do the same thing for herself and other people around her.

In our crazy society perfectionism is rampant.  People want perfect children and perfect lives.  So, God sends children with Down's Syndrome into our world to try and help people look past the surface to see perfection differently.  God does want us to be perfect - perfect in love.  Down's Syndrome children are some of the best at loving others you will ever meet.  They don't judge, they don't condemn, they just love.  Almost every family I've met who has had a Down's Syndrome child has talked about how that child improved their family and made everyone in that family kinder, gentler, and better people.

Sadly, 95% of Down's Syndrome babies never make it out of the womb. They are aborted before they can share their special gift with their parents or anyone else, all because they aren't "perfect".  I can still remember a teacher I had in high school biology class.  She's one of the few who didn't see her Down's Syndrome child as a gift to her family.  She admitted that while she was glad her son was here, if she were pregnant again and found out she was carrying a Down's Syndrome baby she'd abort it.  I felt horror back then, and now I just feel pity for that woman.  She couldn't see what a gift her son was to her. If she had, those words would never have popped out of her mouth.

I mention this today because right now, as we speak, the Senate is voting on a UN treaty that would essentially turn over American parental rights of disabled children to the UN.  It would give the UN the right to dictate to parents of children like my friend's what they could or could not do, where they could send them to school, and perhaps even whether or not those parents had the "right" to give birth to them.  Please, call your Senators and ask them to block this resolution.  Most of us look perfect on the outside, but we're a mess on the inside.  Children with disabilities may be a mess on the outside, but their little hearts are as close to perfect as human beings get.  The world needs more kids like my friend's, not less.

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