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The Christmas story celebrates the birth of sacrificial love. Nevertheless, as celebrants, we tend to contaminate the purity of this season with unattainable expectations, expectations of: peaceful family gatherings, magazine worthy décor, “Bon Appetit” type food fare, and happy, grateful, tantrum-free children.

Can you imagine walking on such high, egg-shell-like expectations every day? Yet, parents of children with special needs can! They dance this frustrating jig every day and not just during the holidays. They feel pressured to defend a public autistic meltdown for the benefit of gawking strangers. They feel disproportionate guilt that maybe their own DNA is what caused their child’s dyslexia. They’re made to feel embarrassed that their disheveled child can’t help not having fine motor skills for self-grooming and dressing up to society’s standards. They weep through the night, heart-broken that no school or program can educate their child enough to become the proverbial doctor, lawyer, or engineer as is expected by most proud parents. They shrink in their church pews as others frown and whisper about their seemingly unruly child, when all he has is ADD.

What a blessing it is when these devoted, yet exhausted moms and dads finally meet up! An instant new family is born out of empathy, understanding, and genuine admiration. Gatherings and friendships develop completely judgment free. SKILD (Special Kids with Individual Learning Differences) in Lebanon, an arm of the LSESD (Lebanese Society for Education and Social Development), provides such a venue in their “Parent2Parent” organization.

Finally, these parents can break the shackles of unmet expectations as they rejoice in their children’s incremental victories in a world that wants to shun them. No longer do they quake and hide with fear from exposing their children to ridicule, labeling, and shame. They know they are seen and heard as moms and dads who are doing their best at any given moment. They epitomize sacrificial love, the Christmas story!

Merry Christmas to our beloved moms and dads, and blessings throughout the New Year. We see you. We hear you. We admire you. We thank you for being God’s vessels of sacrificial love.


“People were bringing little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.’” Mark 10:13-16

Sheila Graham Smith

Dr. Sheila is the founder of the Disability Support Office at Baylor University, and an asset in the establishment of SKILD Center. Her professional work encompassed advocacy for students with special needs. Dr. Sheila holds a Doctorate in Curriculum and Instruction and a master’s degree in Educational Psychology.

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