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Independence for My Son With Down Syndrome Is Hard, but Worth It

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Doing little things for my children is my love language! I am good at it, and I take pride in being “that mom.” My children are used to me “taking charge” and rounding everything and everyone up. I make their lunches, pack them up each day, and get them ready. It makes me feel better about setting them off into the wild world each day. And when your child has disabilities, there is another layer of fear and worry that comes with it all.

But I’m realizing now that I am actually doing them an injustice. I’m taking away their practice skills to get organized, to learn to manage their time, and to be more independent without me supervising at all times.

This independence stuff is hard!

It’s hard on me.

It’s hard on my child.

It’s hard on those around us.

And often we are judged for letting them fail.

But there is a super important thing called “dignity of risk.”

“Dignity of risk” is the idea that we all fail. These failures can be small, but sometimes they are big and hard. They can be emotional and heart-wrenching. The idea is that we will all have challenges and will all struggle. And we need to acknowledge that, accept it, and grow from it. We all get up, brush ourselves off, and start again.

We need to let them fail so they can grow, and become stronger.

We need to let them try again, in order to do it correctly the next time.

We need to make sure to stand back, and give positive words and cheer them on.

We need to give uplifting affirmations instead of criticisms and harsh words.

I need to let him lead, buy his own food, and walk into places independently — without me.

I need to let him be late, be nervous, and be worried — without me.

I need to help him gain confidence and be a self-advocate — without me.

This is hard stuff!

But I will try harder.

My newest challenge is setting my child up for independence. Wish us luck!

Originally published: October 26, 2021
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