Family Life

5 Lessons My Children Are Learning From Their Brother’s Special Needs

I have 5 children, but only one of them has special needs. Sometimes I’ve wondered what life would have been like if we only had our son. Perhaps, I would’ve been able to focus on certain aspects of his needs if he was our only child. But then, I consider that each member of our family has had an integral part in the growth and development of our son. And as I ponder this even more, my children have been able to glean important life lessons because of their brother’s special needs.

Lessons on Patience

This is probably the big one. As children get older, effective oral communication becomes more vital in relationship building. Communication being one of my son’s weaknesses, you can imagine that friendships with his peers are rare. If you stick him in a playground full of kids of all ages, you will likely find him running around with the toddlers.

When other children his age can simply ignore him, his siblings can’t do that and still live under the same roof. But to do that peaceably, they have to learn patience. Patience when he can’t fully express what he wants. Patience when he misunderstands them. Patience when he repeats his questions multiple times and expects them to go along with it.

Lessons on Sympathy

Tied to patience, my children are learning how to sympathize. Without sympathy, the appearance of patience is, in reality, like a covered pot that can boil over at any second if left over the heat too long. True patience is motivated by a genuine sympathy for the challenges of another. When a child has a difficult time asking me a question at the dinner table because of too much chatter from the others, it’s an opportunity to remind them that their brother faces that struggle everyday but at ten times the volume.

Lessons on Impartiality

I love how our 2-year-old girl claims no favorites among her siblings. She spends time with each and every one of them without partiality. When the world can be so cruel to the ones who dance to a different beat, I’m thankful for the acceptance and love that my son can receive from his sister. Little ones don’t struggle with this. They have no perception of “differentness” in people. It’s a valuable lesson my older children are learning when they realize that sometimes they may have to forego playing with 5 friends in order to come alongside their brother in need of one friend.

Lessons on Prayer

We face challenges daily, multiple times each day. This is not a runny nose that lasts only a few days. This is our life. And though our son thrives on repetition and requires predictable routines, changes in his anxieties and obsessions abound. And we are all affected. No amount of expert help can sufficiently ease the burden that this has presented for our family. Our children must learn that as often as we are met with these trials, so should our meetings with God be.

Lessons on Love

Shortly after an especially upsetting confrontation with their brother, one of my kids tearfully expressed, “How could I love someone who is being mean to me?” And though my heart ached for my child’s frustration, the Lord gave me the perfect opportunity to give the perfect answer.

“God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” ~ Romans 5:8

My children may manifest patience, possess sympathy, display impartiality, and utter prayers for their brother, but he can still hurt their feelings. How difficult it is to love someone who is most unlovely! But on the cross, Jesus did.

Does your special needs child have siblings? What lessons do you want them to learn?

5 Lessons My Children are Learning from Their Brother's Special Needs

29 thoughts on “5 Lessons My Children Are Learning From Their Brother’s Special Needs”

  1. I just happened upon this and so grateful that I did. My son is special needs too and his older sister has had to work on many of these lessons. I’ll be honest, I’ve had to work on some of these myself.

  2. Speaking from experience, I know growing up with a special needs sibling isn’t so easy :-/ But now we’re “grown up” and I have experienced the immeasurable blessing that she is… Thank the Lord for that! 🙂 💜 Jackie@KWH

    1. Aww, that’s so sweet! That’s my prayer for my kids. I know it can be frustrating for them, and they don’t quite understand it all (I don’t always make sense of it either). But in the end, I pray they see God’s hand in all of this and His marvelous work in all our lives. Thank you for sharing!

  3. What a beautiful post! Love this positive attitude you are showing. Truly it is a blessing in disguise for your other children as they grow in character and godliness because of their brother. Maybe someday they will even be able to help others to learn compassion for those struggling with special needs. I am glad that your precious son is surrounded by such love!!

    1. As you can imagine, lessons occur daily, and some days are harder than others, even for me too. But I’m praying God will continue to use these circumstances to grow us as a family.

  4. My elder stepson has significant delays. I’ve watch my younger stepson learn bravery (the courage to stand up for his brother), kindness, and selflessness. He already plans to care for his brother when they outlive us. My daughter has learned to see people not how he is different but how he is the same. We all have learned so much from having him in our family.

  5. Patience is a big one that even I have had to learn. And I’ll admit there is still plenty of room for improvement.

  6. Every child is a gift from God and the lessons you are teaching them are used to honor and glorify Him as well. What a beautiful post and reminder of what is truly important are the lessons of non-discriminate love, empathy, compassion, the power of prayer and patience. Some things you can never learn in a classroom because they are taught by the heart. Thank You for sharing!

  7. What beautiful lessons to learn! Your children are better off (in their character) having a brother who has special needs.

  8. This is truly a great reflection of a home that loves Christ. Even your children are exhibiting His patience, love, and understanding. I’m sure there are “bad” days but the simple fact that they all come back to that healthy place means they’ll all be amazing adults one day just as they’re awesome now.

  9. Your children, while having to cope with a difficult situation, will grow into compassionate adults who have the capacity to accept others who may be different. Sound like you are doing a splendid job modeling all of that for them.

  10. I never grew up with any siblings with special needs but many family members had special needs, every day I would learn so much from them

    1. Glad you took that opportunity. So helpful to learn from others, even though you don’t know what it’s like to be in their shoes. If anything, it fuels our prayers for others.

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