A guest blog post by Kayte Potter from The National Parenting Initiative:
I wonder who makes up your household?
Perhaps there are lots of you, perhaps just a few. Maybe it’s noisy and difficult to hear yourself think, or maybe it’s quiet and small. Perhaps your house is full of medical equipment and activity charts or signing hands and nappy changes. Perhaps life revolves around a strict routine or maybe the rhythm of your day is unpredictable, transformed in an instant by challenging behaviour. Whatever your household looks like today and however a stranger might perceive it, they can never know, by observation alone, the full picture of who you are.
If you came to visit our home, the first thing you may notice is our five noisy hens, who pause their gossiping only long enough to pluck a helpless worm from the earth.
Of course, if you met our hens, lovely as they are, they wouldn’t tell you much about our family. They couldn’t tell you our values, beliefs, what we look like or what brings us joy. They couldn’t convey the things we weigh as important, or ultimately, show you what makes us, us, which leads me onto my first point…
1. Every family is unique and has value. As a Christian, I would add to that that every family is known and loved by God. If you are a Christian parent with a child with an additional need, I really hope you have been welcomed and included by a church community. Every life is precious, and every family ‘voice’ is different – the family of God is richer when we embrace, listen and love well. As Dr Brene Brown puts it, “No one belongs here more than you”.If your Church leaders would benefit from hearing more about inclusion, I’d recommend this post for churches on getting started with supporting children with additional needs.
I am a parent and foster carer, currently home-schooling, and trying – with all my might – to remember back to the few short years (ok, moments) that I had a grip on maths. Alongside this, I have the joy of working for The National Parenting Initiative. It’s a joy because the vision and passion of The NPI is simply to see families do well. During this time of lockdown, having the opportunity to read articles, blogs and discover great resources has been a gift – a reminder that I’m not alone, that other parents are in the same boat.
2. In the olden days*, the NPI exhibited parenting materials, spoke at events and encouraged parenting courses. However, lockdown has led us to add more content to our website to encourage families during this strange time. We are gradually adding links and posts focused on additional needs, and would love it if you would take a look. As I mentioned, one of our focuses is on parenting courses, some of which are moving to being run online. Did you know that Care for the Family run a parenting course focused specifically on parenting a child with special needs? There is lots out there to support families, so do take a look at our website if you are looking for ideas and encouragement.
3. My final point is a question – how can we serve you? I’m going to be completely honest with you here: we are currently a small charity. However, we have no desire to stay that way. We have a national focus and big ambitions – with the vision God has given us for the NPI, we want to see every family across the UK strengthened, empowered and flourishing…. Every. Single. One.
If there was one way we could champion additional needs families in our work, what would it be? We would love to hear from you, so please contact me, Kayte, via firstname.lastname@example.org
In the meantime, I am going to go and round up the hens, well, if I can get a word in edgeways…
By Kayte Potter – NPI Administrator, Mother, Occasional Runner and Follower of Jesus.