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Raising Children with Learning Disabilities: Reflections on Father’s Day

Written by Jack Cole, Parent Contributor | June 12, 2012

I was asked to write this blog and take a minute to reflect on Father’s Day and raising children with LD. I have five children: one daughter and four boys. Three of the boys have LD, they range from 11 to 22 in age.

Reflecting on the biggest challenge… I think back to moments of despair, doubt, fear, and helplessness. Dads are programmed to protect their children and fix problems. This need to protect your child and fix the issue is the biggest challenge. I often found myself thinking, what was I doing wrong and why could I not get my boys to read — this must be my fault. This natural feeling is one that I learned is so harmful to both the child and the parent. My advice to overcome this is that you need to remember that there is nothing wrong with your child and they do not need fixing.

Obviously something needs to be done, but it is not a broken child or a failed parent. Rather it is a broken system that requires all children to be taught the same way. It’s the cookie-cutter approach to the mending and molding of our kids’ minds. Always remember your child has strengths and weaknesses and each child has the ability to learn. The challenge is finding the right style of learning for your child. Once you stop trying to protect them and fix them, it is much easier to promote good learning.

Now that I have two boys in college and functioning in a professional atmosphere on summer jobs, it is much easier with my younger child to remember this and know they have a future. It would be very simple for me to say how proud I am of all three boys with LD and the older twins who earned a 3.4 GPA their freshman year in college. Yes, it is true that they amaze me every day in what they have overcome and accomplished. However, what I am most proud of is my entire family and how we as a family supported my three boys with LD and kept them feeling good about themselves. This includes the tremendous efforts of my wife, Hilary, who never stopped believing in them and fighting for their fair treatment. This belief that all they needed was the fair treatment to learn their way has made all the difference. So, reflecting on Father’s Day, I find that my proudest moment is realizing that I have a family that can face enormous challenges together and emerge not only successful but closer and confident in each other.

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