At a church meeting many years ago, a speaker told us a story that made us all reflect on how we love our children.

The story was about a young couple whose daughter had been born with cerebral palsy. Like all couples expecting their first baby, their friends had been looking forward to the birth of their first child. This was before sonograms and tests that now can let expectant parents know about the health of their unborn child. When the couple’s daughter was born, they were shocked and devastated.

They kept asking themselves, Why us? Why our little girl? It was difficult for them and for the first time in their marriage they began to have problems. After the initial shock, the little girl’s mother began to accept her baby’s condition, her faith gave her strength and she realized that her daughter needed her.

However, her husband became angry and felt that God was punishing them. He refused to help out and when he did he was always resentful. Deep down in his heart he felt guilty about the way he felt but it was difficult for him to accept having a daughter that wasn’t normal.

One day, when his daughter was six years old and his wife wasn’t home, he had to change his daughter’s bedding. Although he wasn’t complaining out loud, his daughter must have sensed what he was thinking because she turned to him and said, “Daddy, I’m sorry I’m so much trouble.”

When he saw his daughter’s face, he broke down in tears. He hugged and kissed her and told her over and over again how much he loved her. Until that moment he had not realized what a gift God had given him. That day he realized that God had given him the opportunity to love unconditionally.

That night, sitting in front of me was a woman and her son. He was about 9-years-old and had Down syndrome. Her son was a very sweet little boy and I had seen them both many times at these meetings. If there was anyone in the church who understood how the young couple in the story felt about their daughter, it was this woman.

I saw her lower her head and I could tell she was crying. Her son looked surprised when he first saw his mother’s tears but then he immediately put his arms around her and began to kiss her cheek over and over again.

It was impossible for me not to become emotional as I watched this special moment between this woman and her son. I was given a gift that night; it was the opportunity to be present during the exchange of the incredible love they shared for each other.

As parents we often have expectations of how our children should be i.e., if they don’t excel in school or in sports, we feel disappointed, let down. In an article that I was reading the other day, the mother of a special-needs child said, “God created her better than any of us. And he created her perfectly.”

Children have individual needs and different personalities. Guide your children and help them find their special gift; however, accept and love them as they are.