As her family attended Ash Wednesday Mass today, Valerie Byers thought about what it means to welcome families of all kids, including those with young and boisterous children and those with special needs. The power of including them when they often worry of being unwelcome.
Her son Will has Sanfilippo Syndrome, a terminal, neurodegenerative disease that is similar to Alzheimer’s disease, but in children, and it makes public outings different than what other families experience.
She shared her powerful thoughts and encouragement on her family’s Facebook page, WILL Power: Our Journey with Sanfilippo Syndrome.
Read her post:
“I see you, parents of little kids and parents of kids with special needs. I see you hesitating to go to church because your kids are loud, unruly, unpredictable, and just straight crazy sometimes. I see you worried to disturb others and wondering if it’s worth the stress you’re going to put yourself through.
Well, listen. If you want to go to church but the only thing holding you back is being worried about their behavior, stop worrying. Because believe you me, there is NO way your children could ever be as much of a disruption as this ‘full of joyful NOISE’ child right here. ???? In fact, come to church with us and my child will drown out anything your child says or does, lol!
Seriously though, little children and children with special needs should be welcomed fully as part of their faith communities. Thankfully, we have been mostly fortunate in that respect. If a parent commits to bringing a child to a church service, even knowing the stress that decision entails, they deserve support. So if you are at a service and see someone struggling to keep their child quiet or still, please don’t judge them or give them irritated looks. They are fully aware of what’s happening, TRUST ME. Instead, smile or offer words of support. Tell them you are happy they are there. Because you should be. Church is where all should be welcome, especially loud, joyful bundles of energy with pure souls like this guy.”