The group of parents attending a session at a local conference was instructed to think about the future. They were to think about their child and what their life would look like 15 years down the road.
Every parent in the room was tense. Some looked lost in thought. Others became emotional.
Thinking about their child’s future is difficult for parents. It’s even more difficult when the child has a disability.
Sometimes, the parent is struggling to make it through each day—and it is hard to think about next week, much less next year. Considering the future forces parents to face some big fears and concerns.
After a few minutes, the facilitator spoke to the group of parents. He acknowledged the difficulty of thinking about the future. But he also emphasized the importance of thinking about it. He went so far as to say the children’s future depended on the parents’ planning.
Then the speaker asked a question: “Where will your child live when she’s 30 years old?”
A dad raised his hand to offer his answer. “She will live with me and her mom,” he said with confidence. Other parents nodded their heads in agreement.
The speaker reminded us that children often outlive their parents. He urged us to consider this:
Whatever you think it will look like, whatever you want it to look like, start moving towards that today. Make it happen before you die.
If you begin now, then you can be a part of making it successful. You can be sure that your child’s wants and needs are taken care of. You can be sure that your child’s desires and habits are understood.
Imagine how hard it will be for your child when you die. If they are still living with and being cared for by you, then their whole world will turn upside down. But imagine if their living arrangement is already set up in a way that life can continue on as normally as possible the day after you die. Isn’t that what you wish for your child?
Those parents left that meeting with a new motivation and a new goal: to plan for their children’s future and to start now.
Thinking about the future is hard and its frightening. But our children depend on us doing those hard things for them now and for their future.
You can find more information about Transition to Adulthood on this website.
Before I had my son, I was a special education teacher. I was one of those teachers who believed that these "special" kids needed to be kept safe. After teaching in a self-contained special education class, my views slowly started to change.