At first, I hadn’t planned to go to the Dan Gottlieb workshop at Beaver Farm. At the Parent Workshop, three different parents recommended the workshop, so I took notice and made a note to attend.  I am relatively new to the Beaver Run community.  My son, Jeremiah is in 10th grade, and has been attending as a residential student since 8th grade. We commuted the first year from Michigan. I don’t know many people in the community, so I was pleasantly surprised when I was warmly greeted by a handful of parents that I had previously met.

Dan Gottlieb rolled into the meeting, confidently, and immediately brought out his iPad to review his notes.  His first quote from Einstein was noteworthy,

“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”

This quote brought to mind how often I had tried to get Jeremiah to” climb a tree,” when all he wanted to do was “swim around.”  How well-meaning we are as parents, and what a fine line exists between having high expectations for our children vs. having unrealistic expectations for our children, and trying to get them to function outside of who they were sent here to be.

Dr. Gottlieb continued to share insights and thought-provoking wisdom through his own experiences and his continuing work with the newly disabled. What caught my attention were the following thoughts:

  • You can’t learn anything unless you have a quiet mind with an open heart. 
  • Your job is to bring stability into your family’s lives.
  •  Self-compassion is almost counterintuitive.  It is the opposite of the critical judge that kicks us all day to be better. 
  •  Hold your heart with kindness, take a deep breath, and have faith. 
  • What we learn from our children is they teach us to love flawed humans without expectations. 
  • The love we learn from our children with special needs spills over to their siblings, our spouses, and even strangers.

I am still thinking about these pearls of wisdom.  It helps me to reflect kindly on a journey to humanness that started 16 years ago when Jeremiah first came into my life.  Children with special needs come into our families to teach us many things.  Dr. Gottlieb is right: above all, they teach us to love.

by Carol Hill, parent

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