Gina Terrasi Gallagher and Patricia Terrasi are co-authors of “Shut Up About Your Perfect Kid: A Survival Guide for Ordinary Parents of Special Children,” a book about the frustrations, sadness and stigmas they face as parents of children with disabilities. Gina is a Hatch Award-winning freelance copywriter and Patricia is a videographer and the director of Family Services in the Developmental Services department at Advocates, an organization that supports individuals with developmental, mental health and other challenges. They blog about their daily parenting experiences at www.shutupabout.com. The sisters attended the 22nd Annual Lexington Family Services Conference as guest speakers. Read on for a taste of what they shared with their audience there!
It’s the ultimate test of courage, resilience, and patience (especially during the teen years). It’s called parenthood. And to help prepare for it, many parents read books by so-called experts who like to remind them what not to do. One of the biggest pearls of wisdom is never to compare your children. Yet, from the moment our children are born, that’s exactly what so many parents do. We compare our kids to other children in their peer groups and to our own childhood milestones. We monitor their growth progress in percentiles and measure them next to other children at the playground. As they get older, the comparisons become even more frequent. We compare their grades, their statistics on the soccer field, or the number of colleges who have granted them acceptances.
But what happens when our children’s accomplishments don’t measure up their peers’? It’s something that parents of children with special needs and other differences frequently encounter. How can they deal with raising children who aren’t all-star athletes or academic geniuses in a world that promotes perfection? How can they deal with the judgement, isolation, and stigma that comes with having children with unique challenges?
Highly imperfect sisters, authors, and speakers Patty and Gina Terrasi, provided answers to these questions when they delivered the keynote address at Lexington’s 22nd Annual Family Services Conference. The sisters, who penned the best-selling parenting book, Shut Up About Your Perfect Kid, provided a humorous and hopeful look at their experiences in raising daughters with autism, learning disabilities, and anxiety. They taught audience members how:
- Parenting is about letting go of expectations and loving the reality.
- Humor can be a powerful and healthy coping mechanism to deal with life’s challenges.
- Parents should be proud of the accomplishments of their special children, no matter how small they may seem to others.
- Our special children can be our greatest teachers.
- Community and support is essential in successfully raising children with challenges.
The sisters also hosted a breakout session, “Voices of Imperfection,” which allowed special needs adults and parents to openly discuss and share their successes and challenges. In addition, the sisters showed their imperfect dance moves as they delightfully boogied to the beat of their favorite band, Flame.
To learn more about the sisters and their book, “Shut Up About Your Perfect Kid,” visit their website at www.shutupabout.com.