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Unpacking Dreams: How a Disability Diagnosis Unleashed My Children to Soar

young person carrying a blue backpack. text reads Unpacking Dreams: How a Disability Diagnosis Unleashed my Children to Soar

As parents, our dreams for our children often stem from a place of love and the desire for their success. But what if I told you that by keeping our dreams on their shoulders, we unintentionally weigh them down? I learned this lesson firsthand when my own dreams for my sons were extinguished by a medical diagnosis. It was through this experience that I discovered the power of letting our children chase their own dreams and ambitions.

When my two sons were born blind, the doctor’s words felt like a crushing blow to the dreams I had envisioned for them. Baseball pitcher. Quarterback. Summa cum laude. All… gone. However, as the years went by, I observed something remarkable. My sons, along with my sighted daughter, had the freedom to explore their interests, passions, and aspirations without the weight of my dreams upon them. They soared to new heights as they pursued their own goals, proving that releasing them from the expectations I had inadvertently placed on them was the key to their success.

The Heavy Backpack of Expectations

Imagine your child walking around with a backpack – not the typical school backpack filled with books and supplies, but one laden with your dreams, goals, and aspirations. This backpack, although well-intentioned, becomes a burden for our children. It hinders their ability to move freely and explore their individual paths. Just as they head into a new school year with a fresh backpack, it’s time for us to lighten the load we place upon them.

The Harm of Projecting Our Goals

Statistics reveal the harm caused by projecting our own goals onto our children. Take the blind community, for example. 70% of blind children do not graduate high school. I can tell you from experience and first hand knowledge that that horrible statistic stems from a few things, most of which are expectations. As I revealed in my TEDx talk, before my children were born I had incredible expectations for their lives, but when the doctors told me my sons were blind, like I said earlier, my dreams for them were crushed. And so was I. It was my three year old son that opened my eyes to the fact that his life was never about my dreams for him. It is about his dreams. But most parents of blind children never have that eye opening moment. They stay stuck in what should be happening in their lives, instead of empowering their children to go after what could actually be possible. Staying stuck in what we think their lives should be burdens our children and weighs them down.

When we enforce our desires, we inadvertently prevent them from discovering their unique passions. We suppress their creativity and curiosity, hindering their growth. It’s essential to recognize that children, like the seeds of plants, need space to grow in their own way and direction.

Guides on the Side

As we embark on a new school year, let’s make a commitment: to be guides on the side, not directors on the stage. Our children deserve the freedom to spread their wings and explore their interests. Our role is to provide the tools and support they need to thrive, helping them access resources that empower them to chase their dreams. As I said to my own children when I had no idea what the future held for them: “I will get you what you need and follow your lead.”

Unleashing the Power of Their Dreams

The journey of my children – who have achieved remarkable success despite adversity – is a testament to the transformative power of allowing them to pursue their own dreams. By releasing the burden of my dreams from their shoulders, I gave them the space they needed to soar beyond my expectations. This approach didn’t just lighten their load; it empowered them to thrive in ways I could never have imagined.

As parents, let’s remember that our children are not an extension of our dreams, but unique individuals with their own aspirations. By letting go and embracing their individual paths, we empower them to forge their way in the world. And in doing so, we give them the greatest gift of all – the freedom to become the architects of their own dreams and destinies. Let’s work together to keep their backpacks filled with their own dreams, not ours!

PS – My oldest blind son graduated Penn State summa cum laude and is working at his dream career for Disney while studying for his MBA. My younger blind son is a junior in college and has two hit radio shows in addition to being a sideline reporter for the school’s baseball games. My sighted daughter just started college where she has a full scholarship for NCAA basketball. Their lives look nothing like I dreamt… thank God!

Discover the power of embracing ability and advantage in disability through Kristin Smedley’s transformative books, impactful speaking engagements, enlightening workshops, and thought-provoking films. Dive into her best-selling book “Thriving Blind” on Amazon, and elevate your next event by booking Kristin at kristinsmedley.com to ignite conversations that foster inclusivity and empowerment.

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About Kristin Smedley

Kristin Smedley is a visionary leader who empowers individuals, teams, and organizations to unlock their hidden potential and gain a competitive edge. Kristin, a TEDx speaker, best selling author, nonprofit founder x2, business owner, and acclaimed filmmaker, leaves audiences on their feet cheering and wanting more of her energy and influence.

Kristin has spent her lifetime studying people that succeed without sight and discovering those repeatable systems and strategies that cause a  competitive advantage. 

As a single mom with a signature smile that has raised three children (two of which are blind) to surpass all grim expectations and out- achieve everyone around them, Kristin leaves a lasting impact on those fortunate enough to experience her powerful presentations.

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Find out how Kristin went from crying on the couch over her two son’s diagnosis of blindness, to raising them to thrive! Download the Introduction chapter of Kristin’s Best Selling Book Thriving Blind: Stories of Real People Succeeding Without Sight. Click the button below!

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