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"Special children go to special parents"

A friend of mine, who is a Christian and a powerhouse of an advocate for families who have children with special needs, linked this essay to Facebook.

 I've heard the cliché too, that "special kids go to special parents". Of course, as an atheist, I disagree with that on several levels - starting with the notion that there is some higher power matching kids to parents. If I were a believer, though, I'd still disagree.

From the wonderful essay linked above: If you want something better to say, try, “You don’t have to be a special parent to love this special child, but loving them will transform you in ways you can’t imagine!” because that is the truth!

And that IS the truth. There is nothing special about me, but I can say that raising a child with autism is an experience that has taught me so much, and fundamentally changed me - I'd like to think it's made me better.

Also, I don't need pity or sympathy, because I know I'm fortunate to have two beautiful, amazing daughters, each special in her own way. Who could pity me for that?
In considering the essay further, though (and this is how it relates to this particular section), I wonder if anyone really considers the implications to such a statement that "special children go to special parents".

Think about it. If there were a deity with a list of, or some sort of "plan" for, kids who had certain disabilities, temperaments, IQs, or whatever, and he were matching those kids with prospective parents, what does that mean?

If "special kids go to special parents", meaning that this deity is matching up kids with autism, for example, with parents he thinks are capable of handling the disability, then it would mean that he's matching other kids, deliberately, mind you, with abusive parents.
He's matching "perfect" kids with the parents who "deserve" them.
He's matching kids who will be born with severe medical issues with parents who aren't financially able to take on the expenses.
He's matching kids with parents who are drug-dependent.

He's also matched up innocent kids with parents who won't accept the responsibility of raising them, who abuse or abandon them.
He would have to do all of this knowingly, since he's omniscient - knowing all that ever has happened, all that is happening, and all that ever will happen. That's the definition of "omniscient", after all.
If he's chosen "special kids" to go to "special parents", then he must also have chosen all other kids to go to all other parents, because he feels each child is with the parent that deserves him, and each child deserves to be with the parents that have him.
Where's the logic in that?
Now, I say this not with the intent to offend. I've just been thinking about that statement - one that I've heard many times myself - and wondered if those who utter it (with the best intentions, I have no doubt) ever think that statement all the way through to its logical conclusion.

I have a child with autism for whatever reason, whether it be environmental or genetic, both, or from some other cause. I don't have her because I'm special. I don't have her because a god felt that I was good enough to care for such a remarkable child. I have her for all the natural reasons, and there's no point in trying to justify nature.

It simply is what it is. We just have to be smart enough to appreciate diversity - no justifications needed.
So, what are your thoughts?  Do you agree with the cliché about "special kids" going to "special parents"? 

Answer Question

Asked by jsbenkert at 1:27 PM on Dec. 10, 2012 in Religious Debate

Level 37 (89,331 Credits)
Answers (25)
  • I think all kids are special...

    Answer by Nimue930 at 1:30 PM on Dec. 10, 2012

  • No argument here.  But do you think that there's a god placing certain children with certain parents? 


    Comment by jsbenkert (original poster) at 1:38 PM on Dec. 10, 2012

  • That's a hard question to answer succinctly... I believe in God. But I dont believe God says "this parent deserves this child, or this child is stuck with this crappy parent". Just like I dont believe God creates tornadoes or hurricanes as punishment on "evi people". Some things just are... You cant look at a special needs child and say "well I'd better give him to a pretty special parent". All children are challenging in some way, at some point in their life. Some more than others. But those same children can be incredible blessings. There are so many things that lead to the children we have, and how we parent them... Sometimes from choices we made years before we became parents...

    Answer by Nimue930 at 1:57 PM on Dec. 10, 2012

  • Obviously as an atheist, I have to disagree with that part. I have never believed that parents were somehow "given" their children, and I have never believed that everything happens for a reason. I think special needs kids have special parents because the kids made them that way. As parents, we all want to do what is best for our kids. With a special needs kid, it's going to take on a whole new meaning. We have to jump through hoops sometimes to get our kids the help they need. We research constantly to try to find the best ways to deal with their challenges. We adapt to them, and in the process, we become the parents they need. Special needs kids aren't given to us because of who we are. They make us the parents we are.

    Answer by JulieJacobKyle at 2:06 PM on Dec. 10, 2012

  • I believe that everything happens for a reason (I know people get sick of that) but I do. My birth parents were terrible parents, some of the foster homes even worse. Then my parents (adoptive) were matched as adoptive parents for us. My mother lost 11 babies and decided to adopt, after adopting 3 children she carried a baby full term and he is a blessing but she did not stop adopting. I have 5 siblings!

    I do believe children are matched and that God is involved. I personally could NOT raise a child with special needs beyond a low grade Autism etc. I know this to be the truth and woudl seriously have considered adoption had that been the case with mine. Why do parenst get to hae kids adn abuse them I do not know but I still feel there is a reason. I will not argue about it, it is my opinion. Do I like that children are born or matched to assholes? Absolutely not, do I understand it? No, I do not. Does it upset me? YES

    Answer by Anonymous at 2:10 PM on Dec. 10, 2012

  • I don't think there's any Divine planning - I think biology and genetics and fetal development (all the science-y reasons), etc, are the forces behind why any particular child is born with special needs. I will say that parents who devote themselves to their children with special needs are completely deserving of admiration and respect. I just don't think there is any Entity choosing to place these children with pre-approved "special" parents. These parents rise to the occasion in an absolutely incredible and inspiring way, yes, but hand selected by God, I don't believe.

    Answer by bandgeek521 at 2:12 PM on Dec. 10, 2012

  • well if there was a "god" and he placed me with my parents he must of really hated me and wanted me to get the fuck beat out of me

    Answer by LostSoul88 at 2:23 PM on Dec. 10, 2012

  • I'm sorry, LS88.  No child deserves that.


    Comment by jsbenkert (original poster) at 2:27 PM on Dec. 10, 2012

  • I don't think God matches every child up with their parent but I do think at times he has a sense of humor and will match you up with that child that "was just like you when you were younger."

    Answer by baconbits at 2:40 PM on Dec. 10, 2012

  • There are plenty of special need kids with horrible parents. How does the saying apply there?

    Personally I think experience is the best teacher. Some of us will rise to the challenge and be considered "special" for how we deal with these challenges. Parents of children without disabilities may have done just the same had they been given the opportunity.

    I think genetics and environment has a lot more to do with special needs than a lottery drawing of the gods.

    Answer by anng.atlanta at 2:41 PM on Dec. 10, 2012

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