Purpose//

How Raising a Child With a Profound Disability Gave This Family Purpose

Walk with Walsh founder, Jennifer Walsh's candid interview with her parents on the reality of raising a child — her twin sister — with a severe disability.

I have always wanted to do an interview with my parents. I have always wanted to ask them questions that we don’t always think about on a regular basis. They have been such an inspiration to me my entire life. Watching them in how they treat life, treat others, and most importantly one another has been a gift to experience. This past August they celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary, and I wanted to ask them even more questions about life.

They share their love story, their marriage story, a lot for church programs, so I knew they were used to speaking in front of groups. What I really wanted to talk about was what life has been like for them to have a daughter who is profoundly disabled. I wanted to know what they felt as newlyweds and what they feel about life now and having a daughter like my twin sister, Danielle.

Yes, Danielle is my twin sister and she is the big sister to my younger sibling, Briana. I have a different relationship with my twin, and Briana has a separate relationship as well. Being the parent to a disabled child is a completely different relationship and experience, and I wanted to dive deeper into that relationship. I felt like I knew, but then when I was able to have my parents sit down with me and allow me to ask them very personal questions, I heard more and learned more than I even knew.

My twin sister allowed my parents to see the world and treat those that inhabit this world very differently. My parents at a young age had to face a new direction as newlyweds with having one child that was on a course they were completely unfamiliar with.

As the eldest daughter I can say this: My parents have a grace that I can’t truly explain. You see it in the way they look at each other, even after all of these years together. That grace is with them in how they interact and treat others. My parents, their 50 years of marriage, and how they care for my twin sister and so many people that they touch with their lives is what grace would look like if you could paint a picture of it.

My wish for sharing their personal story and journey? I want it to help others, those who are parents or family members of the disabled. I want their story to help others understand that there are different types of disabilities. I hope that this story helps my sister and her home. Her caretakers do so much for her and the others that live in her home. As my Mom called it, “The Home of The Forgotten Ones.” My sister and her housemates rarely receive fun activities or guests of any kind. Like Danielle, many of the people in her home can’t communicate and are not able to show emotion, so they can’t tell you or show you when they are excited or happy but they love experiences and guests and parties and live music just like the rest of us.

I want this story to show that love and kindness is what makes this world go around.

Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

Sign up for the Thrive Global newsletter

Will be used in accordance with our privacy policy.

Thrive Global
People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

- MARCUS AURELIUS

We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.