Champions, Education, Parenting

Shifting from Awareness to Acceptance

Author: Karen Copeland

I’ve been thinking a lot about awareness lately, and reflecting on how our family has moved from a place of awareness to a place of acceptance. I thought about those times when people were “aware” of the challenges we were experiencing but this did not necessarily translate into “acceptance”.

In one of my first posts on this blog, I wrote:

“There are so many gifts that have been brought our way as we have ventured down this new path. I am liking this new destination. It’s not always easy, there have been difficult days for sure, however I think we have become better people as a result. We have discovered empathy and understanding. We have become more flexible. We have discovered unimaginable courage and resiliency.” Change is Never Easy…And it Shouldn’t Be

You see, it wasn’t until we started accepting our child for who he is – his strengths, his gifts, his challenges, that we started to experience success. It was when we stopped trying to make him become who we (or others for that matter) wanted him to be that the real change started to happen.

When I think about our champions I realize that they too, accepted our child and our family for who we are. Helping us identify our strengths and our gifts. Encouraging us to embrace our challenges and meet them with strength and confidence. Letting us know that it is okay to be different, to do things differently.

This is acceptance.

To our son’s grade four teacher, Dan, who created ways to build positive connections between my son and his peers. It would have been so easy to displace my son in your class, but you didn’t. And because you didn’t, you showed every other student in your class, including our son, that he belonged.

This is acceptance.

To our local curling club manager, Ken, who created the space for my son to come to the rink and simply throw rocks down the ice because he was interested. Without pressuring to do more, to conform to curriculum. To simply provide the opportunity for my son to experience something he loved. To move at his own pace.

This is acceptance.

To the psychiatrist, Kelly, who realized that the best way to connect with our son was to meet him where he was at, even if it meant getting down on the floor and playing with a train set. Who met with my husband and I and validated our experiences.

This is acceptance.

To our son’s grade three teacher, Gord, who, instead of being upset that our son would move to another part of the classroom during carpet time instruction, took the time to ask our son questions after the lesson and discover he had been listening the whole time.

This is acceptance.

To one of my dearest champions, Annie, who comes from such an incredible place of empathy and curiousity. Who never once made me feel like a failure, who guided me through some very dark moments and assisted me to regain my courage and strength.

This is acceptance.

To my family and friends, who have stuck by us all these years. Who have taken it upon themselves to set aside judgement and become curious. Who have also moved from a place of simple awareness to a place of understanding.

This is acceptance.

When I think of these and so many other examples of acceptance, I realize that what all of these experiences have done, is given us hope. That I can imagine a future where we aren’t just aware of differences, we accept them, we embrace and celebrate them.

We start with awareness, becoming more knowledgeable. But then we, all of us, shift our perspective just that tiny little bit and create the space for others where they may not have been embraced before.

This is acceptance.


3 thoughts on “Shifting from Awareness to Acceptance”

  1. Karen, I would argue that you and the people you mentioned have gone beyond “acceptance” and EMBRACED the story and identity of your son. We can accept someone which is a great start but when we start to look to the strengths and assets and change the lens, we bring out that what is within and we embrace who someone is.

    You have truly accepted your son… And I would argue that the word does not do justice for the changes your family has made. You have embraced the strengths and created the conditions at times for him to truly flourish… And started a streak that will continue. Inspiring!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for this, Chris. The work you are doing around recognizing strengths and changing the lens is so incredibly important – it gives me a great deal of hope that more children will be accepted and embraced in their classrooms where they may not have been before. For any readers unfamiliar with Chris’ work, please go read his blog here:


  2. We have had a similar experience this year; our son’s teacher is amazing and he’s really responded to her. I’m sure that if his kindergarten and first grade teachers could see him now, she’d be shocked. From the kid who required a dedicated behavioral aide and special academic help to this third grader (still not without some issues, of course) who functions in a classroom with no special help. Thank God for the teachers who really SEE.

    Liked by 1 person

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