A Teen's Perspective: Hey, count me in!

One of the highlights of my summer has been working with some incredible guest teen writers! This series began with a post from H who you can read about here. H is the older sibling of a 4 year-old sister with O.I.; she shares some valuable insight with families who have children with O.I. and their siblings without O.I. Thanks H for sharing your experience and perspective on this issue! 

There are so many tips I could give to parents of children with OI and non- OI children. Some of the tips I give will pertain to families, but some may not pertain to some families at all. So I ask that those who read this will keep that in mind.

1. Sharing is caring. The first and most important piece of advice I would give to a parent would be to keep your non-OI children informed of what is going on with your OI child at all times. Even if your other child is 5 years old and doesn’t quite understand what is going on, they still care and it will make them feel more involved. They will ALWAYS be concerned about what is going on with their brother or sister. And it lets them know you are still thinking about them through all the stress, when you take the time to share information with them. It may help that child understand why your OI child requires so much attention, and they may even be more willing to help if they know what’s going on with their sibling.
2. Families help each other. The second major piece of advice I would give to a parent is- even if your child is younger- let them help with splinting or giving medicine, or whatever it is that needs to be done (unless there really is nothing at all that they can do). It makes your other children feel important and a part of their sibling’s life (of getting better!). If they don’t know how to do whatever it is, teach them. It gives them an opportunity to be included. They may not complain as much about attention if they are included in what is going on with their sibling. It will also be a good bonding opportunity for you and your child if you teach them these things. 

3. Inclusion makes the world go 'round. The last big thing I would say to a parent is to get your OI child involved with sports. Maybe not a club, but go to the local park a couple times a month and play baseball or something (make adjustments or accommodations as needed). If you’re playing baseball, play with a tennis ball or a whiffle ball instead of a hard- ball. If you decide to play soccer or tennis maybe use a foam ball. Or have your OI child be a referee. There are always ways to amend the game so everyone can be involved. It will keep everyone’s life running as smoothly as possible. Everyone can be included, active and it’s good family time! It will also teach your other children to be a little more flexible and to adapt to situations creatively.

Some other miscellaneous advice: make sure your non-OI child understands why your OI child needs the special attention; especially if they are young. Keep reminding your young child because it may be hard for them to understand. Don’t compare your other children’s hardships to those of your OI child either. It makes your other children feel as though you care about your OI child more than them. And it’s just not a good idea to compare children in general. 
I promise I am not trying to tell anyone what to do! Like I said, none of this may apply to some families, or these may be things you already keep in mind. They are just things I have learned in the four years I have been a sibling to an OI child and 13 years of being the oldest of 3 other children. I love my family very much and I know that every family is different, and no family is perfect. Every family is special and I respect that.

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One Response to A Teen's Perspective: Hey, count me in!

  1. H and Sandy - thanks so much!
    We parents have so much to learn from a teen perspective!
    The opportunity to be included and to be helpful is so important to all of us, isn't it?


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