Mom Issues a Heartbreaking Plea to Parents: Teach Your Kids About Differences


Stacey Jackson Gagnon/Facebook

As parents, we spend a lot of time teaching our kids to be kind, respectful, and responsible. But, sometimes, those blanket lessons about being nice and treating other people as we'd like to be treated simply aren't enough. Arizona mom Stacey Gagnon is urging parents to talk to their kids about what it truly means to be different -- and to embrace each other's differences -- after a group of kids at church stared and pointed at her son, Joel, who was born with cranio-facial impairment.

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"Today hurt," the mom says plainly at the start of her post.

She goes on to explain that she and her children -- four of whom are adopted and have special needs, according to the Huffington Post -- attended a new church for the very first time. All was going well until the time came to walk her kids back to the children's area of the church.

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"The minute we walked inside, the room became silent and every child stared or pointed at my son," she recalls. "I stood at the door and watched every child look with eyes wide and mouths open at my child. I stepped in and was about to address the entire class about differences; but then I stopped. I stopped and looked to the back of the room where my son had fled to hide. He had buried his head in his arms because you cannot hide in plain sight."

mom viral facebook post teaching kids about differences
Stacey Jackson Gagnon/Facebook

Gagnon explains that her son, who's missing one ear and some bone structure in his face, asked to leave the room, and she held him in her arms as he cried throughout the rest of the church service. "I held him in my arms during church and he drew 'Joel loves Mom' on my palm," she writes. "Tears welled in my throat. My beautiful and loving son deserves so much more than stares and pointing."

Despite the heartbreaking encounter, Gagnon says she is not angry and does "not think these are bad, mean children." Instead, she says, no one has ever taught them about people like her son and how to treat people who may look, act, or behave differently than they do.

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"I ask all parents this, teach your children," Gagnon writes. "Teach your children that many people look different. Show them pictures of people that look different. And then explain that it is not okay to stare at someone that looks different, it's not okay to point. Teach them that my boy is the same on the inside as your child is. He loves Dodge Ram trucks, and Minecraft, and digging in the dirt. He loves ketchup, but does not love broccoli. And mostly, he does not like people staring or pointing out that he looks different."

Since her post went up, it's been shared more than 15,000 times, and thousands of parents have commented to thank her for the important reminder to have these conversations and to do better for our kids.

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As parents, we have to model the values we want our children to hold. That means being purposeful in showing them how to treat others and giving them an awareness of the many, many diverse, beautiful, and wonderful people they'll encounter in the world.

As Gagnon reminds us in her post, "Show them pictures of people with different colored skin, different eyes, different abilities to talk, walkers to walk, wheelchairs to roll. Show them children with no hair, without an ear, without an arm. Take a moment and share all kinds of different. Now teach your child that a beautiful person is found with the heart; not the eyes."

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