MomViews: Helping Others Understand The Beauty In Differences
February 11, 2015
Every day we come across someone or something that makes us challenge our thoughts on what is normal, but in reality the question is, what is normal? For some, it might be whatever they are used to seeing or doing, but how do you explain differences to children? In this MomViews piece, Helen Hipp, author of A Different Kind of Safari, shares her tips on how to help others understand the beauty in differences.
MomViews: Children are quite vulnerable when it comes to criticism. How did you deal with the teasing while your children were growing up?
Helen Hipp: I found it very difficult that I could not protect my children from hurtful words. It became very important for me to know I was doing something to change and challenge harmful assumptions, and to help my children find their own answers to life’s problems. We talked a lot!
MV: What inspired you to tell your son Raymond’s story?
HH: While on safari in Africa my family witnessed something few get to see –- a pink hippo. Curious and wanting to learn more about this hippo we asked the guide many questions about hippos and hippo behavior. Specifically I wanted to know why the pink hippo stood so far outside of her pod. The familiarity of the guides answer took me by surprise, he explained that “Rosie” was tolerated but not necessarily accepted by the herd because of her differences. As a parent of a child with special needs I immediately felt a strong affiliation with Rosie’s situation as did my son Ray who has experienced his own challenges with acceptance. Inspired, I decided to share the story with the world by weaving their stories into a children’s adventure book that celebrates differences.
MV:Your bio says you are the mother of a special needs child on the autistic spectrum. How old is your son now and how is he doing?
HH: Yes, I have two children in which to brag about, one of which is my son Raymond who was diagnosed with Aspergers when he was a child. Now 29 Raymond works and enjoys a healthy, fulfilling life in Vermont. No longer seeing what he is not, Ray is happy with himself and his life. I could not be more proud of the man he has chosen to become.
MV: How has telling his story helped other children understand that not everyone is going to be just like them, and that there is beauty in knowing the differences in each other?
HH: It has been my experience that teachable moments that move children are the most immediate, relevant and meaningful. It is my hope that the engaging storybook characters handling of similar fears encourages mutual understanding by helping children to understand themselves and others.
MV: Understanding differences not only helps children but there are adults that to this day do not know how to engage with someone who might look or talk differently, would you say your book can help open up the communication lines for parents as well?
HH: Yes I do, and if a book has ever inspired you, then you understand how identifying with a powerful universal message can captivate audiences of all ages towards greater understanding and self-awareness.
MV:Your bio mentions your coaching practice, WithinU Life Coaching, focusing on individuals with special needs and their families. Tell us about your practice and what services you offer families that bring you a sense of personal satisfaction.HH: My belief is we all have special needs and that challenges are achievements waiting to be faced. The services provided by WithinU Life Coaching focus on a mindset that centered on creating opportunities out of obstacles. The services are geared towards helping people find answers for their life problems. Support, focus and direction reveal each client’s innate ability to solve difficult situations and increase their productivity and sense of personal fulfillment.
MV: Can you offer any tips to other moms who want to help teach her child about the differences in another person’s looks or behavior? HH: Turn of all technology and talk. Talk about differences explore them, challenge each other to expand the mind and think outside the box. How many different ways are there to …. What would the world look like it everything and everyone was the same? Not sure, draw a picture. How many different colors were used? What did the different colors create? Understanding and exploring opens doors to hearts and minds, and creative learning is fun for all!
Thank you for stopping and reading this MomViews segment. If you or someone you know would like to share their story and/or tips on motherhood, feel free to reach out via email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Former B2B editor and marketing manager turned Family & Lifestyle blogger. Fatima is passionate about life and being social.
When she isn't running around with her husband, three kids, and two pups, Fatima helps other bloggers and local businesses with their online marketing strategy.
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