I wanted to talk about families who spoil their family members who have a disability.  They are the bane of the professional’s existance and I fully understand that.  In group homes and at work, it is difficult to deal with a personality who has been warped by over indulgance. 

As program director of The Special Gathering of Indian River, I minister to persons with disabilities within the mentally challenged community.  We are a ministry that disciples and evangelizes persons who are intellectually disabled.  I am and I am not a professional.  I am and I am not a family member.  I’m somewhere in between both positions–comfortable in each situation but aware that my stand is different from both. 

I know that there are people within the mentally challenged community who have been spoiled.  Mary has been pampered by her mother since birth.  She has a sibling who is a successful engineer.  However, I thought Mary was an only child for about 15 years because every asset and thought is centered around Mary.  This is never a good thing.

Yet, too often I see the opposite is true.  Marsha Jane comes from a wealthy family in another state.  She has her own trust funds and she is able to exist without any support from the State.  However, she has a sister who joyfully raids Marsha Jane’s trust fund.  Sister encourages and supervises  MJ as she buys expensive gifts for her sister’s children, for her sister and for the brother-in-law. 

Yet when MJ travels, her traveling caregivers are told by Sister that MJ needs nothing.  They are told not to buy her any souviners or clothing.  It is true MJ is taken care of in a comfortable fashion.  However, it would seem good to this observer that her family could indulge MJ a bit and allow her to splurge, spending her own money on the some of the things she may want, and not merely her necessities.

Lars’ family is all gone.  He is also taken of by a paid caregiver.  At 65, he has begun to develop some interesting and quirky habits.  His caregivers must discipline him at times just to keep these traits under control.   When asked if Lars can participate in some fun activities, I am told more often than not that he cannot come because he is being disciplined.

Therefore, I cannot help but rejoice when I see a sister like Debbie.  Several months ago, she called me to her home.  When I arrived, she was crying from concern that her brother may be taken from her by a long-lost father who has found them.  Her reaction was it is deeply refreshing.

My children were raised without grandparents who lived close to us.  Both sets of grands were alive but we lived in different states.  While these grandparents were wonderful, they didn’t believe in spoiling anyone–especially family members.  My husband and I were both strict disciplinarians.  Therefore, my children always had to be on their best behavior.  I wish now that they had someone who would’ve taken them for a few days and allowed them to be rowdy.  That someone could’ve watched them as they ate too much ice cream without scolding.

As I get older, I’ve come to believe that it may be good for the soul to have times of unbridled romping.  (I’m not talking about sin–only simply, hardy play.)  Our Christian traditions teach the value of disciple and structure and I wholeheartedly agree.  However, the Old Testament Law also teaches that during feast days, you are to eat as much as you want.  In fact, KJV says, “Eat whatever your eye lusts for.”  God often spoils his children with blessings that aren’t basic needs but our desires and wants.

What do you think?  Have you seen that there is more  need for discipline or more need for concern?  Is this an issue that needs to be explored?  Am I wrong in my accessment?