Mother’s column: My cousin is very gifted, but just different


Christian Life

Neline, CNE.news

Young people with Down working in a restaurant in Rome, Italy. Photo AFP, Gabriel Bouys

On Facebook, you can join the group Christian parenting. In this group, Dutch parents digitally meet to discuss education issues. You learn quite a bit there, if not about parenting, then about people in general.

Just an example: a mother asks for tips about her child’s developmental lead. What is striking is the eagerness with which some people respond to such a question. One child is even brighter than the other. And the question is whether the teacher is aware of this.

Neline op de fiets.jpeg

Neline is married and the mother of five: Martha (8), Abel (6), Jolijn (5), Reinout (3) and Sifra (0).

Many schools do have a plus group, but watch out: do they just do some extra sums, or do they really practise academic skills, such as presenting, summarising and doing research?

Intellect is a gift

I believe it; it is not always easy to have a highly gifted child. But it can become an interesting problem that you are secretly a bit proud of. Before you know it, you forget what the word gifted itself testifies: a great intellect is a gift. We did not receive a grant from the Creator that we did not receive to become something ourselves but to serve others.

That is what I liked about my grandfather. He used his gift of learning languages for God’s Kingdom. He used his educational talents to teach others the Word. Whether it was in the catechism class, somewhere in China, or simply at home during a Bible study.

Until the “intelligent lockdown” in early 2020 –even a lockdown had to be smart in our country– put a stop to the study groups he still led. Nobody foresaw that it would be a definitive end. But grandpa turned out to be seriously ill. And now, it is already more than a year ago that we as a family brought him to his final resting place.

Many beautiful things were said that day. But what touched me most was my cousin’s sermon without words on the grave. He is mentally disabled, as they used to call him in the past. A boy with a mental disability, they now say. Or better: differently-abled.

No better summary

After the thanksgiving speech, he stood by the opened grave when we had to say goodbye. He waved to the coffin and then raised his head. Looking up at the sky, he pointed upwards. No one could have given a better summary of the day.

This column was previously published in the Dutch family magazine Terdege



Subscribe for an update, and receive a documentary and e-book for free.

Choose your subscriptions*

You may subscribe to multiple lists.