Moment 2 Moment Masterpiece Parenting Blog

Be the Real You

by: Dan Thorndike

I recently had an idea to ask some friends a question.

The question was: “If you were talking to me and Elizabeth, as the parents of special needs children, what question would you want to ask?”

The first question that came up was: “What positive impacts do you see your special needs children having on the community around them?

1. First, I would say that the most noticeable thing I see is how my two girls are “all-in” with their emotions. They express their feelings freely (and fully) without caring what someone else might think. They don’t try to make you guess what they are feeling and are not afraid to let others see. If you have ever experienced a Shiloh or Shelby “all in” hug, you are by far the most blessed!

Life Lesson: We should all be bolder in letting others know how we are feeling. Until others fully know, they can’t be there to offer help in the capacity that we may need. Not everyone will be able to offer help, but for those who are able, it is a win-win! Most people love to feel needed.

2. Next, I would say that Shelby and Shiloh are unconditionally accepting and loving. (Although not always the best with social boundaries). They easily look past another person’s differences and love them just the way they are. (Something that I think we can all be better at.) Their smiles and saying, “I love you” (to complete strangers) bless many people’s days. It has even moved some people to tears as they respond, “how did she know I needed that?”

Life Lesson: We can all do better. We can all accept each other’s differences and love each other better. We can also practice forgiving like my girls forgive. With this, the world would be a much brighter place!

real you body resized

3. Shelby’s genuineness when she asks you a question is real. When you answer, she really cares about what you are saying. It is more than lip service. She asks you a question because she truly wants to know and not just because it is a socially acceptable thing to do. I find too often, in my life, I may ask a question and then not fully listen because my attention is not focused. There are also times when I don’t ask a question that probably needs to be asked because I don’t feel I will have time to listen to the answer. People want to be heard to know that they are cared about.

Life Lesson: Slow down and make time to listen. Make eye contact and follow up with a response so your loved ones know they are heard. It only takes a minute but makes a lasting moment!

4. Lastly, my kiddos always want to lend a helping hand. (Not always wanted or helpful…ha!) They want to live alongside you, join you in your struggles, and feel like they contribute to the family and community. The task might take longer but we try to embrace the impact it is making in their hearts and lives.

Life lesson: Make sure we take the time to stop and acknowledge their hearts to help. If their help is not “helpful”, find something they can do by your side. These feelings of belonging and contributing are vital for our kiddo’s walks towards independence and lifelong satisfaction.

Please share with us how your diverse needs kiddos and their siblings have impacted your lives or the lives of those around you. These stories become our inspiration and education. We all can get caught up in the day to day but slowing down and hearing each other’s hearts on this wild but fabulous journey makes us better and brings us closer.

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about us

Meet the Thorndikes - Moment to Moment Family

Hi there! We are the crazy cool parents to 5 amazing and crazy cool kiddos. But, first, we are Dan and Elizabeth Thorndike – married 15 years and living this life one moment at a time. We have a full and blessed life, but we are clumsily tackling a journey we never foresaw ourselves living.

Read our story of how this journey all started in our blog post titled:
“The Beginning. Our Special Needs Journey”


Dan Thorndike

I am an engineer at heart. My passion is fixing cars and knowing how things work. I owned and operated an automotive repair shop for years but sold it to spend more time with what matters most – my family.



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