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7 Lessons My Daughter With Down Syndrome Taught Me About Stereotyping

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Stereotypes never seemed to be an issue for me, that is until I had my first kid. When my daughter who was born with Down syndrome was given only a 60% chance to survive in-utero, she surfaced my hidden stereotypes. Small stereotypes involving assumptions and limitations. This needed fixing. So my daughter took me to school on overcoming stereotypes.

While coaching and training Millennials in their professional skill sets, I am confronted with stereotypes once again. Thankfully the lessons my daughter taught me has allowed me to not stereotype Millennials either.

Stereotypes Are Everywhere We Look

Stereotypes are everywhere. Opposed to popular belief, most stereotypes are not vicious and ugly though. The majority of stereotypes society deals with are around the topic of assumptions and expectations which force limitations. Everyone has stereotypes. Knowing it or not, we have them. The trick is identifying your stereotypes and overcoming them as quickly as possible.

The overarching stereotype my daughter taught me to overcome was the limitation of capability. I learned quickly not to project assumptions on my daughter when she was just a baby. She kept beating odds. Again and again my daughter kept pushing the limits and wrecking any stereotypes that I may have had.

Stereotypes is defined as a simplified and standardized conception or image invested with special meaning and held in common by members of a groups. In essence, stereotypes is a generalization.

Below are 7 lessons I learned from my daughter with Down syndrome on the topic of stereotyping.

1. Differences possess the power to pleasantly surprise you. Anytime differences enter into a situation or conversation, they can come out of left field to shock you. My daughter's differences have brought tears, joy, and laughter in the moments of surprises. If you are willing to stay in the differences, be ready to be pleasantly surprised.

2. Perceived knowledge never matches experienced knowledge. What you think you know rarely meets what you know through experience. Learning about people, groups, and even organizations from a distance will never give you the full truth. Knowing someone or something through experience will always trump knowing from hearsay.

3. External expectations give back internal limitations. Projecting expectations on people impacts the person projecting more than the person receiving. External expectations can produce negativity, resentment, anger, disappointment, and more. You are not only hurting others when you place expectations on them, you are really hurting yourself.

4. General evaluation steals away personal understanding. Following the majority shared viewpoint takes away the opportunity to really understand the uniqueness of a person. No one person is the same. Everyone has been created and shaped differently. Generalizations can only posses partial truth if any. Know people and not their generalizations of their classification.

5. Other people's stereotypes only have power if you choose so. I may be stereotyped by other people, but I will not allow that to have power in my life. As I teach my daughter through the future years, she will know to not give power to other people's assumptions and personifications. You choose who you give power to and I suggest you give power to your self not other people's assumptions.

6. Normal is overrated and a fictitious reality. No one can really classify normality. Sometimes it means average, median, or generality. But is it the average to what media is portraying or what friends are portraying? Normality is not all it is cracked up to be. In fact, most of the time normal is not even real. Yet people keep striving for it.

7. Abnormalities have the ability to achieve extraordinary results. Stepping outside of normality puts you in the position to accomplish something out of the ordinary called extraordinary. Do not sweat not being normal, but leverage it to live in the extraordinary way of life, producing extraordinary results.

If you find yourself stereotyping, break out of it and start getting to know people. You just might be blown away.


Jared Buckley helps businesses develop millennials to excel. I cover all elements related to development, soft skills, and millennials. Working with businesses, organizations, and teams to release young professionals untapped potential through underlining skills is a dream.