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Categories: 2010, February
by Mark Katz, PhD
DO YOU BELIEVE THAT OUR TRUE
BEAUTY lies less in how well we can read or pay
attention, and more about who we are on the inside? And that there are a
lot of very important human qualities not captured in a grade on a
school report card—qualities like courage, resilience, creativity,
energy, and loyalty?
If so, then Gina Terrasi Gallagher and Patty Terrasi Konjoian (AKA
the Shut Up Sisters) invite you to join the Movement of Imperfection.
It’s a movement that helps “imperfect parents” of
“imperfect children” learn to see their children’s
differences in a new light. In a broader sense, it’s really a
movement that helps all of us learn to see differences in a new
Laughing our way to sanity
Blessed with each other and “the ability to find humor in
almost anything,” Gina and Patty use laughter to bring home their
message. “Of all the coping techniques we’ve employed,
we’ve found laughter to be one of the most effective,” they
say. “We are not alone in feeling this way. As many parents of
special needs kids often say, we have two choices—to laugh or cry.
We prefer laughter. It doesn’t create puffy eyes, and offers some
serious health benefits.”
Shut up about your perfect
Gina and Patty’s journey began soon after their
daughters’ difficulties were given names (Asperger syndrome and
bipolar disorder, respectively). Frightened, confused, and feeling
alone, they didn’t know where to turn for help. School meetings
felt like it was “us” versus “them.”
Professionals would speak in a foreign language, using terms they
After reading books about their children’s disabilities, they
would be even more depressed. Everyone seemed focused on what their
children couldn’t do rather than what they could do. Then came the
last straw: Having to listen to friends talk on and on about their
high-achieving, “perfect” children.
Fed up, the sisters decided to create a movement, imploring people
“to come out of their messy closets and embrace
“imperfection.” A book—Shut Up About Your Perfect
Kid*—soon followed, then a business, Shut Up
Industries, Inc. And then the sisters began the Movement of
Learning to see differences in a new
If you’re a child with learning or other differences who feels
accepted and valued at school, then there’s a good chance your
classmates see beyond your challenges and recognize your qualities. The
same is true if you’re an adult with learning or other differences
who feels accepted and valued at work. If so, there’s a good
chance that your colleagues see beyond your differences and recognize
the important contribution you make.
In their funny and irreverent way, this is what Gina and Patty are
trying to help all of us achieve. If we learn to see beyond our
imperfections and the imperfections of others, we can see our true
qualities and all that we and others have to offer. Researchers in the
field of human resilience find that our ability to see life’s
challenges in a new light is a key ingredient in overcoming a range of
childhood adversities. Gina and Patty are providing countless children,
families, and adults a way to see challenges in a new light.
Gina and Patty have a few suggestions for anyone interested in
joining their movement:
For those interested in reading the book sisters Gina Gallagher and
Patty Konjoian wrote about being mothers of "imperfect" children,
Three Rivers Press published the expanded and updated version of their
book, Shut Up About Your Perfect Kid: A Survival Guide for
Ordinary Parents of Special Children, in August 2010.
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