Why the 7 Little Johnstons Refuse to Let Their Size Define Them: 'There Is No Woe-Is-Me Attitude'
Amber Johnston tells PEOPLE she and her husband Trent tell their five children, all of whom have achondroplasia dwarfism: "You're just like everyone else — you can do things, you can go places and you can be whoever you want to be"
The Johnstons are the world’s largest known family living with achondroplasia, the most common form of dwarfism, but they never let their size define them.
“We tell our kids, ‘You’re just like everyone else,’ ” mom Amber Johnston says in the latest issue of PEOPLE. ” ‘You can do things, you can go places and you can be whoever you want to be.’ ”
Amber, who is 4 ft. tall, and her husband Trent, who is 4 ft., 3 in., have two biological children: Jonah, 17, and Elizabeth, 15; they also adopted three kids from countries where babies with dwarfism are often abandoned: Anna, 17, from Siberia, Alex, 11, from South Korea and Emma, 11, from China.
The couple proudly make it a point on their TLC reality show, 7 Little Johnstons, to show that they’re just like any other American family. “I grew up in an all-little-people family,” says Trent. “[But] we didn’t have a ‘Woe is me’ attitude. My parents raised us just like every other parent would raise their child.”
Amber has a similar spirit of self-reliance: “I was the only little person in a family of average people, but my parents raised me the same as my siblings. Plus, I’m the oldest, so even though I was smaller, I was always in charge!”
- For more on the 7 Little Johnstons pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday
All the furniture and counters are standard height in the Johnston household and the family uses stools to reach them. When it comes to the grocery store, paper towels are perfect for knocking items on high shelves into the cart.
“That’s just our way of life,” says Amber, who is far more worried that she now has three teens who are dating and driving, like adolescents of average height. “Lord help us!” jokes Trent.
7 Little Johnstons airs Tuesday (10 p.m. ET) on TLC.