7 Things not to Tell Parents With Special Children
There are so many articles with this title written by special parents. And they are so many “not to say” things on the list. I want to name some of them and try to see from an angle of special parents and from the angle of someone who is not dealing with special children. I want to offer my perspective to the special parents and the ways to turn around some thoughts that made you feel bad.
Some statements are listed as hurtful and offensive, but if you look at them from another perspective, they won’t make you feel so bad.
On the other hand, I understand your right to be upset if you hear something that simply feels hurtful to you. In this article, I will sum up the main sentences that special parents list as “don’t say,” and I will offer you my perspective on those sentences. You can see my reasons why the most of the comments don’t get to me:
Here are some of those:
1. “I don’t know how you do it. I couldn’t handle it if it was me” – personally, this doesn’t offend me at all. I take it as a compliment. When people say this to me, they usually say it with a lot of compassion and encouragement. I also consider what they say to be a raw truth of their current beliefs. They really believe that they couldn’t handle it if they were in our position. Of course, you and I know it’s not true. If they were faced with the same challenge, they would also find a way to manage it. But it is their opinion at this moment.
2. “It’s too bad you had to put your life on hold.” – This wouldn’t offend me either. Why would it? If you are hurt by a comment like this, maybe you believe that your life is truly on hold. I say this with love: don’t put yourself in a position to offend anyone who has some opinion about you. What they think of you is their business. What you think of yourself is important. If you think your life is on hold and that thought hurt you, I have a better one for you: Your life is NOT on hold. You are thriving. At one moment, you were just a regular human. At the other, you became a parent, a nurse, a therapist, a nutritionist, an expert, a specialist, and all that at once. Every day you spend with your child, every hug and kiss you give helps you thrive and expand. It makes your personality grow. It makes you so strong, organized, flexible, adaptable… so, about what kind of “life on hold” are we talking about?
3. “Stay strong or be strong. That is the most important.” I understand why the parents are budded by this statement. Sometimes, we just want someone to be a compassionate ear to us and just to listen to what’s bothering us. And when we get this trivial sentence back, it seems like the other person is trying to fix us fast and not acknowledging our process of grief or other emotions. You can simply explain to this person that it is not true that you have to be strong. Because it is not possible. What you can do is to BECOME strong! There is a big difference. You can’t just BE strong when you survived some kind of trauma. But what you can do for sure is embrace and accept your experience, whatever it is that caused you to feel sad and stressed. And then you can take time to process it and live through the sadness or shock or pain or whatever you are experiencing. And after some time, when you accept that it is how it is, you become strong. Because in the process, you will approve your strengths. And it is ok if you need some time to do that.
4. “Everything happens for a reason” and “God only gives you what you can handle.” Those are trivial and shallow statements, I agree. Again, you don’t have to be hurt by these statements by having compassion that the person in front of you can’t speak from their heart, and that’s why uses sentences like this to fill the silence. You could gently try to educate this person and respond that God doesn’t give someone sickness and the other one health. The nature of life is so that it is not a straight line. Each one of us will go throw crises and challenges in our lives.
5. “What do you mean she has no diagnose? I don’t understand. Have you taken her to a doctor?”. I get this sentence a lot, and it makes me laugh every time. My dear friend, are you serious? Have I taken her to the doctor? We’ve been to the doctor more than you can count. Does this question offend me? Nope. Only shows me that I am dealing with a person who doesn’t think much before saying something. Other’s people “hurtful” statements only speak about them and their personalities. That says nothing about you. Laugh and have fun, don’t get offended.
6. “Did you make all the checkups when you were pregnant?” or “Is it genetic?”. I found out during my research that these are the questions that hurt special parents’ feelings the most. I will try to explain why, to all of you who are not dealing with special children: special parents, among other negative emotions such as fear, worry, stress, despair, sadness, helplessness, are dealing with a huge amount of guilt. What do you think, how many times a mother and a father of a special child have set down and drawn family trees, discussed every little detail of what was happening during the pregnancy? They thought about that so much that now they can remember if some date from 5 years ago was Sunday, not Saturday, and what color was the t-shirt they were that day. That’s how much time they dedicate to trying to figure out what happened. They bear enormous guilt, especially in the first years, and sometimes think that their child is suffering because of them. That it is their fault. And you ask these questions is like putting salt on an open wound. So, special parents, to questions “Did you make all checkups when you were pregnant?” or “Is it genetic?”, say politely, “It’s none of your business.”
7. “Omg, she looks so much better now; the last time I saw her, she didn’t look good.” This last one is from my personal experience. This maybe wouldn’t be such a problematic statement. But you told me the same the last time we saw each other, and then the time before that, and then the time before that. It makes me feel bad because I am almost 100 % sure that you will say the same to me next time.
As special parents, we create the atmosphere around us of how our environment would see us and our reality – having a child with challenges. We need to be clear on who we are and that the only thing that matters is to spend as much as beautiful moments as possible with our children. Caring about other people’s opinions is a waste of energy.
Dear special parents, consider that before we all got special children, we didn’t know either the perfect way to talk to someone dealing with disabilities. Maybe we’ve said things that were just not appropriate in the past. It’s doesn’t even matter so much anymore. For your inner peace, just start with the thought that the person in front of you has their best intentions. And for sure, they don’t want to offend you on purples.
Instead of asking the other person to show bigger understanding towards you, you can be the one to show bigger understanding for them. You can’t expect to receive something you don’t give.
First, you get the attitude “I know who I am and who my baby is. And I know I am doing an amazing job and that my child and I are great teachers”, and when you get that attitude, nothing can offend you, and no one will have the power to control your mood.
We cannot control what others are going to say to us, but we can control how we think of ourselves, and that is the only thing we need for inner peace.
Let me know in the comments if you want to add to the list.