Crosspost: What not to say to a parent of...
All over the blogosphere, posts are popping up about “what not to say to a parent of” a gay child, an autistic child, a chubby child, a child with a disability, a biracial child…you get the gist.
Here’s the thing: Most kids don’t notice that their classmate is autistic, has a disability, or whatever. And if they do, they really don’t care. The child with whatever “imperfection” isn’t the one with the hurt feelings. The parents are the ones with the problems. And they’re doing more harm than good by making a big deal out of what most people see as nothing.
Do you wonder why people are so concerned that they need to make a list of politically inappropriate things to say to them? Maybe they’re embarrassed by whatever their child “has”. (I used quotes because I’m not sure of the politically correct word there.) Maybe they’re trying to get other parents to feel sorry for them. Either way, it’s time to grow up. If you don’t want people to ask questions, don’t point things out. If you say, “My child is autistic”, or “My child is overweight”, people are going to notice that they are.
Are you trying to be the PC police, waiting to jump on anyone who might say the wrong thing? Are you mad at the world because you don’t have a seemingly perfect child and you want to blame it on someone?
If you tell me your child is autistic or gay or overweight, what is it that you would like me to say? Are congratulations in order? A sympathy card? If you make a statement like that to me, I’m assuming you want to have a conversation with me about it. And then I’m going to say things that are on your list, because I don’t know any better. And if I don’t say the things on your list, there really is nothing else for me to say, so maybe I should just say “Okay, bye” and walk away. Pretty ridiculous, isn’t it? If you don’t want to talk about it, then stop talking about it. My life isn’t going to revolve around what I shouldn’t say to you.
Maybe I should just say “who cares?” Because I really don’t. To me, your autistic, gay, overweight child is no different than mine. He’s a child. Your child. My child has her own “imperfections”, and I don’t go around pointing them out to people so that they discuss them with me, because, quite frankly, they are none of anyone's business and I don’t want to talk about it. God made each child an individual. They all have strengths and weaknesses. So what.
Where do I get off saying this? Because my child has a disability that is very obvious to anyone who meets her. And in the almost 3 years she has been alive, I have not once mentioned it to anyone other than family and her doctors, and no one has ever said to me at the mall or at a restaurant, “I noticed your child has a disability.” Maybe they do notice, or maybe they don’t, because they have their own lives. If the day came that someone did say something to me about it, I would simply tell them I’ve just escaped from prison and I’d prefer if they didn’t draw attention in my direction. I bet they’d go away pretty quickly.
Either way, I’m certainly not going to make a big deal about my daughter’s “problem”. She doesn’t know the difference. She was born that way. And she’s happy and thriving, in spite of it. I don’t need anyone to make me feel better because my child isn’t perfect. To me, she is, and that’s all that matters. So go ahead, say whatever you’d like.