Friday, July 8, 2016

The Number One Complaint I Hear From Parents


Careless [Chattering] words stab like a sword,
but ·wise words bring [L a wise tongue brings] healing.
~ Proverbs 12:18, EXB ~

It is like a knife in the heart of nearly every parent raising a child with special needs.  I would hazard to guess that in my 14 years of ministry to fellow parents, not one day goes by where I do not hear about this frustration.  It escalates the pressure on those who are doing their level best to raise the child they love.  And it makes mothers and fathers wonder which is worse, isolation or having to face the thoughtless words that tumble from people's mouths.

UNSOLICITED COMMENTS

While people may have good intentions, their lack of self-awareness often makes them oblivious to the impact of their words.  Individuals almost seem to feel compelled to tell you what is rolling around the inside of their brain.  It can range from the following:

  1. Flooding with news -- In the age of information, people are convinced that you have not heard about the latest news, therapies, or treatments.  While these individuals only want to make certain that you are up-to-date on critical facts, they are ignorant to the fact that the vast majority of special needs parents devour information.  Not only that, most parents that have been doing this for awhile have an inside line on the latest news from diagnosis-specific groups.
  2. Advice -- Phrases like, "Maybe you need to give him a little less sugar," "Remove red dye from her diet and she'll be a new child," "Maybe you should try giving him a time-out," just seem to fall out of the mouths of the well-meaning.  These people are self-appointed experts, never realizing that their input comes across as demeaning.  It never occurs to them that there may be some things about your situation or your child's diagnosis that they don't know.
  3. Condemnation -- This particular type of unsolicited comment is especially mind-numbing to me, probably because it just heaps more pain onto a parent who is already hurting.  I am always shocked at how many parents are told by others, "Maybe you have some unconfessed sin that you need to tell God about."  Are you KIDDING me?  I myself was shamed by a family member because I had passed on a genetic illness to our middle child.  This sort of unsolicited comment just needs to stop, plain and simple.
If you are a person who is being careless with words around parents raising fragile kids, please stop and think before you speak.  Get in the habit of asking more questions to show your concern.  Just sitting alongside a parent to validate their struggles is one of the most loving things you could do.

If you are a parent who shares this complaint, remember, God sees.  He hears.  He cares.  He knows the truth because He IS the Truth.  Keep your eyes and ears tuned to Him, and let the rest slide off of you.  After all, it's His opinion that really matters.

PRAY:  Oh, Father, words can be so hurtful to us.  Protect our hearts and minds from the unsolicited comments from others.  Help us to remember that people don't know what they don't know.  Give us strength to educate others when we are able.  Help us always return hurt with more love.

1 comment:

  1. This is helpful. My biggest struggle is when family members try to normalize my daughter's behavior or physical symptoms by equating them to neurotypical kids in the family. They do this so I don't feel like an outsider, not realizing that they are discounting our struggle.

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