“Normal.” What a nebulous, odd, and potential harmful word. After all, what’s normal? Do we just count behavior along the wide part of the bell curve and call that normal? Do we only count the experiences of first world inhabitants?” Perhaps the “Wonder Years” or “Leave it to Beaver” versions of “normal” are the ones we should use.
Or maybe not.
“Normal” is an utterly arbitrary term that rarely describes “reality” in most instances.
However, when it comes to your child, the term “normal” can be particularly hurtful, especially when your one of the millions of parents who happen to live with a disabled, or as we like to call them, exceptional child.
Yes. The life path of exceptional children can be a challenge, especially when other people make that path harder. Here are a few tips to help navigate the obtuse nature inherent in some people:
Love Your Child’s “Normal”
Your child’s disability may be something easily spotted, it can also be outwardly invisible. Either way, when others notice that “difference,” they often stare, make inappropriate comments, will toss you a disapproving, or worse yet, a pitying look.
You can’t stop this, you’ll never eradicate ignorance in your lifetime. However, what you can do is become your child’s protector. You do this by realizing your “normal” isn’t shared by everyone.
Walk the Life of Grace
Living gracefully in a graceless, crass world requires fortitude. When encountering gape-faced stares, mumbled comments, and uncomfortable glances, meet the offending person’s gaze, smile and let them know you, and your family, are simply fellow travelers.
Life is eventually difficult for everyone.By selecting to live a grace filled life, you won’t remove difficult people from your life, but you’ll dampen your internal reaction to negative situations. Plus, you create an exceptional model for your children for when they discover the need to walk the life of grace.
Some people who stare aren’t bad people, they’re just curious. If you suspect a gawker is one of this type of person, lightly acknowledging their gaze and move on.
Always remember, those who stare relay much more about themselves than they do you or, particularly, your child.
Do Not Repay in Kind
Gawkers may approach and ask inappropriate questions. Here’s where your sense of humor comes in handy. “What’s wrong with your child?” “I’m sorry this happened to you.” “Oh, I have a family member with [insert situation here] and…”
Your best response is to always reply with your child’s best interest in mind. This situation isn’t about you, it’s about your child. Let the gawker know you’re not the least bit sorry for your situation. Your child is a gift, don’t be afraid to share that sentiment.
Don’t be ashamed of your child. People who stare are the people who really ought to re-evaluate their behavior. Proudly live your life with grace, style, and a sense of humor.
Maintain a positive relationship with your child, that’s what’s important. You are her best advocate in all situations and her trust is far more important than other people’s bad habits.