okay, i am sorry if this offends anyone, but i feel it is necessary that i write this post, which i hope will make you stop and think before asking inappropriate questions or doing something that could potentially be hurtful or damaging to a
disabled child or parent (i hate to use the term “disabled” so i’ve crossed it out – i’ll get back to that later).
now, i respect every person has their own opinion about things, but i just want to shed a light on this topic because not many realise how intrusive or personal some of their questions, comments or reactions could be, no matter how naïve, innocent or unintentional they were.
here are 3 things you should never do when you come across someone you think is different…
1. comment/look at/treat them in a way that makes them feel “different” or alienated. truth is, we all have something that makes us imperfect. try and think of a part of yourself that you feel most self conscious about. then, imagine a random stranger comes up to you and that’s the first thing they identify and point out to you and stick a label on you that, for example, says, “pimple face”, “anxiety problem” or “ugly nose”. i hope you agree that that isn’t the first greeting you want to receive from anyone, let alone, a stranger. so do NOT stare, point or shush your kids like we can’t see or hear what’s going on. and before you go ahead and bluntly ask questions like, “what happened to you?” or “what’s wrong with your…?”, save those questions till you’ve had a chance to get to know the person. chance is that by the time you’ve gotten to know that person, you would’ve forgotten about the person’s “difference” because you would’ve soon realised that they are just as beautiful a human being as you are and they are no different (probably just a bit more special and extraordinary).
2. do NOT assume it was some sort of mistake or freak accident that caused them to have their disability. i have had people ask me whether it was anything my mother did during pregnancy that caused my disability – erm… would it ever be okay if i do the same and ask what their mother did to make them so ____? no, i didn’t think so! i won’t fill in the blank myself, i hope you get what i mean.
3. never pity them for their disability. they are just as worthy and valued as you are so why would their disability make them be any less? by pitying them, you are saying that your life is better than their’s or you are implying that their disability is a tragedy. indeed, they are faced with physical challenges, but nothing stops them from living life to the full. the truth is, every one of us are a gift and a blessing for who we are, a masterpiece created by God who built us for a purpose that would change the world. for me, having that perspective on my own life ensures that i live my life believing that i am only limited by the power and strength that comes from God, which means there’s . nothing impossible
we all have something that becomes a “disability” in our lives, something that tries to stop us from living out our calling. in fact, our own fears, shame and anxieties become our biggest disabilities. i believe we are all broken and disabled in some way, nobody’s perfect.
also, we need to think about how we do not always know what that person has experienced or gone through in their lives so why would it be okay for them to be put in such a vulnerable position by a stranger? you wouldn’t expect a random person to ask about all the sensitive and personal details of your own life too, right?
with children especially, they are still growing to know who they are and learning about themselves. who knows how long it will take for them to discover their true identity? so let’s not hinder their self-esteem or feeling of worthiness by our worldly ignorance or judgement, but instead make a greater effort to embrace them with love and acceptance. at the end of the day, we all want to feel accepted and loved for just the way we are. so remember that because that’s the ultimate lesson Jesus teaches us too – to love one another.
before i end this post, let’s go back to the term “disabled” i commented on earlier and replace it with the word “extraordinary” – now do you see how you can change a child or parent’s day if you could just ask, “how is your child so extraordinary?” 😉