As Purim approaches, thousands of Israeli children and families grapple with poverty
Asked by a total stranger: “Is your child’s condition genetic?” (My favorite response to this one is to ask if their kids are genetic…)
“So and so’s child is worse off than yours.” (Telling me about someone else’s challenges does not comfort me.)
Told to a parent of severely handicapped child by one of her daughter’s therapists, “I got my three year old off the bottle why can’t you just take your child’s bottle away?” (Of course her three year old is totally healthy and developmentally on target.)
Told to a parent by an administrator at a sleep away camp for children with moderate to severe special needs when the parent of a severely autistic child asked for a scholarship: “Camp is a luxury not a necessity- I only send my children when I can afford it.” (Of course his children don’t have special needs and can attend any local day camp!)
So what is the right thing to say to a parent of a special child without falling into the above categories?
1) The proximity rule- how well do you know the person? A close relative can ask as it may affect them as well but a stranger in a doctor’s office waiting room or a shoe store should not be asking for the child’s diagnosis or whether a child’s condition is genetic. We should respect the privacy of others.
2) When complimenting a parent, don’t tell them that which you could never do. Instead keep it positive and say, “ I am so inspired when I watch you with your child- you are an amazing mother.”
3) When offering help, instead of saying, “Call me if there is anything I can do,” call the parent periodically and give concrete offers of help. For example, ask whether you can send your daughter and her friends to babysit regularly, offer to drive car pool, help with errands, and invite the siblings over for play dates to give the parents a break. If the special child is hospitalized or ill, bring over dinner, offer to make phone calls, offer to take a shift in the hospital to relieve the parents if possible.
4) Don’t compare parenting a typically developing child to parenting a child with special needs. Parents of children with special needs have very different challenges raising their children and need respite and relief. When trying to help, don’t minimize their situation.
5) Agencies, therapists and professionals working with families should be careful not to make judgmental remarks when working with parents of special children. Your role is to be of help and support, and not to inflict them with more pain and suffering. Administrators of programs and schools should make sure to sensitize staff to respect parents of special children.
6) Stop viewing special children and their families as a nebach or pity situation. No one is a “nebach case” we are all created b’tzelem Elokim- in G-d’s Image. When we categorize someone as being a nebach we see him or her as a charity case and close ourselves off from the thought that he or she has what to teach us about life. Just ask any teacher, therapist or camp counselor about what they have gained from working with special children and their families. What is truly a nebach is if one misses out an opportunity to learn and grow and to realize what is important in life.
7) Always try to find the common ground instead of focusing on the differences about children with special needs. “Your son has such a beautiful smile.” “You always dress your daughter so nicely.” When you come across a child with special needs that you know, greet them with a warm smile. If you see a parent struggling with their special child, open a door, offer to help don’t just pass them by. A garbage man once saw me struggling to get my daughter into my van lifted her into her seat and helped me put her wheelchair in the trunk without me even having to ask him for help, I was so grateful. There are so many opportunities to be meaningful towards the special families in our midst and in turn find much meaning in our own lives.
About the Author:
If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.
Comments are closed.
Bottles of wine accompany the Pesach storytelling – each glass of wine represents the four expressions used by G-d in describing the redemption of the Jewish people from Egypt.
There is a point that many parenting books miss: children do more for us than we do for them.
Brigitte was a nine-year-old girl when Islamic militants launched an assault on a Lebanese military base and destroyed her home.
The husband needs to make some changes!
Purim is a fantastic time for fantasies, so I hope you won’t mind my fantasizing about how easy life would be if kids would prefer healthy cuisine over sweets. Imagine waking up to the call of “Mommy, when will my oatmeal be ready?”… As you rush to ladle out the hot unsweetened cereal, you rub […]
‘Double Gold’ awarded to 2012 Yarden Heights wine & 2011 Yarden Merlot Kela Single Vineyard.
One should not give the money before Purim morning or after sunset.
The mishloach manos of times gone by were sometimes simple and sometimes elaborate, but the main focus was on the preparation of the delicious food they contained.
One of the earliest special Purims we have on record was celebrated by the Jews of Granada and Shmuel HaNagid, the eleventh-century rav, poet, soldier and statesman, and one of the most influential Jews in Muslim Spain.
Jews, wake up! Stop educating the world and start educating yourselves.
The lessons conform to the sensitivities and needs of the Orthodox community…
The program took on special significance as it marked not only the first anniversary of Rebbetzin Kudan’s levayah but also the 27th yahrzeit of Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka Schneerson, a”h.
Israel’s PM Netanyahu was interrupted 40 times with standing ovations in his 40 minute historic speech to the US Congress on Tuesday. Transcript here.
“Israel is the home of every Jew,” the Prime Minister told the Cabinet Sunday.
Rabbis and Jewish leaders soon will take self-defense courses to protect themselves against terrorists.
Most Swedes have never realized that one minority group may expose another minority group to violence and intimidation.
Pres. Reuven Rivlin launches joint project with ‘Collective Impact’ to integrate Israeli Arab workers into private business sector.
Eulogies for the fourth Jewish victims at the attack on a kosher deli in Paris last week were held in Bnei Brak Tuesday.
Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/health/mother-in-the-shoe%e2%80%a6/2010/06/04/
Scan this QR code to visit this page online: