Everybody’s got a cause these days, myself included. We all want people to see the importance of the things we believe in; we all want to change the world. Most people are well-intentioned when they spread their message.
Let’s face it though – the reality is that people generally “get it”, or they don’t. A lifetime spent trying to get everyone under the sun to agree with you is probably a waste of time. When I write out my opinions here, I’m sharing them with the hope that I might offer a new viewpoint for an open-minded person to mull over. It’s up to them to decide what to do with the information.
People are largely unresponsive to complaining. It becomes tedious to read, too, so that’s not what I want to spend much time doing with this blog. I’m also not suggesting that I have any authority over others’ choices – free will is a wonderful thing, despite its occasional misuse.
That being said, in this post I’m offering up some suggestions anyone can do to endear themselves to a parent like me.
1. When in doubt, discreetly ask me what is permitted or acceptable for my child before offering it. Few things are trickier to handle than, for example, a child with a milk allergy who’s just been offered ice cream.
2. If my child spends time at your home, consider ways you can make them feel welcome. That might mean relocating some collectibles, closing off certain rooms, or locking the backyard gate. You are under no obligation to do this, of course, but I AM under obligation to keep my child safe and out of trouble.
3. Remember that parenting advice is almost NEVER welcome unless it is specifically asked for. Allow me to deal with my child’s routines and discipline without interference unless you are asked for help. Sometimes it is more complex than it appears.
4. Ask me how best to interact with my child. Learn their likes and dislikes, and be accepting of what they can and cannot do, even if it seems like they “should” be able to do Task X by their age.
5. Understand that my child cannot always perform for your entertainment. Hugs and kisses on command, posing for pictures, or demonstrating new skills may be more stressful for my child than you’d imagine.
6. Life is not a contest. Nothing good can come from comparing your misfortunes with mine, measuring my child against another, or trying to categorize how “easy” or “hard” anyone has it. This isn’t a race, it’s a journey – there is no grand prize at the finish line.
7. Believe that my whole family is doing the best we can. My husband and I are trying our best to be good parents, my kids are trying their best to be well-behaved and responsible, and my child with developmental delays is doing her best to navigate a world that doesn’t always “speak her language”. Focus on our accomplishments more than our shortcomings.