Wednesday, October 7, 2015

If I Don't speak Up Who Will?

Recently I was browsing through some Facebook posts, and I stumbled across one in particular. I don't recall the exact name of the page, but I do remember that it was about children with special needs. Within the post the administrator of the page told a story about something that had happened to her at work that day. The scene depicted was one of a developmentally delayed young adult fighting with her mother, and the mother using rather harsh words to the daughter. It was portrayed in the light of equality between the two relationships, and even further that the behavior from the mother was out of frustration. Perhaps, they needed a break from each other, was the final word from the post author.

I read through the comments, and my heart began to race faster with a feeling of anger, and disbelief. The majority were so negative from the perspective of the parents. I couldn't believe that some read the same exact passage as I just did, and came away with not only a feeling that the mother's words were okay, but that they were absolutely justified.

Then there was that one. If you're like me, and let most ugly things go, until there's that one comment that just pushes you over the edge straight into a rant about how effed up that person's post is, then you know what I'm talking about. It was
one of the most woe is me, the mom who is nailed from this cross victim claiming posts from a parent I have ever seen. Of course, I did stand up for what I believe to be what is morally, and ethically right in this type of situation. I may have gotten banned. I don't know. I don't even remember the exact name of the page, so no biggie.

I know what I didn't forget. I didn't forget how that post made me feel. I didn't forget how I was the only one that seemed to notice how wrong it was for a mother to treat her child that way. Even though the child was now technically an adult the power between the two is not equal. I couldn't understand how her hate filled, ugly words about how no one wants her daughter around them, either and more seemed justifiable to other people. How can that be? To me what was said was downright verbal abuse. It was clear as day that there was a line crossed from frustrated mom having a hard day to one that spewed hateful things to her child, and this was in front of staff. Not that it seems to matter so much, because no one else seems to think much of it.

I wish I could say that this was the first time I have encountered this double standard when dealing with the disability community. It certainly hasn't been. I can't comprehend how the dynamics tend to change when a mother (or father) spouts a bunch of hateful speech to a child who has special needs when compared to a typical child. I don't understand it.

A lot of people might not understand why this upsets me so much. They might think that I'm overreacting, or that parents who have children with special needs are under so much stress that they have the right to vent their frustrations. I don't see it that way. I think that if we subject people who have disabilities to anything that we would normally consider wrong for others, then it is like assigning a lesser value to that person. It's really that simple to me.

But, what about the parents who are under stress, and need an outlet? Don't they deserve to let off steam?

That is a good question, and a common one, at that. I am a parent of 3 completely different, and unique kids with their own set of challenges. I am never going to pretend it's all roses, and rainbows all the time. It isn't. I have bad days, and bad moments. The one thing I try to never do is make my children bear the brunt of my frustrations. I'd never call them names, or tell them that they're unwanted.I find private outlets to release my feelings. Private groups, and messages. Things like that.

I often have a hard time deciding when I should speak up about certain things, and when I should just accept when others have an opinion that differs from mine. Here lately I have been expressing my thoughts much, much more often, especially when I feel the situation has consequences to others. This one did. Someone had to stand up, and say that this kind of behavior is wrong. It's not a matter of opinion. It is abusive, and it was wrong to treat your child that way. Maybe mine was not the award winner for most popular post that day, but maybe I made some people stop, and think about the way they behave, and the way they speak. I hope so.

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