(Posted originally in The Mighty)
Well meaning friends can sometimes say hurtful comments. Yes, it’s true. It may not be their intention and I believe they love us. But there are times when their words and actions can cut through our hearts rather than heal.
How many times have we heard one saying, “I feel bad for you. This is why I didn’t have any more kids of my own” or “I don’t think I’d be able to do what you’re doing.”
Whether we accept it or not, people seem to pity those who have kids with disabilities. Perhaps it is human nature to pity what we do not know. For friends close to us, their pity might come from caring about us. They know, and we know, that raising a child with a disability entails challenges and sacrifice. Of course they love us and they don’t want to see us and our child struggling.
But pity is not what we need. We need empathy.
We need friends who can feel what we feel; friends who will be moved by love to help us; friends who will respect the efforts and sacrifices we make for our child; friends who will be there no matter what.
Pity rarely moves people to action. Some people might pity homeless people, but how many of those are intentional to help them turn their lives around? We may pity those who were affected by natural disasters in other countries, but how many of us have really actively participated in a work that will help them rebuild their lives?
We are not in a pitiable state. Our child is not to be pitied — nor us his parents. Yes, we may have difficult challenges to face, but we’re not in a depressing situation where we are merely existing. We are still living our lives to the full and for this, we are happy.
Yes, our child may have limitations, but he doesn’t deserve to be pitied. He needs love and understanding. Most importantly, he needs respect.
So please, don’t pity us. We are OK.