People who have read our book (The New Normal: 7 Things to Know as You Care for and Love a Child with Special Needs) often ask me what surprised me as I talked with parents and caregivers who shared their stories. Well, a few things surprised me. I was pleasantly surprised by how open people were to share their emotions, thoughts and ideas about difficult situations. I was surprised how many people called or e-mailed me after the interviews to add details to the stories they shared. It was an enriching experience to laugh, cry and share similar and opposing views with so many different people.
So, what surprised me the most?
By far, I was most surprised to hear this question, “Do you feel that having a disabled child is a form of PUNISHMENT to you for something you may have done?” This question stands out as the one thing I heard that surprised me the most. Turns out, many parents and caregivers say they have been asked this question.
Now I ask parents and caregivers at conferences if they have been asked this question and so far, at least one person in every group raises their hand and says, “Yes… someone asked me if I think I am being punished.”
So, how do you answer this? The parents and caregivers who were asked say that the question itself was not asked in a mean or cruel way. Instead, people were curious… and asked an honest question, as negative as it may sound at times…. So, most parents say they simply answered, “No, I am not being punished”, and then went on to explain how the pros and cons of their particular situations did not add up to a punishment.
So, I ask you…
1. Has this question ever been posed to you?
2. If posed… what would your answer be?