Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Insensitive Questions

We’ve all experienced them, the snide remark, the well meaning but inappropriate advice, or the blatant insult. 

How strong we feel today affects how well we respond when someone gets it wrong.  We are often chronically sleep deprived.  We live with uncertainty, fear and worry about the future, coupled with even more mother guilt than usual.  Catch us on the wrong day and you might get an earful far worse than you expected, possibly deserved, but perhaps not very effective in educating or stopping it from happening again.  Preventing another parent or family member from feeling the same pain, by making the other person consider their words next time, is the best we can take from a poor situation.
So what are our options?
Start by remembering we all have our own battles, especially if the insensitive person is related to you.  They may not be able to express it, or feel like they don’t have the right, but your child’s diagnosis doesn’t only affect you.  Assume that insensitive remarks come from lack of understanding or education, or even fear, or grief, before you jump to conclusions and down their neck.  By acknowledging that those close to you have legitimate and understandable worry and sadness related to your child can make a huge difference to your response and give them an opportunity to open up.  You have your own struggles and the last thing you may want to hear is how sad they are, but if they love you and your child they will be hurting too.
Take the opportunity to educate and inform if you can, if not at the time but at a later date, when you have both stepped back from the situation and most importantly never discuss the incident in front of your child.  If the comments are from a family member and not isolated, it’s important to try to address each incident individually if possible, instead of waiting until you reach boiling point.  If it was a throw away comment or a rude and probing question from someone you are unlikely to meet again, try not to respond at all.  Are they really worth it and do you think you are going to make a difference?  Choose your battles, in all likelihood you have enough already.  Education is a good goal but so is self preservation.
Perhaps the question itself was ok but the terminology or timing was poor.  Not everyone is as educated in the most appropriate words or descriptions as chances are they are not as immersed in the life of your child as you are.  Sadly, as much as we like to assume the best, sometimes the hurt was intended and once again this is just as likely to be someone you know well.  Try not to give them the satisfaction of upsetting you and draining your energy, because this is probably exactly their goal.
As much as taking out your frustration on some ignorant person is tempting, especially if today was harder than usual, it’s really not worth it; you may feel better momentarily but you don’t need the added stress on a tough day and your loved one doesn’t need to see you lose control either.
"Learn to respect all kind of people.  Because everyone is fighting a battle on their own.  We all have our problems, bad sides and bad days.  But there is so much more behind it.  Behind me, behind you, behind everyone."
- Unknown

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