Some Things Are Better Left Unsaid
Helping my son down a few steps in a public place I heard an acquaintance say to me, “Mom, he can do that himself.” I saw red—and it wasn’t for Valentine’s Day. I’m not sure if I should be ashamed or just plain honest, but my first thought was, “Who is she to tell me that my son with special needs can do that by himself?” Thankfully, as quickly as that thought came to me, the Lord allowed me to speak the next few words in a pleasant way, “You’re probably right.”
I said those words, because she was probably right, but if those words were to be an encouragement to me, they weren’t. I also happen know the “what ifs” in life with a child with special needs and what I would have wanted to say (based on my 32+ years of experience and no offer of help or encouragement—ever— from this lady) was, “You’re probably right, but if he falls down these steps in front of you and the other 50 people here, he will be embarrassed, start hitting me, and have a meltdown. Then I will be embarrassed, and you’ll be embarrassed for me. You’ll turn away and so will the other 50 people unless there is someone who is willing to help; and if he starts hitting, they’ll probably stay away. Then, his skinned knees and torn pants will be the object of conversation for the next two weeks every time he looks at them… and that will be a gazillion times a day. Will you come to my house and deal with him for that length of time?”
Of course, I would never say those words out loud, but my evil twin says them in her head from time to time and I hear them! I wish I didn’t think so honestly; that I would have only good and pleasant thoughts when people push the button on offering advice and acting like they know more than I do as a parent. Of course I will say something pleasant, because I want to be a kind Christian women, but the truth is, sometimes I’d love to just say what I first think; but don’t worry-I won’t… I love the Lord too much to dishonor Him in that way. But I’m learning a few things along this journey…
As the “acquaintance” or onlooker consider saying something positive rather than offering advice or correction:
- Your son (or daughter) certainly is growing up!
- How nice it is to see your son doing so well.
- I haven’t seen you for a while. Your son (or daughter) sure has come a long way!
As the parent we should consider responding in positive ways (always) with a pleasant voice:
- You’re probably right. I should let him try.
- I think I’ll just lend him a hand today.
- Just smile.
A smile goes a long way. It is better than advice and is almost always soothing. Both sides of this scenario could have smiled and said nothing. None of us is perfect but thinking before speaking is something we all can practice.
This scenario should be a good (and honest) example for all of us: that some things are better left unsaid.
Written by Cindi Ferrini