What *not* to say....

A friend or acquaintance tells you that their new baby has down syndrome and you are stunned and at a lost for words. Your first instinct will be to offer your sympathy and feel sorry for the new parents, but please don't!

I would encourage you to say the very same things that all parents want to hear- CONGRATULATIONS! Boy or girl? How much did he weigh? Does he look more like mom or dad? Is he healthy? If not, then you could safely say, " I am sorry to hear that, how can I help you?"
Then be willing to volunteer to bring a meal to two, offer to take other children for day or even an afternoon. If the other siblings are older, offer to take them with your family on outings.

This is not to say that you should ignore the DS or the fact that the mother is most likely struggling with all kinds of mixed emotions at this point! Be ready to listen with an open mind. If you are a close friend, be ready to offer support and also hope. The internet is a wonderful place to find all kinds of stories about families who want you to know that this child is a huge blessing.

Here are some things parents on the DSIE list serv have heard from others over the years:

"I know people don't mean it wrong or hurtful when they say it, but... I am just so tired of hearing, "God knew what he was doing when he gave you Hunter, because I just couldn't handle it". Like he SUCH a burden and we are just so good at carrying that burden... Sometimes when I've had a trying day and feel mean, LOL, I just look at them and don't say a word."
Patty

"I haven't heard it for awhile, but I've never felt comfortable when people say......'they are so good in music.' (can't remember the exact quote)
I'm a pianist and have a daughter (also piano) and son (drummer), so I always thought that if Josiah was good at music, he would come by it naturally. He doesn't have any more interest in music than typical children. He does like to listen to it."
Shirley

"The most bizarre comment I ever got was from someone who had a lot of cats…and they became really inbred, some of the kittens had eye problems or were missing a paw…and this person told me, “Now I know what it feels like to have a child with a disability.""
Kathy


My take is a little different, being as we adopted Sean, but my two favs (NOT) are:
1. You will surely have a crown in heaven for taking in one of those kids.
2. You spent all that money to adopt and you chose HIM? Why?

Or the....... They are always such happy people. Um excuse me, must not know Sean! Or he missed that memo.
He is like every other 9 yr old I know. Moody
Julie

"My pet hate is " they are so lovable " . Well most of the time yes but not when they have have hidden my keys yet again because they love me ripping the house apart looking for them!! Or when they come down the stairs for dinner covered from head to toe in chocolate from their hidden stash ( provided by older sibs ) . Or best of all when they wait for your priests visit to make a grand entrance completely naked. Right then not so lovable LOL"
Catherine

"When Sam was a few weeks old I had him out shopping when a "friend " stopped me and asked to see the baby ( he was right there in the buggy in front of me playing with his cookie monster toy !!! ) . She looked at him and said in total surprise ??"oh does play with toys like a real baby ?? " I mumbled something and ran away but would have loved to have said " yes but only when I put his batteries in " and while I am at it Can I help you find someone to tighten those loose screws of yours??"

Catherine


"My least favorite thing was from my husband's own sister: "I really admire you for loving her" "
Kathy

"Here is one that peeves me......

"Well, they are always so loving and happy."

They look incredulous when I laugh at them and ask them wherever could
they have ever gotten that. Then I take the opportunity to remind
them that my daughter is a KIDS and just like ALL KIDS she is happy,
sad, cranky, loving, goofy, snotty...... ..

GRRRRRRRRR! LOL"

Cindy

Some other points parents brought up : don't ask 'How retarded is he ?', don't favor the typical sibs or exclude the child with DS. Please don't send parents a sympathy card after the birth- this happened to us.

Carol

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