Monday, October 15, 2007

Acceptance or Patronization?

Once again, I'm posting a blog entry inspired by something I heard on the radio. This time, a listener called in to dedicate a song to her brother, who had Down's Syndrome. The caller went on about what a dear brother he was, about how everyone loved him just the way he was. All well and good. But then she said that she'd "not have him any other way"; that his disability had taught all those around him valuable lessons about life.

This didn't sit quite right with me.

To say that she and the rest of the family loved him just the way he was was appropriate, proper, and commendable. But to say that you wouldn't have him be any other way is quite another thing entirely. The first statement accepts and loves him the way he is, but still regrets that he'll never have an independent life of his own. The second, however, is more than a little thoughtless and presumptuous, in my opinion.

For one thing, he doesn't exist for his family's benefit; to provide life lessons for them. To not want him to be any other way is not to fully respect his humanity -- would they care to trade their lives for his? I think not. Nor do any parents expecting a baby hope that the child is born mentally or physically challenged.

Every parent wants the best for their children, even when circumstances don't make it possible. Love him just the way he is and accept reality, yes, but still think of what might have been.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

We have a daughter with DS who is 3 plus. She is our third and youngest child. Of course, we wish she was not disabled more for her than us. But we are trying to give her the best life possible and of course we love her so very much; the same as our other 2 children. Sometimes, when a family member says that " we would not want her/him any other way" its actually their way of saying that they accept the sibling for who they are. Sometimes, its the pressure of society which frowns upon families with a disabled family member expressing their wish that the disability didn't exist. Society constantly reminds us that "we must accept". Just trying to let you see things from our corner. I would however disagree with anybody saying that they preferred disability as opposed to being without disability.