Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Comparing Notes - - Which Child is Harder

I was reading a message board last night where one parent was saying how much harder it was to handle her child with multiple physical problems than a child with ADHD or Autism. It is unfortunate that we have to compare our struggles rather than supporting each other.

Part of the problem is the difficulty of putting ourselves in the shoes of another parent because our children are so unique. For example, how does a parent who has multiple challenges with her child but doesn’t deal with sleep issues understand what the impact of living life sleep deprived for years on end.

I can see why a Mom who deals with the back pain and other issues from juggling a child to or from a wheelchair everyday to think that having a child with low functioning Autism might be easier. Unless she has experienced it will be difficult for that Mom to understand how hard it is when a child goes in meltdown while you are trying to get him or her to an important appointment.

There is no easy child with disabilities whatever the disability. We all have our challenges. Comparing notes doesn’t help.

Until next time,
Peggy Lou Morgan
Amazon Blog
Yahoo Group


Anonymous said...

Liz here from I Speak of Dreams. The "who has it worst" can be a reverse form of competitive parenting (see Queen Bee Moms and Kingpin Dads, review here).

And it is a form of one-upmanship. Unpacked, it is the speaker saying, "you don't have the right to suffer, because my suffering is so much worse".

Once you know the real message -- invalidation, don't feel what you are feeling -- it's easier to manage your own response.

Personally, I feel hurt and angry when I get invalidation -- but once I know what is going on, I'm able to generate compassion for the speaker. She lives in a zero-sum world. Sympathy or understanding for me takes away, in her mind, sympathy or understanding for her.

But really it isn't a zero-sum world. We can offer comfort and support to each other.

And in other news, how's the low-fat cooking going? I have a new recipe for a sort of fat-free vegetable custard that's pretty good. I seem to remember that your boy has swallowing trouble sometimes. Does he like carrots? One version is carroty.

Lora said...

Well said Peggy, well said indeed. I hate it when people say,"well, if you think you have it bad, there's always someone worse off than you are." That is completely invalidating and I just don't appreciate it. Each of us have our own hardships and instead of making comparisons we should support one another, I totally agree with that. When we don't recognize another's challenges then we have lost all of our compassion and it is truly sad. Thank you Peggy for sharing this post with us all because it is a good reminder to be more empathetic with each other.

Scattered Mom said...

I agree with both of you. While my husband and child's disabilities are not visable, it doesn't mean that they are any less a disability. It's frustrating. People make all sorts of assumptions which are really unfair.