An Open Apology to a Special Needs Parent

Sorry.

I am less than perfect. I have no difficulty admitting that although, I confess, it wasn’t always so easy. But parenting does that to you. Among other things, it continually smacks you in the face with the fact that there is so much you just don’t know (and never knew that you’d need to know), as well as the fact that you’re not only not perfect, but all too often you’re just barely adequate. Once you recognize that you’ll never be perfect as a parent (and that’s okay, and likely a blog post for another day), it’s not that big a leap to admit you’re not perfect as a person.

Oh, don’t get me wrong. I try—I’m always trying. And really, isn’t it the striving for perfection that brings out the best in us?

My confession to you is that, in recognizing my imperfections, I recognize the occasions that I’ve been THAT person. It wasn’t intentional, but I’ve done it. I’ve judged you.

Not so much for the meltdown in the supermarket. Screaming children having some sort of episode–I have experience with that. I understand being mortified among strangers and also how difficult it is to not always have control of what happens when you leave the relatively safety of your own home. I’m also sympathetic to the fact that some things are just beyond a parent’s energy to deal with. My hand is raised: Been there, done that.

If I see it happening to you I will offer my help, in whatever way you can use it, though I know you will likely turn me down. We will share a smile that’s more of a wry grimace. The battle-weary always recognize one another.

But I have judged you in the restaurant and the mall, and whatever other place that you’ve sat down to enjoy a quiet moment—by yourself, with your spouse, with a friend—and you’ve handed your phone or other electronic device to your kid so that they’re quietly entertained and, more importantly, leaving you alone.

Oh yes, I’ve judged. Because, while I freely admit that I’m not a perfect parent, I do take immense satisfaction in the fact that my family can go out to dinner unencumbered by electronic devices, and actually talk to one another while we eat. My husband and I have, in the past, commented on people around us who let their kids play on their phone or tablet during the meal, appearing to not actually want them there, but perhaps stuck with them because they didn’t have a grandparent, babysitter, or other person to watch them.

I had never before considered that the device was for the benefit of the child, and not the adult. That without it, he or she might not be able to sit still, settle in, acclimate to a strange place, keep from freaking out. In essence, the device is giving your child a tool with which to self soothe. This means that, far from being a “bad parent,” you indeed have your child’s best interests at heart.

And, so, I apologize. You might not even care: You shouldn’t care about the opinions of others when you’re doing the best for your child. After all, parenting is a highly personal thing.

But I’m apologizing anyway. Because I was wrong. Because it wasn’t my business. Because this parenting thing is hard enough without having to deal with the scrutiny of others.

Because not one of us has the right to judge another.

Rachel L. MacAulay

Founder at Challa & Haggis
Still learning that there’s no such thing as perfection in parenting, or in life, though I don’t stop trying. Avid reader; lapsed wanderer; reformed cynic. I believe every day should be filled with children’s laughter.

Related Posts

When Living With Your Autistic Child Becomes ̵... I went with my daughter to see a mental health advisor. Her anxiety is out of control, her sleeping is poor and her eating almost non-existent. It is ...
The Autism-Friendly Products We REALLY Want When your child has autism and disabilities, you start to notice as they get older that some products you’d like to buy just aren’t easy to get hold o...
Piece by Piece Piece by piece, I felt my aching heart shatter into a million pieces. Each piece slowly tore away until my heart, which was once whole and perfect, cr...
My Great Autism Parent Expectations Recently, buying my child a pair of jeans almost caused me to have an anxiety attack.  For years, my son refused to wear them (read: meltdown). Instea...
Parents Make a Mini Blockbuster Store for Their Au... Blockbuster declared bankruptcy back in 2010 and even though DISH Network bought the last stores in 2011, most of us just assumed that all Blockbuster...
When the Weight of the Unknown Is Crushing You There was a time before our son’s autism diagnosis when I felt completely lost. Everything we had brought up to the pediatrician had been disregarded....
How I Transition My Son Back to School After Holid... As a mum of seven, I have many years of experience with the back-to-school thing. New shoes, earlier bedtime and alarm call, packed lunches and huntin...
To the Mother at the Swimming Pool With Her Autist... I didn’t notice you when I first arrived at the local aquatic centre. Amongst the usual commotion of scuttling children and bustling parents, I wa...
Waiting Is the Worst I try and be patient, really I do. However, I find myself waiting by the phone, or the letterbox, or refreshing my email account every time there are ...
Four Things My Severely Autistic Son Has Taught Me Having a baby is the most wonderful, humbling, exhausting experience I have ever known. I thought it would be a challenge, but that I would also learn...
A ‘Thank You’ to an Autism Parent Last night was Talent Night for our kids—yours and mine and other 6th, 7th and 8th graders at their school. If you felt like I did, you were a little ...
Let’s Get Real About Autism Every single child on the autism spectrum is wired with their own unique set of differences, needs, challenges, abilities, characteristics, co-morbidi...