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The Great Parenting Reverse: Special Needs and Non-Special Needs Kids
November 16, 2012
Hi Readers! The post below this one is about a principal who chastised a mom for letting her 10-year-old daughter take the city bus to school. The daughter loves the bus and has made “people friends” (as opposed to “school kid friends”) on her daily commute. But the principal, as well as Child Protective Services, wanted to know why the mom would “choose” not to drive the girl. Here’s one comment the post got:
My friend’s younger sister has Down’s Syndrome. She graduated high school at 21 and took a job about 10 miles from her home, which she shares with her parents. She can’t read or do most things adults do, but she has gotten herself to work on the bus without incident for over 10 years. She even manages a bus transfer. I bet she has “people friends” too.
Which made me think about the Great Parenting Reverse: The parents of special needs kids work really hard to help their kids become independent. But society works really hard to make sure the kids without special needs do not become independent. It does this by telling their parents they should be over-involved. If you don’t spend all day “rescuing” your child from something or other (danger, fatigue, disappointment, failure), you are clearly selfish AND myopic. Your job is to keep swooping in. Your job is to “choose” to drive your kid to school even when she’s fine on the city bus.
I love the amazing things children with special needs end up doing on their own, often after great pains are taken by their parents. But maybe it’s the great pains part that is the connection? The special needs kids do, by definition, need special things from their parents. The other kids — why, their parents don’t have to invest quite as much effort on a daily basis. They can go about their day without, say, personally dropping off their kids at school.
That kind of freedom from constant childcare is suspect nowadays. A parent who isn’t sorely inconvenienced is a parent who isn’t doing it “right.” So even though they don’t need it, children without special needs are treated as if they are handicapped.