If That Were my Kid


February 16, 2012 by Marj Hatzell

Parenting is hard.  Parenting kids like mine is a whole new level of awesomeness. And while I don’t consider my job any more difficult than any other parent out there, the truth is that Special Needs Parenting is a bit different, see.  Just different. Not better, not worse.  It’s all how you look at it, I suppose.

One thing that irks me, makes my blood boil and makes me scream on the inside?

When folks say things like, “If that were my kid I would ______.”  (Insert well-meaning but often ignorant comment here)

If that were my kid, I’d discipline him.

If that were my kid I would beat his ass.

If that were my kid I wouldn’t let her get away with behavior like that.

If that were my kid I would MAKE him stay in his room all night.

If that were my kid she’d sit at the table and eat what I serve her, whether she liked it or not.

If that were my kid he would be strapped to that chair.

If that were my kid she wouldn’t be playing outside until that was cleaned up.

If that were my kid he wouldn’t be allowed to go anywhere dressed like that.

If that were my kid she would have to order something new off the menu even if she didn’t eat it because I said so.

If that were my kid he wouldn’t be stimming/clapping/humming/hopping like that.

If that were my kid she’d be picking those toys up or she doesn’t play with them again.

And naturally these types of comments come from people who don’t have special kids. Most of ’em.

Because we spoil them. And we don’t discipline them. And we don’t parent. And we don’t care. And we’re lazy. And ignorant. And all our kids need is someone forceful and authoritative to come into their lives with old-fashioned discipline.(OPPOSITE DAY!)

Because years of therapy and behavior specialists and doctors and teachers and wrap around and hard work and evaluations aren’t good enough. Strangers (and Internet Trolls) CERTAINLY know better. Heck, sometimes they aren’t even strangers. Sometimes these comments come from relatives. And friends. And neighbors.

You know, people who aren’t living it every single freaking day.

I get it, you know. I know people feel helpless. They want to help. They want to make suggestions. Sometimes they want to make it all better for you because they are sad for you. Sometimes they are just being asshats and big meany doo-doo heads. Sometimes they just want to interfere or be controlling. Sometimes they don’t mean well at all and just wanna stick that knife in further AND twist it.

But I’ve got a rebuttal.

If that were my kid, I’d hug him when he cried or tantrummed because I know it’s overwhelming for him.

If that were my kid I’d find a way to soothe her when her eyes go wide with fright and the lights are too bright.

If that were my kid I’d help him lessen his anxiety and transition more easily so he can enjoy himself.

If that were my kid I’d offer his mom some assistance because I’ve totally been there and I know the power of one kind word or deed.

If that were my kid I’d hand her a sensory toy or book to distract her from the pain and discomfort.

If that were my kid I’d take him out of that room when it got to be too much for him.

If that were my kid I’d love her they way she is and not try to change her.

If that were my kid I’d realize he is a KID first.

If that were my kid I’d realize she isn’t doing this on purpose. She can’t help it.

If that were my kid I’d be happy he attempted to play.

If that were my kid I’d be happy she at least touched the food.

If that were my kid I’d cherish every step, every moment, every little thing they did because I know.

I know what it’s like.  That IS my kid.



22 thoughts on “If That Were my Kid

  1. T-bone says:

    If that be my kid I’d give him a Valium…
    But I don’t have any kid(s) and sadly I don’t have any Valium…

  2. Thank you for writing this. It truly hits home with me. ((Hugs)) to you.

  3. You’re awesome! You make my heart smile, really.
    Little league is starting up and we aren’t sure which players are returning this year yet. My husband is coaching again (same team) with my son, Jon, playing again. Jon asked just other day if Chandler would be returning this season to play (if you remember, he’s one of the boys on our team last year with autism who taught everyone a lesson on understanding and acceptance). I told him “I’m not sure.” Jon said “I sure hope so, he rocks!” I thought it was amazing that out of everyone on the team Jon remembers Chandler, and that Chandler has such an important place in his heart.

  4. Kathy Crisp says:

    Yes Ma’am!
    I am actually spoiled rotten by our schools, neighbors and friends, church family, etc. (collectively known as our “Village!”) However, I do sometimes run into folks who subscribe to your first set of “suggestions.” What really saddens me is when I see special parents attempting to conform their special kids to “normalcy” by using these tactics. I pray some of them might recognize themselves in your first set and “conform” themselves to subscribe to the second!

    Tommy and Jimmy’s Mama

  5. Exactly.

    In fact, the only thing I think you forgot was, “If that were my kid, I’d *make* him use the toilet.”

  6. KateOT says:

    What a gift this post is to all the dedicated parents I know who work too hard, feel too guilty and are too rarely told how amazing they are!!!

  7. Stephanie says:

    This made me teary… Rings so true with both of my kiddos. Thank you for the much needed perspective (and appreciation) before i go home to deal with their inevitable end-of-day sensory overloads.

  8. Crissie says:

    if that were my sister…oh wait, you are. And this makes me inordinately proud. Well done.

  9. Heather says:

    Wonderful post! I don’t even have any special needs children, but especially with my 11-year-old daughter when she has one of her hormonal freak outs, I hug her. I could freak out back and her and not understand why she’s acting that way, but I know exactly why she is. And I remember when it happened to me as a child, growing up was hard, and most of the time I just wanted a hug.

  10. Stephanie says:

    Yup. That about sums it up…what they say…and what we really need to do.

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