Friday, September 10, 2010

How To Move Past Hypocrisy

When my family goes anywhere, we usually don’t go quietly or unnoticed. We’re not Kate Plus Eight, but everyone’s attention is usually diverted, at least for a short period, to my family. And, being someone who is more comfortable not being noticed, this situation has been quite an adjustment for me.

For the most part, I’ve moved past caring too much about the stares of strangers when we shop, go to the park, go to the movies, or other community activities. But there is something that still troubles me, and I don’t know what to do about it.

Because I am a single parent, where I go, so go my children. Tonight, a memorial service is being held for the recently deceased mother of one of my co-workers. My co-worker and I have been with the same employer for over 25 years now. I am expected to be present at the service and I want to be present. What I don’t want is for my family procession to take anything away from the decorum of the ceremony. And that’s just one example.

About every two months, all my co-workers get together at a local restaurant for dinner. Families are included, and very often attend. But my family is a little different than most – okay, a lot different. My co-workers don’t understand my children and don’t know how to interact with them. In fact, some are probably uncomfortable around my children.

My children and I should not have to spend our lives only moving in social circles of families like our own. While I love every moment I spend with my friends that have children with disabilities, and I am so grateful for their support, I really don't want to impose limits on my children.

I espouse inclusion to anyone who will listen. But here are situations where I could choose inclusion for my children, and I don’t. I guess that makes me a hypocrite. But how do I move past the uncomfortable feelings for others as well as for my family to get to that state of inclusion?


Queenbuv3 said...

you are not a hypocrite. Inclusion is not always an option or beneficial. Our son is severely disabled, my hubby and I are self-diagnosed with Asperger's/high functioning Autism. My son is in a separate special needs classroom because that is what works for him.

We like staying home. Our son likes staying home. He usually does well now when we go places but we don't drag him all over the place just because that's what everyone else does. It's your family and you know what's best for them.

We get a grant every year to use for our son's needs. there is always discussion of "community integration". I'm all in favor of integration if that is what my son ENJOYS.

You are a wonderful mom and whatever works for you and your family and makes everyone happy is what you need to do WITHOUT GUILT.

MMC said...

Inclusion is inclusion but I still think we need to never lose sight of common sense.

For example, in the situations you mentioned I would try really hard to find someone to stay with the kids while I went to the memorial service but I wouldn't hesitate to take them to all of the dinners with your co-workers.

They are very different situations, in my mind - the fact that people may be uncomfortable interacting with your children at the dinner is one of the prime reasons they need to be there. Not only do the kids need (and have a right) to a normal life in the community but community members (including your co-workers and their families) need to become comfortable with people of varying and different abilities. That can only happen if they are continuously exposed to such people. Take a deep breath and keep reminding yourself that you are actually doing them a favour when you see your co-workers uncomfortableness. Someday they will (should) thank you.

But the meorial service - the fact that you recognize the potential issue of your family disrupting the decorum (or whatever you want to call it) of the service is where, I think, common sense comes in. Inclusion is great, inclusion is wonderful but I don't believe it is meant to be practiced 100% of the time in 100% of all situations. It's not that your children don't have the right to be there. But I think sometimes we have to balance ours (and their) rights against those of others. It might just be inappropriate for them to be in that particular setting. I could see it being a lot different if the deceased was a family friend or someone they knew well.

Just my thoughts and it's your call of course but I tend to cringe a little when some people espouse 100% inclusion in everything all the time - we have to look both at what's beat for the child (and sometimes for some kids that's not 100% classroom inclusion, for example) and then use our common sense in some more delicate situations.

Dalya said...

I don't you're a hypocrite at all. You're making the right, and responsible choices for things like the funeral, and while the kids do enjoy the dinners, what if maybe you only took one or two and the others maybe have a special night with Chip or something. You know how your family are, and you not by not taking them somewhere, it doesn't mean you're ashamed of them or giving into people who don't want them there, your making the decision of what you want for both you and your family. Your a great mom, don't start doubting yourself now!!!


Terena said...

We tend to limit ourselves sometimes, simply because the environment will be too stressful for Queen Teen, or too stressful for me. She tends to panic in new situations and it can be extremely frustrating when we've traveled a long way and then had to leave after 10 minutes. Sometimes it's just not worth the effort, for either of us. So we look for things to do and places to go that she will enjoy and then I'll find a sitter on the occasion when I want to do something I know is just too hard on her. That balancing act can be so tricky. We want our kids to be included in the larger world, while at the same time respecting their limitations.

Terri said...

I agree that it's a balancing act. From the outside maybe the work/family outings might have some potential for relationship-building, but that would have to be totally strategized and I think you can trust your judgement of whether it is worth it or not. I never took any of my kids, with or without disabilities, to funerals that only pertained to me... Inclusion isn't a religion that if you don't practice it and preach it a certain way 24/7 you get excommunicated (imagine exclusion from inclusion!), it's an approach and a mindset that has to do with believing in equality and belonging, celebration and connecting--it is supposed to be a juicy and abundant connecting not a rigid formula! I am always chewing on this stuff too and I think you are doing great!!!