As a parent of a child with Down syndrome, I’ve been lucky enough to have supportive, understanding, and positive friends and family.
Then there’s everyone else.
Most people don’t mean to be hurtful or ignorant. When confronted with a friend telling you, “Hey, my baby has been diagnosed with Down syndrome,” your mind goes blank. What do you say that’s appropriate? Too many people just blurt out the first thing that comes to mind without stopping and thinking about what they’re saying.
The excuse is that they just don’t know what to say. They don’t understand why apologizing can be insulting. They think saying that people with Down syndrome are happy all the time is reassuring. There’s an endless parade of ignorance, and it makes us cringe every time. And there are six things in particular that Down syndrome parents wish you would just stop saying.
6. God gives special children to special parents.
This is supposed to be a compliment, right? It’s not. It’s actually pretty annoying. And it’s a two-fold insult.
First, you reinforce the idea that people with Down syndrome are a bigger burden than other children. This is obvious, because if you didn’t see them that way, then clearly you wouldn’t think they need extraordinary parents. There is this idea out there that only some people can handle having a child with Down syndrome, while for most people, it’s just too hard.
Would you take kindly to hearing in a roundabout way that your kid is such a pain that only a certain kind of person can handle him?
Second, we aren’t “special” parents. We’re people who received a child with Down syndrome and we still love and raise them like our other children. Would you tell a parent whose child suffers from cancer that God gave them this burden because they’re special parents that He knew could handle it? Probably not. There are any number of difficulties and issues that can pop up during the raising of a child, and it doesn’t take a “special” person to handle any of them. All raising a child with Down syndrome requires is unconditional love. That’s something all parents must possess, right?
So stop sanctifying us. We’re just like you.
For some people, relationships lead to lifelong happiness. For everyone else, they’re depressing vehicles of humiliation and frustration. For women, especially, figuring out how to transition from just dating to being exclusive — and hopefully married — isn’t just a goal. It’s practically a lifestyle. Women blunder through dating making mistake after mistake after mistake — yet they can’t figure out why Prince Charming still hasn’t arrived. And while they cry into their Cheerios about how yet another relationship didn’t work out, they’re lying to themselves about why… why that guy didn’t call back, why he didn’t want to commit, why she got dumped.
Well, ladies, maybe if you stopped lying to yourself about why your 37th fling didn’t pan out, you’d have bagged your happily-ever-after by now. Everyone makes mistakes, in relationships and otherwise. But if you constantly lie to yourself to soothe your pain, then how can you learn anything? Stop telling yourselves these idiotic lies, grow up, and maybe you’ll have more luck in love.
1. All the guys I meet are jerks!
So every single guy you start dating ends up being a jerk, huh? They cheat on you, they cut and run after just a few weeks, or after a few promising months they announce that they’re not ready for a relationship. So you sit there and bemoan your poor, pitiful dating life and wonder why – why? – you can’t meet any good guys.
Well, here’s the thing: you do meet good guys. And then you go on to ignore them in favor of the bad boy who has a reputation, because you just know that the magic of your love will change him. Or you refuse to take a look in the mirror to figure out why every guy you date runs away as fast as his feet can take him. You come on too strong, you’re too clingy, you’re too needy. Heck, maybe it’s all of the above.
If every single guy that you date ends up being someone that you label as a jerk and a heartbreaker, well, the problem isn’t everybody else. You can lie to yourself and say that you just can’t meet any good guys, but they’re out there all right. You just ignore them, put them in the “friend zone,” or scare them away with your psychotic, desperate behavior.
Over at Acculturated this week editor Emily Esfahani Smith highlights a disturbing development, the rise of services that help couples choose the gender of their baby. Couples are paying tens of thousands of dollars to make sure they have girls (the reverse of what we commonly see in China and India), and are heartbroken when they end up with a boy:
Simpson was inseminated with the slower sperm that same day. Fifteen weeks later, she asked a colleague at the hospital to sneak in an after-hours ultrasound. The results felt like a brick landing on her stomach: another boy.
“I lay in bed and cried for weeks,” said Simpson, now 36, whose name has been changed to protect her privacy. She took a job in the operating room so she would no longer have to work with women who were giving birth to girls.
Even more disturbing is her reaction when she finally did get her baby girl:
“My husband and I stared at our daughter for that first year. She was worth every cent. Better than a new car, or a kitchen reno.”
Aside from the obvious hints at eugenics that can be seen here, what does this say about how we view children? From the high rates of abortions of babies with Down syndrome or other disabilities to choosing the sex of our babies, are we beginning to view our kids as accessories? As “things” meant to bring us happiness? When parents are paying to make sure the baby they have is the one they want, it really is like buying a new car or renovating a kitchen. It’s a purchase. It puts the child on the same level as the little chihuahua Paris Hilton carried around in her purse: a designer object meant to be used as a status symbol or to make the parent feel good.
And where do we go from here? What if we could choose our children’s eye color, hair color, height? Would we? The reason this is disturbing is because it allows parents to play God… to engineer perfect children, and toss out the not-so-perfect ones. Along the way, would we lose our humanity as well?
Science may allow us to create designer babies, but that doesn’t mean we should.
Related at PJ Lifestyle:
So, guys: your girl drives you crazy sometimes, huh? Hey, deep down, we get it. We know that it’s a lot to ask of you to keep the toilet seat up, read our minds, and talk to us. But guess what, fellas? It kinda goes both ways. And I’m not talking about the obvious, like… well, keeping the toilet seat up, or your inability to listen. We love you, but sometimes you just drive us crazy. Not only do these things drive us crazy, but we just can’t understand them. We just can’t understand why you do things like…
Act Like Babies When You’re Sick
Why is it that when men get sick, they act as if they’ve just been diagnosed with terminal cancer? Women get the flu, and we don’t really have the luxury of wallowing around in bed, moaning for someone to come baby us. We still have to buck up and take care of the kids, keep the house clean, and get dinner on the table. Sure, our head is pounding, our nose is running, and we feel like crap. But stuff still needs to get done.
Men, on the other hand… you get a cold, and it’s like you’re literally dying. You basically become five year olds crying for mommy. And who gets to play mommy? That’s right, we do. We’ve got to cuddle you, cater to your every need, and basically treat you like you’ve magically turned into one of our children. It’s somewhat amusing, but mostly aggravating, because, hey, we get it — being sick sucks. But is it that hard to suck it up and deal with it? And we know, we know. You’d return the favor for us. But the thing is, women don’t turn into crying, sniveling babies when we get sick. Why is it that the person who’s supposed to be the tougher one in the relationship always does just that?
There’s no denying it: ladies love the chick flicks. For men, they’re instruments of torture they must endure with their woman so they can be rewarded at the end of the night. Women, however, eat them up — especially the under-30 crowd. They’ll drag their boyfriends to them, bond with a group of girlfriends while watching them, or sit at home alone crying to them. Never mind that they’re vapid, formulaic crap that Hollywood can churn out faster than Sandra Fluke can go through condoms. They’re still successful.
Too bad they also send some of the worst messages to women in the history of mankind. Horrible stereotypes, insulting characters, idiotic relationship advice… it’s all there. Some chick flicks are better at hiding it than others, but generally, you can count on the same thing each time. The worst part is, women are actually starting to believe the lunacy they see in these movies!
So which are the worst offenders, and what damaging messages do they send?
10. The Notebook
Damaging Message: Cheating Is Great!
The Notebook is considered by many women to be one of the most beloved movies ever, a perfect example of what romance and long-lasting love are supposed to be. Too bad about half of the movie revolves around the main character cheating on her fiance.
For those who haven’t seen it, Allie and Noah are high-school sweethearts. Allie’s rich and Noah’s poor, so they break up after one summer. Noah joins the Army and fights in World War II; Allie goes to college and gets engaged to a handsome soldier turned lawyer. After getting engaged, she runs back to Noah, rolls around in the hay with him a few times, and ends up insulted at her mother’s insinuation that she’s a tramp. None of this matters, of course. Noah and Allie love each other so much that cheating on the man she promised to marry was perfectly acceptable. Heck, even her fiance didn’t get mad at her. It’s romantic, see?
The lesson here is that, hey, it’s totally cool to cheat on someone if that’s what your heart is telling you to do. It doesn’t matter if it’s right or wrong. If you’re following your heart, then cheat away!
Hearing that your child has Down syndrome is life-changing. And in that moment, your life typically isn’t looking too good.
When I found out, at 16 weeks pregnant, that my son Wyatt had Down syndrome, I felt like my life was over. I cried for days, thinking about all the terrible things that we would surely have to suffer. I feared we would be doomed to a lifetime of suffering and misery, having to struggle through the terrible ordeal of raising a special needs child. The images I had in my mind were of a dumb, ugly child who wouldn’t be able to do anything for himself and would depend on us forever.
I’m embarrassed to admit that now, because it isn’t even remotely close to reality, but it’s the truth. When you get news like this, the first thing you think of is the worst-case scenario. And most moms who find out their kids have Down syndrome don’t often have accurate, up-to-date knowledge of what someone with the condition is actually like.
So now that my son’s been born, has my life been completely ruined? What is having a kid with Down syndrome actually like?
9. You Won’t Be Scared Forever
When you first find out the news, it seems like there is no light at the end of the tunnel. And all you can think about are all the bad things that can happen: heart defects, leukemia, thyroid disorders, infertility, Alzheimer’s, intellectual disabilities, and on and on. It’s so easy to get overwhelmed when you start to read about Down syndrome and see all of the health risks that come with it. Before you know it, you’ve convinced yourself that your baby is going to have a million health problems and you’re panicking and terrified.
But trust me: the fear doesn’t last forever. Eventually, you’ll see that light at the end of the tunnel. And day by day, you’ll start to realize that it’s going to be all right. Your baby is not going to have every single malady in existence, and there will be some point when you see that. Yes, there is an inevitable period where every negative emotion under the sun completely consumes you. But that doesn’t last forever.
My fear about the race for everyone to self-identify as a slut is that the real sluts—the women who sleep around, who have one-night stands, who engage in arbitrarily ill-favored sexual practices—are being shunted back into the corner where they’ve always been. If our goal is to stand up for women’s control of their own bodies, let’s not stigmatize those who merely choose to use them differently than others do. The vast majority of Americans “use or support birth control”; that moral battle has been won. But plenty of those Americans still aren’t comfortable with the idea of a woman who wants to sleep around. Let’s fight that battle instead.
Slate is at it again, trying to legitimize the idiotic notion that women should, for some reason, be proud to be sluts. Screwing a different guy every night makes you a “sex-positive feminist” these days, and the feminazis think that women should be able to be a slut while still being considered respectable in society. Get it? This is progress: debasing women in the name of “empowerment”.
Let’s get real here: there’s no one stopping anyone, man or women, from skanking it up every night. There never has been. Everyone is perfectly free to screw around as much as their little heart desires. Unfortunately for the pro-slut crowd, you don’t get to be a proud slut and escape the consequences that comes with it. Grown-ups have to deal with the fallback from their actions, like it or not. If you’re over 21, you’re free to spend every night getting hammered — but then you also have to accept that you’ll probably get a reputation as a drunken idiot. It’s the same with sleeping around: you can do it, but don’t cry when suddenly, you don’t come across as very respectable anymore.
Try as they might with their mental gymnastics, women don’t get to avoid the consequences of their actions just by virtue of their gender. Hey, if you want to go out every night and sleep with a different guy, then by all means do it. Live it up. Have fun. But don’t expect the entire world to pat you on the back and call you empowered for it in a country where one in five women have herpes.