“retarded” is never the right word

I had to have one of the toughest conservations a parent has to have with a child.

Not THAT conversation.

We had that conversation a long time ago.

It involved graphs and diagrams and cookies.

My 14yo son wanted to tell me about the funny thing his school buddies did. The story began with, ” These retards...”

A piece of me curled up and wanted to die.

The little one in the picture the left is my cousin Jennifer (I’m on the right, don’t you want to die from the cuteness?).

We grew up together.

To me there was no do difference in the three little girls in the picture.

No race difference. No mental handicaps. No irrational need for straight towels.

There was just love. Family. Complete and total acceptance.

When I hear the word “retarded” come from the lips of MY OWN CHILD it hurts me.

How do I make him understand what it feels like to see Jennifer’s struggles?  To know there is no love as pure as the emotion she is capable of giving.

I ache to define this mother moment of “YES! I understand that you want to laugh at what seems funny to everyone else, but be strong enough to never laugh at the expense of others.”

I’m trying to raise these humans that will be respectful of the difficulties of others, whatever they may be.

You’d think that with what all we’ve been through it would come naturally.

It doesn’t.

It is a part of parenting that is as hard as any other.


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7 Responses to “retarded” is never the right word

  1. Momma Sunshine May 14, 2012 at 11:12 AM #

    My girls were taught from Day One that the word is not acceptable to use. They have never heard it leave my lips, and nor will they ever. Their dad (my ex-husband) uses it all the time (out of habit, rather than ignorance) and my girls will loudly correct him every time he says it. I’m confident that they will never use it inappropriately…and lord help them if they do and I find out about it…

    Momma Sunshine´s last post…My Boobs, My Business

  2. The Domestic Goddess May 14, 2012 at 8:39 AM #

    The important part? You, as his parent, know it is wrong. And you can teach him that. Many parents let that opportunity slip by because they are ignorant. And their child learns that from them.

    You? You know. And your kids will know, because of you. :)

    The Domestic Goddess´s last post…Follow the RULES

  3. Jill May 13, 2012 at 11:53 PM #

    Tough conversation that is so hard to have with kids that just don’t have the wisdom to understand yet. I *try* to convey empathy at every possible turn with my boys. I might say something like “think about how horrible it would feel if those kids were laughing, or talking about you that way.”

    Jill´s last post…Available Coupons: POM Wonderful, Lean Cuisine, Wasa, Betty Crocker fruit snacks, Cheerios, Garden of Eatin’ and more

  4. Laura May 13, 2012 at 10:42 PM #

    thank you for this conversation.
    my experience…as the mom of many including one who lives with developmental learning delays and hears that word all the time directed at him, about him and about his peers or used to describe people who might be behaving in less than perfect, normal ways…you talk about it…all the time…every time an opportunity presents itself like when that word is mentioned out loud in casual conversation.
    My older children and even my darling husband saw nothing wrong with using that word all the time to describe anything, anyone but it all changed with the arrival of our youngest child and suddenly it was a lightbulb moment. I love the sensitivity my family has developed and how they will call out anyone and every one who likes the creative language abilities (an intelligence) to use far better descriptive words.

    Laura´s last post…learning

    • Laura May 13, 2012 at 10:43 PM #

      lacks* lacks the creative language abilities.

      Laura´s last post…learning

  5. FireMom May 13, 2012 at 10:42 PM #

    I think this one is exceptionally hard. The people in our area throw this word about willy-nilly. I am thankful that my husband feels the same way I do about the use of the word, so that we can present a united front. But I dread the day it comes out of my sons’ mouths. I’ll die a little inside too.

    FireMom´s last post…Happy Mother’s Day, Happy 30th Birthday

  6. Kristine (Mommy Needs Therapy) May 13, 2012 at 10:40 PM #

    It really is hard! I thought that kind of stuff would come easy for me since it is so important to me. I guess part of me thought it would get picked up by osmosis or something. So many influences outside our control that make it even harder.

    Kristine (Mommy Needs Therapy)´s last post…"click"

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