Sunday, October 25, 2009


Recently I had a conversation with a set of parents that have a child who is under pressure. By under pressure I mean the child, (I’ll call him Joey) was living a hell on earth. Why? Because his chemistry, his state of mind was such as he is unable to cope with everyday life. He wants to cope, but he can’t!

Joey’s parents have done all they can do to try to stabilize Joey’s life, and their own. They realize that the circumstances that affect Joey, affect them too. They suffer greatly as they witness their child’s pain. The pain is emotional, and can be physically debilitating to all. They don’t want to lose the very child they once held in their arms, nor do they wish to lose the emotional ties that bind them as a family. They share the pain and the small triumphs, but it is theirs to share, and no one else’s to judge.

Joey’s parents complain that people judge Joey, and those judgments are based on how those friends and relatives would handle the situation. Those that judge come to the table, armed with experiences, based on a normal situation, that demands certain social protocols and expectations. It is precisely the same protocols and expectations that Joey’s parents once had. Lack of experience causes us to make determinations about people that eventually change. So what happens?

As in life, we learn and make adjustments. Soon what Monday held, Friday doesn’t, we learn something along the way. Joey’s parents learned that Joey couldn’t reasonably handle things. A job, a class in school, perhaps just going out in public causes Joey to stop functioning, he cannot emotionally cope, so he withdraws from society. He begins to feel less about himself and his abilities. And so the pain increases.

The judges reason that the parents are not handling Joey correctly, that if they had to deal with it, Joey would be walking a straight line, would be an ‘A’ student, and engulfed with so many friends, that you could fill an arena with them.

You have to walk in someone else’s shoes to fully understand the journey one embarks on. We are all too quick to judge, and don’t take time to try to understand. Sometimes we relish the sadness of others, because we need to justify our own shortcomings. Mental and emotional pain is nothing for the untested to judge, nothing for the inexperienced to determine the course of action. What is needed is for people to stop judging, that only pours more fuel on the painful fires and anguish of parents and victims with these mental disabilities.

It seems everyone is an expert, everyone has the answers, and everyone is the first to judge what they don’t understand.


  • I wonder what IS normal??????

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:48 PM  

  • You have great empathy for parents with children who are different. Most people are not intentionally insensitive, they often just don't know how to react to those who look or act differently. It's definitely a heavy burden for the parents of such children, and sometimes even for the children themselves. I wish I had the answer to this problem.

    By Blogger Jim Pantaleno, at 3:20 PM  

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