Although I have personally felt the emotion, I have also had several parents tell me how inferior they feel as a parent. Even though the challenges of an autistic child may be far greater than that of a neuro-typical child, it is natural for parents at times to compare and contrast other children and/or parents. Unfortunately, this comparison often results in sadness or feelings of inferiority.
Eleanor Roosevelt said that no one can make you feel inferior except you. When I was young, I had a horrible speech impediment. I was very self-conscious and this obviously made me an easy target for ridicule. One day some kids made fun of me and called me stupid. I went to my dad that evening looking for encouragement but when I told him what the kids called me he simply asked me…..well, are you stupid? I got angry. I was looking for sympathy and encouragement, but instead, all I got was a question. I quickly responded; no I’m not stupid. He then smiled and said if I know the truth why do you let ignorant people bother you?
My father taught me a very important life lesson that day. He instilled in me at a young age that no one can steal my happiness or make me feel sad (or inferior). Little did I know the wisdom my father gave me as a child would be so important in my adulthood when I became a parent of an autistic child. In today’s society (especially in this age of social media) it is difficult to avoid the compare/contrast traps. However, what we must remember is the wise words of Eleanor Roosevelt that no one can make you feel inferior except you. And, the practical application of my father who reminds us so long as we know the truth, why would we let ignorant people bother us? Our children are unique and special and so are their parents. None of them should ever feel inferior but more be celebrated for their strength and bravery.
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