Friday, June 07, 2013


This is none of my business.

I know that.

Recently I've read a few blogs and a lot of face book postings that make me really, really, uncomfortable. First, let me give some background. Much of my work over the last 15 years or so has been around teaching people with disabilities about boundaries. Here's what I believe:

Boundaries are the most important skill that you will teach someone in your care for abuse prevention and for avoiding being accused of being an abuser.

The fact is that so many people with disabilities have poor boundaries because care providers forget to model good, healthy, appropriate boundaries.

So this is in my head all the time.

Let me go further in my explanation before I say something that's none of my business.

I remember, and I bet you do too, having my mother sit and tell a story, for the general amusement and laughter of her audience of friends perched on chairs around a table, coffee's in hand. A story of something stupid I did or said. The laughter is still ringing behind a door I keep firmly locked in the back wards of my memory. This is not an uncommon experience, I don't know very many people who haven't experienced 'parent's grand story' as 'personal humiliation.'

So, I think we all get it.

Anyways, recently I've been reading blogs where parents tell 'cute' stories that, in my mind are highly private. I imagine their child becoming aware that this information was put out for the world to see. That a 'picture' of the child was forming in the minds of strangers. Facebook is often worse where parents let out frustrations about their kids ... I recently read something where a mom wrote about something that her little boy said which makes him sound like a horrible sexist pig - he's 5 - and it's now out there for good. I'll take my mom's coffee group any time of day.

But the jokes that are made that imply that life was better before parenting or the life would be simpler with a different, better behaved child worry me.

I do write about Ruby and Sadie. But I try to remember, every time, that they will read the words that I write. So I only write memories that I want them to have. I only write about the joy they bring into my life. I only write the funny and wise things they say.

Because they are kids. They need me to have good boundaries for them. I have their trust now, I want to have it in the future. I have been accused of idealising the girls - I don't - I selectively write about things that I think make good stories for you and awesome memories for them.

Boundaries keep people safe.

Did you know that the single most common factor in friendships breaking down or in families falling apart - is the loss of trust? Did you know that the single most common way that trust is lost is through a broken confidence? Did you know that trust takes a long while to build but can be gone in an instant.

So, I add to what I've said before:

Boundaries are the most important skill we practise to demonstrate our character and our respect for those in our care.


GirlWithTheCane said...

Thanks for this, Dave. This is an important issue.

Anonymous said...

Amen!!!! Parents who relish telling stories on their children need to find some more satisfying way to meet their own needs!!

Anonymous said...

Once again- well said, David. While Social Media has it's perks, it also has a huge downside.

I am the parent of a child affected by disabilty plus I work in the field with other individuals affected by disability. It sickens me to read some of the posts that I have read from other parents who have a child affected by disability- who use Facebook to bitch and moan about their child in a very negative light. I did reply to one individual who REALLY got under my skin after she expressed how her child affected by disability was "ruining" her family. I commented that while her child might not have to ability to read her Facebook status- that the community and society in general could... and if the child's own mother felt this way- how did she expect the child's siblings, other family members,educators or society in general to view her child in a positive light. I had never seen her rant about her typically developing kids like that- so why the child with a disability.

I do post a lot about my child, in a positive light. She has many beautiful gifts and attributes that I want the world to see. I want other individuals and families affected by disability to realize that we all have struggles but we also have many, many wonderful gains and successes! So... remember to CHEW YOUR WORDS BEFORE YOU SPIT THEM OUT! :)

painting with fire said...

I agree - and like you, I'm shocked at times by what people will say online about their kids, not thinking that someday the kids will read it and be hurt by it. More thoughtful kindness in the world would go a long, long way!

Tamara said...

I agree. I started thinking about that when I was blogging and have blogged very little the last few years. Even though I don't think I was disrespectful, I just feel like I need to be more careful. Hopefully, I am.

Anonymous said...

Sometimes,I think that when one is in the middle of a negative emotion and tucked squarely away in his or her corner of social media, the release (or comment) confounds the idea of boundaries -- for the writer or the child.

As a former blogger, I wrote my heart out. When I look back on those days (years, actually) it was cathartic and I developed my own sense of strength at the mercy of someone reading my words and perhaps thinking that I was wrong or putting my son's special needs on display that would eventually harm him emotionally if only he knew...However, *I* needed this. And I did it.

As a mother to someone who has special needs (and I only use that term lightly because really at this point in our life his needs wan in light of friends I've met in the community...) the ferocity of my love for my son makes me fight the bigger fight of advocacy. Perhaps what you're reading in these posts on FB and blogs is the "emotionally refueling" that many of us need because there are days when the world is REALLY shitty and it's hard to navigate and it's easier to blame the characteristics of a syndrome than it is to fight the whole world.

The difference I hope is that it is a fleeting moment when a parent feels and writes a comment that isn't appropriate or helpful or loving towards his or her own child. If it is ongoing, I, too, wonder about what is REALLY going on...

Anonymous said...

Anyone who hasn't learned the Internet is forever should not be allowed to play on it.

If I tell stories, it is on myself - good or bad. If I ever get many readers for my fiction, I want whatever I wrote about myself as a person to be something I don't mind these future readers to know.

But after that, I hope to be remembered for the fiction, not the truth. I have little control over the truth.

Anonymous said...

sooo important. i think there is a danger that we as a society will find the truth of this a generation too late when relationships have been shook and kids traumatised.

Rickismom said...

I was always concerned about this. On one hand, I wanted to blog about the reality of life with Ricki, because I felt that for other parents, a true view of life with a teen with Down syndrome (rather than the popular "I love it that my kid has Down syndrome and he is GORGEOUS" mode) would be helpful. But there is a definite distinction between labeling an action as "bad" and a person as "bad". I hope I never gave the impression that Ricki was worth less or less loved due to her occaisional exasperating behavior. I also allowed myself a bit more leeway in what I wrote because:
1)Most people in my town do not read blogs
2) Ricki did not know English
3) "Ricki" is a pseudonym. I was careful to try and disguise our identity until she died and I posted (briefly) our address so that people could come to the "shiva".
But this is a problem to be considered.