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Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Compassion vs Acceptance

There were a couple of commenters on my "I Don't Want Compassion For Kayla" post that I wanted to respond to, but their emails are not attached to their profiles. I don't know if they'll be back to read my blog or not, but either way, I wanted to try and clarify my thoughts.

I was asked how does Kayla feel about being included, even if by sympathy or compassion. Does she feel accepted, excited, included, happy?

Kayla is only 9 so right now I don't think she would even understand if she was being included based on sympathy or compassion, or genuine friendship. And for the most part I don't think most 9 yr olds would think to include Kayla because they were feeling sorry for her. I think kids either play with her because they want to, or they don't.

If she were in high school now and in this situation how would she feel being voted Homecoming/Prom Queen? I'm sure she would absolutely love it. Just as I've seen the joy and excitement on the other students who have Down syndrome, in every article I've read thus far. I'm not trying to take away from their feelings of having the school vote for them. I wouldn't take away from Kayla basking in the spotlight if it happened to her. It is an exciting time. And as I said, I know this is better than the alternative, to have cheers instead of jeers.

I would be happy for Kayla, but at the same time, as her parent what I'm saying is what I do and don't want for her. And I stick by what I said in my previous post. I don't want her peers doing things for her out of compassion...not if the definition of compassion is a deep feeling of sympathy and sorrow for another person's great misfortune. That's not how I want them to look at her. They are her peers and I want for her to find a group of friends who will like her for her. Who will accept her for her...not out of compassion, but out of shared interests - how any friendships are made. She doesn't need sorrow.

And I think when we reach the point of not having to have news articles about another high school electing another student w/Ds King or Queen, because it just won't be that big of a deal, maybe then we've (society) reached acceptance and not compassion.

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Nan said...

Love your writing on this. I have so many thoughts! I think compassion has its place ... Jess had a friend who, out of compassion, yelled at others a ball game for staring at Jessie and went to great lengths to speak our for her, out of compassion. Others have recognized when she has been left out because of other's ignorance and have included her ... for herself. So those are very different circumstances ... but I too HATE that compassionate creepy stuff where the helper/compassion giver actually does it more to makes themselves feel better. There is a really great article about this (and about helping) that I think you would really like written by Norm Kunc... I've got a link to it over on by piece about him last week over on my blog. Last Wednesday I think. Here: http://dsbutterfly.blogspot.ca/2012/10/31-for-21-unreasonable-canadiansnorm.html
I WILL write more about this, but I was actually going to ask a friend of Jessie's to guest post about this, once she gets through some essays she needs to write!

Anonymous said...

very good!

Cindy said...

I agree, this is such a hard thing to deal with. Genuine, honest compassion is one thing. But showing compassion out of pity is another. I look forward to the day when it isn't a big news story when someone with Ds is elected Homecoming King or Queen.

Mom24 said...

I've really enjoyed reading your thoughts on this. I'm struggling a bit with Julianna. There's a mentally disabled boy in her classroom, a couple of kids, but one in particular though it applies to the other situation as well, where I feel like the teachers have turned those kids into class pets. Yes, the kids play with them, and that's good, but they think of it as something special, good words that they're doing. There are special rules for those kids, there's just a difference about it all together. It bothers me. I don't want her to think of being with those kids as some sort of sacrifice or special act of kindness, yet in a lot of ways it is.

I'm having trouble articulating what I mean, the words just won't really come. Is it wrong that Julianna feels good about helping Scotty and the other kids? Is it wrong that it's made her think about a career as a special ed teacher? No. But it also makes me uncomfortable.

These kids are definitely not being included because of who they are and it makes me sad, yet is it just reality? Ugh. I just don't know.

All in all, I guess it beats the alternatives. The kids aren't afraid of them (though some still are), they don't torment them, so those are good things. I just wish it wasn't all looked upon as being so "special".

Mom24 said...

That was supposed to be good "works" that they're doing.

Kerri said...

Mom24 described my Boo. Unlike some disabilities Boo has an unknown genetic disorder. So other parents/children/teachers just think Boo is younger than she is. Of course Boo is only almost 4 so my expereince in all this is slightly different. That being said...
We went on a field trip yesterday to a pumpkin patch. I noticed that the other preschoolers kind of acted like Boo was their mascot. Bringing her a pumpkin and then not noticing that she was just sitting there watching. They didn't interract with Boo at all. They didn't notice that she wasn't keeping up or running around with them. At the story time it was very obvious because the children were acting out the story and Boo just kind of stood there looking at the clouds.
I do not want anyone to look at Boo with pity, and compassion is a wonderful thing. But I do ot want it to be forced. I vote for Michelle's view of acceptance.

Jess said...

After seeing this post I went back and read your previous post that you were responding about.

I appreciate your outlook on this subject. I also appreciate your use of the dictionary definition of the word.

If compassion really means sorrow for one's misfortune, than maybe society as a whole has a warped view of what compassion really is?

Maybe there is a different word to be used for those that reach out to others in love. Hmmm maybe it's love for each other that is getting confused with the meaning of compassion?

Perhaps I'll have to redefine how I live out these words in my daily life as well.

Tracey - Just Another Mommy Blog said...

I think that this is what we all want for our kids. Whether they have DS or other differences or if they are able to be classified as "typical", we just want them to be accepted and enjoyed for the awesome people that we as their parents know them to be.

That's not usually the case, though.

The most attractive children are singled out and have other children unconsciously flock to them. The kids who take longer to warm up to a group may find themselves left behind when friendships are being formed. Children's physical, emotional and mental differences are noticed. Just as adults notice each other.

Why do any of us reach out to anyone else? There is always a reason. A motive. Even my commenting on this blog has an ulterior motive for me. I feel strongly about the ways that people with genetic and physical differences are being eliminated from our society by calling an abortion a "termination of pregnancy". Is that why I originally connected with you?

I don't know what my point was there. I wish for Kayla to find true and loving friends who will encourage her and allow her to encourage them. I have always felt the love you have for her and have grown to care for her as well.