Why Me? A Question For Parents and Siblings

Why Me? That’s a question many siblings ask themselves. Isa and I have talked about this often over the years. Whether it’s a kid with special needs or one that’s truly gifted, we see it all the time.

The other child wonders, “why me?”.

The normal child feels this way because his or her sibling gets all the attention. Often this leaves the child feeling resentment towards his or her sibling.

Parents can feel this way too, although they rarely do towards the gifted child.

Many parents feel alone in the world, especially if their child has special needs. They feel judged by other parents and ignored by their doctors. Too often they are justified in this feeling. Even a simple trip to play at the park can end with judgmental parents asking, “why can’t you control that child?”

I can’t imagine how they must feel. Other than being large, Maya is a typical, run-of-the-mill baby. But I get nervous taking her to the store alone. I’m afraid she’ll have a melt-down and everyone will stare… and judge me.

For parents that have children with significant special needs, such as autism, this is almost a certainty.

The other day Isa and I were watching the Autism special Oprah did for Autism Awareness Month. The parents spoke of how traumatic it can be going to the store because of their child’s behavior. Maybe it’s hugging strangers, maybe it’s tantrums, knocking things off of the shelves or any of several dozen other quirky things. All of which are received with scorn, and judgment by other people.

I used to be like that before I met Isa. I had no idea what Autism was. It never occurred to me that disabilities can have a profound affect on a child’s behavior and a parent’s state of mind.

Point being, awareness can do wonders for getting rid of judgment and helping other parents feel not so alone. Empathy also helps.

One of the parents on the show said that she wished people would ask “how can I help you” instead of judging her and asking “why can’t you control him”.

Would you do that? If you saw a parent whose child was acting up, would you offer to help? I bet you wouldn’t. Here’s why.

We’re all afraid of how the parent would respond. When it comes to kids we even have a hard time offering advice to our friends, even if we know it is right and would help. We’ll stick our nose into just about anything else. We’ll stick our nose places we shouldn’t. But for some reason we run scared when it comes to the kids.

But how would you feel if someone, especially a friend, could have helped you but didn’t?

Maybe that’s how we should try to look at this. Maybe that would help us all realize, and act like, we’re really in this together.

And don’t forget about the siblings. They are in it with us too. They are important. And we need to make sure they know it.

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Jason Marrs

Jason Marrs is the Director of Research and Awareness for the Where I Can Be Me® social skills program. Read More