Special needs parents have many pet peeves and one of those pet peeves is the comments they receive from others, even if they mean well. If you are one of those people who have said things that may inadvertently upset a special needs parent, I am not here to bash you in any way or form. I know that what you say comes from a good place but you need to realize how detrimental some comments are.
One of the most common things that special needs parents are told by others who do not at all understand what they deal with on a day to day basis is how they were “chosen” to be the child’s parents. That is because “God gives special people special kids”. Yes, I know that comes from a good place but as it was already talked about, please do not go there. This is not helpful. The other common thing that people tell special needs parents is that they are so strong or they are warriors.
Again, please do not say that to parents of children with disabilities. Do you want to know what the number one reason that is one of the worst things you can say to a special needs parent? That is because they are not strong. They have no strength left as it is drained on a day to day basis. They only do what they have to do because they are not left with any choice and they are neglecting their own needs and the needs of their typical children. This is as a result of having to constantly do their best to meet the very high demands of their special needs kids.
You may still be confused as to why telling special needs parents how strong they are is detrimental. Again, they are not strong and they only feel pressure when you say that as you are putting them high up on a pedestal. A pedestal they are guaranteed to fall off because again, they are not strong. They are on their way to burning out if they are not already.
Instead of making comments about how strong they are, why not offer them something useful instead? Something that does not go along the lines of I don’t know how you do it, or I could never do what you are doing. That also is more harmful than helpful. If you want to be helpful to a special needs parent that you care about, offer them help. If you are unable to babysit their special needs child (and by not wanting to do it shows you right there how difficult the parents really do have it), look for cleaning services so they get a break from having to clean the house. Run some errands for them. Do something to show that you really do care. Even if that means to listen to them without judgment and allowing them to vent.
That is a lot more meaningful than telling these burned-out parents how strong they are. Because they are not. They are not stronger than you or any other parent of only typical kids.