We all know of the ‘Mommy Wars’ – work v. stay-at-home, bottle v. breast, cloth v. disposable, natural v. epidural – and so on. This is about women judging other women.
If you happen to have a child with a disability, I’d add another war that rages in our underground community: inclusion v. segregation. That could take the form of school – children going to community schools v. special education sites, or recreation – community sports v. Special Olympics., etc.
I once belonged to a Facebook group of parents who were involved with an organization that provided support for young children to be included in community preschools. Someone posted a question: tell us about your community recreation experience, and I naively answered, talking about our failure to have our son successfully included in community soccer and his happy switch to Special Olympics.
I was beat up badly for that comment. Two moms banded together, and said how could I believe in inclusion (Aaron goes to his community school) if we don’t practice inclusion in all settings. That I was copping out, not being true to the movement, etc, etc etc.
Many years ago, I learned not to engage in Internet ‘flame wars’ (as they were once called). I engaged my proven strategy in these instances, didn’t respond to the comments, and promptly left that Facebook group, never to return.
I’ll admit that I judge moms who judge other moms. I firmly believe in family choice, and if others don’t believe in it…well, that’s it for you in my books. So I confess to being judgmental too.
But isn’t society challenging enough for us families with kids with disabilities? Why do we have to turn on each other, start civil wars, just for the sake of being ‘right’? The more we are fractured, the weaker we will be when it comes time to advocate and lobby for our children.
Please think twice before you roll your eyes in front of a family who choses special education because you are dedicated to your community school, or cluck your tongue at the mere mention of a Paralympic summer camp. We have to stick together, folks. (Also, never say never). Fighting amongst ourselves is never going to lead to the societal change that we all so deeply desire.
One day, I dearly hope that children are accepted and belong in any setting, and our wider community accepts all children with differences. Until then, there’s still a place for Special Ed and Special O.
Each family makes the best decision they can for their children. Let’s stop judging each other for that.