On a hot summer afternoon, I took my 2 yr old daughter into trader Joe’s. Refusing to sit in the shopping cart, she followed along side me pulling everything and anything off the shelf and placing them in my cart or on the floor below. Many customers were disgruntled by the fact that I could not “control” her from getting in their way. Some, however, gave me warm smiles of understanding giving me the patience to be the best mother I could be.
Don’t Forget The Parents
At least my daughter has the fact that she is two going for her. How much more difficult is it for a parent of a child with mental illness living in a society that lacks patience and understanding. As a teacher for students with mental illness, I have learned it’s not just the children who need support. I may help develop interventions, but the parents are the ones who have to spend hours creating a routine conducive to their child’s growth and deal with the fallout when the interventions don’t work. Parents in this situation need those around them to be extra loving and understanding of their children.
A parent who finds out her child has ADHD, OCD, depression or a similar mental illness is devastated. Mental health challenges inherently complicate the best-laid plans for an easy, enjoyable life. Further, these challenges lead to increased stress between parents and children which is only exacerbated when onlookers express frustration.
It is our job as a community to help support these families with unique difficulties. We must provide extra attention to a child who has difficulty staying quiet in shul or at the very least control our facial expressions and comments. This will not only strengthen the children without further detracting from their confidence but will also provide much-needed support for their parents. If you take it a step further with prayers, words of kindness and extra favors for these families you will leave an immeasurable lasting impression in your children about the proper way to treat other people.
Let’s Harness Our Potential
We are currently in the mourning period for the destruction of the Jewish Temple. The Talmud tells us this loss was the result of baseless hatred between Jews. May we work towards meriting its rebuilding with actions of acceptance, understanding, and love.
What do you make of the author’s message? Have you had similar experiences with your children or observing other’s children? Please share your thoughts, comments, and questions below.