A blog post within the parenting community has recently stirred up a lot of anger, with support both for and against what was written. Without going into too much detail, it was to do with some school children being promised a reward for good behaviour, but when one parent complained that it wasn't fair that their child couldn't have the reward, then for fear of litigation the reward was taken away from the deserving children.
Put like that, I think most people would agree that the situation is actually not fair for all those children who were promised a reward in the first place.
However as comments were left on the post, it was suggested that it was a child with special needs who was not being 'allowed' to share the reward.
I've always said that I'm a 'sit on the fence' kind of girl. It's not because I don't have conviction (I certainly do when it comes to my own children!), but more because I feel I try to look at everything from all sides of the story.
Recently I posted about the fact that my elder daughter was picked to go on a special school visit to see the Queen. Partly because she is consistently well behaved (although not overly confident or outstanding in her class, one of those who falls 'under the radar') but also party through lucky dip lottery. I was obviously delighted for her, but I know that there were other parents whose children were not picked, who thought that it was 'not fair'. I could sit back and say it's 'not fair' that I know my youngest child would never have been picked to go on such a special trip, as her disability would have made it very difficult for her and others. That's not bad behaviour though, she's not naughty, it's just how she is affected - is that 'fair'? No, and it obviously saddens me, but I wouldn't dream of suggesting the other children shouldn't have been allowed to go just because she can't.
Comments were suggesting this was what had happened in this case.
Lately I have been commenting less on other 'big issue' posts as I think more about the consequences of 'jumping on the bandwagon'.
I know I've been guilty of it in the past - when you are passionate about something, feelings explode and things are said which cannot be taken back. It's true in real life as well as online, of course. My two favourite expressions from my mum were 'if you can't say anything nice, then don't say it at all', and 'don't write anything down on paper which you wouldn't want to be read aloud and shared'. Obviously I've ignored that advice a few times (sorry Mum!) but I do think it's generally good advice.
The trouble is, that we don't all know all the facts of any story except our own. Having a child with special needs really has opened my eyes in that respect. I know that before we got Sasha's diagnosis, I didn't really have much of a clue about what autism was. I also wasn't really aware of the vast range of special needs that some other children, and adults have, and the complications to everyday life that go with that. I wasn't faced with it, therefore I didn't have to think about it.
Most families have their own problems to deal with, and this could be anything - special needs such as autism, or dyslexia, or hearing issues, or feeding/organ issues, but also right through to alcoholism, mental illness, poverty, loss of loved ones etc. We can't necessarily see them or know about all of them. Who's to say which of these issues is 'worse'?