Dealing With Others
"Dan L'kaf Z'chus"
Some thoughts on Common Situations We Face
By: Chana R. Meyerson
Here are some common situations we face, and possible causes and/or
1) Often People will tell you that you're a 'tzadekes': Each
of us knows that we ourselves are not 'tzaddikim'. Your friend
also knows that she isn't a 'tzadekess'. If she can convince herself
that you were blessed with a Down syndrome child because you're
such a righteous person, then she can sleep easy (i.e., it won't
happen to her because she knows she's not on that level). When
I point this psychology out to my would-be labelers, they admit
to the truth of these thought processes.
- People may stare at you (on the bus, on the street) when
you walk with your Down syndrome child/ sibling: Once, shortly
after our Down syndrome child was born my daughter came home from
a bus ride very excitedly. "You'll never guess what I saw
on the bus today!! I saw a girl with Down syndrome get on the
bus with her brother. She acted so normally, and her brother didn't
seem embarrassed at all. 'B'Ezras Hashem' I'll also be proud of
my sister!!" Remember that the person who is looking/staring
at you may be a grandmother/sibling/uncle, etc. of a new Down
syndrome baby. They don't necessarily think poorly of you. On
the contrary, you might actually be giving them hope!
- People might say the "wrong thing": Sometimes
a person says something that at a different time you would gain
something form it. Sometimes we enjoy sharing our ups and downs
with people; however, sometimes we wish everyone would forget
we have a special child, and just treat us normally, like everybody
else. If you're in a vulnerable mood, anything someone says may
strike you wrong.
- People often try to comfort us by saying "it could
be worse": We can often tell ourselves that we should
count our blessings, but people err in thinking that knowing our
blessings wipes out all pain. (Even as we see the blessings our
Down syndrome children give us, and are to us, there always remains
a certain amount of pain.) When people tell me "it could
be worse" I gently ask them the following: "If someone
will drop a brick on your toes, will it hurt?" (Yes, obviously)
Then I continue: "If someone tells your that you're lucky
that your leg doesn't need amputation, will that remove the pain
in your toes? No, it won't. I know it could be worse, but I feel
5) Sometimes people complain to us about things that to us
seem insignificant: (I'm referring to temporary discomforts,
like postponed 'bris', a pre-Pesach birth, a baby that wakes up
it parents during the night, etc.) This is the ideal situation
to be 'Dan L'Kaf Z'Chus' because to them, their situation is painful.
You can sympathize and even suggest solutions (if they want your
advice). If they are really 'bugging' you (constantly repeating
their complaints or telling you that you're "lucky"),
you can gently say, "I'm sorry, but it's hard for me to relate
to a problem that won't make any difference six months from now.
I realize it causes you pain, but maybe you should talk to someone
else about this."