Seeing a paralyzed friend..

Larimar - posted on 12/16/2013 ( 7 moms have responded )

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(I posted this in another thread to get the point of view of mothers with disabled children, but I am wondering what would be the views here)

My son is 6 years old and a friend of his from baseball recently got meningitis and is now paralyzed. His grandmother would like to have us over. I feel horrible for even thinking this... but I am worried on how this will affect my son. My son is the biggest worry-wart, he worries about getting sick, cold, germs, etc... so I am afraid of how he will take this...

So I here I am trying to decide where I draw the line on helping brighten a little boys day and my own son's well being.

Has anyone gone through this? or have any insight?

Thank you

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Chet - posted on 12/16/2013

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A lot of parents fall into the trap of thinking they need to purely protect their children. The truth is, parents need to help their kids learn to cope with the realities of life. You don't do your child any favours when you attempt to buffer them from every bump in the road.

Strength and resilience come from getting through difficult situations. Think of it like this, helping your son to deal with his friend's disability means that you give him some information and skills for the next time he meets a person with a disability or for when somebody else he knows contracts a serious illness or condition or for the next time he is afraid for a friend. There's no way to guarantee your son will never have disease or disability touch his life, so help him learn what to do when it happens.

We have four children and on numerous occasions we've had to face difficult topics with our kids. What I've found is that the younger a child is the easier it usually is. You don't make things simpler by avoiding difficult topics as long as possible. The questions a six year old asks are easier than the ones a 10 year old asks, and it will be easier to talk to the 10 year old about a difficult topic if you've already gotten some of the discussion out of the way when they were six.

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I don't know much about meningitis but you might want to worry if it is contagious. If it is not and even if that person is not his close friend it might be a good idea to visit. First it would be good for your child. It might help get stronger. And on the other hand it might help the other boy feel better. Whatever you decide don't feel bad it is your child and I would feel the same way.

Larimar - posted on 12/17/2013

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It's not a close friend... he never asks about the boy and we haven't seen him in over a year...

♫ Shawnn ♪♫♫ - posted on 12/16/2013

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Have you explained to your son about his friend's condition? Were they close friends?

Explain to your son what is going on. Explain that his friend is in a scary place because he can't move any more, but he is still the same kid, and still wants to be as normal as possible. Ask him if he'd like to help the boy by remaining friends and visiting him.

Children are more resilient than we give them credit for, and when situations are explained to them, you'd be amazed at how they adapt.

For another perspective: How would you feel if you were the mother/grandmother of this poor child? How would you feel as his friends drifted off because their parents weren't comfortable with his condition? Wouldn't you want to do anything to help?

It is (IMHO) always better to give kids a chance to grow. This is an awesome chance for your son to find his nurturing side. I advise you to fill him in on what's going on, and set up a time to go to the other child's house.

Larimar - posted on 12/16/2013

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Wow great advice. The only reason I say a classmate is because he is in a small school and they have all known each other for three years... I know the teacher would say the classmate is sick and my son would ask about his friend that is missing from school (he does this often when a kid is absent).

Right now my son has no idea what's going on with this boy because they haven't seen each other in over a year.... He doesn't ask about him or anything. I'm assuming the child doesn't have anyone to visit him and that is why she has reached out to me?... idk... So I feel like it's my guilty conscience (thinking what would I want if my son was in his shoes) that is even considering taking my son over there.

Everyone I have asked (friends and family) say don't take him... but I feel so bad for this little boy... I guess I don't want to make my son suffer just cause "I" feel bad...

Chet - posted on 12/16/2013

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You're the best person to decide if your son is in too fragile of a condition to cope with this. I would lean very heavily in the direction of going to see the boy though... assuming that the boy is very receptive to the visit.

It doesn't have to be bad or scary. Sometimes it helps kids to know other kids are dealing with health problems. It doesn't scare them, it makes them feel less alone, or realise things could be much worse. The find strength in seeing another child face something big.

Have your son's fears all been inspired by his own experiences or does he have fears inspired by the experiences of others?

I also think it's generally very valuable to teach kids that a disability doesn't have to be bad or scary, only different. I know people who are in wheelchairs or who are blind and who are a whole lot happier than some people who aren't.

I'm also not sure why you'd visit a classmate, but not this child. What is the difference?

If you decide not to visit though, I would make it clear that your son is having issues right now and might not be the best companion. Make it about your son's emotional and psychological condition exclusively.

Larimar - posted on 12/16/2013

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This is exactly how I think but my son was in the hospital for 7 days last Xmas... He was pretty traumatized after... even went back to wetting the bed for like a month after he was home. Now he's paranoid about everything... bumps, scratches, germs, etc... I took him to the Dr because of asthma and the Dr explained how the medicine "opens up" his bronchial tubes and that night he had a dream that there was a creature inside him opening his body... I just don't know where to draw the line... If this was a close friend,cousin, classmate I wouldn't even hesitate... but it's a boy he played baseball with over a year ago... Thanks for your response.

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