First of all I want to say thank you for all the kind words and the support in regards to my last post. I really hesitated to weather I should post that or not. Then I remembered the e-mails I have received where some people have shared with me that it seems like I have it all together, and I never have hard days. Well, I am only human, and I do have hard days. It is only fair for me to show that I have weak moments :)
I did want to talk more about the MR label.
If you look in the dictionary, "retarded" means delayed. I have no problems with that, Nichole is delayed, and therefore, I could say she is retarded. BUT, now a days, the word "retarded" carries a very different connotation. It is the most offensive word in the English language. It is degrading, repulsive, and used to offend people. This word, that refers to my daughter, is used in order to describe something stupid, funny, ridiculous, etc.
In my post on Health and Down Syndrome, I addressed this issue a little bit.
The only "R" word that a person with an intellectual disability deserve is the word "Respect." Next time your friend is acting silly, or someone does or says something stupid, please, do not say, "You are such a retard, "or, "That's retarded." When you say that, you are talking about a people group, a people group that includes my daughter, and they deserve the same respect that you and I do. Before you use that word, think about who you are referring to, what you are implying. Would you say, "You are such a Nichole." Or even more, would you use a derogatory name that is associated to a people group. No, you would not. Because you know that it is not appropriate, you know that it is degrading and wrong. The word retarded is the most offensive word in the English language. It is a word that is used to describe something stupid, something with a fault, something with a mistake, and it is said in expense of my daughter. These are the people that need to be respected, but most important, valued! Because they are God's creation, loved by God.
And this is the reason why it is so hard.
My friend Lisa helped me talk through this. Lisa has adopted four children with Down syndrome. When she has something to say, I really listen because I value her thoughts and respect her. She has walked this road a little longer, and four times :) Lisa also has a brother with Down syndrome and her sister has also adopted a child with Down syndrome. If anyone knows about life with Down syndrome, it is Lisa! You can visit her blog if you want.
Lisa challenged me, and this is what she had to say:
Just wanted to make sure you remember that your daughter (as well as the rest of our children) should be the ones who show people that being mentally retarded does not mean what the world has decided it means. They are wonderful because of their diagnosis, not in spite of it. Unfortunately, when people use that term in a negative way, usually they WOULD include our children in their stereotype...even if they knew them. That's why I say the term "mentally retarded'" is not to be avoided, it's a blessing that most people don't understand. Like the name Jesus Christ. Most people use His name in a terrible way, but that does not mean that His name is something to be avoided.
Our world puts so much emphasis on scholastic performance and ability. It's time that people stood up and talked about how people with mental retardation (or disabilities) are valuable, even without an assigned grade or diploma. Of course that probably won't happen until we get to heaven, but I do think our kids are here to show people that truth (even though most people will miss it).
I am challenged! She has definitely given me something to think about. I cannot say that I am okay with the label, it still bothers me, but hopefully I continue to grow and learn. Praise God for bringing wonderful friends into my life :)