My husband and my daughter spent the day with my oldest son’s marching band. This was a band fundraiser and my husband’s role was as a chaperone. They marched over six miles through the community, stopping to perform mini concerts. My daughter’s role was to collect donations from people along the route. She hung a bucket on her wheelchair to hold the donations.
My daughter is arguably the band’s biggest fan. She brought pom-poms and danced to all of the songs. She and my husband had a great time supporting their favorite musicians.
That evening another band mom posted a photo on Facebook and tagged me in it. In the photo, my husband was pushing our daughter’s chair alongside the high school band students. It was a cute photo and captured the fun they had had together that day.
But another parent’s comment, “What a loving father.” caused me discomfort.
Would he have been an especially “loving father” if he had been walking along the route with his teenage daughter who didn’t have a disability? I don’t think so. I think it was the wheelchair and my daughter’s disability that made that mom think he was an “especially loving father”.
Yes, my husband is a loving parent. But spending time volunteering with his daughter does not make him more loving than other fathers volunteering with their children. My daughter’s disability should not warrant extra credit, praise, or pity. He was just being a dad. And I wish the rest of the world would see it that way.
So to those who offer comments, how about saying “Great photo!” or “How fun!” or “Looking good!” or “Way to support the band!” But please don’t see my husband spending time with his daughter as an act of heroism. He is simply being her—and enjoying it.
Check out this great Dads Video on this website.
Living with a child who has mental health issues can come with a lot of unknowns just like having a child with physical health issues. But society can treat both children very differently.
I have two boys. One is 10 and the other is 8. Both of my kids have disability labels. One has a physical disability and the other has emotional and behavioral issues. One disability you can see, the other you don’t – but it is there.