Courtney Westlake is a writer and mother of two beautiful children, Connor and Brenna, who teaches us an important lesson about children's respect for other people. Your daughter suffers from a disease called ichthyosis, relatively common, which causes the skin to become reddish, dry and scaly, like that of a fish.
Courtney has experienced reactions like for example when entering with her to the playground, the children immediately point to Brenna saying aloud: Mom, look at her!
You're at the end of the supermarket aisle, says Courtney as if she were talking to any other mother when your son discovers my daughter in the car and asks: Why is that baby so red? You practically put your hand over their mouth as they run to the corner without looking back. This develops almost every day. I have heard all the questions. I see from the corner of my eye all those who point to Brenna and I notice all the comments in a low voice.
I hear you, and I see you and I feel it deep in my heart. You make it worse when you try to hide from me, from us. You're embarrassed, and I understand that. But we are both mothers trying to do our best, and we both love our children. When you try to hide these obvious conversations that happen right in front of us, it feels like you are rejecting our family.
What do I want you to do?
I'd like you to invite us to those conversations you have about us. That you will close that small gap as you would with any other family in the park, instead of making the biggest difference by being inaccessible. When your son points and says look, I would like to answer: Yes, look, it's a pretty girl. It seems that she is having as much fun in games as you do.
When your child asks you: Why is this baby so red? o What's on your face? I'd like you to answer honestly: I'm not sure, but the way someone looks is not important. We all seek to be different, right?
I would like you to encourage your child to greet us and to ask the name of my children. I'd like you to apologize because your son is offensive in front of us and said: I'm so sorry, we're still learning to ask questions with respect. Also to add: Your daughter is beautiful, how old is she?
Above all, I would like you to talk to your children about the differences more often. That you read about it, and also that you did it in a positive and natural way. They will talk about different types of differences: the use of wheelchairs, birthmarks, Down syndrome or ichthyosis; from racial differences to the use of glasses in children.
Ultimately, I hope our children learn that if they have questions about someone's appearance, they can wait until later to ask in private, so that it does not hurt anyone's feelings, because, the way we treat each other to others it is much more important than the way someone looks.
I would love that the next time you see us, do not hide. Never say again: do not look and do not talk to them, placing my family on the other side of normality.
I prefer to be a positive opportunity so that your child can learn to respect and appreciate physical differences.