Response to the “Girl Gone Blind” post, “To the Child who has a Blind Parent”
***Updated on 28 March 2017.
Today, Maria Johnson, author of the post that prompted me to write this response, substantially reworked her original article. So while the link to her post which you’ll find in this article still works, the article you’ll see is quite different from the piece that deeply troubled some blind parents, including me.
I’d like to thank and congratulate Maria for amending her post in the way she has. I think she has done the right thing by amending it, rather than deleting it as some want her to do.
As I took pains to convey in my response, we all experience blindness differently. In particular, there’s a huge difference between those of us who have been blind for much or even all of our lives, and those who become blind later in life. That’s not to say that those in the latter category can’t acquire the skills of blindness, but it is a huge life change. Some of us take to change more easily than others. We should also reflect on the impact that blindness has had on Maria’s children and the children of others in maria’s situation. It must be incredibly tough seeing a much-loved parent losing such a significant faculty.
My concern with maria’s original post was that it may be interpreted as reflecting the perspective of all blind parents, when clearly it does not. The new version of her post makes it very clear that she is speaking about how the onset of blindness three years ago has affected her specific relationship with her specific children. Worded like this, I view the post very differently. I view it as a brave expression of vulnerability which perhaps others who are adventitiously blind can identify with.
For whatever reason, Maria did not approve my original response to her blog post, which is absolutely her right as the blog’s author. But I hope those she is willing to engage with can offer constructive hints and tips on how she might overcome some of the challenges that remain.
I want to thank all the parents who have contacted me via private email, Twitter, Facebook and this blog. It just goes to show how precious our kids are to us, and how so many of us have had our parental authority undermined in front of our kids by ill-informed sighted people. That’s why the original version of maria’s post touched a nerve for so many. Although there have been a couple of comments here on this blog that were critical of my post, the overwhelming response has been expressions of thanks for the fact that I tried to articulate what many of us were feeling in a respectful manner. I remain of the view that we can disagree respectfully.
For me, there has been a truly wonderful thing to come out of this discussion. My oldest daughter, whose now a university student and flatting, click through to my post from Facebook. She phoned me, genuinely outraged by Maria’s original post, because it didn’t reflect what having a blind Dad has been like for her. It was deeply moving to know that as my daughter, she sees the impact of having a blind parent the same way that I do as a Dad.
My original post is below, but as stated, the version of the article it links to is not the version I wrote the response to. I am leaving my response up because it contains some of my own reflections on blind parenting that some may find helpful. My invitation to maria re The Blind Side Podcast still stands. With or without her, we’ll cover blind parenting soon.
Here’s the original post.
A friend of mine, who is also a blind parent but of children who are much younger than mine are at present, pointed out a recently published blog post that had been shared many times on social media, including over 1000 times on Facebook. It’s called “To the Child Who Has a Blind Parent”, and features on the Girl Gone Blind blog.
My friend was discouraged by the post, because as many of us who are blind parents know, our competence, and even our motives in having children at all, are sometimes questioned by people. We often receive the recognition we are due. But occasionally, our parental authority is undermined by teachers, so-called social service professionals, and others who feel that a sighted child, no matter how young, must have to take care of us, and that we can’t possibly take care of our own kids if we can’t see.
After talking about this post with a number of blind parents I know, it’s clear that it has really bothered some of us.
I believe that our experience of blindness varies greatly, and that what shapes our approach to blindness is influenced by a range of factors such as when we’ve become blind, the training we’ve had access to and the kind of support we’ve been offered by family and friends.
I felt moved to write what I hope was a respectful alternative perspective in response to the original post, which I submitted as a comment to the Girl Gone Blind blog around 40 hours ago at the time I’m writing this. It’s written not in any way in judgement, but to convey my opinion to the author and her readers that a different style of blind parenting is both possible and desirable.
My comment has not been published, so I’m publishing it as an article here on my own blog to offer an alternative perspective on blind parenting. I do so in solidarity with capable blind parents who have had their skills questioned due to ignorance of blindness. The perpetrators of such actions will feel validated by the article that has inspired me to write this response.
So please read the original article linked to above. Now here is my comment.
Hi Maria, it’s great to read your article and see that you are so eloquently chronicling blindness as you personally experience it.
As a blind parent to four sighted children, I’d like to offer an alternative perspective. I do so because, while I unreservedly accept that what you wrote is an accurate reflection of the relationship you have with your own children, a number of blind parents have told me how disturbed they have been by your post.
I write this response because I believe you may not fully appreciate how damaging your post might be if it goes without an alternative perspective being published with it. I can see that in future, some misguided official in a social services organisation, or a lawyer representing a sighted spouse in a bitter custody battle, will use your post as proof that blind parents are dependent on their sighted children and use them as unpaid home help. So to any official or lawyer who might seek to do so, I make the following points.
I believe that any relationship between a parent and a child, and indeed any relationship in general, is one of mutual dependence. With parenting, this tends to change as children get older. When my children were very young, they were completely dependent on their Mum and me for every need. As a blind parent, I would walk with them, holding their hands, teaching them about pedestrian safety, helping them learn about the world and answering their constant questions.
I would read them a story every night. The Braille books I used included descriptions of the pictures, so I could discuss the pictures with them and encourage them to describe to me what they were seeing. My kids still talk fondly about the stories I told them, both reading from Braille and especially by making them up. I learned, much to my delight, that my oldest daughter just assumed that all daddies read Braille, and all mummies read print.
I was the one who sat by my oldest daughter’s bedside after she had fallen off the monkey bars and broken her arm, regularly getting her drinks and being there when she called for me.
I taught them how to play piano, took them to the zoo by myself, entertained their friends and helped manage the organised chaos that was their birthday parties.
I helped them with countless hours of homework.
I am an IT professional, so I do the tech support around the house. Only yesterday, I spent three hours helping my teenage son configure a new and complex software package.
My kids usually think it’s pretty cool that I’m blind. When they were little, they would often come home and proudly announce, “we’re doing blind people at school this week Dad,” and take me along to school as a show and tell, where I’d read a Braille story and talk to them about blindness. Their friends usually find blindness fascinating.
I would like to address a few of the specific clauses in your post.
If an older child picks up their siblings, it may be true that in some household that is a parental function, but it could just as equally be true that this is a chore they are assigned, just as chores in any busy household are allocated. Perhaps a blind parent compensates for this in other ways.
We can’t give our children rides, but there are many households where people don’t own a car, or where there is only one car that isn’t available to everyone at all times. Many parents, not just blind parents, make allowances for this through a budget for transport such as Uber, or public transport. A blind parent will be mindful of the need for good access to public transport, and will whenever possible choose a house close to good transportation. I accept that this isn’t an option for everyone, but blindness is no excuse for making us dependent on our sighted children for transport.
When using sighted guide or following effectively, a child should never need to say “curb”, and I would be annoyed if mine did. I mean no disrespect when I say that if you presently need your children to do this, then it might be useful to consider additional orientation and mobility assistance. The same applies to stairs. With good blindness skills, a sighted child does not need to count them. Please know that I am not faulting you for not having blindness skills if this is your situation, I’m merely pointing out that such training is available, and it would make the need for such vigilance on the part of your children unnecessary.
As mentioned earlier, as an IT professionals, I have spent countless hours getting my kids’ devices out of jams, including completely reinstalling content on their mobile devices. I completely agree with you though, there are, on occasion, times when our assistive technology fails us, and we just need to know what the heck is on the screen. I truly appreciate it when one of my kids gets me out of a serious jam in this way, and this comes back to the mutual dependency that emerges when they get a little older. But how different is this, really, from what goes on in houses with sighted parents? When I was a kid, even though I was blind, I was the one in our household who could set the timer on the VCR. So when my parents wanted something recorded, one of my chores was to set that up, and I got in trouble if I didn’t do that chore. Reading the screen is one such chore we can assign.
Also, if you have an iPhone, apps like TapTapSee, Be My Eyes, KNFB Reader and others can be of significant value to the busy blind parent.
Again, I’m wondering whether, if you need a child to tell you that your sweater is inside-out, how well you’ve been served by the blindness system where you are? It’s very easy as a blind person to tell when something is inside-out, because you can feel the seams on the outside. I must say though that I’ve been rescued by one of my kids telling me that I have two shoes on from different pairs, but I know of sighted people who make that mistake too.
Regarding the dinner that’s a disaster, does blindness really have anything to do with that? We all try things in the kitchen that go wrong sometimes, but if they’re going wrong on a regular basis because of blindness, then this, again, to me suggests that you may find additional blindness training of real value.
A number of the clauses in this post suggest that your children may have had difficulty accepting your blindness, and that perhaps you’re having the same difficulty. This is something I’ve not experienced, and can’t relate to, because I was born blind, but I readily acknowledge that becoming blind must have been a massive adjustment, both for you and them. My kids have never wished I could see, probably because I’ve never wished I could see. Blindness has never stopped me from achieving all I’ve wanted to in life, and having never seen a thing, I haven’t ever wished I could see my children. I say this not in any way to invalidate how you feel, or how your children feel about your situation, that’s not my place. I’m merely offering my very different perspective by way of contrast, so your readers may realise that some of us see these issues differently.
Maybe our kids have to grow up quickly, but I would reframe that same point and say they learn empathy, which is just one advantage of having a blind parent. Empathy seems in very short supply these days I’m afraid, so they are blessed to learn it.
You write of the child who needs to protect us because we’re blind. I’m really troubled by this. it is not a child’s job to protect a parent. it is a parent’s job to protect a child, and blindness, given the correct training, is no reason to reverse that relationship. Even though my children are older now, I still do all I can to ensure they’re safe, that they know not to travel with people who might have been drinking or worse. If they’re dealing with anxiety due to a heavy academic course, I hold them close, help them to gain perspective, and give them the help they need. If they break up with their boyfriend/girlfriend and it seems like the world is ending, I’m there for them. I protect them, that’s what parents do.
I know that I might have to have a very large flame-proof suit on after writing this comment, but I mean it very sincerely when I say I am not seeking to belittle your situation, judge you, or invalidate how you feel personally. But since your post is entitled “to the child who has a blind parent”, rather than “a letter to my children”, there is an implication in your post that all blind parents feel the way you do. I can tell you emphatically that they do not, and that some find what you have written inaccurate and even offensive.
Thank you for writing such a clear and thought-provoking post. I host a podcast each week that talks about a range of issues from a blindness perspective, and I would love to have you on the podcast along with a couple of other blind parents to discuss these things further, if you would be willing.
Take care, all the best to you on your journey, and thank you for the opportunity to comment.
As usual, you write with clarity and compassion. I always learn more by reading your posts. Thanks, Mr. Mosen.
I completely agree with everything you said and had the same concerns upon reading her article. Definitely going to share this to Facebook.
I am sorry your post was not published. As always your comments were well considered with regards to all points, and the author would have had a good opportunity to clarify her views and maybe then have a very interesting dialogue about being a blind parent. I have viewed the link to the post as well as your comments above, and I agree with your views on this. I can honestly write that as a blind dad to a 4-year-old, my wife (who is also blind) and I like many other blind parents have sometimes had to explain that we are the parents, and she (our daughter) is the child. We take her to places, she does not take us ETC. On the other hand sometimes our little one will say if there is a parked car on the pavement, but she also knows that Mum and Dad use a cane to help us get around outside, and she knows that if she didn’t say anything it’s no problem for us. I do think she speaks up sometimes after witnessing a relative do the same thing when they were just trying to be helpful.
However the post is concerning because as you indicated, this post like anything else ever written is open to interpretation no matter if that interpretation is correct or not, and in my opinion while it is just 1 blind parent giving her views, it does put a negative aspect on doing the best we can for our children while not having vision. I have viewed only a couple of posts previously from this author, and this one appears to be an interesting take on being a blind parent to put it politely, but again in my view it’s negative. So while we all have the ability to give our own views so publicly which of course should be encouraged, and in an ideal world we shouldn’t have to worry about what people will think, in this instance it could question our ability to parent when we do it perfectly well.
On a different note, you raise an interesting topic about a podcast and I would be interested if you ever needed the views of a blind parent. Just putting it out there. Thanks as always for a great blog. I wish I could keep on top of mine as much as you do with yours. ☺️
Well said, Jonathan. One of my favourite articles on this matter was written over 30 years ago by Ramona Walhof – I am a Blind Mother, Fighting to Keep my Children from Corruption. https://nfb.org/images/nfb/publications/fr/fr02/issue4/f020402.html
Sadly, it is no less relevant today than when it was written.
Hi Jonathan, as a blind mum myself I would like to thank you sincerely for providing another perspective on the subject at hand. I am hoping your response will be shared widely. I will share it on my blog for sure. Lindy
I am kind of in an odd position where I can relate in many ways to both sides of this issue.
When I was in my final year of high school our county got the first computer with jaws.
I got to work with it a couple of times and was really looking forward to eventually getting trained.
I was always pretty independent and I actually moved out on my own about five months before my 18th birthday.
I had wanted to go into some type of social work or perhaps psychology, I hadn’t quite decided yet.
I also thought about being a missionary and hopefully working with blind children and figured either of those careers could be useful.
I started college and was at OCB briefly, but OCB is a whole different story.
I had planned to complete both college and OCB before dating seriously.
I’ve been blind all of my life and had babysat and been around many small children growing up.
There was never any question about it for me, I always knew that I wanted children.
Well despite that plan I mentioned earlier, I made some very bad choices and wound up being a blind single mom of two girls when I was 24 years old.
I met and seven weeks later married a very manipulative and abusive person while in my first year of college.
When that ended I had nothing to fall back on because I had dropped out of college at my ex-husband’s request.
I lived in a small town but more due to emotional circumstances and for the good of my children who had been through a lot, I thought it best not to relocate to a bigger city.
My husband and I have been together for 20 years now and went on to have another daughter together.
Both my ex and my current husband are cited. My husband and I both like the privacy that comes with living in the country and I like having animals around.
I wanted my kids to be able to run and play wherever they wanted like we did growing up and not have to worry about them.
Still today, the town that I grew up in only has dial a ride.
I feel bad that my kids missed out on some things such as Girl Scouts and my daughter wanted to attend dance classes which were not even available in our little town.
I am still somewhat behind technology wise.
However, I am a little more advanced than my cited husband.
I set up his Facebook and email accounts for him.
I have not yet been able to successfully completely set up my WordPress account but unfortunately have the online shopping bit down all too well.
I have had some computer training now but generally do most everything with my iPhone.
I think quite often children of blind parents are more aware in general and definitely can be more compassionate.
Sometimes things happen just because you are blind and if you have children as part of your life they will be there for such events.
I think of one time where I dumped about a tablespoon of cinnamon into the chili beans thinking that it was The chili powder.
For a long time the only bottle we had exactly like that one was cinnamon.
Well, my nose immediately told me what I had done and I had my daughter Meagan help me scrape as much of it off the top as possible.
My daughters all grew up to be very good cooks and all three will tell you that they learned to cook by helping mom and daddy cook in the kitchen.
They just loved to help the same way I did when I was little and my grandma was cooking.
As far as the blind jokes go, my kids make them too.
My daughter’s best friend is forever being horrified at the things my daughter says to me.
I try to buy all white or black socks but occasionally have had others that felt the same but the cuffs have been different colors.
Of course I am thankful when my family lets me know that my socks don’t match.
Yes I have put clothes on inside out a time or two but thank God, I believe I have always caught that myself and it only happened because I was super tired and grab something out of the laundry and didn’t pay attention.
OK once after a night of margaritas, I did wake up to find I was wearing my night shirt inside out.
I walked into the living room and realized it just about the same time my mother-in-law did.
I know sighted people that are occasionally mismatch though.
I ask my girls if things will match or how they will look but they do that with each other as well.
Yes obviously I do need a little more assistance when it comes to color coordination but I have been ordering my own clothes online for several years now with only a couple of minor issues.
Yes I’m still waiting for someone to assist me on the desktop with my WordPress layout but then I also occasionally assist my cited husband with online activities, especially if it comes to things that he needs to be purchased. As far as we’ve come accessibility wise, there are some websites that are just still websites from hell.
Anyone who may read this and follows me on Twitter will probably know of a certain company that drives me bananas.
A lot of times I will get assistance from my daughter completing an order because it has already been hours of frustration.
Guess what though? I go on their Facebook page and a lot of sighted people have issues with their website. I think that along with their general lack of interest in responding to or resolving customer service complaints or even inquiries maybe part of why they have closed so many stores lately.
Sad to see the stores go because they actually had very helpful people in store but I have digressed.
I think that we have to except that we do have limitations and do the best you can to work around them.
I think if they’re honest with themselves, even the most independent blind person would have to admit that there are still limitations once in a while.
In a generation that is used to getting everything instantly and it has been that way for quite a while, I think some kids might feel like they’re missing out on something occasionally.
I know my oldest daughter felt that she did.
I had to deal with an alcoholic mother who somewhat resented having me.
I think that my depression and my chronic and severe headaches have probably caused more problems for my children then my blindness has.
Having never read this lady’s blog until now, I am not too familiar with her story.
I don’t know what her level of resentment maybe towards losing her site but it is natural that there would be some.
I’ve been blind all of my life and I am feeling somewhat Resentful towards it right at the moment.
That is pretty much because I absolutely hate where we live and never wanted to come here in the first place but my husband has a very good job.
If they ever got anything similar to dial a ride or para transit around here, I would consider it a great luxury.
I am just wondering if her children see things the same way that she does or if maybe she is interpreting The way she thinks they feel through a viewpoint that maybe they don’t share.
I am always being accused of overanalyzing things or “thinking too much” and that’s part of my personality and also is intensified due to my depression and anxiety disorders.
I don’t know if she struggles with depression or not but I think that a lot of people who are trying to make this transition would need a little extra support and someone to talk to.
I am wondering if she has that kind of support available to her and like you guys, I also have concerns regarding the rehab services that were available to her.
It seems that someone must have dropped the ball somewhere along the way.
Jonathan, I commend you on your response and hope that she was able to receive what you said to her in the way that it was meant.
I think that you gave her a lot of very good advice and information.
I want to have my daughters read both her original post and your response and see what they think.
I am not a blind parent but i was in two minds about the womans’ article. A lot of what she wrote surely isn’t relivant to being a blind parent? If i spelt water, for example, i would not ask my child to clean it-i would clean it up like anyone else would. If i was being guided by my child, and i did not have a cane or a dog, i would like to know if there was a kerb ahead. However if i had a child, they would not be guiding me because they are not my carer. They are my child, but not my carer. They should develop empathy anyway, no matter if they have a blind parent or not.
I remember a few years ago there was a tv program all about young carers. Now, some of the parents did need care. There was a blind couple though who had their children waking them up in the morning and things. It annoyed me and there was no call for it.
I am sorry your comment wasn’t published. Perhaps it struck a nerve with this woman. It was a great comment.
I lost my sight overnight when my daughter was 10 (18 months ago) and there’s basically no help here for me to learn for to do the things you’ve learned to do. I can see what you’re saying, but for me the original post was a huge step forward for me to stop beating myself up and see the funny side of life. Where as your post has reminded me again how little help I’m getting. Perhaps both writers could work together as adults who are clearly parenting well, if differently; to help provide services for those of us who find our selves literally lost in the dark.
Hi Emma, first, congratulations on reaching the point where you’re participating in forums like this one, even after 18 months. You must have been through a massive life change with so much to learn.
There are online email lists for blind parents, and you may find them helpful. I’m not subscribed to any merely due to time pressures, but perhaps others may be able to provide details, or a Google search may help.
There’s no doubt that the support of other people in a similar situation can be of great benefit, and also that the experience of someone who has become blind is very different, which is why I tried my best not at all to judge the way the writer of the original post feels. What she feels is obviously very real for her.
Take care and thanks so much for sharing your perspective.
Jonathan, I read your comment to Maria Johnson first. You worried me; I thought Maria must have said some pretty horrendous things given the example you gave us of just how you are a fine active parent. Man I was right there with you. And then I read Maria’s post. And I have to say, I have two kids, now grown. My letter thanking them for their years of support in areas that might have to do with my being blind or just support for the imperfect person I am might emphasize different specific ways my kids have been there for me, but I didn’t think Maria’s list was all that bad. For example, she didn’t say she couldn’t tell when her sweater was inside out, and my kids have told me, Dad, lose that shirt, do it now. They have gone through the store and helped me think about what might be good. They’ve come and picked me up, never mind I’ve done things for them too. I know, we feel embarrassed, did she have to mention the terrible looking dinner? It makes us seem so pitiful, God must blind people be so damned real? Okay, she went public with her vulnerability, and I suppose that’s a little bit unforgivable, but really, your post was a pep talk to a helpless person. I didn’t read helplessness in her post, all right I squirmed a little, Wow Maria, your letter is touching, dramatic, and so on; maybe it feeds the stereotypes sighted people have of us, but it’s a nice thing to thank our kids for the many things they do for us, whether blindness related things or not. My kids are a big help to me and I hope I help them too. Going public with our occasional blineness related issues is scary I know, counting down the last few steps indeed. Why you young thing, I used to carry you down flights of stairs, and I changed your diapers and taught you how to dress yourself and how to pour your milk and cut your food and work on your math problems. I was your real dad, your leader, I sat with you at the doctor’s office and I attended your concerts and sports events with all kinds of pride, just like my old buddy Jonathan, I know I was the real thing as a parent. Other than a few of the specific things Maria mentions, the idea of recognizing our kids for their various kindnesses is actually very sweet. Maria can make a personal statement to her kids; for the most part, I’m cool with it. Tell you the truth, in various ways and for various kinds of help and support, I have probably not thanked my kids enough. And I admit that were I to go public with a list of ways they’ve helped me, my list would not necessarily render me a sad sack in need of tending. The thing is, most of the ways they support me have very little to do with blindness. They love me and they put up with me and they laugh with me and in fact they take me seriously. I’m glad and very grateful they are mine.
I just wanted to thank you for writing such a great response. I know we’ve barely spoken, but you know of my partner, Sean, we have a fully sighted daughter, almost 6. I help run a group in the UK called blind mums connect, and these 2 articles are currently causing a lot of debate – not surprisingly those of us born VI prefer your response whereas those who’ve lost sight feel they have more in common with Maria. Through my work with BMC I speak to a lot of social workers, rehabilitation specialists etc and I simply felt worried that the original article appeared to speak for all of us when in fact it’s incredibly different to my own life. That could be very dangerous if taken by a professional. Anyway, I’m not great at writing what i’m trying to say, so thanks again for showing some balance and i hope you and the family are all well.
I posted this response earlier on my Facebook wall and thought I should share it here as well since it does offer something new.
As I said before, while I agree with a lot of what Jonathan said in his response to this article, I probably would not have been as blunt. My perspective is that the sighted community really doesn’t understand blindness and as a result, some members of society in general place limitations on us based on how difficult they believe it would be for them to become blind. A few of those limitations are realistic but the vast majority are not.
Keeping all of this in mind, imagine the perspective of somebody who has recently lost their sight and has grown up with all of the negative stereotypes of what it is like to be blind. Is it all that surprising that she feels helpless and dependent on her children to do many of the things that those of us who are blind do regularly and frankly, may even take for granted?
For me, maria’s article calls for action in two important areas. First, we need to take maria where she is in terms of her abilities and make sure the appropriate supports are in place for her to learn the skills she needs to adapt to her vision loss. This is a societal response to make sure that the resources are available to her, no matter what her financial situation might be. We as a society don’t ask people who become paralyzed to fund all of their own rehabilitation or depend on agencies who receive donations from the public for it. Our rehabilitation should be covered by the healthcare system just like it is for everybody else. Those of us who did receive this kind of support are privileged. We need to remember that when we evaluate the perceptions of others who may not have been so lucky. We also need to remember that those of us who had supportive parents growing up have benefitted from that and others may not have been so fortunate.
Next, we as a society need to stop encouraging or promoting negative views of blindness by making uninformed judgments about what people who are blind can or cannot do. As an example of this, I offer a discussion I had with the current chief of police’s executive officer when I was making arrangements to travel to the United States to get my most recent guide dog. After the chief received my application for time off, he asked his executive officer to find out if I needed a police officer to travel with me to help me through the airports and such. Since I have traveled to many foreign countries on my own without sighted assistance, I politely declined the offer. However, the making of the offer in the first place suggests a very negative perception that this individual has about blindness. I can only wonder about how much of an effect that this has had on my career advancement and his perception of my professional abilities. Only if this type of negative stereotyping is stopped that articles such as the one maria published will continue to exist.
Hi Jonathan, very good response. I really enjoyed reading it. I am myself visually impaired losing my eyesight at the age of seven (25 years ago). I am not a parent yet but am looking forward to being a really good one. Again, thank you for such a good perspective.
thank you for saying a lot of what I wanted to say. I felt very very offended when I read this article. Is there a way that I can be on this episode of your show? Thank you again for responding to this. I really hope this person gets the help that she needs to deal with her blindness issues.
I can totally see both sides here! I am and have always been very independent. I have been an educator with no blind students for many years. One of my jobs is working with our band. While it’s true that that means dealing with and helping around 200 students daily, it’s also true that they are just as helpful to me. The room is usually a total mess, and so I don’t dare walk around it on my own. I have had “student assistants” for many years who help daily with getting around the room, through our lunch line etc.
I don’t have children yet, but I have always said that I wanted my wife to be sighted.
This is just due to how insanely busy my life is. Rides and getting done the things I have to all the time would be much easier if I know that my partner is willing and able to help.
At the same time, with my wonderful students, there is no question about who has the final word and who makes the final decisions. It would be the same with parenting. Give and take, mutually working together to create something wonderful.
Respectfully, it seems like you are saying you want a sighted partner so that you can get rides. I would just like to say that there are lots of things about having a cited partner that can be very difficult because of the way blindness is viewed in our society, and sighted people are taught that it is fine to use it against you and take advantage of you if the dynamic is shifted in their favor. I just believe the type of relationship you were looking for and the reason you are seeking it could get you into a bad situation.
Well and kindly said, my friend. The key for me, especially when our kids were little, was to be very, very clear that they are safe with me and that the messages they get from the outside world can be absolutely wrong. So, where I can be reasonable with misinformed sighted people who question my abilities when I am out alone, I was not at all understanding to this sort of nonsense when my young children were watching. Sighted people can disrespect me and play the odds (maybe they will get away with it –maybe not), but the fires of hell came down on their heads if they said anything like “It’s nice of you to watch out for mommy.” And that’s because my kids need to know both who is in charge and that they are safe with me.
I agree with everything here.
It is very disturbing that any parent can think that it’s up to their children to do any of these.
As the original article said, no, the child did have have a choice in the matter, so why put them in a situation which suggests they are obligated in any way, shape or form to look out for their parents while growing up.
This was a very good prospective and pointed out some great aspects to blind parenting. I am cofounder of Blind Parent Alliance and we have a facebook group if anyone would be interested in joining us please feel free. We are a community of blind parents and professionals as well as family members of blind parents with the common goal to support and empower blind parents. I will post this article there for them to read.
It’s funny my comment wasn’t published either.
Well done on writing a very respectful alternative perspective.
I’m a blind woman with no interest in having kids and I’ve been asked on so many occasions “is it because your blind?” No I’ve just no interest in having children! If I wanted children, I would have them. And yes I would have to find some work around for certain things but my blindness would not effect my ability to parent. My blindness would not cause me to be dependent on my child. My blindness is not an excuse.
I don’t want a child, but if I did, I would hate to have the kind of relationship described in the blog. A child that wanted me to be cited would be a huge turn off for me, and I can identify shapes and patterns for myself. I’m sorry, but if my child was set on me becoming cited, it would be such a big deal to me that I might have to have them stay somewhere else. I never wear my clothes inside out either. I don’t understand it. The people who commented on the blog post say it is beautiful and heartwarming and all that, but when I read it, the wife of the family seems sad and destitute. Also, I believe that if you want a person to be cited, you are embarrassed by their blindness because if you weren’t why would you care? This is also very difficult to read at a time when custody is being taken from parents because of blindness alone. Even if it were true, which hopefully it wouldn’t be for me if I had a child, I wouldn’t write something like that on the Internet because social services could use it against me. What if they concerned sighted person reads that and calls them?
Hello, thank you for writing this. I am a blind mom of a two-year-old and as I embark on the wonderful and frightening journey that is parenting, I think about mutual dependence a lot. I also think a great deal about what I want to teach my child, and what I want my child to learn about the world. The original post was quite offensive to me as someone who will refuse to rely on my children for things I can do myself. As an educational professional who teaches blind children, I understand the difficulties inherrent in losing one’s vision and I never want to diminish that. But it is not the responsibility of the child to make up the difference. It is the responsibility of the parent to take the steps towards independence and self-reliance as a blind person. I desperately want other blind people who are planning to become parents to read what you wrote, to truly have an understanding of what it can be like to have a child as a blind person. Just as in other aspects of my life, parenting isn’t more or less difficult because I am blind. It just is, and like we all do, we find different ways of accomplishing tasks that need doing. I want my children to grow up believing I will protect them, and help them rather than it being the other way around.
I am the sighted child of a blind parent and a sighted parent. My experience is mostly as you describe that of your children. I occasionally functioned as a sighted guide for my father, but he used his white cane properly and I only warned him of low hanging branches and the like. I wonder if the children of the newly blinded have a completely different experience though. My father was alao born blind. I don’t think my childhood was so different from that of children with two sighted parents, except that i grew up knowing that there are usually different ways (alternative techniques) to accomplish tasks.
I also learned that most sighted grownups are ignorant, although I probably would have called it stupid then. At 5, I certainly knew who was taking care of whom, and who was crossing whom, and who was the responsible adult, (and it wasn’t me!) but grownups would tell me not to take my father across such a busy street and generally talk to me instead of to him.
I think that ignorance is the real problem for the newly blinded. If they think blind people are helpless and they become blind, they believe they are now helpless. Educating the greater public will help with that, so I’m very happy to read this and see it shared.